Scenerio Seven

guest blogger john hare

Most concepts for the opening of space seem to fall into a few scenarios, most of which invoke the major infusions of cash and risk from one source. Some seem to be so focused on one object, be it Mars, Moon, or SPS  that they are willing to risk everything (that somebody else has) to get to that one destination. The idea seems to be that if that one big objective is reached everything else will fall into place.  These are a few of the scenarios I notice regularly.

1. The government must invest massive amounts of cash in a new launch system and then hand it over for almost nothing to stimulate exploration and settlement.

2. Some rich fool investor must invest (see#1).

3. SPS is the future of the worlds energy and it is only the short sighted that don’t want to spend whatever it takes to make it happen.

4. Helium 3 is the (see#3).

5. PGMs will repay any investment made to get to the moon or NEOs.

6. Tourism is the only market that justifies the new RLVs that we must have.

7. A large number of short term goals for by a large variety of players working for their own reasons or a reasonable profit will open the solar system.

I happen to hold the philosophy that a single goal hits the whack a mole problem. Any single goal or business plan is vulnerable to a single point failure. 1 through 6 of the scenarios has this problem. Tourism could easily be regulated to death or the government could go broke for a couple of possibilities that don’t pan out.

If you are on the beach in California and your single goal is Hawaii, you might sell everything you have for a one way ticket. If you do that though, you will have to figure out how to have all that fun when you arrive broke and with no return ticket. A smart person is more likely to get a job so they can afford round trip tickets, spending money, and a furnished house to return to. The second person would also be able to go to Acapulco, Japan, and Tahiti on later vacations while the first one is starving in Honolulu.

For the purpose of this post, the assumption is that no investments will be made by any entity without some expectation of a return on investment. Also, the assumption is that no major  products will ever be found that can be returned to Earth for a profit. Several people I respect believe that man will never expand into the solar system for these reasons. I want to see if I can do an honest scenario of settlement and expansion under those conditions. A century ago it would have been just as hard to believe that professional sports  would be a trillion dollar industry today. Can anyone make the claim that pro sports returns a product to the economy other than entertainment?

In 2010 there are at least four companies developing a credible suborbital vehicle for tourism or research. These vehicles are all looking at flight rates of several times per week per vehicle. Some at multiple flights per day. The current price per seat for a suborbital flight seems to be in the $200,000.00 range. All the players know that can’t last long. If just two of the companies are successful and keep just two vehicles in service each , then the annual flight rate will be at least  500 flights. This is clearly on the low side at revenues of $100M per year. With the vehicles developed and proven though, additional tail numbers are relatively cheap and you can expect a minimum of fifty vehicles flying in ten years, if the market warrants. With 10,000 or more customers per year though, you can reasonably project that the price will come down to $25,000.00 or less.  For now, the assumption is that the market peaks here at $250M per year for this service.

Other suborbital vehicles are going after the research market, or reconnaissance. These markets may be bigger or smaller than the tourism market. Time will tell.

If in 2020, there are several dozen suborbital vehicles in service, it is certain that some of them will be idle much of the time just as check out lanes at the market are frequently idle. Some operators are going to be looking for more markets. With the operational experience some of them will have built up, it seems reasonable that one of them will be able to get financing for orbital vehicles. If SpaceX, ULA and company are still using ELVs, a suborbital company might think in terms of making a profit from a higher flight rate vehicle that doesn’t have to be built or rebuilt after each flight. If ISS passenger seats are still in the $50M range, then $200,000.00 per pound of delivered astronaut should give a good ROI if the space transport company can deliver. These vehicles could be flying in the 2025 time frame.

By 2030, space transports could be flying each airframe at least once per week and cutting prices to keep those seats and cargo bays filled. If prices get down to 100 times propellant costs,  then $500 a pound for cargo, and $150,000.00 per passenger to LEO becomes possible, even allowing forinflation and high RLV structural masses. At this point the inflatable hotels and research stations should really take off. Massive GEO birds could be completely assembled and checked out at in LEO a fraction of today’s prices for smaller satellites. Many things become possible at this price point combined with convenient transportation on demand.

By 2030, Lunar cyclers will be a likely new market using excess capacity from the launch transportation companies. A flight around the moon should cost about what a Soyuz did several years ago to ISS. At $20M for a Lunar orbiting experience, several dozen people would probably go for it. Researchers would fill many of those seats.

By 2035 Lunar orbiting experiences could be in the $1M range with surface stays at perhaps $5M for a couple of weeks.

