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Meet Mohammad Sallam: Egypt’s potential Mars settler

A lifelong dream to travel into space could soon become a reality for one Egyptian

Rajia Aboulkheir

Published: Updated:

He always dreamt of going to Mars, but never in a million years did he think the Red Planet would ever really become his new home.

But Egyptian, Mohammad Sallam has been shortlisted as potential participant for the historic one-way trip to Mars.

“I’ve always dreamt of being an astronaut and now it seems to be happening,” Sallam told Al Arabiya News.

While Sallam has been dreaming of this journey since he was young, it was only in 2013 that he found a real opportunity to realize it.

“I was fascinated by the planets and astrology as a young child but in Egypt it is not very easy to follow this path,” he said, “I had to forget about it for a long time.”

“But in 2011, after the revolution, I decided to get a telescope and go back to my studies and research this field in order to achieve my dream,” he said, adding that he had tried to join NASA more than once.

“When I heard about Mars One in 2013, I immediately applied and was shortlisted from a list of many applicants,” Sallam said.

In 2013, the Dutch company Mars One offered the opportunity for people from around the world to participate to the first ever journey to the Red Planet.

A few months later, the privately-funded group selected 50 men and 50 women from more than 200.000 candidates to train and compete to be among the first people to ever step foot on Mars.

Of the remaining candidates, just four will be sent to the Red Planet, in 10 years.

Speaking about the selection process, the aspiring astronaut said: “I had to fill in a form, send a 70-second video and undergo a physical examination.”

One-way trip

Despite never coming back to Earth, Sallam said “the final goal, the adventure and the impact the journey will have on humanity is enough to motivate me.”

The one-way journey may be scheduled for 2025 but the Egyptian has already made some plans.

“If I am selected, I will be taking the Egyptian flag, the Quran as well as a piano,” he said.

He said that after his family, the thing he would miss the most if selected, was chocolate.

“My parents passed away and I live with my younger brother,” he said. “Given this situation it makes it a bit easier for me to travel, especially since the rest of my family are very supportive.”

“But if I have to pick one item, it would be chocolate,” Sallam said.

Sallam said he would be disappointed if he was not selected. But said reaching the stage he had so far was “satisfying” and “an unbelievable experience.”

In the next few months all 100 candidates will undergo psychological and physical tests and training, so that Mars One can identify which participants can overcome all the hardships of the seven-month one way trip.

The company will later select 24 people, who will take part in a reality TV show that will track their training. The show will fund the $6 billion mission.