October 2008

OK, this is a great thing for the industry. Rocket Racing Inc. and Armadillo Aerospace have announced an new joint venture to get the average (wealthy) Joe into space ASAP.  They claim to have the price down to $100,000, one of the best prices out there so far…

Again, this is very cool. More competition brings down prices, speeds innovations etc… And I love that Armadillo is run by a guy who made his fortune in video games, specifically “Doom”. But here’s the rub. They unveiled a rendering of their concept vehicle for the trip:

Armadillo's suborbital spaceship

There it is. Now, most people I talk to  snicker at me when I bring up the subject of space tourism. Is it any wonder why? It looks like two people got trapped in the largest, most elaborate water bong ever created. Then again… (Note to self: pitch new reality series to Fox, “Bongs in Space”).

Anyway, here’s the details on the partnership. They hope to launch by 2010

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we distributed our October Newsletter this morning. Look for it in your email inbox….

If you are not signed up for our newsletter, you can go HERE .

If you are signed up but did not receive the newsletter, send me an email brian@62mileclub.com and we’ll fix you right up!

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Greetings… Despite road closures due to area fires and the most uncertain economic period in my life, I am pleased to say that SIS5 was the best one yet. We had an excellent group of entrepreneurs present, several insightful panels, high quality networking, and an energetic key-note from Steve Jurvetson. Excerpts of some of the presentations might be made available online and we’ll let you know where to go once they are good to go.

Amaresh Kollipara of Earth 2 Orbit LLC and Michael Leventhal of McSqaured Law launched the day by giving a market overview which gave newbies to space a better understanding of opportunities, challenges, and other factors when considering a space related investment. They made a great point that value added services in space could be more valuable when comparing them to their hard ware cousins like the launch companies.

Stay tuned for SIS 6 which is coming to Florida in May 2009.

Well, it has taken me a couple of days to recover from the whirlwind that was the Space Investment Summit (SIS). Held at the fashionable Luxe Hotel in Brentwood, Los Angeles, the all day affair put 9 of the best and brightest early stage commercial space ventures in front of an elite group of potential investors.

Truth be told, I am surprised the collective knowledge and talent in the room did not cause an earthquake in our land of Britney and Paris. It was truly a joy to have a conversation where I could use words containing more than two-syllables.

All 9 business presentations were top-notch and, though these things don’t happen overnight, I do believe I saw some initial conversations occurring between investors and presenters during the breaks.

There were a number of excellent panel presentations throughout the day and as the slide shows from those presentations become available I will post and comment on them.

The keynote by legendary venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson was a highlight for everyone there. This is the guy who was an initial investor in Hotmail and Skype among others. He focused on what he and other VCs are truly looking for in an investment.

Jurveston spoke of the start-up having a bridge between a passionate vision of the future and the pragmatic reality of the present. Along those lines they look for:

  • Passion
  • A Unique Idea that has the potential to “Change the World”
  • Capital Efficient with a potential for a 100x ROI
  • A Disruptive Technology

I’ll have some quotes from his speech up later this week as well.

62MC looks forward to SIS 6 in Orlando in May 2009!

For more info on Steve Jurvetson, go HERE and HERE

For more info on SIS go HERE

American Video Game Deisgner Richard Garriott followed in his astronaut father’s footsteps Sunday, blasting off aboard a Russian rocket to become the world’s sixth space tourist, and the first second generation astronaut ever.

His father is former US astronaut Owen Garriott, who in 1973 spent two months aboard Skylab, the first orbiting space station.

Read all about it HERE.

That’s pretty cool. But what’s even cooler is that you can make enough money designing video games to blow $30 million on a vacation. I love this country!

Esther Dyson, journalist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, is well-known in commercial space circles, both for her investments in numerous start-ups in the field and for her well-documented desire to join the 62 Mile Club sooner rather than later. For those of you unfamiliar with Esther, check her out on wikipedia.

Well, Esther has taken the next step, registering as the back-up for Charles Simonyi, who is set to make his second trip to the International Space Station this coming Spring.

Big Deal, you say? Well it isn’t just as simple as dishing out the $3 million registration fee to be his backup. Nope, Esther is going to spend the better part of the winter in Star City, Russia, training to be a cosmonaut. Winter, Russia, Borscht, Study. If you were to ask me to list 5 of my least favorite things, well, there you are (#5? Rosie O’Donnell).

