Space Cadet First Class Leif Pettersen – The first travel writer in space

That’s right suckers, I’m calling dibs on this one right now. Chuckle if you want, but I guaran-effing-tee you that space tourism geared for the average schmuck will happen in our lifetime, thus the need for a space guidebook written with flair and authority.

I’ll go out on a limb and say it’ll happen in the next 10 years, after they haul up the Guest Quarters Capsule (A.K.A. the ‘John Glenn Wing’) for the International Space Station and the Russian Space Agency finally hits rock bottom and starts firing up Soyuz capsules, loaded with space tourists for three-day package trips (all meals included, plus launch pad transfer) for $999 a head.

Those tourists are going to need some direction about how things run up there; the best places to tether themselves while they suck roast beef, green beans and mashed potatoes out of a tube, the candid truth about the space toilet, where to score the best weed…

This is where ‘Lonely Planet International Space Station’ comes in. Someone is going to have to suit up and research that bad boy and I believe I’m the best candidate in the known universe. Here’s why:

• I do not barf – No joke. Do your worst, I don’t barf for anything or anyone. Motion discomfort? Nope. Excessive drinking? Nope. Food poisoning? Well, define ‘food poisoning’. Other people barfing around me? Yes, this has been known to turn my stomach, but I have yet to ever succumb! I’m invincible! I’ve only hurled a handful of times in my adult life. Once from criminally bad food preparation, once as my body adjusted to Moroccan bacteria and repeatedly and violently in the weeks following Election 2000. That’s it.

• I’m young, able-bodied and photogenic – You be surprised, but this trifecta is a rare occurrence in the travel writing world.

• I’ve seen all the Star Wars films multiple times – Yes, even ‘Revenge of the Sith’.

• I’m the grizzled veteran of countless, unspeakable travel discomforts – People say that space travel can be a bit unpleasant: G-forces, rocket-lag, cosmonaut snoring… That’s what you astro-weenies call ‘unpleasant’? Well, one time I took a 72 hour bus ride from Cadiz, Spain non-stop to Iasi, Romania, in June, on a dodgy Romanian bus, piloted by a deranged half-wit with nothing to lose, with no A/C, with the same goddamn Romanian pop CD playing at top volume most of the way, without a single restaurant stop for the first 62 hours. That’s right, I spit on your G-forces!

• Through the fortuity of 24 years of juggling, I am for all intents and purposes ambidextrous (except for writing and shooting a basketball). That reminds me, while I’m up there, I’d be happy to offer my services for any juggling related science experiments.

• With the possible exception of Bill Bryson, I may be the only person in contemporary literature who can make rudimentary physics and aerodynamics briefs fun to read.

• Four words: ‘500 Mile High Club’ – I forgot to mention that I’ll be needing a ‘research assistant’. Ladies, get your applications in now. Passable fluency in Russian a plus!

As you can see, I’m a stand-out candidate. And for the record my calendar is filling up fast, so someone at NASA needs to get their rear in gear. Spasiba.

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