The 2009 NG-LLC ends on October 31st, just over three months from now. Seems like a long time but it will go by in a flash. This week I’m cleaning up the blue ball removing some excess wiring, freshening the cat pack etc. If all goes well we will try a 90 second Tethered hover on Saturday.
I think we can be ready for the 90 second flight before the deadline. getting ready for the 180 second flight will be harder. If the current silver ball does not have the necessary performance we are basically done for the year.
What happens after 2009? If the any of the 180 second prizes are un-won we will obviously attempt that. Beyond that we want to work toward a reusable sub-orbital vehicle. Anything that can do the 180 second flight should be able to get to over 100K ft with just a tiny bit of Aerodynamic cleanup. Or success of failure at claiming the prize $ will set the pace on that effort.
Looking forward low cost access to space is a civilization changing event. Today you have a few well funded efforts in that direction SpaceX Blue Origin , Virgin Galactic/Scaled. You have a bunch of bootstrap organizations, Armadillo, Masten, Xcor, JP Aerospace etc... You have a few that failed along the way, Kistler, Beal(I really like Beals technical approach), and some that were absorbed into the edges of traditional aerospace such as orbital.
As a somewhat successful business man with a passion for space I’ve burned a lot of hours thinking about how to build a space company that makes business sense. It is a significant chicken and the egg problem. No matter how well thought out my business plan is no one is going to hand me a 100M blank check to go chase after spacex. Yet without real commercial market driven, bare knuckle no holds bared competition in space access we are all stuck on this rock.
It may be possible to slowly build up and bootstrap a company from marginally profitable sub-orbital to something orbital, but it will take tens of years and I’m just not sure I have the energy to put 200% into this for that long. On the flip side I don’t see anything else that is really worth doing. That dilemma, understanding the magnitude of the task and at the same time seeing it as a truly worthy task actually has me a bit depressed.
Some days I see the people sitting on the beach with a beer in hand and ’m jealous, other days I see that as a waste of human potential. My wife thinks this whole project has driven me over the edge from committed to obsessed. What can I say, I’m an unreasonable man.