Homer: Hello, is this NASA?
Homer: Good! Listen, I’m sick of your boring space launches. Now I’m just an ordinary, blue-collar slob, but I know what I likes on TV.
Scientist: How did you get this number?
Homer: Shut up! And another thing, how come I can’t get no Tang ’round here?
–The Simpsons, Episode Deep Space Homer
Last week, I told you that Starts With A Bang has been put into the lucky position to ask the first group of private/commercial astronauts anything! And the response I got was absolutely wonderful!
I think this is a big deal, because NASA isn’t going to be the only entity responsible for astronauts for very long.
Instead, private citizens and companies will be responsible for much of the maintenance, installation, and both scientific and commercial endeavors in space. Who will these astronauts be?
Private citizens, with regular jobs, just like you and me. But, unlike us, they have a specialized skill set that prepares them for the difficulties one must face when performing intricate tasks in outer space. We are fortunate enough to get in on the ground floor of the commercial astronaut enterprise, and I have (with much help from you) selected five questions to ask Astronauts4Hire, the first group of private astronauts assembled and ready for service!
So let’s see what we’ve got for them!
1.) What’s a Commercial Astronaut, and how does the “commercial” Astronaut differ from other Astronauts, Cosmonauts, and Space Tourists? (From Kathleen R. via facebook.)
2.) Do the requirements and training differ from NASA’s? What types of background and training do you (as private astronauts) have? (From Sean H. via facebook and Mike.)
3.) What are your primary motivations and personal goals for wanting to be an astronaut? Was this your childhood dream? Is there a special scientific/engineering/patriotic/personal aspiration that you hope to fulfill? (Question synthesized from Matthew, Mike, and Sean H.)
4.) Being commercial astronauts, what types of missions and tasks will you likely be performing? How much control will the private sector have over the types of missions conducted, and what are the other factors, if any? (From crd2, Jeremy F., and Sean H.)
5.) As a commercial astronaut who might be hired independently for a Mars mission, would you go on any craft, even if it wasn’t your own country sponsoring the journey? Also, would you go if you knew it was a one-way trip? (From Heather, the great blogger over at pillownaut. For the record, this is my favorite question!)
I like this last one so much that I have a general poll for you readers: if you had the opportunity, knowing that you would surely die on the Red Planet, would you go on a one-way voyage to Mars?