All this is technically and financially feasible given a reasonable flight rate from a good customer base. In my opinion though, the Lunar surface is close to the end of the line for conventional tourism. A few NEOs might be made attractive, but Mars or Venus and beyond requires either a very large time commitment from the tourist, or very high performance transportation systems that are not in reasonable view at this time.

With short Lunar surface stays increasing in quantity in  the mid 2030s, it is reasonable to assume that researchers, prospectors, and resort staff will increase in both number and duration on the moon. When this happens, there will be a small market for anything that can be made on the moon for local use. If water can be extracted, it can be sold to astronomers and other permanent residents if it is cheaper than lifting it from Earth. Construction people that can figure out how to build with local materials will compete with the inflatables and solid modules from Earth. Greenhouses should be an early profit business, or at least hydroponics. If the permanent residents can reduce the imports required to live they will, if it makes economic sense. A few tourists per year and research data from a variety of groups provide the  money for the required imports.

Some of those prospectors will be looking for PGMs or concentrations of helium 3. Some of the residents will be figuring out how to do solar power with local materials. The possibilities of finding a profitable export rise in proportion to the cost of searching for them. The more the residents can produce locally, the less support they need from Earth, and the more likely it is that they will find a variety of legitimate exports.

By 2040 or so, there could be excess capacity in the LEO to Luna ships with prices dropping to a marginally profitable level. With the experience gained in Lunar living and frequent spaceflight, it seems likely that National Geographic or Elon Musk could afford to take a modified Lunar cycler to Mars because they wanted to. Lunar companies might well be in a position to sell them their consumables by this time.  At this point, it seems likely that many groups could go to many places through the inner solar system for their own reasons, on their own dollar. Once they reach these places, a natural progression of build, prospect, and recycle could hold the permanent resident costs down to something they or their sponsoring groups could afford.

Self supporting off Earth settlements will happen eventually. We won’t make them happen faster by concentrating on one destination on some one else’s money that may have other priorities. The true settlements will happen in their own good time for their own good reasons. Many of the early settlements on North America were wiped out because the people were unprepared. Lets go prepared even if it takes longer.

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johnhare

johnhare

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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72 Responses to Scenerio Seven

  1. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    Googaw,
    First off, I have to say that you’re one of the only people I’ve met who thinks that the commercial satellite launch market is going to revolutionize things. Almost every other market study I’ve seen shows that market as growing very slowly or even stagnating except in a few niches. You may be right and the whole world may be wrong, but when you’re a heretic, you need to learn a little humility. I’m a heretic on stuff too, but when you’re in that position, you don’t get to pull the condescending bleep-hole card and act like anyone who disagrees with you is some clueless, brainwashed nube–you have to provide evidence why your claim actually should be taken seriously.

    I actually think there are some ways that commercial satellites could grow as a market–I just don’t see them leading the way. For the most part existing commercial satellite markets are fine with the prices they have to pay and the unreliability they have to accept from the launcher market. New markets need better launcher prices, higher frequency, shorter lead-times, etc…but are unlikely to generate those by themselves. I see them more as a big secondary market that will come around after a while once you have better launch access.

    Lastly, yes Shuttle and X-33 were sold on high flight rates. Just because a government entity uses a selling point to sell a flawed jobs program doesn’t mean that selling point isn’t actually valid when pursued correctly. Some of the key problems with Shuttle (as has been discussed ad nauseum here and in other places) was that a) Shuttle was really a jobs program to keep as much of the Saturn-V workforce around as possible, b) Shuttle couldn’t achieve the high flight rates needed for low prices even if there was a market, c) there wasn’t a market for the 50-100 shuttle-sized payloads per year at any sort of price they could realistically offer, and d) they should never have planned on having their first orbital RLV be an operational vehicle–doing so was complete hubris.

    I’m actually opposed to NASA developing its own RLV precisely because I expect them to keep stepping in the same piles of dog crap they’ve been stepping in my whole lifetime. I’d rather see them act as a customer (for propellants, people, and cargo to LEO) in a way that if high flight-rate RLVs are possible, they can serve as an anchor tenant to allow privately funded, developed, and operated RLVs to come into existence independently. Also, I wouldn’t mind if they put a small chunk of money into testing out some of the necessary technologies (mostly TPS systems) using either suborbital vehicles or secondary payloads on orbital vehicles. That said, there are ways we can get there without NASA intervention, but NASA not being *completely* retarded would speed up the process a bunch. And once you actually have an orbital transportation network worthy of the name, it opens up a lot of potential commercial satellite markets as well.

