Freefall Update October 2021

The new space race

Wow! Space has really taken off (haha) in the month since I last wrote. It feels like the dawn of a new race, courtesy of Branson, Musk and Bezos. Personally, I’d quite fancy a rear facing seat in Virgin’s space plane just to watch the long fiery rocket tail pushing me into orbit. The sight of a spent booster landing back on the launch pad on its own is very impressive (scrub to 7min in the Blue Origin clip below). At around $45k per minute, I’ll be sticking with Youtube and Thorpe Park for now (my local roller coaster theme park). Here’s some clips if you missed the action:

Image credit: Virgin Galactic

Incidentally, Bezos took 82 year old Wally Funk to space. She’s one of two surviving Mercury 13 ladies.


The countdown has begun! Jerry landed the cover design last week (while I nursed a running injury and a seasonal bug) and Anne, my editor in NY, gave me her final story tweaks. It feels like the final jigsaw piece found its place in the storyline – a powerful, poignant scene in the eye of a Korean War battle in 1953, involving a character by the name of Miller.

I’ll let you know when it’s out, but if you can’t wait, you can now immerse yourself in the amazing world of Freefall with stunning images of the space race, 60s culture and fashion, Vietnam and many of the breathtaking story locations on Pinterest at:

For want of a trailer, here’s some Freefall blurb:

US Navy pilot Jim Cobb has already lost his father to the Cold War when he flies into America’s blockade to keep Soviet nukes out of Cuba just hours from World War 3.

His life is about to change with a telegram from NASA. The reds look unbeatable in the race to conquer space and Americans fear nukes will rain from the sky when the Soviets begin constructing a star wars machine in orbit. The new frontier looks set to become the high ground for a Communist style tyranny on earth.

Jim starts training for space, but JoAnn, his quintessential 1960s military housewife and frustrated journalist, is feeling America’s bitter divisions over civil rights for women and African Americans, while the futile war against Communism in Vietnam rages on. College kids are being plucked out of class for the war draft. Forget space – she has to tell the world about the fight for peace and equality on earth, or risk losing herself in Jim’s NASA shadow.

Childhood sweethearts, they must decide on each other. War or peace? Jim’s duty and vengeance for his father? Or JoAnn’s struggle against their government’s war machine and rights for all?

When Jim’s put on a deadly mission in space, he doesn’t know if he’ll make it back to her. And, she doesn’t know he’s gone.

Or does she?

Only she can bring him home … alive.

Freedom on earth tore them apart. The conquest of space brought them back.

Some 1960s space race stuff

Image credit: NASA/Creative Commons

Cape Canaveral: There’s nothing quite like this aerial photo of Missile Row ( to give you a sense of the gargantuan size of the Cape. It’s where the Apollo men blasted off for the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. You can just about see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) in the top left. Built in 1966, this building remains the world’s largest single story building today (US spelling). Giant Saturn V rockets (and the space shuttle) were all assembled here then wheeled out to Launch Complex 39 (on the right of the photo) at a blistering 1 mph (whoa there—easy on the brakes)! You can see the VAB under construction here: then head over here to find out more on the crawlers (do take your time 藍):

Mercury 13: In 1959, 13 ladies lobbied to go to space alongside the Mercury men. Having done all did the tests, appealed to congress, appeared on television and explained that they needed less space and used less oxygen, weighed less and were better at dealing with isolation, and so on, they found themselves undermined at every turn. The press said they were mothers who preferred to leave their kids behind. Others said periods would never stop in space. But oddly, it was their original sponsor who put the knife in their back, saying that it was not meant to be (a position she must have later regretted). Perhaps it came down to pressure from LBJ. He wanted to kill the whole idea. Question: can you spot Wally Funk in this image ( before she finally got to space with Jeff Bezos in July? You can see the full story of the Mercury 13 on Netflix (

What I’ve been reading and watching

I listened again, to what is possibly my favourite book: The Book of Daniel by EL Doctorow. It’s a fictional account of the real Rosenberg family, when Daniel’s parents were convicted and executed as suspected Communist spies in America in 1953. The book is slightly hard work so I’d recommend the audiobook which is a 5/5 performance by Mark Deakins of Star Trek fame. You’ll find the red scare theme at the heart of Freefall. I’m also trying to get Mark to narrate Freefall! I’ll post my own review soon but you can find another here:

American Sniper: This is a Clint Eastwood movie about America’s most lethal sniper in history during Iraq (a grizzly accolade but I guess someone has to have it). Good if you like that sort of thing but not as powerful at Zero Dark 30 or The Hurt Locker which are the same kind of story.


Tolkien: This one’s a bit lighter and about the author behind The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It’s a good watch even if you have no interest or knowledge of his books or the Peter Jackson movies.

Chatter: the voice in our head and how to harness it, by Ethan Kross, 2021. This is applied psychology with lots of useful tools and techniques to help you understand and tame the 24/7 chatterbox inside your head.  Very insightful for the Impact@Work audience, which you can find out about at

What’s made me chuckle

Blackadder II. This is a classic 1980s British sitcom. In this episode, Queenie insists that Blackadder gives Sir Walter Raleigh a gift from the new world or lose his head. He produces a bottle of wine (hint: it’s actually Baldrick’s finest brew).

Other stuff

Apples: New Apples drop at this time of year and I’m interested in the new iPad mini. A lot of Freefall was edited on a Mini when I used to commute to the office on a packed train nearly two years ago. I also have a pair of new Sony WF-1000XM4 ANC earbuds to block out coffee shop noise. Both very helpful for writing on the go.

Weird space stuff

Spacefarers account for time dilation. It’s a real thing. So, is it possible to go back in time? I’m no Einstein, but I think possibly, in a sense. Time is actually a stretchy bendy thing. Your head is in fact slightly older than your feet, because time slows for your toes, closer to Earth. So, each time you look down, your eyes are peering into the past (just like when you’re looking at stars in the sky). Your feet are staring back up at the future. What does that say? That the past, present and future co-exist? Sort of, yes. That’s the first ingredient. Next, you just need a Flux Capacitor and a parallel universe and you’re away.

Well, time to go. Until next time … haha. I’ll stop there.