Thursday, August 14, 2014

Space with a Purpose

Journalist Susan Du of the Houston Press has published a lengthy article titled, “Space Flight: Increasingly, Gifted Individuals are Opting for the Private Sector Over NASA.”.

Although lengthy, it's well worth your time to read. This is the best article I've read detailing the differences in culture between OldSpace and NewSpace.

The article begins with the tale of an engineering intern named Amy Hoffman weighing offers between NASA and SpaceX:

Driving up to the SpaceX headquarters, she was struck by how unassuming it was, how small compared to NASA, how plain on the outside and rather like a warehouse.

As she walked through the complex, she was also surprised to find open work areas where NASA would have had endless hallways, offices and desks. Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. No one sat around talking to friends in the morning, “another level from what you see at NASA,” she said. “They're very purpose-driven. It looked like every project was getting the attention it deserved.”

Seeing SpaceX in production forced Hoffman to acknowledge NASA might not be the best fit for her. The tour reminded her of the many mentors who had gone into the commercial sector of the space industry in search of better pay and more say in the direction their employers take. She thought back to the attrition she saw firsthand at Johnson Space Center and how understaffed divisions struggled to maintain operations.

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