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tv   Nicholas Schmidle Test Gods  CSPAN  July 7, 2021 8:01pm-9:03pm EDT

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>> charter communication, along with these television companies support c-span2 as a public service. ♪♪ >> secret service was founded in the aftermath of the assassination of abraham lincoln but it wasn't until the death of john f. kennedy the presidential production service began to get closer attention from the american people. carol began reporting on the secret service for the washington post in 2012. in the prologue of her new book, zero fail, she writes she started her coverage on the scandal in which agents brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms while making arrangements for president obama to visit in columbia. we talked about her and dump look in her new book subtitle the rise and fall of secret service. >> on this episode, listen c-span.org/podcast or wherever you get your podcast. ♪♪
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>> next, your provider necklace on the creation of a tourism company, virgin galactic, straight up test pilot engineers and leaders hosted by roman's bookstore in pasadena, california. >> hi there, everyone. i'd like to thank you all on behalf of the bookstore for this time, we're lucky to have with us nicholas is going to be improvisation with us discussing his new book, virgin selected and the making of a modern astronaut. as a q&a portion so if you would like to ask a question click the ask a questiondp button for the barn and we will go over those who the end t of the event. click the green button below it will take you there. thank you both so much. >> thank you. >> greetings from wherever this is, festering.
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nick is calling in from london so it's 2:00 a.m., is that correct? >> yes. >> it doesn't make sense, we will forgive him for comatose. i'm really here to ask questions, i write this book beginning to end and fell in love with it. there are so many different moves to it, it is up berkeley story, a story of flight, excitement, speed, richard branson, the world's greatest personality we know of, a story of nick's father in the complex relationship that we will talk about. i got to know of nick in 2011 when he wrote, read the new yorker because i'm a journalist, he wrote this incredible reconstruction of the modern right when he was killed how did he get back plus it was incredible.
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he sent me a copy of the book, i will say i get requests for blurbs, normally when i do them, i read i don't know, ten or 15 pages, 20 pagesen, this i read,i couldn't stop eating it, it was beautifully written, exciting, much like the right stuff but a different era, virgin galactic and the future of space space travel start jumping into it, what sparked your interest in this? you with at the new yorker at the time, 2014, is that right? >> that's what i got started so thank you, this is truly an honor to be in conversation and expense a lifetime hero of mine i started reading the books
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growing up was friday metlife songs saigon my thought about this project, it was like the subject matter and approach it how i do that started in 2000 moment for me, virgin galactic supersonic flight, maybe it would be helpful to show this you can see on the company my mother jerry the spaceship after about 5000 feet much like and at
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that time the mothership and pulled away and test pilot inside the pilot is distinguished from the other market companies mostly automated and vertically launched from you got to test pilots, the rocket buys first to be second and enters this vertical ascent to then heavens so on this morning october 2014, the copilot ignites the rocket seconds into the flight commits this unthinkable error. >> i remember, totally bizarre. >> he suddenly pulled the emergency brake on the highway. >> how fast were they going? >> they are going .8 miles, they are just approaching and on
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either side of mark one is what they call a trained sonic zone which is this we describe as a bermuda triangle of airspeed, this crazy moment on either side in which unpredictable enforcement exert themselves on the vehicle and they were aware that you have to keep this unique feature where the tail rotates up and the reason is upon reentry after they have gone to space, they needed to figure out a way to unlock the spaceship to take care for control reentry into the idea was that the ship was more or less the tortilla that folds up like a taco and that's what the spaceship was doing and floated down like a shuttle so they said under no circumstances should you ever unlock the public, the
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movable child so every ever unlock it, for some reason on this warning, the copilot did that and as he did, the dynamic forces pushed the tail up and shredded the vehicle up in mid air. >> the pilot and copilot died, how many were killed? >> the copilot was killed, the pilot miraculously survived. there is no objection feet, he somehow wiggled out of his seat, the parachute, he pulled the parachute, landed in a bush in the middle of the i desert and survived but i remember getting a news alert that day on my phone and i wanted to read the first paragraph, wanting to stop for a second, there were so many assumptions in the article. richard, a tourism country
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company crashes in the becker and it's like wait a second. they own a spaceship company find with a test pilot on board flight in the crash and die, mistake -- it seems mistakenly high it was weird but was happening so that was the moment i went to the new yorker and said we have to write about this, this is insane and his question was, sounds cool but can we get a quote unquote, real access? than my next trip was to go to california to talk toto the then vice president of the company, now is an of the company to figure out if o i could get real access. >> i'm always curious about that, how does a conversation like that go? access is a double edged sword,
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where they reluctant, excited, did they want assurance from you, were you nervous? if you don't get access, there goes this great idea. how did that gow and whether other conversations? how much work did it w take? >> it did little bit of work, they were surprisingly receptive. i'll tell you for a couple of reasons, one of which is that they had just come off of this horrific crash and i said i wanted to get in there when emotions were raw and watch them work, i w wanted to watch them build this new vehicle from scratch and at that time the company's pr had primarily been focused on the glitz and glamour of this five-star experience they were offering and most of that was driven by their commercial office in london.
