Jeff Manber isn’t very impressed with Space Adventures’ plan to send humans around the moon. He’s skeptical about whether the company has actually sold a $150 million ticket, thinks their promo video has crappy production values, and says they should hire James Tiberius Priceline (William Shatner) as a spokesman. He also questions the wisdom of spending $150 million to be a guinea pig on Russia’s first ever lunar human flight. (A good question, actually.)
On the plus side, Manber does think that the Soyuz would be a perfect vehicle for a romantic couple wanting the ultimate honeymoon, comparing it to the back of a pickup truck where relationship are often consummated. That could be awkward for the pilot on board, unless of course, they have the first deep space manage-a-trois.
If Manber sounds a bit sour here, it’s worth remembering a bit of history. Manber worked on MirCorp, which was entrepreneur Walt Anderson’s (no relation to Eric) effort to send billionauts to the Russian space station aboard Soyuz spacecraft beginning with Dennis Tito. That effort failed after Anderson lost his shirt in the dot.com meltdown and the Russians — under pressure from the United States — decided to de-orbit the station and focus on the International Space Station. Tito eventually flew to ISS with Space Adventures, a venture backed by Peter Diamandis. Anderson subsequently accused Space Adventures of stealing his client and accused Diamandis of being a dishonest businessman.
Eric Anderson and Diamandis had the last laugh here. Their company is planning to send humans around the moon; Walt Anderson is serving a nine-year prison term in New Jersey for tax evasion.