Seven ways to get into space
Space is the ultimate frontier. Here’s how to get your ticket to where no man has gone before.
Let's be honest, planet Earth may offer numerous incredible adventures but if you want a real adventure, you need to look beyond. Forget climbing Everest – think higher. Make that a lot higher. Well, fortunately for you, the new millenium is offering not one, not two, but multiple ways for your average joe to get into space (provided you have deep pockets or are very lucky.) Here's a look at your best chances at catching a ride on a rocket ship.
1. Become a Russian cosmonaut
The deal: Pay $55million and you can join Russian cosmonauts on a trip to the international space station, 250 miles above earth. Pay an additional $55 million and they'll fly around the moon on the way home for you.
For: Tech tycoons, lottery winners
Key sell: Circle the earth every 90 minutes, go on a space walk, live and work alongside Russian cosmonauts.
Inside intel: Last minute cancellations mean you might be able to grab a slot for a few million so worth putting your name down.
2. Probe space on Virgin Galactic
The deal: For a bargain $250,000 you can book a flight on the Virgin Galactic, which is offering suborbital space flights for space tourists. “I've dreamt of this since I was six years old,” says aeronautical engineer and entrepreneur Julian Ranger, who is 152nd in line to fly. Will it be worth it? “God yes,” he says. “The whole thing will last two and a half hours, I'll be in space for 15 to 20 minutes and 5 to 10 minutes in zero gravity. 2016 will be a big year for me!”
For: Wealthy Star Trek fans
Key sell: Despite the tragic crash last October of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, the project is still moving forward and a new, safer space plane is being built.
3. Live on Mars
The deal: Sounds like a suicide mission: Mars One is a project to colonise the red planet. Just getting there – Mars is a minimum of 56 million km away – will take seven months. But it's real exploration, says Bea Henington, who's signed up.
“It would be the adventure of a life time,” she says. “I've lived half my life here on Earth, why not live the other half on Mars? It also gives me pride in knowing that I'll be doing something significant to further humanity's existence for the future.”
For: Conspiracy theorists
Key sell: You'll be going where no man has gone before.
Inside intel: Over 200,000 have applied. They can't all be crazy: “Lots of people in the past did incredibly stupid things to put us where we are today,” adds Ranger. “If I wasn't married with children, my hand would be straight up.”
4. The Danish DIY option
The deal: “All the components you need to go to space can be bought from your local hardware store.” So says Mads Wilson, one of several volunteers on private Danish space operation Copenhagen Suborbitals, which aims to put a man in space not for government or business, but just for the hell of it. The downside? It won't be you. “Already there's a long list of volunteers,” he says. But you can still join. The project is crowd funded so you can make a donation and feel part of the team.
For: Anyone who loves tinkering in their shed.
Key sell: Solo flight at 3,600kph
Chance of return: Good
Inside intel: Not for anyone who dislikes confined spaces. The diameter of the capsule is just 1m and the astronaut will need to sit in the cannonball position.
5. Ashes to ashes
The deal: Failed your NASA exams? Don't worry, there is another way to get yourself into space – after you're dead. Astobotic is one of only a couple of companies with a commercial plan for unmanned space flights to the moon, taking payloads to the planet. One of them could be your cremated ashes.
For: Ageing astronauts
Key sell: You can spread your ashes from planes, the sea and off mountain peaks. Why not the moon?
Inside intel: A payload to the moon used to cost around $10 - $20 million per pound of weight but now costs under $1 million. Bargain!
6. Join NASA
The deal: The traditional ticket to space was via a government sponsored space programme like NASA. At one time to be an astronaut was every boy's dream. Entry requirements are fierce. Candidates must have logged over 1,000 hours of pilot in command time on a jet aircraft, among a host of other attributes. Being an E.T. fan doesn't count.
For: All American heroes
Key sell: That spacesuit. That badge on your arm.
Inside intel: Don't apply if you're 6ft 1 or above
7. Go to space for $10* (there's a catch)
The deal: Can't afford the $55 million? Well here's a deal you can't refuse. For as little as $10 you could go to the moon. Well... when we say you, what we mean are your digital memories. SocialSafe, a social media storage company has teamed up with Astrobotic to put your digital content in a time capsule for other space visitors. But if they read your Facebook posts, they may wonder whether we offer intelligent life.
For: Social media fiends, UFO theorists.
Key sell: Leave your mark on the moon
Inside intel: The project will launch in 2015