Plan Your Exit
Two companies won the contract to design and manufacture the new NASA spacesuits, because the old ones were designed nearly half-a-century ago and have become obsolete and even dangerous.
They’re turning into a liability, which you’ll see for yourself, after you hear what happened to Luca in 2015.
NASA is estimated to have spent nearly $1bn to replace the original suits and they don’t have much to show for it, so they allowed private companies to do the work for them, at a cost of $3.5bn in taxpayer money.
The suits, called EMUs, or Extravehicular Mobility Units, aren’t a whole lot of fun. They’re bulky and clumsy and aren’t comfortable at all, certainly not for what’s coming in space exploration in the approaching years and decades.
Essentially, they include three features:
PLSS – Portable Life Support Systems, which provide oxygen and keep carbon dioxide levels tamed.
PGS – Pressure Garment System, which maintains pressure and protects from debris, when working outside (spacewalks and such).
Cooling Garment – a system of water tubes, which regulate body temperature.
As a pilot of single-engine planes myself, I not only find space fascinating, but I also know what these career astronauts subject themselves to, in the name of science, passion or personal gratification.
Now to compare that with an experience I had while piloting a Cessna, in one of my first solo flights, clouds gathered and I suddenly was at the mercy of the elements.
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As a 20-yr-old, with this only being my first solo navigation, I felt helpless, as my windshield was completely white and visibility was zero. It’s no fun and the adrenaline in the blood quickly gets the heart racing, if you’re unable to get a handle on things.
Pilots need to make very difficult decisions, but the risk/reward in the air tilts so much towards the risk that there are very few rewards worth the mission objective.
Back on the ISS, or International Space Station, in May of 2013, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, part of a mission that included a Russian commander and an American (sounds like a dream in 2023), was performing a mission outside of the station, which sometimes take hours to complete, when his helmet began rapidly filling up with water.
Within minutes, he couldn’t see much, hear anything or breathe. His professionalism in this situation saved his life. From memory alone, he was able to make it back to the airlock, where the other crew members were able to decompress the suit and remove the helmet, saving his life.
This type of swift decision-making capability and intelligent behavior to get back to the station, using memory, when certain death was a minute or two away, reminded me of the need to implement exit strategies in the world of investing, when things go against you and circumstances change.
If one isn’t able to say goodbye to a tactic or a strategy that is clearly underperforming expectations, one will always suffer big losses.
Luca could not have gambled that the water leak would be minimal; he had to treat it like an emergency from the instant that it began, and this ultra-awareness saved him. Look for real signs of trouble at all times when risking your funds, but don’t obsess over imaginary ones that fear-mongers spread.
Equities are inherently going higher, as GDP is growing and wealth is created at the fastest pace in human history, so the time spent on the sidelines “waiting” for the “big one” will cost you more than the occasional bump on the road.
What’s great about capitalism is that unlike water-filled helmets in zero-oxygen environments, a big crash on Wall Street has NEVER not been followed by an even bigger rally.
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