Thought Provoking Quote

Here’s a thought provoking quote I saw recently:

“Commercially very little is to be expected from either balloons
or flying machines. For passenger traffic the number carried will
be so small and the cost so great that no competition is possible
with existing modes of transit.” — Willis L. Moore, chief US
Weather Bureau, opening the International Aeronautical Congress, 1907.

It’s interesting to remember that there was a time when serious people could doubt whether air transportation would ever be anything more than a flash in the pan. Moore was quite right regarding balloons, but couldn’t have been more wrong about airplanes. I really wonder if people are going to look back in 100 years at the progress of space transportation, and find similarly silly pronouncements to poke fun at.

Of course, just because somebody really got things that far wrong in the past doesn’t automatically mean that similar pronouncements today will turn out equally fallacious. They did laugh at Christopher Columbus, but they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. But it is an interesting thought.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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5 Responses to Thought Provoking Quote

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think he was off on the balloons too.


  2. Jon Goff says:

    Well hopefully you can change that in the future. I was just saying that as of now, derigibles are used for almost no passenger traffic (if any) compared to the modes of transportation that Moore was comparing it to.

  3. Paul Dietz says:

    Another interesting place to look for amusing futurology is the age of aeronautical romanticism between the world wars.

  4. Monte Davis says:

    The biggest difference is that aviation offered “the same, only faster” — as of 1903 there were already vast proven markets for inter-city mail, then passenger transport, and eventually — when costs had been driven down — tourism and premium cargo. (Two huge bursts of military aircraft procurement helped, too.)

    By contrast, transport to space must bootstrap itself from a very small existing cargo market and from tourism.

    No reason to think that can’t happen… but equally, no reason to think it will happen as fast in space as it did in aviation.

  5. qwerty182764 says:

    I’m staking my future career on the hope that they’re wrong. They won’t laugh at me…
    They called me mad… But I’ll show them… BWAHAHAha

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