Category Archives: Business

What Do They Know?

As Clark says, I don’t know why anyone would think that space scientists or astronauts are experts on business. I don’t really care what Kathy Sullivan thinks the prospects are for suborbital tourism, and if I thought that astronauts’ opinions on the matter were of value, I can find many astronauts (including John Herrington, Rick Searfoss, etc.) who would disagree with her.

And who is this “Alvin” Aldrin of which they speak? Is that Andy’s evil twin? When I do a search for “Alvin Aldrin” I only get one hit–this article.

A couple other questions for Alvin/Andy. What numbers was he using for the Raptor cost? Marginal, or average per-unit? It makes a big difference.

In addition, I always get annoyed when people use a military fighter as a cost analogue for a spaceship. A lot of that dollar-per-pound number for the plane comes from something in it that weighs nothing at all–software. The avionics for the weapons systems, and the defensive systems are non-trivial in cost as well. Designing a combat aircraft, designed to kill other things and avoid being actively killed by other things, is an entirely different problem than designing a vehicle that has to only contend with passive and predictable nature (and pretty benign nature, for the most part, at least for suborbital). I’d bet that Burt’s own cost numbers for the SS2 already put the lie to Andy’s chart.

[Late afternoon update]

Jeff Foust has a much more extensive writeup of the discussion, which he apparently attended. As I suspected, it was Andy, not Alvin, Aldrin.