On Thursday, March 31, 2016, The Russian Corporation for Spacetime Activities, commonly known as Ruscosmos, announced that in the spring of 2017, they plan to send a rocket into space carrying four volunteer astronauts… and I am going to be one of those four people! The goal of the mission, Ruscosmos announced, is to circle the moon and return to earth on a spaceship powered completely by renewable energy sources. Nothing like this has ever been attempted in mankind’s history!
The Russian’s new rocket will be powered in three majors ways:
- Solar Power – Energy captured from the sun via solar panels mounted on the spaceship’s exterior.
- Solar Wind – Making use of a captured stream of energized particles flowing outward from the sun.
- Pedal Power – The transfer of energy from a human source through the use of a foot pedal and crank system.
You’re probably familiar with solar power and solar wind technologies and how they work – even in the vacuum of space. But what makes this Russian space flight so unique is its intended use of a pedal-powered aircraft.
That’s right! This new Russian rocket is going to be powered, in small part, by a device similar to a bicycle. If the mission is a success, the entire space industry could be turned on its head and we could soon have trained cyclists (not astronauts or engineers) flying across the solar system on pedal-powered spaceships.
When Ruscosmos heard about my 16+ years of cycling experience as the Bicycle Touring Pro, the fact that I’m an avid video blogger (a skill they hope to use during live broadcasts from outer-space), and the fact that I already speak a little Russian (thanks in part to my previous bicycle touring expeditions in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova and Transnistria), they instantly signed me on as one of the mission’s four integral team members. A trained pilot (from Russia) and an engineer (from nearby Kyrgyzstan) will be accompanying me on the journey, but the fourth team member has yet to be assigned.
The flight is only scheduled to last one day, with the take-off, complete orbit of the moon, re-entry, and the rocket landing within just a few short hours. But let’s be honest – the flight is a risky one, as there will be no back-up energy source on-board. If any of the spaceship’s three on-board power sources fail, re-entry could be difficult, if not impossible.
My role for the mission is pretty straight forward. I’m to spend approximately 13 straight hours strapped into what looks like a futuristic dental chair, while using both my legs and my hands (at the same time) to power a series of cranks, which generate electricity and thrust for the rocket’s main rear engine. I have almost a year to prepare for the mission, but lots of training to do in the meantime. While my lower body is strong (thanks to the thousands and thousands of miles I’ve already pedaled my bicycle here on earth), my upper body is weak and needs a lot of work – as do my skills with the Russian language.
I’m super excited at the prospect of this new Russian space flight and I’m honored that they would select me as the team’s pedal-powered ambassador. Please stay tuned here at www.bicycletouringpro.com for future news, information and updates on this historic space flight.
Did you like my story? Did I fool you? Did you forget that today is the first day of April? Did you actually believe a bicycle-powered spaceship was a real thing? Would you go into space if you were given the opportunity? Leave a comment below and let me know what you were thinking as you were reading all of this! I had a lot of fun writing this… so I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Photo by Steve.