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Rick Tumlinson of the Space Frontier Foundation is starting with his standard greeting--"Welcome to the Revolution!"
Congratulating Henry on the quality of his conference, and comparing it very favorably to the Esther Dyson event. A lot cheaper, and a lot more fun.
2004 was a very important year, beginning with the president's speech, then the Aldridge Commission speech, then Rutan's flight, and finally the regulatory legislation, and they're all tied together. Direction from the White House of permanence and moving outward, working with the private sector--unprecedented. O'Keefe's job was to bail the water out of the boat, make sure it didn't sink, but he's not a ship's captain. Roadmaps were confusing, and unfocused.
Now new team coming in--boat is floating, has a new rudder, with a new captain and officers. Courtney Stadd, Scott Pace coming in, with O'Neillian viewpoint.
Three kinds of space people:
Saganites: "Space is big, billions of stars, isn't God's creation incredible...DON'T TOUCH IT."
Von Braunians: "We vill go boldly into space, and you vill watch on television, and you vill enjoy it." That's the current space program.
O'Neillians: "We will build the tools, go into space, and use its resources to expand humanity and freedom into the cosmos."
Dichotomy between people who want to "do" space (contractors and NASA), and people who want to actually open space.
Griffin has some of religion and ideas, but "I'm not naive." Don't trust, and verify. Griffin is centralizing control--the spirals are going away. He has a mandate to the White House. President screwed up in one big way in his speech when he said "Crew Exploration Vehicle" instead of crew exploration system, which has some thinking that one vehicle has to do the whole job. Griffin using sixties model to accelerate the program, which is strong central control, dictating to the contractors. But underneath, he is sympathetic to permanence, and opening up space, and really wants it to happen. Roadmaps not going away, but wrapping up in the next few weeks (though transportation roadmap is going away).
Looking at creation of a non-traditional programs office (more detail tonight from Jim Muncy). Has had some exchanges with Dr. Griffin about the "Frontier-enabling test."
Rick reads an email from Griffin (yesterday) explaining that he supports the test, but that it's not his only goal, and that it would be irresponsible of him to allow NASA to sit on the sidelines hoping that the private sector will deliver (I'll get an exact copy from Rick after the session and post it here).
"We need to get the word out about what we're doing--we're one of the best-kept secrets around." "Don't overpromise." "We're space geeks--people don't believe us when we start talking." "Stick together, don't let personal differences keep us from the goal--the trash talk has got to stop." "Build each other up, not tear down." "Need to carry on what Henry Vanderbilt has started--the creation of a community." "Even if we can only agree on three bullets, we need to find them and push them as an industry."
One of the bullets should be to kill ITAR. "It is killing this industry. All ITAR does is force the foreigners to go and develop it themselves in an uncontrolled way.
Mentions "Teachers in Space" initiative, giving teachers vouchers to fly, and then take the knowledge and enthusiasm back into the classroom.
Wants to create "Port Authority" for ISS that goes beyond NASA, more like and airport authority, to allow everyone to work on free-enterprise activities to the benefit of all. Wants to involve private sector in lunar activities from first landing. Give companies leases to property on the Moon if they can demonstrate capability to utilize it, and allow them to retain intellectual property (with perhaps tax sweeteners). Allow someone to put together a total package for investment, modeled on railroad land grants.
Build and fly, and make sure the world sees it." "You are the experts, the da Vincis, the Raphaels of building spaceships, and it makes people believe and want to invest their heart, soul and money in what you're doing."
Question about raising prize authority from $250,000.
Rick responds that Griffin's distrust of commercial companies includes the main aerospace industry. As far as prize authority, it should be raised, but probably taken out of NASA, but someone needs to propose a different model or entity for who would manage it.
Jerry Pournelle points out that Rohrabacher wants to start a National Space Foundation that looks like NSF except it can receive private donations as well as government funding, and hand out prizes (preview of his talk tonight). This would help with some of the bookkeeping problems. If this is a bad idea, now is the good time to tell him, because he's about to tell Rohrabacher that he thinks it's a good idea.
Len Comier says that investors aren't interested in one-shot prizes--they want to see steady ongoing markets.
A Bob Ashman says that the people from Griffin's team at Johns Hopkins are in tune with any of the things that Tumlinson is saying, and he's supporting this through making videos and documentaries, and wants to serve as an interface between the nascent space industry and the entertainment community.
