Rocketman rumors

Rocketman rumors

Rocketman rumors

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 4 2008 8:37 PM

Rocketman rumors

Final Update, I should think (Feb 5): The story I outline below is almost certainly false. My source, Jonathan McDowell, who runs Jonathon's Space Report, is a noted expert on satellites, orbits, and such, and he throws the flag on this one. Here is his complete email to me:

Complete nonsense. As the X-Prize competitors have shown, such a project is not trivial and could not be realistically carried out in secret. Greenland's not a great site for this anyway. Chinese TV report has not made it onto the wires here. "being successfully tracked" implies still up, which implies orbital, and that's clearly beyond the state of the billionaire art. No evidence of such an entrepreneur Neil Abraham in a quick google search. Contrast e.g. "Nick Corfield", "Charles Simonyi"...etc etc.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


I conclude, a deliberate and utter fabrication.

I agree with Jonathon. This is some sort of story being spread deliberately. Some people think it has to do with the movie Iron Man, but the characters name in that flick is different. So I'm not sure what this is all about, but I am pretty sure it's not true.

Update: My source - an expert in these things -- has called this story "complete nonsense". I am posting this now to try to stop this from getting bigger; but as yet I do not have permission to use my source's name. When my source contacts me again, I'll post more.

There is a rumor going around that an American billionaire has built his own rocket, launched himself into space, and has apparently been lost.

I know nothing beyond the info in that linked article. It sounds ridiculous, but years ago there was a guy who was planning on doing just such a thing (though he was not a billionaire). I have serious doubts, of course, but I have some friends who may know more about this, and I've sent out email. When I get more info, I'll post it here. If any BABloggees have heard anything, let me know! Leave a comment here.

Edited to add: It occurs to me that the website linked has the URL of, so I wonder if this is a fake story designed to see how rumors spread. Well, I noted above that it sounds like baloney to me, and I have feelers out to track anything down. Maybe, if this is a joke, we can staunch it quickly. :-)