Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Trailer of THE PAYLOAD in Theaters!

A Book Trailer of THE PAYLOAD will be featured prior to each and every movie played at the Oakmont 8 Cinema at 4801 Cortez Road W. in Bradenton, Florida, from September 8th through October 8th. This is tremendous exposure for THE PAYLOAD and my writing. Tsaba House Publishing is the first Christian publishing house to take Book Trailers into the movie theaters. It is incredibly innovative on their part and I am pleased to be a part of this cutting edge opportunity. I can't say enough for what this might do for the publishing industry in general. From what I understand, Barnes and Noble has already made plans to have giant flat screens throughout their stores to play Book Trailers continuously. The face of how books are marketed to the public will be changing!

To view the Book Trailer for THE PAYLOAD, click here. The link will take you to the Book Trailer page at Tsaba House and you can just click on the black screen underneath THE PAYLOAD and then click the arrow button to play the video.

Online Author Chat Set for November 17th

I am pleased to announce that I have been invited by the folks at the Dancing Word Writers Network to be a guest author for an online chat to be held Friday, November 17th at 9:00 P.M. EST. They have had some great authors in the past (Ted Dekker, Terri Blackstock, Donita Paul, James Scott Bell, Bryan Davis) that have participated as guest authors for an online chat. It is quite an honor to have the same privilege. I am looking forward to this event. They will also be giving away an autographed copy of THE FOREIGNER to a chat participant! So if you have some time to stop by and chat, click on the link below and find your way to the chat room this coming November 17th at 9:00 P.M. EST.

Dancing Word Writers Network

Thursday, August 03, 2006

2006 Intl Christian Retail Show

I flew into Denver for the 2006 International Christian Retail Show on Sunday, July 9th. To my surprise, it was 59 degrees with rain! I didn't even bring a jacket. But considering it was already 82 degrees with 110% humidity at 9:00 am in Tampa when I departed, it was somewhat refreshing.The greatest part for me about the conference is the people. First and foremost are the store owners and employees. God bless them. It is incredibly competitive today for Christian retail stores. But there's something different about the customer loyalty and the dedication of the management with these local proprietors. It's a tough road but I'm glad they are staying the course. Second are the folks at Tsaba House. It's truly a family. Literally in both a personal sense and professional sense. What a blessing it is to meet up with them in person at the conference.Third are the other authors at Tsaba House and the many others outside of Tsaba House who attend the conference. It is such a great opportunity to network and to see what is working and what is not. To share ideas on marketing and writing in general. I always meet new friends and enjoy keeping in touch afterwards.And lastly are the people in Denver. I enjoyed the World Cup Final by watching it at the ESPNZone located on the 16th street mall. For a "rowdy" group of soccer fans, they were placid at best. Even the employees who work at the many shops located on the 16th street mall were extremely helpful and kind. Denver certainly has a gem in the 16th street mall.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Downtown Tampa Public Library

This last Sunday afternoon (May 21st) I was at the John F. Germany Public Library, Downtown Tampa. They gave me the auditorium. I even had my own microphone! Those that heard the presentation came away delighted. Just as a reminder, if you are in need of someone to speak and are looking for some interesting topics, look no further. Space law is diverse. My latest presentation was in connection with an article that I wrote entitled Buying Property in Outer Space. Given the hot real estate market here on Earth, this topic draws quite a bit of interest.

Barnes & Noble St. Petersburg!

Thank you Barnes & Noble St. Petersburg and especially to Jay and Maria for their hospitality during the signing event this last Saturday May 20th at 2pm. The patrons were talkative and very curious as to the topic of space law. I enjoyed my conversations with Leslie, Ginnie, Helen, Larry, and numerous others. I'm sure I'll be back.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Barnes & Noble Sarasota 5/13

Many thanks to Sherri and Kate for their hospitality during the booksigning event. Also a special thanks to Danny, the community relations manager, for his efforts in setting up the event. I meet some fantastic people. To name a few-- JoAnne, Gilbert, Mike, John, Bill, Rita, and Wayne. I enjoyed my conversations with you all and look forward to your feedback on THE FOREIGNER.

