Many people read about Vasily Klyukin as a future space tourist and the travelling companion of Leonardo DiCaprio. The person who was not shy to pay 1.2 Million Euro to be among the first space travellers and to be the very first potential space tourist from the Principality of Monaco.
Vasily Klyukin is a multi sided man aiming for excellence in many aspects of his life. Although he is a well established business man, he is also a creative spirit, a designer, an artist, an author and a father of three children.
Dodo Newman reached out to Vasily Klyukin in Monte-Carlo, Monaco to discover more about his human aspirations. In the interview Mr Klyukin also talks about his new book called “Collective mind”.
Dodo: Let’s start with the obvious, what does space mean to you? What inspires you most of the space?
Vasily: This is my chance. Many years ago people could fly an airship, they were pioneers. So can I nowadays. I can conquer something that really means to me and I will be remembering it all my life.
Dodo: Yes, this is something that you can observe with many Virgin Galactic future space travellers. Some of them want to go to space because of their passion like Allan Gray, who paid his Virgin Galactic ticket before he would pay his mortgage off, and some others have other, different motivations. It is also known that Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber aim to go up to make a music video, or others to “be the first in space” from their country or field of activity.
Besides this I am curious what is your main, personal motivation to go to space? What was the very first point in your life that you decided to go to space?
Vasily: I decided to go to space when I read that it would be possible. My best motivation is that I would regret more something I did than something I did not do.
Dodo: I believe this philosophy of yours is very well reflected on your artistic creations, bold design visions as well. And it is very interesting to see that you give little stories to your creations, like for example to your architectural designs, plans. What story would you give to your space trip?
Vasily: Buildings need legends because they are there for ever and ever. My space flight will be soon forgotten it does not need the story. It is just an action made for myself, I think I successfully combined it with the charity.
Dodo: I think even if you are not the first Russian in space, definitely you will be the first man from the Principality of Monaco in space. Just as Namira Salim, the also Monaco resident artist and humanitarian from Pakistan, aims to be the first woman in space from the Principality of Monaco. I believe after the trip you, as many others travelling for the first time to space, will also become part of space travelling history.
During the 20th annual amFAR charity gala in 2013 it was definitely a good combination with a very generous bid. Your bid of 1,2 Million Euro (1,5 Million USD) is a very significant donation for a great cause. Of course newspapers all around the globe watched the story.
Even the American actress Sharon Stone said before the auction:
“You don’t get to go to outer space every day with a handsome movie star.”
Despite the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio emerged as the mystery guest to accompany the winner of the auction, we also read that you have specifically asked your seat next to Leonardo DiCaprio. Why was/is it important for you to be travelling together with Leonardo DiCaprio?
Vasily: No, I did not ask for a seat next to DiCaprio. DiCaprio is a wonderful person, he accepted the flight so amFAR could get more money. He often supports amFAR and other charities. He even has his own Fund together with WWF, he is personally engaged in this Fund.
Dodo: You are resident in the Principality of Monaco since a while now and you live there with your family. Just as the environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has also relationships with Monaco as the part owner of the Venturi racing team together with Gildo Pallanca Pastor in the fully-electric Formula E electric race series.
Did you know each other before? Was it perhaps a planned, common decision?
Vasily: No, we did not. We met that day. I was very happy to meet him, of course.
Dodo: With this action at amFAR you booked and secured your commercial space flight place among the very first ones paying, donating 1,2 Million Euro. What was your motivation to be the first one, to make history, etc?
Vasily: I wanted to win. To win while the woman I love was looking at me. In presence of most successful men and most beautiful women, I wanted to win the flight for the sake of this brave lot. Surely it also meant to me that the money would be given to the charity. I hope it will be something like my flight insurance.
Dodo: After the amFAR Gala you made a realisation in an interview: “I will have to give up smoking now for sure!”. Are you preparing with an astronaut training?
Vasily: It is too early to think about it. Did you hear that their spaceship fell? Now they presented the new one. We will see, I may buy another flight from XCOR Space Expeditions. They have an awesome offer: one-to-one with the pilot under the transparent roof.
Dodo: You were born into a family with strong cultural roots. Did your parents motivate you to reach to the “stars”?
Vasily: Yes, my family is self-motivated. My father was a writer too and he could move to Moscow, the capital of Russia, from a small town.
Dodo: What was your childhood dream? Do you have any special dream related to the space?
Vasily: I did not dream of space although I read a lot of science fiction, imagining how it could be in reality. I liked characters by Harry Harrison, Roger Zelazny. “My space” did not go far beyond them when I was a child.
Dodo: You have an endless passion to fly, you yourself drive a single-engine plane. How did this passion come?
Vasily: I like flying. Physically and in my dreams. I think in 20 years technology will be developed so I will be able to fly with synthetic wings. Who could imagine a segway 10 years ago?
While waiting for the technological implementation I would like to try a parafoil.
