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Mum’s the word.

And, we don’t mean chrysanthemums.

The entire staff at corporate headquarters is on pins and needles waiting for the latest development from The Chief. Insiders know he’s been in high-level negotiations regarding his previously announced StarCosmos CPR250K civilian trip into space. Things heated up further on September 18 when Elon Musk launched another of his civilian trips that orbited the Earth 45 times over 3 days before splashing down in the Atlantic off the Florida coast.  The results gave the old boy two pieces of information he’d been looking for.

A photo, released on the condition of anonymity because the photographer did not have authority to discuss the mission, shows a StarCosmos employee, identified as Captain Caro, conducting splashdown and recovery training excercise in a waterway off the Atlantic coast.

First, the trip made a reportedly $200 Million. That’s right up The Chief’s alley, not to mention our employee profit sharing plan. Secondly, the Musk Inspiration4 Craft landed in water. There had been concerns about having to land the StarCosmos in the desert after the FAA said no to a grassy airstrip near The Chief’s remote mountaintop retreat.

A photo, released on the condition of anonymity because the photographer did not have authority to discuss the mission, shows a StarCosmos employee, identified as Captain Caro, conducting splashdown and recovery training in a waterway off the Atlantic coast.

Talks remain secretive and mum’s the word. The only clue has been an intern who was sent out to buy a bunch of model airplane and rocket kits along with a case of modeling glue. But, one thing’s for sure……this definitely beats The Chief’s prior ventures involving aviation; our hapless Pilatus  PC-6 Porter corporate plane and the time he was sequestered in his executive suite, talking to Perfect Polly, the ridiculous talking and flapping plastic canary.

Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.

One thing we’ve learned is people are ready to dish out the big bucks to take a trip into space. The questions coming in to corporate headquarters have been a little unusual to say the least. We’ll recount some of the best (and worst) later in the mailbag, giving you plenty of time to buckle your seat belt. First, let’s take a look at local sports.

High school volleyball is in full swing and it’s time to announce our first Top-3 poll among “Big-11” squads. Firmly holding down the top spot are the undefeated Hidden Valley Titans. Hidden Valley did incur a pair of losses in an abbreviated 2-set showcase tournament to West Virginia power Musselman, but have been perfect in normal best-of-5 set matches. Head coach Carla Ponn has another talented team and her daughter, freshman Carleigh Ponn, joins senior Cam Davenport as a brutal 1-2 punch for opponents. Watch for match coverage by The Star in the coming weeks, where our sports team will also be checking the new courtside announcer for the Titans, the incomparable Dave Ross.

Second place goes to Patrick Henry, where the Patriots have only suffered one loss at press time. Third place is ruled by the Glenvar Highlanders, whose only two losses have been a pair of 3-2 setbacks to perennial state powerhouse Auburn.

High school football moves to week-5 and our only undefeated “Big-11” teams reside within one mile of each other. Hidden Valley has opened with an impressive 4-0 record and North Cross is likewise undefeated after a huge 48-0 win over private school rival Roanoke Catholic.  Salem is still the team to beat desite their opening loss to Martinsburg,WV, and don’t count out Patrick Henry and Glenvar to make serious runs in their respective classes.

The weekly CW5 (Cox cable channel 5) Playback Game of the Week, featuring the television production class at Franklin County High School along with announcers Dave Ross and Steve Meyers, pits Carroll County at Glenvar on September 24 followed by Pulaski County at Hidden Valley on October 1. Games are replayed each Saturday afternoon following the Friday night game. Check listings for the time of kickoff.

Congratulations go out to the Salem Red Sox for a great season that fell just one game short of a playoff berth after their loss Sunday to the Delmarva Shorebirds, combined with the Down East Wood Ducks win over #1 Charleston. Down East will tangle with Charleston in a best-of-5 championship beginning this week.

Get your skates laced up for the upcoming run of the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs ice hockey season. Coach Dan Bremner is assembling a great number of talented propects for the upcoming campaign which opens at The Berglund Center on Friday, October 15. Puck drops at 7:05.

Next up for the Roanoke Valley Sports Club will be the Monday, October 18 meeting at the Salem Civic Center. NCAA basketball referee Roger Ayers is the guest speaker for what always proves to be one of the most popular nights at the sports club. Visit the club’s website at to secure your reservation by October 15th. Social begins at 5:45, followed by dinner and the program.

Finally, to the mail bag, where we recount some of the most unusal inquiries regarding the proposed StarCosmos space journey and its particulars since its announcement in August.

Dear Space Department: I’m intertested in getting more info on your space trip. Are the tickets round-trip? (Harold, Boones Mill).

StarCosmos Ticketing: Oh, brother ?

Dear Cosmos Department: Does this Chief guy have experience guiding a rocket into space? I’m not flying with Orville Wright. (Wanda, Roanoke County).

StarCosmos Technical Aviation Division: Rest assured, Wanda. The Chief will be in the cockpit, but the mission will have an experienced jet pilot at the controls. We’re not running a circus.

And, now the tout a coup (or for my non-French speaking readers, the sudden final blow).

Attention Star Cosmos Passenger Services: I’m elderly and have the money to buy the pricey ticket into space. It’s my dream of a liftime, but I never go anywhere, even the grocery store, without my little kitty, Precious Pincess Puss and Boots. Will I have any problem bringing her on board as a carry-on? (Erstella, Smith Mt. Lake).

Wild Biil, Cosmos Passenger Serrvices: Well, Erstella, The Chief will make the final call, but don’t hold your breath. If you think our in-flight director, Babs, went through the ceiling last month over cleaning up Bloody Marys and circus peanuts floating around the cabin in zero-gravity weightlessness, I hate to think about her reaction to Precious Princess Puss and Boots’ litter box being on board.

Until next time, Lordy have mercy.

Bill Turner

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