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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Irishman set for interview round of Mars One project

Published 20/03/2014 | 00:00

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Dr Joseph Roche

An Irish man who is one of the contenders in the Mars One programme has completed his medical check, bringing him one step closer to permanently moving to the red planet.

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Astrophysicist Joseph Roche is one of only 1,058 people shortlisted candidates eager to take part in the mission to Mars, out of over 200,000 applicants. Mr Roche, who works in Dublin's Science Gallery, recently completed his health test, although there were some concerns when he initially took it.

He had contracted chicken pox from his niece and nephew, which led to some unusual results, but once that was cleared up, it was all clear sailing.

"Some of the tests weren't quite as easy to get through as I thought. Now I guess we'll just have to wait until the interview round in April," he said."

"[At the start] there were around 1,058 applicants, but I'm not sure if all of them have submitted medical. 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."

He added 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.

Mr Roche has already devoted his life to studying activities above the Earth, so the idea of being a part of a study and society in that sphere is something that greatly excites him.

"It might seem like a suicide mission now because it's such a difficult thing to comprehend, people living on another planet, but there not going to launch for at least another ten years and they're definitely not going to launch unless there's 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."

As for saying goodbye to family and friends, Mr Roche said many explorers had to say similar things to loved ones in times gone by, although the Kildare man may be going slightly further afield.

"My family are very supportive of me and everything I do. They know I'd love to go and it's something I'm deeply passionate about, so they wouldn't hold me back," he said.

"We're all going to die on this planet and that's not something that stops us from going along and living our lives."

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