British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's space tourism project was inspired by a TV show fan more than 20 years ago. Branson's Virgin Galactic aims to offer tourists the chance to holiday in space by taking them into Earth's orbit, and celebrities including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga have already booked tickets for some of the earliest flights.
The businessman is hoping to launch the first shuttle later this year (14) but he first began considering a space mission during a chat with a viewer who called in to British TV show Going Live! in 1988.
Branson tells U.K. chat show host Jonathan Ross, "You never know what sparks things off in your mind but as a result of that show (Going Live!) we registered the name Virgin Galactic Airways. Over the next decade I started travelling around the world meeting technicians and engineers to see if we could find a genius who could build a spaceship that could take you and me into space.
"I think it's going to be the beginning of a whole new era of space travel. Initially we're going to be giving people a taste of space. It's going to be absolutely magnificent. People will become astronauts, they'll be able to experience zero gravity. They'll be able to check the world is really round and they'll have the ride of a lifetime."
The cast and crew of hit sci-fi film Gravity have been sent congratulatory messages from space following the film's triumph at the Oscars. The drama, which stars Sandra Bullock as an astronaut, won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron, at the glitzy Hollywood prizegiving on Sunday (02Mar14), and the story resonated with the team at the International Space Station.
Real life astronauts Michael S. Hopkins, Richard Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata sent a video message to the Gravity team to congratulate them on their Oscars glory.
In the film, which was shot onboard the space station, Hopkins performed multiple celebratory somersaults in zero gravity, while his colleagues praised the film's "stunning visuals and stark imagery".
NASA veteran Mike Massimino also recorded a video to congratulate the Gravity crew, along with Catherine 'Cady' Coleman, while representatives at the space agency said in a statement, "NASA congratulates everyone involved with producing the movie Gravity for all of the Oscar wins, especially Alfonso Cuaron for winning best director at the 86th Academy Awards ceremony."
The videos were posted on NASA's website.
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Alfonso Cuaròn took home the Best Director prize for his work on the film Gravity, making him the first Mexican director to win a Oscar. The film, which starred Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, follows the journey of two astronauts who are free-floating in outer space after their station gets caught in the middle of an asteroid belt. Cuaròn's success comes as the result of years spent working on the project, which he also co-wrote with his son Jonas, as much of the technology needed for some of the more complicated shots had not been developed when Gravity first began coming together.
After shaking hands with Sidney Poitier, he thanked everyone involved in the film, calling it a "transformative experience," and joking that he was glad that it didn't turn out to just be a waste of time. He shared his gratitude for his son and co-writer, as well as Bullock and Clooney, before stumbling over his thanks for the studio, accidentally calling them the "wise guys of Warner Bros." He wrapped up his speech with a heartfelt aside to his wife, where he thanked her in Spanish and told her that the award was all for her.
Thus far, Gravity has proven to be the evening's big winner. This is the film's seventh award.
Busty supermodel Kate Upton scored a lift-off as the back cover girl of the 50th anniversary edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue - she was picked for a zero-gravity shoot. The stunning blonde, who fronted the annual magazine in 2012 and 2013 and famously posed wearing next to nothing in freezing Antarctica for the publication, got to experience weightlessness in Florida.
A film crew captured Upton floating around in the G-Force One capsule for the first ever Swimsuit Issue photoshoot staged seven miles (11.2 kilometres) above the earth.
Upton, who wore a two-piece gold lame bikini for the space-age session, admits she quickly felt "ridiculous" as zero-gravity kicked in high above Tampa.
She explains, "I shot straight up to the ceiling and then I didn't know how to get off the ceiling... I was thinking, 'What am I doing here?'"
The model hopes her next Sports Illustrated assignment is more down-to-earth after riding the same 'vomit comet' used to train astronauts - and shoot Justin Bieber fragrance ads.
She quips, "I'd prefer the next shoot be in a temperature-controlled hotel room.
"I'll be wearing regular clothes, reading a book."
Space drama Gravity scooped a handful of top honours at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards on Sunday (16Feb14), including a Best Director prize for Alfonso Cuaron. The sci-fi hit, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded in outer space, also picked up awards for Best British Film, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Visual Effects.
It was a disappointing night for Oscars favourite 12 Years A Slave - although the drama took home Best Film and Best Actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, it lost out in a string of other top categories, including Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender) and Best Adapted Screenplay, which was instead awarded to Philomena writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
There was also no trophy for Ejiofor's co-star, newcomer Lupita Nyong'o, who missed out on a Best Supporting Actress honour to Jennifer Lawrence; she was also denied the Rising Star Award, which went to We're The Millers actor Will Poulter.
Cate Blanchett was named Best Actress for her role in Woody Allen comedy Blue Jasmine, and Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi took home the Best Supporting Actor prize, while Dame Helen Mirren was honoured with a BAFTA Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement.
Collecting his Best Director award, Mexican moviemaker Cuaron said, "You can't tell from my accent but I consider myself a part of the British film industry. I've lived in London for the last 30 years and I've done almost half of my films in the U.K. I guess I make a good case for curbing immigration!"
The award ceremony's emotional highlight came as Blanchett dedicated her Best Actress trophy to her late friend Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died earlier this month (Feb14).
She said, "Phil, your monumental talent, your generosity, and your unflinching quest for the truth, both in art and life, will be missed, not only by me but by so many... Phil, buddy - this is for you, you b**tard! I hope you're proud."
The ceremony at the Royal Opera House was presented by Stephen Fry and featured guests including Leonardo DiCaprio, who presented the supporting actress award, Brad Pitt, Uma Thurman, Prince William, Amy Adams, Emma Thompson, and Stanley Tucci.
