Yesterday we posted the first part in a series that details the behavior of supporters of the so-called “NewSpace” movement. These actions, contrary to the beliefs of the movement’s supporters, are self-destructive and have begun to cause those that supported NewSpace to turn against it. What follows is an opinion-based article detailing some of the tactics these people employ.
Redefining What Is “Is”: One of the NewSpace trolls that frequents AmericaSpace loves to use this particular tactic. During his 2008 visit to Florida’s Space Coast, then-candidate Obama promised to support NASA’s ambitions to go to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. The good people who make the dream of space flight a reality instantly recognized those words as the mantra of the Constellation Program. This particular troll denies that the president made the comment and has demanded that we should all learn to parse words; if we had done so, we would realize the error of our ways (silly us).
In short, when things don’t go their way, as in the case of the loss of one of the Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 during the CRS-1 mission, they will deny that the mission was anything other than a complete success. Pay no attention to the flaming wreckage hurtling out of the back end! They didn’t place those Orbcomm satellites into a useless orbit! It was all part of their master plan! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
This person also attempted to pad NewSpace’s near-empty resume by claiming that United Launch Alliance is actually a NewSpace company. This would be a funny statement if it weren’t so sad. United Launch Alliance exists because of an arrangement that took place back in the late ’90s. The company is comprised of none other than Boeing and Lockheed-Martin—the very bedrock of what NewSpacers derisively call “OldSpace.” I’ve spoken with representatives from the company and they, despite his assertions, don’t view themselves as being NewSpace.
The reason for this tactic is one that any employer will recognize. If you want to promote yourself and you have no experience, you pad your resume. NewSpace, to date, has accomplished precious little. SpaceX has created a euphoric bubble of emotion—one that no other company has yet been able to match. While testing equipment and issuing a never-ending stream of press releases, MOUs, and PowerPoints might impress the uninitiated, those within the industry know that the proof is in the pudding. Until you’re completing missions, you haven’t done anything noteworthy. Folks that are using this tactic are desperately tried to latch onto United Launch Alliance’s successes, to provide NewSpace with what it currently lacks: experience. This is NewSpace.
Bait & Switch: In our last op-ed, entitled “NewSpacers Need to Stop Hating,” we asked why NewSpace fans were biting the hand that funds them (by insulting NASA) and how they thought this behavior would benefit them when NewSpace loses a crewed vehicle. A sensible person would think that this topic would receive numerous responses, if only to deny the issues raised. Not so much. Simply put, NewSpacers can’t excuse their troll behavior. Instead, all they are left with is to attempt to change the subject. This is precisely what they did. Another commentor ignored the questions entirely (in fact, it appeared he didn’t even bother to read the op-ed before going on his rant). He posted the following:
“It would have been nice if you’d addressed any of my substantive points. How is space going to get ‘opened up’ when a space station costs $100 billion?”
Here’s the problem. Nowhere in the op-ed itself or in any of my comments is this topic ever mentioned (nor, to the best of my knowledge, have I ever, or in this trolls case “evuh,” stated this). Moreover, rather than answer for his and his community’s troll behavior, this individual tried to make me answer the off-topic complaints he lodged. A desperate and pathetic attempt to change the subject. My response was as follows:
“ … you completely miss the point of this Op-Ed I never, in any shape form or fashion, did I pen it to detail how space would be ‘opened up’ by the ISS. You totally ignore what the Op-Ed is about &, as I said NewSpacers would, change the subject to something (anything) else.
This article is not an opportunity for NewSpacers to present real or perceived slights for me to address. It’s an opportunity to explain your compatriot’s horrid behavior. Why are you biting the hand that funds you? Do you honestly think your terrible behavior will gain you sympathy or compassion when the first crew flying on a Dragon, Dream Chaser or Lynx is lost?
It’d have been nice if YOU’D addressed any of these points. But no, typically, you merely attempt to change the subject. … I don’t know you either – but when someone changes the subject? It means they know they cannot excuse their actions. Thanks (again) for proving the points raised in the Op-Ed as correct.”
What this person has done, instead of addressing the problems that the NewSpace community suffers from, is to attempt to turn the discussion into something other than what it is. He does this because he knows he can’t excuse what NewSpace trolls have been doing. He then acts as if it is I that has explaining to do, when the fact is it’s quite the other way around.
This tactic will usually be employed when these people are caught with their pants down. If they don’t have their facts straight or an explanation, then they will try to turn the conversation away from where it’s headed. To attempt to regain some respect they will almost invariably make aspects of this “new” conversation about the person that is forcing them to address issues they want to avoid. This is NewSpace.
Bringing Light to the Benighted Heathens: NewSpace trolls generally get their information from a small handful of sources, and all of them agree with their personal world view. They shun information that points to information counter to their beliefs. They generally only visit other websites to explain to those commenting on these sites how inferior they are. Posts of this nature usually don’t have anything of substance in them and are filled with condescending comments.
