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tv   Nicholas Schmidle Test Gods  CSPAN  July 7, 2021 10:47pm-11:49pm EDT

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into the search box at the top of the page. >> helloi everyone thank you for tuning into tonight's event with us we will be in conversation discussing the new book test guides. today's event does include a q&a portion of youan like to ask the question take the button and lastly if you like to purchase the book click the
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green button down below so now i will let them take over. thank you so much. >> greetings from wherever this is. calling in from london it is 2:00 o'clock in the morning quick. >> it is. >> so i'm here to ask questions but really i have read this book from beginning to end and fell in love with that. it is called test god's. it is a swashbuckling story of flight, excitement and speed and richard branson one of the greatest personalities we know was and nick's father which is a very complex relationship that we will talk about. i got to know if again 2011
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when hero this incredible reconstruction of the bin laden raid when he was killed and said how long did he - - how did he get that detail i met him when he was teaching at princeton and sent me copies of the book. if i read ten or 15 or 20 pages but this i read, i cannot stop reading it. it is beautifully written, exciting. with branson and virgin galactic in the future of space in the future of space travel. so what sparked your interest?
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you are not new yorker at the time in 2014? >> that's what i got started. it is truly an honor to be in conversation and with a lifetime hero of mine will get to this later but in one of the pivotal books my dad gave me growing up was friday night lights. when it out about this project from the beginning and then that started in 2014 it said critical or a pivotal moment and virgin galactic was flying the supersonic test flight.
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and you can see on the cover this air w launch system that has wide wing mothership that carries the spaceship along to about 45000 feet much like the explains. the than the mothership drops the spaceship and pulls away and then the two pilots inside of the spaceship which is also a distinguish her from the other primary rocket companies which are mostly automated and vertically launched, and then to the steep v near vertical ascent to the heavens. and then to ignite the rocket and but essentially to pull
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the emergency brake onnt the highway. >> how fast was it going at the time? >> .eight mark just approaching mark one. and at mock one on either side is what they call the transonic zone. but it's like the bermuda triangle of airspeed it's the crazy moment of either side of mock one where and expected aerodynamic forces exert themselves on the vehicle. that pilot is always aware that spaceshiptwo has a unique feature as well the tail booms rotate up. the reason for this and upon reentry to figure out a way to
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make a careful controlled reentry and the idea is the ship more or less it folds up like a taco so they said under no circumstances ever unlock the other as you approach mock one. but for some reason on this morning the copilot did that. and as he did that the aerodynamic forces shredded the vehicle in midair. the copilot was killed immediately. the pilot miraculously support on - - survived. there is no ejection seat. somehow he wiggled out of his seatat. he told the parachute and landed in the middle of the desert and survived.
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i remember getting a news alert that and my phone after reading the first paragraph wanting to stop there were so many richard branson crashes in the desert and i was thinking weight. there is a british billionaire who owns a spaceship company and fine with test pilots on board flying a supersonic test flight and it crashed? the state seem too high and crazy that this is happening. so i went to my editors at the new yorker and said we have to write about this. this is insane. and the questionst is sounds cool they can we get real access? so then my next trip was to go out to california to talk to
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the president of the company to see if i could get real access saying get in bed with them. host: how does that>> conversation go? that is a double edge sword were they reluctant or excited or certain assurances from you? are you nervous so then there goes the great idea. >> how much work did it take? >> it took a little bit of work. they were surprisingly receptive for a couple of reasons. one of which they just came off a horrific crash. i wanted to get in when emotions were rawi i wanted to watch them build the new vehicle from scratch.
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and at that point that companies pr primarily was focused on the glitz and glamour of the five-star experience they were offering. and most of that was the commercial office in london. now president of the company formally vice president saw the says and opportunity for the men and women drawing the designs and flying the ship. he was surprisingly receptive to the idea but the other piece that help me get in the door the public affairs woman at the time i told her i wanted to write friday night lights. [laughter]
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so that also helped me to get across the finish line. but also one of the pilots at that point the core was five people and one of the pilots was the f-18 pilot but i had known 30 years ago i had not seen him in 25 years but when i found out he worked at virgin galactic and met with him and i gave him my spiel how i worked and how that fact apparatus worked so much of that has been false for what was written about us and he said i don't know the personally. but if were going to let someone in he seems to come from decent stock.
