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Fly Me to The Moon

Ever since that memorable day in July 1969, when I sat glued to the black and white television, watching Neil Armstrong step onto the surface of the moon, I have been fascinated with the prospect of becoming an astronaut and heading into outer space.

Here we are, fifty-two years later, that in itself is shocking, and private individuals are rocketing into space, one after the other. It all started last week when Richard Branson, who built his own spacecraft, blasted off from terra firma at supersonic speed and soared to eighty kilometres above the earth’s surface.

Through his company, Virgin Galactic, he plans to offer space trips to individuals in the very near future. Where do I sign up? You have to wonder why he himself went up when he could have sent any number of individuals who worked for him. Apparently, he made 30 or 40 notes while in space to enhance the experience for future space travellers.

In case you wondered if anyone else wants to take the plunge, Virgin Galactic has more than 600 people lined up, at $250,000 a pop, beginning in 2022. Branson’s trip lasted a little over an hour. Still, his company’s stock shot higher than the rocket itself, and that afternoon, added over $850,000 to the bottom line.

Branson rode in his own rocket, which seems to be the only way to fly these days. While this paper is being printed, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, will also make his debut flight into space, also in his own rocket. He is going an extra ten or so kilometres higher than Branson. Poor Elon Musk is left behind, as he has no plans to fly his own spacecraft into orbit. He does have a $10,000 deposit with Virgin Galactic, which tells you something about Space-X’s rockets (Musk’s company).

When I was a kid, my friend Danny Taylor and I built our own rockets. Using Vaseline jars and paper towel tubes. We mixed saltpetre and some other stuff and blasted our inventions twenty or so metres into the air. How exciting those memories are. I thought about signing up with Virgin Galactic but wanted to wait until face masks are no longer mandatory and double vaccine doses are.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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