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Entrepreneurship and space: kindred spirits

As a child, I remember watching on television the first person to ever walk on the moon. The grainy black and white picture mesmerized me. After everyone else had gone to bed, I was still fixated on each awkward looking step by the visitors from Earth. Staying up all hours was not the norm for me (or my siblings), but my parents understood the significance of this historical event. I know this simply because, that time, I was never told to turn off the TV.

In the shadow of the Space Center

About 13 years later, I was living in the shadow of The Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s Space Coast. From my back yard, I’ve been able to see rockets launched — and more recently — watch them return to Earth to be reused for additional missions. I’ve been startled by sonic booms of returning Space Shuttles. All the tremendous sights and sounds that I have had the privilege of witnessing started many years ago. Started by people who were smart enough to have a vision of space travel but not smart enough to “know” it wasn’t possible.

The crazy (or perhaps not so crazy) ideas of these folks made their way to the White House at a time when the sitting U.S. President was a visionary himself. In a speech officially titled Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, President John F. Kennedy addressed the audience saying, in part:

“We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon… we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.”

Space travel and entrepreneurship: like-minded endeavours

If you have never viewed or heard this speech in its entirety — or if you have but it’s been a long time — I encourage you to do so again. It issued challenges and gave encouragement to think and do beyond normal expectations. In a very real way, much of what we hear in this speech applies to the process and spirit of entrepreneurship. According to Wikipedia, entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, which is often initially a small business.

I’ve mentioned small businesses that became huge business previously. Not all businesses need to have a listing on the New York Stock Exchange to be successful. There are thousands of successful companies that provide a good living for those that work for these organizations. In addition, these companies offer products and services that greatly benefit their customers and the world in general.

An entrepreneurial business does not always bring an entirely new product or service. Often, it is an adaptation of an old business in which the leadership has a better and more efficient method of running things. Everything from snacks to, of course, space travel can present opportunity.

Rocket Crafters, located on Florida’s Space Coast, is a stellar example. As they say on their web site:

“While other rocket companies have their sights set on lofty goals of colonization and manned flight, ours are closer to home. We want rocket launches to be safe as an airline flight and cost a fraction of the price of a current launch. It’s simple. The biggest and most expensive hurdle in space launch is the rocket engine. Liquid rockets are complex, unreliable and expensive – hence the term, “This isn’t rocket science.” Solid rockets can’t be throttled and need special handling to prevent premature detonation. Hybrids have long been known to be the answer, but no one could get them to work reliably. Over the decades, scientists have experimented with different materials and different manufacturing methods, but we’ve cracked the code! Our unique 3D printing technology (patent pending) creates a solid fuel grain that burns smoothly and reliably every time.”

“Crazy” right now could become future reality

Yes, the concept is “out there” but that’s exactly what makes this idea so fascinating — like so many ideas that have shaped us. Much like putting a human being on the moon 50 years ago, or business ideas that would have sounded strange even as soon as a few years ago. I see many visionaries who look past those with stale outdated thinking. They want to find new innovations that will improve the human condition. They do so not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Encourage and support these entrepreneurs as they move us towards a brighter future.

January 2020

Rocket Crafters is not affiliated with or endorsed by LPL Financial and Allen & Company.