A CORK-based computer scientist is one of six new candidates contending for a place on a one-way mission to Mars.
Steve Menaa, 46, is one of 100 candidates vying to make it through to the final stage of the Mars One mission.
The Tunisian native, who lived in Paris before moving to Ireland eight years ago, is eager to be in the running for an extraordinary maiden voyage which aims to establish a human settlement on the red planet.
“I love to explore new places and I am very excited about this project to colonise Mars,” he said. “It would be an honour to take part in the most ambitious mission of mankind.”
Mr Menaa made the astronaut selection process, that replaces former candidates who were unable to proceed to the next round.
Astrophysicist Dr Joseph Roche had made the final 100 and was vying to become the first Irishman in space.
But the Trinity College-based scientist was kicked off the programme in March after criticising it in an interview with a blogger for the Medium news site.
A spokesperson for the mission told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme that Roche was no longer be in the running because the interview had breached a confidentiality agreement.
Mr Menaa now finds himself alongside five new candidates, one from India, another from Uruguay and three from the US, as they enter the next stage of the rigorous selection process, where the final 100 are reduced to 24.
Over 200,000 people originally applied to take part in the one-way trip to the red planet.
The purpose of Mars One is to create a permanent human settlement on the planet, sending 24 people into space by 2025. Crews of four are expected to depart every two years from when the mission begins in just under ten years.
The total cost is set to be around $6bn (€5.26bn) and the project is backed by Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp.