Tom Cruise is a mysterious celebrity in many ways, but he’s making news for something other than his strong links to the Church of Scientology. In a new twist, it’s been discovered that the actor wanted to join a team of doomed astronauts who died in the 2003 Columbia Space Shuttle mission.
Daily Mail reports that it wasn’t enough for Cruise to star in the aerospace movie Oblivion. He wanted to go the distance — quite literally — and reach space.
The actor wanted to join the seven-member crew of the U.S. Space Shuttle Columbia — all of whom died after the spacecraft crashed.
Report: Tom Cruise was secretly training to be an astronaut on Columbia disaster https://t.co/bSkOSEL37s
— Tom Cruise (@TomCruisePro) May 27, 2016
Cruise enrolled in secret training by NASA and has aspirations of joining the Columbia crew. This was all part of a negotiation between Tom Cruise and NASA. In exchange for his narration of the 3D IMAX film Space Station and assisting NASA with the redesign of its website, the organization was willing to find a place for Cruise on one of its space shuttle missions.
Director of Space Station Toni Meyers told The Sun that Tom Cruise “wanted to be an astronaut, he flies his own GulfStream IV Jet and he’s quite qualified as a pilot.”
The director adds that the actor was “very enthusiastic about doing Space Station 3D but the deal was he also wanted to fly in the Space Shuttle.”
According to the report, Cruise was given an induction course by NASA in Florida that trained the actor how to walk in zero gravity in a space suit by wading in a water tank.
Myers says Cruise was well on his way to becoming an official astronaut.
“He had a very good chance of doing so but then the accident happened and that was the end of that,” Myers said of the Columbia tragedy.
The Columbia shuttle exploded in 2003 over Texas, Louisiana. It occurred when a piece of foam insulation broke off and struck its left wing.
It’s unclear how close to being on the Columbia Cruise was, but the timing of the tragedy hit a bit too close to home.
— The Sun Showbiz (@TheSunShowbiz) May 26, 2016
The Sun reveals that Cruise once informed them of his plans to pay nearly $250,000 for a seat on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space flight.
It’s unclear if Cruise might have a change of heart since its test flight crashed and killed the co-pilot in 2014.
The report mentions Cruise’s belief in aliens, which reflects his affiliation with Scientology.
In ruminating the existence of extraterrestrial life, Cruise said it’s something no one should discount. “I don’t think you can actually count it out,” the actor said, adding, “It might be a little arrogant to think we were the only ones in all the galaxies throughout the universe — but I’ve never met one!”
Although he wasn’t space-bound, Tom Cruise was in the news for flying a helicopter while in London. The trained pilot hopped into the seat of a helicopter for training, as reported by People magazine in March. Photos showed him reviewing maps and going through a pre-flight safety screening.
His interest in flying was born when he studied piloting for the film Top Gun. He got his pilot’s license in 1994.
“One of my dreams, as a child, was to be able to fly an airplane,” Cruise told People in 2003.
Planes have played a large part in the actor’s movies, and he’s found it to be thrilling. When he was shooting Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the script called for him to hang on the outside of an A400 plane during take-off. It was a scene that the actor dubbed “intense.”
It’s possible a Top Gun 2 will be in production with Tom Cruise reprising his famous role as Maverick. The actor discussed plans for the film with director Jerry Bruckheimer in New Orleans.
[AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]