Next event is this Saturday, May 20th, from 2:00-4:00pm at the Barnes and Noble, St. Petersburg, Florida. This booksigning event will be followed by a library discussion on Sunday, May 21, from 3:00-4:00pm at the John F. Germany Public Library in Downtown Tampa.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lakeland Book Signing Event

What a beautiful afternoon in Lakeland, Florida. Today I had the opportunity to visit the Family Christian Store at 3700 N. US Highway 98 from noon until 3:00 p.m. for a booksigning event. Many thanks to Darren, Chris, Jason and Georgia for their help during the event. Their store in Lakeland is a huge free-standing building just off of I-4. Very spacious with comfortable chairs and a nice couch for those who want to review their books prior to buying. I enjoyed my conversations with David, Dan, Brandon and Angela, and the many other patrons I spoke with but did not get their names. We had a fantastic afternoon and I look forward to coming back during one of their Karaoke nights which attract upwards of 250 people. Or maybe biker's night. That'll work too!

Next book signing event: May 13th from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 4010 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, Florida, 941.923.9907.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ft. Myers Beach Public Library Discussion

Thank you again to Dr. Leroy Hommerding, director of the Ft. Myers Beach Public Library, for his hospitality during my visit this last Tuesday, April 4th. The folks in Ft. Myers Beach are always in such a good mood. I guess it would be hard not to be in such a good mood considering how beautiful it was on the beach and what excellent weather we've been having. The traffic on the other hand was miserable. A combination of spring breakers and snowbirds made for several miles of bumper-to-bumber traffic. But who can blame them for wanting to be on the beach! Not me.

Next event: Saturday, April 22nd, noon-3pm, Family Christian Bookstore, Lakeland, Florida.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Spring Book Tour Announcement

On the road again . . . Spring is almost in the air (at least in Florida) and books are shipping to the bookstores. With that said, the 2006 Spring Book Tour is in the works. Tentatively, the Tour's opening venue will be in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida on Tuesday, April 4th. You can stop by the Ft. Myers Beach Public Library at 10:30 am to hear me discuss a recent article I wrote entitled, "Buying Real Estate in Outer Space." I will have plenty of copies of my latest release, THE FOREIGNER, as well as the first book in the series, THE PAYLOAD, in case someone would like to purchase an autographed copy.

Other cities that are on the radar screen for an appearance during the months of April, May, and June, are Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Vero Beach, Orlando, Brandon, and Ft. Lauderdale. The Tour will celebrate its conclusion in Denver, Colorado, where I will be signing copies of THE FOREIGNER at the International Christain Retail Show, July 9-13.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Release: The Foreigner

I am pleased to announce the release of The Foreigner. In 1965, U.S. Navy specialist Hector Ruiz intercepts a Soviet communication deep inside Syria. Soviet special forces are fast approaching the Israeli border with enough chemicals to wipe out the Hebrew nation. But when all conventional efforts fail to defeat the advancing threat, the Soviet soldiers meet a quick and disastrous fate.

Years later, hazardous materials worker Jim Darby holds the only clues as to what really happened in the Syrian desert. But when Darby's own suspicious death occurs, his lawyers turn to space law expert Dutch Bennett to help litigate a billion dollar case against the United States for its role in the deaths of the Soviet soldiers.

For Dutch, the case could catapult his career and earn him title as the world's top space law attorney. For the United States, however, political tensions are escalating and the integrity of a nation is at stake. Working with a blank check from the Treasury Department, U.S. Attorney Cliff Barton and his dream team have never lost a defense. But will a death-bed confession from a surprise witness be enough to give Dutch the win?

To purchase your copy of THE FOREIGNER, take a drive over to your neighborhood Barnes and Noble or Family Christian Bookstore. Or if you don't feel like driving, order your copy through Amazon. If you need a signed copy for a gift or your personal collection, you can do so through my website at www.aaronsthiel.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

NASA and The Six Million Dollar Man

I saw this feature on NASA's website and it brought back some memories. Don't tell anyone but when I was a kid back in the 70's, I wanted to be the bionic man. Lee Majors was so cool. With his legs, I imagined myself outrunning everyone on the playground. With his arms, I could chuck a baseball to the next town. I couldn't get enough of ABC's "The Six Million Dollar Man." Remember that show?