    I’m too busy to respond to all of your comments, but I’d prefer that if you’re going to go around like a condescending, self-important, jerk-hole, that you could at least provide some evidence for why you think that “high flight rate vehicles” are a myth, or evidence for why we should take your word that commsats are somehow going to lead the way to a wonderful future in space access–when they havne’t really driven any major improvements in space access in my lifetime.

    ~Jon

  2. googaw says:

    all we’ve done is provide better service to those on Earth without getting us off this rock.

    This is backwards. We’re never going to get off this rock if space doesn’t provide better service to people.

  3. googaw says:

    BTW, I do agree that satellite phones are not going to be competing head-to-head with traditional cell phones in the near future. The hybrid model, using the cell towers when within range and the satellites otherwise, is the way to go for at least the next decade or so.

  4. Googaw in 53,
    That’s more or less how I see it.

    ~Jon

  5. googaw says:

    Jon, you ought to expand the variety of your acquaintances and research. There are many market researchers who have been tracking subscriber growth rates and are quite bullish about the future of comsats. Here are a few examples, the tip of the iceberg:

    Global satellite broadband growing rapidly and expected to quadruple by 2019:
    http://www.nsr.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=34&category_id=6&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=104

    “The demand for mobile satellite services (MSS) in the maritime sector is expected to escalate due to crew welfare solutions, as users are beginning to expect Internet connectivity and access as the norm. As both equipment and solution prices reduce, smaller vessels are beginning to embrace satellite communication services. The new generation of Internet savvy seafarers expects connectivity wherever they are, to stay in touch with family and friends….New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (space.frost.com), Maritime Market Study – Satellite Communications, finds that market earned revenues of over $9.20 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach $27.36 billion in 2013.”
    http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/53980/

    “The global satellite machine-to-machine (M2M) market is experiencing robust growth as companies are continually seeking out ways to raise productivity while reducing costs.”
    http://www.mindbranch.com/Satellite-Machine-M2M-R1-6347/

    This stuff is “heresy” only among an insular cult of astronaut fans, among some contractors who can’t actually contribute to real space development and are only trolling for NASA contracts, and among some space activists who they’ve sadly managed to influence.

    Contrast the overwhelming evidence for the continual growth of the comsat industry to the sheer economic fantasy of high flight rates for launch vehicles based on imaginary markets. If you can’t accept many decades of evidence or over a hundred billion dollars worth of effort on a wide variety of projects trying and failing to reduce launch costs, based on the assumption of high flight rates, then no libraries full of evidence that could be produce will convince you. If you insist on conjuring fantasy future markets out of thin air no amount of evidence will convince you. Evidence will only apparently piss you off all the more, as you choose to make it further evidence only of my “condescension” for daring to contrast the real and the imaginary and call out the latter for what it is.

  6. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    Googaw,
    We’re talking past each other. I’m not surprised at all that the revenues from satellites services are expected to go up. However, in spite of revenues going up for satellite services, the actual demand for launch services is more or less stagnant (or possibly slightly growing). Commsat services are great markets, and provide lots of useful capabilities to people here on earth. What I was arguing was that they haven’t, aren’t, and won’t lead the way to lower-cost access to space that could enable other markets to happen. In spite of the space services market being a multi tens of billions of dollars per year market, the global launch market is down in the noise relatively. Commsats will continue to provide a large amount of value to people on the ground, but to unlock the full potential of space, they aren’t going to provide the demand for launch services necessary to develop real space transportation networks.

    As to the “many decades and over a hundred billion dollars worth of effort on a variety of efforts to reduce launch costs” bit…you’re being overly simplistic. Most of that money went into political programs whose real goals were providing jobs in key states–low-cost access to space was always a secondary consideration. Also, most of those systems were focused on building RLVs that could replace all existing ELVs (ie huge, very expensive RLVs), instead of trying to attack markets where RLVs could better serve frustrated demand, and where development costs could be kept in more reasonable bounds.

    All that said, I’ve got dozens of blog articles on this topic, I’m not going to waste my time rehashing each and everyone one of those points for an anonymous troll who prefers to spout out insults and strawmen.