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>> your father was the original maverick? he was a kick ass pilot for the marines? >> he was. yes. my dad at that time was a three-star marine general in charge of all aviation for the marine corps but f interestingle the three stars were less important than the fact at his age he was still in his early sixties at that point and still flying singleseat fighter jets. so yes he was a legend in the marine corps ferry distinguished flying crosses for the first night of the goal for and flew this incredibly balls mission in bosnia in 1984.
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so he is a legend in the marine corps. host: there so many components to this book. but one of the things i like that i have no engineering background but what they look for how they put this machine together or what works or what doesn't in a simplify it it is marvelous butsn another component is a very complex relationship and almost ironic to your dad and for those out there who have not read the book, i you buy it so he crashes in a ditch? >> yes. the fact checker when this past my mom and dad. [laughter] my dad was deployed at the time. he will back and said i have no recollection of that.
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that was my sophomore year of high school. and then with a way to get the repairs done there was a tear in the radiator and g had to get it repaired by the time he got home. >> do you fly? >> i don't. >> i don't. your dade greatest pilots in the history of the marine corps, he loves . . . . and i realized in the s
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of writing this book that i wasn't really interested in it because i was interested in flight. i was interested in the aviators. and even now, at one point i remember when i started going to california for the book and one of the pilots said you are out here all the time. there's an opportunity for you to get your pilots license. i thought about it and then for some reason, i can't explain it, it just doesn't resonate with me. i go up and fly with these guys. i flew with them on [inaudible] and come down like that was cool, but i -- it helped me understand the experience better and write about it, but it wasn't something that resonated
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with me and too many people probably inexplicable as the mistake on the october 2014 flight, like one can't square the circle [inaudible] >> was ever determined why he did that? probably not. i remember reading that and thinking it made no sense. it's the kind of mistake i would make their because i don't know shit about flying but can anyone determine what might have happened? >> there was an extensive review by the national transportation safety board investigation into the accident, the conclusion was at the end, no one knows. they looked at his flight. they triedy to figure out was he tired, distracted. it's worth noting that the
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workload during these boosts, during the boost portion of the flight is extraordinarily high. that is why even among the test pilot community, there is a high degree of respect to those flying because in those 60 seconds there is very little of it is automated, and there's so much to pay attention to. the margin of error is so thin. >> so very little is automated. that's interesting. >> the thing, it's really phenomenal. as a pilot experience, there is nothing like flying spaceshiptwo. there is nothing comparable. we can talk about this later, but it does raise questions about the viability of the business. >> i'm curious about that.
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one thing i want to mention to the readers about this, what is cool about the book as it is a story. he's telling a story. a company run by a flamboyant individual, richard branson, virgin airlines, many other things. he's going to establish a space tourism business that sounds pretty wild to begin with, but he does it and there is a horrific crash and it's a story of a company trying to recover from a crash and go on and see if they can build the perfect spaceship. before i ask about branson, tell me about martin who is the protagonist of this thing. how did you get to him? i think that he knew your father or of your father. >> when i got out, i was looking for someone who could help tell the story. when i realized i was s getting this unique access, i thought
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how do i string this together in a compelling way. and i knew that mark had flown the first flea power flights but hadn't flown before the power flight. i laterur found out that the fourth hour flight who made this error and died was mark zucky's best friend.i so i thought there's a huge compelling storyline. then i met mark and he told me that he has been chasing this astronaut dream his whole life. at age four, he took his maiden flight and tells his dad that day that's what i want to do. i want to become an and most fathers would humor their children and say of course. he is a conscientious objector and mennonite and tells his son
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no way. no son of mine will become an astronaut. no one is going to serve in the military. so, stucky --- >> i forgot all of these details. >> like all sort of rebellious teenagers do, he joins the marine corps and nasa and goes to the airport and is chasing this stream before j he gets the scales for the company that was contracted to build the spaceship for virgin galactic. so when i first met stucky, we sat down at this pub near his house and i kind of explained to him that i wanted to -- i saw him as a character and he immediately to me felt recognizable. i knew the type in some ways, and we can talk a little bit about this later, about what qualities i saw of my father in him. but interestingly, i didn't know this at the time, but he also knew my dad.
