14 July 2009

Further evidence of the space program's bogosity

bdunbar: America kicks ass - in spite of, not because of, the government

Ladies and Gentlemen: Life in the the United States of America, 2009.
Wired News: You and your son built your rocket in your garage with your own cash?

Paul Breed: Correct. It’s basically been a father-son effort, and we’ve done 98 percent of the work ourselves. We got some help from local rocket fans, and hired someone with help with the FAA regulations.
Two guys and a few interested amateurs can design and build, in a garage, a rocket that will reach outer space. With pocket money. For fun.

But in order to deal with the government ... ah that's where your brighter-than-average engineer duo must hire a specialist.
Amen. (Although that interview was in 2007, it's still accurate.)

Here's more from our intrepid engineers:
Wired News: Tell me more about why you are doing this challenge.
Paul Breed: I wanted to prove a couple of guys in a garage could do something significant that didn’t require a $100 billion from NASA.

Wired News: What’s wrong with current space technologies?
Paul Breed: We are still launching stuff into space in disposable artillery. If you rode on a jumbo jet from L.A. to London and at the end of the flight, the scrapped the jumbo jet, very few people could afford to fly to London.

The other problem is that the whole NASA structure has become a jobs program, not a development program. Clearly there are commercial launchers out there that could do the job, but if the government went that route, it wouldn’t keep the 100,000 people at NASA employed. This is a congressional jobs program that has nothing to do with space access and space exploration. … The whole structure is not conducive to developing things.

Wired News: How does the indie model work better?
Paul Breed: Look at [rocketry team] Armadillo. Try something that doesn’t work, fix it and then try it again next weekend. We aren’t talking about a test every four years; we are talking about a test every four days. It may look crude by aerospace standards, but they hold the record for the longest hovering vehicle, beating the Japanese Space Agency and NASA. And it’s a group of eight or 10 guys from Texas working on a budget that wouldn’t pay the coffee bill for Johnson Space Center for a year. I don’t think you can ever underestimate the power of motivated, small entrepreneurial groups. … One of the jokes going around is that when NASA returns to the moon, some small space company will fly CNN there to film it.
One thing that's absolutely critical to innovation is rapid testing and turnaround on the next iteration. You can not advance without that.

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