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Space Tourism - Your Shot at Outer Space Exploration

Expert Author Laurence Winn

By Laurence Winn ,Science Relief Contributor

Let's say you've got the right stuff, decent health and a burning desire to loose your bonds to planet Earth. If you are not scheduled to fly on the Space Shuttle as a professional astronaut by the Shuttle's retirement date of 2010, maybe space tourism is your thing. Don't have $20 million for an outer space adventure to the International Space Station (ISS)? Or $200,000 for a suborbital version of space exploration? As Star Trek's Spock used to say, there are always alternatives.
You could become a science fiction celebrity. William Shatner (Captain James Tiberius Kirk of Star Trek fame) has been offered a free ride to suborbital space on Virgin Galactic's new spaceship Enterprise, under construction at Scaled Composites' Mohave, California facility. Mohave, you will recall, was the site of SpaceShipOne's X-Prize-winning flights. According to the UK's Daily Mail, Kirk turned down the freebie, saying he didn't want to get space sick, then die in a fiery crash with a cloud of vomit hanging over his funeral pyre. Picturesque, no? Probably just a negotiating ploy. Alien's Sigourney Weaver, however, is going on the two-and-a-half-hour flight.
You could become a teacher. Several of the new suborbital spaceflight companies, working through the Space Frontier Foundation's "Teacher in Space" program, are planning to give away free rides to pedagogues. Besides providing great PR and a tax write-off, this marketing strategy gives companies a direct link to the next generation of space travelers through people they presumably admire and respect.
How about striking for "outer space correspondent"? That was the title given Japanese private cosmonaut Toyohiro Akiyama (48) during his week-long visit to the (then) Soviet Union's Mir space station in December 1990. The Tokyo Broadcasting System paid a reported $12 million for the flight. Production costs brought the total to $37 million. As an aside, the Russians rushed a group of Soviet reporters to a space "bootcamp" after many griped about a Japanese citizen becoming the first journalist in space. U.S. efforts to loft a journalist faltered after the 1986 Challenger accident, but there's plenty of sentiment for trying again to get a wordsmith into orbit. As astronaut Story Musgrave has said, we've got to get spaceflight into the culture, or it will die.
Seek a career as a pilot or a crew member for one of the new spacelines. Or you could go with a government job. NASA hires pilots and payload specialists. The Europeans, too, are looking to expand their astronaut corps, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology.
Participate in a space talent reality show. Virgin Galactic's boss Sir Richard Branson is planning something called "Astronaut Idol", in which six contestants will vie for a spot on one of his spaceships. Although the first flight won't take place until 2009, the show could kick off as early as 2007.
Of course, you COULD win the lottery.

Speaking of lotteries, it has become customary to propose a national spaceflight sweepstakes to put ordinary citizens into space on a regular basis. An editorial in Ad Astra, the magazine of the National Space Society, suggested it again this past January (2006). The idea echoed the SpaceShare plan described in Buzz Aldrin's (yes the astronaut) 1996 science fiction novel Encounter with Tiber. The idea didn't originate with Buzz. In 1991, a Texas company called Space Travel Services invited people to purchase a $2.99 chance for a trip to the Russian Mir space station (no longer existent). Two months later, the principals were arrested and charged with felony counts of sponsoring an illegal lottery. The Founding Great Grandfathers did a little better. Word has it that the First Great Virginia Lottery of 1612 provided half the budget for the settlers of Jamestown, Virginia -- the earliest permanent English settlement in America.
Start small. There are many cheaper alternatives. You can fly to the edge of space on a Russian MIG-25 for about $15,000. You can experience freefall on Zero-G's modified Boeing 727 for $3,750. Any adult, or a child, can attend the U.S. Space Camp at Huntsville, Alabama for as little as $400.
Space exploration is taking off. Aided by the "iron horse" of the American Space Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz, and all the innovative vehicles of the space tourism industry, outer space is the new Wild West. Don't give up your place in history just because you are not rich. That ticket to space is practically in hand.
Laurence B. Winn is an engineer and spaceflight advocate. His web site, www.alienlandscapes.biz, provides information about traveling, living, and working in space, and about sustainable living on Earth.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/329051

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Posted by Omkarr singh on Tuesday, January 01, 2013. Filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0

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