Sunday, July 09, 2017

I'm not really sure how to blog this.

I have a general rule about Silicon Valley. If you make me mad before I leave your event I think your pitch is bullshitty. Having said that - I really hope this guy succeeds. I have faith in what he's trying to do - I just wasn't sure what the point of this particular event was.

It was one of the weirdest things I've ever attended. The whole thing reminded me of the time I went to a Google Glass pitch and they made me not even want to try on the glasses. Which is a huge deal. And it wasn't only me. We all get bored in these things and sort of keep it to ourselves. But at the Google Glass event, the attendees started revolting. They were like - we are all engineers! We want to hear about the details of the product. Because the whole thing was more salesmany than deep on technical details. Still to this day have never tried on Google glass. But I digress. I just wanted to give you a background because this rocket launch event reminded me a lot of the Google Glass thing.

And yes, they were revealing a new rocket and somehow managed to make that boring. Even worse they barely explained the product. Their website made their mission much more interesting than the CEO himself. Let me try to explain a little.

For about two years I have heard rumblings around the Valley about cube satellites. Which are small box sized satellites they've been launching into low earth orbit. Even Mr. S worked with a guy who was doing that as a side project about a year so ago.  The small rocket announced last night can carry 16 of these cube satellites as you can see in image two where the nose is open. I think only about 5 are visible. This way they don't have to wait for NASA to launch a giant satellite so they can piggy back on their launch.

The theory is that launching satellites is so expensive that it takes 16 years to recoup the cost and then the technology is reaching obsolete. If you could launch smaller more disposable satellites it would be cheaper and we wouldn't have to wait so long before we could improve technology.

Since this rocket is so small, their site claims you could roll up to a launch site with a semi truck. Then attach the rocket to a weather balloon which takes it into high altitude which is where the rocket is then launched into low earth orbit. If you go down to the middle of their site (in the link above)  you can see their plan. I'm only linking them very lightly because I don't want to give them bad press. I just really think they need step up their game if they want people to invest in this thing. The attendees needed to to leave feeling like they'd gotten more information than what they could have gotten from the company website - not less.

Now back to the event. Normally networking is always at the end of these things. Not the beginning. So this started eating up my Saturday night. I figured I would just be able to pop in for like an hour, smell the factory air and then leave. It became obvious after two hours I was in for the long haul.

Instead of the panelists talking about the rocket, they all gave a brief rundown of their working history and very little about the rocket. To be fair they all did touch on why this project was important. To make it cheaper to get tiny satellites into space.

However it might have been helpful to explain how it's more cost effective to 3D print this rocket instead of the normal manufacturing. 3D printing isn't cheap.

Or how do you launch it in the right direction when you are launching it from a balloon? How do you handle thrust vectoring? One guy asked what they expected it to cost to do a launch, and it sounded like they were going to NDA him up.

Now I don't think this thing had any media, but I am pretty sure they were seeking investors. Who I doubt care about the working background of the panelists outside of them having the right skills and contacts. They want to know if this can make them money and how.

Still, I'm for anyone who is trying to break away from the bureaucracy.  I really want them to succeed. You can make up your own minds.

And I got you a plane shot for no apparent reason at all. It looked cool and it was in the hanger.

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