Explaining Southern California's economy

Space business: Are rocks the next big thing? Deep Space Industries thinks so

Archimedes concept

Bryan Versteeg

Deep Space Industries plans to explore, analyze, mine, and ultimately extract valuable resources from asteroids.

A brand new company called "Deep Space Industries" (DSI) revealed itself on Tuesday to a public that just can't get enough of orbital metallurgy and final frontier that, as we know from numerous James Cameron movies, will be all about taking mining out of earthbound shafts and sending it to the stars! 

The event was held at the Museum of Flying at the Santa Monica Airport and featured the executive and scientific team of DSI laying out the case for a future in which their company uses the abundant raw materials of "near Earth asteroids" (NEAs) to create everything from tools to solar panels to rocket fuel.

The presentation was entertainingly emceed by a long-lost friend of mine, Geoff Notkin, who some years ago moved to Arizona to commit full-time to meteorite hunting and has since starred in a realty TV show, "Meteorite Men," in the process becoming an authority on rocks that have fallen from outer space. 

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Poll: Who should be LA Businessperson of the Year, Frank McCourt or Elon Musk?

LAPD Takes Over Security At Dodgers Games After Attack On Giants Fan

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium. He bought the team for $430 million and sold it for $2 billion, with a side deal for the parking lots. Is he the greatest businessman L.A. has ever seen?

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Elon Musk has had quite a year. Tesla won Motor Trend's Car of the Year with its all-electric Model S. SpaceX went to International Space Station an kicked off the era of commercial space flight. And then there's the forthcoming Solar City IPO. Is he L.A.'s Businessman of the Year?


It's the time of year for year-end lists and … contests! Not to mention awards. For 2012, the DeBord Report will be conducting a simple contest to name L.A.'s Businessperson of the Year.

You can vote on the entrants in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments, but I'll be making the final call. And so, without further ado, here are the candidates for the DeBord Report's 2012 L.A. Business Person of the Year.

Frank McCourt

The businessman that, for the most part, Angelenos love to hate. The former Dodgers owner made his fortune in parking lots back in Boston before coming west and buying the Boys in Blue from Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp in 2004 for $430 million.

In 2009, the long saga of Frank's divorce from wife Jamie and his subsequent battle with Major League Baseball began. By 2011, McCourt had put the team, then valued at around $750 million, into bankruptcy.

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Mars Curiosity has landed, but the battle for JPL's budget is just taking off

NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Holds Viewing Of Mars Curiosity Rover Landing

Pool/Getty Images

Don't get too excited. Mars Curiosity has been a big success, but there might not be much money for missions in the future.

We successfully landed a one-ton nuclear-powered robot car on a planet over 300 million miles away, using a rocket skycrane. Now Mars Curiosity has, in just a few weeks, beamed panoramic pictures of its new red world back to Earth, zapped a rock with a laser, wiggled its wheels as a precursor to its first spin on the Martian surface, and then gone for a plutonium-powered drive.

Everything is going great!

Except that back home, it isn't. They were high-fiving in their powder-blue polo shirts at Jet Propulsion Lab mission control in Pasadena, when Curiosity signaled that it had not become a $2.5-billion flame out or a smoldering hole in Gale Crater. But the future of "planetary science," with a focus on Mars, is in doubt, as science takes a back seat in NASA's budget.

Will public opinion infuence NASA's budget?

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Mars Curiosity v. SpaceX: Running the numbers

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Grant Slater/KPCC

Members of the project leadership team pass out high fives to engineers from mission control before a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Sunday night. At $2.5 billion, the Curiosity mission equals what NASA has given to SpaceX in funding.

KPCC reporters had been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online.


The spectacular success of JPL in landing the Mars Curiosity rover on Mars last night followed hot of the heels of SpaceX's stunning demonstration that a commercial spaceflight company — and a startup, no less — could do what only governments had been able to do: send a capsule to the International Space Station and bring it back home.

The JPL rocket scientists in their now iconic powder-blue polo shirts (not to mention mohawks) and SpaceX's engineers in their L.A. casual-cool mission control room threads formed a vivid contrast with the buttoned-up (and tobacco-friendly) NASA vibe of old. Something new is definitely in the air, er...airless void of space, and much of it is being designed and built in Southern California. SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne, just south of L.A, and JPL calls Pasadena home.

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's rock star press conference after Dragon's splashdown

NASA-SpaceX

NASA TV

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk establishes a whole new image for final frontier.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is officially the hottest chief executive on Planet Earth. His Southern California space-exploration startup just staged the most impressive and successful demonstration of commercial space technology...well, ever.

Launch to splashdown, except for a last-second abort of a weekend blastoff — rectified a few days later — and a brief power outage or communications glitch at SpaceX's Hawthorne HQ, it all went off with nary a miscue. 

Even the hardened space honchos at NASA are probably hoping for ride in Musk's personal Tesla Roadster in the near future (Musk is also CEO of Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker). 

Musk himself followed up the splashdown of the Dragon capsule in the Pacific with a telegenic and sound-bite laden press conference. My tweets of the event, which was carried live on NASA TV, are below. I left out a good one, in which Musk said that what he wanted to say to Dragon, bobbing scorched but intact in the blue ocean after enduring fiery re-entry, was: "Welcome back, baby. It's like seeing your kid come home." 

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