Richard’s red planet plans out of this world

Apparently no one told Josh Richards who is setting himself a course for the stars and life well beyond our blue planet.

Amazingly, the 29-year-old, speaking at Sacred Heart College tomorrow, is one of just 705 people from around the world still in the running for a spot on the Mars One project, which will look to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars in 10 years time.

That list will be cut to between 24 and 40 in June next year, with successful applicants to undergo the 10 years of intense training needed to live the rest of their lives in space.

With applications having filtered in from around the world, and with just four spots up for grabs when the first one-way mission is launched in 2024, the odds appear stacked against Mr Richards.

‘I’m fully aware that I could be dropped at any point of the selection process, so every day I’m still part of it is an opportunity to be an ambassador for such an incredible project, and use it to encourage an interest in science in school kids,’ he said.

While most will not be successful, it is hard to discount Mr Richards as a chance.

He has a degree in applied physics and was a combat engineer with the Australian Army and a Royal Marine Commando with the British Royal Marines.

He also spent time as a blasting engineer on mining projects in WA, a scuba diving instructor, a science and engineering advisor and a stand-up comedian.

While he is happy to have the experience in the bank, he said nothing could truly prepare him for what was to come.

‘The greatest training component will be spending three month stints in mock-ups of the Mars colony, running drills and preparing for the isolation of the real colony,’ he said.

‘I don’t think there’s anything, except maybe overwintering on an Antarctic research station, that could truly prepare anyone for that.’

Having put the project ahead of his career and relationship, he said he was keen to see it through to the end.

‘Mars One offers a clear and achievable goal to permanently place humans beyond Earth,’ he said.

‘My role in it is to make sure that this first off-Earth outpost is successful, and that the next generation sees Mars as a stepping stone to exploring the rest of the solar system and beyond.’

Those keen to learn more can catch Mr Richards during National Science Week4.

Tickets at scienceweek.net.au or see Mr Richard’s webpage themightyminge.com/blog.