When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” many kids say, “Astronaut!” More than a few adults would say the same.
And why not? We are captivated by the idea of exploring new worlds, having adventures in space, or just floating weightless in zero gravity. After all, zero-g makes mundane things like wringing a wet towel out into mind-blowing experiences.
The end of the Space Shuttle program, which was the most likely route to space, seemed to put this dream even further out of reach for most of us. But many new ways to potentially get to orbit are appearing on the horizon, and your chances of strapping into a capsule atop a rocket and feeling Earth’s grip loosen may be better than ever.
More and more private companies are getting into the space business, and some of them are looking for people to launch into space. One of the most ambitious new ventures, Mars One, hopes to put humans on the Red Planet by 2023. And today, the company is officially starting a worldwide search for 24 individuals to join their mission and become newly-minted astronauts.
Here are the many new ways that you can try to join the astronaut club, and a very rough, back-of-the-envelope estimate* of your odds with each of them.