Do you have what it takes to go into space?
2nd Nov 2016
There’s lot of talk about commercial space travel with the ‘world’s first commercial spaceline’ - Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic- set to launch by 2017. But if you fancy heading for the stars, how realistic are your chances of becoming one of the first space tourists?
Before you start packing your spacesuit though, a seat on the spacecraft will set you back a cool quarter of a million dollars (around £205,000) for a trip that lasts a few hours.
However, it’s predicted holidaymakers might be able to visit space for around £7,000 within the next couple of decades as more ‘spacelines’ appear in the market.1
Boarding a flight into space is never going to be as easy as hopping on a plane to sunny Spain though. If you think getting through Customs in a heaving airport is a chore, wait until you hear about the rigorous training you have to go through to earn your astronaut stripes.
To book your spot on Virgin Galactic, you’ll have to undergo three days of pre-flight preparation, including onsite training at the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport to make sure you’re both mentally and physically prepared for the adventure.
Are you cut out for a trip to space?
If this sounds like something you’d be up for, then you’re in luck - our number nerds have done the maths so you can find out, using our quiz and points system based on genuine astronaut training, what your chances are of boarding a space flight.
1. You’re going to be stranded in the space station for a month. Do you:
a) Come up with a daily routine that involves minimal physical effort to conserve energy
b) Come up with a daily routine that involves half an hour of light-to-medium exercise per day
c) Come up with a daily routine that involves two and a half hours of medium-to-high intensity exercise per day
2. A fire breaks out on the space station, what should you do?
a) Contain the fire and wait until it runs out of fuel
b) Use a fire extinguisher to stop the blaze
c) Cover the fire with a flame resistant blanket
3. You’re on a crowded bus when it breaks down in the middle of a busy road. The doors are jammed shut and people around you are starting to panic. Do you:
a) Stay as still as possible and shut your eyes to avoid feeling claustrophobic
b) Make sure the elderly lady standing to your left gets a seat before settling down to play I spy with the wailing child to your right
c) Start trying to figure out a logical way to open the doors to get everyone out
4. You’ve nearly finished a project at work when your computer crashes and you lose everything. You spend the next few hours redoing your work when the same thing happens again. Do you:
a) Compose a calm email to your boss asking for a deadline extension
b) Sob silently into your desk for a bit before heading home
c) Nip to the shop to get supplies for the all-nighter you’re about to pull
5. You’re trapped in a lift with 10 strangers and you all have your own ideas about how to get out. How long before they start to irritate you?
a) Being irritated isn’t going to get me anywhere
b) As long as I’m given a chance to voice my idea, we shouldn’t have a problem
c) They were irritating me before the lift even broke down. Could that guy’s breathing be any louder?
How did you do?
To see how your answers matched up, scroll down to find out how you scored.
1. Answer: C
It’s even more important to keep fit in space than on Earth because our bodies actually start to lose bone and muscle in microgravity, so astronauts devote a whopping two and a half hours a day to exercise.
Our bodily fluids are affected in space too, with our plasma – the fluid that carries red blood cells – significantly decreasing. Without enough plasma, our bodies can’t oxygenate as well, but this can be counteracted with exercise. So if your idea of a workout is a light jog to the corner shop, you’d best get used to hitting the gym instead.
2. Answer: A
One of the biggest dangers in space is fire, which behaves differently in zero gravity because of hot gases. They become a semi-sphere and get bigger and bigger, so, rather than trying to actively extinguish a fire, the trick is to make sure it runs out of fuel.
3. Answer: B
Astronauts are empathetic and don’t flap easily, are emotionally stable, and know how to stay - and keep others – calm in stressful situations. An astronaut is at their best when things are at their worst, so you’d have no problem smiling through the tough times and helping a distressed child.
Sure, getting out of the bus may seem like a priority, but remember you’re on a busy road. A good astronaut takes into account the whole situation, and would rather see passengers trapped and safe than free and squashed! And there’s no room for claustrophobia on a space station either – astronauts spend months on end in an area about the size of a Boeing 747.
4. Answer: C
One of the key traits you’ll need as an astronaut is to keep on working no matter what. You must have a can-do attitude and be able to persevere, and remain productive when the going gets tough.
Astronauts need to have excellent concentration skills, and be highly motivated and flexible in overcoming obstacles. So would a little blip like this get in the way of you meeting your deadline? Absolutely not.
5. Answer: A
As part of the Mars One rigorous selection process, candidates spend nine days in isolation with each other. Dr Norbert Kraft, Chief Medical Officer of Mars One, examines how candidates act in situations of prolonged close contact with one another. ‘During the journey to Mars, and upon arrival, they will spend 24 hours a day with each other. It is during this time that the simplest things may start to become bothersome. It takes a specific team dynamic to be able to handle this and it is our job to find those that are best suited for this challenge.’
So if your blood pressure has been known to go through the roof at the sound of someone chewing too loudly, you might not quite fit the bill.
How did you score?
2 or fewer correct answers:
You’re more space cowboy than astronaut just now. Go and work on those mental and physical skills and come back when you’re more prepared.
3-4 correct answers
You’ve definitely got astronaut potential but you’re not quite there yet. Brush up your skills and you could be headed for the stars real soon.
5 correct answers
Wow! Tim Peake, eat your heart out. You aced our test and should probably get applying for a trip into space right away. Let us know how it is up there.