• The proposed first human settlement on Mars could look like this. (Mars One)
Two Perth men are hoping to be selected to take part in a proposed one-way trip to Mars in 2024.
By
Ryan Emery

22 Nov 2014 - 1:23 PM  UPDATED 22 Nov 2014 - 8:04 PM

Two Perth men are preparing for an interview in December that could put them one step closer to leaving our world behind forever.

One’s a physicist with a military background, the other a male model with a green thumb, and both want to spend the rest of their lives on Mars.

Josh Richards, the physicist, and Korum Ellis, a model and actor, are among 663 candidates the Mars One organisation was considering sending to the red planet.

Mars One, a Netherlands-based not-for-profit organisation, planned to establish a permanent human colony on Mars from 2025.

Josh Richards said he had dreamt of going to space since he was seven years old.

"I have huge numbers of people come up and ask me all sorts of extraordinary questions and inevitably they just look at me, shake their head and go: 'you must be mad',” he said.

"Maybe I am.

“But I've certainly spent a lot of time thinking about it and definitely support what Mars One is trying to achieve."

The 29-year-old was now in the final stages of selection for a one-way trip to Mars in 2024 to establish a human colony in 2025.

In December, he'll be interviewed by the Dutch organisation to determine if he will become one of just 24 candidates who will be trained to be a Martian.

But only four will be selected.

"I see it as a huge opportunity,” Mr Richards said.

"I don't see it the same way that many other people do of leaving Earth behind, I see it as a chance for us to literally live amongst the stars.

TV personalities

Mars One hoped to raise six billion dollar to fund the one-way mission by selling TV rights to a reality show about the endeavour.

Second candidate, actor Korum Ellis, might seem a perfect fit for the role but he was hoping his passion for micro-horticulture would be what got him over the line.


He's developed a system of interconnected plant beds that recycled their water and nutrients, which potentially could be adapted for use on Mars.

"I don't approach this with a sacrificial mindset,” he said. “I don't think that these people that are going to set out on this endeavour are going to die prematurely."

“There are a lot of fantastic and amazing risks to overcome, but we're at such a great point technologically where we can predict almost everything that's going to be a potential problem and we can engineer strategies that will overcome that."

"I see it as a chance for us to literally live amongst the stars."

Josh Richards said he wanted to be part of something bigger.

"Willing to die is an interesting one in that it's not necessarily that I’m willing to die for it, it's more a case of whether I think this is more important than I am and my wellbeing and I do,” he said.

“I see it as an opportunity for us as a species to do something incredible.

“And I'm just one small member of that species.

“So the death aspect for me isn't necessarily a factor.

Risks

Virgin Galactic had shown how dangerous private space travel can be.

One of its test pilots, Mike Alsbury, died on October 31 when the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane he was testing with fellow pilot Peter Siebold crashed in California’s Mojave Desert.

Peter Siebold was left seriously injured and is still recovering in hospital.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology had also taken a look at Mars One’s proposed plan to establish a human colony with four people on Mars

Its engineers determined the technology necessary still hadn’t been invented and it would cost billions of dollars more than estimated.

But Dr Charley Lineweaver, of the Planetary Sciences Institute at Mt. Stromlo Observatory, was more optimistic that these hurdles could be overcome.

"I see not seeing my parents as a personal disadvantage, but on the grand scheme of our species, me not seeing my parents isn't a blip."

He’s not a supporter of Mars One, particularly the reality TV show component, but he told The Australian that MIT should have applied more lateral thinking to its assessment of the challenge.

“When I’m reading this science case, it seems a little bit too obsessed with technical details as if they were insurmountable,” he said.

“They’re over emphasising the technical hurdles and underestimating ways to get around them.”

Korum Ellis knew the risks, but still wanted to go.

"Somebody has to make that leap and if it ends up that I'm one of the best candidates to get the job done then I'm personally quite happy to invest in that and just see it through to hopefully not a soon end, but hopefully a long-term end,” he said.

The pair has already beat more than 200 thousand candidates to get to this stage.

If they make the final 24, they will be divided into six groups of four.

Only one group will be going.

But just making the group meant their lives could be on hold for 10 years - potentially no children, partners or marriage.

And when they do leave in 2024, they'll be saying goodbye to their families.

Josh Richards said his mother struggled to accept it, but was now onboard.

"It would be saying goodbye to them forever, but that's the nature of what we've signed up for," he said.

"I see not seeing my parents as a personal disadvantage, but on the grand scheme of our species, me not seeing my parents isn't a blip."