Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are we there yet?

This morning I read an interesting article on whose headline caught my eye: "FAA predicts space tourism will be $1 billion industry by 2022".

Well all righty then. Let me grab my carryon. The one with the anti-grav clamps that is designed to float in the overhead compartment. Truthfully I'm not sure exactly WHERE this tourism industry is going to be located. Visions of Risa, that Pleasure Planet from all those Star Trek episodes, flashed through my mind, along with images of Jonathan Frakes in a toga. Uh... maybe I don't have any comp time coming to me after all.

Then, after reading further, I realized the tourism bit applies to those humans with deep pockets (and probably shallow minds) who are ready to drop mega-bucks on a ticket to the stars. Not on spaceship Access Hollywood, but on something with Richard Branson's smiling face on it and the Virgin logo.
Okay, he's got a certain amount of pseudo-Viking appeal, I'll admit. And I wouldn't mind a week on his tropical island. But a holiday in a spaceship? Sheesh. Haven't these people flown anywhere recently? The idea of making a FLIGHT a vacation leaves me staring at nothing with a brain that refuses to reboot.

I'll admit to not being a fan of flying. My spirits don't soar as we pass 5000 feet, and my gut takes about ten or fifteen seconds to catch up with the rest of me when we reach that indefinable stratospheric layer known as "cruising altitude". More like unclench my teeth and peel my nails off the armest altitude. Not the restful bliss I tend to associate with vacations. Looking out the window - well, unless you're a meteorologist with a degree in cloud formation, there's mostly not a lot to see. I prefer the inside of my eyelids and the embryonic cuddle of the sweater I brought with me just for this moment. I don't suck my thumb, but it's close. Nope, not a huge fan of air travel, that's for sure.

So I read this article with a degree of skepticism. Yes, I can understand the need for cargo flights to the ISS. I'm all for space exploration and hated to see our manned space flight program fold. But then again, as was pointed out to me recently, a Ford F150 has more and better technology than John Glenn's space capsule. Somewhere along the road to sub orbital delight, we dropped the microchip. I joke about my son's WOW gaming system being powerful enough to launch an invasion of Mars. I'm only half kidding. He's actually targeting Io, of course, since that's where the alien invasion will emanate. (Yeah, it's an ongoing thing between us. Joke's on him when they arrive. I have my tinfoil helmet ready. His cat chewed his up.)

Attacking amoebae aside, there are - according to this piece - a whole lotta folks eager to launch. And yes, our friendly unshaven billionaire (Call me SIR Richard) already has seats pre-booked on "Virgin Galactic" flights. To the tune of $60 million in deposits. Yes, you read that correctly. SIXTY MILLION DOLLARS. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I looked up at the sky last night as I put my trash in the bin and nailed it shut in an effort to thwart Rocky Raccoon and his buddies. The stars were still there. The moon rose. I didn't see a fleet of tourist cruisers circling anything, nor were there trails from galactic pleasure barges. But I have to wonder if the pristine beauty of an early spring night will soon feature such additions. Delicate glittery tail lights marking the paths of happy holidaymakers touching the beyond. Perhaps they'll need something to read on the trip - which of course, I'll be happy to provide. I'm sure there's a genre that covers "leaving Earth-orbit" romance. Re-entry could be quite erotic!!!

But will I be one of those intrepid tourists? Will I actually surrender to my human curiosity and book myself on a flight to tour the Asteroid belt?

Under one condition. I REFUSE TO LAYOVER IN ATLANTA!!!!

We're now on final approach to our destination. Please make sure your tray table is locked and your seat in its upright position. All electronic devices should now be turned off and remain off until we reach our gate. Flight attendants...prepare the cabin for insanity....

Sahara the unwilling passenger