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Britain Is Getting Ready for Its Space Race

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Cornwall, in England’s far southwest, is known for antique fishing villages and snug, cliff-lined beaches. Soon it may be the scene of something very different: a small but growing space industry.

One day in a year or two, a modified Boeing 747 is expected to lift off from the long runway at the region’s airport, head out over the Atlantic Ocean and soar into the stratosphere. There, a rocket will drop from below a wing, fire its engines and ferry a load of small satellites into orbit, while the plane returns to the airport.

After six years of planning and fund-raising, construction of a bare-bones spaceport, budgeted at about 22 million pounds ($28 million), is beginning this month at the airport in Newquay.

The anchor tenant is expected to be Virgin Orbit, a part of Richard Branson’s Virgin universe. Its selling point: Putting satellites into orbit via aircraft can be done faster and with less infrastructure than earthbound rockets. It plans to bring its 747 (called the Cosmic Girl) and other gear being tested in the Mojave Desert to Britain with the help of £7.35 million from the U.K. Space Agency.

ImageThe runway at Cornwall Airport in Newquay, where Virgin Orbit’s 747 would lift off and take satellites into orbit.
Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

“At the beginning, people laughed at us,” said Melissa Thorpe, head of engagement for Spaceport Cornwall, the developer. “It took a lot of work to convince a lot of people.”

Among the better arguments: The spaceport, which is owned by the local government, could eventually provide 150 good jobs in what, despite its charm, is a region dependent on low-paid, seasonal work from tourism.

Britain is doubling down on the always risky space business after, some would say, years of neglect. Besides Cornwall, the government is putting money behind several other potential launch sites, including one on the remote north coast of Scotland, which is being tailored for an environmentally friendly rocket to be manufactured nearby.

This is all new for a country that does not have a deep history of rocketry or launching satellites into space. The case for spaceports in Britain is far from proven. In fact, some analysts say there are already too many such facilities, including in the United States.

The first — and, to date, only — British-made satellite-bearing rocket was launched from Woomera in Australia in 1971. That program, called Black Arrow, was scrapped after four launches for not being cost effective.

“You do have to pinch yourself that the U.K is within a few years of launching satellites,” said Doug Millard, space curator at the Science Museum in London. “That is something that never would have been considered not so long ago.”

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

A big reason for the turnaround is Brexit. The decision to pull away from the European Union has heightened awareness that Britain, which has largely relied on European and American space programs for services like satellite navigation, would be at risk without its own space infrastructure. This year the space agency’s budget was bumped up 10 percent to £556 million (still a small fraction of NASA’s $22 billion).

Brexit has provided “a real stimulus to get us to think about what we actually need as a country in space,” said Graham Turnock, chief executive of the U.K. Space Agency, in an interview.

But the decision to look skyward also coincides with the growing commercial use of space around the world, promoted by deep-pocketed investors like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mr. Branson, but also pushed along by a range of less prominent entrepreneurs and businesses.

Key has been the emergence of much smaller and cheaper satellites, some the size of a shoe box and costing a relatively small $1 million or less. Some are used for observation, such as measuring how much oil is stored in a tank farm, valuable data for energy investors. Others are planned to provide internet connectivity on earth and a key link in the burgeoning internet of things, essential for self-driving cars and smart kitchens.

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

“We are right at the beginning of this journey,” said Mark Boggett, chief executive of London-based Seraphim Capital, which is investing a $90 million space fund.

The government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson put its own chips on such efforts by agreeing in July to spend £500 million to acquire 45 percent of OneWeb, a satellite operator.

OneWeb filed for bankruptcy this year, but is involved in the hottest area of the satellite industry: the creation of so-called constellations, blizzards of coordinated satellites in low orbit, designed to provide blanket coverage for purposes like extending the internet to remote regions.

OneWeb is building its satellites at a factory co-owned by Airbus in Florida. The hope in the British government and space community is that OneWeb will build a future generation of satellites in Britain.

Over all, the government is trying to support activity in what is known as “new space,” a more agile and commercial approach to an industry traditionally dominated by government and military programs.

“OneWeb, and what we are doing on launch, is all about taking a really big role in that new economy,” Mr. Turnock said.

While Britain has participated in prestigious space activities like making a Mars rover for an upcoming European-Russian mission, it has catching up to do. Still, space experts say the direction the industry is moving could play to its advantage.

