Last week Moonandback.com posted a 4-part interview filmed with A4H President Brian Shiro at the NSRC 2012 conference in Palo Alto, California. The interview covered topics related to the Astronauts4Hire organization and Shiro's personal astronaut ambitions. Moonandback has generously allowed us to included all four videos here for your viewing convenience.
Tampa, Florida – Human spaceflight is no longer the sole preserve of professional astronauts working on government-funded space programs. As private companies build and operate launch new vehicles, a new breed of astronaut is coming into being – the commercial astronaut. Astronauts4Hire (A4H) Training Officer Dr. Erik Seedhouse’s ninth book titled Astronauts for Hire: The Emergence of the Commercial Astronaut Corps (ISBN 978-1-4614-0519-1) explores how this new breed of astronaut will be selected and trained, providing a unique insight into the kinds of missions and tasks that commercial astronauts will perform.
"Astronauts for Hire will serve as a handbook and reference guide for the nascent commercial spaceflight industry and as a guidebook for research institutions and academia seeking to employ commercial astronauts," said author Erik Seedhouse. "It will provide spaceflight enthusiasts with a unique insight into and understanding of how the spaceflight industry will be revolutionized by the emergence of a commercial astronaut corps."
The 243-page book Astronauts for Hire: The Emergence of the Commercial Astronaut Corps is published by Springer Praxis Books in its series on Space Exploration. It is available in both softcover and eBook formats wherever Springer Praxis books are sold. The table of contents and samples of the book are available on the SpringerLink website at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/978-1-4614-0519-1
The book is divided into three sections. The first part describes how the A4H organization came into being and its vision for opening the space frontier to commercial astronauts. It highlights the tantalizing science opportunities routine suborbital and orbital flights will provide and goes on to describe the training and qualification necessary for budding professional commercial astronauts. The section concludes by introducing the reader to the A4H qualification process and training programs.
The second section describes the new fleet of reusable commercial spaceships being developed that will offer quick, routine, and affordable access to the edge of space. These vehicles have the capability to carry research and education crewmembers, including “astronauts for hire.” Examining some of these specific vehicles, the book describes the hurdles the space industry must overcome before the hiring of commercial astronauts can develop into a profitable economic entity. It also provides positive suggestions on how the commercial spaceflight industry can plan and prepare for the challenges of marketing and financing the hiring of astronauts.
Looking to the future, the book’s third and final section describes the types of missions the new corps of astronauts will fly and the customers who will employ them. It begins with an assessment of suborbital flights to carry out a variety of high-altitude science studies and moves on to examine orbital science missions on commercial trips to low Earth orbit. It concludes with speculation on ways future commercial astronauts could support private enterprises at interplanetary spaceports, lunar bases, and outposts on the surface of Mars.