25 October 1999
Online - Vehicles (Good)
It Takes a Rocket Scientist -- and Big Bucks -- for These Projects
A general article about the various commercial launch companies
by Peter Wainwright
An online article from the Orlando Sentinel article discusses the ups and downs of the commercial launch business at
http://orlandosentinel.com/space/stories/s102499_rlv24_57.htm. Pioneer Rocketplane, Rotary Rocket, Kelly Space and Technology and Kistler Aerospace are all featured. The article also reiterates the principal financing hurdle of the private entrepreneur. As Mike Kelly of KST puts it in the article:
"The question we hear all of the time from investors is 'If
other companies are being funded by the government, why
would we want to compete against the government?' That's a real difficult question for us to answer."

This is, of course, a reference to the Lockeed Martin X-33 program, to which NASA has awarded over $900 million; enough to fully fund several of the private ventures together, even though X-33 is only a prototype for the more distant VentureStar and has no prospect of generating revenues itself.

The only negative comments in the article come from an anonymous "industry expert". It is interesting to note that this sort of criticism often seems to come from anonymous "expert" sources. Observant readers will note that all the other sources in the article are named, and will no doubt draw their own conclusions...
Source: Mark Reiff, from Orlando Sentinel, October 24, 1999

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Peter Wainwright 25 October 1999
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