Bonnie Burton is happy to keep her feet on the ground
When most kids first saw Doctor Who they wanted to hop in the first blue police box they could find and spin off to another galaxy. Kids my age dreamt of travelling with Han in the Millennium Falcon, or working alongside boffins on the USS Enterprise. As much as I love all these sci-fi franchises, the last thing I’d ever want to do is travel in outer space for real. Stars are pretty to stare at and make up fun-sounding constellation names for. But I don’t have an urge to wear a cool astronaut suit and launch myself into a galaxy far, far away. Sure, I’m eager to meet aliens from distant planets… when they come here to Earth. I don’t need to search them out. The idea of not knowing if a new planet has breathable air or human-eating plant life scares the crap out of me.
Space horror movies like Alien, Event Horizon and The Last Days On Mars remind us that there are million ways us puny humans can die in zero gravity. It could be angry creatures using us as their own egg hotel, or a supernatural force that possesses us to kill each other on a space station. Or even worse, space zombies!
On this planet, you have an endless amount of ways to survive an attack from the undead or a vengeful ghost or even an insane co-worker. But in space, you can only go where the oxygen is. That could mean a ship, a space station or the very astronaut suit you’d be wearing.
Maybe you just happen to be the kind of astronaut who was accidentally marooned on Mars when your ship left the planet without you. After all, if it happened to Matt Damon in The Martian, it can happen to anyone. At least now I know how to grow potatoes in Mars soil so I can survive. This movie will affect a whole new generation of fans who will apply for an astronaut gig at NASA. I had the opposite reaction. In my perfect world, we get to stay on this one.
In December 2015, NASA released information on how to officially apply to be an astronaut. You don’t need any flying or military experience. There’s no need to get a Masters or PhD to be an astronaut; a Bachelor’s degree in a science, maths, engineering or technology focus will do. There are no age restrictions either. Astronaut candidates in the past have ranged between ages of 26 and 46, with 34 being the average age. But there is a physical exam you have to pass before they slingshot you into space. You must be able to see objects close and far away with near 20/20 vision. You have to be between 62 and 75 inches tall. And you better be as calm as Yoda, because if your blood pressure exceeds 140/90 in a sitting position, they don’t want you on board.
Astronaut training is no walk in the park either. Candidates are required to complete military water survival, a flying syllabus, and become SCUBA qualified to prepare them for spacewalk training. There is also a test where you have to swim while wearing your astronaut suit. Astronauts are also expected to learn how to operate each system, to identify malfunctions, and find a number of solutions to help correct the problems as they arise.
But all that sounds like way too much work when I can just sit on my sofa and wait for alien races to invade. No I’m not pro-probing. I just don’t think we need to poke and prod our way through space when we can just be patient in knowing that if aliens want to hang out with us they will.
“If It happened to Matt daMon In the MartIan, It can happen to anyone”
Bonnie could be thought of as lazy but at least she’s still breathing Earth air.