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

The launch vehicles that Britain is trying to nurture would be suited for smaller satellites that operate in low-Earth orbit, around 800 miles up, compared with about 22,000 miles for telecommunications giants that sometimes cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Smaller satellites also have much shorter life spans than the larger ones, implying the need for more of them, and more launches. Virgin Orbit says it plans to charge $12 million to take a nearly 700-pound payload of satellites into space.

Having nearby launch sites will fill a need for companies like In-Space Missions, a space service firm in Hampshire, outside London. Doug Liddle, the chief executive, said the company went all the way to New Zealand to launch a satellite this year, only to lose it when the rocket failed.

The new space economy is also more affordable for medium-size countries like Britain. “The small-satellite approach now means we are not going to spend our entire national budget on our space program,” said Martin Sweeting, a founder and executive chairman of a British university spinoff called Surrey Satellite Technology, a pioneer in small satellites.

Space is also becoming far more accessible to start-ups like Open Cosmos, which offers to build satellites and arrange their launch and early operation at a cost of $10 million or less. The company is one of many technology businesses clustered in Harwell, a community near the University of Oxford.

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

Among the neighbors are clients like Lacuna Space, which plans to deploy satellites for a range of uses like tracking cattle on vast Latin American ranches, and potential suppliers like Oxford Space Systems, which builds satellite-mounted antennas that unfurl once in orbit to send data to ground receivers.

“It is a small ecosystem; everybody knows each other,” said Rafel Jordá Siquier, the 31-year-old founder of Open Cosmos.

But not all the companies are start-ups. Airbus, the giant French maker of commercial aircraft, is also a major manufacturer of satellites and employs 3,500 people doing space work in Britain.

The company had been nervous about Brexit’s implications for those operations, but the government’s move into OneWeb offered some reassurance.

“The investment in OneWeb and focus of the U.K. on space is actually making Airbus go, ‘Look, the U.K. is a really good place to invest,’” said Richard Franklin, head of space and defense for Britain at Airbus.

That said, Britain’s ambitions face large unknowns and risks.

The launch technologies it is counting on are unproven. Virgin Orbit’s first test this year in the United States sputtered when the main rocket engine shut down. And the coronavirus pandemic has put huge financial strain on Mr. Branson’s empire, including the flagship, Virgin Atlantic. To help bolster the finances of the airline and other companies, the entrepreneur sold around $500 million of shares in Virgin Galactic, a space tourism business.

But Will Pomerantz, Virgin Orbit’s vice president for special projects, said the 747 would come to Cornwall “when they are ready and they need us.”

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

The satellite market is also both competitive and turbulent. Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, whose SpaceX has carried U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station and returned them safely to Earth, is building his own mega constellation satellite system, Starlink. Other technology companies are likely to follow, while many countries can now build satellites.

“One of the beautiful things about small sats is that anyone can make one,” said Alexandre Najjar, senior consultant at Euroconsult, a market research firm.

Still, Britain’s space entrepreneurs say having a launchpad near home might give them an edge.

”If we can get in a van and drive our spacecraft up to Scotland or Cornwall, the whole process becomes much more straightforward,” said Mr. Liddle, the satellite builder.

Credit…Francesca Jones for The New York Times

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Amazon opens a new headquarters and several shipping centers in Mexico

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The retail giant seeks to meet the high demand for its products in the Aztec country with its centers in the State of Mexico, Jalisco and Nuevo León.

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October 22, 2020 3 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Amazon reported that it will expand its operations in Mexico through new shipping centers in Apodaca, Nuevo León , and in Tlajomulco, Jalisco , which will be added to a building in the State of Mexico as well as 12 new delivery stations.

As reported by the company in a press release, this expansion will represent the creation of 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.

“The growth of Amazon’s operations in Mexico reflects the commitment to our customers in the country, while allowing us to offer an unsurpassed service and shopping experience,” said Diego Méndez de la Luz, Director of Operations and Fulfillment Services at Amazon. in Mexico in the statement.

These new shipping centers seek to “ensure that people receive their items on time and reliably.”

These new buildings, according to Amazon, represent around 69 thousand square meters (a space greater than the total surface of the Azteca Stadium).

In this way, Amazon’s operations in Mexico have five shipping centers, two support buildings, two sorting centers and 27 delivery stations for logistics services.

With support from state governments

Amazon appreciated that the new centers were achieved with the support of state governments.

