Isle of Man astronauts 'fifth most likely' to next reach the moon -

Homophobes rejoice! There's a very good chance that the moon will remain a gay-free zone, if a report from consultancy Ascend is to be believed.

The firm reckons that the fifth most likely nation to next put a man on the moon is - wait for it - the Isle of Man. To be fair to the place, it did scrap its anti-sodomy laws in 1992, but we figure they're still hardly in any position to complain about outdated and prejudicial stereotypes.

"A surprising choice this one, but the tax haven island has firms with commercial interests in manned lunar flyby flights using Russian hardware," says Ascend. One such is Excalibur Almaz, which reckons it'll be carrying out orbital flights by 2013.

The Crown Dependency also has its very own director of space commerce, who says the government is "pro-space and committed to helping the space industry flourish".

Ascend puts the odds of the erstwhile hang 'em and flog 'em island of getting there first at 50 to 1 - not great, but close behind India's 33 to 1 and way ahead of the UK at 300 to 1. The UK Space Agency, it says kindly, "will never have the money for such a mission by itself".

The most likely nation to get there first, says Ascend, is the US, with a 50:50 chance. Russia's next at three to one, followed by China at five to one. India - hampered by 'duff rockets', according to Ascend, has a 33 to 1 chance of being the next country to plant its flag.

Unfortunately, Ascend knows very little about it. It's a well-kept secret that there are in fact lots of people on the moon already.

Most were initially planning only to stay for one or two of the Selene club's famed gay nights, but were so taken with the pleasant climate and friendly locals that they elected to stay.

Indeed, we've just had a postcard from the new trainee reporter waxing suspiciously lyrical about the place - which probably means another job advertisement and more unpaid overtime for the rest of us.

We're still not back up to full staffing levels after the TechEye summer party on Ganymede.