Astronauts wanted, experience essential

A space holiday firm has become the first commercial company to advertise for professional astronauts. Bigelow Aerospace, founded by the head of a budget motel chain in the US, wants experienced spacemen working in orbit and on the ground.

Rookies need not apply. Applicants must have completed a training programme with a government or recognised space agency and to have flown a space mission.

Boss Bob Bigelow already has two test models of his inflatable space modules in orbit around the Earth, launched by Russian rockets.

He plans to build orbiting hotels to provide out-of-this-world holidays and has his sights set on the Moon and even Mars too.

Bigelow’s modules, which can be linked together sausage-style to form a space station, are launched in compact form and then expanded to full size.

Space duties spelled out in the job offer include:

Performing as a professional astronaut aboard the Bigelow Aerospace Station Complex; managing all onboard aspects of employee and customer astronaut personal safety; maintaining the space stations inside but with some spacewalks too; and helping clients with payloads or experiments.

On Earth the spacemen will train new astronauts and operate mission control.

Mr Bigelow, from Las Vegas, who made his fortune from Budget Suites of America, is aiming to bring the cost of a ticket to space down to £30,000-£60,000. His other big ideas include a cruise ship to carry 100 passengers and 50 crew on a trip around the moon.

As well as the unspecified number of astronauts’ positions the company has 44 other job offers on its website. They are likely to appeal to NASA staff uncertain about the future after President Obama cancelled any return to the Moon.

The other big leaders in the space tourism business at the moment are Virgin Galactic who are currently making test flights that will lead to sub-orbital trips to the edge of space.

• Discover space for yourself and do fun science with a telescope. Here is Skymania’s advice on how to choose a telescope. We also have a guide to the different types of telescope available.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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