Issue 11.07 -
The Right Stuff (continued)
Techies Go Trekky
captains of the high tech industry grew up viewing space as the final frontier
- only to see NASA grow meek once the Cold War fizzled. Now older and richer,
they're ready to boldly go after their galactic ambitions.
by Dustin Goot
NAME: John Carmack
TECH GIG: cofounder, id Software (Doom, Quake)
SPACE OBESSION: Carmack is team leader of Armadillo Aerospace, a space tourism venture considered to be a leading contender for the X Prize.
"For me the draw is that manned spaceflight is an interesting engineering
problem. There are very few fields where the difference between what is currently
possible and what is currently practiced is so large as in aerospace."
NAME: Elon Musk
TECH GIG: creator, PayPal
SPACE OBESSION: With a new company called SpaceX, Musk hopes to halve the cost of launching payloads - like satellites - into orbit.
"The US space program peaked with Apollo and going to the moon. In 30 years
we have never surpassed that peak. People who know the vehicle launch industry
are intrigued by what we're doing."
NAME: Paul Allen
TECH GIG: cofounder, Microsoft
Through his charity foundation, Allen donated $11.5 million to SETI for a
telescope array designed to listen for alien murmurings; he's also rumored
to be financing Rutan's X Prize venture.
"For the first time in our history, we have the ability to pursue a scientifically
and technologically sophisticated search for intelligent life beyond Earth.
I am pleased to support this important work."
NAME: Bill Gross
TECH GIG: founder, idealab! (dotcom-era incubator)
Before it went defunct in 2001, his brainchild Blastoff.com was working to
send a rover to the moon; the drive to reach orbit remains strong.
"We could be striving forward and putting people on the moon ... or on Mars,"
Gross told Blastoff colleague Chris Simmons, who added that Gross wanted
to "give the space program a kick in the butt."
NAME: Eric Klien
TECH GIG: president, Colossus (webhosting service)
Klien has founded a nonprofit called the Lifeboat Foundation, dedicated to
building "space arks" capable of supporting 1,000-member human colonies.
"Advanced technologies thought to be available by about 2020 may enable one
evil - or simply clumsy - person to destroy all life on Earth. My goal is
to develop an insurance policy."
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