Sunday, May 21, 2006

Calling all REAL Journalists

So one of the great things about living here in Sydney is that life is a lot more civlised and less rat-race like than the normal big city i'm used to from the US. This Sunday morning, around 9 am, i heard the usual shrill whistling sound that comes every sunday morning, blasted out from the little metal whistle that our local paperboy uses to let us know he's walking down the block, in case you want to buy a newspaper ($1.60).

Shuffling back into the house, coffee mug in one hand, newspaper under my arm, i looked forward to a few leisurely hours of reading what passes for news in the Sunday Herald (Australia has a different view of the world than I'm used to getting from the LA times or Washington Post...).

So imagine my surprise when I opened to the COVER page of the travel section.

Big picture of planet Earth, as seen through the window of a 747, with the caption "3... 2... 1... the Countdown to Tourism in Space"

"Oh, no," i thought to myself. The Kool-Aid has made it to Australia.

Now, granted, this is not the first Kool-Aid inspired project to get support in Australia (the Christmas Island Spaceport/Internment Centre comes to mind).

So, with a bit of trepidation, i plowed into the article. After flipping past the intervening pages filled with the requisite ads for exotic travel destinations (as if Australia isn't exotic enough...) and articles about real tourism features, i found it:

"Dawn of Tourism's Final Frontier: Notch up your frequent flyer points, because suborbital tourism is the next chapter of the space age."

What really gets me is that people get paid for writing this drivel. The article, first off, had factual errors - three (not two) people have paid to go to ISS (and the fourth, Dice-K, is getting ready, with a backup/fifth candidate, from the Ansari family, next in line). Second, the author lumped together a whole range of alt.space companies that aren't all in space tourism, a notable example being Space X. Last I checked, the Falcon 1 is for satellites, not tourists.

While i'm tempted to go paragraph by paragraph through this overly long article (i'm fairly certain the author was paid by the length of the article, which would explain why she filled it with such enjoyable fodder as "Canadian company PlanetSpace is developing craft based on the World War II German V2 rocket." - does the autopilot attempt all autolandings in London, i wonder?) the article just pisses me off so much i have to put it away.

I've got better things to do with what's left of my Sunday.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jeff Foust said...

Shubber,

Do you know if this article is available online? Your critique has piqed my interest to see just how bad it is. Was it written by an SMH reporter, or reprinted from another paper?

One quibble: while the Falcon 1 is indeed intended for satellites, not people, Musk has been developing a manned capsule that would be launched on the larger Falcon 9. He stated earlier this month he intended to develop it regardless if SpaceX wins a COTS contract from NASA or not.

Monday, May 22, 2006 9:42:00 AM  
Blogger Shubber Ali said...

unfortunately, the article doesn't appear to be available online. that's sometimes the case with print articles in the Herald. Given the aussie slant of the article (regarding Andy Thomas and Woomera as a future Las Vegas in the Desert) I would assume it is in fact from a SMH reporter.

As to the Falcon 9 - you're right. I hadn't realised that Elon Musk has joined the space tourism marketplace.

Oh well.

and here I was thinking that he really was trying to bring some of cyberspace to outerspace, by being the Dell of the launch business. Silly me.

Monday, May 22, 2006 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff Foust said...

It appears the article is now online.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 2:13:00 AM  

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