An Astronaut By Any Other Name….

G.B. Leatherwood and Carol Pinchefsky take a look at the small but growing group of non-professional astronauts in “Tourists, astronauts, or something else?” over on Space Future.

They report that Anousheh Ansari, who has been out promoting space tourism since she returned from her trip to the International Space Station, actually bristles at being labeled a space tourist.

“I had to train for six months and [learn] every part of the system on the capsule, the rocket, the space station,” she told Space Future. “I had to learn a new language, to interact with crew members, to do emergency practices. [I had] physical training. It took a lot of preparation. [I compare this to going] on expedition. You wouldn’t call someone who goes on an expedition a tourist, and that’s why I don’t like to be called a tourist: It undermines the effort that you have to put in.”

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic will fly almost anyone who can survive a centrifuge ride aboard its SpaceShipTwo vehicle. The suborbital flight is expected to be far more gentle than a Soyuz trip to the space station. Training will be minimal.