February 07, 2005

Hondas in Space?

When I was a kid, wishing that the Space Shuttle would just take off already (this was circa 1980), I kept thinking to myself: "someday I'll make lots of money and then I'll be rich enough to build my own spaceship." Alas, that hasn't happened, but apparently other members of my generation thought the same thing.

Here's a nice article about one of those generational peers, Elon Musk, the CEO and CTO of SpaceX. Like Jeff Bezos, Musk is turning his dot.com riches into hardware and business plans to develop the final frontier.

While Bezos, Rutan, and others focus on the suborbital market, Musk has been looking at ways to make orbital access cheaper by an order of magnitude. Reading through the Fast Company article, it's fascinating to see how he is implementing an entrepreneurial, fast-growth company mentality in building space hardware.

You may have seen this quote elsewhere, but it's worth repeating: "Many times we've been asked: 'If you reduce the cost, don't you reduce reliability?' This is completely ridiculous. A Ferrari is a very expensive car. It is not reliable. But I would bet you 1,000-to-1 that if you bought a Honda Civic that that sucker will not break down in the first year of operation. You can have a cheap car that's reliable, and the same applies to rockets."

Of course the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting. And that tasting is scheduled to take place later this month, with the first scheduled launch of a Falcon I to take place.

Posted by JohnL at February 7, 2005 10:14 PM

On my blogroll is a link to Rocket Man blog. It's been inactive for quite a while, but only because the author (Mark Oakley) got busy working for one of the x-prize contenders. Check his archives, he did a few excellent interviews with various contenders before getting a job with one.

Posted by: Ted at February 8, 2005 04:25 PM

I used to have a link to Mark, and traded a couple emails with him, until he went completely off the net. He's now a virtual neighbor (about a 3-hour drive away from here - I live about an hour from the Oklahoma border). I hope to wangle a tour of TGV out of him someday.

Posted by: JohnL at February 8, 2005 05:08 PM

On the inexpensive, simple yet reliable front read the monologue by Heinlein in "The Rolling Stones" about the stages of technology. There's simple-unreliable, complex-partly reliable and finally simple-reliable-sophisticated. NASA is stuck at the second stage. We'll never go further as long as NASA monopolizes space flight.

Posted by: Eric at February 9, 2005 02:01 AM
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