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Congressional reaction to Falcon 9 launch

It appears that the inaugural launch of the Falcon 9 was a success, in that it appeared to place its demonstration payload into orbit. (SpaceX hasn’t released full details about the 2:45 pm EDT launch yet, so we’ll have to wait until later to get confirmation the Dragon mockup is in orbit, and if so, its parameters. [SpaceX has now confirmed they came within about one percent of both perigee and apogee on the orbit.]) Some members of Congress didn’t waste time commenting on the launch, even if they weren’t necessary effusive in their praise.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, released a brief statement about the launch that might best be catagorized as “damned with faint praise”:

This first successful test flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is a belated sign that efforts to develop modest commercial space cargo capabilities are showing some promising signs. While this test flight was important, the program to demonstrate commercial cargo and crew transport capabilities, which I support, was intended to enhance not replace NASA’s own proven abilities to deliver critical cargo and humans to low Earth orbit. Make no mistake, even this modest success is more than a year behind schedule, and the project deadlines of other private space companies continue to slip as well. This test does not change the fact that commercial space programs are not ready to close the gap in human spaceflight if the space shuttle is retired this year with no proven replacement capability and the Constellation program is simultaneously cancelled as the President proposes.

Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), whose district includes KSC, released this statement (not yet on her web site):

The successful test launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is a significant step in the development of the commercial space industry. There is no doubt that commercial spaceflight will play an important role in the future of our efforts in space, and I believe private companies can bring new job opportunities for the Space Coast’s highly-skilled workforce. But we must both support the emerging commercial space industry and ensure a robust, NASA-led human spaceflight program in order to maintain our international leadership in space and keep our economy strong. I will continue fighting at every opportunity to minimize the human spaceflight gap, protect jobs, and ensure a bright future for the Space Coast.

Update 6pm: Elon Musk had this response to Sen. Hutchison’s statement in a post-launch teleconference with reporters. “I don’t understand why she’s trying to hurt a Texas company. We do all of our engine development and testing in Texas. We’re one of the fastest growing employers in Texas. Why is she trying to hurt a Texas company? That’s wrong, and the people of Texas ought to be aware of that.”

Musk also noted that the successful launch “bodes very well for the Obama plan. It really helps vindicate the approach that he’s taking.” He later qualified that a little bit, saying that the success “vindicates the president’s plan to some degree” but that “it doesn’t show with unequivocal accuracy that it’s correct.”

Update 7:30 pm: POLITICO has some feedback from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), long a vocal critic of the commercial spaceflight focus of the new NASA plan. He doesn’t appear to be exactly convinced of SpaceX’s capabilities after one launch:

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, whose state of Alabama is also a NASA stronghold, further decried the launch as a display merely replicating what “NASA accomplished in 1964.”

“Belated progress for one so-called commercial provider must not be confused with progress for our nation’s human space flight program,” Shelby said. “As a nation, we cannot place our future space flight on one fledgling company’s definition of success.”

The article also notes that the launch was praised by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who said it showed that the company will be “full operation delivering cargo to the International Space Station a year from now.” Musk mentioned in the post-launch press conference that he received a call after the launch from Nelson, who was “very excited”, Musk said.

287 comments to Congressional reaction to Falcon 9 launch

  • Ron

    Any comments Senator Shelby?

  • mark valah

    From this moment, all old bets are off. Congratulations to the Space X team, no matter the politics surrounding this lauch, excellent job.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It is clear that with the astonishing success of Falcon 9 SpaceX has dodged a political bullet. Sadly, Obamaspace has pitted commercial space against space exploration. There are many people, thus, who would not have minded a launch failure.

  • amightywind

    Guys. SpaceX did not reach orbit. The burn was 2 minutes short. It looks like proponents of Obamaspace are trying to spin this turd into gold. It ain’t gonna work. The fact that SpaceX shut off the feed in mid flight should tell you something.

  • Ferris Valyn

    No no no

    The reason the feed shut off is that the Socialist Nazi Aliens have stolen SpaceX’s rocket to insure that humanity is forever bared from entering space, because their superiority of their bodily fluids. Clearly, because abreakingwind is windy, he has no fluids to worry about

  • Josh

    Falcon 9 entered into orbit successfully. What you call “Obamaspace” is just a move toward a capitalist approach to spaceflight.

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  • josh

    the launch was a complete success. anybody trying to smear spacex should be ashamed of themselves. they’re so not worthy.

    also, the congressional reaction is a bad joke. hutchison seems to forget that constellation is about seven years behind schedule and billions over budget. the facts are the facts.

  • Thanks Jeff for the quick political update. Re KBH. Over here we would say she has a “big shuttle shaped bee in her bonnet!” Methinks she had two releases: the one printed above: begrudging a success and a scathing one prepared for a failure. She would MUCH rather have posted the second!
    Alas when one has nailed a political policy, like Shuttle Extension to the mast. It is not easy for a climb down or face saving manoeuvre.
    Meanwhile the contortions of a supposedly small Government, pro Corporatist party supporting, nay DEMANDING a state run space program are *so* amusing to watch. What next? Tractors.
    Collectivisation.
    It’s the only answer.
    #GoSpaceX

  • Statement from Elon Musk on Spaceflightnow (link below)

    Falcon 9 hit a bullseye. Only 1% higher than expected apogee! Dang near perfect.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

  • josh

    oh, and btw: @amightywind: you are an asshole. you deserve nothing more.

  • sc220

    It looks like proponents of Obamaspace are trying to spin this turd into gold.

    I’d rather have a turd that gets things into space than a gold-plated firecracker that only dumps tuna cans into the Atlantic.

  • Terry S

    IMO it’s time for Hutchinson, Shelby etc. to put on their twirly beanies, sit in the corner and shut up.

  • /shun
    amightywind wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    amightywind wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 8:04 am
    “It’s game day. If Musk succeeds I will congratulate him. It is quite a leap from Falcon 1 to Falcon 9.”

    Back under the Bridge.
    shun

  • Dick Newman

    “Amightwind” is blowing pretty hard today. Now he’s even making more stuff up out of whole cloth. The burn was two minutes short, eh? Under what rock did you find that? But of course, he’ll say, those devious SpaceX trolls are just lying about having achieved a perfect orbit.

    Many congratulations to the SpaceX team. They are the real heroes and pioneers around here.

  • Major Tom

    “Guys. SpaceX did not reach orbit. The burn was 2 minutes short. It looks like proponents of Obamaspace are trying to spin this turd into gold. It ain’t gonna work. The fact that SpaceX shut off the feed in mid flight should tell you something.”

    The boilerplate Dragon is in orbit, genius.

    “2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)

    It’s official. SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the Falcon 9 rocket achieved a nearly perfect orbit during today’s dramatic blastoff.
    GPS telemetry showed the rocket’s second stage and dummy Dragon capsule hit “essentially a bullseye,” according to Musk

    The apogee, or high point, was about 1 percent higher than planned and the perigee, or low point, was 0.2 percent off the target. The second stage shutdown was nominal, Musk told Spaceflight Now.

    The Falcon 9 was shooting for a circular orbit 250 kilometers, or 155 miles, high and an inclination of 34.5 degrees.”

    spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/001/status.html

    “Nine minutes and 38 seconds after launch, the Falcon 9’s payload — a mockup of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule — was in orbit.”

    aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awx/2010/06/04/awx_06_04_2010_p0-232127.xml&headline=Falcon%209%20Soars%20On%20Debut%20Flight&channel=space

    For the zillionth time, stop making stupid statements out of assinine ignorance.

    And for the gazillionth time, stop making up and spreading lies.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    Administrator’s statement:

    spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=30978

    FWIW…

  • John Malkin

    Maybe Ares I can use a couple of merlin engines on its second stage :o)

    All the entrepreneurs at ISDC said the best way to get investors was to show success. I guess SpaceX will be getting some new investors and continue to leverage public and private money.

    Go Falcon Go and the Blackhawks too!

  • Vladislaw

    “Byron Lichtenberg, former Space Shuttle astronaut:

    “I expect that there will be a lot more astronauts in the future because of today’s success. Lower cost launches means more flights, which means more astronauts. We’ve only had 500 astronauts in the history of the Space Age, but I hope to see thousands more in the decades to come”.”

    http://www.commercialspaceflight.org/?p=1243

  • Major Tom

    “Sadly, Obamaspace has pitted commercial space against space exploration.”

    The White House cancelled a program (Constellation) that was failing to reach ISS before it went in the drink and had no hope of doing any exploration until the 2030s. On the advice of an independent, expert panel, the White House replaced the failing Constellation program with a new set of exploration development programs and preserved a different program (COTS) that still promised to serve ISS needs, a bet which apparently is going to pay off based on today’s test flight. That’s not pitting anything against anything. That’s replacing failed programs with new ones and sticking with succeeding programs. It’s management 101.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “There are many people, thus, who would not have minded a launch failure.”

    How is the White House to blame for stupid statements from Senators in the opposing party like Hutchison?

    Think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • I don’t need to add to the festivities, like John M said, the best way to get new money is to succeed.

    Elon and SpaceX beat the odds and showed what a domestic American company can do.

    Score one for American industry.

    Brings a tear to me eye, *sniff* :’-)

  • [...] “congressuale”: ed eccoli qua, i primi commenti dal Congresso. A quanto pare, chi ha deciso di osteggiare l’ObamaSpace non [...]

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    It is clear that with the astonishing success of Falcon 9 SpaceX has dodged a political bullet. Sadly, Obamaspace has pitted commercial space against space exploration. There are many people, thus, who would not have minded a launch failure…………………….

    goofy

    First anyone who wanted a launch failure is someone who you, I, anyone should call out as a fraud. A nincompop, an idiot, a dolt…it is what it is asking for failure. That is indefensible .

    it is almost as bad as trying to defend those people.

    Sorry Constellation was/is and will always be a turkey.

    You and others are betting against free enterprise in a land founded on it sigh

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Attaboys all ’round to every individual at SpaceX for their first successful the unmanned test flight of Falcon 9 from Canaveral AFB today, June 4, 2010.

    With apologies to President Obama’s dismissive lunar quip- ‘Been there, done that,’ of course. A magnificent liftoff and ride uphill through separation and beyond (although orbital parameters appear to be off a bit) reaffirms the viability of the first half of a system– to get something up– pioneered by NASA and Von Braun’s team on January 31, 1958, although their payload, Explorer 1, was operational and proved to be productive by discovering the Van Allen radiation belts. No doubt today’s event, over 52 years later, will be welcomed by investment capitalists with equal excitement — and curiosity as a back to the future moment. Next step, of course, is getting a payload, manned or unmanned, down safely. For this writer, the launch recreated ‘the thrill of the new,’ recalling personal memories from 45 years ago — virtually to the day, on June 3, 1965, when NASA’s Gemini-Titan IV lofted McDivitt and White to orbit; saw the first U.S. EVA; the first use of the Mission Control Houston for flight operations and, of course, a successful ‘routine’ reentry and recovery of spacecraft and crew. Congratulations SpaceX. It was, quite literally, a blast from the past.

  • DCSCA

    Sorry Constellation was/is and will always be a turkey. <- In your opinion. You paint with a broad brush. Elements of it indeed need revisited. But your opposition to manned spaceflight is well understood.

  • ““Guys. SpaceX did not reach orbit. The burn was 2 minutes short. It looks like proponents of Obamaspace are trying to spin this turd into gold. It ain’t gonna work. The fact that SpaceX shut off the feed in mid flight should tell you something.””

    Funny, there was an oscillation issue that was perfect fodder for your ire and you didn’t even mention it. But you came up with this crazy ’2 minutes short’ thing that hasn’t been mentioned anywhere by anybody and is refuted by the announcement well ahead of engine cutoff that it was about to occur. It’s as if you didn’t watch it at all. Actually, I’m quite sure you didn’t.

    I don’t expect everyone to watch every launch or any launch for that matter, but making baseless statements that are easily refuted by people who DID watch it is kinda silly. Did you think in a whole field of space geeks that none of us would have watched it?

    “Sadly, Obamaspace has pitted commercial space against space exploration.”

    Actually, I agree with you there, Mark. However, I think it was a necessary step, which I’m sure you disagree with. While I did vote for the guy, his handling of the whole NASA FY2011 budget has caused a lot more conflict in a community that is already too small to be able to afford factioning off. I think a good portion of that was bound to happen one way or another, but a good deal of the issues have been due to poor PR handling. And we’ll be suffering those consequences for a few years, I expect.

  • DCSCA

    “This test does not change the fact that commercial space programs are not ready to close the gap in human spaceflight if the space shuttle is retired this year with no proven replacement capability and the Constellation program is simultaneously cancelled as the President proposes.” <– KBH is correct.

  • Congrats to SpaceX. However, the amount of PR put into the pre-launch innoculation was hysterical. When would a failure not be a failure? If it’s a Space X failure. OK, I get it. Success = Success, but most importantly Failure = Success.

  • DCSCA

    Of course, any questions on issues surrounding orbital parameters would be known to the public almost immediately if NASA had launched this vehicle. But then, secrecy and/or minimal public exposure is important to private enterprised operations with significant financial investments at stake. See BP for details.

  • Ben Joshua

    Impressive debut performance, Falcon 9.

    I’m wondering about the launch crew size and procedures, especially after the abort turnaround. Pretty amazing.

    Before we start imagining a high energy upper stage for Falcon, interesting cost benefit of the design, as is.

    Patience, while Falcon takes some time to achieve operational status. Soyuz for awhile, and then possibly two or three companies offering cargo / crew to LEO.

  • “This test does not change the fact that commercial space programs are not ready to close the gap in human spaceflight if the space shuttle is retired this year with no proven replacement capability and the Constellation program is simultaneously cancelled as the President proposes.”

    So? Ares I had no hope of closing the gap any time soon, and it would have cost at least an order of magnitude more.

  • DCSCA

    “Impressive debut performance, Falcon 9.” Hmmm. Uh, no. As promised is more apt. Capital investors expect a return on their investments. ‘Impressive’ would be appropriate if it delivered a higherv yield than promised. However, a missile launch from Cape Canaveral, unmanned or manned, is usually an ‘impressive’ event to young and old.

  • Ben Joshua

    By “impressive” I was not refering to the fire and roar spectacle of a launch, but the first time demonstration of SpaceX system, process and team capabilities. No doubt, these capabilities were the ticket in the door for range safety and other certifying authorities, it’s still a milestone achievement. Congrats to the folks at SpaceX today.

  • DCSCA, you compared Explorer 1 (remember the size of the satellite? von Braun and van Allen held it above their heads) to Falcon 9, which will be capable of lifting seven people into orbit. And this: “But your opposition to manned spaceflight is well understood.”

    How is encouraging something that will actually put people in orbit on a regular basis (private spaceflight) equal opposition to manned spaceflight? Or perhaps your definition of manned spaceflight is “NASA = space”. Sorry. On a long enough time scale everything changes, even NASA. Get used to it.

  • “‘Impressive’ would be appropriate if it delivered a higherv yield than promised.”

    No, that would indicate a serious error in math.

  • Rayas

    The satellite placed into orbit by this launch has NORAD ID 36595, international designation 10026A.

    Sign into http://www.space-track.org for the orbital elements.

  • common sense

    I wonder about y’all SpaceX bashers. What the heck is wrong with you? Today a US company succeeded in doing something that countries cannot do using a much larger budget. As they grow they will most likely need to hire workers of any kind. As they grow some competition might grow as well. All of this if anything will provide the real edge on space exploration for the USA. Not for NASA alone mind you. If they keep on like this more people will be able to take a ride on a rocket. You should be celebrating! You should tell the feebles in Congress that this what this country needs. It is not about NASA against SpaceX! Of course without NASA there would most likely be no SpaceX. But NASA, not CxP. It is a major difference.

