Okay, I don’t really know that this new company, Privateer Space, will end up becoming a direct rival to SpaceX, but I do know that it will be doing things in space, and that if I reference SpaceX in the hed, people are more likely to click. Look, I’m just being honest, here. I also know that one of the partners is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is someone I’ve always liked and respected. The company is still pretty enigmatic, so let’s see what we know so far.
Woz tweeted about the company yesterday, claiming that this private space company would be “unlike the others,” which I can only mean companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic:
The tweet also embedded this video:
The video is one of those vague, arty-ish PR things designed to just convey some sort of general tone and feeling, and it does just that. And while no specific goals were made clear beyond some general nods to exploration, unity, accessibility, climate issues, and humanity’s past space achievements, there are some interesting images in there worth a bit more scrutiny.
Like this one:
That’s a Mercury capsule, the first crewed spacecraft Americans used in the early 1960s. This image seems to show a Mercury docked to some sort of orbiting...equipment, something that never actually happened in any Mercury mission.
This one seems to be a little bit of a troll to our particular audience:
Yeah, it’s some dude shifting what looks like an automatic transmission as if it was a manual. I mean, he could be shifting from N to D or D to 2 or something, but still.
This next one may be more of a hint as to Privateer’s plans:
So, some sort of orbital network? For what purpose? No idea.
Hey, it’s Sally Ride, on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Not sure why she’s shown, but hello, Sally.
This shot above looks like the interior of a Soviet/Russian Soyuz capsule during re-entry. I don’t think it’s actual footage, but a recreation.
Speaking of not actual, this does not appear to be the actual ISS:
It looks like the International Space Station, but note that large habitation ring and the different pressurized module shapes. Maybe it’s a future variant of the station?
I don’t think I really learned all that much from the video, other than they made decisions to show space events and hardware that aren’t ones that actually existed, for some reason.
There’s been some discussion that the company is going to be in the orbital-junk cleanup business, possibly with spacecraft made from 3D-printed titanium, as a company called Desktop Metal reported that Privateer is one of their first customers to use the tech.
It appears the company will keep quiet until the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference, starting tomorrow.
I’m very curious to see what this is about, because Steve Wozniak isn’t really the same kind of person as the tech billionaires who have started space companies so far.
Wozniak has always been more about making technology accessible and useful to everyone, donating time and equipment to school districts, and he’s fundamentally a great engineer with a true love for machines.
Did you know how the dude managed to get high-resolution color on the Apple II by exploiting a quirk of how televisions produce color? He managed to get six colors on a 280x192 pixel screen with a handful of chips, while it took IBM’s CGA graphics card well over 100 chips just to get four colors on a 320x200 screen!
If whatever that is can be translated to doing something in space, well, then I’m excited.