Tuesday, 3 December 2013

(9) Press Release

I'd contacted every Welsh university, some welsh businesses and some non UK press agencies. There was interest but no serious commitment. With the number of likes on the Facebook page climbing towards the 4000 mark I felt that I didn't have a choice but to take the next step. It was time to contact the UK press.

There is a long story about a failed viral campaign involving a picture of a laughing Warren Gatland in a Santa suit, sports reporters, copious amounts of alcohol and a lack of internet connection in Cardiff after Wales lost to Australia in rugby. I tried to think of a quick way to tell this story but it is just too ridiculous to sum up in a few lines. One good thing did come out of this disaster and that was that there was now some press interest in what I was trying to do.

I also contacted a journalist (many thanks to RT) who wrote and distributed the following press release which has resulted in one radio interview so far. There may be more coverage to follow.

Welshman hoping for space mission

A Swansea man is aiming to be the first Welsh-born person in space.
Richard Cross, a 46-year-old computer programmer from Swansea, is hoping to raise the £65,000 he needs to launch him into the history books.

Hoping for the financial backing of a number of Welsh universities Richard is planning to take his trip into space sometime next year.

Even though the Welsh  rocket man, or Taffanaut as he calls himself, has lofty ambitions he does admit a drawback in his ambition – he’s scared of heights!

“I must admit I am scared of heights and the thought of going into space actually terrifies me,” he said.
“I don’t even like flying on a plane. It makes it all the more crazy I suppose that I’m prepared to do it.

“In a bid to overcome my fear I have done a parachute jump from 13,000ft but I’m not sure it’s cured the fear.”
But there is a serious side to Richard’s mission which will see him take a ride on the XCOR Lynx space plane,  via his hoped for ticket from SXC Space Agents.

“The motivation is to leave some kind of legacy and inspire youngsters. Space travel is becoming commercial and I want to show that it is accessible,” said Richard.
“Bob Geldof is attempting to be the first Irishman in space but I want to show that I’m just an ordinary Welsh bloke. If I can do it anyone can.

“If I don’t make it, it will be a missed opportunity for the ordinary Welshman. 
“Some people might think I’m just a nutter but this is a serious plan and certainly no scam.”

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

(8) Business Case - University (v1.0)

*** Note: This proposal has been superceeded by The Proposal (v2.0) ***

Project Name
Taffanaut - (Make Space Accessible)

The primary objectives by sponsoring the first Welsh born person in space are:-
  • To raise the profile of Welsh universities and businesses in the UK and worldwide.
  • To promote collaboration between Welsh companies and companies in the UK and worldwide.
  • To promote collaboration between Welsh universities.
  • By becoming the first Welsh born person in space help to make space accessible to “ordinary” people.

The UK space industry contributes more than £9 billion a year to our economy. The government wants to increase this to £40 billion within 20 years. Wales already has approximately 20000 employees in the aerospace industry and there are ever increasing opportunities within this industry.  I want to help inspire the younger generation (from all backgrounds) to become interested in this emerging 21st century industry, attend Welsh universities and help create a better future for Wales. In order to do this I aim to become the First Welsh born person in space and to do this I need to raise £65000. I have chosen not to target individuals for sponsorship but to target Universities in Wales offering aeronautical/engineering programmes and companies within the aerospace industry in Wales.

In return all sponsors will be involved in the project from a publicity perspective and specifically for university sponsors I have secured talks from SXC (see expected benefits).

Expected benefits
Immediate benefits for participating universities include –

Talks donated to universities by SXC (Space Expedition Corporation).
Talks are expected to be delivered by an SXC representative and be focused on XCOR’s Lynx space plane. The publicity is mutually beneficial to the university and to SXC who have indicated that one of the founders of SXC, Ben Droste may deliver the talk.

Ben Droste has flown over 4,000 hours in different types of military aircrafts, with almost 1,000 hours in the F-16. He was part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force from 1962 to 2000, when he retired as Commander in Chief. He has been involved as a Chairman of the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programmes, Dean and Professor of the Aerospace Faculty of the Technical University in Delft and ESA Advisory Board Member. Currently, Ben Droste is Chairman of the Fokker – van den Berch van Heemstede Aerospace Foundation and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Netherlands Defense Academy.

