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?