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.