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my dad had a bit in his flight instructor 25 years ago in yuma, arizona. and he said you remind me of somebody else. i knew your dad way back when. so it was an interesting moment. we are often asked i think as journalists why we pick a topic, why we sort of are ready to stick with something five or six years to write a book about it. and i think one of the interesting revelations from this process was that we are not the only ones picking. sometimes the subject sort of -- sometimes we come to the subject and sometimes it comes to us. markes stucky knew he lived a phenomenal life and had been looking for someone to potentially help tell that story. i arrived at just the right time, and he arrived in my life at just the right time. we have become since good friends. and that, you know --
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>> has he read the books? >> pardon? yes, he's read the book. >> what did he think? >> [inaudible] >> he knew after the new yorker piece which was raw, and some people said to him what are you thinking? how are you cooperating with this guy still? ybut i think that he felt i was fair and that i understood him and that all of the personal stuff, all the stuff about his broken marriage and his failed relationship with his kids and all that -- >> that was really wrenching. that was a great part of the book. >> thanks -- >> and that was personal. you got deep with him and once again, readers, it's not they did this and that, but it's the back story of mark stucky and really what he went through with
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his kids, poignant isn't the right word, but very deep. and it's showing flaws. flaws are much more interesting than perfection, basically. that was a terrific part of the book. >> that also i think is where this notion of how the modern astronaut comes from. there is the modern side which is the commercial space industry and all that, but the other side is that every other portrait of an astronaut that we've read is a set job, perfect complexion character -- >> john glenn a sort of stereotype. >> totally. oband here comes mark stucky willing to own up to all of these vulnerabilities and let this reporter sort of rummage around in his e-mail box looking for fallacious details of his divorce and i told him i said look, if you don't let me see
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the moments of tragedy and you don't let me see the difficulties, then the moment of triumph at the end for both you personally, mark, and for the company isn't going to have the same pay off. and there were times there was an incident or two when the company, when people tried to sort of tell me to leave a meeting or tell me to leave the room if there was something sensitive happening and i said these are the moments that's going to redeem the big moment in the end when you all hopefully fly to space, and that is the same argument i made it o him throughout. he sort of saw you let someone into the difficulties and then it makes the success att the end all that much sweeter. >> how did mark stucky remind you -- first, let's talk about your dad when you were growing up. were you intimidated by him? i knowim he was away deployed a lot. did you really know him that
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well? >> that's a great question. so, intimidated -- he was somewhat emotionally distant, but a powering figure. and not -- we are not talking sort of we were not doing push-ups every morning. my dad's intensity came from the fact that he was -- he always wanted to do things differently and a little more intense than even the normal way should have been. it wasn't just hunting, but it was hunting wild boars and was hunting wild boar's with a bow and arrow, and not just a regular bow and arrow, but a long bow with a rose that he made in the garage and with a 357 magna him strapped to his leg in case it charged. [laughter]
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>> a fun saturday afternoon. >> not as i found out. hey nick, want to go hunting with me? sure. 3:00 in the morning out of bed, the drive, the march towing the boat, then we drive for an hour and pull in and get out and we are sort of slogging through the mud. when you are 14 you are like this sucks. thisis is way too early. [laughter] >> for those who don't know, i think it was when you were beginning to be a reporter, you did some really hair-raising stuff. you were challenging life in your own right. so you inherited that certain listed seems to me in a different way. but was he friendly? if i met him i would be scared.
