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Josh Richards - Crowdfunded Spaceman to Mars (Potentially)
by Startacus Admin
Mars One seeks to send the first humans to the red planet, and they want to do it via crowdfunding! This seems like it’s right up our street, so Startacus got in touch with Physics comedian, and potential spaceman, Josh Richards, to get some information on the life of a spaceman.
Hi Josh, so you’re one of the short-listed candidates for MarsOne; Tell us about the Mars Oneventure? “Mars One is an international not-for-profit organisation with the express goal of permanently colonising Mars. In September 2024 a crew of four (trained for 9 years and partially selected through public vote) will launch on the 7 month journey to Mars, landing in April 2025 to become the first humans on another planet. The issue is that they'll also die on Mars. The technology currently exists to get humans to Mars and keep them alive there, but not to get them back again. So for those of us that go, it'll be a one-way trip: we'll live out the rest of our lives on Mars without hope of return.”
What’s it been like, being dubbed a Spaceman at this early stage? “WAY too early at this stage! It's flattering to be given the label, but I have a long way to earn it. Over 200,000 people applied in 2013 to Mars One's first astronaut selection, so being one of about 700 still in the running to go and having the opportunity to visit schools to talk to kids about Mars & space exploration is such an honour. But a lot of things have go my way over the next decade before I can truly earn that title.”
You spoke about the journey being until the end of your life, how do you feel about that? “There's a real bitter-sweet aspect to the entire venture. On one hand I have the opportunity to inspire people to literally aim for the stars, to explore and take risks and do all they can to make the universe we live in a better place. Yet everywhere I go I meet amazing people that are doing so much to make this world a better place that it's becoming harder all the time to know one day you could be saying goodbye to them forever. There are plenty of folk that would much prefer to see me stay right here on Earth. The thing that keeps me pushing on is knowing how much good justtryingis making – I get to show kids & adults alike that exploring the universe is noble, not crazy.”
Do you believe there is life out there? “Absolutely, but it's unlikely to there are little green men anywhere nearby! Given the hardiness of the extremophile bacteria & tardigrades we find here on Earth, there is every possibility that we could find similar life in the caves & lava tubes on Mars – Mars is just too harsh for anything bigger to survive. For intelligent life further afield, we've explored such a infinitesimal amount of the universe using radio telescopes for a cosmically insignificant amount of time. The universe is so incomprehensibly big that to say we're lone is supremely arrogant.”
Do you have a strategy or plan in case you do run into any little green men on Mars? “No contingency plans – I'd rather die on Mars discovering complex life than live with having killed it, but let’s hope it never comes to anything scary!”
That’s definitely something we can all respect. Tell us, other than Intergalactic levels of fame, what is to be gained from the MarsOneprogram? “Mars One provides an opportunity to everyone on Earth to take part in the next giant leap for our species. The astronaut program is open to people regardless of nationality, there are no governments involved demanding their citizens are the first to land, and the mission architecture is based on what is available today (not whatmightbe researched & ready in 10 years time). For someone like myself who grew up being told I couldn't ever be an astronaut because Australia doesn't have a space agency, I have a chance to tell kids all over the globe that there's nothing stopping them. The space industry is right on the cusp of a second golden age – Mars One is opening the door for all of us to think beyond the petty national politics often associated with space, and for humans to become a multi-planetary species.”
It’s a remarkably big project; what kind of marketing would a company do or even have done to publicize a private space launch of all things? “Mars One is doing everything they can to get the world out there. Besides traditional media and engaging traditional space advocacy organisations such as the Mars Society & Uwingu, Mars One is also heavily engaging with crowd-funding and social media. The concept of a one-way mission to Mars is something that traditional space agencies are too conservative to touch, so Mars One's focus is to show the extraordinary amount of public support for their mission – that the risk is worth it, and that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people willing to sign up to die on another planet to further the cause of exploring our universe”.
Being so far from home, and basically any sort of amenities, wont you get bored up there? Do you have anything up there to help pass the time? “A large proportion of our time will be just maintaining the systems that keep us alive on Mars. Monitoring the habitat's atmosphere, growing crops hydroponically to develop our independence from supplies sent from Earth, repairing communications equipment – all of this will take up a considerable amount of our day-to-day lives. Outside of that though, there are extraordinary opportunities for scientific research: we'll be busy able to conduct experiments just like the International Space Station crews, only we'll be experiencing 38% gravity instead of zero-g. We'll also have plenty of free time, so taking an instrument to play music will be a must (I'll be trying to smuggle in my ukulele!), as well as staying fit in the gym, reading (or writing our own books), answering emails from Earth, watching movies & tv, recording videos to send home... the list goes on. We'll also have a whole new planet to explore – I don't think we'll be bored!”
We here at Startacus wish Josh the best of luck in the selection process, as well as his training and space venture! Also, good luck to all the astronauts who make it up there in future!
If you liked this check out these other articles on the impressive works that crowdfunding achieved.