    This new plan IS the right plan. Ridiculous attacks about timeline and destination are just politcally motivated garbage. Those people would rather be elected than have the US go in the right direction. I hope you could see that for what it is. KBH is very disappointing. I thought she had a lot more common sense. Age maybe? The SpaceX Texas workers I am sure are happy to read what she has to say, right?

    Someone ask for class elsewhere, would it not be nice at least once?

  • Robert Horning

    ““Impressive debut performance, Falcon 9.” Hmmm. Uh, no. As promised is more apt. Capital investors expect a return on their investments. ‘Impressive’ would be appropriate if it delivered a higherv yield than promised. However, a missile launch from Cape Canaveral, unmanned or manned, is usually an ‘impressive’ event to young and old.”

    I don’t think anything short of a manned circum-lunar flight on the initial flight of the Falcon 1 would have been sufficient to impress you… and even then you would have thought it to be foolish. This is impressive because most initial flights of new spacecraft routinely end up with some miserable failures. It is that point which is being commented about here… and achieving the orbital characteristics and meeting 100% of mission objectives is actually a higher yield than promised.

    A missile launch….. I suppose that a Falcon 9 could be used as an ICBM, but that would be a bit of an overkill for that sort of task…. wouldn’t you think? At this point, I’d have to say put up or shut up if you want to be critical of Elon Musk. What sort of rocketry have you worked on lately?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Jim D. wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Congrats to SpaceX. However, the amount of PR put into the pre-launch innoculation was hysterical. When would a failure not be a failure? If it’s a Space X failure. OK, I get it. Success = Success, but most importantly Failure = Success….

    test flying has various levels of success…SpaceX hit the thing out of the park but sometimes one is happy with “less”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    It seems as though “mighty wind” has imitated Col. Flagg from MASH and while leaving the building “broke his leg”

    From spaceflight now

    “ndependent tracking data indicates the Falcon second stage and Dragon mock-up are circling Earth between 149 miles and 174 miles. The exact orbital parameters will be refined in the coming hours and days. ”

    for those of us who do orbital tracking SpaceTrack has elements…

    maybe mightywind will blow off…but if not at least the rest of us should figure out a way to find the scroll buttons on his post

    Robert G. Oler

  • Eric Sterner

    I’m not a fan of the Obama civil space policy, but this is good news for the country. Kudos to SpaceX.

  • Final score:

    Falcon 9
    Ares 1

    We were at the KSC Saturn V Center for the launch. An announcement was made on the PA so everyone could run outside and watch from the VIP bleachers. Quite an enthusiastic crowd with a lot of applause.

    When we got back on the tour bus, the driver spoke over the PA at length about SpaceX, Falcon 9 and Dragon. He said this is the future. He was right.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    watching it on the TV even the two month old was shouting “go baby go”…(grin) I added at the appropriate moment “God Speed Falcon9″ (with apologies)

    It was a fine day. The best thing that has happened in aviation since the WRight Brothers…this is the future of aviation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • common sense, yeah, Musk stated on the teleconference that he expected to nearly double their number of employees by next year!

  • Robert G. Oler

    It is clear from the public responses of KBH and Richard porkville and a few others that reality is not their dish.

    Nelson however is important…he gets where the wind is blowing.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Ivan Tchalakov

    As a a student of innovations and technology development under former communist regumes, I notice the striking similarities between reaction and even wording of Republican Sen. Richard Shelby and former Communsit party functionaires – how is it possible a REPUBLICAN senator to negate the achivements of a private entrepreneur!
    “Nation above all, individual entreprenerus down” – such attitudes had eventually destroyed the Red empire.

  • Bennett

    Hey Ivan, that made me smile. Well put.

  • Anyone want to let Sen Hutchinson know that SpaceX believes they can complete COTS-D within 3 years of initiation?

  • Robert Horning

    “Anyone want to let Sen Hutchinson know that SpaceX believes they can complete COTS-D within 3 years of initiation?”

    I’ll believe that when I see it. While I like SpaceX as a company, and they are doing some incredible things with spaceflight technology, they should never ever be pushed into a rush job to get something developed.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it here. For engineering programs of any kind (this isn’t restricted to just spaceflight… and I’ve certainly seen this applied to software development tasks too) there are three things that an engineer can do when developing a product or program:

    Build “it”:

    1) Cheaper
    2) Sooner
    3) Reliably

    You must choose only two of the above options!

    We know full well what can be built if you throw cost out the window. The Manhattan project and the Apollo program are clear examples of this, where during the 1960′s there were even signs up in factories that openly proclaimed “waste anything but time”. Much of the Cold War armament infrastructure was built on the principle that if it isn’t built now, that the USA won’t even exist tomorrow so cost wasn’t a major concern. It simply had to be built now and we’ll worry about the cost later.

    What SpaceX is doing here, and why this launch is so critical, is that right now the two options being selected are cheaper and reliable instead of concentrating on when it will be built. Those who are complaining, such as how Senator Hutchinson is clearly doing here, that these programs simply must be built yesterday and flying today should be fully aware what that sort of mentality costs.

    For myself, I don’t mind it that the development of the Falcon 9 is “over a year late”. If as a result of that extra time and trying to find ways to save a little extra money, letting the construction cost of building these vehicles and other aspects of human spaceflight taking a little bit longer will end up with substantially cheaper flights… I’m all for it!

    What is also surprising (although it really shouldn’t be if you know much about engineering) is that the extra time to do things right the first time and to spend that extra time is well worth the effort in the long run and really isn’t all that much extra time anyway. Part of the problem with Constellation is that it has become a crash program that absolutely must be done now as we are relying upon the Russians for getting into space. It is getting to the point that we simply can’t afford such a crash program any more, and once it is built it will have to be canceled anyway because of cost.

  • Gary Church

    I watched it fly. It looked good. I love rockets. I wish it had blown up on the pad but…..oh well. Congrats to the SpaceX team.

  • Vladislaw

    common sense wrote:

    “I wonder about y’all SpaceX bashers. What the heck is wrong with you? Today a US company succeeded in doing something that countries cannot do using a much larger budget.”

    I have voiced that view myself, why the hatred for American aerospace engineers and workers and the entreprenurial spirit of trying to capture a new market for the 21st century? Why do they seem to insist that somehow they are to stupid to do something that Russia has been doing for 50 years. Where is the national pride that America can be the driving force in a new global market?

  • @Josh wrote

    “Falcon 9 entered into orbit successfully. What you call “Obamaspace” is just a move toward a capitalist approach to spaceflight.”

    Wow! Does that mean they won’t be trying to get government contracts! I’m juiced if that’s true!

  • Robert Horning, could not agree more, but if you check out the video, Gwynne Shotwell points out, quite bluntly, that 99% of the work is done or will be done by the time the CRS contract is up. Dragon will have flown 12 times. Simply adding seats and a pusher escape system should not take more than 5 years. I do make that comment on the video. Remember, this is a company that built a rocket in four years that flew nominally on its first go.

    I know that SpaceX has existed for 8 years, but they spent several of those years on ablative engines, and in any case they did not get a real influx of cash until they won the COTS award. That was 4 years ago. Also, the original COTS-A-C agreement expected SpaceX to accomplish their goals in 2 years (by 2008). They actually had to amend the agreement to 2009, and even then, SpaceX has slipped the ammended schedule by 6 months. So they are taking their time to integrate properly. See, as an example, the delay of Demo 3. They’re not afraid to delay. I’d say they’re going the cheaper+reliable route.

    It’s just that when a really innovative capitalist business does something cheaply and reliably, yaknow, it sometimes turns out quicker in any case (see the rise of Honda!).

  • Marcel F. Williams, what? The government gave them an economic boost, therefore it would be silly for the government not to take advantage of the lower costs that they offer. So instead of seeing it as “SpaceX looking for government contracts” (that’s ULA), view it as “Government looking for low cost services.”

  • I wish it had blown up on the pad

    Do you have any concept of what a scumbag you are? (apologies to actual bags of scum.)

  • David C

    WOW!! A Capitalist Approach To SpaceFlight, in a Nation founded on capitalism and the entreprenurial spirit of it’s immigrants;

    WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!!!

    No wonder Ivan and Vlad sound so confused!!!

  • common sense

    @ Eric Sterner wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    “I’m not a fan of the Obama civil space policy, but this is good news for the country. Kudos to SpaceX.”

    Thanks for acknowledging a major feat of this company, SpaceX, a US company, despite your opposition to this plan. We need more people like you from the “other” side.

    Have a good weekend.

  • Dimitar

    Ivan Cholakov
    I presume we are compatriots, and you just made me cry and post here after years of just reading. SpaceX WAS commercial company, now it is as commercial as Multigroup.
    Translation for all of you: Obama goes to have a beer with Dog The Bounty Hunter, gives him couple of billions and makes him the future of police enforcement in USA.

    Congratulations for Musk, lets hope Nobama plan dies and he launch many rockets having nothing to do with the government. And at the same time we go back to the Moon (I disliked Constellations originally, in the last months its seems better and better).

  • amightywind

    It is difficult to know the facts from the spin. It is a good feet to reach orbit, if indeed they have. Information has been tightly controlled. Most un-American. It looked like a wild ride. I would now rate them behind Boeing, Lockmart, and Orbital. Good for SpaceX. They have become a polarizing political creature.The battle will go on will go on. The tests will get more difficult.

  • Patrick

    I think Mr. Church might be a young fellow without any comprehension of what he wished for… in which case, “scumbag” might be a little strong.

    On the other hand, he could be an adult… in which case, “scumbag” isn’t strong enough.

    I’m wearing my SpaceX gimme cap tonight!

  • Patrick

    As for amightywind, he reminds me of that dude who did the press conferences for Saddam Hussein. :)

  • amightywind

    I am trying to understand why a rocket stage with a thrust vector off by 20 degrees and spinning could reach a planned orbit. My guess is that there is not a weight simulated dragon on top. The stage was launched practically empty (nose light). That would explain the difficulty of control. I give them credit. They have a rocket. Onward to the next mission. But I agree with KBH.

  • Robert Horning

    You mean how the Iraqi Army had invaded New York Harbor and was beginning its assault on Washington?

    Orbital elements are now being reported independently by the Department of Defense and other observers. If you really want to get confirmation, get a good set of binoculars and some software that will create a local ephemeris to see when it will be passing over your house tonight and track it for yourself. It isn’t that hard to do and I’ve certainly been able to track many sorts of object from my own backyard, including the ISS, various shuttles, and several Iridium satellites just for kicks and fun.

    In other words, don’t trust me or anybody else…. use your own two eyes and find out for yourself and let us know how this grand conspiracy is working out for you.

    BTW, almightywind, if you think that SpaceX now ranks 4th in the list of commercial spaceflight providers, where does that put ATK? I’ll take ranking SpaceX above ATK any day!

  • Patrick

    “But I agree with KBH.”

    You mean “KGB,” don’t you? :)

    That’s the other thing you remind me of… Soviet propaganda. Where did you get all that bad feeling? Something so emblematically American as an enthusiast doing what everyone says is impossible, and everybody wants to dump on him.

    Thinking about it, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised.

  • Gary Church

    “Do you have any concept of what a scumbag you are? ”

    No, I don’t.
    I wish it had blown up on the pad and not hurt anybody. Is that any better?
    I just do not like the design and the cheaper is better agenda that goes with it. But it got going 18,000 miles an hour and that is a beautiful and amazing thing. I almost got going that fast once on my motorcycle- but I chickened out.

    No sarcasm, congrats to the spaceX people; I have no doubt they worked their asses off and sacrificed alot of family time to launch that bird.

  • I have long been a huge fan of SpaceX and congratulate them on their success today. Frankly, even if their initial flight of Falcon 9 had not been such a great success, I’d have been in their corner. They do great work and rocket science is hard.

    That said, I can’t understand why others can’t be excited about SpaceX and other emerging private space companies…AND still want NASA to be getting us beyond earth orbit.

    I am concerned that having NASA build no manned vehicles and do only research will be the end for decades of manned flight beyond earth orbit…not a new beginning. Do you really believe that, after studies are done, money will made available again to send astronauts to, say, an asteroid? I think it’s just posturing; the money will never return.

    As for SpaceX and the others, they’ll do great things and they’ll be very exciting. But they’ll keep astronauts frustratingly close to earth.

  • Gary Church

    “It is difficult to know the facts from the spin. It is a good feet to reach orbit, if indeed they have.”

    It went up and it did not come back down. Is that difficult or is your head so locked in the extreme right position the flow of blood has been cut off?
    Cluster’s last stand seems to be capable of flight- so they did something right. My hat is off to the designers and workers for making do with a lot of little engines instead of a few big ones.

  • Paul D.

    Mr. Church, I don’t understand how you can tolerate being you.

  • Gary Church

    ‘Do you really believe that, after studies are done, money will made available again to send astronauts to, say, an asteroid? I think it’s just posturing; the money will never return.”

    It only takes one event to change that never to a right now. ONE TRILLION DOLLARS of defense spending might just mean there actually is money for a HLV. A large part of that trillion grew out of a few million dollars spent on basic flight training and stipends for some hijackers who pulled off the most effective suicide mission ever. Well, the most effective so far.

    There is still that thing that knocked down 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles in 1908. There have several events over the past decades of very large explosions in the atmosphere. And then there is that really big hole in Mexico from 65 million years ago. So it could change tomorrow and we would see a few percent of that trillion (at least) shifted to NASA. Do the math.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch “I watched it fly. It looked good. I love rockets. I wish it had blown up on the pad but…..oh well.” <– Why? Taxpayers paid for the launch pad! Good Lord. Great Grandpappy Church musta had the family fortune sunk into buggy whip manufacturing.

  • Gary Church

    “Mr. Church, I don’t understand how you can tolerate being you.”

    We just have a different vision. Yours involves billionaires boning their girlfriends in orbit and mine involves preserving the human race. You don’t like when I disagree with your vision and throw monkey crap at me and pick it up and chuck it right back at you. Monkeys are not used to that I guess.

  • Gary Church

    “Great Grandpappy Church musta had the family fortune sunk into buggy whip manufacturing.”

    So how about that side mount LAS hypersonic info buddy?

  • Gary Church

    Correction; You don’t like when I disagree with your vision and throw monkey crap at me and pick it up and I chuck it right back at you. Monkeys are not used to that I guess. Sorry

  • Gary Church

    Correction; You don’t like when I disagree with your vision and throw monkey crap at me and I pick it up and I chuck it right back at you. Monkeys are not used to that I guess. Sorry

    I keep losing I’s when I post. Either this is a problem with the site or a problem with my meds. Sorry for the repeat posts.

  • Gary Church

    Yes, I think it is me. I am not proofreading. So now I have posted so many times I have taken up room like Major Tom on your screens. Sorry, again. I will take a couple more pills and try and do better.

  • Robert G. Oler

    amightywind wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I am trying to understand why a rocket stage with a thrust vector off by 20 degrees and spinning could reach a planned orb…

    normally I just ignore you but the delicious thought of you having made a real donkey of your self with the indiotic prediction of the payload dumping in the water is almost like the time I was able to tell Whittington that there was no WMD…entertaining.

    As for the answer to the above question; sorry it is beyond your knowledge base.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Patrick

    Wow, this is like a very slow version of the spaceflightnow twitter feed.

