Airplanes Syed & Whitesides

Published on March 6th, 2012 | by Susanna Schick

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Outer Space Takes Center Stage At BIL Conference

Space Stage Curator & BIL Co-Founder Simone Syed with Speaker George Whitesides

The BIL Conference is a fascinating experience. It’s an irreverent riff on TED, and while some people attend both, ALL are truly welcome at BIL. Anyone can walk in and volunteer, or pay the $50 admission, sign up to speak on one of the 5 stages, or just roam around and have fun. It’s like a bunch of the smart folks from Burning Man got together and found a fun way to share knowledge. This is the first year they had a curated Space Stage, where attendees got to hear from people like CEO of Virgin Galactic George Whitesides, Co-founder of SpaceX Tom Mueller, Yuri’s Night co-founder Loretta Whitesides, and many more.

The (private) space industry is based in Los Angeles, so it was great to learn about the latest in space travel from the people making it happen. That kid I chatted with on the stairs? Oh, he’s a structural engineer for SpaceX. The guy celebrating his birthday (not photographed) at BIL with liquid Nitrogen ice cream for everyone? Only Doug Jones, the co-founder of XCOR and a BIL Presenter.

Seasteading, Immortality, Amateur Porn, Space Travel, Tango, Cupping, Pizza and mingling with tourists on the Queen Mary, BIL’s got all that and more. Because we cover the future of transportation, it’s only right we focus on the speakers who took us into the future of off-planet transportation. Although I don’t have much to say about the individual talks I heard, I will have more to say as I cover future LA Space Salons.

They’re also organized by Syed Simone and her crew, and each one features a more in-depth discussion on a topic brought by the presenter. However, unlike BIL, Space Salon seats are limited, to retain the intimacy of a salon setting. It’s so great to witness the dialogue and interactions which foster innovation happening right here in LA, for an industry which truly thrives on innovation.

Rocket Man Tom Mueller

Tom Mueller, VP of Propulsion at SpaceX, spoke at BIL and at last week’s LA Space Salon. His talk at Space Salon was a wonderful biography of a man who followed his passion. He took us through his lifelong love of rockets, showing us some of the rockets he’d built as a child, and passing around the world’s smallest rocket, which he’d made. Although solid launch fuels are known for expelling some of the densest GHG’s, most of these companies are using liquid fuels which are cheaper and better for the environment.

When I asked how far they could really get with today’s propulsion technology, Mueller replied that SpaceX is working on something completely new that will get them even further. These are companies selling tickets right now for tourists, scientists, governments, whomever needs to experience sub-orbital or even orbital flight. I’m sure SpaceX isn’t the only one targeting a Martian landing, but I suspect with Elon Musk’s track record, they’ll be the first ones there.


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About the Author

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.



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