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like the now president of the company saw this as opportunity to tell the story of the people, men and women affect drawing the design from flying the ship he was surprisingly receptive to the idea. the other started to help me get in the door was the public affairs woman at the w time wasa van and i told her i wanted to write. >> began royalties on this. [laughter] >> that also helped me get across the finish line there was another piece, one of the pilot, the pilot or was five people and one of the pilots i had known,
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flew with my dad and we could get into this laterm but i had known 30 years ago and i hadn't seen him inhe 25 years but wheni found out he worked at virgin galactic, i met with him and i gave him my spiel how i worked and how i would do this and the new yorkers backtracking apparatus worked and all that and he said we got a lot of stuff written about it and so much has been false and he said i don't know, nick, personally i think all were a little mistrusting and said if we are going to let someone in, he needs to come from a decent -- >> your father was the original matter, wasn't he? your father is a kick -- pilot from the marines, wasn't he? >> he was so my dad at that time, was a three-star marine general in charge of all the
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aviation for the marine corps but interestingly, the three stars were sort of less important to him, the fact that he was still, at his age, that would have spent, still his early 60s about time and he was still flying single fighter jets so yes, he got one of few distinguished line crosses, he flew the first and the goal for, flew this incredibly palsy mission in 1994 so yes, he is a legend in the marine corps. >> by the way, there are so many components in this book, i don't know if you ever read this but one of the things i liked was it
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fascinating, i have no engineering background but what they look for and how they putee this together, what works and what doesn't i am superfine it, it's marvelous but another component is this complex relationship, almost ironic to your dad and for those who haven't read the book and i hope you buy it, rebels a little bit, you crashed into a ditch, correct? >> interestingly, when the fact checker rent this, my dad, my mom and dad my dad i think, he was deployed at the time he wrote back and said i have no recollection of that, that was an evening my sophomore year inm high school and i had to figure out a way to get the repairs done, i think there was a repair in the radiator, we had to get it repaired by the time he got home so i think growing up --
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>> do you fly? >> i don't. >> how is that possible, i'm curious, your dad is one of the greatest pilots certainly in the history of the marine corps, he loves to fly, you obviously are like-minded, because you are doing this book, you did a lot of kick -- stuff, i think he went to afghanistan and pakistan and risk your life and were really out there in the mountains, i think you're trying to get into the taliban but why not take up w flying? >> it just never -- i don't know, it just never quite sunk in and i realize one of the things i realized in writing this book was that i wasn't reallyea interested in it becaue i was interested in flight, i was -- or aviation, it was because i was interested in
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aviator -- even now at one time, when ihi started going to california for the book, one of the pilotshe said if you're out here all the time, there's the opportunity to get your pilots license and i kind of thought about it and that i thought for some reason, i can't explain it, it just doesn't resonate with me. i go fly with the pilots virgin galactic's and i look on that and be like, that was quote but it helped me understand the experience better and helped me write about it but it wasn't something that animated me and in some ways, i probably think that's too many people as expectable as mike making this crazy mistake on the morning of the october 21, 2014 flight kind of like one can't square the circle at a house or somebody who grew up couldn't have a love
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of aviation and couldn't fly. >> was ever determined why he did that? probably not but i remember reading that and thinking it didn't make sense. this is a mistake i would make because i don't know anything buabout flying but has anyone er determined what might have happened? >> there was an extensive review by the national transportation safety board investigation of the accident and the conclusion was that in the end, no one knows. they spoke to his wife and tried to pick up was he tired, distracted? the workload, it's worth noting the workload during these rights is extraordinarily high and that's why even among test private community, there is a high degree of respect of the test pilots flying because in those 60 seconds, there is very
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little automated there is so much to pay attention to, margin of error is so thin. >> so very little is automated. >> a rocker motor -- rocket motor in the back. as a piloting experience, there is nothing -- nothing like flying spaceships, nothing is comparable. we could talk about this later but it raised questions about -- >> i am curious about that, one thing i want to mention, what is cool about this book, he is telling a story, here is a company run by a flamboyant individual, richard, virgin airlines, many other things, he isl going to establish business
