I don't know if you were reading the newspapers last week but several things caught my eye; all of which had to do with that international jetsetter, business tycoon and colourful identity Sir Richard Branson. The first of which happens to deal with the construction of a spaceport in the Mojave Desert in New Mexico:
New Mexico's Spaceport America, situated 40 miles north of Las Cruces, serves as a test case to see if the public will voluntarily accept the costs as well as the benefits that come with space travel. We know people will do it for baseball stadiums, but will they do it for launch pads?
About $140 million is already being put up by the state for building Spaceport America, but local governments will have to kick in the other $60 million, O'Donnell said. And that puts the burden - er, the honor - on three counties in the job-hungry southern part of the state: Dona Ana, Sierra and Otero counties.
Or perhaps you'd prefer the report from Glasgow's Daily Record:
Construction of the terminal at Las Cruces in New Mexico is due to be finished in late 2009. It will include training facilities for space tourists and hangars for two White Knight 2 and five Spaceship 2 aircraft.
Virgin Galactics boss Sir Richard Branson said: "It is fantastic that we will now have a permanent home to go to."
This in itself doesn't seem to be all that interesting unless you read it in conjunction with another report which was found in the Financial Pages. I take this short excerpt from The Guardian:
Northern Rock will name Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group as the most suitable bidder to assume control of the stricken bank, it emerged last night.Virgin, which heads a consortium of financial institutions, will have a clear run to buy the bank after bosses at Northern Rock and the government agreed its bid should be preferred over rival offers. An announcement is expected as early as today. Treasury plans to nationalise the bank are believed to be held in reserve should the deal break down.
Yet again we find Richard Branson at the middle of another mildly interesting piece of news. Northern Rock which people would appreciate as being a Tyneside banking institute (and sponsor of Geordie Football Club, Newcastle United) is worth roughly £1.5 billion.
Now for the rub:
Anyway, lets look at the facts:
Megalomaniac Entrepeneur... begins building an Underground Control Centre... From which he intends to launch rockets... hmmm. He might call that a "spaceport". I call that a "lair". And he builds this subterranian nerve centre in the middle of the same week that he makes moves to take over a billion pound finanical institution... I'm sorry, this is not an expansion of business. This is the plot of Moonraker.
All Sir Richard Branson needs is henchmen with metal teeth and a cat and suddenly he'd Hugo Drax - criminal mastermind with an evil plot to BLOW UP THE WORLD!!! If Sir Richard Branson is planning to launch his Virgin Red spaceships (called Galactic One) in the year 20X6, perhaps he intends to take all Northern Rock customers off this planet and off to a better life. Is Sir Richard Branson Xenu? ... Maybe.
And now our new feature until we get bored of it:
One Word Weather With Nelson Mandela
Ah, such words of wisdom from a truly great man.