Dodo: You have fascinating and a very wide range of passions, and you are keen in trying yourself out in them. Is the space also one of these passions? Can you compare it to any of your other passions?
Vasily: Withdrawing from business I changed my life and I stopped being a businessman who only makes money; now I write books and create sculptures, architectural projects and various adventures.
Dodo: You wrote a sci-fi book entitled “The Collective mind”. What do you think does discovering, reaching out to space belong to this concept?
Vasily: Collective mind is Artificial Intelligence. It is different from what people think about. This is not a program which can go beyond control. My version of Artificial Intelligence is much more realistic and can appear in the nearest future.
My theory is based on the possibility to increase the abilities of the brain and to combine ideas in one big public computer. But this system has its own cons, you will know them if you read the book. 🙂
Dodo: Would you send your children to space to experience it if it was possible? And if yes, then why do you think it is important for them?
Vasily: Not in my lifetime! Space tourism is too young. I am not stupid and I understand the risks I am taking.
Dodo: Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson recently on the 19th February 2016 unveiled their much anticipated second spaceship SpaceShipTwo. At the ceremony gala the guest of honour was Professor Stephen Hawking, a common future space traveller who named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity.
During the ceremony Sir Richard Branson also made his statement:
“Together, we can make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamt of before now, and by doing so can bring positive change to life on Earth. Our beautiful new spaceship, VSS Unity, is the embodiment of that goal also great testament to what can be achieved when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose.”
It seems the date of your space flight is coming closer and closer. When do you expect to have your trip?
Vasily: In 2-3 years, I guess. I do not know who will be the first: Virgin Galactic or XCOR Space Expeditions, I wish good luck to both!
Dodo: Yes, since a few years now a great “battle” is going on to conquer the space for private travels. Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Elon Musk (Space-X), Paul Allen (Vulcan Aerospace), World View or XCOR Space Expeditions as you mentioned, however there are multiple additional players in this relatively new, commercial space flight field and each are competing on the technological side. What do you think how does this effect the traditional space travels, discoveries, research?
Vasily: This is not a competition and this is not a war. Believe me all these people – and your list is not completed – are one big team.
Dodo: How does commercialised space travel effect human achievement, discoveries?
Vasily: Space technologies can find practical application on the Earth. How would you like a suborbital flight from London to Australia in three hours? To understand the scope of space you have to visit New York planetarium to see the film “Universe”. You will understand that modern flight is not even a small jump in place. It’s even smaller. However humanity has always loved to solve riddles therefore we will always explore space and stars.
Dodo: Do you have any fear when imagining your space trip?
Vasily: I save my nerves, I think I would better have all my fears kept for later, before the flight.
Dodo: Since you have designed a tower symbolising a spaceship, have you thought of or ever offered to redesign the Virgin Galactic Spaceship?
Vasily: No, the major thing in flights is aerodynamics and not the beauty. Although I think that Virgin’s spaceship is really aesthetic.
Dodo: Do you have any plans to once launch your own design Space ship?
Vasily: I designed yachts and skyscrapers because I know a lot about them and they are simpler. I haven’t made any concept of spaceship and I am not planning on it.
Dodo: The next generation is growing up on entertainment and reality shows. Their heroes are Justin Bieber (future Virgin Galactic space tourists as well) and reality show celebrities such as the Kardashian’s. They seem to hardly even know about the great achievers, discoverers of our times. How do you consider the appreciation of the astronauts as discoverers in today’s world?
Vasily: The appreciation is high actually. Remember the popularity of such films as “Gravity” and “The Martian”.
Dodo: Do you think there is any connection between the outward space and the inner space we have as humans?
Vasily: Yes, sure. The dimensions of human conscience are as limitless as space, and thoughts are material. It is only that we have not explored this yet.
A hundred years ago communication was much slower but it couldn’t help inventing the phone simultaneously in Italy and in the USA; a bulb lamp in Russia and in the USA again; the radio – by Popov and by Markoni. Many scientists can tell you: I did not have time to do it but a year after I saw my idea implemented by another scientist. It has nothing to do with stealing. That’s because the idea is like space rain: it falls in some places in the same time. It grows there where it is fertile.
Talking again about my book “Collective mind”: it also helps to answer this question.
Dodo: Do you think your view of life and life purpose will change after your experience of being in space?
Vasily: No. I know that I can do it, it’s not the first adventure of my life. I always aim at something more.
Dodo: What does energy mean to you?
Vasily: That’s a global question. It is impossible to answer shortly but briefly speaking: energy is EVERYTHING for me.
Dodo: What is your favourite colour and what does it mean for you?
Vasily: I don’t have a favourite one but I like bright colours, they make life brighter.
Dodo: Without having been yet out in space what is your most beautiful image of it?
Vasily: That’s the most romantic place in the world, a breathtaking one, there you get forces to move forward.
Dodo: If you would have the chance to form a message for the future generation, what would it be?
Vasily: I envy you, guys!