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sound wild to begin with but he doesn't and then there is a terrific crash and it's a story of a company trying to recover from the crash and go on and see if they can build this perfect spaceship. before i asked about branson, tell me about the protagonist of this story, how did you get to him? i think he knew your father? >> yes so when i got out there, i was looking for someone who could help me tell the story, once i realized art get this access, hide like strength this together in a compelling way? i knew that mark had flown the first three private flights but had not climbed the fourth flight and i later found out that on the fourth flight, the
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copilot who made the error and died was his best friend so immediately i thought there is a super compelling story line so then i met mark and he told me, he shared he'd been chasing this astronaut dream his whole life, at age four boss, he watched john glenn tells his dad that's what i want to do, i want to become an astronaut and most fathers what humor their children and say of course you want to become an astronaut, son, anything you want. mark's dad is an abducted her and mennonite and tells his son away, impossible, no sign of his will become an astronaut because they come from the military and he's never going to serve in the military so -- >> i forgot about all of these details. >> he goest and good rebellious teenagers and sent do, he joined the marine corps and nasa and
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coast of the air force, he's chasing this astronaut dreams for decades before he gets to the company by the contract to build this for virgin galactic so when i first met him, we sat down at this pub near his house and i kind of explained to him that i wanted, i saw him as a character and he immediately to me about recognizable like i knew this type and we will talk about this later sort of what qualities i saw in him but interestingly, i didn't know this at the time but he also knew my dad, my dad had been his flight instructor 35 years ago as a young marine in yuma, arizona so he set your mind me of somebody else, too and i knew your dad way back when so it was an interesting moment and we are often asked, i think as
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journalists, wife we pick a topic, why we are doing something for five or six years write a book about it and i think one of the interesting revelations from this was that we are not the ones picking, sometimes subjects, sometimes we come to a subject and sometimes a subject comes to us and i think mark knew he lived a phenomenal life and always have been looking for someone to potentially help tell that story and i arrived at just the right time and he arrived in my life at the right time and we became really good friends -- yes, he's read the book. >> what did he think? you went pretty deep with him. >> after the new yorker piece
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which was raw, i think some said to him, what were you thinking? how are you cooperating with this guy still? but i think he felt like i was fair and i understood him and all of the personal stuff, all the stuff about his broken marriage and failed relationship with his kids and all of -- >> that was really wrenching, a great part of the book. >> thanks. >> that is personal, something you got deep with him and once again, it is this back story of mark when he went through in his marriage and really what he went through, very deep and it showed his flaws. laws are much more interesting than perfection and those a terrific part of the book. >> in fact i think is where this notion of a modern astronaut comes from, there is the modern
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site which is the commercial space industry and all that but the other side is that every other porch of an astronaut with red is a set perfect complexion character. >> john clyde went. >> totally. and here isct mark willing to on up to all of these and let this reporter rummage around in his e-mail box looking for details of his divorce and i told him, i said look, this is even with the company i conveyed this, i said you don't letan me see the momet of tragedy or the difficulties, then the moment of triumph in the end for both you personally and for the company isn't going to have the same payoff and there were times where the
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company where people try to tell meme to leave a meeting or leave the room if there's something sensitive happening and i just set these are the moments that are going to redeem the big moment in the end and i think that is the same argument that i made to mark from fortunately he sort of saw that, he let someone into the difficulties that i mas the success at the end all that much sweeter. >> how did mark remind you -- let's talk about your data but growing up, were you intimidated by him i know he was away a lot, deploying a lot, didas you realy know him that well? >> that's a great question. intimidated? he was emotionally distant but a powering together. were not talking -- we weren't
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doing push-ups every morning. my dad's intensity came from the fact that only wanted to do things differently and a little bit more intense than even the normal way should have been. it wasn't just hunting but it was hunting wild fours and hunting wild fours with a bow and arrow and not just a regular bow but a long boat with arrows got from our garage with a 357 strapped to his leg in case they charge atra us. that is how he hundred. >> on a saturday afternoon flashback. >> this is hey nick, do you want to go hunting with me this weekend? shore 33:00 a.m., getting out of bed and i'mti thinking an hour
