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Space Cynic April 27, 2006

Posted by oldspacecadet in Uncategorized.

Space Cynic

Recently, three alt.space companies (RocketPlane, XCOR, and Armadillo) announced donations of suborbital space rides for teachers. This was hailed by the Kool-Aid crowd as a generous gift, and the donors are the heroes of the day in alt.space. How is it generous?
None of the three companies has yet flown a person into space. None of the companies has ever put aything into suborbital space. In fact, none of the companies has a vehicle capable of taking a person into suborbital space. To their credit, all three companies are working on varied concepts that might ultimately reach suborbital space, but that is not the same as having a capability.
Therefore, the “generous gift” is nothing more than an announcement of an intention off sometime in the indefinite future. In the meantime, the energy wasted on celebrating this announcement as some kind of milestone would be better spent on developing a real capability of attaining suborbital space. Whoever accomplishes that goal would then have something substantial to give and we all would have something to celebrate.



1. Shubber Ali - April 27, 2006

While i agree that the intentions are, on the face of it, good – i have a fundamental issue with the amount of hoopla being generated over a handful of companies that are donating vaporware.

It is no different than me saying “if I win the Powerball this saturday, i’m giving $1m of my winnings to the local orphanage.”

Hardly the stuff of press conferences.

But when you’re out raising money, i suppose anything is fair game.

2. oldspacecadet - April 27, 2006

Actually, there is a slight difference: Your Powerball example is an indirect plea intended to influence the fickle finger of fate. Also, I thought the donation arrangement was through SpaceShot, but that was not mentioned at all in the press releases.

3. Shubber Ali - April 27, 2006

Fair enough – to be more accurate (in keeping with the idea that it would attract investors) I should have said:

Give me $100m to buy enough lottery tickets to give me a high probability of winning the lotto and then i’ll give $1m to the local orphanage.

4. Pradeep - May 2, 2006

excuse me, I would like to know what alt.space is. thanks.

5. TomsRants - May 3, 2006

“Alt.space”, also known as “NewSpace” is the collective term for small lean companies that are trying to create new innovative ways to significantly lower the cost of getting stuff and people into space. They run on budgets that wouldn’t pay for NASA’s office supplies, and now and then they actually fly something.

This is opposed to “Old Space”, defined as traditional NASA and Defense cost-plus contractors, who, while they have billions of dollars worth of infrastructure, and decades of flight experience, are considered part of the problem for doing nothing to lower launch costs.

To best participate in the conversation, it’s always good to know the terms being tossed around. Hope this helped you.

6. w8les - May 4, 2006

Take it from the Teachers point of view… there are real companies working on real vehicles that MAY take me to space. Is that so difficult to get excited about? Have you boys lost your marketing edge?

7. Shubber Ali - May 4, 2006

Is that so difficult to get excited about? Have you boys lost your marketing edge?

The fourth time around, I suppose it is.

More importantly, though:


Better hurry up, the next flight on the Roton departs in 20 minutes…

8. w8les - May 4, 2006

…thankfully, the advent of baseball season gives us reason to believe that the most intense cynic, is often the most dedicated fan.

…cmon, you don’t know your Rotary Rocket from your Armadillo Aerospace?

Re: 4 times. Don’t cynics believe in persistence?

What king of cynics are you?

9. Paul Dietz - May 5, 2006

Don’t cynics believe in persistence?


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