One thing that I've never forgotten is the show's opening. Forget the show itself. The beginning was worth missing dinner over. And believe me, I went hungry on more than one occassion. The opening was this horrific crash sequence followed by Lee Majors getting put back together again. "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him." Here's the transcript of the show's opening.

But what many people didn't realize was that the crash footage was very real. And the pilot behind the disaster was NASA's Dryden research pilot Bruce Peterson. It happened on a dry lakebed on May 10, 1967, when his wingless M2-F2 went tumbling out of control. The M2-F2 was one of the lifting body research vehicles that helped pave the way for space shuttle landings from space.

"Better...stronger...faster." Loved that show.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


You've all asked for it, and now you've got it. A photo of Dice-K. No, not Ice-T. Although he sort of looks like Eminem in the picture. Then again, maybe not.

But before you get visions of him being a Japanese Rap Star making it to the final round on American Idol, relax because he's not. Dice-K, aka Daisuke Enomoto, is slated to become the fourth space tourist. He'll pony-up $20 million like the rest and is currently getting his fill of cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia.

Bust a move for us, Dice-K.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Space Vacation too Expensive?

You've seen the figures being thrown about like candy on Halloween. $20,000,000 for an orbital experience. $200,000 for a sub-orbital experience. All of those zeros kinda make you tune out?

Well it's your lucky day. A Texas corporation, SpaceShot, Inc., is intent on bringing the hope of space travel to people of all means. Hey wait a minute. That means people like me?But there is a catch.

"For less than $5 and some skill, anyone could be the first on their block to win a trip to space," announced Sam Dinkin, CEO of SpaceShot, Inc. His company has aligned itself with Rocketplane Limited, Inc., to award Rocketplane spaceflights as prizes in upcoming SpaceShot online skill game tournaments.

The press release was a little vague on what type of "skills" they have in mind. If it's video gaming or anything related to driving a fast car or plane-- I'm in. But if it's some sort of intellectual trivial pursuit type nonsense, then I'm in trouble.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

48th Anniversary of Laika's Launch

On November 3, 1957, the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik 2 which carried a live dog named Laika. While other animals had made suborbital flights, Laika was the first animal in orbit. Only until recently, however, have the details of Laika's flight been made public. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader at the time, was pleased with the success of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. While celebrating the triumph of launching the world's first satellite, he suggested to his top rocket designers that another Sputnik be launched to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution on November 7, 1957.

Sergei Korolev, the founder of the Soviet space program, had a sophisticated research satellite that would be ready for a December launch but it could in no way be ready for early November. That satellite would later become Sputnik 3. To meet the November deadline, an entirely new design emerged. Korolev and his team had less than four weeks to design and build a space craft.

"All traditions developed in rocket technology were thrown out (during work on the second satellite)," wrote Boris Chertok, deputy to Sergei Korolev, in his memoirs. "The second satellite was created without preliminary design, or any kind of design."

Cold War politics left no time for designers to develop a life-support system for a long-duration flight, not to mention to protect a spacecraft for a fiery reentry. The Soviet press boasted about the 250-pound object equipped with a cabin, providing all the necessary life support for a dog named Laika. The cabin was equipped with a television camera, along with sensors to measure ambient pressure and temperature, as well as the canine's blood pressure, breath frequency and heartbeat. These instruments allowed ground controllers to monitor how Laika was functioning. He even had a supply of food and water. How generous.

Unfortunately for Laika, the Soviets admitted soon after the launch that the spacecraft would not return, meaning that the animal was doomed from the start. Recently, several Russian sources revealed that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated. Sputnik 2 exhausted its electrical batteries after six days in orbit. With all systems dead, including Laika, the spacecraft continued circling the Earth until April 14, 1958, when it reentered the atmosphere after 2,570 orbits.