    ~Jon

  7. googaw says:

    More “heresy”:

    “The world satellite transponders market stands enthused by the growing popularity of digital broadcast entertainment services, and digital video broadcast services. Backed by the growing popularity of ethnic programs, strong demand for satellite transponders in broadcasting applications is expected in the coming years. In addition to cable and TV broadcasting, consumer broadband internet services, wireless telephone, data services, and direct radio are also expected to help keep demand sufficiently kindled.”
    http://www.reportbuyer.com/telecoms/satellite_broadcast/satellite_transponders_1.html

    “According to the Satellite Industry Association, the worldwide satellite-television industry grew from $64.4 billion in worldwide revenues in 2001 to $144.4 billion in 2008, a gain of 19 percent [per year]…Worldwide, the number of subscribers as of the end of 2008 stood at 133.6 million, up from 100.5 million the previous year. ”
    http://www.ehow.com/about_5317338_satellite-television-growth.html

    “Subscriber growth in the satellite pay-TV market has been robust, increasing 15% worldwide,” indicated Pacôme Revillon, CEO of Euroconsult. “Growth in emerging digital markets has been particularly strong with subscribers reaching the 60 million mark in 2009, a nearly five-fold increase over the previous few years” he added. ”Looking forward, the market is expected to remain bright with Euroconsult forecasting roughly 235 million subscribers worldwide by 2019.”
    http://www.spacenewsfeed.co.uk/index.php/free-content/3460-satellite-tv-platforms-maintain-growth-despite-tight-consumer-spending

  8. Jonathan Goff Jonathan Goff says:

    Googaw,
    More “heresy”:

    Or strawmen, as the case may be.

    ~Jon

  9. Chris (Robotbeat) says:

    Machine-2-machine satellites are TINY. ORBCOMM launched _EIGHT_ of them on one Pegasus (which is less capable than a Falcon 1). ORBCOMM could launch their ENTIRE constellation of 29 satellites for less cost than a single Falcon 9. Obviously not much of an impact on the size of the launch services market (although good for ORBCOMM in using an efficient design!). Also, as the number of users grows, the number of satellites needed grows slower because as technology improves, each satellite can handle more subscribers. That means less launch services per subscriber in a bigger market.

    For broadcast, there’s even less direct influence on number of subscribers to the launch market. If tomorrow everyone in the contiguous United States became an XM subscriber, not a single new satellite would need to be launched versus now.

  10. Pete says:

    Dinosaur communications satellites are a bit like main frame computers of old. They are slowly growing bigger, more capable, and longer lived, such that fewer larger launch vehicles are required. In time maybe only five big launches will be needed globally each year. 🙂

    They are not a platform for fast paced disruptive innovation, they will not dramatically bring down launch costs. For that one needs a small, fast and adaptable mammal that can quickly evolve to dramatically lower costs and new market niches.

  11. johnhare john hare says:

    Googaw,

    If you think high flight rates and better prices aren’t going to happen, you might as well quit thinking about space as those two conditions are a requirement for moving forward.

  12. googaw says:

    Chris, even for broadcast the trends in the number of subscribers is a good reflection of the growth prospects for revenue in the business, and so is one good measure of the long-term prospects of the industry. More subscribers make more advertising eyeballs, more direct payment revenue, and best of all for our purposes a ready market for new entry with a better service with more channels, more HD, and/or smaller ground terminals. More revenue now means more money to invest in such improvements in the future.

    John, as I thought you were arguing before, real progress occurs from improvements starting with the current state of affairs. And the best way to prove one can launch 50 comsats per year cheaper is by starting with improving the current state of real space commerce, namely launching 10 comsats per year cheaper than ILS and Arianespace do it (10 per year each). Instead of joining the crowd begging for yet more billions of government or “eccentric billionaire” money to be fooled into throwing good money after the over hundred billion dollars of bad money, fooled by yet more stories about high flight rate fantasy markets. Most investors are no onto that scam, and indeed the vast majority of private investors can recognize phony patter about fantasy markets when they hear it, even if astronaut fans and politicians can’t and NASA bureaucrats either don’t know or don’t care. If you want to get private investor money you’d better figure out how real markets work, because the crap that works well when trolling for NASA contracts goes over like a lead balloon when trying to find private investors.

    Pete, I’ve been hearing those kinds of fact-free predictions from astronaut fans and NASA contract trollers for decades about how those irrelevant unmanned comsats are going to shrivel away and can safetly be ignored. Yet back in this galaxy the number of comsats launched every year continues to grow. You can make up or repeat any fantasy scenario you like that magically makes the HSF “market” explode and the comsat market shrink, but reality is an extremely different matter that doesn’t care about one’s daydreams.

