The Would-Be Astronaut

Brian Shiro really wants to go to space. He wants to go to space so badly, in fact, that he’s applied to NASA’s astronaut program. Twice. Both times he fell just short. He’s hoping the third time’s the charm.

Until then, he’ll be heading up Astronauts4Hire, an appropriately-named astronaut contracting service. Wth A4H, Brian hopes to open doors for aspiring astronauts to the burgeoning commercial space industry, and also provide flight and simulation training to pad their resumés.

I first learned about Brian’s story while editing a profile of him published a few weeks ago on Motherboard. The story was written by Sarah Scoles, an ace science writer (who, in a past life, did research on one of the telescopes in the Quiet Zone in Green Bank, West Virginia). It’s a fascinating look into the psyche of someone with perhaps the biggest dream of all, a dream more potent than ever as a new space racestruggles to get off the ground.

I thought it would be worth exploring Brian’s story a bit further. I chatted with both him and Sarah about where A4H is going, why “space is hard” is a tired excuse for companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, and what needs to happen for commercial space travel to be open to everyone, not just rich folks who can afford $100,000 tickets to low-Earth orbit. Also: Are either of them game for a one-way ticket to Mars?

After listening be sure to check out Sarah’s original profile of Brian Shiro on Motherboard.