Rick Newlands 2013 - 2017

About me:

On a mission… but not as cute or dynamic as Space Kate.


Rick ‘the Rocketeer’ Newlands contracted M.E. when he was 17 at Uni. Took a year off, made a complete recovery, and hoped that was the end of it. Sadly, it keeps coming back. He’s now in his mid-40’s.


He got his honours degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics, and had various jobs as a flight simulation engineer designing sims to train commercial pilots. He also did a lot of pacifistic/scientific rocketry, which has been his passion since he was 14, he’s chairman of the Aspirespace rocket engineering society. He also flew microlight aircraft; he really misses flying.


In January 2006 his M.E. suddenly became an order of magnitude worse, and he was hospitalised for 5 months, and couldn’t walk for 12 months. Nobody knows why.

His fiancee got him better. He hasn’t been able to work since, but has written books and articles for magazines and the Web.


Currently, he’s house-bound: can only walk a few steps, and can’t sit up for more than 30 minutes. Nobody will tell him why not.


But he likes to keep busy: designing a Space mission is just the thing to stave off the blues, especially as this one isn’t science-fiction, there’s no technical reason why it shouldn’t work. If you help me, we can make it happen.


Sorry about the photo: having M.E. ages your face dreadfully (yes, I do look like I have the ‘flu….)


To contact me, Email: Mail: ricktherocketeer@gmail.com




Are you fit to fly?


An interesting point: on good days I’m fit to fly a conventional microlight aircraft (you just have to be fit enough to drive), I now have a respectable number of hours (by U.K. standards) in my pilot’s logbook. But just now I can’t sit up for very long, and my arms are slightly weak.


With suitable mechanical adaptions to the spacecraft to counter my disabilities, I feel that I’m well enough to fly: I’ll be flying a small glider over a remote part of Scotland, there’s nobody around who’d be at risk.


Many M.E. sufferers encounter difficulty concentrating, but mercifully I’m not one of them this time round.

How will you train for the mission?


I also happen to be a sim engineer: someone who built flight simulators to train airline pilots. I can easily knock-up a Space sim. For landing practices, Spacedare is light enough to be towed into the air behind a light aircraft, or winch-launched. So I can have lots of landing practice.



You’re not a test-pilot!


No I’m not (although part of my previous job had some cross-over with test flying); the whole point of the exercise is the ability to lob just an average disabled bloke into Space. A good friend of mine is a test-pilot though: I’ll be relying on his advice.


So the rocket ascent is under automatic electronic control, and I’ll only be gliding subsonically (no supersonic flight) after re-entry. Thanks to the stabilising airbrakes and tip fins, the re-entry will be hands-off: I won’t have to touch the controls.


Because microlight engines used to be unreliable, a lot of my microlight training involved practicing engine-off landings, so a microlight glider should present few problems.


Though I only fly microlights, I do have a lot of instrument training because I had to learn it in order to build flight simulators (when I was well enough to have a job). For example, I’ve got over 200 hours flight-time on the A320 airliner (simulated of course) IFR and VFR, and have also flown real light twin aeroplanes, and helicopters.

Rick’s new book


I’ve published a new book entitled “A Rocket Scientist’s Guide to M.E.”


It’s a wry and acerbic account of my experiences of the illness, including hints and suggestions for fellow M.E. sufferers. You might just learn a bit of rocket science too.


M.E. is a depressing subject. Most M.E. books are so woeful you want to reach for the razor blades. So I’ve tried to lighten-up this book; who wants to read a dire book when you’re feeling miserable already?


I pull no punches: those of the medical profession that have helped me I praise. Those that were useless, obstructive, or frankly bizarre, come in for damning criticism.


I discuss the efficacy of current ‘best practices’ and why a tobacco enema is a bad idea.


Included is a hypothesis about what M.E. might be, and how it could be tackled by future research.


Though written from a British perspective, I hope this book will help and amuse M.E sufferers and their carers worldwide.

Please bear in mind that I’m a rocket scientist, not a doctor, but I like to think I’ve got a handle on M.E.


You can purchase the book in printed or ebook form from lulu.com and major online retailers.