(Taken from Usedcarsalesman.com: “The Surprisingly Honest Opinion Column”)
In the 1990s, people my parents age threw a lot of 401K money at dot-com stocks and development of the Internet in general. And I guess the massive roll out of the computer network in to people’s every day lives was a big deal for Baby Boomers. They went to college pushing punch cards in to room-sized computers, and so the whole “connected-to-the-world- from-your-house” thing of the Internet was a dream come true.
Well, as a kid who grew up watching films like War Games, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weird Science, and The Running Man (Arnold buys plane tickets using a keyboard connected to a TV in Maria Conchita Alonsos’s character’s apartment; the first depiction of e-commerce?) and reading books like Enders Game and Neuromancer, I was already kind of the familiar with the concept of an individual imposing himself on the world by way of his connected computer. Frankly, oceans of 401k money or not (financial blessing or curse, or not), “cyberspace” and dot-coms didn’t really do it for me in the 1990s. However, there was always another type of “Space” that, in the back of my mind, I was curious about getting involved with or investing in. That’s right…outer space.
Last year, in June 2004, I drove up from L.A. early on a Sunday morning to see the first launch of SpaceShipOne at the Mojave Airport (later that day named the “Mojave Spaceport,” the first commercial space-port licensed by the FAA). I saw the crowd of almost 20,000 people, and it was like a big Whitman’s Sampler filled with Cal Tech aerospace-nerds, Ribboned Edwards AFB staff, hardcore Star Trek marshmallow-shaped fans, the odd gold-covered celebrity, and assorted local nuts (kidding 🙂 wearing colorful SpaceShipOne T-shirts. I think about 4-5 people from L.A. were there, but I’ll be liberal and say 10. Anyway, it was a big deal: SpaceShipOne didn’t blow up; it took off, actually made it in to the vacuum of space, and then landed on a runway in front of us an hour later. I was like, “Holy cow!”
And, then I was like “Hmmm…,” thinking, and all of these analogies started pouring through my head like, “Northrup-Gruman is to IBM as Scaled Composites or Space Dev is to Microsoft,” that kind of thing. And, I was wondering to myself, “could outer space-related companies be one of my age group’s big long-term investment plays, just as tech and biotech stocks enjoyed strong support from Boomer-aged investors?”
I’ll now hazard a guess and say, “yes.” That’s probably exactly what new space ventures are, despite their apparent impracticality. They could be the young Apples and Microsofts of the aerospace business. So, Generation X and Y-ers, get ready to park your 401k money in your investment advisor’s latest choice of “AstroFund” between now and 2020! The aerospace companies developing in and around the Mojave Spaceport could form California’s next Silicon Valley, thus experiencing all of the same monumental capital appreciation experienced by tech companies started in or otherwise influenced by San Jose some 30 years ago.
Edited: bhwPowered by Sidelines