Space travel: Euston, we have a problem

The Association of Autonomous Astronauts wants everyone to go to the moon (trouble is, its global budget is only pounds 157). By Angela Butto lph

ompared to us, NASA are dinosaurs,"

says John Eden of the Association of

Autonomous Astronauts. "We're sexier in a number of ways." According to the AAA, it can't be much fun being part of a state-controlled space programme - "just dock in and follow orders". So in 1995 a group of 20- somethings with a severe case of wanderlust established the AAA - "the world's first independent and community-based space programme," dedicated to putting the fun back into intergalactic travel. "We're promising sex and parties in space," says John. "That's what people want."

Space is no longer the final frontier, but unless you are a whizz at astrophysics or have pounds 98,000 for a ticket on the first commercial space flights (ETA 2001), you have little hope of getting there. The AAA's Andi Freeman claims it offers the only solution: space travel by the people for the people.

The AAA is more interested in rock 'n' roll than rock samples. Aside from planning lunar-raves, and conducting "research into the sexual possibilities of zero-gravity", much time is spent daydreaming ... or, as the AAA has it, practising "astral projection" (visualising space flights) and "psycho- geographical exercises" (navigating around your earthly neighbourhood using a map of the moon).

Three-sided football matches form a vital part of the AAA's space-training. Playing three teams (one ball) simultaneously, literally adds a new dimension to the game's more traditional back-and-forth formula; perfect for getting to grips with both the anti-gravity conditions on the moon and the AAA's inherent silliness. To add to the chaos, players swap teams randomly and/or refuse to divulge which team they're playing for. This anarchic pursuit has spawned its motto, "Moving in Several Directions at Once".

The AAA's Five Year Plan to establish "a worldwide network of local, community-based AAA groups dedicated to building their own spaceships", has seen membership, er, rocket. There are currently 30 AAA groups - from Euston to Copenhagen and New Zealand. Surprisingly, there aren't any US-based groups yet. Perhaps they're baffled by the hints of irony (or they're all too busy watching the X-Files). The AAA is determined to "leave this society behind", Stuart explains. "We don't want to end up on the moon with branches of McDonald's everywhere."

If 1997's Intergalactic Conference in Vienna is anything to go by, the AAA isn't alone in its beliefs. Hundreds of wannabe-Gagarins, many of them over seven years old, assisted in an ambitious rocket-building programme that AAA members heralded as a triumph, but which one onlooker described as "more Blue Peter than Cape Canaveral".

And we're talking space travelling in style. The AAA advocates the use of fun fur and sequins to decorate both space suits and ships "to counter the masculinist bias of space exploration ... undermining the rocket + phallus fantasy".

"We're serious about the business of going into space," says John, seriously, at an AAA presentation (during The Festival of Underground Literature), which "for technical reasons", had to be held on Earth. Ask the AAA for details of its intergalactic tactics, though, and the answers become a little sketchy ("Euston, we have a problem").

"People do sometimes say, 'Where's your spaceship?' but we're not worried," beams Julie. "There are plenty of DIY rocket enthusiasts out there, and with their technical skills and our imagination we'll go far." This is where NASA has the edge but when it comes to technical know-how, the AAA plays a mean game of three-sided football.

Surprisingly, it is in contact with its rivals - "We hope people in the European Space Agency and NASA will come and work for us instead." No wonder government-controlled space agencies are worried. "Unsurprisingly, the most concerted efforts to undermine the AAA have come from those most threatened - the state space agencies, NASA in particular," tuts Neil. Like, how? "In March NASA announced the discovery of frozen water on the moon ... to show that they alone have a practical programme for space exploration. NASA are attempting to hijack the dreams and visions of autonomous spaceflight and channel them into support for its own discredited state space programme."

Junior Autonomous Astronauts are exactly the kind of conscientious kids you would want to populate the moon with. Billy, six, is particularly concerned about missing his homework while he's away. He is equally worried that zero-gravity conditions "might make the TV go upside down".

Fiercely anti-capitalist ("No to Blairism and Economic Rationalism! Yes to Weightlessness and Exploration!"), the AAA's collective global funds currently total pounds 157.26. It is relying on appealing for donations from David Bowie (composer of "Space Oddity" and, therefore, doubtless a kindred spirit), sales from T-shirts and the optimistic belief that the price of propulsion-engine technology will drop over time, "like the price of the pocket calculator did".

"No one can now write a history of space travel without mentioning the contributions of the Association of Autonomous Astronauts," says Skeet proudly, disregarding the significance of the world "travel".

"In a sense we're already in outer space," says the AAA's Stuart. "It's very earth-centric to think we're not"

AAA, BM Box 3641 London WC1 3XX

Suggested Topics
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Chastain during an interview in Los Angeles.
filmsOscar hopeful Jessica Chastain reveals the secret to her breakthrough success
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

News
news
Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker