George Nield

#NSRC2013 Makes an interesting point that spaceports should be more proactive in expanding industry. Don’t just maintain facilities and wait for customers to show up. Take cue from flight schools and start similar programs for spaceflight. Also, will think that Mojave is a thriving spaceport when there is more spacecraft hardware than windmill parts in the hangar.

9 comments on this post.
  1. Al:

    Fuel: LOX/LH2 production? Other fuel storage? Bunkers?

    Viewing: Bleachers? Bunkers? Permanent video gear?

    Shows: Rocket racing league? Maybe try to get ‘basing’ there?

    Trainers: ?

    Camps: ? I know the Seattle Museum of Flight runs a contest to get into a summer camp that’s basically a tours of various STEM stuff and hands-on crafting and ‘STEM contests’.

  2. Thomas Matula:

    Al,

    Remember, key features of spaceports are big runways, lots of land, no nearby neighbors, loud noises allowed…

    There are lots of activities, some having nothing to do with rocket flight that fit in with those parameters. Think about it like a marketer looking for revenue, not a space advocate seeking to convert the masses to space.

  3. ken anthony:

    Flight schools market to a broad base. Spaceports could do all their marketing in an afternoon on the phone.

    Do you remember computer stores in the early days? First, they’d be hidden so you couldn’t find them. When you did find them the store was a shop with a workbench and some guy holding a soldering gun. No sales people at all. Things change as markets grow.

  4. Gregg:

    Flight schools try to obtain students via the “Introductory Flight” 30 minutes t an hour’s flight at a fairy low cost so people can give it away as a birthday gift.

    Lately, the industry has come up with the LSA concept – Light Sport Aircraft to try and gain students by removing some of the barriers to getting a full private pilot’s license…med requirements eased as well as training requirements. Of course there are limits on the LSA pilot’s ticket as well.

    Al’s idea of a trainer isn’t a bad one so long as the malfunction rate is acceptable.

    “Getcher ME-163 dual Komet ride here!”

    There are lots of people who will pay a $2500-3500 donation for an hour in a P-51 – though the operating costs are also high so those outfits barely make out.

    The other thing that has to be solved is accessibility. I don’t know what the cost is for a Vomit Comet ride but I suspect you can’t get one at every airport.

  5. Al:

    I can’t quite decide if the “Rocket Racers” seat two. Or have dual controls. But I’m wondering if it can become a “Cessna-152” type pilot + student/joyrider plane.

    I’d expect the ‘hourly rate’ to be a hell of a lot lower than for the P-51 flights. (Which are very cool.) But in that case you’ve got people having to do custom machining from replacement bits – and not just for the engine.

  6. Larry J:

    I read recently that the Rocket Racer test flights had two on board, a pilot and an engineer to monitor the engine tests. The plane it’s based on (Velocity homebuilt) typically seats four and can have dual controls. Normally, planes used for training have to be certified with the exception of type-specific training for some homebuilts (Sonex and Van’s RVs come to mind).

    I’d love to be able to get some stick time in a rocket powered plane. There are also some flight schools that offer training in surplus military jets. It might be good business to try and lure one of them to a space port, perhaps as part of a larger civilian test pilot/space pilot training program.

    The Air Force and Navy both run test pilot training programs. The candidates fly many different types of planes during the program, many of them leased from civilian owners. Perhaps there’s a marketing opportunity there as well.

  7. Thomas Matula:

    Hear! Hear!

    I wrote about that in 1993 when I worked on the original feasibility study for the Southwest Regional Spaceport, now Spaceport America. Yet Spaceport America stills ignore major near term revenue generators while waiting on Virgin Galactic to start flying.

    I also made that point in my Ph.D. dissertation and in a published paper in 2002.

    Spaceports are NOT airports or seaports. They are a different beast entirely and require a much different business model. Its about time others are waking up to it. Pity history is littered with so many failed spaceports that believed the hype that spaceports were just high flying airports. And I expect more will be joining those that failed.

  8. Thomas Matula:

    BTW Rand what is wrong with windmill parts in the hangers? They pay the rent which is key to any successful facility.

  9. Rand Simberg:

    No one said there is anything wrong with it.