Rethinking the Business Model
It is that time of year when I find myself traveling to space and technical conferences. In years past, people would invite me to talk about the lessons learned with respect to running my company Orion, but nowadays the questions/subjects are “What are you guys up to with your Google Lunar X PRIZE?," “What is Dynetics up to in space?," "Can you come share with us the latest?”
This year, I have been asked to attend Space Access in Phoenix. Space Access is one of the less formal conferences where people who have done real stuff, or are working on real space access solutions, meet to discuss their progress, lessons learned, or their future projects. This is not one of those conferences where space policy is the theme. I have been asked to update the audience on the Rocket City Space Pioneers (RCSP). This will be fun.
The RCSP effort has been a challenging and different venue for me, and that certainly is the case for Dynetics. As some of you may be aware, our current business model requirements mandate our raising money for our mission to the Moon based on our “Rideshare Program," which is essentially us/RCSP brokering rides on a purchased SpaceX Falcon 9.
Customers would buy from RCSP secondary payload space/rides to GTO or to the Moon at about half the price of what it would cost them to go and buy a dedicated ride. Another way that we would raise money to help fund our program would be through donations. Donations would likely come in the areas of our program where STEM is the centerpiece, and volunteers are often the heavy lifters. Another important variable in our business model formula was that the science community would have a need and a customer to pay for their missions to do research on the Moon. Anyway, with new administrations often come new directions and policies, and space is obviously a piece of any new President’s vision. Mars, Asteroids, and versatile architecture are the new themes of tomorrow.
I rehashed all of this to take everyone down Memory Lane because we are in the process of making major RCSP business model changes. The Rideshare Program is not going to finance getting us to the Moon in the next two years as we had originally planned. There are many reasons this model did not pan out for us as planned, but I will save that for some of the talks that I might call “RCSP-Lessons learned!”
Not all business plans/models work. Markets change or sometimes never materialize for many reasons. I don’t plan to share our new direction just yet, but I will give you a clue. Space is really not relevant to most Americans. It is unfortunate, but true. We figure out how to mainstream a space theme, and make it cool, attract a significant following – then finding money/sponsors will be the easy part. It is imperative that we create a mainstream platform to make space cool for the general public.
Stay tuned – that plan needs some work!