Another Sad Day in Rocket Land

I assume most of the people who read this blog also read Clark Lindsey’s Space Transport News site, so most of you have probably heard the news about Matt Bowes’ death. We only heard about it this morning from Matt’s parents, and it hit us all pretty hard. I think I may still be in a bit of shock myself.

Matt was a good guy. Talented engineer. Very sharp thinker. Funny. Enthusiastic. Full of energy and drive and ambition. He reminded me a lot of myself at his age. When he sent Michael and I his resume this summer, I thought it was a cool opportunity to show someone the ropes. When I was going through college, nobody would hire me because of my age. I never really got the opportunity to hold a real engineering job until several months after I graduated from BYU with my Bachelors. I figured here was a chance to give someone the break I hadn’t gotten at that age. I didn’t get much of a chance to work with him, as I took off to defend my thesis only about a week after he got here, and got back only a few weeks before he left. But he made a real contribution, even if he made some of the same mistakes I would’ve made at that age. I didn’t sweat it too bad at the time–he had actually done pretty darned well for an 18 year old working with a real engineering company, and I figured he’d have plenty of years to smooth over some of his rough edges. Well, or at least develop them into full-blown quirks like the rest of us. But he’s not going to get that chance. At least not on this side of the veil.

It’s been a tough summer here in Mojave, at least as far as losing friends is concerned. Between Glenn May dieing in that accident at Scaled, and now Matt passing along, there have been plenty of reminders of the fragility of life, and how special it really is. Ironically enough, shortly after the Scaled accident, Matt and I were cornered by a TV cameraman there at Voyager, and I think I said something along those lines at that point–that life is fragile.

I’m not sure what else to say. I’m really kind of depressed at the moment, even in spite of the fact that I know I’ll see him again someday, along with all the rest who’ve gone on ahead. God be with you my friend, ’til we meet again.

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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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2 Responses to Another Sad Day in Rocket Land

  1. Darnell Clayton says:

    I just found out after reading Clark’s blog.

    It seems almost surreal.

    Even though I never met him in person, although I loved his attitude towards space (on his blog). You don’t see that type of passion among the young anymore, and his was the type who could inspire them.

    Rest in peace, Matt. God bless,


  2. Chris Reed says:

    I am saddened to hear of Matt’s passing.

    He was a big supporter of our efforts and I certainly was happy to take care of any requests he had. His enthusiasm was more powerful than electricity when it came through the phone or E-mail.

    If there were many more who shared his deep passion for the dream of spaceflight, we would be walking on Mars tomorrow.

    My condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.

    Chris Reed
    Publicist, Bigelow Aerospace

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