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Three pull out of race to fly into space

Candidates upset about having to pay for training and the lack of mission details

Published on Jul 6, 2014 7:40 AM
 
Candidates testing a water balloon at a pool in Geylang last month. They are vying to be the first Singaporean to be launched in a helium stratospheric balloon craft into near-space, more than 20km above sea level, next year. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM

At least three budding astronauts have dropped out of a private sector-led effort to send a Singaporean into space.

They decided to quit mainly after being asked to pay for the training - something they were not told prior to signing up for the programme.

The former candidates, who spoke to The Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, also expressed concern about the lack of mission details from the venture's leaders, IN.Genius, a local technology firm.

For example, no formal agreement has been made between the firm and the candidates outlining details of matters such as training and costs. Nor has it revealed its space or engineering partners.

 
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Background story

TIMELINE

  • Feb 21, 2013

IN.Genius, the Science Centre Board and the Singapore Space and Technology Association ink a deal to launch a Singaporean into space on National Day, Aug 9, 2015. Applications open for the project, which accepts only Singapore-born pilots.

  • July 2013

IN.Genius director Lim Seng tells The Straits Times seven unmanned flight tests have been done overseas, without giving details. Over 120 apply for the project, 90 per cent of them Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilots.

  • Dec 29, 2013

Thirty applicants shortlisted. IN.Genius says the vessel will be a helium stratospheric balloon. Advisory panel announced.

  • Feb 6, 2014

Seven out of 26 shortlisted candidates face the media, including a former soldier who has climbed Mount Everest, SIA pilots and Mr Lim's daughter, 15.

  • June 2014

At least three people pull out of the project, citing unhappiness with the project's organisation and lack of information. It is revealed candidates were asked to pay for training. IN.Genius says the mission will cost $5 million to $10 million, funded by technopreneurs. Mr Lim says he is consulting "space agencies". He has yet to convince the Government to support the mission.

David Ee

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