Despite what Lance Bass might have led you to believe, you cannot simply sing and dance your way into a seat on a space mission. But, you don’t have to be an astronaut, either. From upstart space tourism companies to afterlife adventures, there are several ways to leave the Earth’s orbit without becoming the next Chris Hadfield.
Become a researcher at the International Space Station
Astronauts are some of the most exceptionally well-trained humans on the planet, but when it comes to medical and scientific research in space, it's important to have a specialized professional running the show. That's why NASA makes a point to recruit people in specialty medical and scientific fields and include them on space missions. If you prove yourself a hot shot in a particular area of study and can show that there's something to be gained from your research conducted in zero gravity, you could earn yourself a ride to space.
Be very, very rich
Money may not buy happiness, but damn it if it can’t buy you a ticket to the moon. Companies like Virgin Galactic, Xcor, Boeing, and SpaceX are all heavily invested in the private space travel scene. Some have even opened up reservations already to those who can afford the six to seven-figure cost of a trip out of this world and back. But considering the serious tech hiccups that have plagued many of the test flights, and the fact that the only proven viable option to pay your way into space has been halted for years, you’ll need to be patient.
Take flying lessons
If you’re not willing or able to shell out millions to rocket out of the atmosphere, you could try to earn your way out there and train to become a highly skilled pilot. Virgin Galactic, among others, is going to need some pretty talented people behind the controls of its clearly complicated speciality aircraft that it's developing to shuttle the moneyed masses to space and back.
Launch your ashes on a rocket
If it's not a huge priority to be technically alive when you get there, it's actually pretty easy to have your earthly remains rocketed into the great beyond. Companies like Mesoloft, Celestis, and Elysium Space offer unique "space burials" wherein a portion of your remains are packed into a satellite launch vehicle or strapped to a weather balloon and taken out of the atmosphere. You'd be in good company up there, too -- both Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and LSD guru Timothy Leary's ashes were aboard one of the first ever flights back in the '90s.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor.
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