Space Family Robinson-Style Dramedy One Step Closer To Becoming Reality


USA Today reports on the growing list of folks who have signed up for a Virgin Galactic flight whenever Richard Branson stops trying to be a soda pop magnate and fully focuses on his potential to be the Great Gatsby of outer space.

More (or perhaps more accurately, less) to the point: The ragtag crew of z-list celebs, handicapped geniuses, kooky visionaries, and regular joes lining up for the launchpad all but makes it a given that the first space tourism flight is going to be more tragic, insufferable, and mind-blowing (in a bad way) than the 1973 musical remake of Lost Horizon, which featured George Kennedy, Peter Finch, Olivia Hussey, Sally Kellerman, Charles Boyer, Liv Ullman, John Gielgud, and a bunch of fake Tibetans (plus a Larry Kramer script, for chrissakes). America–and Shangri-La–were never the same again.

Here's a partial list of the characters with $200,000 tickets in hand for flights expected to start in 2009 (give or take a couple of decades): "…British scientist James Lovelock…best known for proposing what's now called the Gaia theory, which suggests the Earth is a living, self-regulating organism whose parts work together to sustain life"; "actress and skin-care entrepreneur Victoria Principal" (who quipped "I've asked that [the spacesuits] not make us look fat," showing that she somehow missed Gil Gerard's run as Buck Rogers); movie director Bryan "Singer, a science-fiction fan who says From the Earth to the Moon is his favorite miniseries since Roots"; Edward Roski Jr., the "real estate magnate [who] has climbed to base camp on Mount Everest, biked across Mongolia and gone scuba diving in New Guinea"; astrophysicist and Lou Gehrig's Disease sufferer Steven Hawking; interior designer Philippe Starck; newlyweds Loretta and George Whitesides, who have "created an annual worldwide space party called Yuri's Night, in recognition of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to be launched into space"; and more.

This sort of character mix reads like, well, an Irwin Allen series about a family stranded in space. Seriously, is there anyway a spaceship full of the above will not end in some sort of melodramatic disaster replete with giant talking carrots, robots named IDAK, and a mysterious, green-skinned, celestial skank named Athena? All that's missing is for someone to stow away Jonathan Harris's corpse and make sure Smith the Mighty is automatically reanimated when the ship reaches Alpha Centauri.

Here's hoping that Bob Kuttner is on board to bitch and moan about the service. And that the video feed doesn't cut out once everyone starts suspecting each other of hogging the slowly dwindling oxygen supply.

Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward explored Space Travel for Fun and Profit in the January ish.

NEXT: But There's No Danger/ It's A Professional Career

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  1. Holy crap Nick, what launched itself up your lower intestine and deployed? This is all way cool. Exactly what we’ve been waiting for. What happened to that guy who use to talk about how Americas tasteless and cheesy third rate celebrities is what makes us the greatest culture on earth?

    Space for profit, I can’t wait. I think Richard Branson has an excellent chance at pulling this off.

    Save the “these guys are a bunch of loser idiots” for the next Biosphere 2.

  2. I guess it’s appropriate that Gatsby was a bootlegger. But George Kennedy could sing, couldn’t he? So I guess it won’t be all bad.

  3. Furthermore, what happened to all the bitching about NASA and why we don’t need a government run space program. However silly this seems, isn’t it a step in the right direction?

  4. Wow. Climbed to base on Everest. Let that guy drive – he’s THE MAN.

    But seriously, is there a point to this article? I have no problem with people paying to do this. I’d go, if I had the money. I want to see earth from space. Who wouldn’t?

  5. Nick’s just torqued because the promise of porn in space hasn’t been fulfilled 🙂

  6. Nick Gillespie can walk and chew gum at the same time: He can be glad that private space travel is advancing and predict that something involving cheesy third rate celebrities will lead to some sort of melodramatic disaster.

    He’s got multitasking super powers like that. Comes from the leather jacket.

  7. They absolutely have to have Dick Tufeld provide the recorded PA announcements.

  8. I have a cunning plan. Take Salma Hayek. Get her to agree, for the good of mankind, to go on a one-way mission to Mars. Supply her sufficiently for a two-year stay. Offer her up to the men who can build the first hotel on Mars.

