20
Aug

Spaced Out

by Alan Rider

GPN-2000-001036Next week’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery reminds me of a lesson I learned the hard way earlier this year:  Trying to catch one of NASA’s handful of remaining space shuttle launches isn’t as easy as it sounds.

You see, Murphy’s Law caused last February’s Discovery mission to be postponed again and again, until I had to settle for having lunch with an astronaut and riding the shuttle simulator at the Kennedy Space Center.  Both enjoyable and recommended, but …sigh…not exactly the extraordinary experience I was hoping for.

Of course, there is one sure-fire way to guarantee yourself a front-row seat for a future space shot.  For a cool $170 million, Space Adventures will prepare you to blast off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket and spend time aboard the International Space Station.  The company has several other, ahem, out-of-this-world programs available, including the chance to be the first private citizen to do a spacewalk while orbiting the earth at more than 17,000 miles-per-hour.  Which will make it pretty darn hard for anyone to one-up your stories at the next cocktail party.

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