Laika was found as a stray wandering the streets of Moscow. She weighed approximately 13 lbs and was about 3 years old. "Laika" means barker. The American press dubbed her Muttnik (a cross between a mutt and sputnik). It is generally accepted that she was part husky or other Nordic breed, and possibly part terrior.

Here's to you, Laika.

Bark. Bark.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy 5th Birthday ISS!

"... During the upcoming five-year anniversary, the station will be home to its twelfth crew, Expedition 12. Inside the ultra-modern 'home,' 15 Americans and 14 Russians have lived and worked aboard the space station. This photo was taken of the space station shortly after space shuttle Discovery undocked during the STS-114 mission. Credit: NASA With 15,000 cubic feet of habitable volume, more room than a conventional three-bedroom house, the space station affords many of the comforts one finds on Earth. There is a weightless 'weight room' and even a musical keyboard alongside research facilities. Holidays are observed, and with it, traditional foods such as turkey and cobbler are eaten—with lemonade to wash it down. One thing that makes the space station so distinctive is the experience that it gives the crews visiting the orbiting complex. After months of settling into a 'routine' aboard the station, crewmembers never forget how special it is to be where they are. 'Of course, this 'routine' happens in the novel environment of space,' Expedition 5 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson wrote in her thirteenth letter home from the station. 'Being here, living here, is something that I will probably spend the rest of my life striving to find just the right words to try and encompass and convey just a fraction of what makes our endeavors in space so special and essential.'”
--Catherine E. Borsche, NASA Johnson Space Center

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Shenzhou 6 Orbital Module: Love A Good Mystery?

The crew of Shenzhou 6 has returned to Earth but shortly afterwards, the orbital module was boosted into a higher orbit which will prolong its orbital life and increase the electricity generated from its solar panels. The Chinese media statements have hinted that the module is functioning well. But why? What is it doing?

Chinese statements on the matter were vague, and the only clues available come from models of the spacecraft. Other than some small probes and/or antennas, the Orbital Module looks rather spartan. But it seems unreasonable to expect that China would send the Orbital Module on an extended mission without a worthy payload on board. Speculation is rampant. From a synthetic aperture array to a powerful radar, it's anyone's guess at this point.

China noted in its only media statement on the current status of the orbital module that there would be more power from its new orientation and orbit. It's a statement which suggests that something is indeed drawing that power. Radar is power-hungry. Although the solar panles are not quite the size needed to operate a radar array, it could still be possible to operate a radar system for brief periods. Batteries could be charged up over a long interval, and the radar would then be switched on when a suitable target was beneath the orbital track.

This will be something for us to keep our eye on.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Moon Resources? Who Owns What?

Reports from NASA last week disclosed that by using Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, preliminary assessments suggested a newly discovered abundance of titanium and iron oxides. These may be rich sources of oxygen and a potential resource for human exploration.

But before we break out the shovels and head for the lunar surface, let's take a look at who might own the titanium and iron oxides. I've written an article entitled, Are Private Ventures Deterred by Current Space Laws, which addresses the issue head on.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Thank You Barnes & Noble Sarasota!

This afternoon at 2:00pm I made a book signing appearance at Barnes & Noble, 4010 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231, 941-923-9907. Wow, were they busy. Fantastic staff and tremendous patrons. What I like most about book signings is my opportunity to meet the readers. The conversations were lively and rich. I especially enjoyed meeting Wolfgang, Marty, Mark, Nicole, Paul, Sam, Jane, Denny, Kate, and Shelby to name a few. I can't wait to go back. If you weren't able to make it, I autographed about six books before leaving. You can probably find them up front or just ask the manager and they'll get you a signed copy. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chinese Tourist set for Sub Orbital Flight

Jiang Fang from China has paid $100,000 to become the country's first space tourist, and is set blast off on a sub-orbital mission in 2007.

This is a far cry from the $20 million paid by Tito, Shuttleworth and Olsen for an orbital flight, but then again Jiang will only be making a 90 minute sub-orbital flight which will peak at an altitude of 62 miles.

"A new hero is created when a spaceflight is launched," said Space Adventures president Eric Anderson as quoted by the China Daily. "I want to create more private space-travel heroes in China."

