I’d be happy to be hired to go into space, or even just to float around for 30 seconds on a Zero-G flight. There is an organisation that offers astronauts for hire, and despite their insistence on txt spk in their official name “Astronauts 4 Hire” I’ve just applied to join them. Why not eh? No time like the present to try and get myself closer to that ambition of making it into orbit some day.
We know that it will be commercial companies pushing the boundaries of human spaceflight in the next few years, in the US at least, so it does raise an interesting question about who their astronauts will be. It’s likely that once tested, NASA will buy seats on these vehicles as they current do with the Russian Soyuz, but will they risk their highly-trained astronauts in tests of these rockets? I think it’s doubtful. So who then will be in the hot-seat for the first manned flights of these commercial craft? And who will train them? The equipment used to train NASA astronauts doesn’t come cheap, you can’t just magic a 6.2 million gallon pool out of nowhere for spacewalk training for example. Will NASA rent out its facilities to commercial companies? (They already have at least one mission control room that can be hired).
Would principal investigators running complex scientific experiments in space trust their work to a commercial astronaut crew? Will cuts in scientific funding mean that they are forced to explore options such as these in future, if the price is right?
All interesting questions, and perhaps Astronauts 4 Hire is the answer. Time will tell.
(If you work in astronaut training or for a commercial space company I’d love your thoughts on the above questions… )