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Space Adventures (& Teslas)

Monday, 22 September 2014

Space Adventures▲ The view of earth from 400 km above in the International Space Station

Back in 2008, courtesy of Space Adventures. I made a little trip to Moscow to visit the Cosmonaut Training Centre and then fly down to Baikonur in Kazakhstan to see a Soyuz space launch. I was invited to join the trip because the three Soyuz passengers were a Russian cosmonaut, an American NASA astronaut and an American tourist, Richard Garriot.

Soyuz TMA-13 crew head to the bus to go to the launcher. Left to right, Richard Garriott, Yuri Valentinovich Lonchakov and Michael Finke.▲ Left to right, tourist – cosmonaut – astronaut

It was a great trip – even if I wasn’t actually going up to the International Space Station – in part because my fellow launch observers included Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google. Yes Eric Schmidt, Google CEO at the time, was also on board the rather ancient chartered Tupolev Tu-154 we flew in down to Baikonur.

Inspecting Soyuz 540▲ Studying the Soyuz rocket the day before the launch, Larry Page and Sergey Brin to the right

Last week NASA announced that they were getting back into the launch business, using a new 5-person spacecraft jointly built by Boeing and SpaceX. Space Adventures immediately announced that they’d be organising trips on the new craft for paying passengers. That’s a change of heart on the part of NASA, Space Adventures only went to the Russians after NASA had firmly refused to consider taking paying passengers on the Space Shuttle.

SpaceX is the ‘other’ business of Tesla creator Elon Musk. I’ve had a few outings in Teslas, a couple of days on board a Tesla Roadster in Switzerland and more recently a short test drive of the Model S in London. Tesla have announced the Model S will be on sale soon in Australia and since I’m currently shopping for a new car I may have one in my garage next year.

Space Adventures

Space Adventures (& Teslas)

22 September 2014 | Living

▲ The view of earth from 400 km above in the International Space Station Back in 2008, courtesy of Space Adventures. I made a little trip to Moscow to visit the Cosmonaut Training Centre and then fly down to Baikonur in Kazakhstan to see a Soyuz space launch. I was...

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To license this image contact:Lonely Planet Imagesemail: lpi@lonelyplanet.com.auphone: 61 3 8379 8181

Who Was Rod? Where is Rod?

14 September 2014 | Living

Back in 1972 Maureen – at the tail end of the Asia trip which led to the very first Lonely Planet guidebook – Maureen and drove from Perth to Sydney. We shared the petrol costs to cross the continent in an EH Holden. Recently we’ve got back in touch – 40 years later –...

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A Week at the Airport

A Week at the Airport – A Heathrow Diary

9 September 2014 | Media

In between philosophising about everything from work, religion, sex and art to philosophy Alain de Botton also hung out at British Airway’s Terminal 5 for a week to watch what goes on. He was accompanied by photographer Richard Baker. It’s subtitled A Heathrow Diary. ...

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Ryanair seating 540

Reclining Seats

8 September 2014 | Transport

Fortunately the air travel story in recent weeks has shifted from the tragic (crashed 777s) to the ridiculous (arguments over reclining seats). And for my money the villain of the piece is James Beach, the jerk who used the offending ‘knee defender’, he’s just one ste...

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IMG_7976 - postcards to mom 540

Postcards

22 August 2014 | Living

Remember postcards? A rectangle of cardboard with a picture. We used to send them to people, way back before emails and text messages and Facebook and Instagram. Well I still do regularly send postcards – to my mother (pushing 90) and to Maureen’s aunt (sailed past 90...

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Persepolis-0104 - 540

More on who flies where – Iran versus Iraq

9 August 2014 | Transport

So most airlines can’t fly over Iraq and as a result airlines heading north or south from or to the Gulf cities (Dubai etc) are flying a little bit to the east over Iran. Including Delta and United? The US has no diplomatic relations with Iran, US companies are not...

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To license this image contact:Lonely Planet Imagesemail: lpi@lonelyplanet.com.auphone: 61 3 8379 8181

Ostia Antica – where is the mosaic?

8 August 2014 | Places

Lido di Ostia is the beach resort for Rome, it’s nothing special but convenient if you’re flying out of Rome Fiumicino, the main Rome airport. I had an early morning flight so I decided to stay there and have a look at Ostia Antica, it was the port for ancient Rome, b...

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IMG_7870 - SQ skirting Ukraine 02 540

Avoiding Flying Over War Zones

2 August 2014 | Transport

I commented about flying over war zones in my blog on 9 July, a week before MH 17 was brought down. And followed that up with more thoughts on where airlines fly on 29 July.Yesterday I flew from Singapore to London on Singapore Airlines SQ 308. Singapore Airlines had ...

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2006 11 20  - Iran-Iraq-Turkey Kurdistan region, EK 777 540

More on Flying Over War Zones

29 July 2014 | Transport

I’m sure I was not the only one thinking about the practice of flying over war zones before MH17 was brought down on 17 July – check my posting from 8 July about flying north from Dubai over the ISIS disputed parts of Iraq on a Qantas A380. Today Emirates have anno...

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IMG_6556 - approaching Heathrow - 542

A Notable Qantas A380 & a War 40,000 ft Below

9 July 2014 | Transport

▲  Sometimes flights are interesting all the way. When I looked out from the Tullamarine Airport (Melbourne, Australia) terminal at the Qantas A380 I was about to board I could see its name just below the flight deck windows: Nancy-Bird Walton. It was the first Airbus...

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