On 14 December, a new application period for those who want to be NASA astronauts opens. I’d love to be an astronaut, but fail at a couple of hurdles even to apply. I’m not a US citizen, a history degree is not a qualification they’re looking for, and I don’t have 1,000 hours experience as a jet pilot.

There’s nothing that would legally stop me applying to become a US citizen, and I could obtain one or more of the educational qualifications they deem acceptable, though not before 14 December! However, I suspect the likelihood of me becoming a jet pilot is exactly the same as the number of hours experience I currently have: zero. 🙁

Still, it’s excellent the programme is up and running again, and a new group of people will have missions to the space station or even Mars to look forward to.

So, do any of you qualify, and would you do it if you could?

I still remember those first pictures of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon. I was five years old at the time. We didn’t see it live in New Zealand – the film was flown to us and broadcast here the next morning. I thought it was wonderful.

Much as I dislike Newt Gingrich, I loved his idea in the last GOP presidential primary that he was going to ensure a manned mission to Mars within ten years. He wanted to revive the idea of a positive goal for his country to unite behind, just like the Apollo missions in the 1960s.

And who wouldn’t want to be part of the crew of Enterprise under Jean-Luc Picard’s captaincy? (If only for the replicators and Holodeck.)