It is hoped that the initial publicity and on going association with this venture will raise the profile of the university and any partner organisations. This will in turn assist with future marketing and awareness of the university to potential applicants worldwide. Partner organisations will also benefit from the raised profile allowing relationships to be fostered with other similar organisations.

Other participating non university sponsors are encouraged to invest more than the minimum £6500. Participating universities will share any surplus money and any future income generated by the venture. 

Estimated Costs
The cost for 1 ticket on the XCOR Lynx space plane is approximately £65000. This has been subdivided in to 10 equal sponsor/shares of £6500 to help spread the cost and to allow a number of Welsh universities/organisation to take part without diluting the benefits too much.

£6500 per share (per university or group of universities).

A university may commit to 1 x £6500 share or may choose to collaborate with another university and share the cost and the SXC talk. Another possibility that could be considered is that universities could also raise money from their partner organisations.

I have pledged at least £6500.

Identified Risks
The main risks that I have identified are as follows:-
  • Two health checks need to be passed successfully before being given the all clear to fly to space.  Although I am not expecting to fail these checks there are no guarantees. However in the event that I do fail, all money will be refunded.
  • The two main competing space tourism companies are XCOR and Virgin Galactic. I have chosen to fly with XCOR and will be guaranteed to be the first Welsh person in the first 100 to fly into space. I cannot guarantee when the first Welsh person will fly with Virgin Galactic but believe that the ticket price ($250000) will deter all but the rich and famous.
Other risks include the inability to raise the required ticket price, failure of XCOR to be able to complete their space plane or other unknown issues. As a first step only a pledge to pay SXC £6500 is required. No money needs to be paid until all 10 shares are taken. I have tried to limit the risk and cost to universities as much as I can.

Virgin Galactic has already completed one test flight. Virgin Galactic was due to start taking fare paying passengers into space sometime around December 2013 but this scheduled start date has now been postponed until early 2014.

XCOR has yet to complete a test flight but is progressing well and is closing the gap on Virgin Galactic. XCOR has indicated that the mark 1 Lynx space plane will fly in 2014. This will be closely followed by the mark 2 which will be capable of achieving sub orbital flight. The XCOR craft has a number of advantages over the Virgin craft including an extremely quick turnaround time allowing far more passengers to reach space, cheaper and sooner than Virgin passengers.

Although Virgin Galactic will probably be the first to take fare paying passengers on sub orbital flights I believe that XCOR will ultimately be the company that will be more successful in the long term.  

In order to make this venture a success I need to raise the required £65000 ticket price. This amount has been split into 10 equal amounts of £6500 of which I have pledged at least £6500. Up to 3 universities or 3 groups of universities can invest £6500. The remaining 6 shares are expected to be taken by Welsh companies/organisations.

XCOR need to successfully complete and fly the mark 1 and mark 2 space planes.


Monday, 16 September 2013

(7) The Proposal (v1.0)

*** Note: This proposal has been superceeded by The Proposal (v2.0) ***

I am “over the Moon” to announce the launch of an out of this world opportunity to buy a share in a unique business venture. I hope to –

  1. Be the first Welsh born person in space flying on XCOR’s Lynx space plane.
  2. Confirm a guest speaker from SXC to give talk/s to participating groups of universities.
  3. Raise money for Welsh universities.
SXC video presentation

The ticket price to fly to space with XCOR is $100,000 USD which currently equates to approximately £63,000.

I plan to issue 10 shares (sponsorship) at a minimum price of £6,500 of which I pledge to buy 1 standard share.

There are two types of shares –

  • £6,500 (Additional money can be donated to participating Universities).
  • Ability to associate name with venture (sponsorship).   
  • Any future income received as a direct result of venture to be split equally between shareholders.
Higher Education
  • £6,500
  • Ability to associate university’s name with venture (sponsorship).           
  • Any future income received as a direct result of venture to be split equally between shareholders.
  • Donated talk from representative from SXC

Example share split:
  Higher Education                                                             Standard
(1) Region 1


