I don’t think this will happen in my lifetime but this is the number 1 experience on the bucket list, visit space. This is the ultimate getting away from it all and a way of changing perspective on life. I thought i’d have a look around and see if there were any ways i could do this now and came up with the following.
Visit Mars via a Reality Gameshow
This was always to incredulous but people actually entered and won the chance to travel and form part of the first space colony on Mars. There is actually a company, Mars-One totalling 8 people which is actively offering talking about establishing a colony on Mars in 2025. Originally, a one way trip aboard one of the first flights was offered as a prize for 50 men and 50 women who would then compete to be the first crews on a one way mission to Mars. The winners were announced in Feb 2015 and we await to see what happens next. Originally the winners would take off in 2018 but now the dates have been pushed back. They reckon it will cost $6bn to do this, mainly to be funded through tv rights. This will be one to keep a eye on but something i can’t believe is a credible way of getting in to space. I also missed entering and like most of my travelling want to come back.
Become an Astronaut & Visit it the International Space Station
With the recent blast off of Tim Peake in to space, this is something that you might be able to do with the right background. In fact they are recruiting for new astronauts now according to some new reports. The views sent back from space are incredible and he is getting to spend 199 days there before coming back home. However he has been in training since selection in 2009 and so has taken 6 years worth of training and a background in aviation having flown for the RAF. I can’t actually find how to apply but he trained via the European Space Agency. In the absence of finding the application form this one is out also.
Visit Space Via a Space Tour
It is actually possible to register interest in travelling to space already. Virgin Galactic being the most high profile but there are other experiences that i probably need to look at more. At the moment to fly Galactic i need $250,000 which is paid upfront with no date for take off. Given the recent test failure this seems some way off. Virgin galactic actually see space travel as a way of educating people on the need to preserve life and that we are all on a very fragile lifeboat in the middle of the universe. If i win the lottery i might enter but not on the first flight.
Visit the Edge of Space in a Mig
Apparently you can visit the edge of space via a flight in a Mig-25 Fulcrum. I haven’t flown a Mig since my early adventures on my Atari ST, so i am potentially lacking the flight skills to pilot one myself but you can ride as a passenger in one. The experience is offered via Incredible Adventures or Space Affairs and is one of many different experiences on offer including full spaceflight. The Mig trip gives you the experience of seeing the curvature of the earth something that represents one of the many appeals of space travel. I couldn’t find a price for this but guessing this is next in rank on price.
So you can actually go weightless now through Go-Zero adventures. It doesn’t actually cost as much as i thought it would to do, a mere snip at $4950 plus tax, flying from a number of locations around the US over the course of 2016. For this you get 15-30 seconds of weightlessness and a video of the experience. Now this doesn’t seem too bad but one of the appeals of space travel is the awesome views you might get of the curvature of the earth and the views of that against the blackness of space. So with a lack of windows this one is out also.
Just Visit A Spaceport
Not as obvious now as visiting Cape Canaveral. I visited here a few years ago mainly to see the space shuttle which had just been brought there and put on display after the shuttle programme had been shut down. Unfortunately you won’t see launches anymore of the space shuttle.
The best you can do these days is visit the old mission control and view the history of space flight. The Rocket ship garden housing some of the older rockets which have visited space over the years. You can see the Apollo capsules here which have been to space and come back. Apollo 13 being the most famous. The film Apollo 13 is one of my favourites and shows not only the incredible nature of space travel in the 1960’s but also how amazing the pilots were at the time and the risks they take and still take today in flying in to space. Makes you wonder whether you’d be willing to take the same risks if offered that chance today.
The space shuttle is now also on display here in a permanent exhibition hanger. The other shuttle which i have visited is onboard the Intrepid Aircraft Carrier in New York.
There are very few flights from this site now but there are a number of new emerging spaceports around the world which you can visit.
There are a number of commercial places now operating out of America such as the Spaceport in New Mexico which houses Virgin Galactic and Space X flight programmes. This seems the most practical option and just requires a flight to the US and then a car hire out to New Mexico. You can visit daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Maybe a more extreme adventure is to go to Russia and visit the active government space programme there. Here you can do a number of tours such as a day trip to Star City from Moscow via GoRussia which costs £125 for a day trip. You need approval from the Russian government to visit the centre so have to plan in advance.
You could be more adventurous and try and see the remains of the Russian programme in Kazakhstan where recently people have visited the old space centre at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. A Russian journalist and photographer took these amazing photos while touring the site apparently he just walked in. This for me has to be the ultimate in seeing history without all the tourist rubbish they surround it with these days.
None of these ways get me in to space but are appealing options for finding out more.
Science Museum, London
I think in fairness this is the closest i am going to get anytime soon to space is by visiting the science museum in London. Here for free you can see a range of exhibitions on space and space exploration. It is open 7 days a week and currently has a dedicated exhibition called Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age. Charting the history of Russia’s journey in to space and the dawn of a new age of exploration. This is running until mid-March and is on my list of winter things to do in London. There is a video below by scientist Brian Cox on why you should go.