Re: SPACE: Death of the "indie" bossters

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Tue Jan 02 2001 - 08:08:35 MST wrote:
> What are we to think of the news that Roton looks like it's crashing and the
> other "indie" booster-builders of the 1990s are either dead or dying? I hate
> to admit it, but like so many stories in the space arena, it looks like
> another case of "too little, too early." All of these endeavors seem to
> share a common theme: A single visionary who manages to sell an image of
> being able to "do it different this time" to just enough investors and
> engineers to get a highly visible start, followed by a painful, embarrassing
> failure before anything really gets off the ground. The community of space
> enthusiasts seems to have had such a short memory for these failures that the
> pattern has been able to repeat itself a number of times.
> For myself, at least, I've think I've finally gotten to the point that I
> won't be fooled again. The technology just hasn't gotten to the point that
> private venture investment can make a go of it. There aren't any
> intermediate steps to orbit to establish an incremental approach that
> smaller, private ventures can build on one step at a time: The initial
> threshold of success is just too high. Until material and manufacturing
> technology get to the point where a relatively small group of people can make
> a go of it n one relatively short push from start to finish, I think space
> access will continue to be the domain of governments and huge institutions.
> Go nanotech!

What about Pegasus and Conestoga programs (Orbital Sciences and who

Frankly, I don't buy it. Hudson got $30 million together, built a test
vehicle, but couldn't get $150 million? $150m is a shot in the bucket to
venture capitalists for projects of similar scope (on earth). From my
investigating, the Greens are spreading the word amongst the loyal to
fight these indie launch projects, with the logic that using Mojave,
Nevada, or other western desert launch sites exposes too many
communities to possible downrange debris in case of launch failure.
There was a big article this month in Earth Island magazine condemning
Kistler Aerospace's plans for its far more conventional launcher.

I think what is happening is that NASA is telling Green sceientists that
love its "Touchy, Feely, Caring" 'mission to planet earth' environmental
observation program to drum up the troops against its free market
competition in the launch sector.

Bankers hate controversy, and they hate hard hitting 'investigative
reporting' assasins impunging them when a company they finance comes
under the sights of some competition funded 'grassroots' campaign.

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