guest blogger john hare

As salesmen of the spaceflight concept, we need to be tuned in to what people say in response to the things we find interesting. I have gone out a few times with Flor and think she looks great. So when She gave me this picture, I showed it to the people I work with to unanimous agreement. (Yes, I was bragging) Then I showed it to a waitress at one of my lunch spots to a different reaction.



She is pretty and where did she get that dress? It’s gorgeous. Half the women in there were interested in the dress. Flor is a seamstress and makes a lot of her own clothes too. So while dresses don’t interest me, customers do. Flor was mainly trying to compete with Walmart on price in the Hispanic community (she’s Colombian) and doing poorly in the financial sense. Custom design for women not entirely satisfied with Walmart fit and style is a new market that is much better compensated per time and material involved.  Obviously, in setting up a seamstress party, I’m trying for leverage over her other prospects.

How often do we get so wrapped up in telling people about space that we don’t listen closely enough to what they are actually saying? It’s just too expensive means,  “Get the price down and I might change my mind.”. “I’m tired of my tax dollars going to that crap when there are so many problems here”, = I didn’t know there was such a thing as Newspace. “There’s nothing out there worth doing”, = I don’t know of anything useful. “I bet it’s a rush when that rocket lights up right behind you”,= I’m more interested in the loud go fast than the floating around. “It would be cool to see the black sky and the curve of the Earth”,= I want the visual experience personally. “I wonder what it would be like to float around like that?”= Microgee interests me.

If you are listening close, there is a market in the last three. Some people will pay good money for a thrill rocket ride that may not be as fast as a jet aircraft.   Some people would pay to get to high altitude in a balloon, airplane or rocket just to look. The last one is the business case for the Zero Gravity aircraft. None of these require getting to orbit to make money. There can also be a market in the first three if you address the issues raised.

I have one that I need to stop talking about and listen, turbo-pumps. I described a water pump a few posts back (Told You So) that I was getting built. After getting it back from the machine shop, I have been playing with my new toy. It turns out that several of the problems I was worriedabout were non-problems, while things I thought would slide are a PITA. The seals, bearings, and lubrication are easy. Getting enough power to the turbine to test it properly is not with a basic air hose. While it pumps well without back pressure, I haven’t got any gauge results yet. When I go to the monster compressor that should change. 

I am fairly certain that I can get a working unit in a few months with a small four digit budget. The current test unit weighs four pounds on the bathroom scale and pulls water through a half inch pipe. Do I want to spend the money, and is it worth my time? Both are at the expense of other interests.

I want to listen for  the requirements people in the business would have to get interested in having a pump. How much weight, complexity, cost, pressure, volume, fluid types, envelope, and especially the things I don’t know to ask. What level of development before contacting them is not spam? Do they want to be involved in the development or just a finished unit to spec?

Big question. What would apump need to do to be worth writing a check? A perfect pump would be a massless microchip stuck to the propellant line that magically boosted pressure in the line from 0 psi to 10,000 psi or anything in between under perfect control. This system will be a compromise and far from perfect. How far from perfect can I be and still get interest?

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I do construction for a living and aerospace as an occasional hobby. I am an inventor and a bit of an entrepreneur. I've been self employed since the 1980s and working in concrete since the 1970s. When I grow up, I want to work with rockets and spacecraft. I did a stupid rocket trick a few decades back and decided not to try another hot fire without adult supervision. Haven't located much of that as we are all big kids when working with our passions.

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6 Responses to Listen

  1. MG says:

    ” Do I want to spend the money, and is it worth my time? Both are at the expense of other interests.”

    Not to get salacious or anything, but I think the “other interest” you should prioritize is Flor.

  2. john hare says:

    That may or may not happen, depends on her. The point was that while I was talking about her, I was not listening about the product until my nose was rubbed in it.

  3. David says:

    What you are describing applies to any business start up. You need to research your ideas with the probable markets and the associated constraints. It does not matter if its a new rocket pump or a new shop selling lollies. You need to ask the questions to the perspective clients and build a business plan around the results. Obviously, the most important item is the most difficult (for business and the other interests) is to take the time to truly listen to and comprehend what is being said. We (that is Men) are not always that good at this part of the equation.

  4. john hare says:

    This post is the start of the market research this time. Five years ago, I could have called four different rocket companies and asked if they were serious about the offer at the last conference. At one time, I could get an answer that day on some technical questions. My contact with serious players has diminished considerably since then.

    Then a pump at 500 psi and 20 lbs LOX per second would have been interesting if under 40 lbs with reasonable drive gas use. Now, I don’t know for sure who would like to have what. The VTVL guys probably don’t want something in the loop that doesn’t throttle well, and I haven’t talked to HTHL guys lately. That is why I am letting them know that I am listening.

  5. FWIW, on markets for turbopumps, or any powerful propellant pumps: Years ago someone figured out that rocket engine turbopumps made for hallacious water pumps. Some large industrial site had a pond with a rocket turbopump installed in it that would spray a huge volume of water on nearby buildings in case of catastrophic fire. I imagine it was intended to go to work before the firefighters arrived to take over the task.

    Water pressure for firefighting has become an issue in some areas. An upscale home in the D.C suburbs that contained a vast collection of African and African-American art was completely destroyed in part because of low water pressure at the hydrants. If a turbopump with its own gas generator could be hooked up to a hydrant, I wonder if that would be considered worth a fire department’s time and money?

  6. john hare says:

    That’s a market well worth looking into. A lot larger than Newspace at this time.

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