I may have placed a curse on us at the Space Frontier Foundation’s excellent NewSpace 2006 conference. I told everyone there that we expected to hit our next milestone “in a week or two”, and that the milestone was a flying vehicle. As soon as I leave the podium, one of the engineers calls me and says one of our parts vendors just slipped the schedule by a week. This week, that vendor slipped another week on delivery. There is no chance that we’ll fly within two weeks of the NewSpace conference.
This is very frustrating on many levels. Tactically, there are the overall schedule slips and wasted engineer time. I will not go into all the strategic implications here, but I will point out that flying our vehicle will do a lot for building empirical evidence that we have a good idea and can execute on it.
A number of people have asked us if they can come out and watch our “first flight”. Generally we don’t want people out watching our tests. Most of the time the testing is really boring and never gets to the exciting stuff. Also, if you are interested in coming out to watch a test, you are most likely someone we really like and find interesting, and want to talk to about lots of stuff. Which means distractions from the checklist, which means we’ll do something stupid and make expensive mistakes.
The other problem with coming out to watch our “first flight” is we have no idea what day that will be. We know what days our tests our on, but we don’t know what procedural glitches, logistics issues, or technical problems we’ll run into on any given test.
Of course there is nothing stopping someone from grabbing breakfast or lunch at The Voyager and watching us from there. If you look out to the northeast you’ll see a bridge on Rt 58 way off in the distance and a 747 in storage on the airport just to the right of the 58 bridge. Our test area is visible between the two.