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Parsing to Excess April 10, 2008

Posted by shubber in distracting PR, gauntlet being dropped, hot air, public service announcement, PYMWYMI, smack talk, space tourism, suborbital tourism, Wasting Money.
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(Note: the Old Space Cadet is at it again….)

In a recent comment to my April 6, 2008 post, Jon Goff quibbled about my use of the word “airline” rather than the word “airplane.” That attention to detail displays a laudable concern for precision of expression, which is a very important characteristic for an engineer to have. I would expect such precision to also be desired on the time axis.

At 08:45 MDT on April 10, I looked at a page on the Masten site. On this page, there is a note: The roadmap illustrates technical development paths and not an exact timeline since planning beyond 2009 is difficult in such a fast moving industry.” This statement rings true to The Old Space Cadet.

However, the same page also shows their XA-1.0 vehicle characterized as capable of carrying a 100 kg payload to 100 km altitude and expected by the first half of 2008. The second vehicle in the pathway is the XA-1.5, which is specified as capable of carrying a 200 kg payload to 500 km. This vehicle is expected by the end of 2008. Note that both of these vehicles are expected during 2008, yet planning beyond 2009 is “difficult.” Today is April 10, 2008. By my estimate, the end of the first half of 2008 is 81 days away. Their test vehicle apparently crashed from about 20 feet AGL last December. The Old Space Cadet suspects that 100 kg to 100 km is a lot more than 81 days away given the progress listed from the early days through 2007.

My questions to Jon Goff are: If a scale is established in which starting to take a conceptual vehicle through the design process is zero, and your stated goal of 100 kg to 100 km is 100 on that scale, where are you now? If your start date is zero and June 30, 2008 is 100, where is today on the scale? Do you really believe that you can realistically go from 100 kg at 100 km to 200 kg at 500 km in 6 additional months? Where would the XA-1.5 be located on the scale?

These kinds of assertions are why potential investors are so hard to find except for those who are blinded by the coolness of it all. The Old Space Cadet’s cynicism is growing.

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Comments»

1. Jonathan Goff - April 11, 2008

Heh. I didn’t realize we still had that old graphic up. We stopped posting estimated dates with the product roadmap in our presentations and business plans over a year ago. Didn’t realize we hadn’t swapped out the graphic on that page. Darned IT guy…we obviously don’t pay him enough. 🙂

Thanks for the good catch,
~Jon

2. oldspacecadet - April 11, 2008

Great save Jon. If you get tired of rocket engineering, you have a professional dodgeball career waiting —


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