5 thoughts on “Seventeen Years later”

  1. I think your analysis holds up pretty well, except for the scaling-up of the space-plane scenario as envisioned by XCOR. I am discounting Scaled Composites, for the same reason you latched onto way back when, that their propulsion scheme was not scalable. I was very happy that they snagged the Ansari Prize. But, as it turned out, re-usable capsules could be attached to re-usable rockets with more immediacy and were a known quantity as far as NASA and more importantly, Elon Musk was concerned. I think the most remarkable of your myths that came down was Myth #5 on Dec. 21, 2015, just 11 years and ~6mos after you identified it as such. (I don’t count the BO sub-orbital hop & landing, which was largely irrelevant to the myth.)


    We might still see the space plane “alternative reality” realized in the Dream Chaser. Or perhaps a heavily a subsidized Skylon. Or we may not. But it seems clear, many of these remaining myths, in the light of Starship, will begin to fall. To the point that in just a few years from now, people will question why anyone would have thought that way….

  2. I remember that article, Rand. Frightening to think I have been reading any blog for 17 years, but there it is. IMDB and Wikipedia are probably the only sites I have gone to longer and still survive.

    Yes, I also bought The Future and Its Enemies. Virginia Postrel’s writing has always meshed with my brain in the same way that Heinlein’s does. She is Blythe Danner with a keyboard.

    So, thanks for the retread. Enjoyed it!

  3. That article is timeless, and so right in every respect.

    The principal barrier to the high flight rates required for economy is no longer anything technical. It’s the “permission” to fly required by FAA/AST. Imagine if you needed, not a single driver license, but a driver license for every time you pulled out of your driveway. Each trip would have to be spelled out in detail to the license authority, and you would have to take a competency test every time, and then submit engineering documentation proving that your car wouldn’t fail in some way that would endanger the public. And before you left, would have to comply with rest rules. I could go on…

    Automobile travel wouldn’t exist.

    We can’t treat space transportation like artillery anymore. It isn’t.

    1. There is an analogous situation in the Food Industry and an avenue that might be followed:
      GRAS — Generally Regarded As Safe. Ingredients like salt, pepper, food dyes and the like. Do some have side effects, certainly!, but the food company “generally” can use them…

      Hopefully we can get the space launch to the “commercial carrier” stage. Google “Red Flag Traffic Laws” to see where we are now:
      “…Secondly, one of such persons, while any locomotive is in motion, shall precede such locomotive on foot by not less than sixty yards, and shall carry a red flag constantly displayed, and shall warn the riders and drivers of horses of the approach of such locomotives, and shall signal the driver thereof when it shall be necessary to stop, and shall assist horses, and carriages drawn by horses, passing the same,…”

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