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long drive to the marsh and then we would getet out and get in te boat and drive for an hour and pull into the marsh and get out in our boots and slept through the mud, when you are 14 you're like this sucks, it is way too early to be doing this. >> for those who don't know,ar i think it was when you are beginning to be a reporter, you did some really big stuff, you wereng challenging life in your own right so you inherited that but it seems to me just in a different way. was he friendly? if i met him, i would be scared. [laughter] he's so macho. >> that is the thing, so friendly -- he didn't exude warmth but my mom is this
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heartbeat of the family and what i have tried to reconcile and reckoned with his, i always knew my dad was setting this expectation for us, my brother and i as we got older so as i'm writing this, i'm looking out my relationship with my kids and i'm thinking okay, i am much more present and available, they might say that is still such a tyrant but i am much more present but am i upsetting the scene, how do you do both? how are you both physically present and warm and also tiring figure your kids want to strive to impress? so i knew when mark described
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this relationship with his son, i could see it from both ways, i knew how difficult it was for his son to happen living as mark's son and i also sympathize with mark when he said my son, we are estranged, he doesn't talk to me and i thought a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, i could never, that was got wrenching so my dad incredibly inspiring, constantly wanted to live up to his expectations and there is no n part of it but i think, i think i'm appreciating relationship more now than i did then. >> were you all over the place, where did you grow up? >> in the u.s., because of where marine corps bases o are, we
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bounced between south carolina, three tours there for about ten years total, yuma,ou arizona whh is comparable to mojave in the middle of nowhere way and then a lot of time in northern virginia between quantico and the pentagon so those were the three main places we bounced between. >> let's talk about branson, another important part of the book, at the beginning, i guess the question is, was this as the project went on deeper into the book he realized no, branson is serious, he sees it as a next frontier. i note they spent billions of dollars but these are hard charging guys challenging the future and elon musk but what
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was your sense of branson, was it for publicity? i want to do something different or how dedicated was he to it? >> i think he was very dedicated. >> surprisingly. >> here is the reason why. it's important to go back and realize the centrality of this aviation firm, that the spaceship one into because it explains also why mike made that mistake 2014 and right there weren't failsafe built into the spaceship which in 1996, there is a contest to the first $10 million first privately built spacecraft back andst reach spae twice in two weeks and a contest
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in 2004, it's about to expire here comes scale composite, small aviation firm and they built this thing spaceship one my smaller version of and a smaller version of white night and they use this configuration spaceship one three times that year and it makes to qualifying ways us so they prove the concept that you can do this and branson comes around and says, he throws up $1 million toward the project in the end and puts the virgin logo on the sidets of spaceship one d earned the right to commission to build the composite to build him a bigger version of this craft so it didn't -- it might have seemed like when they did this but now the composite could do anything, there were crazy
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offers from people coming in, they had just proven everyone off so this is the central challenge because with scale composite, anyone who's been to the air and space museum knows the composites without even knowing because the head of the composites has more design than anyone else. >> he is a remarkable character. >> there will think is building prototypes so they don't put a lot of failsafe into their vehicle so now you have this company trying to build a certifiable tourism vehicle and you can see that is a recipe for disaster in some ways, they don't build -- redundancy where they need to be but that doesn't
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need to be thorough than the don't put it in their and virgin galactic comes along and they've got lawyers and always people, is it going to be safe? to companies while they work together, it wasn't, it was often far from seamless as you can imagine so the clash between those two i found fascinating as well so this is reason to believe enter this hard to know where his head is now, he recently sold off 150 milli- dollars worth of personal stock shares and virgin galactic and virgin galactic, it is hard to say, they have more money now than ever because they went public about a year end a half ago. >> i was wondering the status. before they went public, they had about $80 million in cash 0 reserves left in their account
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and they were spending $20 million so money was going to become an issue very quickly, they went public and not they are still spending 20, 25 million a month butut they have $660 million insp cash so they have a long road in which they can continue to figure this out but the fact that branson pulled his money out recently for a large trunk raises questions as to where head is now for the liability of all this. >> is it a viable concept, reading a lot of this is only about elon musk and what he's doing and how much progress, is it really a viable concept? and i know you can get people who want to do it to say whatever it is but can it work? >> i think it can work for elon, i think it is doable.
