Rick Newlands 2013 - 2017

The idea:

What on earth gave you the idea for Reaction for M.E?

In February 2013, M.E. sufferer Bob Miller announced the end of his hunger strike to get Ampligen approved for people with ME/CFS.

Now that guy impressed the hell outa me, especially as M.E. sufferers get really sick if they miss even one meal. That guy had real guts.

I thought to myself, what the hell can I do to highlight the cause of M.E.? The only things I know about are spacecraft and rockets.

I’ve got bad M.E; that kind of limits what I could do. I can’t run a marathon, and I didn’t fancy lying in a bath of custard for charity (I’m not that way inclined…) so what was there?

I’m a Degree-educated rocket scientist. I doodle spacecraft. I always have, since an early age. (The doodles just take much longer now.) Could this raise awareness of M.E?

I asked my mate Dave, and he said “Make a big firework and strap yourself to it.” Gee thanks Dave.

After laughing it off, the penny dropped that actually it wasn’t such a mad idea. If it were done properly (that is, safely) then the dichotomy of a helpless house-bound M.E. sufferer launching himself into Space would surely attract attention; after all, astronauts are always unfeasibly healthy specimens.

So it started purely in jest, but then I switched-on my Engineer’s head and had a good long think about it. Could it be done safely? This was an absolute must. Could it be done relatively cheaply? How on earth could I get into Space in the current state I’m in healthwise? How would I get my ideas out into the world?

It can be done safely, and with style. Then I had a long think about how to do it for the lowest cost, so reducing the weight of the craft was a must as every kilo will cost a great deal of dosh.

The spacecraft designs I came up with are detailed on the next webpage: ‘The spacecraft’.

Why has nobody else flown this type of mission?

Nobody, able-bodied or not, has performed this sort of mission yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

All indications point to this sort of mission becoming a popular adventure sport within a very few years, the technology to allow it has just appeared. I know of several groups that are thinking along similar lines. Felix Baumgartner parachuted from a very high altitude balloon a few years ago to great acclaim; this is the logical next step.

Couch potatoes

Another aspect of this mission is that I want to dispel the media notion that M.E. Sufferers are a bunch of whinging couch potatoes. This couldn’t be more wrong: we work hard to find ways around our illness to lead as normal and goal-orientated a life as possible. I have M.E. I want to go into Space. With a bit of ingenuity, I’ve found a way to do it.