Mars man al­most missed out with chicken pox


Bray People - - NEWS - ES­THER HAY­DEN

DUNLAVIN MAN Joseph Roche moved one step closer to re­al­is­ing his dream to move to Mars as part of the Mars One Pro­gram­mme re­cently but the dream was nearly thwarted by a dose of the chick­en­pox.

As­tro­physi­cist Roche is one of 1,058 short­listed can­di­dates for the mis­sion to Mars from a pool of in ex­cess of 200,000 ap­pli­cants. But there is a catch... it's a one way jour­ney.

The son of Pat and Collette Roche of Dunlavin, Joseph works at the Sci­ence Gallery in Dublin and says he has al­ways had am­bi­tions to go into space.

He re­cently com­pleted his med­i­cal for the trip but a dose of chicken pox con­tracted from his niece and nephew nearly dashed his dream. He said that some of the ini­tial tests pro­duced some un­usual re­sults be­cause of the chick­en­pox virus but once the virus was de­tected and cleared the re­sults were all nor­mal.

The next stage in the ap­pli­ca­tion process is an in­ter­view round which is ex­pected to take place later this month.

‘At the start there were around 1,058 ap­pli­cants, but I'm not sure if all of them have sub­mit­ted med­i­cals. Some of them might have de­cided they don't want to take part and maybe some of them didn't make it through the med­i­cal round, but there is cer­tainly sev­eral hun­dred that have made it through to the next round.'

Roche said that one ap­pli­cant in Ja­pan who signed up against his par­ents' wishes was evicted from his fam­ily home af­ter he got through to the next round.

The man be­hind the project is Dutch na­tional Bas Lans­dorp.

He aims to land a colony of four as­tro­nauts on the sur­face of Mars by 2025.

The suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants will re­ceive eight years of train­ing. Ro­botic mis­sions will also lay the in­fra­struc­ture on Mars, which is over

225 mil­lion kilo­me­tres away from earth. Sub­se­quent rovers will deliver liv­ing quar­ters and life-sup­port units, while back on Earth the first four as­tro­nauts will pre­pare for lift-off in 2025.

The project's ul­ti­mate goal is to es­tab­lish a colony on the Red Planet.

Joseph said he's very ex­cited about the proj- ect which will rely heav­ily on ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy. ‘No new in­ven­tions are re­quired for this to hap­pen. It's largely the same tech­nol­ogy that has been keep­ing hu­mans alive for the past 11 years on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion that will keep our as­tro­nauts alive on Mars.' He ac­knowl­edges that the tech­nol­ogy doesn't ex­ist to bring people back from Mars and ac­cepts his life ex­pectancy will be re­duced on the planet.

'People as­sume that just be­cause I want to go that I must not be happy here, but that couldn't be fur­ther from the truth.

‘I've been very for­tu­nate. I grew up in a great fam­ily and love my work. I think putting some­one on Mars who has a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of life on Earth is key to the mis­sion's suc­cess.' He adds, ‘It's dif­fi­cult to imag­ine what it would feel like to leave fam­ily and friends be­hind.

‘You would be look­ing at a re­duced life ex­pectancy but for me each and ev­ery day you spend on the planet you will be tak­ing a leap for­ward for sci­en­tific en­deav­our and for me, I would have to go.'

He also said that the launch wouldn't take place ‘un­less there's a strong like­li­hood that people are go­ing to be safe and able to live com­fort­ably on Mars. No­body is go­ing there to die. People are go­ing there to live.'

The Mars One Project aims to raise €6 bil­lion through crowd fund­ing and Re­al­ity TV se­ries. Mars One will be a 24-hour re­al­ity TV show, with the pub­lic voting on which ap­pli­cants will get to travel.

Joseph Roche is edg­ing closer to his dream to live on Mars.

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