Re: SPACE: Death of the "indie" boosters

Date: Mon Jan 01 2001 - 09:25:29 MST

In a message dated 12/31/00 10:37:02 AM Central Standard Time, writes:

> I think we can have a
> successful rocket company now. To paraphrase Adrian, "Go business plan!"
> Unless I'm very misinformed, all of these small private launch companies
> from the 1980s and 1990s tried (or are trying) to make unique, new launch
> vehicles. Not so much unique in propulsion methods, but just not off the
> shelf.

Yes, but you have to ask, why a NEW rocket company? The established
manufacturers of boosters make a full line of boost capability from very
small to pretty darned big (to huge, if you count the STS). Are there really
such inefficiencies in the operations of the existing market players that a
new one can make a significant difference in price? It seems you can't have
it both ways: Either you offer a breakthrough in technology and thus
significant new efficiencies, or you use the same technology that existing
market players do and face the same costs and issues they do. You have to
make a strong case that all of the existing payers in the market suffer from
significant organizational inefficiencies unrelated to the technology they
employ, or you have to develop and implement a meaningful technological
improvement. What am I missing?

> For instance, though I wish Roton all the best and hope their idea works
> eventually gets to market, when I first saw it, I laughed. I thought, if
> you want a recipe for failure, this is it. A manned launch vehicle that
> relies on a propeller to land. I was happily surprised when they did their
> test flights. I like being wrong when I'm pessimistic or cynical, but I
> still think the idea is a bit too complicated to put into practice right
> or even in the near future.

I've reluctantly come to agree. The test article that Roton demonstrated
bears little resemblance to the machine they were planning to fly to orbit:
The rotors and rotor head on the test article was essentially nothing like
the one that would have had to be complemented for the orbital vehicle. They
may have been able to garner some useful information about low altitude and
low speed controls from that first machine, but little else.

(Note I've corrected the lamentable typo in the subject line.)

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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