SpaceShipTwo -- 12/08/09

If you are new here, there's a brief introduction to various characters at the end of this entry...

I wish I had $200,000 to spare. I've never thought that I would personally get to walk on the moon or on Mars but I would so love to be able to book a flight on SpaceShipTwo. All my life I've wanted to go into space and I've forced myself to be content with my earthbound life because, after all, going into space was just for a handful of the very best and most daring test pilots... and then a few lucky and well-trained scientists... and then a few lucky multi-millionaires who could pay the Russians ten million bucks or so got to go to the International Space Station...

And soon anyone who can cough up $200,000 will be able to fly into space....

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites introduced SpaceShipTwo yesterday. It is a beautiful machine and I want to fly into space in it.

The "mother ship" that will carry SpaceShipTwo up to fifty or sixty thousand feet and launch it from there has been named "Eve" -- after Branson's mother. The ship has a painting of an attractive young woman, looking almost like a mermaid as she floats weightlessly... the painting is based on photographs of Eve Branson when she was a dancer back in the 1940s. Today she is almost ninety years old... and she plans on going on a flight. Branson's entire family apparently is planning on going into space.

Three hundred people have already purchased advance tickets for flights on SpaceShipTwo, ranging from actress Victoria Principal to 90-year-old environmental scientist James Lovelock (originator of the Gaia hypothesis). Okay, so I don't have $200,000 to spare. Hmmmm, maybe I should start buying lottery tickets....

Watching some of the news coverage of the unveiling of SpaceShipTwo served as yet another reminder of just how ignorant our news media can be. During one "news" program they were showing some clips from a Virgin Galactic animated video of a flight while the reporter described the passengers "floating in anti-gravity." Duh.

I think sometimes when people complain about bias in newspaper reporting, they should remember how ill-educated and lacking in real experience many journalists can be. (In other words: "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.")

A brief introduction for those of you wandering in here from Holidailies for the first time: I'm just a middle-aged guy (but somehow I hit 66 on my last birthday) who lives in Rhode Island with my wife Nancy (a middle-school math teacher), daughter Gillian ("Jill" -- 27 yr old college student and baker), son Jeremy (24 yr old restaurant cook and part-time college student), and Tiger (senior citizen cat). Eldest child Adam lives in New York City with his wife Leah and our grandsons Sam and Milo. I'm a former programmer/systems analyst who got involved with software training and instructional design. For the past several years I have been working from home (you can't beat the short commute!) doing quality assurance and editing on course material for both classroom courses and Web-based training courses for a very big computer company. I've been writing this online journal since 1996.

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