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.