More than 1,000 candidates from 200,000 hopefuls have been chosen to train for a private Mars colonization mission, which will be partly funded by a reality TV show that will follow the candidates' training and subsequent steps.
The two Irishmen who are willing to leave their families and lives as they have known them behind are Dr Joseph Roche and Steve Menaa.
Roche grew up on a small farm in Kildare and claims to have spent many nights staring up at the stars dreaming of space exploration.
In 2007, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astrophysics from Trinity College. He completed his PhD in 2012 and is now Research Projects Coordinator for Science Gallery.
Speaking about the possibility of life on Mars he said "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.”
Independent.ie reports that Steve Menaa, originally from France, wants to represent Ireland in space because he is motivated by a deep interest in space and exploration.
“I would like to go because the last big leap of mankind was landing on the moon... mankind will be inspired. If the trip is successful, it might inspire space agencies to make ships to come back.”
“In every stage, it’s risky. Am I scared? Yes and no. To be scared and excited is quite close. I am nervous – but I could be hit by a car tomorrow.”
Menaa will leave behind his 14 year-old son, who he hasn’t yet told about the Mars One project. “I will miss my son... communication won’t be possible. That is the worst challenge to overcome.”
“He’s living in France with his mother. He’s coming in two weeks and I’ll tell him then. He will be very proud – we’re very close.”
The IT engineer was originally the only ‘public’ applicant from Ireland, but all applicants accepted in the second round have now been instructed to make their profiles public following a medical assessment. More second round selection information will be released in April.
Mars One was set up in 2011 by two Dutch men with the goal of establishing permanent human life on the red planet by 2025.
There are four selection rounds in total, with the third and fourth rounds being open to a public vote. The space-bound settlers will be on a one-way ticket to the Red Planet, which lies a minimum 55 million km and six months travel from Earth. Costs are too high to contemplate a return trip.
Mars One said the space-bound settlers will be on a one-way ticket to the Red Planet which lies a minimum 35 million miles and six months travel from Earth. Costs are too high to contemplate a return trip.
Mars One Chief Medical Officer Norbert Kraft said in a statement released in late December that the next phases in 2014 and 2015 will include "rigorous simulations, many in team settings, with focus on testing the physical and emotional capabilities of our remaining candidates.
"We expect to begin understanding what is motivating our candidates to take this giant leap for humankind."
Once underway, the Mars One mission will begin sending groups of four to Mars to begin populating the planet.
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