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Space Science

Jeff Bezos' Shot At Space 159

Brad Stone points out his story (due out in Monday's issue of Newsweek) on Jeff Bezos' secret space-oriented company, called Blue Origin -- which aims to launch tourists in a reusable vehicle. The article also touches on some of the other private space ventures you've been reading about lately. (One cool note about Blue Origin is that Neal Stephenson is an employee; I hope he's not allowed anywhere dangerous.)
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Jeff Bezos' Shot At Space

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  • by KFury ( 19522 ) * on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:12PM (#5816846) Homepage
    Neal Stephenson's speaking at Carnegie Mellon on Thursday. I'll have to ask him about the project...
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @11:14PM (#5817346)
      First paul allen, now jeff bezos, and of course other retuired dotcommers all seem bent on space vehicles and x-prize stuff. I think this is their yacht racing. look arond at the uber rich and what do you see?

      the clinton era-boom generation of newly-rich are going for the x-prize. the reagan-era deregulation sired rich (like the virgin-atlantic folks and forbes-types) went for balloon racing and round the world plane flights. and the era before that the merger moguls like ted turner were going for yacht racing.

      its all alpha-male competition. this time however its the alpha-male-geeks which explains the sci-fi content.

      • by Blondie-Wan ( 559212 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @01:30AM (#5817754) Homepage

        ... Capitalist Pigs... in... SPAAAAACE!!!!!



      • I think this is their yacht racing. look arond at the uber rich and what do you see?

        Sure, but it has potentially much more economic and scientific value than yacht racing. The only way any of these guys is going to succeed is by coming up with a cheap way of manned space flight, which NASA sure as hell hasn't. If they make it, it ought to be a huge technological advance.

        Besides, manned space travel is currently just a giant boondoggle anyway (while the unmanned probes are far more useful and cheaper).
      • My first read of the story title was "Jeff Bezos shot INTO space" -- now there's an idea I could get behind.

        On the plus side, since most of these individuals are not "ego challenged" perhaps some of these projects will have the effect of thinning the super-rich "inventor" ranks.
    • Ask him to hurry up and finish Quicksilver while you're at it. As time goes by, the release seems to keep getting farther away. Huh?!?
  • Patent? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 )
    So has Jeff applied for a patent on this yet?
  • It(TM)©® only(TM)©® takes(TM)©® one(TM)©® click(TM)©®(TM)!(TM)

    It(TM)©® only(TM)©® takes(TM)©® one(TM)©® click(TM)©®(TM)!(TM) is© a(TM) registered® trademark(TM) used(TM) with Jeff©'s(TM) permission©. Unauthourized© reproduction(TM) is© expressly® prohibited(TM).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:34PM (#5816915)
      Attention Mr. teamhasnoi:

      I represent Mr. Jeff Bezos and his patent portfolio. We believe that your Slashdot signature, "OpenBeos []& Software []," contains intentionally misleading language. Consumers are likely to believe that "OpenBeos" is associated with Mr. Bezos.

      As you may be aware, "Bezos" has been copyrighted, patented, and trademarked by Mr. Bezos. In fact, Mr. Bezos also patented the process of trademarking the term "Bezos," to ensure that if his trademark were to expire, he could sue anyone else attempting to register the mark.

      We request that you immediately cease and desist all use of the term "Beos," or any other mark which misleads consumers into the false assumption that they are a patron of one of Mr. Bezos' business ventures.


      J. Wilberforce Patterson, Esq.
      • by Rolo Tomasi ( 538414 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:44PM (#5817078) Homepage Journal
        Hi, I'm the manager of a clown troupe called "Jerk Bozos". Should I consider having our group renamed?

        Thinking about it, I actually believe that our act, which consists of doing ridiculously stupid things and babbling incoherent nonsense, might infringe on Mr. Bezos' activities. We do not want any legal trouble and are willing to fully cooperate with Mr. Bezos' demands. Please advise.

