Specific Technologies have a monopoly. The Monopoly brings bureaucracy. Bureaucracy thrives on limited information. And Limited information results from limited knowledge. And finally, limited knowledge is an outcome of inferior/rudimentary technologies..!! Bring it all together and one can say, Monopoly results into rudimentary technology.
How does one assimilate this? Well, take example of space technologies. For years and decades together, space missions, rocket launching, satellite missions have been a monopoly of the Government. NASA in the US and ISRO in India are excellent examples. They have done commendable jobs by launching space vehicles up in the space for various applications such as for communication, navigation, and surveillance, weather-forecast and so on.
In the US, giant companies like Boeing and Lockheed-Martin supply essential technologies for NASA explorations such as engines, chassis, and electronics and so on. I call these as “Beautiful People”. That’s because they are privileged. There is no competition. They have their own ways of doing things, which may not be optimum. But since they have monopoly, there are mostly no questions asked. They take technologies from countries like Russia, especially for engine designs. Therefore, Russians are also a part of this “Cult of beautiful people”. For a technology which would cost “X” amount, these would charge “10X”..!! For a time “T” to complete a job and launch a space ship, they would take “10T”!! And while all this goes on for decades, common person like you-and-me think of all this as “Rocket Science”.. err.. literally..!!
“HOW” to break this Cult and “WHY” to break this Cult? Well, the reason is that everything should come to humanity and a common man. Why should space missions be only to understand the Universe? Why shouldn’t it be available like a “space safari” or a “holiday to Moon” or “MARS”? If this has to happen, the cult has to be broken. And it is not easy. Because one has to do several things:
1. Have Indigenous technologies – So that entire range of components is manufactured in-house. Things become very cheap. 2. Improvise the technologies – Coming out of rudimentary control systems and poor electronics to savvy, digitally-controlled, lightweight and miniaturized mechanical assemblies. 3. Recyclable and Re-usable Rocket technologies – If a Rocket which launches the satellites in space are able to come back for the next payload satellite to be taken (just like a train comes to carry new passengers back to the same destination), cost cutting would be huge. It becomes a consumer product then.
I am sure, by now everybody has guessed it..!! Yes, I am talking about SpaceX technologies and the person who has Cut the Cult is Mr. Elon Musk! SpaceX has developed completely indigenous technology to launch its FALCON-series of rockets and launchers. They have developed Dragon Capsules which use solar panels, highly efficient and light-weight single sheet composites with technologies for higher stability, better solar-power efficiency and intelligent algorithms sitting on MEMS-based electronics. The look is Flashy, the feel is Savvy, the technology is Sexy and the performance is Efficacious!!!. Everything is just opposite to that developed and held by the cult of beautiful people..!!
Let me give some examples here –
1. The average cost of Boeing’s Starliner would be $90 million per astronaut, compared with $55 million a seat on SpaceX’s Dragon.
2. With entire technologies made from within SpaceX, 60% of the space revenue of the world is collected by the US.
3. Russia charges 70 Million USD, to the US, per person, to International Space Station, which is extremely expensive.
4. With re-usable rockets, the SpaceX will be able to bring these technologies much cheaper and they intend to have atleast 20 launches per year. They also dream of having an interim space-base, where the rockets would be available immediately after they complete one “trip” to space and are ready to go next, with a new Dragon.
People could think of Mars mission, space safaris more often, just because someone has tried to cut the cult of beautiful people, who had a monopoly of technologies and which were working with extremely slow pace.
SpaceX is Elon Musk. He thinks differently, is extremely sharp, a task-master, and is very courageous!! Cutting through the giants like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences and winning over NASA slots and bids is not easy. Bringing the technologies to a cheaper level with smarter, more advanced, and digital-friendly level has to be a dream first, and then a reality..!!
They say that earlier, if there was some flaw in a rocket launching system, which was realized during the launch, NASA would cancel the entire launch and would take atleast 30 days to recover the flaw and schedule a new launch. But with FALCON series, there is a story that SpaceX engineers discovered a flaw and they quickly changed the software online and the corrected the same and the launch was delayed only by 30 mins..!!
That’s the power of dream.. !!
“Cutting the Cult” stories are many.. For me, the best one is of Elon Musk.
To achieve something that is phenomenal, one needs to be a “General of Army” and not the “CEO of a company”..!!
Next time you hear the song of Ed Sheeran, “Beautiful People”, surely you will remember Elon Musk and (hopefully) this blog..!!
(These are my personal thoughts, which are not intended to harm anyone, nor any organization)