Waring Drive

by Belle Waring on July 16, 2006

What does my brother have to do with Bigelow Aerospace, asks internet legend Gary Farber. (I posted here about the sucessful launch of a 1/3 scale prototype for Bigelow’s inflatable modules, meant to be connected into a space station. You can read more about it here at Space.com.) Well, long ago Ben decided he wanted to be a space lawyer. And we all supported him. Sort of. Supported him in a way where you’re like “riiiight, cool idea, man.” And, to be frank, we said lots of things like “‘I space object, space your honor!’ ‘Space overruled!!'” John unhelpfully suggested that Ben, perhaps clad in a Nehru jacket-ed suit and boots, could someday be part of a thrilling, 2001-like scene in which he would toss a metallic capsule containing a scroll of papers at someone against the majestically rotating background of a space station, and then when the guy caught it say “you’re seeeerved!” But then he got into Penn Law, and that was pretty cool. And he went to GW for a one-year program in Space Policy. And now he’s assistant to the general counsel at Bigelow! They need lawyers to negotiate with other companies, and with the governments of the US and Russia, and to organize insurance, and make sure they are complying with the various regulations governing the export of missile technology. Also, to make sure the lasers they have pointed at James Bond’s crotch are up to code. A picture of Ben is in space right now, inside the module, which is pretty much the definition of awesome. He’s obviously on track to be the first person in our family to go into space. I hope that our descendents will pour a 40 out onto the frozen methane of Triton in his honor, where it will crackle into amber shards. It’s actually really one of my main goals in life to go into space before I die, and see the earth from orbit. I don’t care if I’m an old lady squandering my children’s inheritance on some 16 hour tourist flight so I can see what vomit looks like in 0g, I’m going. When I was a kid my dad told me that I had to grow up and “invent Waring Drive, to take mankind to the stars.” (Stoned people can be super-inspiring, if you’re 7.) It hasn’t worked out so far, but Violet’s got unusual mathematical aptitude for a 2-year-old (that is, she can count to 10 and knows how to read the numbers 1-5, and can rotate non-bilaterally-symmetrical shapes to get them into the shape sorter. Once numbers get higher than 13, though, she is less likely to “go on in the same way” reliably). Holbo Drive? It’s not as catchy, but I guess I can live with it.