Passenger Training and Certification
How much training will the new breed of commercial suborbital astronaut require? I think it is safe to presume he or she will require more training than the few days set aside by XCOR for its spaceflight participants and certainly much less training than that required by government trained astronauts preparing for increments on board the International Space Station (ISS). But where does the sweet spot lie? How long will it take to train a payload specialist to work efficiently and productively in an environment that will be extremely unforgiving of real-time snafus? And let’s not forget what the demands of that environment are. First there is the wow factor brought on by those jaw-dropping views (Figure 7.1) and then there is the cost of the time spent in microgravity: $150,000 divided by four minutes equals US$37,500 per minute, or close to US$625 per second. Don’t drop anything!! My suggestion to you if you plan to fly as a payload specialist is to gain as much experience in analog environments as possible. Become a scuba-diver, learn to fly an aircraft, and gain as much exposure to weightlessness on board parabolic flights as possible.