Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Contact us    |    Advertise    |   Help   RSS icon Twitter icon Facebook icon
    Home  ·  News  ·  Forum  ·  Stories  ·  Image Gallery  ·  Columns  ·  Encyclopedia  ·  Videos
Find: in
Unexplained Mysteries is always on the look out for new article writers and contributors. If you've written articles, reviews, news stories or other material that you would like published for free on the site then we want to hear from you - Click here for details.
  Columnist: Waspie Dwarf

Image credit: NASA

Is the word 'astronaut' obsolete?


Posted on Saturday, 19 October, 2013 | 8 comments
Columnist: Waspie Dwarf


As someone born in the sixties I am old enough to remember men walking on the Moon... just. I remember Skylab and Salyut. I remember the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project and the handshake in space between astronaut and cosmonaut.

I remember that April day when a totally untried vehicle, the space shuttle Columbia, blasted off from Florida. I remember the combination of excitement and trepidation I felt as I watched the TV.

I also remember the tears I shed 5 years later when Challenger exploded killing her crew of seven.

Back then you knew what an astronaut was. They were explorers pushing the boundaries, daring to do mighty things. They were heroes, doing one of the most glamorous and dangerous jobs in the world. Brave beyond belief, they were the representatives of mankind in the final frontier.

These men (with the notable exception of Valentina Tereshkova they were all men until the shuttle era) were mostly test pilots. Super fit, extremely intelligent. The best of the best. These were the closet thing to Superman that Homo sapiens had to offer.

A cosmonaut was the same, just Russian. They were rendered no less heroic because of ideological differences between nations.

The space shuttle brought us a new breed of astronaut, the Payload Specialist. These were non-NASA astronauts, experts in the specific satellite or experiments being flown. Whilst not trained to fly or operate the shuttle itself they still had a high degree of training. They were still astronauts.

Then came the International Space Station. The Russians, in conjunction with the US company Space Adventures, began to fly fare-paying tourists to the ISS. The Russians did not call them cosmonauts, instead referring to them as “space flight participants”. Space was open to everybody... well everybody that could afford to pay $20 million. These tourists still required 6 months of training. They were still required to learn Soyuz systems. Still required to undergo survival training in case of emergency landings. They were still required to pass medicals. They may have paid for the privilege but it can still be argued that they were still astronauts/cosmonauts.

But things are changing. Next year Virgin Galactic will start flying passengers on sub-orbital flights. These flights will exceed the 100 km (62 mile) limit of the Karman line which officially marks the start of space and so, technically, the passengers will be classed as astronauts.

In the years to come other companies will offer rival services. Prices will begin to fall. Thousands, maybe tens of thousands will fly into space in the next couple of decades. I have no problem with this. I envy them. I wish I had the money, but, with all the good will in the world, I can not consider these passengers as astronauts. We do not consider the passenger on a 747 to be the same as the pilot flying the vehicle and space travel should be no different.

I believe that the time has come to either re-define the word “astronaut” so that it does not include merely passengers or we need to use a new term to separate those heroes from the fare-paying tourist.

The first human on Mars may already have been born, he or she will be a special person. A new Gagarin or Armstrong. A hero for generations to come. Someone children will aspire to copy. That person deserves better than to have a job title that fails to distinguish them from a wealthy tourist.

Article Copyright© Waspie Dwarf - reproduced with permission.



 
  Other articles by Waspie Dwarf

Satellites – keeping the peace
Columnist: Waspie Dwarf | Posted on 12-27-2013 | 1 comment
On 6th December an Atlas 5 rocket roared into the Californian skies. On board was a satellite known only as NROL-39. It's design, purpose and mission kept secre...


31st October 2000, an historic date in history ?
Columnist: Waspie Dwarf | Posted on 11-8-2013 | 0 comments
There are some historic dates in the history of space exploration. 4th October 1957, the space age begins with the launch of Sputnik 1. 12th April 1961, Yuri Ga...

 
Last updated forum topics
Forum icon 
Articles by other columnists
Lord Brinsley Clancarty - UFO disclosure
Posted 9-14-2016
A look at the story of the Eighth Earl of Clancarty.
 
Predicting death
Posted 9-3-2016
Kathleen Meadows talks about how she intuitively predicts when someone will die.
 
'Mad' Mollie Fancher, the Starving Saint
Posted 8-27-2016
Sean Casteel tells the story of Mollie Fancher.
 
A map of the spirit world
Posted 8-19-2016
Does the soul survive after death and if so, where does it go ?
 
UFOs: The view from modern Russia
Posted 8-15-2016
Exploring the history of the UFO phenomenon.
 
The Time of Moses
Posted 7-30-2016
William B Stoecker takes a look at the history of the biblical figure Moses.
 
The case for the UFO
Posted 7-17-2016
A look at the late UFO researcher Morris K. Jessup.
 

 View: View more column articles
 
Top   |  Home   |   Forum   |   News   |   Image Gallery   |  Columns   |   Encyclopedia   |   Videos   |   Polls
UM-X 10.7 Unexplained-Mysteries.com © 2001-2015
Privacy Policy and Disclaimer   |   Cookies   |   Advertise   |   Contact   |   Help/FAQ