    • Good Ol' UTF-8 (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by neurostar ( 578917 )

      Well, I was browing along and came across a post which said:

      It??? only??? takes??? one??? click?????

      It??? only??? takes??? one??? click????? is? a? registered? trademark? used? with Jeff?'s?; permission?. Unauthourized? reproduction? is? expressly? prohibited?.

      I was like: "HUH?". Then I remembered I was doing an experiment with Mozilla where I set it to UTF-8 and then I see how messed up by browing experience was... So far this is the climax...

      Which leads me to wonder... what's the big deal wit

      • If slashdot set a character set in their HTML, everything would, presumably, work nicely (because it would tell your browser how to display stuff). But they don't. So it doesn't.
    • It(TM)©® only(TM)©® takes(TM)©® one(TM)©® click(TM)©®(TM)!(TM) is© a(TM) registered® trademark(TM) used(TM) with Jeff©'s(TM) permission©. Unauthourized© reproduction(TM) is© expressly® prohibited(TM).
      OpenBeos & Software

      For a second there, I read your .sig as "OpenBezos & Software"...

  • Another One? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Jeez another person with their own space company. It seems im the only one without one!
    • "Now he has a $1.7 billion fortune to try to convert that dream into reality."

      Ok, I know now why I have not got one :(
    • Really? I got one a few days after I got my talk show...

      What? You don't have your own talk show yet, either?
    • by powerlinekid ( 442532 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:12PM (#5816991)
      Didn't you get the memo? Well since you seem upset by this, I'll give you some tips for starting your own:
      • Create fancy webpage with fancy drawings on napkins. It also helps to put some mathematical formulas on them.
      • Come up with a cool name. The cooler the name the better, I can't emphasize this enough.
      • Go to Walmart and buy some tupper-ware, garden hoses (roughly 200 feet), and gas containers.
      • Build something resembling a space vehicle out of said parts.
      • Make sure to say on your website: "Our designs take into affect safety in a cost effective way. We have privately tested our craft and it is technologically sound. However, We regret that without more funding we will no longer be able to provide a convenient, easy and safe way to put people into space on their terms."
      • Provide a donation and VC link on the bottom.

      Now sit back and watch the funding come in. You too can have a space program for only a $100 investment.
  • by ansleybean ( 618941 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:20PM (#5816873) Homepage
    the federal patent office awarded a patent on space to jeff bezos today. as a result, all extraterrestrial bodies are required to license their existence.
  • secret (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Jeff Bezos' secret space-oriented company, "

    Not so secret anymore eh?
  • Given his recent history, how long before he and his bozo lawyers file patents on a

    "method for the transport and return of civilian passengers to near space in a reusable craft"

  • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:23PM (#5816885) Homepage Journal
    Bezos is boldly going where no dot-comer has gone before ...

    That quote is right underneath a picture of bald Mr. Bezos in which he very subtly resembles Jean Luc Picard ;-).

  • Amazon (Score:4, Funny)

    by cscx ( 541332 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:24PM (#5816890) Homepage
    So is this something else that no one will buy on Amazon, just like the Segway?
    • Actually the Segway is in the top 99.9% of items sold on right now, as it has been for quite some time now. If I had $5,000 I'd buy one too!
    • I think this space dream must actually be the real reason behind Amazon. Bezos is attempting a bold new approach to liftoff, based on the age-old, tried-and-true technology of the lever and fulcrum. Bezos will stand upon one end of a gigantic seesaw, and a huge chart with Amazon's finances shall go at the other, and as Amazon's financial health continues to plummet, it will elevate the other end of the seesaw, elevating Bezos into space.
  • Imagine... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:25PM (#5816892)
    ...the look on your mate's face as you OneClick a $20,000 space trip for him off his Amazon account...
  • Space Race 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seldolivaw ( 179178 ) * <> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:25PM (#5816893) Homepage
    What the hell happened? Did someone declare a second space race and I missed the memo? The X-prize has been around a while, but in the last few weeks I've read of four separate previously-secret ventures to get people into space cheaply. So soon after Columbia, and in the middle of an economic downturn doesn't sound like the greatest time to announce high-risk, expensive projects like these. What gives? Even if the others are just copycats, what pushed the first guy to publish?

