150 apply for maiden flight

So who will have the honour of being the first Singaporean in space?

Singapore will apparently find out in February. Mr Lim, together with a group of several individuals including Captain Mok Hin Choon, president of the Air Line Pilots Association Singapore, and former Nasa engineer Timothy Kauffman, are whittling down the candidates.

Captain Mok, 60, says: "I was so excited when I heard about it that when I first got the call I wanted to apply. If only I was 30 years younger.

He thought that a Singaporean going up into space was inevitable.

He said: "But I didn't know it could happen this fast."

Mr Lim says there have been 150 applicants and 90 per cent of them are pilots with Singapore Airlines.

Applicants should possess at least a pilot's licence.

Mr Lim says: "We want to talk to as many people as possible before whittling down. While physical and mental well-being are important, we are looking for someone with heart."

He also hints that Singapore may have a part in choosing the final one. "Think of it as an American Idol type of vote," he says.

Newbie to veterans keen to fly

Ng Si Ying, 21
Obtained Private Pilot
Licence three years ago

"Space is still pretty mystical to me and it just makes me really curious as to how it will be like to experience it on my own," says Miss Ng.

"This project...will show the world that Singaporeans are talented enough to go to space."

Edward Teo, 36
Commercial pilot
Pilot for 10 years

"Everyone dreams of going into space so I'm just closer to realising my dream," says Mr Teo, who is expecting his first child in April.

"If I do get chosen, I'm not ruling out giving my baby a space-related name," he says.

Lee Eng Tian, 51
Commercial pilot

Pilot for 31 years

"This opportunity was too precious to give it a miss.

"As a pilot, we fly commercially at an altitude of 10-12km, so going up 20-40km is a natural space for us to conquer," says Mr Lee.

"If I get chosen, the first thing I'll do in space is kiss the craft."

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