Bob Geldof says he's looking forward to being the first Irishman in space next year when when he shoots into orbit as part of a new civilian-based space programme.

The singer and activist is one of 100 "founder astronauts" on one of the Netherland's-based Space Expedition Corporation's flights..

"They offered it to me for free and I want to see the Earth in all its febrile beauty," he told The Guardian. "It's extraordinary that you can do that in my lifetime. I remember my dad standing with me on the porch in the 1950s with the radio turned up very loud, listening for Sputnik going `beep beep' and glimpsing it in the clouds.

"Next year I will be that shining ball. If something goes wrong, f*** it, bang! What else is there to do? I suppose I could write a song called Space Rat."

Geldof, who recently played his first gigs in Ireland with The Boomtown Rats in nearly 30 years, also said he has been banned from playing his homeland because of the band's hit song Banana Republic.

"Banana Republic was No 3 in the UK and just huge in Ireland. If you grew up there, there was a claustrophobia of silence," he said.

"The Haughey government was morally bankrupt and corrupt. There was a civil war, which people call the Troubles – it's not a `trouble' when 3,200 people are murdered. The church were often supporting one side of the killers while they were abusing the children of their parishioners.

"It was a brutalised society and I'd had enough of it! One night, Pete (bass player Pete Briquette) was off his face and came up with this great bass riff. I started writing about government whores and `this septic isle'.

"The Brits thought it was a cute pop song but suddenly every gig of ours in Ireland was stopped by an injunction. In the end we set up a gig at a private estate with no insurance and RTÉ Radio announced it one minute after midnight, when the courts closed, so they couldn't stop us. I expected 300 people. There were 30,000."