On Apollo 11 Anniversary, Space for Humanity Invites ‘Regular People’ to Go to Space

Fifty years after highly trained NASA astronauts set foot on the moon, Space for Humanity today urged people from all walks of life to apply to go to space with all expenses covered by the nonprofit. Each crew member, however, must lead a long-term initiative with tangible social benefits after the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We believe space should be accessible to everyone, and that space travel creates a sense of awe that dramatically transforms people’s perspectives, as it clearly did for the Apollo 11 crew,” Rachel Lyons, executive director of Space for Humanity, said from the NewSpace Conference in Washington. “Our mission is to help regular people become citizen astronauts and, subsequently, social ambassadors working for the benefit of people and the planet.”

Now Taking Applications

The Denver-based organization today reopened its application process, asking candidates to describe why they want to see Earth from space and to propose a social impact project. The application is designed to support empirical research into how seeing Earth from a distance changes a person’s values. Conducting the research will be University of Pennsylvania research scientist David Bryce Yaden, an authority on the “Overview Effect” – the cognitive shift astronauts experience as they view the planet from orbit or on lunar missions.

“In my research, I have found that many astronauts report seeing the Earth from afar has affected them deeply and in an enduring way,” said Yaden. “By studying the experiences of Space for Humanity’s citizen astronauts, we think we can quantify this often transformative process and learn more about how the Overview Effect works, how long the changes might last, and how new perspectives can inspire positive action on behalf of humanity as a whole.”

Unlike initiatives to send wealthy tourists or artists to space, Space for Humanity is committed to democratizing and diversifying space travel, bringing the opportunity to diverse socioeconomic segments and de-emphasizing traditional astronaut credentials such as aviation and engineering expertise.

“Many of us thought during the riveting moments of the moon landing that the day would come when humans from all walks of life would follow in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin,” said Space for Humanity advisor Frank White. White coined the term “Overview Effect” and is the author of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution a seminal work on the topic. “Today, ordinary citizens’ dreams of space exploration are becoming reality, and we believe the changes they experience can tangibly improve life on Earth.”

What’s next in flight preparation

A crew of citizen astronauts will be selected for the first Space for Humanity flight in the months following the closing of the applications. Their chosen social impact venture must somehow advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending poverty and hunger and promoting equality, learning, environmental protection, health, peace, and economic opportunity.

Space for Humanity is currently raising funds for capacity building, program development, and flight training for astronauts. Early donations have been secured, and a fundraising campaign surrounding financial goals will commence in the coming months. Space for Humanity’s leadership team is engaged in talks with several potential launch partners, including Blue Origin, as private space companies race to achieve readiness for crewed flights.