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« Hayek On Space | Main | Poor Subsizing The Rich »

More Space Access

Jeff Foust has a summary of the legal, investment and insurance panels over at today's issue of The Space Review.

And since no one seems to have blogged it in detail (and it's hard for me to live blog while on a panel, though maybe I should try it next year, but with a net...) here's the story that I told at the beginning of Saturday night's wrap up, that I think is an interesting view of the change in the investment climate for this stuff.

When we look from year to year at these things, progress seems measurable, but slow. It's only when you look to the distant past that you can see how far we've come. Here's a tale of two space entrepreneurs. Or rather, two tales of one space entrepreneur.

Back about a quarter of century ago, in the age of Joan Jett, the beginning of CDs and the useful PC, and Winchester hard drives, some of which were as large as ten whole megabytes, a few guys (named Jim Bennett, Phil Salin and Bevin McKinney) were up in Palo Alto looking for money. To build commercial rockets. They went up and down Sand Hill road, pitching their plan. One investor looked it over, looked them over, and said, "You know, you fellows look like you know what you're doing, and seem like a good team. But I don't know anything about this rocket stuff. How would you like to start a hard drive company?"

Well, to make a long story short, they found money somewhere else, started a couple rocket companies in the eighties, and Bennett got out after the American Rocket SET-1 failure in 1989, at which point he decided to go make a large fortune doing something else, which he could turn it into a small fortune building rockets, but at least without having to deal with investors. Internet companies were founded, and died, in the bubble pop and with 911.

But in 2006, with the economic (and tech stock) recovery, it seemed like a good time to resurrect the IT ventures. So he went out once again looking for money. He went up to Wyoming, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and showed some people the business plan. They looked at it, and said, "You know, this seems like a pretty good team. And IT is good, and we could use more of it up here. But when we see your resumes, we were wondering. How would you like to start a space company?"

Posted by Rand Simberg at March 26, 2007 06:10 AM
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for those who want to know more about the GIANT problems faced by private rocket company in the past, I suggest to read the story of the "OTRAG"


Posted by Gaetano Marano - Italy at March 26, 2007 11:41 PM

What positive contribution has Bevin McKinney ever made?

Posted by at March 29, 2007 05:38 PM

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