  • DCSCA

    @EdMichau- Uh, you realize that was a mock-up, not the Explorer satellite itself. Perhaps SpaceX should have tucked a radio transmitter in the nose of their deadweight payload. But then one could easily draw comparison to Sputnik in ’57, as that payload was operational but had a more sinister purpose as well. And that would have been bad form for SpaceX. As it is, they’ve orbited a piece of space junk, not an operational spacecraft for one or seven ‘people into orbit.’ They’ve got years to go before they launch their first ‘Mercury’ flight. Memo to SpaceX- it’s 2010, not 1961.

    @BenJoshua-”By “impressive” I was not refering to the fire and roar spectacle of a launch, but the first time demonstration of SpaceX system, process and team capabilities. No doubt, these capabilities were the ticket in the door for range safety and other certifying authorities, it’s still a milestone achievement.”

    Milestone? Repeating something done by Von Braun and his NASA rocket team 50 years ago is hardly a ‘milestone.’ More a benchmark indicating how many decades behind commercial spaceflight is– and how far it has to go. Getting a payload with cargo or crew aboard up and down safely has yet to be accomplished. They have no operational spacecraft. Today’s event was more akin to, as President Obama said of lunar exploration, a ‘Been there, done that” event… and it didn’t even make the evening network newscasts.

  • Neil H.

    hypothesis: Gary Church is a pseudonym for Richard Shelby

  • DCSCA

    @RayKatz “I am concerned that having NASA build no manned vehicles and do only research will be the end for decades of manned flight beyond earth orbit…not a new beginning. Do you really believe that, after studies are done, money will made available again to send astronauts to, say, an asteroid? I think it’s just posturing; the money will never return.”

    Precisely.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom “The boilerplate Dragon is in orbit, genius.” Really? Boilerplate? Please share the date/time/coordinates for controlled reentry, splashdown and recovery of boilerplate Dragon, by the private recovery fleet owned and operated by SpaceX. Otherwise, nations above the groundtrack take note– if this new piece of ‘space junk’ reenters a la Skylab and does any damage, send the bill to SpaceX, not the USA.

  • Gary Church

    “Milestone? Repeating something done by Von Braun and his NASA rocket team 50 years ago is hardly a ‘milestone.’ ”

    Don’t talk bad about Von Braun, he may have been a nazi and went to work everyday with corpses hanging from the ceiling, but there is no repeating what he and his team did. And by the way it was not really Von Braun that put an American in orbit; the atlas that carried mercury was designed by a team led Karel Bossart. It was a stainless steel balloon design that had to be kept pressurized or it would collapse under it’s own weight. Squeeze a plastic bottle with the cap on and then with the cap off and you get the idea. Von Braun was totally against balloon tank designs- possibly because they are not very good for wet workshops. He was also against using liquid hydrogen and a Jewish engineer named Abe Silverstein finally convinced him to use it in the upper stages of the Saturn V. Without high energy propelents we would not have beat the Russians to the moon.

  • Gary Church

    hypothesis: Neil H is a pseudonym for Jack Ass.

  • reader

    I just do not like the design and the cheaper is better agenda that goes with it.

    Uh .. how about them bridges they built over San Francisco bay ? I mean, some found them of questionable aesthetics, would you like to have em blown up ?

  • DCSCA

    @RobertHorning-”I don’t think anything short of a manned circum-lunar flight on the initial flight of the Falcon 1 would have been sufficient to impress you… and even then you would have thought it to be foolish.” Speak for yourself. An ‘all up’ SpaceX Falcon/Dragon test launch of LV and operational spacecraft, orbited, demostrating even minimal on-orbit operations, reentered and recovered intact, all paid for for SpaceX would have been ‘impressive.’ What we witnessed today was fun… a blast from the past, circa 1958. Even the Von Braun/JPL Explorer 1 had some orbital variations from its predicted path. No fault earned by SpaceX on that. It’s just that what they did… has been done, as President Obama noted regarding lunar exploration. Attaboys all ’round to the boys and girls at SpaceX for doing today what was done 50-plus years ago.

  • DCSCA

    @EricSterner “I’m not a fan of the Obama civil space policy, but this is good news for the country. Kudos to SpaceX.” <– Can't decide if this is sincere or a wet finger in the wind to decide which way the wind may start blowing.

  • Bennett

    Robert Horning wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Robert, that was really well written, as was Josh’s follow on.

    Patrick wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Well, it doesn’t scroll by itself, and most of us just ignore the posts by the few troll that come around. I generally learn something here, the Spaceflight Now chat box was a train wreck.

  • DCSCA

    @commonsense “Thanks for acknowledging a major feat of this company, SpaceX, a US company…” <- Uh, repeating something accomplished by NASA 50-plus years ago is less a 'major feat' and more a simple benchmark indicating just how long and far private enterprised space ventures have to go and grow to operate on a par with government space agencies, NASA or otherwise.

  • Major Tom

    “Really? Boilerplate? Please share the date/time/coordinates for controlled reentry, splashdown and recovery of boilerplate Dragon, by the private recovery fleet owned and operated by SpaceX.”

    Yes, “boilerplate”, genius. As in a nonfunctional version of a spacecraft. As in the boilerplate versions of the Mercury and Apollo spacecraft.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance. The term “boilerplate (rocketry)” is even on wikipedia, for chrissakes.

    “Otherwise, nations above the groundtrack take note– if this new piece of ’space junk’ reenters a la Skylab and does any damage, send the bill to SpaceX, not the USA.”

    The term “boilerplate” has nothing to do with whether pieces of a spacecraft will survive reentry and make contact with the Earth’s surface.

    If you knew anything about aerospace, you’d know that Dragon’s materials, size, and, to a lesser extent, shape guarantee that it will burn up in the atmosphere.

    Sigh…

  • DCSCA

    “Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, whose state of Alabama is also a NASA stronghold, further decried the launch as a display merely replicating what “NASA accomplished in 1964.” Ball park date but he’s not as far off the mark as, perhaps, the orbital parameters of Tumblin’ Dice 1, aka Deadweight Dragon.

  • DCSCA

    Elon Musk had this response to Sen. Hutchison’s statement in a post-launch teleconference with reporters. “I don’t understand why she’s trying to hurt a Texas company. We do all of our engine development and testing in Texas. We’re one of the fastest growing employers in Texas. Why is she trying to hurt a Texas company? That’s wrong, and the people of Texas ought to be aware of that.” <— Uh, SpaceX is headquartered in the Hawthorne/El Segundo area of Los Angeles, CA (near by is LAX.) Know the area well. It most definitely is not Texas.

  • DCSCA

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance. <– Speak for yourself. Again, please share the date/time/coordinates for controlled reentry, splashdown and recovery of boilerplate Dragon, by the private recovery fleet owned and operated by SpaceX. Otherwise, again, nations above the groundtrack take note– if this new piece of ’space junk’ reenters a la Skylab and does any damage, send the bill to SpaceX, not the USA.

  • DCSCA

    @MajotTom- And please note your own ‘boilerplate’ reference is to manned spacecraft testing used for instrumentation and data collection. Was this a test of the Dragon spacecraft? Uh, no. Please share the instrumentation and data being collected aboard the deadweight ‘Tumblin’ Dice 1,’ aka your unmanned, non-operational Dragon spacecraft. This bird lofted deadweight.

  • Major Tom

    “Milestone? Repeating something done by Von Braun and his NASA rocket team 50 years ago is hardly a ‘milestone.’ More a benchmark indicating how many decades behind commercial spaceflight is– and how far it has to go.”

    “What we witnessed today was fun… a blast from the past, circa 1958… Attaboys all ’round to the boys and girls at SpaceX for doing today what was done 50-plus years ago.”

    “Uh, repeating something accomplished by NASA 50-plus years ago is less a ‘major feat’ and more a simple benchmark indicating just how long and far private enterprised space ventures have to go and grow to operate on a par with government space agencies, NASA or otherwise.”

    These are idiotic statements. Unless it’s a defense or purely civil function, governments shouldn’t be performing the same basic, routine function of anything for a half-century. NASA should have started transitioning routine ETO transport to the private sector at least one, if not two, decades ago.

    It’s shameful if private enterprise is “on par” with a civil space agency. It’s a strong indication that the agency isn’t operating on the frontier and is wasting too many of its resources doing what the private sector can be or is doing. Even kids learn public/private sector roles in high school civics classes.

    Think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • Major Tom

    “Please share the instrumentation and data being collected aboard the deadweight ‘Tumblin’ Dice 1,’ aka your unmanned, non-operational Dragon spacecraft. This bird lofted deadweight.”

    This Dragon is instrumented, genius.

    “- Got lots of good data from the Dragon capsule. Though it was not a fully functional capsule, it was heavily instrumented and will help a lot with preparation for future flights.”

    hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=21153

    Stop making stupid statements out of ignorance.

    Oy vey…

  • DCSCA

    @MarkWhittington-”It is clear that with the astonishing success of Falcon 9 SpaceX has dodged a political bullet. Sadly, Obamaspace has pitted commercial space against space exploration. There are many people, thus, who would not have minded a launch failure.” That’s a bit harsh. SpaceX is due praise from any and all space enthusiasts for finally flying but as what they accomplished was done 50 years ago by NASA, it’s hardly ‘astonishing.’ More notable, although not notable enough to make the U.S. network newscasts Friday evening for West Coast viewers. Oil leaks are more dramatic. But the way BP is handling that should give you insight into how a private company will manage information, good or bad, so as not to expose the company and its investors to adverse news.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom- ““- Got lots of good data from the Dragon capsule. Though it was not a fully functional capsule, it was heavily instrumented and will help a lot with preparation for future flights.” Please share.

  • Major Tom

    “Uh, SpaceX is headquartered in the Hawthorne/El Segundo area of Los Angeles, CA (near by is LAX.) Know the area well. It most definitely is not Texas.”

    How unaware, uninformed, unknowing, and just plain oblivious can you be?

    Among other things, SpaceX performs Merlin and Falcon 9 engine tests near McGregor, Texas:

    “McGregor TX – January 18, 2008 – Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) conducted the first multi-engine firing of its Falcon 9 medium to heavy lift rocket at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor. The engines operated at full power, generating over 180,000 pounds of force, equivalent to a Boeing 777 at full power, and consuming 700 lbs per second of fuel and liquid oxygen during the run.”

    spacex.com/press.php?page=35

    For the third time, stop making utterly stupid statements out of sheer ignorance.

    Ugh…

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom “These are idiotic statements.” Unless it’s a defense or purely civil function, governments shouldn’t be performing the same basic, routine function of anything for a half-century. NASA should have started transitioning routine ETO transport to the private sector at least one, if not two, decades ago.” Who says, YOU? SpaceX 2010 = NASA 1958. You’ve got a long way to fly, baby.

  • @DCSCA

    Where to begin. This is a test program. Testing is performed in an incremental fashion, solving problems (like the second stage roll) as they arise, before moving on to the next test. The mock payload stage did not have a mass of zero. Logic would dictate that it would have a comparable mass to a loaded Dragon capsule. If you can prove otherwise, then provide a link. And if you are going to continue to compare Explorer 1 (mass 13.97 kg or 30.8 pounds) with a Dragon capsule (mass 8000 to 17600 kg), I suggest you read up on the rocket equation.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom- Uh, accept the truth- SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne/El Segundo, California. Not Texas.

  • Major Tom

    “We just have a different vision. Yours involves billionaires boning their girlfriends in orbit and mine involves preserving the human race.”

    Another idiotic statement. Assuming their “girlfriends” could carry the fetuses to term, “billionaires boning their girlfriends in orbit” would be “preserving the human race” off Earth.

    Cripes… logic and the common sense apparently left the ground with Falcon 9 today.

  • Major Tom

    “Uh, accept the truth- SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne/El Segundo, California. Not Texas.”

    No duh, genius.

    NASA is headquartered in Washington, DC.

    Does that mean that NASA doesn’t have thousands of civil servant and contractor employees in Texas?

    Think before you post.

    Ugh…

  • Major Tom

    “SpaceX 2010 = NASA 1958. You’ve got a long way to fly, baby.”

    No duh, genius.

    The problem is that NASA 2010 isn’t NASA 1958. NASA 2010 is a half-billion dollar suborbital test of a non-relevant, dummy upper stage, and ballast for a capsule.

    NASA 2010 should be an actual human deep space exploration program standing on the shoulders of commercial ETO transport. It shouldn’t be a situation where SpaceX 2010 > Constellation 2010.

    Think before you post.

    Ugh…

  • Major Tom

    “… not notable enough to make the U.S. network newscasts Friday evening for West Coast viewers…”

    This is an utterly stupid metric for measuring the success or failure of a flight program. By this measure, the Challenger and Columbia tragedies were enormous successes.

    For the umpteenth time, think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • DCSCA

    @EdMindchau- Where to begin. This is a test program. Testing is performed in an incremental fashion, solving problems (like the second stage roll) as they arise, before moving on to the next test.

    Oh, so you want to attract investors with a test program and not an operational ‘product’.

    This is why governments are better at establishing and operating space systems than the private sector. They can aborb long term risk. Today, private enterprise simply cannot raise the enough venture capital to assure investors a quarterly return on that investment for a business that is a mere ‘test program’ and will be for years to come. If spaceX was operational, lofted, orbited, performed even simple automated rendevous and docking (a la Soyuz/Progress spacecraft) then by all means shift the load from NASA. But it isn’t, it is not and will not be for years to come. Private enterprised space ventures have been trying to get off the ground for 30 years. Revist the late Robert Truax of the efforts of Conestoga 1 in the 80s. Look at what Branson and Rutan are trying to do. All the good wishes this writer can muster go to them all for getting flying. But it is not a viable replacement for manned space operations by NASA. And that’s what is at stake here — the very raison d’etre of the civilian space agency. In out years when competition for shrinking discretionary budget dollars become fierce, NASA, with no manned space operations on hand and only esoteric research projects in work– or on paper, it will be easy, and very easy to rationalize disbanding the civilian space agency with a stroke of a pen and fold remaining NASA assets into existing agencies like DoD, NOAA, FAA and so on. The future of the civilian space agency is what is in play here.

    Uh, the future of America’s manned space program is at stake.

  • DCSCA

    @Ed- the weight of the payload Explorer vs. Tumblin’ Dice 1 is not the premise of the comparison- it’s the end result that draws comparison. And Explorer wins out as it was an operational payload. Falcon’s was deadweight. Shelby’s 1964 comparison is less kind.

  • DCSCA, look at the Space Act (1958, revised) the actual raison d’etre of NASA. Look at section 203(a), Functions of the Administration. See parts 4 and 5?

    You have much to learn.

    Do you know what NASA is going to be doing while SpaceX and Orbital and other companies are flying people and cargo to low earth orbit? Basic research in the technology that will allow NASA to go further and further out, on the edge of the envelope where they should be instead of well within the envelope like the commercial companies.

    “If spaceX was operational, lofted, orbited, performed even simple automated rendevous and docking (a la Soyuz/Progress spacecraft) then by all means shift the load from NASA. But it isn’t, it is not and will not be for years to come.”

    Do you know that Ares was falling behind schedule more than a year every year, and that they were still years away from what SpaceX did today, after having already spent nine billion dollars?

    Do you know that of SpaceX’s 1000 employees, 150 of them are in Texas, and that SpaceX will be expanding by another 800 employees in the next year, with the biggest growth in Texas?

    You were comparing orbiting Explorer 1 with something a thousand times heavier, apparently completely oblivious to both history and the rocket equation. Do you know anything of which you write?

