A Co Cork-based engineer has made it into the last 100 candidates for the Mars One mission to the red planet.
Steve Menaa, who lives in Cobh, said he was the last remaining Irish candidate in with a chance of making the one-way mission, after an initial 200,000 people from around the world applied.
He enters the next round, during which the 100 candidates will be whittled down to 40 candidates, then 30 and finally, the 24 who will be offered a full-time employment contract to begin training.
The first unmanned Mars One mission is scheduled to depart in 2020. Crews are then expected to depart for their one-way journey to Mars starting in 2026, with departures every 26 months after the initial crew has left.
Thrilled with making it into the next round, Steve said: “Every great thing that was done by mankind was silly at first until someone did it. We are explorers by nature, if this mission proves to be successful that will inspire humankind to explore the solar system.”
A father of one, Steve has been living in Ireland for seven years. He has been working as an IT engineer and is originally from Tunisia, and has also lived in France .
Another Irish-based candidate, Trinity College Dublin astrophysicist Dr Joseph Roche, had queried whether the Mars One project was ever likely to succeed in putting human beings into space, but Mr Menaa said: “I can understand some previous candidates’ concern.
“I am confident of the Mars One project as we have the technology to do it.”
He said early space exploration was conducted with technology “less than 10% powerful than your smart phone — that was considered as science fiction”.
In March, Mars One said Dr Roche had breached confidentiality rules around the project and therefore was no longer under consideration for the project. He had queried the selection process, claiming there had been no face-to-face meetings with the organisers except for a 10-minute interview conducted over Skype.
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