    In two years, we’ll have colonies across the solar system.

  9. Screw you, Gillespie. Gil Gerard was the man.

  10. New World Dan,

    IIRC, Virgin Galactic’s launch location is being built with funding from the New Mexico government. It may not be a government run space program, but it is still a government funded space program.

  11. Yeah, that’s just wrong.

    Princess Ardala. . .hubba, hubba.

  12. Here’s hoping that Bob Kuttner is on board to bitch and moan about the service.

    I smell a new Virgin Atlantic radio commercial!

  13. If some of our A-list celebrities want to book one way tickets into space, I’ll take up a collection for the fare.

    I’m looking at you, Paris Hilton.

  14. The Surreal Life…in space! I like it!

  15. thoreau,

    Want to join me in my next sex film? I’m planning to sleep with all of the world’s physicists–on tape! My agent says that my reputation needs a positive boost.

  16. Paris, that would only hurt both of our reputations.

  17. George Whitesides is also head of the National Space Society.It’s cool he and Loretta are getting to go into space.

  18. Not to be outdone by that skank, my agent has advised me to sleep with all of the world’s doctors. Not on tape, that would be sleazy. On podcast.

  19. My favorite Lost in Space episode had some of the kids fall through a mirror into a parallel universe consisting of nothing but a eternal attic and two living things–a black, furry vicious monster locked in an eternal game of hide and seek with Michael J. Pollard…

    …Bonk, bonk on the head!

  20. I’ll admit it’d be some foolie, but do you think it would work?

  21. Pollard was also in Scrooged and Roxanne as I recall. Child stars can look so weird as adults. Ask Gentle Ben’s little friend.

  22. Nick, you are far too familiar with Lost In Space for your own good.

    And don’t dis the Gerard!

    * looks at an old Buck Rogers ep *

    Uh, never mind, dis the Gerard.

  23. Hey, Gil was a leader in the chubby hero genre. He’s like a Lifetime star now, so be kind. That’s a fate worse than death.

  24. Lance Bass will not be denied!!!

    Ask Gentle Ben’s little friend.

    Clint Howard rocks. Pro Libertate risks the wrath of Urkobold.

  25. I doubt that. The Urkobold knows that I hold the Younger Howard in the highest regard. I loved Gentle Ben, and the Young Clint remains one of the few non-annoying children to ever be on a science fiction show.

  26. Clint Howard was also the miniscule alien with the ugly mannequin fronting his communications to Captain Kirk and the Enterprise in The Corbomite Maneuver. In the end, they all got snockered on Tranya.

  27. It reminds me more of Gilligan’s Planet:

    which I consider the finest SF TV series ever…

  28. Virgin Galactic’s launch location is being built with funding from the New Mexico government. It may not be a government run space program, but it is still a government funded space program.

    New Mexico doesn’t have any money. Trust me. So in a roundabout way, this won’t be a government funded program.

  29. Aaah … the Tranya!

  30. I hope you relish it as much as I!

  31. Ahh hahahahahahahaha!

  32. Hmmm … b-list celebs on a near-earth spaceflight when disaster strikes and hilarity ensues?

    Been there, done that:

    Apparently, “… there just might be a few of us who will forget Macho Grande.” Or already have. 😉

  33. …And pass some of that Tranya over here, or is that not available to those of here in business class?

  34. Whatever happened to those Tranya-drinking midgets, anyway? Were they litigated out of existence due to calling themselves the “First Federation”?

    Or did Berman feel that giant spheres and giant cubes didn’t mix? What an asshole.

  35. Last night’s news said that “several real estate moguls and hedge fund managers” have also applied. Getting offworld ahead of the crash, are they?

  36. Lots of real estate in space–got to get there ahead of everyone else!

  37. I really can’t read this article with a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ bravado that you walk away from in the blogosphere. Space is the last frontier; survive it,build a civilization and explore forever. Somewhere between the jet-setters and the barnstormers a renaissance is coming.

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