    Waiting to be enlightened here....
    • Re:Space Race 2.0? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MilesBehind ( 517130 ) <> on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:36PM (#5816922)
      I think it's all pretty much to be expected. I mean, during the boom years, ppl were plopping money on gold-lined swimming pools and lamborghinis. This might be what's to be expected of anyone that came into more money then they knew what to do with. Still, some of them were nerds who grew up gobbling Clarke, Niven and Asimov, which probably caused them to think, while watching a space shuttle launch: "hmmm... I could afford that, too!"

      So, five years later, their secret projects are going public, cuz they finally have something that resembles a proper plan.

      That, and the fact that NASA's recent stumbles provide a fertile ground for a private, less bueraucratic space-oriented enterprises.
      • I think you're on target here about this following the Columbia break-up. The first iteration of the private space race closely followed the challenger blowup - now we're in for another round. Unfortunately, all those companies are now, so far as I know, defunct. (IIRC, it was "Rockets Unlimited" and "Houston Aerospace" -- but I could be very wrong.)
      • by Daetrin ( 576516 )
        You've also got a cascade effect. As soon as one company publicly announces themselves, a lot of the others are going to want to speak up so the first company doesn't hog the spotlight. This will be especially true if they are currently seeking investors or plan to start doing so in the near future.
    • Look at the planes... they're not so "separate".
    • The Space Access Society [] has its annual meeting this weekend; this is the first one since the X prize [] was announced to be fully funded last October, and the race has definitely been heating up.

      This year is also the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers flight, and a lot of these companies see this year as a terribly symbolic time to actually make it all happen.

      It's time :-) Space enterprise will be the next big growth area - and NASA won't have a whole lot to do with it. Think of the shuttle accident a
      • Sign me up. :) I can't wait! The time has come!
      • Not long ago I would have agreed with all of you who say that private enterprise is the way we'll get into space. I read "The Man Who Sold the Moon" and all those other awesome Heinlein stories about private enterprise getting us into space and then governments following (as is obvious from my sig, I suppose). I loved them. I became convinced that we needed a D. D. Harriman to get us established off the planet, especially looking at NASA's recent offerings (pathetic) and failures. Unmanned probes(and ch
        • I've met Zubrin and read some of his stuff - he's certainly persuasive. But you have to question his assumptions, just like anybody else. Personally I'm happy if the government takes the lead on Mars and private enterprise takes the lead on the Moon - there's a role for both. Space exploration isn't cheap - on the other hand, building nuclear power plants isn't cheap, building railroads isn't cheap, building a communications networks isn't cheap, but all those things have been done, and in the US, primarily
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:26PM (#5816895) Homepage

    I'm sure he'd patent the method used to get him there, wouldn't he? And the damn patent office would allow it, because the patent office is his bitch, right?

    Then again, leaving Bezos in space might be just what we need...

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:31PM (#5816908)
    It would be pretty cool if he were there because he's trying to get some experience for a future novel. It'd be especially funny, if comparing this work to Snow Crash, if he were going to have his character be a janitor in a space facility or somesuch, and like our infamous pizza driver, took on the closest weird job of custodial maintenance at this company to get a feel for what his character's life would be...
  • Space? Why? (Score:1, Troll)

    by pummer ( 637413 )
    Why would anyone venture into space privately? We all know that space travel is obviously one of the most dangerous undertakings humanly possible. Why, then, would anyone in their right mind venture into space, let alone with a company which employs Neal Stephenson.
    • Re:Space? Why? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why would anyone build a boat and go in the water. You could drown it is dangerous.
    • It is not about what make sense but if there is enough of a market. I believe two different individual have already privately paid to be launched in space (and went there), so we now know that there is a market. The next question is can it be made profitable, although since the founder of the company is a dotcommer, he might not know about that rule of economy.

