Tag Archives: capitalism

Why SpaceX is winning the race

An unidentified administrator of the University of Michigan space engineering program has some interesting thoughts on why SpaceX has been so successful. Key quote:

I recently performed an analysis of the very best students in my space engineering programs over the past decade, based on their scholarly, leadership and entrepreneurial performance at Michigan. To my amazement, I found that of my top 10 students, five work at SpaceX. No other company or lab has attracted more than two of these top students.

I also noticed that SpaceX recruited only two of them directly from the university. The others were drawn to the company after some years of experience elsewhere—joining SpaceX despite lower salaries and longer work hours. Why do they leave successful jobs in big companies to join a risky space startup? A former student told me, “This is a place where I am the limiting factor, not my work environment.” At SpaceX, he considers himself to be in an entrepreneurial environment in which great young people collaborate to do amazing things. He never felt like this in his previous job with an aerospace company.

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Rebuilding the American space program — the right way

In reading my post, Both for and against the Obama plan, reader Trent Waddington emailed me to say that this “is so fatalistic that it seems you don’t think it is worthwhile even spending a few minutes explaining why the policy is good. It’s easy to dismiss something a politician says as the stopped clock that is right twice a day. It’s harder to set aside your skepticism and explain why something is good policy.”

Trent is absolutely correct. What I wrote was very depressing and fatalistic. However, I think it very important to be coldly honest about things, no matter how bad they look. Once you’ve done that, you then have the right information necessary for fixing the situation.

My problem with most of the debate about the future space policy of the United States, — as well as innumerable other modern issues faced by our government — is that people don’t seem to want to face up to the reality of the problem. In the case of space and Obama, I doubt any advice, gentle or otherwise, is going to move him into putting forth a plan for NASA that has any realistic chance of getting passed by Congress. As I noted in a different post, he doesn’t play the game. He acts like the worst sort of autocrat, convinced that if he simply says what he wants to do, everyone must agree.

The reason the good part of his plan (commercial space) is not passing Congress is not because people think it is a bad idea. It is being rejected because » Read more

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Interview with Elon Musk

Spacevidcast has posted on YouTube as well as on their own webpage the first 10 minutes of a 20 minute interview with Elon Musk of SpaceX. You can see the full 20 miutes if you sign up for their Epic service.

For me, the interesting part of the interview is when he discusses the recent story about SpaceX’s plans to build a heavy-lift rocket, dubbed Falcon X. He explained that the proposal was not actually part of the company’s official plans. but the brainstorming ideas of one of the company’s engineers at an engineering conference. He also made it clear that he did not reject the idea. He likes giving his engineers the freedom to talk about such things publicly, even if the company is not yet ready to pursue them.

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Griffin’s take on the Obama space plan

On August 6 former NASA administrator Mike Griffin bluntly attacked the Obama proposals for NASA in a speech at the 13th Annual International Mars Society convention in Dayton, Ohio, Key quotes:

We’re not going anywhere and we’re going to spend a lot of money doing it.

The US space program has not accomplished as much in its last 15 years as in its first 15 years, given more money. So, if you like that, you’ll really like the next decade, in which we do almost nothing and spend just as much.

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Boeing cutting metal on its new capsule

Boeing is cutting metal on own privately funded new space capsule, planned for completion in 2015. Key quote:

“We’re at a point in the development of human spaceflight where there’s a market emerging beyond the ISS, beyond NASA,” John Elbon, Boeing’s vice president for commercial space programs, said in a briefing Thursday. “And that piece of this is really exciting as well.”

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Burt Rutan on future of space

At an airshow on Thursday, July 29, in Oskosh, Wisconsin, Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne, made some interesting remarks about the past and future of private space flight. Key quote:

Rutan said NASA should give 10 to 15 percent of its budget to new space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX without regulating how to spend the money. “That would allow them to not (have to) beg for commercial investment, while still working in an entrepreneurial mode.”

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Senate moves towards House NASA plan

In a blunt rejection of the Obama proposals for NASA, the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee today reworked the NASA plan — handed to them last week by the committee that authorizes NASA’s budget — so that it more closely matched the House version. These changes cut in half the money for private commercial space while adding $3 billion to continue the development of the Orion capsule and the heavy lift version of the Ares rocket.

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