Mars One candidate Josh Richards to speak at Queen Victoria Museum

SPACE EXPLORER: Josh Richards is one of 100 short-listed candidates out of 200,000 for a one-way trip to Mars.
SPACE EXPLORER: Josh Richards is one of 100 short-listed candidates out of 200,000 for a one-way trip to Mars.

All Josh Richards wanted to be when he was a kid was an astronaut. Now, at age 32, he’s potentially 14 years away from achieving that dream. The physicist, engineer, and stand-up comedian is one of 100 shortlisted candidates for the Mars One mission, which will see him heading on a one-way trip to the red planet.

He’ll be speaking via Skype at Queen Victoria Museum as part of National Science Week, and said he hopes that he can show kids in the audience that they too can achieve their goals - no matter how far fetched they may seem.

“Find a way,” he said. “If it’s what you want to do, there will always be opportunities. Don't lose sight of it.

“If we have people on Mars that’s a very clear signal to kids around the world that if they want to they can go into space and explore, and they can do whatever they want.”

Even if Mr Richards doesn’t end up as one of the final four candidates on the first Mars One mission, he’s determined to get there somehow. In fact, he doesn’t have a plan b. There’s something about the magic and mystery of space exploration that makes it impossible for him to think about anything else. 

“It’s really the unknown, and that scares most people,” he said. “Most people like familiarity, they like their comfort zone – but I love the idea that we have the opportunity to literally go out and discover a whole new planet, and learn more about the universe that we are a part of.

“A lot of people out there are fascinated by the stars, but we as a species haven’t prioritised that. We’ve been really fixated on fighting each other and competing with each other and focusing on what each other is doing. People say that space travel is too expensive, but we spend 100th on space exploration as to what we spend on the military – and I say that as ex-military.”

The Mars One project is a private, not-for-profit company based in the Netherlands, that will fund the trip partly through selling the broadcasting rights to a reality TV show about the candidates. Two hundred thousand people applied for the opportunity to see, live, and die on Mars, and 24 will make it to the final training pool.

Josh Richards will be answering questions at QV Museum on Saturday, August 11, at 11am and 2pm, free admission.