  • Major Tom

    “It is difficult to know the facts from the spin. It is a good feet [sic] to reach orbit, if indeed they have. Information has been tightly controlled. Most un-American. It looked like a wild ride”

    Yeah, the webcast on the SpaceX website that allowed you to see the “wild ride” in the first place was very “tightly controlled” and so “un-American”.

    Think before you post, genius.

    “I am trying to understand why a rocket stage with a thrust vector off by 20 degrees and spinning could reach a planned orbit.”

    Lawdy, if you don’t understand basic physics and astronautics, then don’t post about it here.

    Jeez…

  • DCSCA

    “NASA 2010 should be an actual human deep space exploration program standing on the shoulders of commercial ETO transport. It shouldn’t be a situation where SpaceX 2010 > Constellation 2010.” Who says, YOU? Uh, no, duh genius. SpaceX June 4, 2010 = NASA, January 31, 1958. Although Senator Shelby is kinder and waxes more toward 1964 more the era of the test flights for Mercury/Atlas and Gemini/Titan configurations, although the spacecraft atop these LV were close to the operational spacecraft. No such thing with Falcon/Dragon. But you keep saying it is… good for moral no doubt. Think before you post. Ugh, indeed. Frankly it would be refreshing if SpaceX boosters acknowledged they have a lot to learn and a long way to go to even come close to perfecting spaceflight operations on a par with NASA or similar government space agencies in other nations. Which is why investment capitalists aren’t pounding down the doors at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, CA. Perhaps they will, in years to come, when SpaceX offers a turn-key service that’s fully operational. Perhaps they can pick up some engineering talent from BP, who might very well be open to new career paths in weeks to come.

  • “although the spacecraft atop these LV were close to the operational spacecraft. No such thing with Falcon/Dragon.”

    I can let basic ignorance slide a little but not blatant falsehood. Provide a link – put up or shut up.

  • DCSCA

    “Lawdy, if you don’t understand basic physics and astronautics, then don’t post about it here. Jeez…” Ahhhhhhhhhh, the warm and fuzzy head of engineering arrogance rises up from the muck. Always good to show when wooing investors. Makes it so much easier to cut funding for Federal programs, too. Good grief. You’ve got a generation clamoring for healthcare and Social Security increases not to mention unfunded wars to pay for. Why invest, public or private in any space ventures. It’s a luxury American society can do without these days.

  • “Which is why investment capitalists aren’t pounding down the doors at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, CA. ”

    Uh yeah, 2.5 billion dollars in confirmed contracts already.

    Good thing you’re using a pseudonym, In a little while, when you’ve read the Space Act (the law that gives NASA its existence) and read up a little on the rocket equation and some history and maybe even peruse the history of SpaceX a little, you’ll be glad your statements are not associated with your name.

  • DCSCA

    @EdMindchau– please provide the location and certification data on the inventory of completed, man-rated, ready to fly, tested and flown Dragon spacecraftcapable of carrying a crew to and or cargo for servicing the ISS; where they are currently housed; how many are now prepped for flight in 2011, the crews named to fly, the date/time of projected launches through 2012 and oh yes, the home port for the SpaceX recovery fleet. Put up or shut up, as you say. But you can’t. It’s a test program, as you said yourself. And the test today is worthy or recognition for what it was. A test.

  • DCSCA

    Eddy- look when the act was amended. The Reagan era. A stroke of the pen can change that– or end the agency. And President Obama’s been handed a bureaucratic bill of good to kill it. NASA knows it. Cernan knows it. Armstrong knows it.

  • common sense

    @Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 12:33 am

    “Cripes… logic and the common sense apparently left the ground with Falcon 9 today.”

    Argh! No don’t involve me in this please ;0) Today I stayed my 2 feet planted on the ground but I’ll admit I’d have loved to fly with F9 :0)

  • DCSCA

    Eddy- WHO is contracting with SpaceX? BP? Mattel? Universal Pictures? Hilton? Good Lord.

  • Major Tom

    “Which is why investment capitalists aren’t pounding down the doors at SpaceX HQ in Hawthorne, CA.”

    It’s amazing how you manage to get every fact you introduce in every post you write wrong.

    SpaceX has received multiple rounds of outside investment:

    “Hawthorne CA –August 4, 2008 – SpaceX, a privately-held space launch services provider, has received a $20 million equity investment from Founders Fund, a leading technology venture capital firm, headquartered in San Francisco.”

    spacex.com/press.php?page=47

    “Space travel company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, has raised $15 million of a new funding round, according to VentureWire. The round may eventually grow to $60 million. VentureWire first spotted the news in a regulatory filing and has confirmed the news with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the firm leading the round.”

    deals.venturebeat.com/2009/06/29/spacex-raising-another-60m-for-private-space-travel/

    “A launch here, a service contract there, sooner or later we’re talking
    about real money. With each passing week, the relentless drip,
    drip, drip of announcements – an Orbcomm launch contract one
    day, an Astrium contract the next – from Space Exploration
    Technologies (SpaceX) amasses into a gushing torrent. Add a
    dollop of successful launches, tens of millions of outside private
    capital, a ruthless commitment to cutting costs and a billion-dollar
    backlog of orders built on offering the lowest prices in the industry –
    that’s not just a company, that’s a business.”

    nearearthllc.com/analysis/presentations/vol5.9.3.pdf

    For the umpteenth time, stop making stupid statements out of ignorance.

    Sigh…

  • DCSCA

    Eddy- when you have to sink to personal attacks, it just indicates we’re making our point all too well. Nothing is stopping SpaceX from soaring but hesitant venture capitalists who’ve seen them launch a piece of space junk into an unwieldy orbit. Nothing wrong with that. High praise is due. A welcomed addition to the capacity to reach space. But it isn’t the basis for replacing manned spaceflight operations at NASA.

  • Major Tom

    “WHO is contracting with SpaceX? BP? Mattel? Universal Pictures? Hilton?”

    Can’t you go to the SpaceX website and read for yourself?

    OrbComm
    MDA Corp.
    CONAE
    SpaceCom
    Space Systems/Loral
    Astrium Aerospace
    Bigelow Aerospace

    spacex.com/launch_manifest.php

    Do you not know how to operate a computer mouse? Is English not your first language?

    Cripes…

  • Fred

    Milestones?
    Most rockets are designed to maximise performance.
    Falcon 9 is the first LV really designed to minimise cost.
    This is the real milestone, and it’s a major one.
    Development cost for Falcon 9 AND Falcon 1 (per Musk at pre-launch briefing) – $350M to $450M
    Falcon 9 launch cost $51M per launch.
    Compare this to Ares 1
    Development cost $30B (GAO 2007)
    Launch cost $1B.
    The entire SpaceX program cost less than the Ares 1-X test flight.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 1:26 am

    well everyone is entitled to their own opinions but sadly a lot of your’s on this thread seem just sour grapes.

    I am pretty certain that the DRagon mockup is inert now, but I know for a fact that it was fairly heavily instrumented and was a pretty good “body model” for a real one…which doubtless told them a lot about how the environment would be for launch.

    From the start of today (yesterdays) launch vehicle the “team” displayed an enormous maturity that is impressive to anyone who has ever filled out a “test card” and worked a test project.

    Not only did they abort, but well safed the vehicle then did something today’s NASA would (could) not do…and recycled the count and went. The roll problem is (I am fairly certain) a software issue that should not be to hard to fix. If you watched carefully the second stage burn you could see the nozzle working against the roll…that is why despite “Mighty winds” theory it rolled into orbit.

    But careful observers of TLE’s then saw that they stabilized the second stage and “cleared the throat” of the engine again…which meant that they got back into stable mode.

    One really could not do much better period, but considering it was less then the price of what NASA has spent testing the LAS (I bet no hard figures) AND it was their first 9…wow…few first flights of airplanes go this well.

    But to your point
    “Frankly it would be refreshing if SpaceX boosters acknowledged they have a lot to learn and a long way to go to even come close to perfecting spaceflight operations on a par with NASA or similar government space agencies in other nations.”

    is really utter nonesense (and you are falling into the Mighty wind category).

    SpaceX has not killed 14 astronauts and lost two orbiters to management incompetence…they have not squandered 10 billion dollars (and want much more) to develop a booster/spacecraft that is simply to expensive to operate (more so then the far more capable vehicle it is suppose to replace) …

    so your statement is silly.

    Management is 9/10th of making complex vehicles work in extreme environments. The technology, particularly in human spaceflight is nowhere near “X” category…and so far in management it is hard to argue with what Musk has accomplished…

    You are getting almost to the scroll category (and I am quite good at that) with some of these statements. It is clear you have an agenda and that does not include dealing in reality or perhaps you simply dont know it. You sound pretty “rhetoric based”.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Three of the five board members of ‘The Founders Fund’ are:

    @MajorTom-

    Peter Thiel, founder and former CEO and Chairman of PayPal
    Ken Howery, founder and former CFO of PayPal
    Luke Nosek, founder and former Vice President of PayPal

    Uh, What little company did Elon Musk foundand sell to eBa? Ah yes, Paypal.

    What a surprise. He hit up pals for some investment change after making them millionaires. The Godfather has a term for that. Indeed, “the “PayPal Mafia” is an informal term for the community of American businesspeople and investors centered in Silicon Valley, who were founders or early employees of e-commerce service PayPal before founding a series of other technology companies. The PayPal Mafia are often credited with inspiring Web 2.0, and for the re-emergence of consumer-focused Internet companies after the dot com bust of 2001. Some commentators consider these credits to be exaggerated or partly mythologized.”

    Draper Fisher Jurvetson… another Silicon Valley group linked to Tesla Motors. A company founded by… Elon Musk. And “[a]ccording to recent paperwork filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla produces at least 15 cars per week—mostly of custom-ordered vehicles manufactured to owners’ specifications.” In other words, a very, very limited market. More pals hit up for bucks.

    For the umpteenth time, stop making stupid statements out of ignorance. Indeed, buy a scorecard, bub, and learn up on the players in the game.

  • DCSCA

    Eddy-”Do you know that of SpaceX’s 1000 employees, 150 of them are in Texas, and that SpaceX will be expanding by another 800 employees in the next year, with the biggest growth in Texas?” More paper projections… but they’re HQ’d in Hawthorne, CA.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch-

    This writer met von Braun years ago. So have hope. “You to can be a big hero; once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero.” – Tom Lehrer.

  • Major Tom

    “Indeed, buy a scorecard, bub, and learn up on the players in the game.”

    Of course, SpaceX has received investments from investors in other Musk ventures. He made them rich (or richer) before. They want to get rich (or even richer) again.

    Don’t you know how capitalism works? Here’s a hint, genius — it’s an economic system where, among other things, capital is allocated in the pursuit of higher financial return.

    Oy vey…

  • Gary Church

    “Assuming their “girlfriends” could carry the fetuses to term, “billionaires boning their girlfriends in orbit” would be “preserving the human race” off Earth.”

    You are the idiot. It is obvious.

  • Gary Church

    I just do not like the design and the cheaper is better agenda that goes with it.

    ‘Uh .. how about them bridges they built over San Francisco bay ? I mean, some found them of questionable aesthetics, would you like to have em blown up ?”

    Yup, plenty of idiots to go around.

  • Gary Church

    “This writer met von Braun years ago.”

    I guess that makes you the man. Good luck with that.

  • Major Tom

    “they’re HQ’d in Hawthorne, CA”

    It doesn’t matter to a politician where a company is headquartered. What matters is where its employees, and their votes, are located. SpaceX has (and will have more) employees in Texas. Those SpaceX employees are Hutchison’s constituents, and she (or someone on her staff) is boneheaded to belittle their work and not represent their interests in Congress. By your logic, Hutchison and other Texas legislators should ignore JSC employees because NASA Headquarters is in Washington, DC.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb…

  • Major Tom

    “Assuming their ‘girlfriends’ could carry the fetuses to term, ‘billionaires boning their girlfriends in orbit’ would be ‘preserving the human race’ off Earth.

    You are the idiot. It is obvious.”

    I am overwhelmed by the logic and evidence of your argument.

    Sigh…

  • Gary Church

    “Falcon 9 is the first LV really designed to minimise cost.”

    Few things are made expensive on purpose- it cut’s into the profits.
    It has too many engines because he could not afford bigger ones, and there is no escape system to be seen yet, and the rumored hypergolic pusher does not sound real good. But it flew today and I am not saying it will not put satellites up. It looked real good.

  • DCSCA

    @RobertGOler-”well everyone is entitled to their own opinions but sadly a lot of your’s on this thread seem just sour grapes.”

    IYO, but your own distain for manned spaceflight has been clearly noted. A near ‘scroll past’ status was already earned by you, particular after dissing a 12 year old’s interest in meeting Dr. Ride. Speaks volumes. This writer applaudes Falcon’s first test flight and is pleased SpaceX is on the scoreboard… but it’s hardly a milestone as NASA did it 50 years ago.

    “I am pretty certain that the DRagon mockup is inert now, but I know for a fact that it was fairly heavily instrumented and was a pretty good “body model” for a real one…which doubtless told them a lot about how the environment would be for launch.” Lots of high faith and supposition there. ‘Pretty good.’ Yeah, that’s good for baseball umpires but a bit ambiguous as engineering jargon for investors and crews who’ll risk their lives flying aboard it. Chances of return on investment? Pretty good. Chances of survival? ‘Pretty good.’ Chances of capping that oil leak? ‘Pretty good.’ Good grief.

    “From the start of today (yesterdays) launch vehicle the “team” displayed an enormous maturity that is impressive to anyone who has ever filled out a “test card” and worked a test project.” Agreed. And obvious. No doubt it was all the more complex for NASA 50 years ago when they first did it. Kudos to SpaceX for replicating a space launch from the early 1960′s.

    “But to your point

    “Frankly it would be refreshing if SpaceX boosters acknowledged they have a lot to learn and a long way to go to even come close to perfecting spaceflight operations on a par with NASA or similar government space agencies in other nations.”

    is really utter nonesense (and you are falling into the Mighty wind category).” As Cernan said, ‘they don’t know what they don’t know yet.” He’s right. And surprise, so is amightywind most of the time.

    “SpaceX has not killed 14 astronauts and lost two orbiters to management incompetence…they have not squandered 10 billion dollars (and want much more) to develop a booster/spacecraft that is simply to expensive to operate (more so then the far more capable vehicle it is suppose to replace) …

    so your statement is silly.” Actually, yours is, as you’ve posted previously that HSF isn’t dangerous. Nobody said they have and with a successful testflight carrying no crew and a dummy payload no body expected them to. And we do agree Ares is a less than preferable LV.

    “Management is 9/10th of making complex vehicles work in extreme environments.” The technology, particularly in human spaceflight is nowhere near “X” category…and so far in management it is hard to argue with what Musk has accomplished… Nobody is arguing with SpaceX’s accomplishment. Just the scale of it. And as stated previously, bad management can kill. But competence– and experience is of equal importance. My recomendation is you sell the house, the family jewels and invest everything in SpaceX. The sky’s the limit. ;-)

  • Gary Church

    “I am overwhelmed by the logic and evidence of your argument.”

    You are overwhelmed by anyone that does not agree with you and have to respond with sarcasm and insults. All of you- just cannot stand someone uppity who talks back. High school insult games. You have got to be the most ridiculous of the bunch Tom- talking down to everyone like they are children.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom-”It doesn’t matter to a politician where a company is headquartered. What matters is where its employees, and their votes, are located. SpaceX has (and will have more) employees in Texas.” More what will be than what is. Paper projections. Are you high? Understandable given the events of the day. You’ll come down to Earth soon. And anyone who dissed the complete lack of news coverage by the three major network news outlets on Friday in the U.S. of this lauded ‘milestone event’ is, indeed, dumb, dumb, dumb. Have another drink, it’ll make you feel better.

