SpaceX Is the Wikipedia of Space: Launch Quickly and Upgrade Quickly

SpaceX has a Wikipedia approach to space. Launch quickly; correct and upgrade quickly. This is similar to Google’s approach to hard drives: buy cheap, unreliable ones, have a lot of backups, and be ready to replace a lot of hard drives. Also the ethernet’s approach to packets: be ready to lose them and re-send. I argue these examples illustrate redundancy, and that we can and should have a robustly redundant labor market.

(p. B1) The Starlink project, owned by Mr. Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX, is authorized to send some 12,000 satellites into orbit to beam superfast internet to every corner of the Earth. It has sought permission for another 30,000.

Now, rival companies such as Viasat Inc., OneWeb Global Ltd., Hughes Network Systems and Boeing Co. are challenging Starlink’s space race in front of regulators in the U.S. and Europe. Some complain that Mr. Musk’s satellites are blocking their own devices’ signals and have physically endangered their fleets.

. . .

The critics’ main argument is that Mr. Musk’s launch-first, upgrade-later principle, which made his Tesla Inc. TSLA +1.27% electric car company a pioneer, gives priority to speed over quality, filling Earth’s already crowded orbit with satellites that may need fixing after they launch.

“SpaceX has a gung-ho approach to space,” said Chris McLaughlin, government affairs chief for rival OneWeb. “Every one of our satellites is like a Ford Focus—it does the same thing, it gets tested, it works—while Starlink satellites are like Teslas: They launch them and then they have to upgrade and fix them, or even replace them alto-(p. B2)gether,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

For the full story, see:

Bojan Pancevski. “Rivals of SpaceX’s Satellites Cite Risk.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, April 20, 2021): B1 & B2.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 19, 2021, and has the title “Elon Musk’s Satellite Internet Project Is Too Risky, Rivals Say.”)

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