I would like to offer a thought to Frank J. Centinello, who wrote a letter in Space News
[“A Young Engineer’s Vision,” Dec. 3, page 19]
and who would like to have a crack at the Google Lunar X
It is a waste of
time talking to engineers and scientists about your project. They have no money. If they had it, they
probably also would be gearing up for the Google Lunar X
or for a space tourism vehicle
themselves. A bunch of people with no money cannot achieve anything, however enthusiastic
committed to their cause they might be
Aerospace companies do not set out to do exciting projects with their own money because they are beholden to the shareholders
who, quite reasonably, are interested in money, not risk. An aerospace company that decided to do even something as conservative as a space plane for space tourism could not raise money for it
for fear that
its share price might slide, prompting
chief executive officer who had his
feet nearer to the ground.
For example, EADS Astrium has designed a space plane but
have not tried to build it. They are looking for someone else to accept the risk and the cost
. The exception is when a company gets a government contract to build something, so the taxpayer takes on the risk.
When billionaires get interested in space exploration, they can easily make their own arrangements and
competent people to build what they want.
So, your only recourse is to work hard at becoming a billionaire so that you can, in due course, pay for your project yourself;
or you need to
be on personal terms with a billionaire
. Given the rather complete social isolation of the moneyed classes
, the chances of
even finding a billionaire to trust you enough
you to spend his or her money on your project
are vanishingly small. I’ve come to realize this after promoting my own project for a space tourism vehicle for the last two years.
I thought all
this was worth saying
because there are many people out there who think, as I did, that if one puts forward an exciting-looking project, then someone will turn up to fund it
eventually. However, because the giving of funds depends on the giver accepting the
risk that the recipient
is trustworthy, funds are only ever going to be given to a visibly competent person or organization.
If you can get enough like-minded people together to form your own aerospace company, that might get you where you want to go.
But there is no escape from having to build something that people will buy.
If you want to make money by coming up with a better propulsion system as you seem to want to do, then you still have to persuade some external fund-holder that the new engine will make money, and that you are the right person to build it.
Raymond D. Wright