On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first non-governmental organization to send human cargo into orbit and to a successful docking rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). On June 1, Nolan Johnson spoke with military/aerospace consultant and I-Connect007 columnist Mike Hill about the significance of this mission.
Mike shares his expert perspective on the significance of the mission’s success, ranging from the cost-effectiveness of the SpaceX-designed (and Boeing-designed) lift systems to the cost of manufacturing to the recoverable rocket stages. He also discusses the positive impact the private space industry can and will have on the electronics manufacturing industry.
I-Connect007 continues to deliver original reporting and coverage of the electronics design, electronics manufacturing, and contract manufacturing industries, including up-to-date information from the companies, associations, and supply chains globally.
Visit Mike Hill's column page: From the Hill.
Nolan Johnson: Hi. Nolan Johnson here with I-Connect007. This morning, I’m speaking with Mike Hill, an industry consultant with MIL-Q Consulting. Mike, welcome.
Mike Hill: Thank you.
Johnson: Saturday afternoon was the successful launch of the SpaceX manned mission after a delay from the original Wednesday launch date. We wanted to get on the line with you and chat about that event to get a sense of the milaero perspective on that from your seat. What do you see as the significance of a private enterprise lift vehicle carrying humans to the ISS?
Hill: It’s huge. With private versus government, the funding process is much faster—maybe one hundred times faster than NASA—and the government decision processes on how to do different things is faster. Cost efficiency is going to be at least 10 times better. We saved $50 million this weekend by not going with the Russians, so it’s already a big number on the first thing. But maybe the biggest benefit is this out-of-box thinking with Elon Musk and Boeing, etc.; they’re thinking outside of the box and creating new technologies and markets.
For example, when reusing the launch rocket by landing in a vertical position on a moving boat, NASA would have said that was impossible, but these guys made it happen. That’s amazing. America has an interest in space travel, and maybe the best part is that kids are interested in space and technology. For the next 10–20 years, people are going to be very interested in space and joining the effort. I have to say kudos to Russia for coordinating space travel for the last 10 years.
Johnson: That is true. How does the milaero electronics industry benefit from these sorts of events?
Hill: It’s going to be years to decades of benefit with man in space, man to the moon, and then maybe man to Mars. It’s going to require multiple electronics for milaero, so the space evolution will most likely create some new technologies and maybe some new materials and electronics and other components. It’s going to be quite a long-term positive effect. Now, there are some special space requirements that have been even higher than the military requirements and hard to manufacture, and I don’t know how this change is going to affect those. We may find it doesn’t matter. Some of those things may change, either a decrease or an increase, in some cases, but it’s going to be very good for the milaero sector.
Johnson: Some say that Elon Musk right now has more of a space force than the U.S. Government. That’s clearly meant as a joke, but what do you think the impact is on the U.S. Government space program?
Hill: It is an interesting statement and probably somewhat true today. There’s certainly a different perspective when profit is added as a driving force versus just exploring our universe. And I expect that Elon and the others will complement the Space Force quite well. It adds some other dimensions to the Space Force in a positive way.
Johnson: To close this up, Mike, what are your personal thoughts on the opportunities that all of this might open up for access to space?
Hill: It has really been a game-changer. If costs come down and reliability is improved, there’s no telling what we can do. For example, I expect one of our grandkids, yours or mine, will have a space experience, and it’s just no telling what’s all going to happen, but it’s a game-changer. The technological improvements over time are going to increase exponentially.
Johnson: Great. Mike, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. I appreciate you getting on the call.
Hill: No problem, Nolan. Appreciate it.
Johnson: Once again, this is Nolan Johnson with I-Connect007. I’ve been speaking with Mike Hill. He’s an industry consultant at MIL-Q Consulting. Thanks for listening.