x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Former US football star wants to set space film in UAE

The futuristic skylines of Dubai and Abu Dhabi could form the backdrop for a science-fiction movie if a former American football star attracts investors. Ken Harvey, who played for the Phoenix Cardinals and the Washington Redskins, will visit the Global Space Technology Forum in Abu Dhabi next month to seek financial backing for a film about playing sport in space. Since retiring from American football 10 years ago, Mr Harvey has had a keen interest in taking sport into zero gravity. His company, Jaka Consulting Group, has established an online venture called Space Sportilization to promote interest in space sport.

Mr Harvey, 43, will be visiting the region for the first time and said the UAE's "hi-tech landscape" would make the perfect setting for his film, tentatively called SpaceSport 2030. He has written a plot outline for his sport-in-space adventure. "The movie would be filmed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and possibly in the US," said Mr Harvey, who has written children's books and worked on commercials and corporate videos since retiring from football in 1998. "In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, everything is new and exciting and the hi-tech landscape fits the sci-fi look. There's everything there to create something unbelievable."

Mr Harvey and Allen Herbert, vice president of Jaka, will discuss Space Sportilization on the third day of the Global Space Technology Forum. The proposed film's plot centres on a young boy, Jonathan, joining a space-sport team in his quest to avenge the death of his father and to win the rights to mine for Helium-3 on the moon. Helium-3 is thought by some scientists to be a possible fuel. Mr Harvey and Mr Herbert, an aerospace engineer, have set up a website (www.spacesportilization.com), which includes interactive games and information about space sport. They say affordable space-tourism packages in the near future could mean that sport fans will soon enjoy athletics in zero gravity.

The Global Space Technology Forum will run at the National Exhibition Centre from Nov 16 to 18. Backed by such organisations as the UAE Space Reconnaissance Centre and the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology, the conference will bring together aeronautical scientists, policymakers and entrepreneurs from around the world. Astronauts taking part in sporting activities is not a new. In 1971, Alan Shepard became the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon. Since then, dozens of astronauts have attempted to push the boundaries of what is possible with sport in space, including Sunita Williams, the Indian-born astronaut who simulated the Boston Marathon on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station in 2007.

arichardson@thenational.ae