“We appreciate the significant support of the governments of Jalisco, Nuevo León and the State of Mexico, for allowing us to expand our presence and provide new services; we will continue working hard to deliver the products they need to our customers,” said Méndez.

In this regard, the Governor of Nuevo León, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón mentioned that “we are very excited that a renowned company such as Amazon has decided to expand its operations in Nuevo León to open its first shipping center in the north of the country.”

For his part, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez, Governor of Jalisco , pointed out that “this new investment is great news for Jalisco because it represents an important economic benefit, the creation of hundreds of jobs and the confidence of private initiative in our state.”

Finally, Alfredo Del Mazo Maza, Governor of the State of Mexico , indicated that “this makes the presence of Amazon in our country very relevant and we are very pleased that it has chosen the State of Mexico to install this space.”

Image: Amazon

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Learn These 5 Personality Strategies to Supercharge Sales

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October 22, 2020 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever tried to pitch someone your idea and for some reason they just didn’t seem to engage? tried to encourage his best friend, Linkletter to buy the surrounding property around . Linkletter did not see the opportunity and passed. Ironically, the Fujishige family saw the potential and bought fifty-six acres for $2500. Decades later they sold the land back to the Disney Corporation for just under $100 million. How can one person see an opportunity when another one passes on it?

This is what author Woody Woodward calls the 20/80 Rule. His newest book “D.R.I.V.E. Sales” focuses on the five distinct “buying personalities” he’s identified. Each of us inherently speaks one language (20 percent), and in doing so, accidentally alienate the other 4 buying personalities (80 percent). The process of recognizing the distinct motivations of the customer you’re pitching makes a dramatic (or even exponential) difference to your selling success. When Walt was pitching, he was not connecting with Art’s buying .

Related: Is Your Personality Permanent? New Research Says ‘No.’

I spoke to Woodward this week about his findings. In short form, the five buying personalities depend on what makes you feel most important. They are as follows:

  • Director. You like experiencing life and life’s purpose. You thrive on freedom, , performing, overcoming, and appearance.
  • Relator. You thrive on relationships, influence, service, family, friends, parents, and spirituality.
  • Intellectual. Your priorities are knowledge, learning, health, nature, moment, standards, and organization.
  • Validator. Your hot buttons are recognition, acceptance, , trust, respect, validation, and being needed.
  • Executive. Your tickets are winning, control, work, goals, security, providing, and problem-solving.

Here’s an easy exercise you can do right now. Simply rate the five personalities in the order of what makes you feel important.  The result is your buying personality profile. I had no idea what to expect for my own – but when I walked through the exercise the result was distinct.

While in actual life I’d be a Relator or an Intellectual, when it comes to making a sizeable purchase or investment, I behave like an Executive: I’d look first and hardest at the proof of return and the ways the decision would make my life better, which would mean I’d respond most strongly to reviews and third party testimonials (this is true). I’d focus on the big picture more than the details of how to achieve it. Others who fall in this model include Phil Knight, Steve Wynn, Ruth Bader Ginsberg (I’m honored), Serena Williams, and John D. Rockefeller.

In all, my profile came out as E.D.R.I.V. This is important in that every customer you present to will have both Primary and Secondary motivations for buying. To the extent you are able, it is important to understand those nuances, too.

There are myriad examples of large-ticket purchases that would have had an astonishing impact for both buyer and seller but never happened. Why? In large part because the proposition being presented didn’t meet the right buying criteria that would have resonated for them.

Related: Why You Should Embrace Your Competitive Personality

Steve Jobs offered his first boss, Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, one-third of Apple for $50,000. Bushnell passed. CEO Chris DeWolfe was offered Facebook for $75 million by Mark Zuckerberg, but he too passed. This problem of pitching to the wrong D.R.I.V.E. (buying personalities) goes back for centuries, Woodward notes in the book. Western Union was offered the telephone from inventor Alexander Graham Bell for $100,000. The offer was disdainfully rejected with the pronouncement, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy.”

The first step to making your pitch more attractive to your customer base is to identify how the benefits of your product or service meet the five buying personalities. Cell phones are probably one of the most widely saturated products. However, each D.R.I.V.E. buys for a different reason. A Director benefits because they can be free and independent doing business anywhere. A Relator wants to connect to family and friends anytime. An Intellectual is buying it to be more efficient and organized. A Validator benefits from social media apps and how they encourage their relationships, while an Executive wants to be able to win and excel at their goals. 