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the challenge that virgin galactic has, this configuration more, itposed, so many leaves it so much more exposed because you have a man in the loop, two men in the loop, a 2004 show, you can have the most qualified and well trained pilots and sometimes they still have badad days and also, this s an airplane company that built a spaceship and this is not a spaceship company that built a spaceship. scale composite, the dna as an aircraft company the vertical takeoff and launch approach with virgin galactic main competitor spacex seems to have more reliability, it seems that i think is probably going to be
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away, not the right one totally but their prognosis of where they will be in a few years is still infused with magical thinking that they will fly weekly fights with this thing, they have only one mothership, if it goes down for any period of time, that proof so that is where the viability as in the coming years. >> i want to tell people out there, we are certainly open to questions so hopping, a few people have commented, this is from joe, after getting access to this help you get access to virgin galactic? with pakistan in their summer, and someone else, i think it was joe also, talking about mennonite, he loved airplanes as well but he did not join the
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military. when you set out to do the new yorker piece, are you anticipating that it would be the book? or did it grow into a book? >> i knew after the first several trips, i knew the level i had, they were letting me sit in on these meetings and record these meetings and the granularity and detail and scale and invasion of what they were trying to do felt to me all the tiffany soon mike there was a book potential there but it took a while to russell and to figure out what the story was, the first couple of versions, there were too many characters, to flat, i couldn't figure out where the ark was so it took me a while to continue to dwindle out anything that wasn't psaki and what enhances this which was
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long ofan itself, what doesn't t out and coming back the book you mentioned earlier you wasn't one episode after another, it was helpful to see what leads into this, what you need to know in terms of this to understand history? >> that is ano enormous trick, something i grapple with in every book, how do you balance theve character with this? a bicycle wheel and you have a hub in this spokes look to the spokes get in the way of the narrative? we are sort of drawn to character on the other hand, books are wonderful because they have context and if you don't put it in that history and other stuff, it doesn't have the context and you pulled that off
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really nicely and really well. this is in the after work in the book but i was curious, they go in 20142018, mark who is now the president. >> mike moses. >> all right, you are done from was that in response to the new yorker piece, for they nervous about something, for they trying to hide something? what happened? >> the idea was always that i would take with them until they knew the fight, i wanted to stick with them with this first flight after the spaceship. i knew there was something that was different going to affect the relationship from one is on the morning of flight, april
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2018, up until then, i have not been denied access, i have not been told that i can come into a single meeting, i would ask if they would take sure, there was one occasion they were talking about a man or human resources for theyhe sent you can listen r context but this is the only meeting you can record so that's whatut happened in april 2018 flight, i was barking treatment the personn who did what n stephen -- >> who was he in the company? >> he is i think employee number one, a commercial -- >> number one, what does that mean? >> when they came up with this idea in 2014, stephen was the guy who would sell for ticket from the guy to market the company and focus on the
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customer experience from a think i was all quit and glamour and i knew he didn't like the fact that i was embedded, very much controlling of this narrative. he wanted to be focused on the sponsorship dealing with lance glover and all of a sudden now there is this reporter running around, what do we do with this guye for joe this piece comes ot in august of 18 like moses said to me, he came out monday and i remember thursday i called and set about this book deals and i'm ready to get back in and moses said okay, give me a week or so, i need to work out some things, some people thought the magazine piece made what we are doing sound dangerous and of
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course i'm like guys, who got three engineers in the 2007 accident, i am not making it sound dangerous. >> that is ridiculous. >> rights? so that it became this fight for the soul of the company and some ways wereig in one year i am trying to say or to try to tell this story -- and i knew richard like magazine piece, he may e-mailed me and said to me, he was reluctant because he didn't want to be seen as something on paternalist independent but he appreciated the time and effort that went into it and we saw an opportunity to continue doing what i wanted and began in december 18, he reiterated that they cap driving their feet and talking how they had deals that
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turned out nonissues making out these things to prevent me from being an and i have this relationship with him and he had without telling anyone this company invited me to the virgin islands talking i about the company and two weeks before i was set to leave, i should never have mentioned it but i let it slip that i was on my way to the virgin islands and suddenly attenborough all that he's not going to be theor one to do this but can't come so you asked how i felt, i remember being scared that i will be able to both this off and i remember my dad having this conversation with my dad
