Bob Walters has dreamed of going into space since he was 15 and sending homemade rockets into the skies above the Mojave Desert. He’s confident his wait will soon be over.
“It will be a dream come true,” says Walters, founder and president of Freight Management Inc.
Walters has a ticket to ride aboard Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline. Sir Richard Branson began signing people up for the trip several years ago with the stipulation it might be a little while before liftoff.
The ship needed to be built and tests needed to be conducted to make sure it was feasible.
“I went to the Mojave Desert several times to watch the spaceship be constructed, and it’s all very interesting,” Walters says. “I remain active and ready to do my trip. It’s supposed to be next year.”
That’s the same desert where Walters and a few friends first fell in love with the starry skies above.
“We decided we would start to develop rockets and understand how they work, what propulsion systems they needed and how to construct them and develop the fuel that went in them,” Walters says. “We joined the American Rocket Society, and with their help, we designed a number of rockets.”
He launched the rockets and hoped to launch his career in space by joining the U.S. Air Force to position himself for an astronaut role.
“But the Air Force declared with an eye test that I would need glasses within two years and therefore couldn’t be a pilot,” Walters says. “I am now 70, and I still don’t wear glasses.”
Despite the disappointment, Walters remained enamored with space and was thrilled when the chance came to join Branson’s voyage.
His friends and family were a little less enthusiastic. “They were shocked and amazed and expressed either excitement I might be able to do it or concern I might be facing a disaster in my future,” Walters says.
He says he has no doubt he will make it into space — someday. “I’ve arranged for my ashes to be shot into space,” Walters says. “So one way or the other, I’m going to end up there.”