The list of 2014 BAFTA film award winners is:
- Best Film: 12 Years A Slave
- Best British Film: Gravity
- Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
- Leading Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave)
- Leading Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
- Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
- Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
- Best Original Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell (American Hustle)
- Best Music: Steven Price (Gravity)
- Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
- Best Editing: Dan Hanley & Mike Hill (Rush)
- Best Visual Effects: Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould & Nikki Penny (Gravity)
- Best Sound: Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri & Chris Munro (Gravity)
- Best Production Design: Catherine Martin & Beverley Dunn (The Great Gatsby)
- Best Costume Design: Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby)
- Best Makeup & Hair: Evelyne Noraz & Lori McCoy-Bell (American Hustle)
- Rising Star: Will Poulter
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope (Philomena)
- Outstanding Debut: Kieran Evans (Kelly and Victor)
- Best Foreign Film: The Act of Killing
- Best Film Not in the English language: The Great Beauty
- Best Short Animation: Sleeping With the Fishes
- Best Short Film: Room 8
- Best Animated Film: Frozen
- Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema: Peter Greenaway
- BAFTA Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement: Dame Helen Mirren
Gravity has become the early winner at the Bafta Awards in London, picking up a handful of top prizes, including Best Screenplay, Music, Cinematography and Best British Film. The outer space drama, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as stranded astronauts, has picked up five of the first 10 trophies at the Royal Opera House.
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle) and Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) are also celebrating after picking up Best Supporting awards, while The Act of Killing has beaten out Blue is the Warmest Color, The Great Beauty, Metro Manila and Wadjda to claim the Best Foreign Film honour, and Frozen has picked up the Best Animated Film prize. The Great Gatsby is a double winner for Production Design and Costume Design.
Dame Helen Mirren and her The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover director Peter Greenaway will be presented with top honours at the ceremony - Mirren will become a BAFTA fellow and Greenaway is the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney suffered an agonising time on the set of Gravity as she was left with injuries including a twisted pelvis and he was in constant pain due to a back problem. The pair team up in the new movie to play two astronauts facing a life-threatening crisis in outer space, and to simulate the zero gravity conditions a special device was used on set.
The actors were required to climb into a giant light box where they were suspended on a special harness so they appeared weightless, but the contraption took its toll on the two stars.
The shoot aggravated Clooney's ongoing back injury, but it was Bullock who came off worse - she suffered cuts, bruises, and a pelvis problem, and she had to undergo regular physiotherapy sessions, admitting, "(It was to) put me back together."
However, the actress had more sympathy for Clooney, telling British newspaper The Guardian, "He's always in an extreme amount of pain and he had to get into that rig every day. He was only there for three weeks, but George had a lot more to deal with than I did."
"Well, I've got my astronaut family. You know, becoming famous is like being catapulted into space - sometimes without a space suit. We've seen so many people combust, suffocate, get lost in all these different things. But (you need) to have an anchor of other astronauts and to make a little space family." Rapper Kanye West compares life under the media spotlight to life in outer space.
TV bosses in the U.K. are giving viewers the chance to experience a 'lap' of the Earth from outer space in a groundbreaking live broadcast. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will broadcast their views of the planet in high-definition on Britain's Channel 4 network during a 90-minute extraterrestrial trip around the globe later this year (14).
The pioneering live two-hour show, titled Live from Space: Lap of the Planet, will feature on-the-spot commentary from two astronauts aboard the station 250 miles (402 kilometres) above the planet, footage from NASA's Mission Control centre in Houston, Texas, and an interview with Professor Stephen Hawking.
The show will be broadcast in March (14) as part of Channel 4's Live From Space season.
Christopher Nolan, working from a script written by his brother Jonathan in 2008 (and intended for Steven Spielberg), will be bringing this near-future sci-fi story Interstellar to the screen. In this first trailer, we hear Matthew McConaughey (who has officially aged out of "Abs Guy" and into something far more interesting) describe the metaphorical power of space travel and its endless possibility.
Nolan is known for his powerful images and for how he incorporates his theorhetical ideas into his narratives. Here, he has tapped into the American desire for exploration, even subtly reinforcing with McConaughey's speech the Manifest Destiny arrogance of deserving to explore and take over new worlds.
Let's work our way through Nolan's historical images and parse what they might mean for the film's themes.
The Dust Bowl: Much of Nolan's actual footage takes place in cornfields, including one that is burning. Global warming and other natural disasters could spur the characters to pursue space travel as the only way to find new resources for sustaining human life.
Speed of Sound: Perhaps this is a reference to wormhole/time travel, which would allow a vehicle to travel faster than the speed of light, the next major barrier in the way of long-distance space exploration.
Mercury Capsule: The first man in space, alone in his small capsule. Other big names in the cast like Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain imply this won't be intimate like Gravity, but any space travel story incorporates some claustrophobia and cramped quarters.
Gemini 2: An unmanned American mission, launched in 1965 and intended for the testing of the spacecraft's endurance under suborbital heat and pressure; noteworthy primarily for withstanding multiple flights.
Neil Armstrong and Crew: Obviously Armstrong and the rest of his fellow astronauts are famous for being the first crew to set foot on the moon.
Moon Landing: And that's how they got there, in probably the most iconic spacecraft of American history, the Intrepid. Fitting that this comes while the voiceover is all about hope, potential, and optimism — because that's what this image evokes in us.
Atlantis: The final journey of space shuttle Atlantis, which to many represented the close of NASA's golden age of exploration. Nolan's film will be either rewriting history so that this age never ended or figure out a reason how NASA is able to afford this renewed energy for human space travel — perhaps by incoporating corporatism into their science, as we see today with short space trips available to consumers for a steep price.
Nolan is using very carefully chosen images to introduce his story, they just happen to not be the images he shot. It's an evocative way to make a trailer, and hopefully we've accurately parsed out a few of his themes.