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[laughter] he's so macho. >> so that's the thing. yes, friendly -- he didn't exude warmth, but my mom more than made up for it. she's sort of the heartbeat of the family, and what i though tried -- what i've tried to reconcile and reckon with is i always knew my dad was sitting this expectation for my brother and i as we got older. so as i'm writing this, i'm thinking about my relationship with my dad and looking at my relationship l with my kids thinking i'm much more present, much more available. they are sleeping right now so they might come down -- my setting, like how do you do both, how are you physically present and warm and also be the
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towering figure that your kids want to sort of constantly be striving to impress? so, i knew when mark stucky described his relationship with his son, i could see it in both ways. i knew how difficult it was for his son to have been sort of living as mark's son, and i also emphasized with mark when he said my son is estranged, we don't talk. and i thought my god, definitely i have a 6-year-old into 3-year-old and i'm thinking are you kidding me? i could never -- it was just gut wrenching. so, yeah. it's a tough thing. my dad, incredibly inspiring, constantly sort of wanted to live up to his expectations. there's no part of it that i
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think -- i think i almost appreciate the relationship now more than i did then. >> where did you grow up? were you all over the place because of -- >> in the u.s. because of where the marine corps air station bases are, we were between south carolina, where i lived we had three schools there for about ten rsyears. yuma, arizona, which is comparable to the hobby and a sort of awful middle of nowhere. and then increasingly a lot of time in northern virginia between quanticond and the pentagon. so those are the three main modes that i'd bounced between. >> let's talk about brands in, and in talking about brands and, this is another important part of the book. atat the beginning, the question is was this as the project went
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on and you got deeper into the book you realized branson is serious. he sort of sees this is the next frontier. personally, i know that he spent billions and billions of dollars. but these are verye hard chargig guys that like challenging the future and then there is speethirteen. but what is your sense of branson? was it for publicity, i want to do something new and different,t or how dedicated was he to it? >> i think he was very dedicated. >> surprisingly, frankly. >> andnd here is the reason why. it's really important to kind of go back and realize the centrality of this aviation firm that first designed, that built spaceshiptwo and spaceshipone because this explains also why mike elsberry made that mistake in 2014 and why there were not all of these failsafes built into the spaceship, which is
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that -- so, rewind to 1996. 1996 there is a contest for the first, $10 million for the first privately built spacecraft that could reach space twice in two weeks. and the contest is going to, in 2004 it is about to expire, and here comes this small aviation firm in mojave and they built this thing, spaceshipone, which is a smaller version of spaceshiptwo and they built a smaller version of white knight to and used the configuration.qu spaceshipone goes three times that year s and makes the two qualifying spaceflights in two weeks and wins the prize, 10 million-dollar prize. so they have proven in the contest that you can do this. branson comes around and says, i don't know, throws a million dollars towards the project at the end and puts the virgin logo on the side of spaceshipone and earns the right to commission to
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build a bigger version of this craft. so, it didn't seem like a lot, it might have seemed like more but now that spaceshipone has done this, the scale composite can do many things. they have some crazy offers from people coming in. i mean,, they had just proven everyone wrong. and so, this is the central what scalebecause composite sedated and has done -- and anyone who has been to the air and space museum knows the composites without even knowing them. theyse have more designs hanging up in the museum than anyone else. >> these are remarkable characters. >> genius. and he -- so, the whole thing is building prototypes, building one offs. so they do not put a lot of failsafes into their vehicles. so now you have this company
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that is trying to build a certifiable, safe space tourism vehicle. you can see that that's going to be a recipe for disaster in some ways. they just, they don't build redundant -- they sort of build redundancies where they needed to be there but if the redundancy doesn't need to be there, then they don't put it there. and thent virgin galactic is coming along and they've got lawyers and all these people worried about is it going to be safe. and these companies, while they work together, it wasn't -- it was often the furthest thing you could imagine. so the clash between the two i found fascinating as well. so, branson had good reason to believe, and it's hard to know where branson's head is now. he recently, you know he recently sold off $150 million worth of personal stock shares in virgin galactic. virgin galactic's, it's hard to
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say. they have more money now more than ever because they went public about a year and a half ago. >> i was wondering what the status is. >> i mean, -- >> before they went public they had about $80 million in cash reserves left in their account, and they were spending almost $20 million a month. so, money was going to become an issue very quickly. they went public. now they are still spending about 20, 25 million a month but the of 660 million in cash. so there's a long road in which they can continue to try to kind of figured this out. but the fact that branson pulled out a large chunk of his money recently raises questions as to where his head is now to the viability of this whole venture. >> is it a viable concept -- it's interesting we are reading a lot in the news recently about speethirteen and what is he doing. is it really a viable concept? i know you can get people who want to do it and will pay the
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entrance fee, whatever the hell it is, but can it work? >> i think it can work for speethirteen. what -- is building, i think that it's doable. the challenges that the configuration leaves that exposed to so many more, it leaves it so much more exposed because you have a man in the loop which as the accident shows you could have the most extremely well-qualified trained pilot and sometimes they still have a bad day. and also, this is an airplane company that builds a spaceship. scale composites, the dna and virgin galactic is an aircraft company.
