Iheb Mejri believes colonizing Mars is the "next logical step" in maintaining the survival of the human species.
The 19-year-old University of Ottawa engineering student has signed up for a one-way ticket to the red planet as part of the Mars One mission to establish a permanent human settlement on Earth's neighbour.
"We're on a planet with a finite amount of resources, so unless we become 100 per cent efficient at recycling, it's really impossible for us to remain here indefinitely. And, who doesn't want to expand and move beyond their limits?" he said.
Mejri survived the most recent cut in the astronaut selection process and is now one of 705 remaining potential settlers. Mars One, a not-for-profit foundation based in the Netherlands, plans to send its first crew in 2024.
- Mars One cuts 21 Canadians from one-way mission to the red planet
- Canadians who volunteered for a one-way mission to Mars
- Why some Canadians want to die on Mars
"I've always believed that as a species, we belong amongst the stars," Mejri said. "One day or another, it's going to happen. It's the next logical step to ensure our survival as a group."
If he is not selected for the mission to Mars, Mejri said he will complete his biomedical and mechanical engineering studies with the hopes of a career creating prosthetic implants, such as robotic arms.
"I've always been obsessed with advancing technology and the entirety of civilization, whether it be space travel or building robots, anything, really," he said. "Honestly, I just want to impact humanity in a positive way and if it's not by going to Mars, it'll be by other means. But this is an opportunity and I intend to take it if it presents itself and it comes to fruition."
The Mars One selection committee plans to interview the remaining 705 candidates.
The $6-billion project is funded by sponsors and private investors. It began with a pool of more than 200,000 applicants from 100 countries. There are 54 Canadians remaining on the list, including Mejri.