    As for Jon, I’m going to need a dictionary to try to translate. For example, “strawman”: yet another fact embarrassing to Jon’s claims for which he has no rebuttal.

  13. Googaw,
    I call it a strawman because you’re arguing against a position I wasn’t defending. I’ll admit that in my frustration, I was somewhat unclear in my first comment, but I thought I had clarified that I wasn’t arguing about the demand for satellite services, but the demand of satellites for launch services. Space Access won’t be revolutionized by the fact that lots of people listen to XM or use Orbcomm, etc, if that doesn’t translate into more demand for space launch services. Could you actually respond to that instead of acting like I’m trying to defend the claim that comsat services aren’t a large market sector? That to me is a strawman, but your mileage may vary.

    ~Jon

  14. Mike Lorrey says:

    Trent Waddington

    “Mike, how about a flying vehicle?

    Sheesh.”

    Not sure what you mean by this question. Do you mean as in, “how about XCOR having a vehicle in the air?” If so, then you were wrongly assuming that they previously had the capital in place to complete a vehicle. They never said they did, either.

    I think them announcing a customer willing to pay up front a significant sum is pretty damn huge. Given their history, of being one of the few companies that doesnt float vaporware, that focuses on incremental growth, and the “build a little, test a little” mantra is their standard mode of operations, this is great. I do think that its sad that they haven’t gotten more attention from VC types previously (then again, I don’t know how much Jeff has talked to them in the past and just not accepted their terms, he’d be the person to ask about that).

    As for the Jon vs Googaw debate, I think, as I’m sure many here do, that the growth that newspace space launch can focus on in delivering micro and nano sized payloads to suborbit or to orbit, beyond the institutional science researcher, is a concept I’ve previously called the Personal Satellite.

    The CubeSat is arguably the first true Personal Satellite. Its small enough, cheap enough, and electronics tech has advanced enough to allow for a lot of capability in a little 1 kg package, a trend that will only improve over time. There are people developing propulsion and stability components scaled for this size vehicle, iPhone sized computers can operate them, and they can generate enough solar power to operate for quite a long time.

    With the US getting ever more aggressive against individuals seeking to sheild assets and income overseas, there is an increasing market niche for data havens outside the reach of the tax man, for banking, gambling, etc.

    Artists, journalists, political dissidents, and others who increasingly see their rights to free speech being infringed have a need for some place to keep their words, images, and organization contacts that are free from warrantless searches and seizures, even here in the US, where PATRIOT Act measures allow for uniformed secret warrantless searches of private citizens computers without any independent oversight. Chinese dissidents could use LEO personal satellites, operating as a global network, to communicate and coordinate with each other without fear of government tapped ground lines, to broadcast dissident radio programs, as well as to transmit to the world real time true video of human rights atrocities inside China (same for Cuba, North Korea, Iran, etc).

    And back to science, where the government controlled global temperature datasets have come under attack as fraudulent by private citizens who have shown 90% of surface stations fail the governments own siting rules, as well as chronic and continued adjustment of temperature data with faulty homogenization techniques and bad statistical methods, a refusal to recognise the impace of Urban Heat Island effects, as well as problems with getting government scientists to recognise when satellite sensors are failing, there is a market for independent small weather/climate satellites to provide second and third opinions.

    There are literally a lot of potential applications for satellites if you can get the price to build and launch down to less than the price of a new car. There are IMO many thousands of potential customers.

  15. Jim Davis says:

    I think them announcing a customer willing to pay up front a significant sum is pretty damn huge.

    Do we know for a fact that a significant amount of money has indeed changed hands?

    When I first heard the announcement I was reminded of the $900 million contract that Rotary Rocket signed with Lunacorp(?) 10 years or so ago – two companies who didn’t have two nickels between them to rub together signing a billion dollar contract.

    The XCOR deal seems much more reasonable but does anyone know for certain?

  16. Pete says:

    There are literally a lot of potential applications for satellites if you can get the price to build and launch down to less than the price of a new car. There are IMO many thousands of potential customers.

    I am definitely thinking that this small, highly responsive “PC equivalent” satellite market is a potentially very substantial and interesting one.