      Another example of market versus logic is the tabaco industry... They make millions by selling a product that cause premature death.

  • by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @08:59PM (#5816964) Homepage Journal

    (awww, screw it) /Muppet Announcer Voice

  • Why aren't these billionaires exploring the depths of the oceans as James "King of the World" Cameron does?

    Surely there's interesting stuff down there, like nucular radiation-enlarged squids [], slime monsters [] and maybe a Godzilla-like creature [] or two.

    Are any of them funding research into solar cells [], wind technology, [] tidal power [] or geothermal [] or is it all a great big ego boost? []
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:02PM (#5816972) Journal
    He should form a company to sell the machine that generated the reality distortion field he used on his investors.

  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:03PM (#5816974)
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  • People that visited Mars also visited:

  • 1) File crappy patents that are in no way ubique or original.
    2)Walk to moon on stacks of patent paperwork.
    3)Patent the 'process in which a body may orbit around another'.
    • I agree that patent abuse sucks, but the patent office can't be doing that bad of a job if we don't hear about new bs daily. Is there a way to view patent applications that were denied?
  • Brad Stone points out his story (due out in Monday's issue of Newsweek) on Jeff Bezos' secret space-oriented company

    Phew..for a sec, I thought that was Jeff Bates' secret space-oriented company. Its like, gee, whats VA paying him these days?

  • Amazing! (Score:4, Funny)

    by zerOnIne ( 128186 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:17PM (#5817016) Homepage
    From the more-fun-than-yachts department

    Billionaires secretly building rockets and other spaceships isn't all that surprising; but a Slashdot editor using "than" properly in lieu of the much more popular "then"... now *that's* what I call news!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think a few of these ventures are going to give a whole new meaning to their Dot-Com founders understanding of the term "Crash and Burn".
  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:28PM (#5817046)
    A great quote from the article really points to something that is pretty neat, IMHO, "The computer and Internet revolutions have given a great deal of capital to the 'Star Wars' fans."

    It really is a good point, never befor have so many "nerds" had the cash to do something this cool!
  • He can't make a profit selling books. How does anyone think he'll be profitable at this? He must have found some masochistic investors somewhere.
  • Floating upside down and avoiding The Man. That's what this reminds me of.
  • More nonsense from Bezos that will never work, and waste a ton of dough. Is it any wonder that those really useful and popular Segway thingies are sold on Amazon?
  • Both these guys are going to find out that because they have some greenbacks doesn't translate to space success. Space is very expensive. Both of them want it for cheap and it's not going to happen.
  • Click here to launch with 1-Click

    bunny of death!
  • there's a thread on this at spymac, with a better picture: here []
  • by oaf357 ( 661305 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @09:56PM (#5817101) Homepage Journal
    Okay, this might seem terrible to say but what happens when one of these guys goes broke? Even worse, when there's an accident? I'm very happy to see progression of this kind because it really doesn't seem like NASA will be doing any for quite some time but have these guys seen the BIG picture? Redesigning rockets from the ground up is a good thing but remember when NASA was designing rockets? They had numerous scrubbed, failed, and fatal launches. Maybe these organizations should get together and pool their resources a little and make sure safety first is a goal. The worst thing that could happen to human space travel would be for another disasterous loss of life to occur. Because if a government can't do it and private organizations can't do it then who can? I wish these people and their employees the best of luck and hope they are successful in their ventures.
    • These are private companies. If one of their machines goes BOOM I'm sure the crew knew the risks involved. So the general public gets scared of flying to space for a thrill. Meanwhile the daredevils and pioneers have a blast, like the early aviators. If a working, economical design is found I can almost guarantee one crash won't stop the new space race.
  • by Traa ( 158207 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:01PM (#5817116) Homepage Journal
    Got to love those journalists that start the article with a picture of a rival company's craft without specifically mentioning that this craft has nothing to do with Mr Bezos.

