For a good part of my adult life I always thought my future would lie in the realms of IT and computer hardware. I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember and a hardware enthusiast ever since I was able to earn enough money to buy my own computer. About 2 years ago though I discovered my passion for aeronautics, which after a very short time led me to find my love for space and all things aeronautical. At first I was surprised by this path that I followed, until I delved into the realms of space further.
Back in the hay days of space everything was uncharted territory. The first artificial satellite of earth, Sputnik 1, was launched upon what basically amounted to a retrofitted ICBM and most of the early days hardware for NASA’s missions were also re-purposed military hardware. It was only during the Apollo era that NASA started developing rockets purely for space, although they did continue to source other things directly from the military.
Pilots and mission specialists alike have been chosen mostly from the Air Forces. Initially this was due to the pilots’ skill with experimental craft, which is what all of the space craft were classified as at the time (with good reason!). More recently however we’ve seen more and more crew of current space missions being picked from the ranks of civilian staff, such as the crew of the last space shuttle mission which included only 3 military/ex-military personnel with the rest being picked from either the Educator in Space program or from NASA’s direct recruiting schemes.
Unfortunately for someone like me the ranks of NASA are probably a little far off. My technical expertise doesn’t really lend itself to the skill set required to make it as a mission specialist (unless they start hosting Windows servers up there!), although if they ever want to get an Australian into the educator program I’d definitely be the first in line. There are other opportunities for me to become an astronaut however.
Private space flight companies are begining to pop up all over the place with the most advanced out of the lot being Virgin Galactic. The pilots of the first craft, SpaceShipOne, are primarily from civilian ranks with one exception, Brian Binnie who happens to share a similar heritage to that of the first astronauts in military test piloting. It is within these ranks that I intend to find my way into space. Whilst the market only barely exists at this point in time for people who wish to fly others into space I believe that by the time I’m ready to undergo training in piloting such an aircraft there will be a healthy niche market established, allowing me to fulfill my dreams of flying myself and others into space.
But what will I do with myself until then? Of course there is only one answer, follow in the footsteps of those who came before me. Over the next couple years I will be undergoing certification for my Commercial Pilot’s License, which in turn will lead me to piloting all sorts of aircraft. By the time I’m done with this I’m hoping Virgin Galactic will be looking to be recruiting, and there I’ll be.
It is that thought alone that will keep me going through any challenge that I may face.