Jiang is president of Hong Kong Space Travel Ltd, the Chinese agent for Anderson's firm, which was set up by former US astronauts to book commercial space travel. He said he had always wanted to experience zero-gravity.

"I want to experience weightlessness and explore the wonders of space," he said. It is not clear where the flight would depart from but my guess is that it would be from the United States. Interest in space travel has boomed in China since it launched its first manned mission in 2003. Its second manned flight, Shenzhou VI, carried two astronauts around the earth for five days before landing safely on Monday.

(Photo- Jiang Fang is in the middle)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

No Wilma in St. Petersburg

What a relief that Wilma held off for at least another day or so. Many thanks to the staff at Berean Christian Store in St. Petersburg, Florida. I enjoyed meeting Tina, Anna, Melanie, Margaret, Mark, Tim, Sharon, Michael, and Gentry to name a few. And the Christmas tree was going up in the store! I can't believe only 2 months left until Christmas. Where has the year gone. Thank you again St. Petersburg.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And the next Space Tourist is?

Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto, a 34-year-old former board director of the Livedoor internet firm, is reportedly in training for next year's flight. According to RIA Novosti, Alexei Krasnov, the Russian Space Agency's director for manned missions, told the Japanese newspaper Asahi that Mr. Enomoto had passed a physical and was now starting a training program for a flight next fall.

And like Tito, Shuttleworth and Olsen, Enomoto's eight-day vacation at the International Space Station will cost him $20 million.

The company responsible for booking these flights is Space Adventures. Both NASA and Russia's space agency have agreed on a procedure for accepting paying passengers who must now sign contracts with both agencies.

In a recent report by Alan Boyle from MSNBC, Eric Anderson, CEO of Space Adventures, says he is now looking for clients to take a trip around the moon. Price tag? $100 million. Forget this small $20 million stuff. He says he already has candidates for the trip so you'd better take a number if you can pony up the dough.

And of course, he is hot on the heals of suborbital flights. Much less expensive adventures but he should get more volume. He claims to have a client list of close to 200 people who have already put down a deposit. "We had about 10 [sign up] last week," he said during the mid-September interview with MSNBC.com. "In Japan, some people are paying in full."

(Drawing of Enomoto by Nanpei Kanko from saizo(magazine))

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rough Ride Home Boys?

Now the truth comes out. The Soyuz descent module was losing pressure on reentry. Good thing they were wearing pressurized spacesuits. A lesson the Soviets learned all too well in 1971 when three cosmonauts weren't wearing pressurized suits during reentry. All three perished when their cabin depressurized.

After landing, American astronaut John Phillips appeared to be slipping in and out of consciousness. The rescuers repeatedly waved a small bottle of smelling salts under his nose, causing him to jerk back his head. Mission Control officials said it was normal for returning astronauts and cosmonauts to slip in and out of consciousness after the rough ride through space. Yeah, right. And maybe from now on they could splash down in the ocean instead of the frozen tundra. What's up with that?

Anyhow, the paying passenger survived the scare and lived to tell about it.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Space Tourist Loses Camera

The $20 million dollar US “space tourist" Greg Olsen returned to Earth this week. Aside from all his commentary on how terrific his experience was, what I found most interesting was that he lost his mini digital camera on the ISS.

"I had a little mini camera and I took a lot of pictures and it's floating around somewhere in the ISS... It slipped out of my pocket. One of the things you learn on board is everything just floats around. You have to tie it down, velcro it or somehow fasten it. Hopefully they'll find it and maybe download some pictures for me," he was quoted as saying.

What if someone actually stole his camera (like that sneaky guy behind him to the right)? What law would control the theft claim and the eventual prosecution of the thief? Who would arrest the thief? In what court would he or she be prosecuted? Or what if someone finds his camera but simply wants to claim it as theirs (i.e. finders keeps, losers weepers)? What about the intellectual property rights of the photographs on the camera? We can have some fun with this one down the road on another blog.

