One of the latest shaky proposals for a commercial space business comes from an outfit that calls itself SHIPinSPACE and promises to build a 48-passenger suborbital flight module that would take tourists on joyrides at a cost of $50,000-$60,000 per.
SHIPinSPACE has no web site. You can flip through its proposal at Google Docs. SHIPinSPACE principal Fabrizio Boer has propagated his “news” via social media, including LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook. This announcement was posted, for example, with a LinkedIn discussion group called “Space Movement.” SHIPinSPACE launched an IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign earlier this year, raising only 596 Euro of its 100,000 Euro goal.
Space Safety Magazine, published by the International Association for Space Safety, ran an article about SHIPinSPACE this spring – no questions asked. Just this week the blog site Parabolic Arc – dedicated to “space tourism and more” – ran another no-questions-asked article about SHIPinSPACE, this time reporting that the project has obtained $7.78 million in seed funding from Black Star Global Enterprises Ltd. UK.
Black Star has no web site. It is listed in a number of corporate directories, with no information about its assets or activities. The U.K. service Company Check says this about Black Star:
“Black Star Global Enterprises (uk) Limited is an Active business incorporated in England & Wales on 12th July 2012. Their business activity has not been recorded. Black Star Global Enterprises (uk) Limited is run by 2 current members. It has no share capital. It is not part of a group. The company has not yet filed accounts. Black Star Global Enterprises (uk) Limited’s risk score was amended on 02/04/2013.”
The two “members” of Black Star Global are Mr. Matthew Nicol (age 48, born 1965, British citizen, managing director) and Dr. Robert Oliver Lawrence Wickham, a self-described “chartered town planner, advocate, and lecturer” (born 1946, age 67, British citizen.” I can’t determine exactly which British Matthew Nicol this one is from poking around the web…. You can learn more about Dr. Wickham’s business interests here. According to that Web site, Wickham is or has been a:
Director of Gracerange Limited, a real estate developer (Gracerange has no web site);
Director of Providence 1 Limited (no web site, listed in U.K. corporate directories with no information about assets or activities);
Member of Ibbett Moseley, a limited liability partnership that “offers clients advice on a diverse range of property matters from surveying, design and planning, residential and commercial sales and lettings, town planning and architectural services (no names of partners on the web site, no names on “contact” page); and
Member of Howard Sharp & Partners, a limited liability partnership that also is in the property business.
I have to wonder whether someone in this game might be interested in developing another “commercial spaceport” with tax breaks, government bond financing, and other taxpayer-supported perks of the sort that Virgin Galactic has obtained from the state of New Mexico. I also have to wonder about the reality of this claim of $7.78 million in seed money. And, sadly, I wonder where our global culture will be 20 years from now if we continue to allow the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer, while businesses continue to chase after opportunities to cater to the 1 percent.
Remember, dear readers: don’t believe everything you read. And to turn to an old but still relevant adage from the world of journalism, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”