The power of the stars helped fuel the dream of spaceflight


July 10 — One thing this business has had from the start is star power. Richard Branson and Bill Richardson are larger-than-life characters with matching resumes.

In more than eight years as governor of New Mexico, Richardson served as Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy, President of the Democratic National Convention, and he mounted a credible candidacy for his party’s nomination for President. . He received Mikhail Gorbachev for a dinner in Santa Fe, negotiated with despots and dictators from Saddam Hussein in Iraq to the rulers of North Korea and secured the release of hostages and US military in Cuba and Sudan. He negotiated with the Taliban.

He wrote a book in 2013, “How to Sweet-Talk a Shark: Strategies and Stories from a Master Negotiator”.

“I made agreements with dictators,” he once said. “Here is my advice for Congress.”

A regular on cable news for many years due to his mastery of politics and conversational style, he has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Then there is Sir Richard Branson.

The mega businessman swam with sharks to protest their killing for shark skin soup, worked to save polar bears in Canada and endangered lemurs in Madagascar. He has a vision for the democratization of space and a global suborbital air transport system where people will take off from New Mexico and land a few hours later at a spaceport in Dubai or Tokyo.

Today’s flight is the first step in that vision.

A profile in Zoomer magazine described him as “nemesis 007”. “With his long locks, sparkling eyes and mischievous smile, he’s like a cackling Bond supervillain” who lives on his own island and has his own submarine.

This style has been exhibited here. He rappelled down the spaceport wall with a bottle of champagne to dedicate the installation, lifted Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham off the ground for a selfie, and tested today’s flying experience as a private astronaut.

He has millions of Twitter followers and was quoted in the Zoomer interview as once writing that “every businessman has a responsibility to care for the people and the planet that make up our global village … I have been convinced that this is the way to go, if the planet as we know it and life as we know it are to survive. “

Richardson, who was on his way Thursday to distribute sneakers to Navajo children through a foundation he set up before heading to Spaceport for Sunday’s launch, is an admirer of Branson, describing him as a fiery negotiator. , bold and tough who “tried to make New Mexico pay for everything.”

A fierce negotiator himself, Richardson said it was a “bidding war,” but after the back-and-forths, Branson still chose New Mexico and “Arnold (California Gov. Schwarzenneger) was crazy that we beat him “.

“I’m thrilled that Branson is going to beat (Jeff of Blue Origin) Bezos in space,” added Richardson. “Typical Branson. And that puts New Mexico number one.”


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