  • Major Tom

    “You are overwhelmed by anyone that does not agree with you and have to respond with sarcasm and insults.”

    You’re complaining about insults when you just called me an “idiot”?

    Really?

    Don’t you think at all before you post?

    “All of you- just cannot stand someone uppity who talks back. High school insult games.”

    You’re whining about “high school insult games” when you routinely call other posters “monkey-poo flingers”?

    Really?

    That’s not even a high school insult — that’s an elementary school playground insult.

    “You have got to be the most ridiculous of the bunch Tom- talking down to everyone like they are children.”

    If you don’t want to be treated like a child, then don’t act like one.

    FWIW…

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 2:20 am

    LOL

    there are two things I wont let you get away with and one is misrepresenting my position

    “IYO, but your own distain for manned spaceflight has been clearly noted. ”

    but that is a lie.

    I dont have a disdain (or distain) for human spaceflight, indeed I think it is the wave of the future. What I have a distain or disdain for is human spaceflight for no purpose, one that has no value for the cost associated with it. For Pete’s sake the experiments that the folks on Columbia “died” doing were valueless in terms of advancing the human existence. One was doing perfume research.

    I think human spaceflight coupled with an appropriate level of robotics is going to change our history, much as aviation does…but only if we do it the same way aviation is done.

    Put it another way. 50 years after Orville and Wilbur aviation had 1) won wars, 2) kept the peace and 3) changed our economy (and was on the way to doing far more in each of those). Fifty years after humans first flew in space it has done none of those things and it has had hundreds of billions. Sorry you might have a 12 year old infatuation with folks blowing soap bubbles in micro gee…me not so much.

    The second thing is I wont let you mangle terms like NASA HSF people do.

    “nd as stated previously, bad management can kill. But competence– and experience is of equal importance”

    competence and experience are not of equal importance. Indeed part of “competence” is knowing when to disregard experience and look at something “anew” with little or no preconceived notions. NASA has killed people over “experience” this is their “in family” horse excrement (“It doesnt meet specs but it is in family of what we are use to”)

    and in any other technical endeavor that is successful those that do it know that management has as parts of it, both of those attributes (competence and experience) and a few more. But having said all that…I will take someone who is competent at something anyday over someone who has “experience”. NASA likes the later and that is why they killed 14 people.

    I wont even try to discuss the “scale” of what SpaceX has accomplished…it is hard to appreciate if one does not understand the essence of good management or good program management.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    there are two things I wont let you get away with and one is misrepresenting my position

    “IYO, but your own disdain for manned spaceflight has been clearly noted. ” but that is a lie.” No, its not.

    “What I have a distain or disdain for is human spaceflight for no purpose, one that has no value for the cost associated with it. For Pete’s sake the experiments that the folks on Columbia “died” doing were valueless in terms of advancing the human existence. [thank you RobertGOlder aka God.] One was doing perfume research.” Who says it was valueless, you? ROFLMAOPIP No doubt the families of the lost crews have a higher standard of ‘value’ than you, but your comment won’t likely endear you to them or the ‘family’ of astronauts. Your position on HSF is quite clear. Alex Roland would approve.

    “And as stated previously, bad management can kill. But competence– and experience is of equal importance” Competence and experience are not of equal importance.” [IYO]

    Yes, they are.

    “I wont even try to discuss the “scale” of what SpaceX has accomplished…it is hard to appreciate [no, it's not; and it was easier for them than for Von Braun's team in '58] if one does not understand the essence of good management or good program management.” Indeed. Clearly you don’t. But you can learn.

  • DCSCA

    @Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 2:03 am

    That’s right, bub, buy a scorecard. Then call the press when Warren Buffett, BP, Apple et al rush to invest– maybe then they’ll cover it on the nightly news nationwide. Now pour yourself a drink and contemplate the silliness of actually believing free market ‘capitalism’ whixch came to it late, will conqueoring of the cosmos. It was, after all, a venture sputniked to life by Soviet communism and continues under Chinese communism and in the mix, the ol’Soviet Soyuz will still be flying. Oy Vey? Hell, Good Lord. Get a grip.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch- He was worth listening to. You, on the other hand, are not, especially when you post idiocy like this: Gary Church wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 8:45 pm “I watched it fly. It looked good. I love rockets. I wish it had blown up on the pad but…..oh well…” You’re a HS grad. Do your own homework.

  • Friends, I don’t know why you’re wasting time on the usual trolls. They’ve always been losers and, now that they’ve lost again, they’re just trolling some more.

    Take this time to celebrate. The future has begun. Do what the SpaceX people did, have a margarita and look forward.

    The trolls simply represent a death rattle from the space-industrial complex. Ignore them.

  • Vladislaw

    “Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, whose state of Alabama is also a NASA stronghold, further decried the launch as a display merely replicating what “NASA accomplished in 1964″.”

    And in inflation adjusted dollars, how much did NASA have to spend to accomplish what they did in 1964 and how much did Musk have to spend to repeat it?

    If it was such an easy thing to do, Falcon 9, why couldn’t NASA repeat what they did in 1964 and launch people into space with 10 BILLION dollars? Musk spent less than NASA did and achieved more than the Ares I-x.

    What could Space X have achieved with the 10 BILLION that has already been spent on Ares I if they did the F9 for 400 – 450 million.

  • Ivan Tchalakov

    Dimiter (and disbelievers) seem to equal government support for indigenous, authentic entrepreneurs with mafia pouring money in their intermediaries – like Multigroup or Russian oligarchs. Do you really believe the US government should continue spending public money for ‘space Rolls-Royces’ of Boeing and Lockheed? To compare the latter with post-communist oligarchs is more justifiable.

    Elon did not begin with ‘given’ money and got US government support after years of risky work at his own expense. It is only after they had Falcon 1 almost ready they got DARPA support. And they did their job – it is one of the few (if only) liquid fuel rockets in the world that can be launched for less than an hour. Yesterday’s second attempt confirmed this is true for Falcon 9 too.
    The amazing ability of US capitalism to (entrepreneurially) renew itself is that makes it so attractive all over the world. Otherwise I agree there is not big difference between post-communist oligarchs and Wall-Street ‘bonus’ financial managers – they both bear no responsibility for their mess.

  • MaDeR

    Why you all are worked up over obvious trolls? Take DCSCA for example, all classic signs are there:
    - Downplaying inconvienent news as much as possible (repeat of 1958),
    - Blatant lies (this is not operational rocket),
    - Demands pulled from ass (“controlled reentry, splashdown and recovery of Dragon” – when this never was in mission goals for this test),
    - Conspiracy theories (about pals from PayPal),
    - Feigned or real lack of understanding of basic concepts (like that company can have workers in two different places on Earth),
    - Ignorance (about space, orbital mechanic etc),
    - And just general idiocy and inanity (style of posts).

    Let them be retards, scream do “LA, LA, I CANT HEAR YOU” routine and lie, lie, lie. This is all they can do against this pesky thing called “Reality”. :)

  • amightywind

    So let us take stock. SpaceX Falcon 9 was a seeming success with a second stage flight control anomaly, something that has plagued their other launches. But there is little doubt they acquitted themselves well. Congratulations. You have launched a Gemini Titan (without the spacecraft). It is 1964. Now what?

    If Musk were smart he’d keep his nose clean and try to fulfill his ISS contract without a lot of drama. That would put him in a good position to win a manned contract. But he is a drama queen and has made a lot of enemies unnecessarily. The knives are out. He still gets political cover from Obama, but the shadow of his protection grows fainter by the day, as Obama wallows in the muck of the gulf and bribegate. So the battle over the future of HSF will continue. Constellation will proceed for the rest of the year. That means Obama has 1 more chance at a budget before facing reelection. And he will face a hostile GOP congress who wants to win Florida. Good luck with that! The ‘vision’ only has a chance if Obama wins reelection.

    But let the leftists revel in their euphoria. It is their day.

  • MaDeR

    @amightywind
    “SpaceX Falcon 9 was a seeming success with a second stage flight control anomaly”
    Yes, second stage rolled too much. I am suprised that spacex haters did not make much more fuss about it.

    “something that has plagued their other launches.”
    Love lack of quantificators. Not ALL their other launches. Way to go lying through saying truth.

    “It is 1964.”
    Unfortunately, I see some teensy little differences between then and now. For example, cost of each feat.

    “You have launched Gemini Titan (without the spacecraft)”
    You really cannot write post without at least one blatant lie, right? From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemini_1

    “The spacecraft stayed attached to the second stage of the rocket and there were no plans for recovery.(…) It lacked life support systems and had ballast instead. (…) were measuring equipment that relayed telemetry measuring the pressure, vibration, acceleration, temperature, and structural loads during the short flight.”
    Sounds A LOT like bolierplate Dragon from maiden F9 flight. So yes, with spacecraft.

    “Now what?”
    Onward and forward. Do you looked at SpaceX manifest?

    “leftists”
    Huh?… YOU “rightists” are supposed to root for commercial, *private* space company, not the other way round.

  • DCSCA, supporters of Cx are not supporters of manned space flight. For less than the cost of the Ares I-X test flight SpaceX has built a rocket, a module, and a launch system that will provide the ISS with services for many years to come, along with manned flight within the next 5 years, with the addition of another $300 million. You could build 10 SpaceX’s for the cost of the Ares I program to date.

    10 SpaceX’s DCSCA.

  • Ben Joshua

    SpaceX has achieved a successful premier flight and presumably has ample flight test data to bring Falcon 9 closer to operational qualification in future flights.

    SpaceX has also shown it can develop and operate a vehicle without a cost plus contract, train a competent and facile launch team, attract capital and customers, establish a lower cost model for development and manufacture, and I’m guessing, earn the respect, however private or grudging, of oldspace insiders.

    SpaceX could have stuck with Falcon 1 for a few years (or decades), to show they knew their place in the industry hierarchy, and to excel in a low profile niche market.

    Instead, they have one successful test flight of Falcon 9 accomplished, and are on their way to becoming a participant in both the private launch market and NASA LEO activities. Even though the achievement speaks for itself, and prominently, the PR side of SpaceX has been, from the general public’s point of view, pretty low key.

    Congratulations SpaceX. A milestone launch for your company and one step in a welcome paradigm shift.

  • Vladislaw

    amightywind wrote
    “Now what?”

    Gemini

    “Early on it was proposed that the Gemini could be used for manned circumlunar or lunar missions at a fraction of the cost and much earlier than Apollo. Truth be told, a Gemini launched atop a Titan 3E or Saturn IVB Centaur could have accomplished a circumlunar flight as early as 1966 and, using earth orbit rendezvous techniques, a landing at least a year before Apollo. But the capsule, while perhaps suited as a ferry vehicle to space stations, would have been quite marginal for the lunar mission due to the cramped accommodation. But mainly NASA was fully committed to the Apollo program, which was grounded on a minimum three man crew and minimum 10,000 pound command module weight.

    At a cost of 5% of the Apollo project, NASA staged twelve flights, ten of them manned, in the course of which the problems of rendezvous, docking, and learning how to do work in a spacesuit in zero-G were tackled and solved.”

    Since you are comparing the Falcon 9 and the dragon to Gemini and the Titan II, I guess you must already know what next is.

  • amightywind, spaceX is already contracted for CRS, and given that he’s potentially the largest supplier of logistics to the ISS, he knows he doesn’t have much to worry about.

    Orbital’s Cygnus can only send 21 tonnes to ISS over the 8 flights contracted.

    ESA’s ATV is only slated to send 4 flights through 2015, at 7.4 tonnes a flight that’s a max payload of around 15 tonnes.

    JAXA’s H-II can send 7.6 tonnes a flight, they are slated to send 6 flights through 2015. That’s a max of 45.6 tonnes.

    SpaceX’s Dragon can send 6 tonnes to ISS over the 12 flights contracted. That’s 72 tonnes in 12 flights.

    Musk would do good for his company and for the American space program to push NASA, to be heavily involved in heavy lift, and to set up a team right now to do in house development of a new and bigger rocket. Once SpaceX has completed CRS and is sending manned crews to the ISS, they will then be poised to be the guys building NASA’s next rocket.

  • Vladislaw

    Josh, the ESA’s ATV at 7.4 tons per flight times four flights equals 29.6 tons, you must have added just two flights.

  • Eric Sterner

    Just a suggestion, but can we–just for a moment–separate SpaceX’s success (and failures) from the issue of the Obama admin’s space policy? SpaceX existed before COTS and before the President decided to bet the farm on its success.

    As I understand it, Musk had a workable business plan based on capturing significant chunks fo the commercial market by offering a better product at a lower price. The USG has an interest in SpaceX’s success because: 1) it generally should promote competition; 2) SpaceX is an American company; 3) it offers another path to space for USG payloads. With that in mind, I don’t really understand anything less than enthusiasm for the company, which could well shake up global launch markets in a good way.

    It’s really unfortunate that SpaceX’s relationship to NASA has burdened it with the politcs of the civil space program. As Musk has pointed out, judgment of the Obama plan should not be based the success or failure of a single company. In theory, it’s not. If SpaceX falters you still have Orbital for cargo and ULA (possibly) for people, although there is a way to go in getting the latter crew-rated. The administation appears slow to be starting the process, no doubt in part due to the continuing controversy over the its overall “plan” for exploration.

    The substantive issue with the admin’s plans over privatizing human spaceflight should have more to do (IMHO–clearly not shared by many critics of the admin’s policy) wth the validity of its assumptions and logic and the end-state it claims to be striving for.

  • Doh, Vladislaw! You are correct! Thanks, I believe you are right that I added two together because I remember rounding up. Changes things a bit, but the basic point stands. It gets really ugly when you consider that, for example, ATV costs $480 million per flight ($300 million for ATV, $180 million for Ariane 5). Do the math and it turns out to be around $62,000/kg. :O

    Cost breakdown for Cygnus gets even uglier, do the math and it turns out to be about $88,000/kg.

    (And FYI I did double check those numbers, I did them before, and have them in a text file.)

  • Vladislaw

    Yes the cargo rates are pretty high, Orbital recieved more than SpaceX for less flights. I am assuming that the high costs on these intial contracts are for the development also and will get lower on the next round if the ISS gets extended.

    I believe it will really matter though to BIgelow and what he will get a cargo flight for, I can’t imagine SpaceX trying to pass those costs on to BA.

  • Major Tom

    “So let us take stock. SpaceX Falcon 9 was a seeming success with a second stage flight control anomaly, something that has plagued their other launches… You have launched a Gemini Titan”

    This is another idiotic statement. If you actually knew anything about the U.S. human space program, you’d know that there were crewed Gemini missions with much greater roll anomalies than what Dragon experienced yesterday.

    “(without the spacecraft)”

    Another idiotic comment born out of utter ignorance.

    “If Musk were smart he’d keep his nose clean and try to fulfill his ISS contract without a lot of drama. That would put him in a good position to win a manned contract. But he is a drama queen and has made a lot of enemies unnecessarily.”

    Yeah, Musk was practically baiting Hutchison and Shelby with that successful launch yesterday. The SpaceX team definitely deserved those press releases.

    Please, you’re so far removed from reality, take your meds before you harm yourself.

    “Constellation will proceed for the rest of the year.”

