Astronaut Training

Today I discovered that ESA (the European Space Agency) is recruiting new astronauts – it would be wrong not to apply.

The first small steps for a children’s author (but giant leap for Europeans) have now been taken by enquiring about the relevant medical examinations. Preparing for an imminent book launch hasn’t proved sufficient motivation to get fit and lose some weight. The merest glimmer of a place aboard the International Space Station will see the kilos fall off me in no time.

Do I have any chance whatsoever? I remember Jodie Foster’s Dr Arroway in the film Contact (when confronted by the magnificence of space) said, ‘They should have sent a poet.’ I’ve got to hope ESA will consider a children’s author, complete with a Cambridge science degree, to be close enough. One of my proudest moments at university was meeting Carl Sagan, author of Contact and the wonderful series Cosmos that helped inspire my dreams of space and the Johnny Mackintosh stories.

They should have sent a poet

“They should have sent a poet”

The most serious impediment to my application may well be the UK government’s refusal to sign up to the human spaceflight aspect of ESA’s budget. The future of humanity depends, ultimately, on whether or not we leave this island Earth and become a space-faring species. Fail to do so and we will (I hope it’s later rather than sooner) become extinct. I come from an island nation, with a long and proud history of exploration and I hope government will have a change of heart.

As Sagan put it in the introduction to Cosmos:

“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. From it, we have learned most of what we know. Recently, we have waded a little out to sea, enough to dampen out toes or, at most, wet our ankles. The water seems inviting. The ocean calls. Some part of our being knows this is from where we came. We long to return.”

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~ by keithmansfield on April 20, 2008.

8 Responses to “Astronaut Training”

  1. Do you think they’ll take 2 children’s authors?

  2. I’m not sure. If you came too the International Space Station might be overrun with mice!

  3. I’m not riddled with them like fleas you know! Besides, I bet mice were one of the first worldly species to enter orbit!

  4. OK, but if any of those sharpclaws stowaway inside your spacesuit, it’s your funeral!

    You are right though – moustronauts(?) have entered orbit already:

  5. […] of Johnny Mackintosh, I attended the Society of Authors party. Sadly, this meant my newly devised Astronaut Training Programme had to be put on hold. Quite what it was a party for was never made clear. Society Chair, Tracy […]

  6. Mice and humans can coexist peacefully in Space! And they deserve their own spacesuit! No but seriously, I think it would help the astronauts feel good if they had a pet. And they could see the effect of years and years of weightlessness on a mammel.

  7. […] an exercise bike in the corner of my writing room. Since I first considered applying to be an astronaut, I’ve covered 680 km, which turns out to be the distance to the International Space Station and […]

  8. […] in 2008 I wrote a piece about the European Space Agency recruiting for astronauts, including the opportunity for a UK […]

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