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Didn’t we already discuss this? March 11, 2009

Posted by Thomas Olson in economy, finance, investment, offworlding, smack talk, space tourism, suborbital tourism, Wasting Money.
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I saw in Space Daily yesterday an interesting take on “spaceports”.

The money quote from the sidebar was: “All in all, there are some 20 active, or soon to be active, space launch sites around the world. Last year the total worldwide orbital launch count was 68. Simple arithmetic tells us that the average number of launches for each site is around three.”

I seem to remember writing a three-part series on “Extreme Ports” almost three years ago, now. But the buildup of infrastructure continues unabated, with nothing to insure that it will in any way pay for itself down the road.

Of course, as the article claims, many of the buildout projects are by governments, fed by hapless taxpayers, as a way to declare “SEE? WE’RE in the club too!” despite the fact that their annual flight rate might be one.

Or zero.

There are still, at minimum, five sites on the table, funded by private money, in various stages of completion. But in this global economic meltdown, I can’t foresee, near term, a great run on space tourist operations. Hope the investors in these projects are taking the long view.

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Comments»

1. Brian - March 12, 2009

If you build it, they will come? At least, that’s what they seem to be hoping. Of course, that’s the strategy NASA gambled on with the Shuttle, and look how that worked out.

2. Thomas Olson - March 13, 2009

IYBITWC has been a common theme of many a failed space business plan over the last couple of decades, at least. I fear that, in the global economic meltdown, that even those developing enterprises that do NOT use that as a fundamental basis could be dealt serious setbacks.

3. Jonathan Goff - March 13, 2009

Tom,
I fear that, in the global economic meltdown, that even those developing enterprises that do NOT use that as a fundamental basis could be dealt serious setbacks.

I definitely agree that the global economic situation is going to make life a lot harder for entrepreneurial space companies over the next year (or two or three…) This is actually something I’ve been worried about for a few years now. While this “wave” of commercial space companies has at least a few that I think have learned a lot from past mistakes, and are doing things generally pretty well, it’s possible that outside economic realities may squash or at least greatly slow down even the best run startups in this industry.

Of course, the ironic thing about the economic situation is that these days working for a startup no longer seems that much riskier than working for many established companies… I wonder if that’s why historically so many successful companies started during economic downturns.

~Jon

4. Thomas Olson - April 14, 2009

Jon:

“I wonder if that’s why historically so many successful companies started during economic downturns.”

Exactly right – I’ve been working with (and investing in) a new non-space startup with Shubber – one of the reasons we haven’t been as prolific as usual at the Cynic of late.

tao

5. Jonathan Goff - April 16, 2009

Tom,
“Exactly right – I’ve been working with (and investing in) a new non-space startup with Shubber – one of the reasons we haven’t been as prolific as usual at the Cynic of late.”

Cool. I wish you the best of luck. Can you share any details (at least what industry segment)? When you are able to publicly share more information, I’d love to hear about it. Space may be one of my main passions, but I love other sorts of technology startups. And as you agree, now’s the time to be starting.

~Jon

shubber - April 16, 2009

It’s internet-related software, kind of like BASF is to industry… “we don’t make it, we make it better”.

The libertarians amongst you will love this product, which of course is free to individuals. More to come later….

6. Jonathan Goff - April 16, 2009

Shubber,
Thanks for the teaser. Look forward to seeing what you’ve come up with. I have to admit that software/programming is one of my big deficiencies. I can do it a bit, but it’s not the area of industry that I really know much about.

~Jon


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