Ground control to Major Bob
Bob Geldof is spending this weekend in a space-flight simulator, preparing for his journey to true stardom next year on a private spacecraft. We imagine his space odyssey
Space cadet: Bob Geldof is due to head up in an XCOR Lynx spacecraft. Montage: Paul Scott/The Irish Times
On Cmdr Bob Geldof’s first mission into space everything goes like clockwork. Of course, the launch date had to be moved back because, as Geldof said, “I don’t like Mondays.” But, finally, all is cleared for launch, and Geldof and his crew – First Officer Fingers, Pte Briquette, Capt Cott, Cpl Crowe and Ensign Roberts – strap themselves into their spaceship. The countdown begins: “Five, four, three, two . . .” Suddenly Geldof’s voice comes crackling through to mission control: “You can stop there, roight. I’ll be lookin’ after No 1.”
And then the rockets flare, the smoke billows, the gantry falls aside and the spacecraft rises as Sir Bob Geldof becomes the first pop star to leave Earth’s gravity without the aid of recreational drugs.
His mission: is to boldly go where no Paddy has ever gone before. Janey Mac. Geldof has been to some out-there places in his time – Ethiopia, Buckingham Palace, Moran’s Bar – but this is a whole new frontier for the mouthy Boomtown Rats frontman. Of course, he has brought along his guitar in order to write a few songs for his next album, a vegetarian folk-punk space opera. He’s already written one: Mary of the Fourth Quadrant.
He looks down at the receding Earth and smiles wryly. He has spent most of his life telling everyone what was wrong with the world. Now he is leaving the planet behind. When he was given this trip into space as a birthday present a year ago, after a corporate gig given by the Boomtown Rats at the Natural History Museum in London, he had jumped at the chance. “You’re a guy. Somebody says, ‘D’you fancy going into space?’ Who among you would say no?” he told reporters.
He gazes at the continent of Africa, and notices white markings around the Atlas Mountains. “Looks like there will be snow in Africa this Christmas,” deadpans First Officer Fingers. Geldof has to admit, weather forecasting isn’t his strong suit. Saving the planet is more his bag.
This was meant to be a short excursion into the outer atmosphere, 100km high. He was to be part of a two-man crew going up in a Lynx X2 spacecraft. The tickets for this trip with the Space Expedition Corporation were €100,000 each. He remembers the abuse he got online for signing up to this “wasteful”, “gas-guzzling” mission. “Hope it’s a one-way trip,” some complained. “And hope he takes Bono and Sting with him, too.”