(Photo: NASA TV, Olsen is bottom row center)

Thursday, October 13, 2005


No, this isn't a spicy Chinese take-out dish. And no, it's not the name of a little black and white dog whose face looks like an Ewok. Would you believe me if I told you it was the name of China's manned space program? Well, believe me. China's successful launch of Shenzhou VI on October 12th was the second manned space mission for the Chinese. Based on Soviet Soyuz technology, Shenzhou VI lifted off on a Long March 2F carrier rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for a five-day mission, carrying air force pilots Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng. The country's first manned space mission took place in October 2003. China is only the third country after the United States and the former Soviet Union to send a man into space.

"China, once again, has demonstrated that it is among the elite number of countries capable of human space flight," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a brief statement as quoted by Spacedaily.com

Now getting back to the important stuff-- the food. I thought it was interesting that they opted to use forks and spoons to eat their food since they considered chopsticks too difficult to manipulate in the weightlessness of space. I can't even use them with gravity so it wouldn't make much of a difference for me.

The menu for Fei and Nie is much more extensive than that of the first manned mission in October 2003, offering 50 varieties of food instead of the previous 20. The first Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei could only eat cold meals because his spacecraft did not have a food heater. Fei and Nie, however, will dine on heated food including rice, dehydrated vegetables and a wide assortment of fruit -- strawberries, bananas and the very sweet Chinese "Hami" melon.

(Photo: Xinhua News Agency)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Virgin Galactic: How Much Would You Pay?

This description was taken completely from the Virgin Galactic website. Check out the elegance of what the marketing department believes your experience will be like. Enough to make you want to fork over $200,000? How about $20,000? or $5,000? You tell me...

"Your journey out of this world begins not on the launch pad like a conventional space rocket but on a runway. Virgin Galactic craft are carried under a mother ship to almost 10 miles above sea level. Then the countdown begins. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....the VSS Enterprise, your spaceship, is released from the mother ship. Almost immediately, as your astronaut pilot ignites the engine, you will hear the roar of the rocket behind you as the enormous power accelerates you at 4G to a speed faster than a bullet.

All the time, the ergonomic design of the seats will keep you comfortable. As you hurtle through the edges of the atmosphere, through the panoramic individual windows you will be able to see the cobalt blue sky turn to mauve and indigo and finally black. Out will come the stars, clear and bright... even though it is daytime! Soon the rocket motor cuts out. Now, from the rush of adrenalin and the rocket motor, everything is quiet.

You are weightless...You are in space!

The ship will maneuver, so you can look for the first time back at the planet you have just come from. The view will be over a thousand miles in any direction. That's like seeing North Africa if you were in a spaceship above London or Miami from overhead Washington DC. You will see the clarity of the solar system and the harshness of the sun.

It will be humbling. It will be spiritual."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Space Tourism: Fact or Fiction? (Part II)

Current laws dictate that national states are responsible for any outer space activities carried out by its government agencies or private enterprises. For example, if a private Japanese company launches a rocket that explodes over Alaska and causes loss of life, the Japanese government would be liable in addition to the company. Given this setup, a nation can either prohibit all commercial activities to eliminate such risks, or in the alternative it can enact laws which set certain safety and quality standards to help reduce its liability exposure.

On December 23, 2004, President Bush signed into law the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act. This act advances the development of the emerging commercial spaceflight industry and designates both the Transportation Department and the FAA as the responsible agencies for regulating private human spaceflight.

But if each country does its part to legislatively promote the industry, the resulting patch quilt of national regulations will give rise to totally different levels of safety and quality standards. We’ve seen this in the maritime sector where cheap-flag-states allow ships and crews to fall well below sensible safety requirements. Not the safest regime for those traveling into space.

The most appropriate solution would be to create an international treaty that creates an equal standardization while promoting greater transparency and reliability for private enterprises in space tourism or any other commercial activity in outer space. The principles of such a treaty could then be adopted into national law thus making each country responsible for monitoring private enterprises under its control and enforcing the uniform standards.

