Monday, October 23, 2006

Scotty must wait

Mills of the gods

When I was attending what was was then called Jr. High School (the term Jr has been dropped from almost everything in the last 20 years, except for that Carl's hamburger place) the nerdier kids had a "Model Rocket Society". I say nerdier because I always hated to say smarter. At any rate, these kids built model rockets and sent them up into space, or as high as they could get, anyway. This seemed a pointless exercise to me, but upon reflection, was probably more productive than "slime surfing" down at Braes Bayou, which is how my friends and I spent our free time.

I would hope that a few from the old society were on hand this weekend competing for the part of the $2.5 million in prize money that went to the guy that could send up a spacecraft about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle 50 meters up and land it on a target one hundred meters away. The flight had to last 90 seconds.

50 meters does not sound very high. Mark and Rick Roland had those water powered blue plastic rockets that you would pump up and they could go pretty high. It seemed like 50 meters high. They did not go quite that high when Mark and Rick would rubberband lizards to them, but they still got up there.

All of this amatuer space stuff makes me nervous. I was brought up to believe that only the Federal government had any business messing around with rockets. It would have never crossed my mind that someone like Victoria Principal would put down hard money for a ride on a space craft "before the end of the decade." Isn't that something ? Can't you just hear John Kennedy say, "this nation, committs itself to send Pammie Ewing into space, by the end of this decade, and return her alive." ? And so much of it is centered in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I guess because of its proximity to Roswell. The people out there will believe just about anything. Riachard Branson, who I think is advertizing his space rides in the Christmas Edition of the Neiman Marcus Catalouge says he is going to fly his rockets out of Las Cruces.

But not all is well. The first commercial rocket launched out there fizzled out after a few seconds. Now officials have had to scrap the launch of the spacecraft which was to carry the ashes of James "Scotty" Doohan into the final frontier. That was to happen Saturday. No word on recscheduling or who has to hold
on to Scotty's ashes in the interim. The Houston based company who were planning the flight said that they had had people as far away as South Africa coming in for the flight, so the whole world is disappointed. But better safe than sorry. Can you imagine the angst in the trekkie community if the rocket baring Scotty were to explode upon takeoff ? Of course Letterman would be pretty funny for the next few nights.


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