There’s no need to worry about pesky things like facts when you can just enter a conversation and talk down to everyone like they’re a pack of dolts. Never mind the fact that your experience folder is empty and the people you’re talking to have been doing this for decades. When you do respond to them? They will act like you’re some backward fool, mainly because you have the nerve to counter their “points” and not just mirror everything they say.
This tactic is harder to quantify. Essentially it is behavior where a NewSpace troll attempts to lord their brilliance over your poor empty head. This is also one of the funnier things that NewSpace trolls attempt. Because, as mentioned, they have the tendency to pull information from a very limited variety of sources (and some of those include NewSpace company press releases). Essentially? When dealing with the knowledge some of these people are yielding, you’re dealing with people who are suffering from intellectual inbreeding. And yet these are the people talking down to others. …
Now, one could argue that this is just indicative of the movement’s immature fan base. Not so much. When we posted our “NewSpace Fans Need to Stop Hating” op-ed, a lobbyist for the movement reached out to me. The first thing this person did was express how he disliked AmericaSpace’s owner. Things went downhill from there.
Remember, this person didn’t know me—at all. His next email, penned to silence unflattering information exposed about a NewSpace proponent, had the headline: “Is Hillhouse on drugs?” Again, keep in mind this was only the second time that this person had ever said anything to me. Here is some of the other colorful language he chose to use:
“Or is he just an idiot who slanders patriots … Seriously. Yank his leash.”
It was at this point I got confused. My first reaction was to wonder just who this NewSpace troll thought he was. Thankfully, he made sure to clear up the issue by expressing just how ignorant he was. He thought that Mr. Hillhouse was my employee—it’s the other way around. This troll didn’t bother to do his homework, and then went on a spittle-flinging rant where he thought he could tell me what to do. He tried to downplay documents that place the “patriot” in a very bad light. In short, they got caught looking bad, and this individual was demanding that we cover up for them. Even worse? He actually tried to compare a sterile news piece to the nasty behavior these trolls display on a routine basis. I mean, how arrogant do you have to be to think you can send someone an email with verbiage in it like that and receive any kind of positive response? Another thing you will see is what I’ve come to call “The God Declaration.” In this case the troll makes a statement as if Zeus were giving all the heathens an edict, something like: “Defund SLS/Orion now.” This is NewSpace.
Cloning: When one is determining the overall success of what NewSpace companies have accomplished, it is important to use actual accomplishments as your guide. You do this by looking at the companies that have completed large goals, such as winning large contests, completing major contracts, or flying actual missions. If you do this, however, it becomes readily apparent that when it comes to NewSpace, there is not much there.
Using this method of measuring success takes out all of the extraneous “fluff.” You ignore the tests, the promises, the signed MOUs, PowerPoints, and so on. To date? The number of major accomplishments that NewSpace has to brag about is small. Scaled Composites won the Ansari X-PRIZE, Bigelow Aerospace has launched two inflatable space station modules, and SpaceX has completed NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract and moved on to delivering supplies to the International Space Station. The only other NewSpace firm that has had similar successes is Orbital Sciences Corporation.
For longtime readers, you can probably remember when SpaceX was regarded very critically on this website. That is no longer the case. Why is this? Simple: they’ve done something, they’re flying missions. We’ve seen too many fly-by-night NewSpace companies come and go to pander to them until they follow suit and begin achieving objectives.
So, you’re a NewSpace troll and you want to make others believe as you do, despite this lack of experience. What do you do? Simple: you pull a con that is every bit impressive as the one that the tailor did in the “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”
This troll tactic is all about generalities. You don’t really deal with specifics about companies who, let’s face it, haven’t done much of anything yet. You simply mention NewSpace as a whole and talk about how you’re sending spacecraft to the ISS and will be ferrying the “average Joe” into sub-orbit, sometime … soon. The cloning aspect to this comes into play when these individuals are pressed on facts. More likely than not they will attempt to paint all NewSpace companies with the SpaceX brush. Essentially, just by the merit of these companies being NewSpace, they will be every bit as successful as SpaceX. Yeah, not so much.
One person referred to the movement’s romanticized view of what is taking place as follows: “These guys haven’t gone in to space much. The people that follow them are all, ‘deep sighs and starry skies’ – wait that’s wrong, it’s more like deep sighs and empty skies. … ”
For those unaware of NewSpace history, calling it NewSpace 2.0 is not an unfair assessment. For those that think these companies can’t do any wrong, they’re willfully ignoring The Rotary Rocket Company, Rocketplane Kistler, SpaceDev, and numerous others. Essentially, “cloning” is an attempt to make the exception the rule. This is NewSpace.
Tune into AmericaSpace tomorrow for the next installment of this op-ed series chronicling the antics of NewSpace supporters.