Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Virgins in space, Kirk on the web.
What if the tourists come and there is nothing to see?—Richard Branson, the rock ‘n roll entrepreneur is not a man to think small. He has just come to an agreement with the state of New Mexico to build a $225 million spaceport in the desert. What he or anyone else is going to do with a $225 million spaceport doesn’t seem clear. His company, Virgin Galactic, however, now has a waiting list of 38,000 people who have put down deposits on a seat on Virgin Galactic’s space ships, only Virgin Galactic doesn’t have any space ships. One hundred of them laid out $200,000 up front and Branson says they are going to boldly go up in 2008 or 2009. The spaceport, state officials, say will be largely underground near White Sands and Virgin will have a 20-year lease, paying $1 million for the first five years. Branson has a deal with Burt Rutan to build five spacecraft modelled after Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, the first privately manned rocket to reach space last year and the winner of the $10 million Ansari X prize. Meanwhile, Branson has something perhaps more serious in mind. He and a group of American investors are starting up a U.S. airline, Virgin America, to compete with JetBlue and Southwest. It will be based in San Francisco and already has funding and an order for more than 30 Airbus 320s. They will fly before his spaceships will.
Jim, Jim. What the hell are we going to do with all those consonants? —Star Trek fans have a treat in store if they click here. They will go to the most viewed movie in Finland, a full-length movie in Finnish with English subtitles made by students and amateurs that is surprisingly professional. OK, not profession. Not amateurish. OK, not not amateurish but surprisingly decent. Whatever. It’s funny and it's called "Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning," and it has been downloaded more than 3 million times since the beginning of October. That’s more people than those who went to the theatre to see Finland’s most popular movie, “The Unknown Soldier” (or, as you know it better, “Tuntematon Sotilas.”) It’s fun to watch and there is a lesson to the film industry in there somewhere.