If you're sick of life on Earth, NASA might just have the answer: experience a mission to Mars instead. The American space agency is officially looking for volunteers to apply for a year-long experiment simulating a journey from Earth to Mars. You'll start in autumn of next year, which leaves plenty of time to work out how to greet any potential Martians.
The only rub is that you won't be going to the real Mars. Indeed, there is no space travel involved at all, and very little in the way of any travel apart from the journey to NASA's Johnson Space Centre in deepest Texas. Once there - we're assuming of course that you'll be selected - you'll be taken with three others to what NASA is grandly calling Mars Dune Alpha. This turns out to be a 1,700 square-foot 3-D printed module, about the size of a four bedroomed house, but with a few more challenges than making sure you take out the bins on the right day.
NASA says successful applicants will "simulate the challenges of a mission on Mars, including resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays and," it adds mysteriously, "other environmental stressors." We're guessing this is much worse than any bin-ageddon and probably more akin to the trouble the crew had with annoyed super-computer HAL in Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'.
The purpose could, of course, not be more serious: to ensure that any future mission to Mars that does actually leave Earth puts the health and safety of its crew at the forefront, not least because of the learning from the problems - perhaps think 'Apollo 13' which turns out better for astronauts than '2001' - you'll encounter in Texas.
Beyond being the right age - 30 to 55 - and a non-smoker, there are just one or two other required qualifications that you might have up your virtual spacesuit's sleeve. A Master's degree in an appropriate science-based subject is one. If you lack that, then 1,000 hours piloting an aircraft might just suffice. Oh, and you need to be a US citizen or permanent resident. Other than that, it's a straightforward countdown to blast-off, or staying on the ground as it's also known.
Perhaps a more down-to-earth aircraft is more your vibe: discover Opener's Blackfly electric one-person plane.
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