It seems space travel could be possible in the very near future with the news that Nasa is allowing ‘private astronauts’ to travel to the International Space Station by 2020. Although it’s doubtful that such private astronauts will include normal people such as you and me, and it will probably be restricted to those with the exorbitant resources and funds to train and pay for the privilege.
The only way most of us are likely to get on board a US rocket bound for space is if they hid a bunch of Willy Wonka-type golden tickets in some space-related food item. Unfortunately there won’t be Oompa Loompas on board either.
What an absolute privilege it would be to see the Earth from space, to be one of the very few people who have made the extraterrestrial journey and done something that our ancestors would only ever have dreamt about and wondered about. The feelings, the sensations and the sheer human emotions I can only imagine, and then there’s the training, which I guess would be extremely challenging, making the entire experience one that would surely transform a person for the rest of their lives, or kill them.
I wonder how I would change if I were one of the lucky ones to get to don a space suit and have a gravity-free meander through a human-made space station.
To see the tiny planet on which we live from such a perspective, from ‘without’, outside the realms of our physical reality must give a person a sense of fragility, and perhaps a deep fear for our lonely little planet and all the catastrophes that could bring it to a devastating end. Maybe it would give a sense of gratitude that our world is the way it is and how fortunate we are in the vastness of the universe.
Apparently people will be allowed to spend up to 30 days on the space station and then return to Earth.
I’m not sure what there is to do on a space station for 30 days. Being human, the majesty of the Earth would soon become a familiar mundanity after only a few days and the reality of living in a floating bubble outside the atmosphere would give rise to a simultaneous terror and boredom.
Eventually the space station will become overrun with rich tourists from all over the world, hovering around taking pictures and talking nonsense to each other about the rubbish in-house entertainment.
There’ll be trouble when someone sneaks on board some ‘entertainment’ supplies in an attempt to hold the biggest party in the solar system, playing newly adapted games such as wacky weightless racing or pin the tail on the shooting star.
I wonder how I would change if I were one of the lucky ones to get to don a space suit and have a gravity-free meander through a human-made space station. What feelings would it instill in me and would it alter the way I lived my life when I returned to earth? Firstly, I’d be relieved to make it back, having seen the way the flames lick the sides of the tiny orbs that enter the Earth’s atmosphere. I’ve seen Apollo 11. There would definitely be a renewed appreciation for the planet.
Thinking about it, it might be a good idea to send all those climate sceptics up to space and show them first-hand what we all stand to lose. Perhaps it could be used as a type of retreat for such people, to teach them the error of their ways and give the rest of us a break.
Either way it’ll be exciting to see how it all happens, who gets to be the first people taking a holiday in space, and what illegal souvenirs they’ll bring back.
Christina Curran is freelance journalist based in Northern Ireland.