(2) Region 2

South West

(3) Region 3

South East






There are a limited number of talks available from SXC (between 1 and 3) so I suggest that universities collaborate where ever possible. The suggested collaboration regions are as follows –
  1. Region 1               (North Wales)
  2. Region 2               (South West Wales)
  3. Region 3               (South East Wales)
Note: This is a proposal and I am open to suggestions for changes if you feel that there are any issues that prevent you from taking part. If you want to take part or have further questions that aren't answered in the following FAQs section then feel free to contact me (email me).
Why invest in me?
I was born, raised and went to university in Wales and want to try and give something back to the area which I grew up in. I am passionate about this cause and will do whatever I can to help it succeed.
Has anyone Welsh ever been into space?
There has been more than one astronaut of Welsh descent (E.g. Joe Tanner having one Welsh parent) but no one born and raised in Wales with UK citizenship has ever been into space.
When will the trip to space take place? 
XCOR's competitor, Virgin Galactic publicly announced that they wanted to start commercial flights in or soon after December 2013. XCOR flights are likely to take place in 2014.
The two major companies currently competing in the space tourism market are XCOR and Virgin Galactic. XCOR appears to be more focused on "making space accessible" and has a current ticket price less than half that of Virgin Galactic. Although Virgin Galactic is likely to make commercial trips into space before XCOR I believe that the high ticket price for Virgin Galactic will deter everyone apart from the rich and famous. I could not justify asking for £250,000 and have therefore opted to back XCOR.
What does the trip involve?
The XCOR Lynx is a revolutionary reusable space plane that takes off from a runway and reaches a speed of up to Mach 3 in approx. 4 minutes. The craft will reach 100 km (61 miles) which is the international recognised start of space, before re-entering the atmosphere and gliding back to Earth.   
Why not just donate the money charity?
I believe in generating income to be able redistribute it. There is a possibility that income could be generated from this event. Any future income will be split between shareholders to do with as they wish.
Why shares?
I wanted to give the opportunity for Welsh based companies to become actively involved in this commercial space race venture and shares seemed the appropriate way to do so.
Why 10 shares?
The number of shares was set to 10 as this seemed like the Goldilocks value. This was an attempt to minimise the amount of money required from universities whilst trying to minimise the number of sponsors.
Can more than one share be bought?
Yes. It is possible that one company would want to eliminate other companies from the venture by buying all available shares.
When is payment required?
As a first step I simply ask for a commitment to pay but bear in mind that there are only 10 shares available (of which I will take at least 1). The sooner that payment can be made the better in order to secure a stake.
To who is payment made?
The company selling tickets and requiring payment is SXC. You can donate additional money to all participating universities or to a particular university if desired.
What happens if for some reason the flight does not go ahead?
Both Virgin Galactic and XCOR are committed to developing and flying their space planes and numerous bookings have already been made.
I will need to pass two medicals to be declare space worthy. If I fail the first medical then all money will be returned. If I fail the second medical then a small amount will be retained by XCOR (approx. £1500 in total).
Can this plan change?
Yes. I have never attempted anything like this before so there is a chance that I have made naïve mistakes. I am happy to change any aspect of this plan if it helps achieve success without compromising the original aims.
What sort of return is there?
Universities will receive a talk from a representative from SXC. In addition any future income obtained as a direct result of this venture will be split between shareholders.
Companies involved will also benefit from the associated publicity. 
How much involvement will there be in publicity?
I am happy to get involved in promotional activities as far as I reasonably can.
Will there be links from the blog to sponsor websites?
Will I continue to update me progress?
If successful I would like to continue my blog updates to give my unique perspective. 
If you have any further questions then please do not hesitate to contact me (email me).

Sunday, 15 September 2013

(6) The Illusion of Free Will - Taffanaut Regained

We think we are in control. In 2013, not for the first time in my life I made a decision that started a chain of events when I entered the Lynx Space Academy competition for a chance to win a trip into space. I managed to beat over 87000 other contestants and made it into the last 250 to take part in the live challenge but I didn't make it any further. The live challenge wasn't what I had imagined it would be. It was an elimination process designed to favour younger fitter contestants. This isn't 1969 when chisel jawed heroes from dinosaur empires risked their lives to take Man's first step on the Moon. This was the 21st century, the commercialisation of space, the second step when space travel would ultimately become just another daytrip. Space travel should be inclusive to all. When I knew I had been eliminated from the Lynx Space Academy live challenge I stayed around until the end of the event.

We think we are in control. I wanted to see if they guy who got lost on the assault course would find his way out of the shopping centre. I wanted to see what would happen to the guy in the wheelchair. Secretly I hoped an underdog would to do well. I wanted some of the women or some of the older guys to get through but they didn't. I deserved and needed to fail so that I could feel empathy with all these strangers. Clicking my red shoes to take me back to some kind of normality was no longer an option after that day.

