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TrueZero - July 09 Update

Published by Rob Goldsmith on Tue Jul 7, 2009 2:06 pm
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The TrueZero have posted their first update since November 2008:

After last year’s contest we really have not done very much rocket work. In February Scott and I spoke at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. That was enjoyable, and we got to meet some interesting people. In April we went to Space Access ‘09. There were many LLC teams present, and it felt like a bit of a reunion.

On the way to Space Access, we made a small detour to visit to Scaled Composites. I’ve been a fan of Burt Rutan for some time, and Brooke Owens (our host for the FAA conference) pulled some strings to help us set up a visit. That was an awesome experience. The people at Scaled are every bit as bright and motivated as we expected. They’re working on some amazing stuff and were impressively humble, considering what they’ve achieved. I’d personally like to thank Matt and Ben for taking the time to show us around, and everyone at Scaled for being so open and friendly.

TrueZero

TrueZero

At the end of our visit we got to sit and chat with Burt for quite a long time. How cool was that? After speaking with him, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful. He really loves what he’s doing. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious, and his no-nonsense get-out-and-do-it approach to life is obvious.

During our talk, Burt asked if we’d like to move out to Mojave, and work for Scaled. I’m pretty settled in Illinois, and enjoy working as an independent contractor. As undeniably cool as the work would be, tearing up my life and moving to Mojave is not the right choice for me currently. Scott on the other hand, was a little more open to the idea. Recently, he went back for a full-on job interview. Scaled made him an offer, and just a few days ago, he accepted. He’ll be moving out there shortly, and starting in early August.

What all of this means for TrueZer0 is unclear. Given the rules changes, the costs, and need to recover from last year, we had already decided that we would not be competing in 2009 (which is partly why we haven been so quiet).

If there are any significant prizes remaining, Scott’s still motivated to get out and compete in 2010. I’m somewhat more reserved. Working on a project like this involves a huge amount of time, and a ton of testing. I’m not sure it is practical to believe that we could make it all happen with Scott in California, and George, Josh, and myself in Illinois. I guess we’ll need to see how things work in practice.

It’s with strong mixed feelings that I watch Scott head out to Scaled. Sincerely, I’m excited and happy for him. His path in life has just taken a major turn. This is an incredible opportunity, and there’s no doubt he’ll make the most of it.

But also, I’m feeling quite sad. I’ve had a great time working with Scott on all of our projects leading up to this point. Beyond the strong friendship, there’s a dynamic between us that I have experienced with few others. We bring together a rare balance of practicality and perfectionism, of theory and empiricism. There’s no telling what projects we would have taken on after the LLC, but I know they would have been amazing. I’m definitely feeling the loss that we won’t be able to continue doing those things together.

The challenge this year ought to be interesting. It sucks to be sitting on the sidelines, but we’ll be watching closely, and wishing the other teams great success.

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