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Isar Aerospace wins $11.3 million in EU innovation competition

Capitalism in space: The German rocket startup company Isar Aerospace has won the first place $11.3 million prize in the European Innovation Council Horizon Prize in the category of low-cost rockets.

Isar was one of three finalists for the prize announced earlier this month by the European Commission, along with another German small launch vehicle developer, Rocket Factory Augsburg, and Spanish company Payload Aerospace, which is working on a reusable small launcher. Those three came from an initial pool or more than 15 applicants, Breton said at a ceremony during the conference to announce the winner.

Isar hopes to launch its rocket, called Spectrum, late this year.

Whether this contest marks the beginning of an open and competitive launch industry in Europe remains unclear. Apparently the EU is thinking of creating what it calls the “European Space Launcher Alliance,” which — from the vague descriptions of it as well as the reservations expressed by Isar officials — might force independent companies to cater their actions to the needs of the larger rocket companies, like Airbus and ArianeGroup. This quote suggests the thinking of those larger companies:

“We understand how important it is for Europe to grab and keep leadership,” said Morena Bernardini, vice president of strategy at ArianeGroup. “This is possible only if industry is pushing in one direction.” [emphasis mine]

If I was a new startup, the highlighted words from this powerful established big space company would worry me enormously. Who decides what that “one direction” is? And what if different companies want to approach rocketry differently?

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • Edward

    Robert asked: “And what if different companies want to approach rocketry differently?

    In the recent past, free market capitalist companies that are at liberty to chose a different direction (nobody to prevent them from going it a different way) were able to find ways to reuse first stage booster rockets and bring down the cost of access to space and to orbit. One company that is currently trying to do things dramatically different — insanely different — may be able to bring down the price to orbit to a price point similar to shipping overnight-air from San Francisco to Paris, and they intend to make it inexpensive to fly to the Moon and to Mars.

    In the recent past, companies that are at liberty to chose a different direction were able to find ways to reduce the size of satellites and probes, bringing down the cost of the spacecraft itself. Added to the lower cost of access to orbit, more companies are doing business in space than ever, and more countries are creating space programs than ever.

    In the distant past, when the space industry and their government customers were all pushing in one direction, the costs remained high and few companies could compete with government in the exploration and use of space.

    Clearly, pushing only in one direction is stifling, but pushing in multiple directions allows us to discover which directions take us to where we want to go.

    What if Europe tries to grab and keep leadership by only pushing in one direction? Then they run the risk of falling into the old ways of doing things and failing to grab leadership if their one direction is a wrong direction. It seems that the lessons of competitive free market capitalism has been lost on the Europeans.

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