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that night and he said you have a book to write and devise the priority at all of us, i knew that i had what i needed i have mark going to the base, i had rocket flying first nonplussed private f december of 18 from februaryst of 19 somebody was a blessing in disguise because it gave me some distance, it let me have my material, now i can write about this soberly and realistically and are no longer fighting for access was the best thing that could have happened -- >> it's a double edged sword, if you get deep, he developed a relationship, you end up liking people so two-step back is
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tricky. you get addicted to access as well, you get more access site and think about that the fact that the cutoff and it enables you step back. how did writing this book affect your own life? i know you make like 14 or 15 trips in your relationship with the folks character and the people in your own characters so to speak, there are some people talking to you and some not, how did he feel? you put him out there. >> i think he feels, i know that he, because i told him over the course of the writing i felt like our relationship was different, it wasn't both traditional generalist subject relationship, it transcended all of those normal boundaries and there was this moment that brock
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back to lighter when he became n astronaut include two space in 2018, he lands and i'm watching his wife give him hugs and i'm watching him give his son hugs and i was behind his son and i was next up and i was like all right, what is the right thing to do here? the reporter reaches out his hand and says nice job whether it is a friend, he gives him a hug and i reached out and gave him a handshake i felt this weird, i reach out with the other arm and gave him a hug and i felt like that, he is more than that and he is a friend, it is a unique relationship when you have a friend knows that you are going to write things that are not optometric, i wasn't out
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to damage him but that didn't make him look like he was okay with it, he knew when i was talking to his ex-wife that what is going to say wasn't going to make him look great. >> but he knew that. >> and i asked him for access to everyone and family members and he was cooperative to the end and he's read the book and he feels the only time he has been reserved, he said it's hard for me to comment on it because it's all about me but people have written to him complement three things and he said you, with you being willing to cooperate gives you a new insight to who you are and he shared that with me and i think he is pleased with the way it turns out we like what is he doing now? >> he is still a virgin galactic waiting to fly please the next
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rocketship flight times this month. >> any regrets about doing, anything he would have done differently? you said you had a researcher, i think a former student that according to you, really, really save you and a lot of places, a very good reader. when you did first first draft, we all read our first draft and fear begins to set in, wasir the problem?t too much over the map, too many characters that the narrative wasn't the wayct he wanted it to be? or the problems you had to go back to? >> the hardest part was writing about my dad because the back third of the book where it them charging this space became very easy because it was a combination of non- action and a
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lot of access and a lot of document material that let me pieced together granular detail. the middle third was always my concern. you will talk about the saggy middle, how do you maintain that tension flexed that's where i knew i wanted to introduce the personal side of the story and a former student of mine of princeton, she she read various versions of that and i think you have about 12 pages about your dad, 12 pages about where it is so clear in these pages were trying to figure out what it is you want to say and that's what it was. i knew my dad was central to telling the story and why i wanted to come to the story and what drew me to the story but i
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was always worried it would feel extreme and i needed to make it seem organic and natural and she helped me do that. >> i think it gave the book really special personal dimension that it needed but it's a narrative issue. did you ever think about getting rid of it? i go all the time. >> i did -- >> it gave the book what went about this and that happened, there were something really at the core of your soul which i thought was really cool. >> i only thought about doing it when initially when i thought -- it didn't come to me until i sat down and started writing the book itself, i have a parenthetical about like that, maybe eight words in the magazine piece but i knew the book wanted to focus bigger but i wasn't sure how to do it and
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like i said, she also said it could be written a bit much for the sections that digressed too far from the central storyline, is there a way to type out back in you go with this digression about adventurism and the values you inherit, is that a way to bring back story back in here so those narrative reminders along the way, it was helpful because she had been a student of mine, i imparted all of these values i had learned over the years and she held up and says don't forget, this is what you told us the third week of class and getting a dose of my own medicine, i cannot imagine doing this book without her. >> how long did it take you to