We aren't in control. It is an illusion. We are no more in control than an insect that loses the fight in a petrol rainbowed puddle in a failed attempt to reach another bunch of flowers taped to a lamppost at the side of the road. We are 6 billion people in a goldfish bowl world hurtling through the void, trying to play the part and fit in, scuttling off to get our secret fixes to try and make it through the week, trying to cope with the futility of existence, growing up, growing old and letting go of dreams, trying to give our kids a better chance in life than they had because maybe they might be the ones to achieve their dreams. We burn so bright and fade so fast.

I wasn't in control. Everything I ever did, from watching the first step on the Moon, to becoming a geek, trying to overcome my fear of heights, failing in the competition, to just being born Welsh has led me stumbling towards my destiny. Tonight I am ripping words from my bleeding brain to remotely paint pictures in your head like some kind of long distance Vulcan mind meld, to try and make you see why I had to make a stand.

Take a break, look around you so you can remember where you were when you read this.
I want you to remember these words because in years to come people will still be talking about this.

Once again I stand trembling on a precipice both excited and terrified at what lays ahead, ready to go public with my plan and let it be judged. You will help decide whether I succeed or whether I fail. I am ready to sacrifice my anonymity, reluctantly but of my own free will. This is my gift before I fade and return to dust and join my father.

I do this not because it easy. I do this not only for all those who took part in the Lynx Space Academy and failed but for everyone who has the wrong kind of Monday morning feeling but somewhere inside them their dream still smoulders ready to be ignited. Mine is burning like a beacon in a world where hope is a rare commodity. Take the first step. Do not fade away. Do not go gentle into that good night. 

I want to help raise money for and raise the profile of Welsh universities to help inspire today's youngsters to turn to the dark side and become geeks to help take the next steps into space, to Mars and beyond.

I want to be the first Welsh born person in space because I am a nobody from a nowhere town and if I can make it into space then maybe, just maybe, anyone can achieve their dreams.

I await your judgement.

I accept my fate.


Saturday, 13 July 2013

(5) 13.7.13 - Taffanaut Lost

Taffanaut's log, Stardate 13.7.13.
More than 87000 people had entered the Lynx Space Academy competition in the UK and I had made it through to the last 250 that took part in the live televised event in Westfield shopping centre at Shepherd's Bush in London on 13th July 2013. For some reason which I never understood the number of contestants was now 250 instead of 200. I was in a group of 125 taking part on the Saturday. The remaining 125 would battle it out the day after. I hadn't told my mum that I had entered the competition as she would have been worried about me going to London, let alone going into space. My dad had died a few years earlier but I am sure that as a fellow geek if he was still alive then he would have been pretty excited by it all. The event was taking place almost two months earlier than I thought it would, which was both good and bad news. The bad news was that I had less time to get fit but the good news was that my alcohol embargo could be lifted before the summer was over. It had been dry and warm for weeks and the weather forecast was for temperatures to top 30°c. We were having a dry sunny summer for what seemed like the first time in seven or eight years and I was tired of being pointed at by manic dwarves being herded by their moon faced parents waddling past the gym window while I was trundling along on the treadmill. I believed that I was ready.

I arrived early and was one of the first people to register, enter the arena area and start checking out the challenges and the other contestants. The contestants were not the contestants I was looking for. Quite a few of the male contestants looked to be under twenty five years old, fit and not as geeky as I had imagined they would be. There had been a bit of controversy earlier on in the competition when Lynx had been accused of sexism by targeting the advertising of the competition towards a male audience. Lynx were selling male grooming products so I could understood their logic but I had a feeling that the women who had turned up today had a point to prove. One guy had turned up in a wheelchair and after the initial shock of seeing him I had to admire him for competing. All of these people meant business.

The first challenge was an inflatable assault course which covered about half the arena area. It consisted of three main sections with various obstacles that had to be crawled under, crawled through, jumped or climbed over. The third section was made of walls with holes that looked just about big enough to get through with your arms above your head rounded off by one last wall to climb with a slide to the finish line. As I was one of the first people to arrive I was in the first batch to take on the assault course. Fifteen people went before me and their times ranged from about 45 seconds to 75 seconds. One guy lost his joggers and another guy lost his way hence the 75 second time.

