Seeking 10,000 Citizen Astronauts
SAN FRANCISCO — To date, only 536 people have traveled to space and the vast majority have been men from a handful of nations. Dylan Taylor, a space industry angel investor and SpaceNews columnist, is eager to share the experience with 10,000 people through a nonprofit organization, Space for Humanity, that will pay for the trips.
"We are going to mint new astronauts from all communities," Taylor said June 27 at the annual NewSpace conference here. "We want to influence public policy and opinion… by changing the mindset."
Space for Humanity is beginning to solicit nominations through its website for people from diverse backgrounds to travel to space or near space and return to Earth to serve as ambassadors who can share their experiences.
"We are not going to send multimillionaire white males who can afford to go," Taylor said. "When those people come back and talk about their experience, someone who lives in New Delhi who makes $1 a day is not necessarily going to relate to that experience. We need to send someone from their community who can share their experience."
Through its efforts, Space for Humanity intends to increase global funding for space. "People will come back and influence their communities to get excited about space," Taylor said. "Space funding will increase because people will see the benefit it has to the way people relate to the world, the way people relate to problems and the way people view themselves."
Space for Humanity has not yet decided how it will fly the new astronauts. "We are vehicle agnostic as long as it's safe, reliable and somewhat economical," Taylor said.
For example, Space for Humanity is considering purchasing rides for participants in World View Enterprises' high-altitude balloon and Blue Origin's New Shepard suborbital vehicle because both will give "diverse participants a group experience," Taylor said.
Taylor and a group of donors he cannot yet name plan to provide Space for Humanity with initial funding of $10 million over 24 months. "Successful missions will help us raise additional funding," Taylor told SpaceNews.
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