Ticket to Space
Vinay Singh wins free ticket to space!
Vinay Singh, a 27 year old copywriter from Mumbai will be the fourth Indian to travel to space, after Rakesh Sharma, Kalpana Chawla, and Sunita Williams. He was chosen from 120 recruits from over 60 countries.
Q. How did you win this free trip to space?
One day I saw an advertisement asking for volunteers who had it in them to make it to space. After the first level of the screening process, I was selected with two other recruits to represent India – the five day Apollo Astronaut Academy at the Kennedy Space Center, Orlando, Florida, USA. There I participated in a series of activities that tested our physical, mental and psychological aptitude, and at the end of it, managed to win the ticket to space.
Q. What kind of tasks were you asked to perform during your selection process?
The entire selection process was designed to equally check our physical and mental aptitude. We had an Air Combat Exercise where we were to fly an actual Marchetti SF-260- a combat training jet while experiencing back flips, side flips and zero gravity. We also had a written test, a tough Physical Military Assault Course, a special Zero Gravity Flight Experience and a Rocket Building Exercise.
Q. Which was the most challenging task for you?
None of the tasks at the camp were easy for anyone. But, the most challenging for me was the Physical Military Assault Course that tested my toughness. It included 12 exercises in one go, starting from rock climbing, to hurdle race, skipping, burpees, shooting, push-ups, crunches, crawling in pipes on mud and silt and more.
After only halfway through, I almost gave up. But through motivational support from my teammates, and a constant reminder to myself that this is the only chance, I pulled up every nerve in my body and finished that task. I was almost dead at the end of it, but every bit of it was worth the efforts.
Q. How did you feel when you met your Hero- Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon?
Even at 85, his passion and enthusiasm for science and universe beats any youngster of our age. When I met him, he shook my hand and asked, “Where are you from?” I answered with a smile, “All the way from India, Commander.” He chuckled, patted my shoulder and said, “Oh, I’ve been to New Delhi. To tell you the truth, we guys have to watch out for you.”
Q. When are you due to take off to space? What are you expected to do once you are up there?
Our space trip is scheduled in the early 2015, most likely from the prestigious launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center, from where all the Apollo missions lifted off. So far there are only assumptions as to what we are supposed to do up there. We will be getting constant updates about the flight and other operations throughout this time.
Q. Any advice that you have for Mocomi readers?
You should make friends with science. It’s a little shy, throws a fit every now and then, and isn’t easy to get along with in the beginning. But once you’re friends with science, it’ll show you the greatest wonders of the world in ways you never thought were possible.