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Who Wants to be a Moonie?

More polemics on stuff we wish was, but isn’t; or should be but won’t be; and stuff that will be but ain’t, just yet.

As your prolly know, Michael Melvill and Burt Rutan created SpaceShipOne with a bunch of Paul Allen spare change and successfully launched the first privately funded, non-governmental manned spaceflight on Monday, June 21, 2004. But they had to do it again within 14 days to get the The Ansari X-Prize. That flight would have had to happen by yesterday. It didn’t, but so what?

And so it’s happening. A band of hippie Stanford alumni space cadets from the 60’s and 70’s, among whom I am proud to be counted, are setting about a moon colonization program. Read all about it at that Stanford on the Moon project. As is so often the case with things that truly change the world, it’s not happening the way that CNN’s comic-book style reporting would ever imagine. Firstly, you just gotta get some stuff up there. Then more random stuff, just to get used to shooting junk up to the moon. Next, you shoot some robots up there and hire a bunch of kids who were once experts at first-person-shooters cuz they are the only ones with the skills to drive around the robots without trashing them. Having sort of grown up, they’ll be able to do the job without having to blow anything up; although equipping the robots to play laser tag in their off time isn’t a bad idea.

In short, a company called TransOrbital has been authorized by the US State Department and NOAA for commercial flights to the Moon. The first TrailBlazer lunar orbiter will send personal items to the Moon in a special capsule. Items will include: certificates, business cards, cremated remains, jewelry, artwork etc. Trailblazer will deliver commercial and scientific projects and experiments to lunar orbit, as well as conduct lunar exploration and mapping. Successful test of prototypes happened in Dec 2002. The hope to launch real craft in October 2003 was of course, dashed for now. But so what, with stuff like this you just keep going.

Written on October 10, 2004


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