    No, it won’t. Many Ares I/Orion elements have already been shut down:

    “WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp. is warning subcontractors supporting development of a launch abort system for NASA’s Orion crew capsule that funding for the effort will cease April 30, according to industry sources and documents.”

    spacenews.com/civil/100428-funding-orion-launch-abort.html

    “NASA managers are pushing through the shutdown of the Constellation Program (CxP) at a pace, with a series of memos showing all the Ares test flights have already been cancelled, along Orion ‘defunded’ and returned to the sole control of contractor Lockheed Martin.”

    nasaspaceflight.com/2010/03/orion-removed-nasa-control-mod-positioning-commercial/

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “But let the leftists revel in their euphoria. It is their day.”

    Since when was the left-wing the party of private enterprise? This is a victory for fundamental right-wing assumptions about the role of government.

    Do you not even understand the platform of the party you vote for?

    Oy vey…

  • Major Tom

    “That’s right, bub, buy a scorecard. Then call the press when Warren Buffett, BP, Apple”

    Another idiotic statement born of ignorance.

    Buffet doesn’t invest in high-tech or growth industries. He buys value plays in very boring, low-tech industries.

    And why would an oil company or a consumer electronics company invest in an aerospace company completely out of their domain of expertise?

    Please, read at least one BusinessWeek before wasting this forum’s time with more idiotic statements.

    “It was, after all, a venture sputniked to life by Soviet communism and continues under Chinese communism”

    You really want a broke, ex-communist human space program that’s largely limited to Soyuz flights bought by another country’s space program to a space station that’s largely theirs? Or an underfunded, pseudo-communist human space program that’s lucky if it flies one Soyuz clone a year?

    Really?

    “and in the mix, the ol’Soviet Soyuz will still be flying.”

    Well, of course. It’s a reliable and affordable workhorse, regardless of where it originated.

    Think before you post.

    Lawdy…

  • David C

    Josh, Vlad, you both seem to have some understanding of the costs and background of SpaceX and the NASA program they are involved in;
    my question is simple; given the 12 billion figure that they are said to be receiving once the program of delivering cargo begins, how much will be profit and how will it be paid forward to SpaceX, at the completion of each successful flight (?)
    the reason for my question is as simple; given that they have developed a viable rockets and (potentially viable) space craft / cargo carrier, what are the plans for continued development of new rocket motors AND the Falcon9 Heavy;
    even before NASA came to SpaceX, Musk was talking about going BEO, and given NASAs lack of interest at present to build a vehicle for that purpose, could SpaceX in conjunction with the likes of Bigelow and other entreprenurial companies, not leapfrog NASA;
    I accept that I am an armchair quarterback here, but it sure looks like a possibility; my opinion only ;)
    Cheers

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 4:53 am

    other then pointing out the lies…I am about done but this is at least entertaining

    ” No doubt the families of the lost crews have a higher standard of ‘value’ than you, but your comment won’t likely endear you to them or the ‘family’ of astronauts. ”

    to bring the astronauts family into it is the signature line

    sorry you did that

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    David C.: “given the 12 billion figure that they are said to be receiving once the program of delivering cargo begins”

    It’s much, much less than 12 billion.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 1:46 am

    ” It sounds to me like it’s time to do what you said – abandon ship on Orion and hold an open competition. Maybe the COTS model will work for this market, too. There might be interesting commercial variants of a CRV. Maybe a crew launch spacecraft could serve this purpose. Maybe a commercial CRV could find cargo return markets or commercial space station markets, too. etc …”

    There may be some very low-cost solutions if the trade space is opened up enough. As Mr. Simberg pointed out on this forum earlier, crew safing on orbit may be simpler, safer, and more cost-effective than crew return. I don’t know if a module that can rapidly undock from the ISS and maintain its attitude and life support for weeks until a Soyuz, Dragon, etc. retrieves the crew would be less expensive than a simple capsule CRV. I suspect NASA would rule it out because injured crew would potentially suffer for weeks and/or die on orbit in an extended public drama. But that and other potential solutions should at least be looked at, if not competed……………………………

    this is from another thread…but it is an important exchange IF Falcon 9 makes its cost numbers.

    a lot of possibilities are opened if the cost to orbit Falcon9 promises work out. I particularly like the notion of “safe havens” as oppossed to CRV…no one is going to bail out of a 100 billion dollar facility absent a total hull loss.

    Robert G. Oler

  • It’s much, much less than 12 billion.

    Yes, by an order of magnitude.

    As an aside, just for those new here, this is the current troll list: “amightywind,” DCSCA, Gary Church, Chris Castro, richardb.

  • Major Tom

    “given the 12 billion figure that they are said to be receiving once the program of delivering cargo begins, how much will be profit and how will it be paid forward to SpaceX, at the completion of each successful flight… even before NASA came to SpaceX, Musk was talking about going BEO, and given NASAs lack of interest at present to build a vehicle for that purpose could SpaceX in conjunction with the likes of Bigelow and other entreprenurial companies, not leapfrog NASA”

    Just to be clear, it’s $1.2 billion, not $12 billion. Assuming, say, a 5-10% profit range, that’s $60-120 million. If the vehicle you’re referring to is a heavy lift launch vehicle, their development is typically runs into the tens of billions of dollars, maybe (big maybe) only billions for a highly leveraged and efficient design. So, I’d argue that SpaceX is not going to “leapfrog” into heavy lift based solely on CRS profit alone.

    But if you’re just talking about deep space travel in general, then sure, Bigelow has plans for lunar circumnavigation and even surface missions that don’t necessarily require heavy lift development and could go on a Falcon 9 Heavy (which would actually be an intermediate-lift launch vehicle). NASA is now talking about a lunar circumnavigation mission circa 2020. Could SpaceX/Bigelow beat them to it? Maybe — it’s in the realm of possibility. The key is getting to a crewed ETO capability, which NASA’s CCDev program would greatly help accelerate. After that, the Bigelow module and transit stage are arguably lower tentpoles.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “As an aside, just for those new here, this is the current troll list: ‘amightywind,’ DCSCA, Gary Church, Chris Castro, richardb.”

    If you add Whittington, I’ll abide by the list and not reply to their posts.

    FWIW…

  • DCSCA

    @RobertGOler- When you diss the ‘value’ of work lost astronauts were conducting your opposition to human spaceflight is noted and filed. Bold talk for someone who dismisses a 12 year old’s budding interest in spaceflight. Fortunately, you’re in the minority.

  • red

    Ray Katz: “That said, I can’t understand why others can’t be excited about SpaceX and other emerging private space companies…AND still want NASA to be getting us beyond earth orbit.”

    I think most private space company supporters also want NASA to get us beyond Earth orbit. The problem is that NASA’s previous approach at getting beyond Earth orbit was/is far too expensive.

    Ray Katz: “I am concerned that having NASA build no manned vehicles and do only research will be the end for decades of manned flight beyond earth orbit…not a new beginning.”

    NASA doesn’t have manned flights beyond Earth orbit now, so it’s not as if it would be losing anything if that happened. Also, Constellation wouldn’t have gotten beyond Earth orbit for decades, even in the unlikely event that it eventually met its non-schedule goals. In fact, Constellation would not only postpone beyond-LEO flights for decades, but it would also be the end of even NASA LEO manned flights because it causes ISS to be lost, thereby losing the ability to do anything with its “early” results, Ares I/Orion.

    With the new plan, NASA won’t just be doing research. It will also be operating the ISS, developing the Orion-based CRV that will later be part of the foundation for beyond-LEO vehicles, using and thus promoting various commercial services, developing technologies, demonstrating technologies in space, flying robotic precursor missions to HSF destinations like the Moon, asteroids, and Mars, and much more.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    as usual that post is right on.

    putting the parts together what I see (at least) with this is that the SpaceX people have assembled a rocket(s) but MOST importantly have assembled a very nimble team that has competent lines of development and operational capability.

    If one looks at the history of “nimble” technical projects all the way from the DC 1-3 to the P-51 to the Dash 80 to the F-14 to Syncom to even Gemini (which is the comparison dejure) what you find is people in the project who are assembled, almost hand picked by a motivated leadership team which conveys that motivation to the troops by a nimble structure, bends Al and puts it together.

    The importance (and fragility) of that development cannot be overstated…

    I am sure this good Saturday that there are a lot of NASA and other managers in the Ares program having the same thoughts that the dinasours “might” have had (had they the brain) when the impact came…but the folks who really should be worried are the Russians and Europeans.

    One has no idea how close to the margin that the flight was…it is the functional equivalent of taking a new airplane off, driving it around the pattern and doing an approach…but that is so big a deal in the development of a new system because it allows the design team to actually figure out those margins and tweak them.

    The difference between Ares 1X and Falcon9 is that everything of the later is directly relatable to a production effort…Ares 1X not so much.

    If Musk can make this thing work for the dollars he has proffered…the commercial launch industry will move from South America to the Cape…and that is a fracken big deal.

    Robert G. Oler

  • David C

    Thanks for the correction, need to get to the optomitrist ;)
    BTW I am a supporter of a NASA HLV and pure Commerical, and Gov’t “encouraged” Commerical Space; while I know the economy is not great (understatement) I am taking a long view of 25-40 years, and this will change;

    Cheers

  • DCSCA

    And as an aside, ‘MajorTom’ insists SpaceX is a private enterprised operation, disregarding evidence in the public record showing stimulus money aka taxpayer dollars paid to refurbish the CAFB launch pad for SpaceX operations. Tom, RandSimberg et al,… astroturfers dismayed by the success of a government funded and managed manned spaceflight program. Soundly challenged, astroturfers resort to childish labels. That engineering arrogance again. Silly stuff.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom“That’s right, bub, buy a scorecard. Then call the press when Warren Buffett, BP, Apple…” Another idiotic statement born of ignorance.”
    That engineering arrogance again. Astroturfers are easy marks. Buffett’s boring and his cash to be shunned. Good grief. His kind of interest and investment would be welcomed with open arms. But its ‘boring’ to you. Sober up.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    @RobertGOler- When you diss the ‘value’ of work lost astronauts were conducting your opposition to human spaceflight is noted and filed……..

    one last post from me then I refind my scroll button.

    The above sentence you post is nonsense. It is typical Dick Cheney BS.

    When senior managers fail to manage properly and assign people to do BS task or task that the senior managers plan out poorly the last redoubt of the senior managers called on that poor planning is to say “you are attacking those who lost their lives”.

    No.

    Individual effort in a cause which they are serving is never in doubt. Marines who died trying to hold Fallujah during the Rumsfeld years, died for their Country just as if they had taken the Mountain on The Sulfur Island. Their honor and valor are never at issue in discussing the larger cause.

    The larger cause is the work product of the decision makers who shape that cause. The Marines (and others) who died trying to take Iraq (and those who had their lives forever changed…and that is just about everyone) were let down by the “keyboard commandos” in the last administration who failed to give the effort a solid footing for history.

    People died searching for WMD which the “keyboard commandos” in the last administration either were dumb about or lied about. That does not distract from the honor of those who died, in fact it enhances it. Who it vilifies is the people who failed to bring honor to the larger purpose.

    The folks who were on Columbia did their job with honor. They did it despite a management structure on the ground, lead by a person who was in to much of a hurry to get to her T time…to deal with the problem that killed them.

    As Rumsfeld said (to paraphrase) “Death gives war a negative connotation”

    Robert G. Oler

  • red

    Ray Katz: “Do you really believe that, after studies are done, money will made available again to send astronauts to, say, an asteroid?”

    NASA will be doing much more than studies of exploration with the new plan, but I agree that there is no assurance that money will be made available for such missions. Those decisions will happen under different Administrations and Congresses. What we do know is that the Constellation approach would not work. It’s too expensive to develop and operate, too slow to develop, hurts too many other programs by taking their budgets, and provides too few benefits to the taxpayer.

    The new NASA approach makes it a lot more likely that future Administrations and Congresses will fund the actual astronaut exploration missions. There is no assurance, but it becomes much more likely. It does this by

    - encouraging a diverse commercial space industry that hopefully will be self-sustaining or at least share infrastructure expenses across NASA and non-NASA markets, and that can be expected to be more cost-effective (SpaceX and the rocket/spacecraft market it’s in is 1 part of this)

    - sending robotic precursor missions to HSF destinations to search for resources so we have more reasons to go, and to evaluate hazards so we have a better chance to succeed

    - making it possible for international partners to participate, thereby increasing political support and, if done effectively, decreasing exploration costs or strengthening exploration robustness

    - demonstrating technologies that will make exploration less expensive and more productive like propellant depots, efficient transportation, efficient power, closed-loop life support, aerocapture, inflatable habitats, human-robotic interfaces, autonomous rendezvous and docking, landing, and much more. Some of these demonstrated technologies may be self-sustaining once demonstrated. For example, propellant depots may be useful for non-exploration markets, too. Efficient power systems and in-space transportation systems can be used on satellites. Inflatable habitats can be useful for commercial space stations. The autonomous rendezvous and docking vehicle that will deliver some of the flagship technology demonstration missions to the ISS, GEO, or other locations may also find other uses, such as a delivery mechanism for ISS modules like a Node 4, as a general purpose space tug, etc. Demonstrating exploration technologies will lower exploration hurdles, and if some of these technologies are self-sustaining in non-exploration uses, those hurdles will be lowered even more.

    - doing more research on the ISS, expanding NASA’s “human research” budget, developing building blocks for possible cost-effective HLVs, and other steps in the new plan can also make exploration more affordable

    - switching to a Flexible Path approach allows us to reach some destinations sooner and more affordably, while still reaching the more difficult destinations in about the same time (or sooner) than NASA’s existing sequence. An overly simple example would be putting lunar orbit on the path to reaching the lunar surface. Why wait decades to achieve anything by waiting for the lunar surface when we can do productive work in lunar orbit much sooner, and lunar orbit is on the path to the lunar surface anyway? Having more affordable and near-term destinations makes funding them easier.

    - eliminating the opposition to NASA’s HSF exploration from various areas by restoring their budgets to varying extents. NASA science interests are also brought on board because they can benefit from NASA’s technology development and demonstrations (eg: the first flagship technology demo is for a high-performance photovoltaic array and solar electric propulsion demo that can do actual science, perhaps at Mars, and that can later be used on NASA robotic science missions), shared ISS use, robotic precursors, technology demonstrations and Flexible Path missions that can help NASA Science with jobs like telerobotics and sample returns.

  • Major Tom

    Gone unmentioned so far on this forum is the impact this Falcon 9 flight will have on unmanned payloads and other LVs. There are some potentially big implications:

    – With GPS migrating to EELVs, Delta II, the workhorse for most NASA science missions, was going away, driving up launch costs for NASA science missions by factors of 2-3 for larger EELVs than they needed. Falcon 9 now fills that domestic, medium-lift slot. Even before Falcon 9 helps save the agency’s bacon on ISS, it’s going to help NASA avoid hundreds of millions of dollars of launch costs on science missions.

    – Speaking of GPS and EELVs, it’s arguably now only a matter of time before the military adds (voluntarily or via court) Falcon 9 to its fleet. Although most military payloads will require Falcon 9 Heavy capabilities, DoD will no longer be able to keep SpaceX out of EELV competitions. Down the road, the emergence of Falcon 9 Heavy would create stiff competition for the EELVs and drive down ULA costs for their primary customer.

    – Iridium and Orbcomm are coming up on fleet replenishment, and Falcon 9 is obviously suited to LEO deployment of medium payloads. Falcon 9 already has one Orbcomm flight on the manifest. More LEO constellation payloads, whether Orbcomm, Iridium, or another constellation, are likely to follow. It will be interesting to see if new (although probably much smaller) constellations or other LEO commercial satellite applications emerge with the availability of a lower-cost, mid-lift, LEO launcher.