    On top of that, the picture is Photoshopped (whoops, I mean "Gimped" :-)

    Compare the bottom of this [] picture closely to this [] image. Both are from Scaled Composites own site. Scaled Composites is one of the competitors for the X-price.

    Note the following fakes:
    1) The attachment of the crafts is a Photoshop job. They removed the wheels (look closely at the spot on the small plane that suposedly holds the wheels) and note that they forgot to remove the shadow of the front stand. Also, the shadow on the attachement between the planes is (nicely) faked. For that matter, so is the whole attachment.
    2) The small plane does not actually have an exhaust (the red thingy). In all the pictures this thing looks a little different. Note how it is awkwardly in and out of shadow in the above pictures.


    Do investors know about this? Is this common practice for a startup (ok, forget I asked that ;-)? If I photoshop a cool plane, will you give me 1 Gazillion $$ too?
    • I forgot one major fluke in those two (1 [], 2 []) pictures.

      Check out the black exhaust on the big plane (and the lack of it in the other picture)!

      • I think you're blowing this way out of proportion. First of all, the company is well known for making high quality planes. It's not like this is just a PR stunt. They have already made lots and lots of planes with very similar designs as this. For example the Voyager that was the first plane to fly non-stop around the world.

        Second, some of the major flukes such as the "exhausts missing" are probably just different versions of the plane, or taken at different times. That is, it might be that the component m
        • Ok.. So it actually seems they are not taken at different times but that it's the same photo and stuff is added & removed to the 2nd one (the bigger one). But my point still stands. They clearly did it because it's not ready yet and so they made the edited photo show what it will look like when it's ready. What's the big deal?
    • How old are those pictures? Could they be mockups or just uncompleted prototypes? If a company was working on the engines, or wanted to show what the final product will look like, I can see them photoshopping some things. This is the same company that a week ago announced what they were doing, and then said they weren't looking for any funding, and were returning to work in secrecy. You could claim they have no product at all, but more likely they wanted to grab some fame and then go back to work. IIRC
    • Nice catch, but you also missed the old-school method of detecting a fake: You would think it would take time to mate the two planes and then have the photographer take the "after" picture. But no time elapsed: none of the shadows moved, and also none of the planes at this busy airport did, either.

      Also, the camera didn't move: I'm sure they took pictures from many angles - what are the chances that the last unmated picture and the first mated picture were the best ones?
  • but if he does, does he have to come back?
  • by kevlar ( 13509 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:05PM (#5817131)
    With all these billionares forming their own space oriented companies, what the hell is stopping them from pooling their resources for their common goal?!?! You'd think that if they were capable of doing all this so cheaply, that triple or quadruple the capital would help speed things along...
    • That's the last thing we need...a pissing contest between billionaire geeks.

      I want it to look like a space shuttle!
      I want it to look like a big balloon!
      Shut up! I have more money than you!
      No you shut up!
    • They have different goals, designs, and rocket engines to suit each vehicle. How much of their knowledge is really compatible is unknown. More importantly, these tech industry guys aren't footing the entire bill themselves. Certainly John Carmack isn't paying for everything. You suggest Paul Allen and Bezos should pay for everything just because they can? Even if they did it might not stop Carmack from continuing with his own company funded by VCs. If not Carmack than another guy with big dreams of be
    • Nobody really knows what the best way to design a cheap reusable space launcher is, so it's probably a good thing that a bunch of people are trying different approaches, and, besides, the thrill of competition should spur the various groups to achieve more.

      If they start trying to tackle more ambitious goals, then the amount of capital required would probably require a bit more cooperation.

    • You'd also think that if OpenBSD teamed up with Gentoo we'd come up with a super-secure, super-fast OS, right? No, but the competition between them entices them both to improve and the choice is good for anyone in the market. Not all of these companies have the exact same goals, and the fact that they are competing against each other is what makes at least one of them likely to be successful. Note that NASA really hasn't done anything interesting since the Soviet competition dried up. Would our space progra
  • High tech (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shadowbearer ( 554144 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:10PM (#5817141) Homepage Journal
    from article: " Rutan has spent a celebrated career designing airplanes like the Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling. He doesn't classify as an immigrant from high tech"

    Voyager? Not high tech? The first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping for fuel? Methinks he's pretty modest ... y'know, I think I like this guy.

