- Space Odyssey
For $10,000, you'll get to train and live like an astronaut, as well as go on a spelunking expedition in a Mars-like cave in Spain.
The space race is alive and well today, with companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Virgin Galactic competing to see who will be the first to put tourists in outerspace, though their efforts usually center on the International Space Station or the moon. But what about the mysterious Red Planet, where no human has ever set foot on before?
Most international space agencies (including those from America, Europe and Russia) have indicated that they want to have people on Mars by the 2030s or 40s. But aspiring astronauts must first learn to adapt to the planet’s famously inhospitable environments.
TripAdvisor has teamed up with Spanish space agency Astroland to give aspiring astronauts a taste of what life on Mars is like — so long as they’ve got $10,000 to spare. For that amount, a team of 10 people will get to stay in a specially-built space station in one of Spain’s most ethereal cave networks, and work and live with no contact with the outside world. Oh, and you’ll also be given your own spacesuit.
But make no mistake, it’s not going to be a comfortable ride. Did you think Neil Armstrong had it easy when he first journeyed to the moon?
Before the trip even begins, prospective astronauts must first undergo three weeks of rigorous, space agency-approved training for both body and mind. Astronaut instructors and psychologists from the European Space Agency will be on-hand to coach you through your intergalactic travel prep. Training modules consist of technical work, which will decide each member’s role on the team, mental conditioning to help members adapt to the planet’s harsh environments, and strict fitness and dietary regimens that befit an astronaut in outer-space.
After that, guests will convene proper at the Astroland Space Center in Santander, Spain. That’s where things kick into high gear in the lead up to the actual expedition to ‘Mars’: To learn how to walk in what’s essentially an arid, zero-gravity desert, you’ll need to train your buoyancy in a weightlessness simulator. And since you’ll be living in an isolated cave with no contact with the outside world, you’ll need to learn to make do with whatever supplies are in the space station, as well as have the necessary skills to go spelunking into the cave network to chart useful information for future ‘colonisers’ of Mars.
The entire experience culminates in a three-day stay in a specially built space dome within the cave network. Since guests will be left entirely on their own without a guide for those three days, its imperative that they put all their newly-acquired skills and knowledge to the test. The rest of the stay on ‘Mars’ is interspersed with expeditions to nearby landmarks with your crew, as well as making scientific observations of the land surrounding the space station.
While it’s certainly a far cry from the real deal, much of the experience has roots in real-life space training: So when the world is finally ready to make its first expedition to Mars in the future, you might have a good shot at being one of the first onboard.