Breaking for lunch now.Posted by Rand Simberg at April 30, 2005 12:15 PM
The problem with anything that Rohrabacher proposes is that he's Rohrabacher--in other words, he wields no real weight in the relevant committees. If you watch any of the committee hearings on the web it's clear that Rohrabacher shows up to provide the comic relief and everybody else essentially ignores him.
This kind of proposal would have more weight if it was proposed by somebody that other members of Congress did not consider to be a clown.Posted by Trip Kenner at April 30, 2005 07:08 PM
"Mentions "Teachers in Space" initiative, giving teachers vouchers to fly, and then take the knowledge and enthusiasm back into the classroom."
A perfect quote for a room full of Tom Swiftian space cadets. I hope someone was handing out propeller beanies at the door.Posted by K at May 1, 2005 01:11 AM
I heard this sermon in Boston last October:
Saganites, von Braunians and O'Neillians
As I recall, Jon Goff blogged about hearing this in Los Angeles before that. Its also in the April 2004 Popular Mechanics, as I recall.
I hope Tumlinson keeps giving this sermon because this is spot on, 100% accurate, in my opinion.
= = =
In Boston, his cellphone rang just as he was starting to talk about how cellphones killed the launch market for com-sats. If it was staged, it was very well done.Posted by Bill White at May 1, 2005 05:53 AM
Yeah, like the way they ignored the Commercial Launch Ammendments Act.
What district do you represent, Mr. Kenner, and what legislation have you passed?Posted by at May 2, 2005 01:01 AM
Mr. [ ] wrote:
I represent no district and do not pass legislation.
How about you, Mr. [ ]? What district do you represent? What legislation have you passed?
And, while being a smarmy git, you're missing the point: Rohrabacher wields remarkably little power in the relevant committees.Posted by Trip Kenner at May 2, 2005 06:26 PM
One-shot prizes may not be important to VentureCapitalCo LLC, but they can be an incentive for a wealthy private individual, and isn't that what we're trying to promote--action in the space market by individuals?Posted by DensityDuck at May 3, 2005 08:19 AM
One-shot prizes may not be important to VentureCapitalCo LLC, but they can be an incentive for a wealthy private individual, and isn't that what we're trying to promote--action in the space market by individuals
The money available to and number of wealthy individuals is less than the number of institutional investors. Additionally, while individuals invest in businesses, the VC institutions invest in industries. The later making a large spread bet. It doesn't matter to them which of the half dozen launch companies succeeds just that one of them does and in doing so makes back what they lost on the other 5 with interest.
The actions by the individuals *might* pull in the former but unless the really rich are persuaded to blow and potentially lose significant chunks of their wealth you need to Institutions to invest cash in order to have some kind of large scale "O'Neillian" expansion.
Post 2001, unfortunately, the VC funds are a tad more nervous about the return actually happening. Interestingly, the amounts currently being invested, in general, are running at pretty high rates but the funds are interested in the same old software, biotech and nanotech biz-plans as in the past. The problem with Space is the size of the return, the general exit strategy and so forth versus the required capital cost to get there.Posted by Dave at May 3, 2005 08:49 AM
Do you think it's easy to get a bill passed on the last day of a lame duck session?
Not bad for someone with "remarkably little power."
Either you have an axe to grind or you have remarkably little knowledge of the political process.
No, VCs invest in companies. The difference is that VCs want to invest in companies that are already going concerns. They want to take over businesses, not start new ones.
> Interestingly, the amounts currently being invested, in general, are running
When you have a space company with revenues and profits, the VCs won't care about those things. They'll gladly take over your company and run it into the ground just as they do with those other companies. The government doesn't need to do anything to encourage that.Posted by Edward Wright at May 3, 2005 03:06 PM
No Ed. Sorry, that's not how it works at all.
But please feel free to mail me for a clue on this.
BTW I read your quote in a Sunday Magazine recently.Posted by Daveon at May 5, 2005 07:28 PM
One shot prizes may have some appeal, but as long as someone--especially the government--is putting up incentive money, why not do it in such a way as to have broader appeal and more chance of accomplishing the main goal?
I am currently devising a plan for market guarantees that would not jeopardize present programs, but would nonetheless make startup launch companies potentially more appealing to investors. The plan would be results based, and would allow for a number of winners without committing funds to hopeless causes up front.Posted by Len Cormier at August 11, 2005 02:42 PM
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