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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
What ever happened to Rocket Guy?
Yesterday's Columbia launch caused me to flashback to an episode of Art Bell's old "Coast to Coast" radio show. It must have aired back in 2000 or so. Bell's guest on that long-ago night was Brian Walker, a self-made entrepreneur that had made his fortune designing toys. A central Oregon resident, Walker was in the process of building a rocket on his property. His goal was to blast himself 50 miles in the sky, marking the first trip into orbit funded, built and flown by a private citizen.
The original launch date was set for Labor Day of 2001. Walker had planned to blast off from the middle of the Alvord Desert as a crowd of well-wishers looked on. After being the subject of numerous interviews and articles, Walker pushed back the launch to May of 2002. The following December he postponed the launch indefinitely, blaming distractions ranging from media demands to his desire to write a book about his experiences. In the months and years to follow Walker was interviewed by everyone from Conan O' Brien to Chuck Palahniuk.
From there, well, things get pretty strange as Walker was further sidetracked by his Russian bride, lawsuits and other problems. A summary can be found here in the last full-fledged update on his site. A short message on the main page promises a redesign originally slated for March of 2005.
So is Walker still working on his dream to fly into space? An internet search didn't turn up any answers. Are you still out there, Rocket Guy?