November 8, 2016

Wannabe Astronauts can now Apply Online.

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Aspiring astronauts can now apply online to float and tinker around in space.

This is a far cry from the days when Neil Armstrong, Yuri Gargarin and Sally Ride followed a more circuitous, arcane route to outer space.

That said, one still needs to be made of the right stuff. Therefore my 8-year-old son would probably not make the cut. Stargazing and fascination with celestial travel is commendable, but to don a spacesuit, one needs a tad more flight experience and degrees.

But to begin with, as per the application website, the key requirements consist of the following (comments in parenthesis ARE mine):

>> Applicant must be a U.S. citizen (Resident “aliens” need not apply.) 

>> Position subject to pre-employment background investigation. (Yes, we don’t want terrorists with shoe bombs boarding our spacecrafts.)

>> This is a drug-testing designated position. (There goes your recreational joint on the weekends.)

>> Frequent travel may be required. (Really? Intergalactically or just around town?)

>> Selectee must pass a pre-employment medical examination. (Yes, spacesuit allergies are not helpful.)

>> Selectee must complete a financial disclosure statement. (You mean no off-shore assets or credit debt? Damn!)

But on a serious note, as mentioned above, one needs a little learning—like degrees in Aviation Technology, Medical Technology and Engineering Technology.

And the objective of becoming an astronaut these days? Let’s see, according to the application website:

“The next class of astronauts may fly on any of four different U.S. spacecraft during their careers: the International Space Station (ISS), two new commercial spacecraft being built by U.S. companies, and NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle.”

Four spacecrafts? I can’t decide…I guess ditherers need not apply either.

“Additionally, the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, now in development, will launch astronauts on missions to the proving ground of lunar orbit where NASA will learn to conduct complex operations in a deep space environment before moving on to longer duration missions on the journey to Mars.”

I’m tired of Mars. How about Pluto? Let’s mix it up a little guys.

Seriously, I don’t mean to debunk the whole space program. After all, we pay for it. You know, just a few trillion here and there.

Does any other country spend that kind of dosh on space exploration? Not really—but Richard Branson (of Virgin fame) does.

Get this: Virgin Galactic, Branson’s Space Tourism company, plans to offer suborbital flights into space for well-paying customers. And he’s been developing it for years. However, many setbacks, one fatal crash test and the diversification of his business interests, have repeatedly stalled the tycoon’s space tourism project. But it would now seem to be back on track.

The problem is, no one really knows how many more years (and billions of dollars) it will take before we can don our own commercial spacesuits, grab our digital gizmos for good pics, pay the projected $250,000 per seat fare, and get to cavort around a suborbital space flight as a—well, “space tourist.”

And the point of all this? In Branson’s words:

“We hope to create thousands of astronauts over the next few years and bring alive their dream of seeing the majestic beauty of our planet from above, the stars in all their glory and the amazing sensation of weightlessness . . . The development will also allow every country in the world to have their own astronauts, rather than the privileged few.”

So there you have it. You can become a “serious” astronaut by applying through NASA’s online job page, or just a casual (touristy-type) one if you have a quarter-million dollars in your piggy bank.

Personally, I’d rather use my telescope or do a little sleep time astral traveling for that “galactic experience.”

From where I stand, I’d rather see some of those trillions of dollars being spent on cleaning up our environmental pollution, feeding the world’s poor and educating the illiterate millions on our little planet. And when we’ve resolved all of our earthling issues—then, I believe, would be a good time for some space traveling.

You think?



Author: Gerard A. Murphy

Image: Instagram @sliceyexplicit

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina


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