Thursday, May 19, 2005

A rocket on the street

Yesterday on my way to the Machine Learning Summer School I came across a rocket parked outside - weird. Then on a break between lectures I stumbled into their press conference. It was the the X-prize team "Canadian Arrow". They are starting a company to offer sub orbital flights that will splash down into the great lakes. They were in town because they are partnerning with a Chicago businessman/polititan Chirnjeev Kathuria. So they came down to International House at UofC with one of their rockets in tow.
Afterwards I had a short conversation with PlanetSpace's president Geoff Sheerin - interesting guy. He got excited when I heard I was an astronomer. He suggested we think about what kinds of observations we could make with an instrument in the nose cone (4 minutes in space). He also was interested in speaking at Adler sometime. Finally he pitched a vision for me where Project Space had a barge just offshore downtown Chicago (or Meigs field perhaps) where they would launch the rockets carrying passengers and Adler designed scientific instruments and then splash down in Lake Michigan. It's a brave new world.
Anyway, it's not everyday you see a rocket parallel parked on 59th st. (although come to think of it I have seen some strange things there: mideval sword battles, Korean drumming, pow wows...)


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