(originally posted by Old Space Cynic as a comment on the last post thread, but raised to level of separate post by me to make sure you all had a chance to see it… and see if you will respond…)
AmberJane, you have nailed it again, but the blindly faithful will trash you for doing so.
If a younger, high income, interested professional isn’t the target market for suborbital flight, who is? The old rich farts with hypertension and questionable AV conduction? When the vast majority of the public is not interested in space, the market numbers for suborbital flights make no sense. A number of prepaid deposits held in escrow are meaningless.
An Australian academic recently did credible market research directly supporting your opinion about preferring orbital to suborbital flight. But, like all dissenters to the party line, he is defined as wrong. Just like Dr. Hertzfeld is wrong on economics according to the true believers.
Trying to refute Dr. Bell’s argument with logic based on examples of RATOs (low performance, low energy density) and failure to understand that some severely damaged X-15s were rebuilt using the same tail numbers is both ignorant and silly.
From a business standpoint, are we to accept a hypothetical PowerPoint spaceplane over a tangible data history spanning more than 1/2 century? Which is the more valid approach to guessing reliability numbers? The challenge to the alt.spacers is to prove us wrong: Get the investment capital, build and test and prove the sceptics wrong. Quit arguing about how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin and PROVE US WRONG. If Dr. Bell had used the column headings “major event” instead of “loss” some of the criticism could have been avoided.
We have recently been treated to the spectacle of a BS level engineering space cadet taking on a PhD aeronautical engineer with extensive personal flight test experience and a faculty slot in the UC system over pros and cons of different flight configurations with “opinions” on one side and a wealth of peer-reviewed literature on the other.
I have put my money where my mouth is and have invested in several alt.space companies. Their business plans and structures were clearly flawed, but I hoped that over time they would grow into acting like real businesses. My hopes have not been realized after 4 years. Reading their 5 year projections today is amusing.
You are correct that alt.space investment opportunities are very few and very far between. In my opinion, sure to be trashed as ignorant and ill-informed, the commercial case will not be closed until cheap orbital access is achieved. Suborbital joy-riding will probably not do it. If the space-geeks want capital they have to convince people who think like the Cynics to part with theirs or raise it in other ways. Arguments with ad hominem attacks and distorting logic, omitting inconvenient observations, and the like is best left to the politicians and news media, not to Kool-Aiders frustrated by those who have the wherewithall to fund alt.space ventures but can’t see the business case closing.
Finally, it was amusing to see Rand Simberg’s final dig at you (“Have you changed professions from plastic surgeon to aerospace market researcher?”). This is especially silly – insult a person who brings interest, enthusiasm, and potential investment capital to the table because he or she asks a perfectly reasonable question (“What am I missing?”). Great way to encourage investment in the field, Rand. I suspect Rand has no concept of the analytical resources surgeons and other high income/high net worth people can bring to bear for market research, analysis, etc. as they consider investments – including fliers.
For your further illumination, get Dr. Livingston’s recent lecture at USC on the subject or better yet take him up on his long-standing offer to discuss your approach to alt.space investment analysis on his show. Given the way the community seems to operate, it is unlikely that anybody will call up and challenge you face to face. That will all occur behind your back.