In Space, Can Anybody Smell the B.S.? September 20, 2008Posted by oldspacecadet in distracting PR, gauntlet being dropped, hot air, public service announcement, smack talk, space, space tourism, Wasting Money.
As a sometime investor in various space-related startups, I troll the web periodically looking for potential opportunities or even just interesting technologies.
In the early afternoon of September 16th, I came across the web site for Masten Space Systems, Inc.: http://masten-space.com/
I know next to nothing about the company other than it is located in Mojave and is working toward the announced goal of developing a reusable sounding rocket with several employees. This vehicle is to use vertical take-off and vertical landing technology for several flights daily according to the web site. I also understand that Masten has made a few tethered flights and is making some progress, which is laudible, and is also looking for potential qualified investors. Since I meet the definition of a qualified investor, I looked a bit more closely at their web site main page:
What do you want to fly into space?
Masten Space Systems can fly anything you want into space and back for $250/kg:
· Increase your TRL level for NASA
· Build your own mini-Hubble telescope
· Customize your own earth imaging platform
· Test affects of zero gravity on biological systems
· Teach innovative STEM curriculum
· Create winning science fair projects
· Fly dailyheliospheric survey flights
· Find out what happens to … in space
Note the present tense: “… can fly anything you want into space … .” Note that this does not say that they will be able to fly, or that they hope to fly, but instead states that they can fly. As far as I know, Masten Space Systems has never flown anything into space, or even past the troposphere. ”Build your own mini-Hubble telescope.” If some high school student builds a functional “mini-Hubble” and flies it into space, I strongly suspect he or she would be able to win a science fair prize. “Fly daily heliospheric survey flights”? That’s even better.
OK, I’ll bite because I am a science buff as well as an investor. I want to fly a one kilogram passive payload into space twice in 2 days. That is $500. How about the first flight in a week — Friday, September 26th, with the second the following Saturday? Just show me your AST license for commercial sounding rocket flights to 100 km, guarantee the flights to deliver my payload to space, and I will escrow the funds Monday morning for transfer as soon as you certify the delivery to space. I can ship the payload by next day air Monday morning September 22nd.
Look fellows, I know that developing a vehicle is difficult. I know that obtaining funding is difficult. I even know that you appear to have progressed along your plan. However, I also know that putting out BS like this does nothing to maintain interest in investment in space startups. In fact, it is counterproductive and misleading. Vaporware hurt the software industry, and vaporware will not get us to space. Tone it down.