So once you’ve identified the benefits of your product and the buying personalities for your prospective customer or customers, the way to accelerate your sales is to show, don’t tell the way your product answers their needs.

For example, Woodward recalls in the book the challenge the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) faced in alerting the public to the relative safety (or danger) of movie theater , with 30 grams of saturated fat for a medium-sized serving, as illustrated in the book “Made to Stick.” 

With an eye toward the buying personality of movie customers (“It’s a treat, it’s a part of my lifestyle and it’s how I relate with my family”) the CSPI stepped away from the scientific explanation of the danger. Instead, they created a visual that showed the average medium serving of popcorn contained more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with trimmings, combined. The story was an instant sensation and not only had buyers’ attention, resulted in nearly all of the nation’s biggest theater chains announcing they would move to a healthier oil.

Related: Tailoring Your Sales Pitch to Your Customer’s Personality

Additionally, if the selling process leaves you stuck, you move to the strategy of P.I.C.K.S., an acronym that stands for Parables (stories around the proposition), Identify Needs (specific to the recipient), Calls to Action (limited time opportunities to act), Keep in Touch (persistence counts) and Surprise Them (follow up with a delightful offer they would have never anticipated).

In all, whether you’re an experienced seller or a novice, these ideas could boost your outcomes substantially. I will definitely give them heed and I suggest every current business owner consider them strongly as well.

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How Income Inequality Has Erased Your Chance to Drink the Great Wines

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Among the many ways the rich are different from you and me: Only they can afford grand cru Burgundy.

That wasn’t always the case. In the 1990s, middle-class wine lovers could still afford to experience that rite of passage — drinking a truly great wine, not simply to enjoy it, but to understand what qualities made it exceptional in the eyes of history.

It might have been a splurge, perhaps requiring a few sacrifices. But it was feasible, just as it was possible to buy first-growth Bordeaux, or the top wines of Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino or Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, to name a few other standard-bearers.

For example, back in 1994, a bottle of Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny 1991, a grand cru, retailed for $80 (the equivalent of $141 in 2020, accounting for inflation). Today, that bottle costs about $800.

In a more extreme case, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 1990, another grand cru and one of the world’s great wines, cost $285 in 1993 ($513 in 2020, accounting for inflation). That’s no small sum then or now, but profoundly curious people might have found a way.

Today, a bottle of the 2017 La Tâche goes for about $5,000, well out of reach for dedicated students of wine, except for the most wealthy.

Plenty of other options exist: Village Burgundy rather than grand cru, or any of the many other great wines now being produced around the world. But these bottles, as good as they may be, have not been part of a conversation that has endured for centuries.

For wine lovers, drinking such renowned bottles would be the equivalent of a college course in Shakespeare, Beethoven or Charlie Parker. In any field, it’s necessary to comprehend the reference points, the benchmarks that connote greatness, to join that conversation even if ultimately you choose to argue the point.

These days, it is impossible for most people to pay for these wines.

You could argue that prices have risen on all sorts of consumer goods since then. Why should wine be different? You would not be wrong.

But the issue is not simply that prices in general have gone up. The prices of top wines have risen at a far steeper rate than the prices of many other luxury goods. La Tâche 2017 is almost 18 times as expensive as the 1990, while a basic Hermès Birkin 30 bag, the grand cru of handbags, has gone from about $3,000 in 1990 to $11,000 in 2020, not quite four times as much.

Bordeaux operates on a slightly different scale than Burgundy. Far more wine is produced. But it, too, has its benchmark wines, and like Burgundy, their prices have skyrocketed.

Orley Ashenfelter, an economics professor at Princeton University, has closely tracked the Bordeaux market for years. In 1980, the price of a first-growth Bordeaux was roughly four times the price of a fifth-growth Bordeaux, he said in a phone interview, referring to an 1855 classification that ranked top Médoc producers in five tiers, or growths. Nowadays, he said, as prices have risen for all these top wines, the ratio between first- and fifth-growth price is more like 10 to 1.

What accounts for these disparities?

Partly it’s the good old law of supply and demand. Great wine is tied to finite pieces of land and to the rhythms of agriculture. With a limited quantity of grapes and only one opportunity to make wine each year, production cannot be increased to meet rising demand.

With the exception of certain top Champagnes like Dom Pérignon, which are not linked to particular vineyards, the best wines are not luxury goods like watches or handbags in which production can grow to meet demand. Nor can production be kept artificially low, for that matter, to create demand.