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and the vertical takeoff and the launch approacher that blue origin, the main competitor and space x use just seemed to be long term viability. it seems to be that i think is going to be the way. it's not to write off virgin galactic totally, but their prognosis of where they will be in a few years is still infused with a magical thinking that they are goingnf to be flying weekly flights with this thing. they only have one mothership if it goes down for any period of time. so that'srs kind of the view of where we are where the viability is in the coming years. >> i want to tell people out there we are certainly open to questions. so, opt in there please. a few people have commented. this is from joe.
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getting access to [inaudible] getting access to virgin galactic. i think it was joe also the son of a mennonite pastor and he loved w airplanes as well, but e did not join the military. now, you do this book -- when you set out to do the new yorker piece, were you anticipating that it would be a book, or did it grow into a book? >> i knew after the first couple trips out there i knew the level of access and i knew the fact that they were letting me sit in on these meetings and record these meetings and the granularity and the detail and the scale and the ambition of what they were trying to do felt to me relatively like there was a book potential. so, but it took a while to kind of russell. it took a while to even figure
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out what the story was. i think the first couple versions had too many characters. jit was too flat, i couldn't figure out where the ark was. so it took me a while to continue to take everything out that wasn't stucky and then the magazine piece was long of itself. what enhances the story and what doesn't. then when i come back to the book, it was all -- you mentioned earlier it wasn't just one episode after another. it was helpful to have his story at the spine to figure out what these individuals need to know in terms of history and back story to be able to further understand his story. era. >> that is an enormous trick as you know in understanding how to balancee the character with the spokes. i see it as a bicycle wheel you have the hub and the spokes, but do they get in the way of the
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narrative, do they slow it down? because i think we are sort of drawn to the character and on the other hand, books can be -- books are wonderful because they have context and if you don't put ine some of that history ad some of that other stuff, it doesn't have the context. i feel that you pulled it off really, really nicely and really well. now, this is in the afterword. i was curious, they pulled access on you. in 2014. 2018, mark moses, now the president, correct? >> mike moses, yeah. >> was that the response to the new yorker piece? were they nervous about something or trying to hide something? i mean,, you had been there for four years. what happened? >> the idea was always that i would stick with them until they
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flew the fifth power flight. i wanted to stick with them until they flew the first rocket flight after the spaceship. i knew there was something -- i knew there was something that was different and that was going to affect the relationship. they there were a couple critical junctures. on that flight in april of 2018, i at that point hadn't been denied access. been told that i couldn't come into a single meeting. i was asked, they said sure. there was one occasion they were talking about a human resource thing where they said look you really can't record. you can listen for context with this is the only meeting you can't record. so that's what happened. and april, 2018 the flight i was walking in and i was barred entry. the person that barred my entry was steve attenborough. >> who was he at the company? >> he is i think employee number
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one. he is a commercial -- >> employee number one. what does that mean? >> when they first came up with the idea in 2014, stephen attenborough was the guy that was going to sell the ticket, he was going to market the company and sort of focus on the customer experience. he was the guy who was going to -- he was the glitz and glamour. this is what he was selling. and i knew that attenborough didn't like the fact that i was embedded. he very much was controlling of the pr narrative. he wanted to be focused on the sponsorship deals with land rover and grey goose and all of a sudden now there's this reporter that's running around. what do we do with this guy? so, the piece comes out in august of 18 and mike moses says to me -- the piece came out on
