Thursday, September 28, 2006

Benson Space and other topics

A colleague and I were discussing why Jim Benson started a new company to market his Dream Chaser vehicle. He couldn't understand why Jim Benson didn't just set up a new division in his company specifically for building the Dream Chhaser.

My response was that US companies, (and by extension most western companies) prefer to have a single focus for their business rather than branching out in a lot of different directions. Here in Korea it is quite common for even a relatively small to medium size business to have a lot of different projects going at once. I learned this from a Polish guy I met in Korean class who worked for a Korean software company with about five different unrelated projects going at once. I suppose it's a kind of insurance. If one part of the business goes belly up, the other parts can continue as normal like a kind of corporate octopus. It is even more evident with the Chaebols (the oversize Korean companies such as Samsung and Hyundai) which are involved in ventures as diverse as department stores and army tank manufacture.

I could have also pointed out that SpaceDev is a publicly listed company and so it probably would have been a bad idea to keep using it as a funding source for a speculative venture.

On another topic...

Virgin Galactic have released some interior views (via Hobbyspace) of their SpaceShipTwo vehicle. Also for some reason Gizmodo (also courtesy Hobbyspace) is the only place I could find sketches of the shape of SpaceShipTwo plus two georgeous looking 3D renderings.
Cosmic Log has an interesting comparison of SS2 with the Rocketplane Kistler's Rocketplane XL.
In terms of readiness my impression is that VG is clearly in first place followed by Rocketplane Kistler (although they also claim to be aiming to start operations in 2009) with XCOR and Jim Benson's venture competing for 3rd place and Blue Origin poised to rapidly move up the rankings. (Sorry if you think I got the order wrong. It's my best estimate without doing proper research ;-) ) The rest of us are either tinkering or in watch and wait mode to see how it pans out.

Talking about how it pans out. I think there may well be a secondary market for people who just can't get enough suborbital flight! I'm hoping these people, once they've tried one flight, will then want to try out various different types of vehicles in search of the one that gives them the best buzz.


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