But so far, the need for standardization hasn’t thwarted those seeking their first commercial flight into outer space. In fact, there’s already a waiting list. Sir Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Atlantic airline, has formed Virgin Galactic LLC which will begin launching commercial passengers into space sometime in 2008 from U.S. soil. The going rate for a seat onboard a Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceship is $200,000. You can secure your seat today with a $20,000 deposit.

Will Whitehorn, the president of Virgin Galactic, has been quoted by SPACE.com stating that, “We have a significant level of deposits now . . . nearly $10 million worth . . . I’m sure we would have sold out at least the first couple of years by the time we start flying.”

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Thank You Vero Beach and Orlando!

Friday evening at Wings of Joy in Vero Beach, Florida it was dessert and discussion with the author. The chocolate cake was fabulous and the company was even better. Thank you JoAnn (pictured) for your hospitality and efforts to make the event a success. Also a big thanks to Kaitlyn and Josh for their willingness to help. And by the way, I convinced Josh (who doesn't read fiction) to read Dark Star by Creston Mapes. Hope you enjoy it Josh. The best part of the event was meeting so many new faces and talking at length with Ray, Judy, Demaris, Jamie and future authors Dustin and Haley. I'll also remember next time to pick a evening when the Vero Beach Fighting Indians aren't playing football at home!

Saturday afternoon I made an appearance at Christian Supplies Store in Orlando, Florida. Thank you to Mrs. Phillips for allowing me the opportunity to sign at her store and to Cozetta for her help in organizing and coordinating the event. Everyone was super friendly.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Book Signing - Orlando, FL Oct 8th

Ah, Orlando. Back to "The City Beautiful." My old stomping grounds. A little bit of trivia, very little-- I graduated from Lake Mary High School on the north side of Orlando. In addition, I founded a law firm in Debary (also on the north side) which served Orlando, Daytona Beach, and Melbourne. The good ol' days.

I'll be making a book signing appearance at Christian Supplies Store, 3103 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808, 407.293.3398, on Saturday October 8th from noon until 3pm. Bring your friends and let's talk about NASA, the space program, or anything else on your mind. Holiday season is just around the corner and a signed book would make a great gift.

Book Signing - Vero Beach, Oct 7th

Join me for dessert and discussion at the Wings of Joy Bookstore, 1940 58th Avenue, Vero Beach, Florida, 772.567.5755, this Friday evening from 5pm until 9pm. Grab yourself a piece of cake and let's talk space law, Dutch Bennett, or anything else on your mind. I'm looking forward to meeting the fantastic residents of Vero Beach and the surrounding areas. This morning I appeared on Vero Beach radio station 1370AM Rhett Palmer Live for an on-air interview about The Payload and the upcoming event at Wings of Joy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Space Tourism: Fact or Fiction? (Part I)

Space tourist, Gregory Olsen and the twelfth ISS crew lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad inside their Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft at about 11:55 p.m. EDT (0355 Oct. 1 GMT). Olsen, who paid $20 million to be a “spaceflight participant” as he calls it, joins an elite group of space tourists: Dennis Tito was the first paying passenger ($20 million) in April 2001 and Mark Shuttleworth was the second ($20 million) in April 2002.

Space tourism has indeed arrived and is not going anywhere but up. In an article published by Aviation Week in 2000, Norman Augustine, ex-CEO of Lockhead Martin, predicted that space tourism would become the main space activity. In 1997 the US "National Leisure Travel Monitor" survey included questions on space tourism for the first time. Of 1,500 Americans surveyed, 42% said they'd be interested in flying in a space cruise vessel, and would be willing to spend on average $10,800 for the trip.

For the industry to succeed, however, private enterprise will need to take the reigns from Russia and turn space tourism into a competitive corporate endeavor rather than a government publicity stunt. Unfortunately, the laws governing space travel and the use of outer space were legislated through international treaties in the 60’s and 70’s and were focused primarily on government operations. Of course, at the time these treaties were adopted, government space programs were the only game in town. Not to mention that the Cold War was in full swing. The prevailing “space race” attitude favored complete government control over space operations which dampened any need to address the rights of private enterprise. This lack of vision has and will complicate the future of commercial space tourism unless changes are made. I will share the prevailing ideas for change in Space Tourism: Fact or Fiction? (Part II).