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monday and i remember thursday i called and said i got this book deal and i'm ready to get back in and moses said okay. give me a week or so. i need to work out some diplomatic things. some people thought the magazine piece made what we are doing sound exceedingly dangerous. and of course i'm like you have three engineers and an accident -- i'm not the one making it sound dangerous. [laughter] >> that's ridiculous. >> right? so then it became sort of this fight for the soul of the company in some ways where i am in one ear trying to say i'm going to tell the story. and i knew that richard liked the magazine piece. he e-mailed me and said about three weeks after it came out, he saidnd to me, he was reluctat to do this he didn't want to be seen as stomping on journalists
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independence with all the time and effort that went into it. we saw there was an opportunity for me to keep doing what i wanted to do. that began and reiterated that, but they can't. wthey were dragging their feet. they kept talking about how they had deals with other books that turned out -- they were just mom is she was making up these things to prevent me from being in. and then the criticalhe moment s i had this one-on-one relationship with brandonon ande had without telling anyone else at the company invited me down to the british virgin islands and spend a couple of days talking about the company. and then two days before i was set to b leave, i -- to my, i should have never mentioned this but i let it slip that i was on my way down to the british virgin islands, and suddenly all of the alarms were going off. attenborough called me and said richard isn't going to be the
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one to do this, but you can't come. so you asked how i felt. i remember being really, really scared that i wasn't going to be able to pull this off. and i remembered my dad, having this conversation with my dad that night. he said you have a book to write. that's the priority. and all of this, like i knew i had what i needed at that point. i had mark stucky going into space and the first flight in december of 18 and february of 19. in some ways it was a blessing in disguise because it gave me some w distance. itin let me say okay, i have my material. now i can write about this realistically and i'm no longer fighting for access. it was kind of the best thing that could have happened but
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yeah, i was really -- >> access for a writer is a double-edged sword. you get really deep and develop a relationship. you have to, you end up liking people to be able to step back and look at it with sober eyes is tricky. so in a way it's probably good. and you can get addicted to access asha well. access begins more access. the fact that they cut it off and it did enable you to step back. here's a question. how did writing this book affect your own life? youok made, what, 14 trips to mojave or 15. your relationship with the book's characters and the people within your own sphere so to speak -- are some people talking to you, some people not? i think stucky, how did he feel? i mean,, you put him out there. how did he feel? >> i think that he feels that -- i know that he -- because i told
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him over the course of the writing that i felt like our relationship was different, it wasn't the traditional journalists worse, journalists tsubject relationship. it was, it transcended all of those sort of normal boundaries. there was a moment that brought that to life. when he flew for the first time in 2018, he lands and i'm watching his wife give him hugs and his son give him hugs. what's the right thing to do here because a reporter reaches out his hand and says nice job or a friend. i reached out, gave a handshake and i felt like he is more of
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that. it's a unique relationship when you i have a friend you are writing about and they are not complementary or damaging. he was okay with it. i asked for access and family members and he was cooperative to the end the only time that he has sort of been reserved he says it is hard for me to comment on.
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it gives a new insight into who you are. he's really pleased with how it turned out is there anything you would have done differently? you said you had an assistant researcher. that fascinated me. when you did your first draft, we all read the first draft and then the fear begins to set in were there too many characters, was it that the narrative wasn't driving the way you wanted it to? what were the problems and how did it go about fixing them?
