“I said I wanted to take a large fortune and make it a small one, so I started a rocket business.”
So said Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, during a speech at his alma mater, Virginia Tech in which he discussed his new venture, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX); the quote in the title also comes from this speech. While his current goal is to take on the space monolith that is Lockheed Martin and Boeing, his long term goal is making it easier for humanity to spread out and ultimately colonize space.
I find it interesting that a number of wealthy techies have decided to put their money into space travel – along with Musk’s SpaceX, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has his Blue Origin and John Carmack of id Software (Doom, Quake) fame has Armadillo Aerospace… I don’t know off the top of my head if there are any others, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were. And while I wouldn’t count Richard Branson as a techie, his love of technology is quite apparent in his launch of Virgin Galactic.
This ‘Silicon Valley’-style approach to space makes this commentary by Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard from a month ago quite ironic. Bemoaning the state of the US space program, it starts:
Where would the U.S. space program be today if run not by NASA bureaucrats but by Silicon Valley geeks and financiers–by crazy entrepreneurs?
..and not once does he even appear to be aware that these alternate programs are already up and running. Dude, these guys are already there – doing an end run around NASA.