Location: Palm Beach County, Florida, United States

Recently have been told I look like Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. I hadn't heard that in years, but that is a good place to start as to what I look like, although she had a better bod. I have three boys and have been married for 13 years. Born of a Navy family, in Hawaii, one Mom, one Dad, one sister and one brother. The eldest of three children. BS in Applied Mathematics. Consider Pensacola my home town although I moved every 2-3 years of my life growing up. Currently work in the aerospace industry in an engineering position while being a Mom. Of Celtic heritage and very proud of it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Rocket Science

There has been much discussion with regard to the private industry rocket that was launched successfully. I’ve commented on a couple blogs about it and will reiterate my comments here along with some other information.

First, I think its super cool that a privately financed vehicle went into space and back. I do. I love the whole space and flying thing… as long as I’m on the ground witnessing it or working on it… not participating in the actual flight part. I have an aversion to flying and no, I won’t be blogging on it anytime soon. I cannot imagine working in any other industry than aerospace. It is fast paced, high tech, and interesting as hell. So Kudos to Mssrs Rutan, Allen, Melvill and the big brains and hard working engineers behind it!

That said, I don’t see this is going to be a frequent event. Thank you to Mr. Allen for contributing a cool 20Mill to make this happen; that’s one hell of an expensive hobby. Or interest. Or whatever you want to call it. I read a quote that said, “This flight today opens a new chapter in history, making space access in reach of every day citizens.”, said an FAA Associate Administrator. Hmm. Excuse me while I beg to differ. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a spare 20Mill in my bank account. Or 2Mill. Or 20G. Get my point? Space travel is never going to be cheap for the every day citizen. Someone has to fork over the money to make it happen and if they forked over 20M, they are going to want to recoup their money. You don’t do that at 100 bucks a pop. Now perhaps this is Mr. Allen’s goal, to start some rocketline business, but I think not. And if it is his goal, perhaps he will prove me wrong and call me up one day and say, “Well, Boudicca, this is why you are a housewife and I’m a Microsoft co-founder.” But I doubt that too.

I worked in Jet Propulsion for 12 years. Where it is a lucrative business, it is highly competitive. I’m not going to blog on the ins and outs of the industry, when you make the most money, how the contracting works, etc, because I assure you, I will bore you to tears. I will tell you; however, that the aerospace industry is just as competitive as the automotive business, probably more cut throat, and some make it and some don’t. Where’s McDonnell Douglas? They got bought out by Boeing. There are three major jet engine manufacturers, GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce (also various consortiums). You don’t hear much about Rolls and GE is probably eating everyone’s lunch on market share, although I am speculating since I am not privy to market share numbers anymore. Even if MAKING the product is lucrative, it appears to me that using them is NOT. My perception is the government is always being asked to bail out the airlines. Nobody wants to fly after a 9/11 or when it gets too expensive or there is some other unknown factor.

Rockets is a tough business. I worked it very rarely, so I am no expert. The money made on space, I never got the impression it was hand over fist. I was always hearing rumors that Pratt wanted to sell off their rocket group. I never knew whether it was true, but big companies don’t want to sell off divisions that are making them big bucks.

Flash forward… now you have your big rocketline that people have invested in and they have now made space travel attainable for the average citizen. What happens when you have a large group of people going to space and one explodes? Hey, it happens. Planes crash. Rockets don’t make it past lift off. Bad stuff happens. People do not like to see other people explode in the air. Space travel is much more visible. Typically when there is a plane crash, the entire event is not caught on tape and hundreds of thousands of people didn’t witness it from their front yards. Think of the Challenger. Half of S. Florida was in their yard watching. (We can actually see shuttle launches on a good day from our yards. When I was at work, we used to go outside to watch them.) The whole thing was caught on TV for the world to see. Blech. I don’t like that and I don’t think people do either. One good space catastrophe and the market is going to dry up, maybe only temporarily, for space travel.

I think this whole thing is fantastic and fun, but we need to see it for what it is. A historic event for the private sector and giggles and grins for a very wealthy man and some very smart people. I hope it is more, but I suspect it will not be. And make no mistake, I think this project would be fun as hell to work on. I would have been one of the first to sign up if asked… to work on it… not fly in it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to spend your inheritance and go into space as often as possible. Where do I sign up?

8:01 PM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

I have an inheritance????

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... the past each time man would make a new venture there would be someone saying, "No way, are you nuts?" Yet still they invented steam engines, trains, cars, planes, ships to sail across the oceans and yes rockets. Do I plan on traveling into space. Not in my life time but I bet #1, #2 and pee and cookies might. If not them, there children or their children's children. The fee will be more reasonable or Visa may offer flight miles. Of course this is said with great optimism that the world will become healthier.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Boudicca said...

Ahh, but I didn't say it WOULDN'T happen or COULDN'T be done. I said I THOUGHT it wouldn't happen, but I do HOPE it does. It would be cool. I just know from working with the commercial industry too in the airline business, it's a tough go. If there is a rocketline or spaceline, cool beans. But you are right, it will more than likely not be in my generation and maybe not even in the generation of #1, #2 and Pee and Cookies. The technology is there. That will not be what keeps it from happening. It will be economics.

I guess I didn't view the health of our world as an aspect because every generation is worried about the future. WWII, Vietnam, Iraq. We've hung on so far. Perhaps I am the one being the optimist now.

9:22 AM  

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