Soon it was my turn. I stood in front of the course with my mouth dry and sticky and waited to be counted down to start. Then I was off. It usually takes about 20 to 30 seconds of exercise before alarm bells sound and my body realises what the hell is going on. This happened about half way round the course and I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest and run off in front of me. I was only half way round and there was no way maintain this pace. Trying to move 15 stone around an assault course is no easy task. I had to slow down or face the prospect of having a clutcher suspended in a superman pose through a hole in an inflatable wall. By the time I climbed the final wall I was running on fumes. I slid and stumbled down the other side and as I crossed the finish line I exclaimed that I was rather tired. My time was a disappointing 56 seconds.

While I was sitting down wheezing like an enthusiastic octopus making love to a set of bagpipes I heard the second hand news that the assault course was the eliminator round and that only the top 24 out of 125 would progress any further. I hadn't heard the announcement before I did the assault course and was slightly worried. In hindsight it might have been better to do the assault course later rather than early on. The arena area was surrounded by balconies with ideal views allowing later contestants to figure out how best to tackle the course. As the day wore on the times gradually got quicker and quicker and it was becoming pretty obvious that I wasn't going to be in the top 24. I wasn't even going to be in the top 50. If I had warmed up and given my utmost and the clock had actually stopped when I collapsed across the finish line then maybe I could have shaved 10 seconds of my time but that still wouldn't have been quick enough. I think the fastest woman was "SpaceKate" with a time of 42 seconds which still wasn't fast enough. The fastest time was just under 30 seconds. I have no idea how that is even humanly possible. The 24 who got through were all male aged between 18 and 25 years old. These 24 were finally narrowed down to just 2 by further challenges throughout the day.

Maybe I was just being a bad sportsman but looking round at the other ex contestants I could see disappointment in their faces. I tried to block out the feelings that I was having and hung around to see who won a place in the next stage. I played the part, tried to fit in and applauded the winners but inside I felt something just wasn't right. This wasn't how it had played out in my head. That Saturday was one of the hottest days of the year when people would have been out enjoying the freak warm weather but at some point during that day nearly every Taffanaut follower (approx. 1500 at the time) had checked to see how I was doing. People told me that I had done well to get so far but I couldn't agree with them because nothing short of success had been acceptable for me. I had not allowed any room in my head for thoughts of failure. Belief in success had been absolute which meant that failure was equally unpleasant. It felt like someone had died.

Over the next few days and nights an ocean of thoughts swarmed and buzzed in side my restless mind and something began to take form like some monster from the Id. Taking part in and not winning had been the final piece in the jigsaw that I had needed and now I had a reason to continue, a plan and everything I needed to make the plan succeed.

The plan meant that I had to carry on promoting the Taffanaut Facebook page while writing a blog of about 6 items plus one proposal item. The Facebook page was going to be used later on. I already knew that very few fat fingered Facebook users would click on a link and read the blog but that didn't matter as they were never the main intended target audience. The main target audience would be targeted when the 5th blog item was finished and the 6th and last blog item was almost ready.

This is the end of the 5th item.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

(4) Change - Taffanaut Found

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly nonstop across the Atlantic in The Spirit of St. Louis and claimed the $25,000 Orteig Prize in doing so. In 2004 the $10 million Ansari X Prize was claimed by Scaled Composites when SpaceShipOne became the first reusable privately owned spaceship when it flew into space twice within two weeks. Virgin Galactic is currently developing SpaceShipTwo to provide sub orbital flights for space tourists. I had been keeping a watch on a number of pioneering companies jostling for position in the emerging commercial space race including a company called XCOR.

In 2013 I saw a poster advertising The Lynx Space Academy competition which would give people worldwide the chance to win flights into space on a reusable spaceship being developed by XCOR. Only a few months earlier the world had been transfixed when Felix Baumgartner skydived from a balloon 39 km (21 miles) high. XCOR's Lynx spaceship was going to go much further than that. The Mark I would reach 62 km and the Mark II would reach over 100 km which as everyone knows is the Karman Line or the official recognised line that has to be crossed to reach space and become an astronaut. To enter the competition you had to be over 18 years old and of sound body and mind. I was over 18 so I entered.