Still, we at 62MileCLub are huge fans of Esther and wish her godspeed and good luck as she tackles her next challenge!

For more details see HERE (though you’d think they could spell her name correctly at CNET, considering she once worked with them…)

For a  video of Esther being interviewed by Bambi (yes, Bambi) go HERE

Esther plans to document the experience on her own site HERE.

Just a quick post to remind readers that 62MileClub is a contributing sponsor for Space Investment Summit 5 (SIS5) which is happening this Wednesday, October 15th at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset Blvd. in Bel Air. (My buddy Seth Horowitz is the General Manager there and, trust me, this is a nice place to spend the day)

Yours truly will be in attendance as well as the legendary co-founders of this site, Robert Jacobson and Eddie Van Pelt.

You can see more information about the event here.

There are a couple spots still available, so if you are an investor, entreupeuner or just curious about the opportunities for investment in space you can go here to register.

Hope to see you there.

Alan Boyle, over at the incredibly poorly named MSNBC CosmicLog (No, they wont tell you your horoscope, I asked. Seriously now, they probably have a whole division just for creating names and this is the best they could come up with.) blogged on how much Space Program you could buy with the $700 billion being used to bail out our most hallowed, or is it hollow, financial insitutions.

Here’s a hint: It’s a lot

We don’t do politics at 62MileClub, at least not today, but it was an interesting comparison.

Here’s the link:

How much is that in Apollos?

A friend of 62 Mile Club, Michael Leventhal, of Mcsquared Law wrote a short op-ed on the current state of New Space. We thought it was a perfect way to kick off the reactivation of the Blog here at 62MileClub

— New Space 2008

 The buzz is on. The New Space business is starting to, sorry, take off. It’s starting to look like the internet/multimedia industries of the early 1990’s. Or is it?

Working in the New Space business, and coming from the “Multimedia” business of the early 1990’s, it is interesting to note the similarities and differences between the two. What follows are some of each.

First, the similarities:

1. What Are You Talking About? People were confused when early adopters tried to explain websites, the power of email, digital transmission of media files and the obsession we all had with these subjects. Today, New Space encounters the “Giggle Factor” when the conversation turns to space tourism, space elevators, space hotels, the Lunar X Prize, and other subjects with which we are obsessed. In order to explain to someone what one does in New Space, first, one has to explain what New Space is.

2. Building the Infrastructure. Right now, other than Earth-based simulations, New Space is primarily about getting to a low cost launch. Without relatively easy access to space, much of the opportunity will remain untapped. In the early ‘90’s, the internet/multimedia industry was about faster computers, CD-ROM drives in every box, faster modem speeds, better routers – all of the infrastructure that ultimately allowed Yahoo!, Amazon, EBay, Google, YouTube and Facebook to happen.

3. Bridging the Gap between engineers and investors. Does this sound familiar? As with the early programmers, the techies and the money people don’t get together much. They don’t speak the same languages. The engineers don’t understand what is valuable to the investors. Only a few early investors have already opened their wallets to New Space ventures. And, just like the Internet, 1994, investors are starting to pay attention. Events such as the Space Investment Summit (note: MC Squared is involved in the production of this event, and Michael Leventhal will be speaking early in the day) have been designed to bridge the gap, just as Digital Hollywood was originally designed for the same purpose in the Digital Media business.

The Differences:

1. Budgets. Back in the day, 2 guys in a garage, several cases of Jolt Cola and a pile of Pizza Hut pizzas, and the next billion dollar company could be born. It still takes $100 million to put a rocket into space. That having been said, there are many New Space businesses that require far less funds than that to be viable.

2. The Government. Far more than the initial oversight by DARPA or the original management of the internet by Federal Government proxies like Network Solutions and IANA, many space companies have, as their primary customer, the U.S. Government. This affects business models, work cultures, growth potential and other factors that are key to the growth of fully functioning private enterprise.

Copyright 2008. mcsquared. All rights reserved.—

I disagree with his difference #1. He is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion. The proper comparison would be the current cost of getting a rocket to orbit on a consistent basis to the massive outlay of infrastructure (fiber optic lines, routers, servers) that was necessary to create the backbone of the Internet.

Once an affordable path to space is developed, the barriers to entry to space businesses will be much lower, just as the barriers to entry on the internet became basically nil once the internet was made readily available to the masses. It will always be easier to start a business on the internet than in space but you get my point.

 Regardless, we thank Michael for letting us publish his thoughts here.