Saturday, 5 November 2011

Journey through space

Spaceflight magazine was first published in 1957 and in all this time there have been only four editors — Patrick Moore, Ken Gatland, Gerald Groves and myself — which must be approaching a record for a magazine with such a long publishing history.

Like the long-running science fiction series Dr Who on BBC TV — where every so often the Doctor regenerates in a new bodily form — it is time for some ‘regeneration’ on Spaceflight. I’ve been at the helm since September 2000 and will be moving on, so this December 2011 (published this weekend) issue is my last as editor.

My association with the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) dates back to the early 1980s when I first became a BIS member, and later started writing occasional articles for Spaceflight.

After working for the marketing departments of two international companies — Perkins Engines in Peterborough and Matra Marconi Space in Portsmouth — for several years I received a phone call in the summer of 2000 to ask if I’d be interested in taking over as editor from Gerald Groves. At the same time I was also running SimComm Europe, a marketing and PR agency founded by myself a few years earlier in south-east Hampshire.

Producing a publication such as Spaceflight every month and maintaining high standards in terms of content and appearance is always a big challenge on a part-time contract — but it has been a privilege to guide and develop the magazine for the past 10 years.

All along the way it has been a great team effort and I have had invaluable support from many people, including a dedicated and expert team of contributors who have all freely given their time — writers, photographers, media and PR people, as well as those with a genuine passion for spaceflight.

It’s not possible to thank everyone but I’d like to acknowledge some of those who have directly supported me with great enthusiasm over the past years and helped enhance Spaceflight’s long-standing reputation.

My sincere thanks to Tim Furniss, Ken Kremer, Gerard van de Haar, Joel Powell, Philip Corneille, Dwayne Day, Ralph Gibson, Ed Hengeveld, Rudolf van Beest, Jacques van Oene, Kelvin Long, Andrew Green, Nick Spall, Rob Coppinger, Tony Quine, George Spiteri, Geoff Richards, Francis French, David A Hardy, Michael Cockerham, Mark Williamson, Lucy Owens (my invaluable deputy editor between 2001 and 2004), and BIS staff Suszann Parry, Mary Todd and Ben Jones, along with Society President Bob Parkinson for allowing that valuable commodity ‘editorial freedom’, and of course to my family for their love and support.

As for the future, the Spaceflight editorial chair ‘regenerates’ forthwith and passes to David Baker, who has a life-long passion for astronautics and the exploration of worlds beyond our own.

It’s funny how things go in circles. I first met David when I was a student and he was lecturing on space exploration in South Lincolnshire. In fact, it was he who introduced me to the BIS. Perhaps there is something in this Dr Who time travel business after all?

Time travelling Dr Who (Matt Smith) with his assistant Amy Pond ( Karen Gillan).

A rare photo-call for some of the Spaceflight writers, photographers and editor who gathered at KSC this summer for the final Space Shuttle flight. Pictured during the roll over of the decommissioned Space Shuttle Discovery are (from left): Rudolf van Beest (Netherlands), Andrew Green (UK), Clive Simpson, Joel Powell (Canada), Ken Kremer (USA) and Gerard van de Haar (Netherlands).
'Journey through space' - based on article in Spaceflight magazine, December 2011

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