    – Falcon 9′s throw weight is in the same class as the Russian Soyuz, Ukrainian Zenit, SeaLaunch, and Chinese Long March launch vehicles. It may take commercial payloads from each, drive down their costs, and/or make SeaLaunch emergence from bankruptcy and Long March commercialization that much harder or more fragile.

    – Yesterday’s flight accelerates the emergence of a Falcon 9 Heavy vehicle, which would compete with Ariane and Proton overseas. The U.S. has lost commercial launch market share to these and the aforementioned mid-lift foreign vehicles. That trend may now reverse.

    FWIW…

  • Vladislaw

    David C wrote:

    “my question is simple; given the 12 billion figure that they are said to be receiving once the program of delivering cargo begins”

    COTS was the 500 million development money, 278 mil. went to SpaceX and 170 mil. to Orbital Sciences.

    On the Commercial Resupply Services contract or CRS:

    “WASHINGTON — NASA has awarded two contracts — one to Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., and one to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif. — for commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station. At the time of award, NASA has ordered eight flights valued at about $1.9 billion from Orbital and 12 flights valued at about $1.6 billion from SpaceX.”

    On profit potential I have not seen much, in one interview I heard Musk say the engines were 1mil a pop or 9 million per vehicle. He is selling them for 45-51 million for the basic launch service and shroud. The CRS requires a cargo configured Dragon capsule. Have not seen any prices on that.

  • Major Tom

    “And as an aside, ‘MajorTom’ insists SpaceX is a private enterprised [sic] operation,”

    SpaceX is a privately owned enteprise. Lots of corporations earn revenue delivering goods and services under contracts with federal or state governments. That doesn’t mean that they’re not privately owned.

    Think before you post.

    “disregarding evidence in the public record showing stimulus money aka taxpayer dollars paid to refurbish the CAFB launch pad for SpaceX operations.”

    For the second time, CCDev received only $50 million in stimulus funding and none of those awards went to SpaceX.

    “NASA awarded $50 million in stimulus money to five companies Monday, a small sum of seed money but a critical first step in the agency’s new capacity as a supporter of commercial human spaceflight… NASA is signing Space Act Agreements with the following companies under the Commercial Crew Development contest:

    Sierra Nevada Corp. of Louisville, Colo., will receive $20 million.

    Boeing Co. of Houston will receive $18 million.

    United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colo., will receive $6.7 million.

    Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., will receive $3.7 million.

    Paragon Space Development Corp. of Tucson, Ariz., will receive $1.4 million

    Each company is providing matching funding from other sources.”

    spaceflightnow.com/news/n1002/02ccdev/

    Stop making stuff up.

    “dismayed by the success of a government funded and managed manned spaceflight program.”

    Yeah, it’s all those Ares I orbital successes that we’re real dismayed about.

    Please take your meds before you hurt yourself.

    “That engineering arrogance again.”

    How do you know that I’m an engineer? I could be a scientist, manager, accountant, or other profession that just happens to have experience in the aerospace sector.

    Don’t talk about things you know nothing about.

    “Buffett’s boring and his cash to be shunned. Good grief. His kind of interest and investment would be welcomed with open arms.”

    I didn’t write that an investment by Buffett should be “shunned”.

    Learn how to read for comprehension and stop making stuff up.

    I wrote that Buffett himself is not interested in high-tech or growth industries. If you had any idea of what you’re talking about in your posts, you’d know that:

    “Experts snickered at Buffett during the late 1990s, as he refused to join the rush to invest in internet start-ups and high-tech companies. Several analysts wrote that Buffett was out of touch with the new economy…”

    nndb.com/people/445/000022379/

    Learn something, anything, before you post again. Stop wasting this forum’s time with idiotic posts born out of ignorance.

    Ugh…

  • Major Tom

    “12 flights valued at about $1.6 billion from SpaceX.”

    Natch. $1.6 billion, not $1.2 billion, in my earlier post.

    Thanks for posting the correct figure.

  • Vladislaw

    A STEP BACK IN TIME

    Some fragments from a speech my Ex-NASA Administrator Griffin on commercial space. My oh my how the tune has changed:

    <So, what about space? We now have more than 50 years of investment, through both NASA and the DoD, in space technology and systems development. But what we have not had is a stable, predictable government market for space services sufficient to stimulate the development of a commercial space industry analogous to that which was seen in the growth of aviation. My hope is that with the seed money we are putting into the COTS program, we can demonstrate the possibility of commercial cargo and crew transportation to the International Space Station, and that subsequently NASA will be able to meet its ISS logistics needs by purchasing these demonstrated services. If we can do this, we will be able to change the paradigm for transportation services to be more in line with the air mail service of the 1920s, meeting the logistics needs of the ISS, some 7,000 to 10,000 kilograms per year, after the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010. In the process, we may be able to spur innovation for low-cost access to space. This is a carefully- considered investment with known risks that we can all see and appreciate, but with a potentially huge upside that makes it well worth the risks.

    I'll risk repeating myself to ensure that everyone fully understands how serious NASA takes the COTS demonstrations: if these commercial service capabilities are successfully demonstrated and cost-effective, NASA will welcome and use them. That is our default strategy for ISS re-supply. Most of you will probably agree that meeting or beating the government's cost to provide space transportation services shouldn't be too difficult for private industry to do. I hope you are right. I want these demonstrations to succeed; however, my wanting it won't make it so. If these capabilities are not successfully demonstrated, then NASA's fall-back position is to rely on the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle or international partner cargo and crew service capabilities for ISS logistics support.

    Now, there is another lesson to be derived from the airmail experience. For the space transportation services we seek, certain human rating and visiting vehicle requirements applicable to the ISS must be respected. To that end, we're interested in hearing from potential commercial providers, like SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler, as well as Lockheed Martin's Orion team, concerning what requirements are necessary and value-added, and which ones may not be. The definition of human-rating is not simply how much paper and process we can afford to buy. That is the wrong metric. For this reason, we are reviewing the visiting vehicle and human rating requirements, not only for the COTS demonstration but also for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, to ensure that we're writing our engineering specifications to achieve the goal of technical excellence, and are not simply following a handbook. Good engineers do not simply quote requirements from handbooks; we understand the underlying technical necessity behind such requirements.

    Similarly, we must avoid relying solely on precedent, upon the mentality of "that's the way we did it on Shuttle…", or ISS, or Apollo, or Skylab, or whatever, as a substitute for good judgment. If we don't periodically question our technical requirements, if we focus on process to the exclusion of outcome, if we substitute methodology for intent, then we will replicate the experience of the Post Office Department in its initial request for bids on air mail service: commercial industry will never be able to meet NASA's stated needs. Thus, we must focus upon, and be experts in, systems engineering as we work through various technical issues for our future crew and cargo systems. We must be prepared to question our assumptions when necessary.

    Yet another lesson gained from the air mail service was how it helped train a new generation of pilots like Wiley Post and Charles Lindbergh, engineers like Glenn Curtiss and Donald Douglas, and lawyers like future NASA Administrator Jim Webb. This barnstorming era engendered a certain sense of "air-mindedness" among the American people in much the same way that space tourism is rekindling an interest in space travel for the American public, over and above that which NASA accomplishes today. Of course, the physics and engineering are more difficult for personal space travel than for air travel, with even greater levels of cost and risk, but we must recognize that this change is occurring. There are now emerging certain rudimentary commercial capabilities for members of the public to have their own personal "space experience", with varying degrees of weightlessness and views of the Earth and space. I fervently hope that the emergence of such capabilities will help make America more "space minded".

    Now, I must be clear that the development of space tourism is not a part of NASA's charter. NASA was founded during the Cold War, soon after the launch of Sputnik, when the United States was in a race with the Soviets. NASA and the early civil space program were instruments of American preeminence in the world, at a time when an important component of such was seen to be preeminence in space. NASA achieved the goals that were set for it by the nation's policymakers in that era, and did so with remarkable brilliance, so much so that even today we remain in awe of what the Apollo generation did. Now, some have since posited that NASA somehow failed the American public by not opening up the experience of space travel to the broader population. This is patent nonsense; the agency could not fail at something it was never asked to do. Such a mandate was simply never in NASA's charter; if it were, I would question the wisdom of such a role for a government entity. However, as we go forward with the Vision for Space Exploration, it emphatically is our duty to encourage and leverage nascent commercial space capabilities. Not only is it the right thing to do in a country whose economic system is rooted in free market concepts, but it will also be a necessity if we are to achieve the goals set out for the U.S. civil space program.

    A little over a year ago, I unveiled to the Congress and the public NASA's architecture for returning to the Moon. It is a conservative plan, designed to accomplish the stated mission with minimum cost, maximum cost confidence, and as much use of existing systems as we could reasonably achieve. But having combed through the design trades, associated costs, and projected budget for the agency, it is apparent that NASA will need to leverage commercial and international partners to the maximum if we are to sustain this long journey, with footholds first on the International Space Station, then on the Moon, and from there onward to Mars. It is out of necessity for, not charity toward, commercial space endeavors that we at NASA must change our way of doing business. While I think that the $500 million we're investing in the COTS demonstrations is a sizable first step, there's more gold to be mined in other fields of commercial endeavor as well."

    Full Speech here:

  • DCSCA

    “NASA is now talking about a lunar circumnavigation mission circa 2020.”

    Why bother. As current deficits balloon, budgets shrink and distressed economic trends continue, there will be very little of NASA worth funding by 2020. The civilian agency will become a ‘luxury’ a nation hurtling toward bankruptcy can do without— especially without an operational manned spacecraft in work. The public, who pay the freight, equates human spaceflight with the civilian space agency– from the days of the X-15 through shuttle. Without any manned spacecraft in the pipeline, a mission and a destination, it can be rationally disbanded (picture a giddy Gingrich); lauded for accomplishing what it was tasked to do in years past; its esoteric research and existing assets easily folded into existing agencies (FAA, DoD, NOAA, etc.,) doing similar research or leased/sold to commercial interests. There isn’t a politician alive who wouldn’t crow over closing down a Federal agency in this era. And a public craving more and more entitlements will agree. (As noted on another thread, this writer encountered a once well paid Saturn V aeroengineer fixing electric organs for $10/hr. some years back to make ends meet. Sad.)

    This is what’s at stake. And, of course, that is the true goal of private rocketeers, weened and frustrated since the Reagan days, who believe venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,) will fuel (and fund) space exploration, veiled as space exploitation, and expand the human experience outward into the cosmos. To be sure, in this era, viable, private enterprised space operations are to welcomed by quite literally helping to ‘carry the load’ in tandem with a government funded and managed space program. But as a replacement for NASA’s HSF operation, no. Ahhh, if only there was oil on the moon. Or gold on Mars.

  • Robert Horning

    One interesting side effect of the current Falcon 9/Falcon 1 architecture is the common parts and mass production lines that are going into the development of the Merlin engines. What this is really makes a difference with is economies of scale and developing a consistent quality assurance process (including real statistical controls) for what will likely be hundreds of Merlin engines that will need to be constructed over the next several years.

    It is one thing to make some one-off engines or components, but getting a real production line not only drives down costs considerably but also indirectly increases reliability. More specialized production equipment can be justified if it is used repeatedly, as is assigning engineers and other employees to be responsible for more minutiae that normally couldn’t be afforded on a more hand-crafted device.

    As an example, some of the hand-crafted Rolls-Royce automobiles tend to have far worse track record in terms of break downs and faults than say a Ford Explorer… precisely because the Ford is mass-produced and can have this kind of quality that comes from the same sorts of processes.

    The Space Shuttle Main Engines, on the other hand, are hand-crafted and each one is in some ways a unique engine. If a part breaks on the SSME, it can significantly delay a launch or force canibalizing of other “sister shuttles” to get the parts and pieces necessary to make this one launch. That has been endemic with the Space Shuttle program for some time, where sometimes NASA technicians have even gone to the Smithsonian to raid components from the Enterprise on occasion just to make the current flight.

    With the Falcon rockets, if an engine does not meet specifications for whatever reason, it simply is removed, set aside, and a replacement is put in its place. Perhaps the faulty engine is sent back to the factory to be rebuilt or at least the pieces melted down for scrap metal, but it certainly doesn’t hold up a launch much more than the effort to swap out the engine in the first place.

    Yes, I know that the other commercial rocket launching companies also try to do this, but I think it has been decades since any American spacecraft manufacturer has gone to this scale of operations for engine production. RKK Energiya is perhaps the only other company that comes close to this kind of scale of operations, which I think proves the point that SpaceX is adopting a successful vehicle production model.

    It is going to be interesting to see how the other major commercial spaceflight companies are going to react to all this, especially now that it can’t be wished away as a wild-eyed dreamer any more with no practical experience with this class of rocket.

  • Gary Church

    “And, of course, that is the true goal of private rocketeers, weened and frustrated since the Reagan days, who believe venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,) will fuel (and fund) space exploration, veiled as space exploitation, and expand the human experience outward into the cosmos.”

    Which is why the “regulars” are a bunch A holes. They want this site to be an infomercial for the kill nasa crowd. Witness the reaction to this post…….

  • Freddo

    “…showing stimulus money aka taxpayer dollars paid to refurbish the CAFB launch pad for SpaceX operations…”

    SpaceX is launching from Columbus AFB in Mississippi? No wonder Sen. Shelby is so upset! That base is right on the Alabama border, so any stages they drop will land in that state. An outrage! I agree with DCSCA: let’s agree to ban any SpaceX launches from CAFB!

    (I suppose it’s possible DCSCA meant Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, CCAFS, but that acronym is so well known in the industry that you’d have to be pretty ignorant to confuse them. Right?)

  • Gary Church

    As an aside, just for those new here, this is the current troll list: ‘amightywind,’ DCSCA, Gary Church, Chris Castro, richardb.”

    Yeah, right. Trolls because you just can’t stand someone disagreeing with your good ole boy club. Aholes. Total Aholes.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 1:23 pm
    Ahhh, if only there was oil on the moon. Or gold on Mars…

    that is the rub.

    if there was oil on the Moon, Au on Mars or even one could launch the space shuttle orbiter full of lead bricks and take one or two or 14 days worth of spins around the Earth and magically with no process involved convert them to “Au”…it wouldnt matter.

    At the cost of transportation to and fro that NASA vehicles have now, even with Au sky high, the venture would lose money.

    Understand that and one quickly understands the need to not keep going in the direction NASA HSF is going.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Gary Church

    “The trolls simply represent a death rattle from the space-industrial complex. Ignore them.”

    It is the death rattle of HSF you are hearing.

  • Major Tom

    “Why bother. As current deficits balloon, budgets shrink and distressed economic trends continue, there will be very little of NASA worth funding by 2020. The civilian agency will become a ‘luxury’ a nation hurtling toward bankruptcy can do without…

    … And, of course, that is the true goal of private rocketeers”

    The latter has nothing to do with the former. If the U.S. federal government were headed towards bankruptcy and shuttering NASA, there’s nothing that Musk, Bigelow, or any other “private rocketeer” can do about it. It’s not their fault.

    And if the government were in a position where it can no longer afford human space flight, then why wouldn’t we want the private sector to take the baton?

    For the umpteenth time, think before you post.

    “who believe venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,)”

    Venture capital is, by definition, high risk capital.

    “Venture Capital is a form of ‘risk capital’. In other words, capital that is invested in a project (in this case – a business) where there is a substantial element of risk relating to the future creation of profits and cash flows. Risk capital is invested as shares (equity) rather than as a loan and the investor requires a higher”rate of return” to compensate him for his risk.”

    tutor2u.net/business/finance/raising_finance_venture%20capital.htm

    Please stop littering this forum with your idiotic and ignorant statements.