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Review of The Payload

The Payload is a riveting legal thriller that introduces Dutch Bennett, a struggling law school grad that is forced to take a job in the obscure field of space law. Thiel weaves a compelling story that meticulously combines corporate espionage, government conspiracy, and environmental disaster. A thought provoking book of the future possibilities of space and the consequences of plans that go awry. Caught in the crossfire, Dutch gets tangled in a scandalous web of betrayal and becomes the FBI's most wanted suspect. The government, the press, and even the two innocent corporations he once wanted to bury, are now playing Dutch like an old accordion. His only hope for escape calls for a miracle-- or at least one small piece of evidence from out of this world! This page-turner is worth losing sleep over.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Book Signing - St. Pete, Florida, Oct 22nd

I'm very excited as we near my fall book signing tour. I just received this promotional sign for my signing at Berean Christian Store, 2993 Tyrone Blvd., St. Petersburg, Florida on October 22nd at 1:00 pm. I thought they did a great job with the promotion. I look forward to meeting those of you who live in and around the greater St. Pete-Tampa Bay area. Should be a terrific event. You will especially like the free give-aways!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Apollo on Steroids? (Part II)

Perhaps there is a better way than having the good taxpaying folks of America paying the $104B tab to explore the Moon and Mars. "Been there, done that," seems to be the prevailing attitude that leaves many shaking their heads. If we're going to spend $104B, at least let us drastically improve the vision and the means to accomplish it. For example, take the suggestion by University of Tennessee law professor, Glenn Harlan Reynolds. He proposes that the money would be better spent on the development of a "space elevator." Check it out.

Anyhow, NASA recognizes the benefits of private enterprise given its latest push to drive incentive money in their direction. Yesterday NASA announced a $250,000 prize for the team that can win a lunar dirt-digging contest that will take place here on Earth. The competition will pit robots to see which can excavate the most lunar soil and deliver it to a collector. The challenge will be held in late 2006 or early 2007.

"Excavation of lunar regolith is an important and necessary step toward using the resources on the Moon to establish a successful base for life on its surface," said NASA's acting Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Douglas Cooke.

"This is a challenge that places all companies, institutions and individuals on a level playing field, thereby widening the doors of opportunity for technology innovators," said CSEWI Director, the Honorable Andrea Seastrand. "While welcoming entities with existing NASA relationships, this challenge stimulates and reaches out to the nation's untapped intellectual capital."

Ah, but what's in it beyond a $250,000 prize. Who will hire the company that wins? Will it be a government contract or a corporate contract? That's where the real rubber meets the road.

Picture yourself as a savvy venture capitalist looking to invest your wealth on the next best opportunity. Across from the table is some hot-shot engineer explaining how his firm is going to mine six trillion dollars of platinum from an asteroid. He lays out the blueprints, uses fancy acronyms like NEO and LEO, and describes how there are at least 2,000 more asteroids that size, with about 50 more being discovered each year!

Cutting through the hype, you put your business acumen into high gear and ask, "So how long is this project going to take? Projected investment? And risk of failure?"

"Twenty years, start to finish," comes his reply without hesitation. "Eight billion dollar investment with a high probability of failure. But don’t forget, we’re going after a six trillion dollar opportunity."

The next question, however, will determine whether you sign the papers or show the young lad to the door. "Are you 100% certain that you’ll have a right to claim legal ownership over what you extract?"

The face of the engineer goes blank. He reaches down, pulls out a 100-page memorandum from his briefcase, and lays it in front of you. It’s from a law firm in which he paid thousands of dollars to answer that very question. Unfortunately, it doesn’t answer it very well. In fact, it tells the potential investor that there are two camps with two very different interpretations of the law.

To make matters worse, because there is no case law to interpret who’s right, the outcome is rather unpredictable and nebulous. At that point, you quickly shuffle the engineer towards the door. As he attempts one final sales pitch, you retort, "Sonny, I’m not going fishing unless I’m absolutely sure that I own 100% of what I catch!"

To read the rest of the story click here.