The UK competition was split into three stages. The first stage was a popularity contest and meant that I needed to get enough votes to be in the top 200 contestants in the UK. These top 200 would then progress to stage two which was a televised event in London containing mental challenges, physical challenges and an interview. Only 4 would make it through and join contestants from around the world for astronaut training/tests in Florida and finally on the basis of their performance only 1 UK contestant would be picked to go to into space. I did some quick calculations on how many votes I needed and decided that getting to the second stage was achievable.

I am a programmer so figuring out how to get enough votes to go through to the second stage wasn't an issue but on the off chance that there would be a phone vote during the televised London event I thought I better raise my profile so I set up a Facebook page called Taffanaut (due to my inability to spell and a severe case of fat finger syndrome). My excuses for not getting the spelling right are as follows. The word doesn't exist yet so I blame the spellchecker. It's the Welsh spelling. It sounds better with an 'a' instead of an 'o'. Also if I couldn't spell a word that didn't exist then would anyone really notice.

With stage one pretty much in the bag I focused on stage two and the need to finish in the top 4 out of the 200. I couldn't do anything to improve my chances in the mental challenges but I could work on my fitness and practice my interview technique. I did a lot of training in the gym and even gave up alcohol, completely. This was serious. While I was stumbling along on the treadmill I would imagine the questions that could be asked in the interview and run through my possible responses. In my imagined interview I was brilliant and they loved me. Hopefully ambition and ability would be equally matched. If I could raise my fitness level to be about midway in the fitness challenges and do well in the mental challenges then my interview could catapult me into the top 4. Confidence was building along with Taffanaut's following.

Then it all changed.
A fellow weird geek said to me that they were really impressed that I had entered the competition and that when they were younger they had also wanted to go into space. She was unaware of the effect this conversation would have on me (don't think you knew you were in this song). You know who you R. Someone else asked me if I could do a talk at a school if I made it to space. This wasn't in the post win plan. There was no post win plan. What had I done? I had been so committed and focused on winning that I had lost sight of the bigger picture and of the consequences of what would happen afterwards. Up until now I had been safe hiding behind a fictional online character but at some point I would have to reveal myself. I don't mind being the centre of attention but I don't crave it and after a short time I am more than comfortable slipping back out of sight into the shadows. If I won I might end up as a top Z list celebrity being chauffeured around the country in Limo opening new supermarkets before eventually my fame faded and (after six months) I would end up taking part in a hard core porn film wearing goggles and a massive pair of waders or worse still end up on some shopping channel. The flight into space was also begining to worry me. Four minutes to travel 100 km (64 miles) into space reaching 2200 mph in what appeared to be a fiberglass fuel filled Robin Reliant with wings. I still wasn't keen on heights.

This was the first time I really considered sabotaging my creation and walking away. More time trundling along on the treadmill was needed to figure out who I was, who Taffanaut was and what we were trying to achieve. No one could have dreamed what was going on in my head. Slowly but surely an idea started to emerge from the depths of my mind and I began to change. I started to believe. Those people who know me will have seen a change. They may not have been able to put their finger on exactly what it was but they could see something was different. I kept quiet and revealed nothing. It was a self-feeding process. For the first time people around me seemed to contemplate the fact that I could win and as I saw them realise this then I believed more. This was all unsaid and unwritten but I could feel it.

Losing was no longer an option.

We were ready.

Friday, 1 March 2013

(3) The World Moved On

The world moved on.
The moon landings were a bold audacious first step but a step too far too soon. Expectations were way too high and ambition and ability weren’t equally matched. The media and public soon lost interest when the much anticipated brave new world never really materialised.

Space exploration and technology were no longer "sexy" enough to get any significant media coverage. Out of sight and out of mind, technology carried on its relentless advance. I was 9 years old when in the long hot Summer of 1976 I saw the electronic arcade game Pong. I had never seen a real life in the flesh science fiction futuristic computer, ever. I had seen the future. Over the next few years other games followed with each one improving on the previous. Space Invaders (the Mother of All Arcade Games) arrived when I was just about to start my teenage years. Home computers took off in the early 80s and it seems that I was born in the Goldilocks years at just the right time to be just the right age to experience the dawn of the digital age.

I was always interested in science and technology and eventually I succumbed, turned to the dark side and became a teenage computer geek. Like some kind of techy junky I needed constant fixes to feed my habit. I felt like some kind of teenage alien social outcast trying to feed my secret addiction by scuttling off to watch some documentary on asteroids, computers, volcanoes or some equally forbidden topic that was frowned on. I was weird but I loved it.