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  18. googaw says:

    Jon, I have extensively addressed above why launch demand generally reacts to subscriber demand over the long run, but I will try again. Practically every market that is capable of supplying extra units responds to increase in demand by increasing the number of units produced. This is either done directly to supply the extra units or, in cases such as broadcast where the marginal costs of adding customers are small, from competitors coming into the market providing a better (for some customers) service for less. More subscribers with a greater variety of tastes requires more comsats (even for broadcast). Smaller and less directional ground terminals, which are crucial, being a very strong preference of customers, require more powerful satellites. More power and more transponders requires launching more kilograms of comsats.

    In short, responding to increased demand with increased production is how normal markets work, and there are many specific reasons why it’s also how the comsat market works. If you want businesspeople to believe that the comsat industry works very differently from a normal market, the burden of proof is on you to show it, and you so far haven’t provided a shred of evidence.

    Meanwhile, here is more empirical evidence that a growing comsat market means a growing launch manifest:

    Satellite Service Revenues Comsat Launch Industry Revenues
    2004: $46.9b $2.8b
    2005: $52.8b $3.0b
    2006: $62.0b $2.7b
    2007: $72.6b $3.2b
    2008: $84.0b $3.9b

    Satellite service revenues are a good proxy for subscriber revenues. In 2009 and 2010 comsat launch revenues are even higher, probably well over $4 billion last year and this each. In other words, more subscribers have been paying more money for satellite services and launch demand for such satellites has been growing. Must be a coincidence. 🙂

  19. Axel says:

    It would really be nice to have a diverse set of space applications. Tourism I still don’t trust to go very far. So I would be happy to learn communications has a high growth potential.

    However googaws data brings Moores Law to mind: computers become twice as powerful every two years or so. So I wonder: what does this increase in revenue reflect? More satellites launched per year? Or same number of satellites (or even less), but more powerful?

    Does the industry really launch more? Or does it just make more money from what they launch?

  20. googaw says:

    Axel, short-term fluctuations in launch prices aside, the long-term growth of commercial launch industry revenues from comsats means what common sense should tell us it means, that they are launching more kilograms of satellites. Many of the specific causal connections here I discussed above, such as the strong customer desire for smaller ground terminals which translates by quite direct physics to the need for more power and thus more mass on satellites. Higher launch industry profits — and the profits of real commerce launchers Arianespace and ILS are at record levels and growing, despite the Great Recession — also mean more money available for developing new rockets, especially for innovations that would genuinely drop the costs of launching said satellites. And, BTW, where per-kilogram prices do rise that makes innovations that actually reduce launch costs all the more valuable. This stuff is common business sense, if you don’t know it go study some business economics.

    But I know, I’ve got to get with the program here. Forget about common sense. Don’t be so rude as to post facts. Forget about those unmanned satellites, they are too boring and don’t follow the voodoo rule that launching an astronaut today brings space settlement tomorrow. Instead we should keep believing the whines of NASA contractors that real markets just don’t work for their wonderful futuristic scenarios. Let’s just keep buying into the scams where NASA contractors push “innovations” targeted at fantasy markets because they don’t actually have real innovations that are useful for real markets.

    NASA contractor culture avoids real markets like vampires avoid sunlight, and let’s keep believing their excuses for doing so: that comsats don’t really work like other markets, that launch industry customers are forking over growing sums of money each year to launch providers just for laughs, that the comsat industry lives in an antimatter universe where growing subscriber revenues translate into a shrinking comsat industry. Forget about the fact that communications via satellite delivers logistical benefits that fiber can’t come anywhere close to being able to deliver for many applications, and instead spout abstract nonsense about the bandwidth of fiber. Forget about the fact that the comsat industry has been growing for decades and is growing faster than ever despite all the fiber that has been strung. Forget about the facts that show the comsat market really does work like a market and keep conjuring up creative arguments to “show” how growing subscriber revenues will lead to a shrinking comsat industry. Let’s just keep letting ILS and Arianespace reap the rapidly growing profits of the comsat launch industry while we in the U.S. fantasize about even bigger rockets and those oh-so-useful-looking megadepots custom-built for our useless heavenly pilgrims. Let’s build more gigabridges to nowhere, squandering tens or hundreds billions more taxpayer dollars with complete economic unacccountability as we have always done. Let’s just keep throwing more good money after the bad projects which hype fantastic launch cost reductions for fantastic markets rather than making real reductions for real ones. I’m with the program, I believe! 🙂

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  22. Axel says:

    Hm, my question could surely be answered by facts. How much did the number of launches and launched mass increase over the last years? Instead googaw prefers to accuse me of lack of common sense and education. Does this convince me? Well, yes, it convinces me this discussion if not worth my time. Cheers.

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