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the back third of the book where it is kind of them charging came really, really easy because it was a combination of natural action and a lot of access and a lot of documentary materials that let me pieced together pier spaceflights withy granular detail. i think you have 12 pages too much of stuff about your dad or 12 pages too much about you
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where it is so clear that you are trying to figure out what it is you want to say and that's what it was. it was central in telling the story and why i wanted to come to the story, but i was worried that it was going to feel pasted on or extraneous and i needed to figure out how to seem organic and natural and she helped me do that. >> it gave the book a special and personal dimension. this happened and that happened and there was something that went to the core of your soul. >> i only thought about doing it
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when initially it didn't come to me until i sat down and started writing the book itself i just wasn't sure how to do it and i thought i think you've overwritten that sentence a bit much from the central storyline and is there a way to tie him back. heis there a way to bring the story back. i had imported all of the values that i have learned over the
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years. i can't imagine doing this book without her. >> how long did it take you to write? it was for four or five years basically. >> two years more or less. august of 18 to august of 20. but doing a couple of things along the way when the pandemic oihit i was probably a third of hithe way to writing.
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i'm curious how high do they go up and what is the top speed? >> this is the subject of some controversy. most of the world defines space at 100 kilometers and 328,000 feet. virgin galactic is using the u.s. air force definition of hespace which is 264,000. you look at the pictures of them looking down at the earth.
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i want to try to ground this. give me some real numbers. it's roughly give or take about 700 miles per hour but as you are going higher it is all kind of varying because the altitude and this is where i get into very uncomfortable territory. would you say close to 2,000? i remember the night of the spaceflight what doesib it feel like and t he said he never felt more sure of anything in his life at that point. at a certain point you rumble through the air and the rocket
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motor is burning full on and you are going nearly three times the speed of sound and it just felt like she wanted to run and run. you could hear the excitement in his voice. he spent a couple years in the air force. his wife cheryl had bought for him and he comes back with a rack of shot glasses and the shot glasses each of them are embossed with one of the squadrons from the area 51
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sites. what are they doing again and i'm not going to go to jail for this. i don't drink whiskey. i haven't drink whiskey since college. so not that we are going to sit with of the shot glasses but i take this shot and he looks at me and i couldn't tell if he was offended or in breast or what it was. i got back to my hotel that night and it was like a $600 bottle of whiskey. that was the intimacy of the
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relationship. sitting around the kitchen island table talking about the day. it was a very good and unique and memorable relationship. >> how high did you get? i went flying with them four times. it made me think that i was going to vomit and all that. we probably went 10,000 feet high and then they stall the aircraft and spin upside down for a thousand feet. this is what they do.
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>> the first few times extraordinarily close and i had my bag under my leg but i managed to hold myself together. >> i want to read what i wrote because i really mean it. it's hard to know where to begin. it's unique, fascinating, brilliantly reported with unprecedented access addicted to speed and altitude. it is a journey unlike any i've enever read as pulsating as it s personal. what makes a man routinely risk his life for a living above the clouds, what does he leave behind on earth, cosmic questions with little answers.
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strap yourself in and get ready for one hell of a ride. i meant every word. i do this very rarely so folks out there we are just about out of time. please get the book, read it for yourself and everything i said i really, really mean i'm trying to figure out. i want to sleep and i also want to kind of get back to work and i'm trying to figure out what that is. you've been through a hell of a process.
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is this your first books? i wrote a book about pakistan as well but this is far more personal. >> something is going to come across your desk and it's going to be short and you will have the instinct to know this is a book and that you let it sit for a while and if you still think that it's a book a month later opit is a book because you've de it and you are a pro and you are talented. for all of you listening, thanks a lot. it's now 3 a.m. in london and you deserve some rest. it's a very boring 7:00 but thanks again, everyone. >> it's been fun.
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it wasn't until the death of john f. kennedy the presidential protection service began to get closer attention from the american people.
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carol began reporting on the secret service for the "washington post" in 2012. in the prologue of the book zero fail she writes that she started her coverage on the scandal in which agents brought prostitutes to their hotel rooms while making arrangements for president obama to visit columbia. we talk with her about her look at her new book subtitled the rise and fall of the secret service. looked at the career of entrepreneur speethirteen and the history of his rocket company in his new book "lift off." the blue willow bookshop in wiln houston hosted this event. >> welcome, everyone. i'm the owner of the bookshop in


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