'I'll probably never come back to Earth'

02/05/14 at 09:14 AM | 0 Comments

Artist's depiction of Mars One astronauts and their colony on the Red Planet and Steve Menaa with his son Axel.

A Cobh man who's still in contention for a one-way trip to Mars has said he is prepared for the challenge if chosen for the ambitious project.

French-born IT engineer, Steve Menaa is now one of 706 people across the globe in the running for the Mars One initiative, a privately funded project that is seeking to set up a permanent human colony on Mars. 

More than 200,000 volunteers initially applied to become the first inhabitants on Martian soil, submitting one-minute videos explaining why they wanted to visit the Red Planet. Mars One plans for fully-trained crews of four to start departing Earth every two years in 2024. Each astronaut will be put through eight years of training and in addition to the expertise and work experience they must already possess, they will also learn new skills such as physical and electrical repairs to the settlement structures, cultivating crops in confined spaces, and addressing both routine and serious medical issues such as dental upkeep, muscle tears and bone fractures. 

Mr Menaa (45), who has lived in Cork for the past six years, revealed that in the coming months he will be interviewed by the Mars One selection committee. "I am very excited as I am now a step closer, from the initial 1058 around the globe we are shortlisted to 706 and I am still in." he said. In an email to Mr Menaa, Mars One organisers stated: "From the originally 1058 pre-selected astronaut candidates, nearly one-third dropped out in the first phase of this selection round. Besides not being able to provide the medical statement or make their profile public, several others withdrew their candidacy due to personal reasons."

Mr Menaa said his 14-year-old son Axel will be both "proud" and "sad" if his father is selected. "He will be very proud that his last name makes history." he said.

"However, even if live communication won’t be possible due to the distance between the two planets we can still email, text and video email. The maximum delay would be 40 minutes one way, which is bearable." said Mr Menaa.

If he is chosen, the Cork-based dad is determined not view the one-way trip to Mars as a "sacrifice" but admitted it would be a "huge challenge" to be part of a mission that will "probably never come back to Earth".

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