  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Saturday April 26, 2003 @10:42PM (#5817256) Homepage Journal
    Stephenson is into high-power rocketry. I once asked him, at a signing, what Tripoli / NAR* Cert Level (the internally-administered skill level which determines the size of rocket motors one can purchase) he'd achieved.

    He'd gotten to Level Two, which requires a written test and successfully launching a carefully inspected large rocket. As I recall, it lets you use "J" and "K" motors. (For those who flew Estes motors as kids, this is the equivalent of 64 and 128 D motors.)

    Level Three requires a really large and sturdy rocket, and lets you use monstrous M motors.

    (I was certified in the early 90s before there were levels, but let it lapse during grad school; when I tried for level one last year I failed because my model's nose cone popped off due to internal pressure. Nothing damaged, but that was enough to scuttle the attempt.)

    Now I'm picturing him filling out the paperwork for Cert Level 4: Manned Flight.


    * Tripoli Rocketry Association / National Association of Rocketry

  • Jeff wil now patent the Space Shuttle to lock out competition with his venture..

    My bet is less than 12 months away for that patent
  • This is so amazing how many rich entrepreneurs are getting into the space business. I love to hear them putting their money and energy towards a good cause: the future of mankind.
  • (spelling intentional). With the all the war stories going on I parsed that as shot in space and thought some guy mad at the one click patent did him in! The "space" bit was confusing though :-)
  • Tax Stunt... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PhiloHmm ( 200352 )
    Could this just be a way from them to spend more than 7.5% of their Adjusted Gross Income on a hobby to get another tax deduction? Hmm...
  • ... who said that Segway would revolutionize transportation. I'm more interested in what Carmack and the other leading X-Prize company (with the wacky looking ship / plane) can come up with.
  • Jeff patents space flight and files suit against NASA.
  • There are lots of companies planning the future of space. Space Island Group [] plans to construct several space stations before the end of the decade. Space Adventures [] is going to offer flights into space for $98,000 a person. And I've seen several proposals to plan the mining of Helium-3 from the moon that could serve as a long term power source for earth. It's good to see the private sector getting involved here, we definitely need it to improve the cost and feasibility of long term projects. We just aren't
    • Re:More (Score:2, Interesting)

      by xaaronx ( 660963 )
      We aren't going to get beyond LEO with private enterprise. I'm saddened by the realization, but no D. D. Harriman is going to emerge to get us onto another world. I'd like to see us mine the He3 on the moon, and think we will. But it will be due mainly to gevernment research and spending, much as I hate the fact. Private enterprise won't even have much to do with developing the controlled, sustainable fusion reactors we need the He3 FOR, let alone the vehicles that get it from Luna to Earth. The invesm
      • I disagree. I think private enterprise will play an important role. You are correct in saying that right now it is too expensive and not worth the risk for them. What I am saying is that only private industry involvement is going to change that. The gov will continue to spend billions on huge programs that it believes are beneficial. NASA has never been that concerned with the bottom line or cost minimization. It spends what is necessary for something to succeed. But with private businesses, cost will have
  • Jeff Bezos' secret space-oriented company, called Blue Origin -- which aims to launch tourists in a reusable vehicle.

    So the vehicle is reusable... what about the tourists?
  • Jeff Bezos shot INTO space.

    And then I thought "'bout damn time!".

  • While it is excellent to see multiple billionaires pursuing cheap access to space (CATS), this seems like a problem that will be much easier to solve as new materials and processes come along (diamondoid jet nozzles, fusion, etc.) in the near future. Several of these entrepreneurs are of course already using newer materials and processes (composites, active dynamics, small ground crews augmented by fancy computers and software) relative to what NASA is stuck with in maintaining an aging Shuttle.

    While I wo

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351