Yet even for a trophy wine like Dom Pérignon, the relative price has gone up. A study published in 2017 in The Journal of Wine Economics analyzed Champagne prices in New York City from 1948 to 2013 by determining how many hours people in various income groups would have to work to pay for an entry-level Champagne, a midrange bottle and a flagship or luxury cuvée like Dom Pérignon.

The study found that the entry-level bottles across income groups required fewer work hours in 2013 than in 1948, but the hours necessary to buy luxury bottles had increased. What’s more, the study found that the work hours required for a top Champagne increased at a much higher rate for the lower income groups relative to the highest, meaning that their access had diminished.

Thirst for top wines continues to increase exponentially. The audience for these wines was once restricted largely to connoisseurs in Europe, North America and a few other scattered places. It expanded gradually after World War II, encompassing countries like Japan and Australia, and really took off with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the economic opening of China, spurred on by the globalizing effects of the internet.

Today, wine lovers from around the world clamor for roughly the same pool of great Burgundies that was available in 1990.

In another example from Bordeaux, Professor Ashenfelter, along with two researchers from the University of Bordeaux, presented a paper in 2018 showing that as income inequality has increased since 1980, the price of first-growth Bordeaux has paralleled the rise in top incomes.

Though the problem matters to wine lovers, the rising inaccessibility of fancy wines is just a microscopic example of how income inequality and the concentration of wealth in fewer hands have affected daily life.

I live in Manhattan, where, until the pandemic at least, the price of Manhattan real estate has soared for decades as more people and companies competed for a fixed amount of space. Predictably, Manhattan became harder to afford for small businesses, struggling artists and writers, not to mention civil servants, police officers or firefighters.

Yet billionaires continue to vie for space. A hedge fund billionaire paid $238 million for a new apartment in 2019, in a building constructed only after dozens of middle-class tenants were evicted from their apartments. When billionaires decide that they want something, whether an apartment or a bottle of wine, it drives up prices for everybody else.

I am admittedly simplifying a complex issue. But thriving mixed neighborhoods have been transformed into luxury ghost towns, as the lifeblood of many communities gave way to grandiose condominiums with absentee owners and chain businesses.

“In order for income differentials to drive price increases, supply can’t increase,” Professor Ashenfelter said. “That’s the secret of real estate and wine.”

I don’t want to paint too dire a picture for wine lovers, though. Just as artists and musicians left Manhattan for other parts of New York City, so have many wine lovers had to turn elsewhere for formative experiences.

Fortunately, great wines are being produced all over the world nowadays. Those who are fascinated by how wine can express in intricate detail the characteristics of a place and culture can turn to German rieslings, the chenin blancs of Savennières, Chianti Classicos and Priorats.

They also have many other less-expensive options, in places like Burgundy and Bordeaux, wines that are highly pleasurable and offer a taste of what the fuss is about, even if they don’t tell the full story.

The wine areas themselves, or the culture that made the wines what they are, are also vulnerable. Bordeaux is already dominated by corporate ownership, but Burgundy has until recently largely been a region of small farmers. Only in the second half of the 20th century, when more grape-growers began to bottle their own wines instead of selling to large merchants, did some measure of prosperity begin to flow toward the farmers.

Today, the price of Burgundy has sent land values soaring, threatening the continuity of many small family estates as succession of ownership is confronted with steep inheritance taxes and the natural inclination of some in the next generation to cash in rather than grow grapes.

This has not occurred on a wide scale yet, but in 2017, in one recent example, Bonneau du Martray, which makes exquisite Corton-Charlemagne, a grand cru white Burgundy, was sold to Stan Kroenke, an American billionaire, after 200 years of ownership by one family. Mr. Kroenke may turn out to be a fine steward of the property, but the community and culture lose out.

I’ve spoken to Burgundy producers who grumble about their wines’ going solely into the hands of wealthy collectors, or of investors who will never open them but seek to profit from them as their value rises. These bottles are made to be opened and shared, they will say.

The producers have little recourse. If they were to sell their wines at lower prices, investors would leap in to buy them and then resell the wines at the market price. The investors, rather than the producers, would pocket the profits, without having to wait years for the bottles to appreciate.

Diminishing access to great wines is certainly not a catastrophe, or much of a problem for anybody not enamored of wine. But it is a shame.

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