However glamorous the life of a taikonaut may appear from the safety of your TV set, traveling into space is actually the roughest of rides and when you get there you will be in the harshest of all environments. Vacuum, powerful radiation, radical temperature changes and zero gravity, none of the conditions that a taikonaut has to deal with are like anything here on earth.|
To be able to journey backwards and forwards between space and the earth, takes perfect health, excellent mental discipline, a good education and lots, and lots of specialized training. Only a very few make this very high grade.
Most are aircraft pilots or test pilots, chosen for their skills, as while flying and maintaining the spacecraft, they also have to be able to carry out scientific research and experiments.
Civilian astronauts are also chosen from the ranks of scientists, engineers and medical doctors engaged in the space industry. Some Journalists, teachers and tourists have also made it up into the heavens.
Any would-be space traveler must first past a string of medical, psychological and endurance tests to see whether they are capable of living in space. Only those with a perfect cardiovascular system, a perfect sense of balance and excellent eyesight will be considered. Even the tiniest of shortcomings will lead to elimination.
Aviators-turned astronauts have to pass at least 3 or 4 years of extra training, including theoretical study, special systematic training and tests in a flight simulator.
Requirements for civilian astronauts are not as strict. US billionaire, Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist, spent just 900 hours training before he embarked on the ultimate holiday adventure.