In case you haven't noticed, there's been a lot of "space-related" news in my high octane speculations this past week, and today is no different. Mr. P.K. and many others shared this story, which I find intriguing for a number of reasons, not the least being my recent two part blog earlier this week about BREXIT, Commonwealth revivification, and the United Kingdom's plans to build a space port to test health effects of low or zero gravity (at least, that was the cover story, though after years of the operation of the International Space station, many of these effects are already known).
But there's another aspect to this emerging "project," for that's what we have to call it, and that is this story:
Note the opening paragraphs:
US private rocket company SpaceX has announced that two private citizens have paid to be sent around the Moon.
The mission is planned for late 2018, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, adding that the tourists "have already paid a significant deposit".
"This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years," he said.
The two unnamed people will fly aboard a spaceship which is set for its first unmanned test flight later this year.
Mr Musk said the co-operation of America's Nasa space agency had made the plan possible.
He said the two passengers "will travel faster and further into the solar system than any before them".
Mr Musk declined to reveal their identities, only saying that they knew each other and that "it's nobody from Hollywood".
As the BBC observes later in the article, this is an aggressive schedule.
But the purpose is not, to be sure, simply to provide a stunt. This is a crucial test of the viability of the commercialization of space and of private companies to provide safe transportation of humans, and to minimize risk. Even should the plan fail - and we certainly hope not as lives are at stake - there will be another attempt, and another, until the process and technology are made secure.
OK... that much is obvious. But where's the high octane (or in this case, truly orbital and interplanetary) speculation here? I strongly suspect that there is much more going on - in between the lines - here than meets the eye. Mr. Musk is, of course, from South Africa, which has in its turn strong ties to Great Britain and indeed to the British Commonwealth. And as I've argued previously this week, Britain's plans to revivify the Commonwealth, including even "associate membership" for the USA, needs a project, and as I argued, the UK's space plans are ambitious; space is Britain's Commonwealth project.
And we have the same players, more or less, limned out here: the USA, in the form of NASA's cooperation with Mr. Musk's orbit-humans-around-the-Moon project, Mr. Musk, private businessman from South Africa.
It will be interesting, in other words, to see what country or countries Mr. Musks lunar passengers are from. The United Kingdom, anyone?
See you on the flip side...