Being Welsh is a difficult one to explain to infidel outsiders. You can only truly understand the state of mind that is Welsh if you are in fact Welsh and that means being born, raised and indoctrinated in Wales. I am a product of nurture and nature and I could tell countless stories of events that shaped who I am but I am trying to keep this simple. I don’t want you to lose interest. I know the tambourine playing cats are calling you. In brief, more by accident than design, I ended up being an unfit slightly eccentric sometimes manic, moody, stubborn, Welsh, techy computer programmer with an unhealthy interest in science and technology. There is no known cure.

As a computer programmer, trying to compress my life into a few paragraphs is difficult for me. Writing code and writing stories are normally mutually exclusive but I am not normal. I have stuck with it and tried to untangle my parallel thoughts into a story with some structure with a beginning, a middle and an end but I couldn't figure how to get one relevant item in so I will give up and just put it here. 

In 2004 while driving to work (sorry for mentioning the W word) I saw a sign advertising tandem skydives to raise money for charity and on the spur of the moment I decided to sign up. At the time this seemed like a good idea but I now accept that this was probably a bit of a bad move. I don't like heights or baked beans but I thought a skydive would help me overcome my fear (of heights). It was probably the most terrifying thing I have ever done. I was extremely unhappy by the prospect that my life could end in the next two minutes while I was suspended on the outside of a perfectly good airplane looking down 13000 feet strapped to some guy's chest like some fat trembling back pack in reverse. Eventually the mad bugger jumped and I experienced a silent scream. I still don't like heights or baked beans.

If you are still reading this then jolly well done. You deserve a break.

Friday, 1 February 2013

(2) The First Step - Death of the Dream

I was a little over 2 years old when my mother sat me on a dining room chair in front of the TV and said. 

“Watch this and remember it because it is really important. In years to come people will still be talking about this.”

I remember the black wooden chair with the green plastic paisley seat cushion and back. I remember looking at the grainy picture on the TV. The TV was a 1960’s black and white valve driven beast. Actually it wasn’t even black and white, more black and purple. When it was switched on it would take a few minutes for the valves to warm up before any sound would come out and then the picture would eventually flicker into life.

I was just over 2 years old in the Summer of 1969 so I didn’t really grasp the importance of what I was seeing at the time but I remember sitting there and watching man’s first step on the Moon.

The last lunar landing was in December of 1972 but the excitement lingered on for a few more years. I remember numerous space related TV shows from my early years such as Dr Who, Stingray, Thunderbirds and Star Trek. We grew up with Captain Kirk as our role model and we believed that by the time we grew up space travel would be the norm but the brave new world never arrived.

Growing up meant a gradual awareness of who I was, where I was in the world and what was actually possible. I grew up in a small town in Wales. I won't mention the name because If you live outside Wales then you probably won't have never heard of it anyway. It is a one horse town, with no horse. I was a nobody in a nowhere town growing up in a post-industrial world that had seen better days. There was never any chance of me suddenly being talent spotted by NASA and becoming an astronaut. Everyone I knew grew up, accepted their fate and forgot about any childhood dreams and ambitions they had. They went to school, went to university or got a job and settled down, got a house, got a wife, got the flat screen TV and matching luggage set. They had kids and they started to grow old, accept their fate and they forget the dreams they once had.

The dream died.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

(1) Statement of Intent

My aim is simple. I want to be the first Welsh person in space (Taffanaut).

This blog is my attempt to document how I got to this point in time and why I want to be the first Welsh person in space and what I hope to achieve by doing so.

I am trying to write everything that I think is relevant in this blog as this seemed like the best way to share the information. I have a Facebook page that I am using to build a following so please check that out and if you like what you see then like the page.

I decided that I need to write a blog because I couldn’t really get my point across on Facebook. I could only really write a few sentences before people would get bored and start looking for pictures of tambourine playing cats. I will continue to use Facebook to build a following and I will use this blog to share my story.

This is the first time I have ever written a blog so please bear with me, try and ignore any spelling mistakes and grammatical errors and enjoy the story. Go on you know you want to. Please don’t go searching for pictures of tambourine playing cats.

I will try my best to make it an interesting read.