No, you don’t want to be an astronaut

It’s an affliction of boys who don’t know any better. I like to ask people who would be an astronaut whether they like the physical realities of airline travel: being packed a confined volume for hours with inedible food, having to use a bathroom that’s barely big enough to turn around in, trying to sleep so far from the comfort of a real bed. None of them like it.

What about prison? Does anyone like the idea of being in the same cell day after day, stuck with the same people, shitting in a seatless toilet, looking out the same window? If prison is any deterrent, the answer must be “no”. So why on earth does anyone think they would enjoy being stuck on a spacecraft for months at a time?

Somehow, they think it will magically be wonderful to travel in conditions arguably worse than this (excrement vacuums? no hot food?) for months because space is cool!

The mortality rate of space travel is 4%: 200 times higher than the rate of Marines during the Afghan war.

During once such discussion, someone compared his desire for space travel with my plans to visit Paris and asked me why I wanted to go there. Food, architecture, history, people watching, art. Any of that in space? Not quite. I would have no interest in visiting Paris if my trip consisted of landing at CDG, looking through the window for a bit, then flying back. Even if I were allowed off the airplane to walk around on the tarmac and collect dirt samples, my answer would remain “hell no”.

In short, space travel is:
more uncomfortable than air travel
more confined than being incarcerated
more dangerous than being a Marine during our war with Afghanistan
more monotonous than any travel destination on earth

I wouldn’t go to space for any less than a million dollars. A month. For the rest of my life. Payable to my estate in perpetuity in case I ever die.

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