(THE NEW PAPER) - Think space travel and you may conjure up images of intrepid astronauts such as Neil Armstrong or sci-fi films such as Star Trek.
But it is also a dream destination for ordinary citizens around the world, including Singaporeans.
Now, former Nominated Member of Parliament and local actress-host Eunice Olsen will lend a hand to help everyday people make this journey of a lifetime a reality.
Last week, she was named a strategic adviser to Space For Humanity, a US non-profit organisation that aims to send diverse non-astronauts to space as early as the end of next year.
The goals are: To democratise space travel to all ethnic groups, nations, social groups and other areas of distinction; to create citizen ambassadors who can motivate, inspire and communicate their experiences with their social groups and world at large; to help shape future space policy and to target educational institutions for the ambassadors to speak at, using them to motivate a new generation towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Olsen says: "I believe strongly in equal opportunities, accessibility and levelling the playing field so everyone can have access, whether to education or, in this case, even space exploration."
The 40-year-old will help Space For Humanity select "citizen astronaut crews" for the trips and take on a mentorship role to "assist these individuals in fulfilling their ambassadorship duties" upon their return.
The organisation is taking applications from people around the world who are at least 18 years old and fluent in English, according to its website.
Each Space For Humanity mission, involving six to seven individuals, will consist of a round-trip flight from Earth into low Earth orbit, or to the edge of space just below the Karman line, which represents the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.
Olsen said based on current technologies being developed, the crew can be transported in capsules by Blue Origin's New Shepard or World View Enterprises' Voyager. Depending on the vehicle, each flight will last between 20 minutes and several hours.
Space For Humanity will cover the expenses through donations, sponsorships and grants, making the trips free for travellers.
Fewer than 600 people have travelled to space in the history of mankind, out of which 89 per cent are men and 85 per cent are Westerners, according to Olsen.
The Star Wars fan has been following Elon Musk and his company Space X's developments and was inspired by the 2016 movie Hidden Figures "to think further about women playing a key role in space missions".
She created the WomenTalk website, which features videos of inspiring Asian women around the globe.
Olsen says: "As my work revolves around women's empowerment in Asia, I hope we will be able to encourage and see more space explorers from our part of the world and more women in space as well."
Local company IN.Genius' plan to send the first Singaporean into space in 2015 was delayed due to issues with one of the components of the space capsule and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore regulations, which bans space balloons here.
Mr Lim Seng, its founder and director, says it has currently got airspace approval from Australia and are aiming for a May 2018 launch date.
In 2014, Singaporean lawyer Simon Tan snagged an opportunity to travel on a two-seater space shuttle organised by watch brand Luminox and space shuttle developer XCOR Space Expeditions, but told The New Paper he is still waiting for the spacecraft to be ready.