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write? you were living four or fivete years. >> two years more or less. august of 18 to august of 20, sort of nonstop but doing a couple of other things along the way and when the pandemic hit, i was probably a third of the way into writing and then the next seven months having nothing else to do so that me make the cash i'm not sure i a lot of myself enough time minus the quarantine pandemic. >> i am curious, how high do they go up. >> this is a subject of some controversy because most of the world defines space as 100
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kilometers and 328,000 feet. virgin galactic is using u.s. air force's definition of space which is 264,000 feet so you look at the pictures of them looking down on the earth, floating in the cockpit, people down below, they are going to get better -- >> miles an hour? >> i always wanted to try to grant it, i was come back and say give me real a numbers so mk one was give or take about 700 miles an hour so as you are going higher, it is all very
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because altitude and airspeed is adjusting and this is where i get into uncomfortable territory andin limitation. >> would you say close to 2000? >> listening to him describe, remember the night -- what did it feel like? he said he'd never felt more sure of everything in his life, he said at a certain time you rumbled through this thick air and you get to the thinner air and the motor is burning full speed, rocket motor is running full on nearly three times the speed of sound and he says it felt like a thoroughbred, just wanted to run and run and you could hear the excitement in his voice and i spent that evening with him.
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so in the air force one of the areas of 51, the past secret site and it's more challenging in the book, he was talking about the details of this so that night of the flight, he said i got this that i've been saving for a special moment he goes and his wife offer him and he comes back shot glasses which are each embossed with one of the squadrons from area 51 and he won't answer questions about any of them and i say i think i've read over aboutwi this one, what are they doing again? it's like i'm not going to go to
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jail for this project so you asked me how i want, whatever you want to do, but take a shot report this shot, i haven't drank whiskey college so i think of taking shot so we link and then i take this shot he looks at me i couldn't tell if he was offended and pressed or what it was and he said no, i just met were in a snippet and i got back there's like a hundred dollar bottle of whiskey, that was like the intimacy of the relationship, the night of his achievement, me and him and his wife on the kitchen island table talking about today so it was a very unique memorable relationship. >> how high did you get if you get to face no, there was a
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little acrobatic trainer arthur hollis so they brought me up, i went flying% for time and it kicked my butt maybe i was going to vomit but was probably only went 10000 feet high and dry intentionally stalled the aircraft had been up about and this is what they do, it was like going to the gym -- >> did you vomit? >> no but very close. the first few times, extraordinarily both and i had my little vomit bag on my like me aircraft moment notice but i
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managed to pull myself together. >> we are about out of time, i wanted to read this because i mean it. it is hard to know where to begin from a unique, fascinating, readable with unprecedented access tog the ki, addicted to speed and altitude. it's attorney on like any other i've ever read, pulsating out it poignant and personal, what makes a mantd routinely his life above the clouds? what does he leave behind on earth? cosmic questions with elegance and beauty, strap yourself into and get ready for the ride. i remember every word, i do this very clearly so folks out there, we are justar about out of time. these get the book, read it for yourself andnd everything i said in the e blurb, i really, really mean it.
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great job, what are you working on now? >> i'm trying to figure out what i want to do now, you said a book project likeow this, i both want to sleep and also get back to work. ... have been through one helluva process. small pleasures. you will know in a few months you will feel a it's about getting the right story. brooks take a lot out of me is this your first book? >> second book i wrote a book about pakistan. >> this is far more personal. >> you will know it will come across your desk it will be
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sure and three paragraphs and you have the instinct to know this is a book and while and if you still think it's a book a month later it is because you'veoo done it and you are a pro and really talented. anyway for all of you listening, thanks a lot. a sweep at 3 a.m. in london you deserve some rest. i am on the west coast but it's good to see you again and thank you everyone. a. >> appreciate it. it's been fun. you think this is just a community center? know, it's more than that. comcast is partnering with community centers to create wi-fi enabled facilities so
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families have the tools to be ready for anything. comcast along with these television companies supports c-span2 as a public service. and the history of his rocket company space x in his new book left off. the blue willow bookshop in houston hosted this event. a. >> welcome, everyone. the owner of the bookshop in houston texas i know we have people joining us f

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