    Cripes…

  • Major Tom

    “Which is why the ‘regulars’ are a bunch A holes.”

    A good way to know when someone is an “A hole” is when they call other people by that name.

    “They want this site to be an infomercial for the kill nasa [sic] crowd.”

    Who said that they want to “kill nasa [sic]“?

    Where did they say it?

    Stop making stuff up.

  • DCSCA

    “And as an aside, ‘MajorTom’ insists SpaceX is a private enterprised [sic] operation,”

    SpaceX is a privately owned enteprise. Lots of corporations earn revenue delivering goods and services under contracts with federal or state governments. That doesn’t mean that they’re not privately owned.”

    Think before you post indeed. Astroturfing again. Again you avoid the truth as recorded in the public record. Tax dollars via the stimulus package were spend on SpaceX operations at CAFB. Nobody is preventing Musk from purchasing/leasing land, raising private sector capital, constructing launch facilities for SpaceX and flying. That kind of entrapreneurism would be welcomed– even admired. A social security recipient on fixed income can rightly ask why Musk’s launch pad was paid for with tax dollars and in distressed times, emergency COLAs denied; or why money went for that when an unemployed worker benefits expire. That may not be fair, but that’s how cash-strapped Americans will see it, weighed against other pressing cost, like wars, etc. .And the irony is, a $3 to $ billion boost to NASA’s budget annually coupled with some strong cuts in bureaucratic fat at the agency would bring the spave agency back in line. But you go on astroturfing. It’s easy to see through.

  • Space Cadet

    @ Gary Church

    “Few things are made expensive on purpose- it cut’s into the profits.”

    Actually that is exactly the problem with Constellation, the major contracts are cost plus, so the more expensive the vehicle the more profit the contractor makes (and the more people employed). Such projects are “more expensive on purpose”. If they tried to make it less expensive they’d be betraying their own shareholders. If you’d ever worked for or hired a cost plus contractor you would know that. COTS on the other hand pays based on milestones and so profit goes up as costs go down.

    This is the most important difference between Ares and COTS. Neither one is purely government since the work is done by contractors. Neither is purely commercial since the government is an essential customer and source of funds. The difference is in how NASA pays the contractor.

  • Major Tom

    “Trolls because you just can’t stand someone disagreeing”

    No, in your case, you’re a troll because make up information, resort to namecalling and insults when you’re called on it, and contribute no facts or logic to the discussion.

    Duh…

    “with your good ole boy club.”

    I don’t know anyone on this forum personally. How can that be a “good ole boy club”?

    “Aholes. Total Aholes.”

    Again, you know someone is an “A hole” is when they call other people by that name.

    “It is the death rattle of HSF you are hearing.”

    Yeah, that ISS extension to 2020, that CCDev program to put in place at least two providers of human ETO transport by 2016, and those billions of dollars in human space exploration technology development are all “death rattles”.

    Please, take your meds before you hurt yourself.

    Ugh…

  • Gary Church

    “You have got to be the most ridiculous of the bunch Tom- talking down to everyone like they are children.”

    If you don’t want to be treated like a child, then don’t act like one.
    Stop making stuff up.

    You are a broken record. I think you must be getting paid ten dollars an hour to just constantly repeat the same insults and tired old script.

  • Gary Church

    “If you’d ever worked for or hired a cost plus contractor you would know that.d”

    Now we have a psychic on the infomercial team.

  • Rhyolite

    Robert Horning wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Excellent points.

    It has occurred to me that SpaceX will be the highest volume manufacturer of liquid rocket engines in the US very shortly if they are not already.

  • Major Tom

    “Tax dollars via the stimulus package were spend on SpaceX operations at CAFB.”

    As pointed out by another poster, SpaceX doesn’t have operations at Columbus Air Force Base (CAFB) in Mississippi.

    Stop making stuff up.

  • Gary Church

    “you’re a troll because make up information, resort to namecalling and insults when you’re called on it, and contribute no facts or logic to the discussion.”

    I know you are but what am I? What a joke.

  • Major Tom

    “I think you must be getting paid ten dollars an hour to just constantly repeat the same insults and tired old script.”

    Pot, kettle, black.

    Stone, glass houses, throwing.

    Healing, doctor, thyself.

    Etc.

  • DCSCA

    @Freddo- Ahhhhhhhh, that arrogance again. A bit anal, aren’t you. Canaveral AFB. CAFB… Sorry if that offends you. You make it so easy to cut any and all funding for American space efforts. Let the Chinese do it for us. We’ll borrow their money and pay them to develop their space operations for us to ‘buy’. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  • Major Tom

    “I know you are but what am I?”

    Where have I made up information?

    Specifically?

    FWIW…

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom “Stop making stuff up. Please stop littering this forum with your idiotic and ignorant statements.” Hmmm, why don’t you lead by example. Astroturfing again. Good grief.

  • Major Tom

    “Canaveral AFB. CAFB”

    It’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), genius.

    If you’re going to comment on the topic, at least learn the titles and acronyms.

    And for the umpteenth time, stop littering this forum with idiotic and ignorant posts.

    Ugh…

  • Major Tom

    “Hmmm, why don’t you lead by example.”

    Where have I been ignorant in a post?

    Specifically?

    Where have I gotten multiple facts wrong?

    FWIW…

  • Rhyolite

    Major Tom wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    All good points.

    I think the mere existence of a domestic competitor to ULA for national security payloads is going to save USAF a lot of money. ULA can’t take their lock on this market for granted and are going to have to bid accordingly. That’s good for the taxpayer even if no USAF payload ever fly on Falcon 9.

  • Jeff Foust

    A humble request from your host: please dial back the rhetoric here a notch or two. It’s fine to have a vigorous debate on the issues, but another thing entirely to have the debate devolve with comments like “aholes” and “monkey crap”, to give but two examples. Let’s keep the debate on a higher plane, please. Thanks for your cooperation.

  • David C, as others have pointed out, CRS (Cargo Resupply) is not $12 billion. SpaceX is getting $1.6 billion for CRS in 12 flights, Orbital is getting $1.9 billion for CRS in 8 flights. Why Orbital costs so much I’m not exactly sure, speculation would tell me that because they have been buddy-buddy with government in the past, that they probably made off a bit bigger (plus they’re bloated so probably couldn’t afford much less). However, it is no matter (I don’t mind that it’s so expensive), we need redundancy. So total cost for CRS is $2.5 billion over 20 flights. It comes out to around $48,000 / kg. This is about twice what Shuttle costs, but SpaceX by themselves is in the same ballpark as Shuttle (and for crew should be about $30 million per astronaut cheaper).

    I tried to figure out SpaceX’s margins, but we can do some simple assumption gaming and figure out a good approximation. Since SpaceX is selling cargo flights to ISS at $133 million a pop ($1.6 billion/12), and since Falcon 9 to commercial space is $50 million a pop, we have around $80 million to consider for Dragon. If you assume that each Dragon costs $30 million, you may be pocketing $50-$60 million per flight, depending on how much profit is made from a Falcon 9 launch (the $50 million may well not result in significant net profit). One thing that’s interesting is the fact that NASA does not want reused Dragon modules, this means that SpaceX, essentially, will have 12 ‘free’ modules to play with, post-CRS. This could result in a significant price drop (and higher profit) if they don’t need to be significantly refurbished after they return to Earth. The (speculative) $30 million per Dragon becomes sunk costs!

    As far as the development of rocket motors and F9H, I dunno, to be honest. I know that they have talked about it ambiguously in the past, but here’s one thing you must consider: Musk / SpaceX initially had very overly optimistic estimates for timelines to completion. I wrote before that the initial COTS agreement was “2 years development” for Falcon 9. It took 4 years from the date of signage. From my point of view, early SpaceX was a very optimistic and perhaps naive company, who overshot and was very bad at estimating timeframes. Indeed, Musk was talking about “Big F’ing Rockets” back 5 years ago, and they had yet to even fly a rocket! I think the SpaceX you see today is far more conservative, and more likely to behave without haste. So *if* there is a F9H being considered, or *if* SpaceX is considering building new rocket engines (well, they already admitted as much to an extent), it could still take 5 years before we really hear anything about it. And that’s fine by me, because they’ll be doing CRS and completing COTS-D (CCDev, Commercial Crew Development) in that time period.

    But I do think that SpaceX built a lot of confidence with NASA with their test flight and I think if all goes well with the COTS Demo’s, then SpaceX is well on their way to being involved in NASAs heavy lift future. I already stated that SpaceX needs to set up a team for just that. It may be a bit premature to really put a lot of focus on it, but a team of two dozen guys or so working on it in their spare time (when not building rocket engines all day). This would give them a jumpstart on when NASA does finally looking at heavy lift.

    DCSCA, the fact remains that every dime of taxpayer money given to SpaceX is less than the cost of the unrepresentative test flight of Ares I-X. Why is this the case? Because SpaceX runs itself as a business. Currently yes taxpayers are their biggest customers. But this is a fact for all spaceflight. ULA (and formerly Boeing/Lockheed) received taxpayer funding 10:1 on launches. Until space commerce can grow we have to move away from a mindset that government is the primary buyer of space. And we cannot do that until we lower costs significantly enough to make commerce appealing. And that is what SpaceX has done, as the numbers I have posted here illustrate. And the only way for SpaceX to be able to do this is by being a private enterprised operation, any other way would’ve resulted in failure.

    Now if only that a guy who I talk to occasionally can get a Sea Dragon built…

  • Gary Church

    “Stop making stuff up.
    Please stop littering this forum with your idiotic and ignorant statements.
    Learn something, anything, before you post again. Stop wasting this forum’s time with idiotic posts born out of ignorance.Ugh…
    “As an aside, just for those new here, this is the current troll list: ‘amightywind,’ DCSCA, Gary Church, Chris Castro, richardb.”
    If you add Whittington, I’ll abide by the list and not reply to their posts.
    Another idiotic comment born out of utter ignorance.
    Please, you’re so far removed from reality, take your meds before you harm yourself. ”

    You just keep on constantly f*cking with people and then say they are the ones doing it.

    “But if you’re just talking about deep space travel in general, then sure, Bigelow has plans for lunar circumnavigation and even surface missions that don’t necessarily require heavy lift development and could go on a Falcon 9 Heavy (which would actually be an intermediate-lift launch vehicle).”

    That is a lie. Lunar surface missions with a Falcon 9 heavy? Tell us how that will happen Tom. You lying con artist. Trying to keep the lie alive; Mixing deep space with lunar missions- lie. Deep space is not the moon. You are double talking monkey crap slinger Ahole. You keep saying you are going to stop reading my posts or replying but you just wont do it.
    Please, shut up.

  • Jeff Foust, sorry for the double post, but we appeared to have posted at the same time. But thanks for that. I wanted to say something too. Yesterday I lost my temper and said some stuff I didn’t really mean, but I think today is a good day and there’s no need for less civilized behavior.

  • Gary Church

    OOps. Sorry Jeff, if I had read your post, I would not have posted what I just did. Apologies. Could you please tell Captain Tom to leave me alone? I am so sick of his B.S.

  • Robert Horning

    “And, of course, that is the true goal of private rocketeers, weened and frustrated since the Reagan days, who believe venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,) will fuel (and fund) space exploration, veiled as space exploitation, and expand the human experience outward into the cosmos.”

    I’m going to give one little bone of credit here. There is a problem facing commercial spaceflight where the number of markets… particularly mature markets that can be reliably counted upon for real business planning… is just a small handful of options where folks want to get into space. Not a single one of them involve manned spaceflight… which is all that more frustrating.

    I’m talking things like telecommunications, reconnaissance, remote sensing, and navigation.

    There are pure science missions that do on occasion use the infrastructure of commercial spaceflight to achieve their goals, but I’m going to discount that, together with things like working with national intelligence agencies that also make use of commercial spaceflight merely as a platform. In the case of these programs, they are subject to a fickle congress in the USA, and certainly can have their budgets rise and fall based upon the current political winds as they may blow at one moment or the next. This is also a fixed market that won’t likely grow much over the next several decades…. something to also further marginalize this in terms of a discussion about commercial spaceflight.

    Of areas that could potentially work in the future would be space tourism, extraterrestrial mineral extraction and energy production. Of these, I think energy production is so utterly remote and useless in terms of practical applications (that can be applied to problems on the Earth directly) that it is decades if not centuries to develop. This is stuff like He3 and solar power sats. Almost ditto for mineral extraction, although I happen to think that it may happen sooner than something like solar power sats… and certainly would be useful for in-situ resource development and building up extra-terrestrial infrastructure needs. It will be some time before a way to profitably transport even very precious metals like Platinum, Gold, or Copper from space… even if it was simply lying on the ground in already processed bullion form.

    If, and this is a big if, some specialized manufacturing process that simply must be done in a micro-g environment is found that more than justifies the cost of launching the raw materials to orbit and getting them back to the ground as “finished goods”…. there might be at least some market for at least LEO manufacturing facilities or perhaps at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrangian points. Again, while there is certainly research to investigate potential products, there isn’t a real “killer app” for this kind of activity yet.

    The danger that SpaceX faces here is that the market is mainly fixed, and the efforts to drive down the cost of space access are going to be mostly efforts of vanity alone. Unless something changes significantly in the emergence of new markets for spaceflight… something that significantly increases launch rates several orders of magnitude more than is currently happening in the commercial sector… this is going to be an effort that will mainly rely upon government spending to keep the process going. That is the launcher market we’ve had for the past couple of decades, and unfortunately I don’t really see a major change in that market either. If the status-quo on customers willing to pay for getting things into orbit stays pretty much as it has, I promise that SpaceX will be raising the prices of their vehicles substantially and become just another “old space” launcher company.

    I wish I had a solution here to solve this problem and to keep commercial launcher companies going. Of course, if I had such a solution, I would be a billionaire myself right now. For this launch of the Falcon 9 to really make much of a difference, it will take identifying these emerging markets and being able to find people that are willing to invest some significant resources into their development. Yes, there are companies like Space Adventures, Virgin Galactic, and Bigelow Aerospace that are explicitly trying to cultivate this sort of emerging market place, but I’m afraid that the market isn’t nearly as big as the major dreamers claim that it is. It isn’t insignificant either, but I just don’t see commercial space tourism achieving a market penetration of being able to occupy more than 50% of all commercial orbital launches. If it gets past that critical threshold, it will become a major driver in the marketplace and start to radically drive down the cost for access into space. Until that happens, it might as well be back in the 1960′s with this launch.

    Sub-orbital flight…. yeah, space tourism is certainly going to occupy a major part of that and with that hugely expanded market it is in turn driving down the cost for achieving sub-orbital flight for other purposes that until now haven’t really happened either. But as is often said, that is a horse of another color. If we are going to get anywhere else in the Solar System and become a multi-planet species, it will take orbital space tourism and other emerging markets to open the “final frontier” for the rest of us.

    I’m hopeful that something make happen in this regards, but I also must be a pragmatist on the topic too. I also hope that I’m wrong.

  • Space Cadet

    @ amightywind

    “But let the leftists revel in their euphoria. It is their day.”

    A success for a entrepreneurial company. Slight embarrassment for hypocritical advocates of a government monopoly on space. And how is this a victory for “leftists”?

    It really shows how low politics has sunk in the U.S. when a political party is so blinded by hatred of an individual (an African American in the White House, oh no) that they oppose their own political principles (i.e. free enterprise and limited government).

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch- It’s understandable. Their knowledge base of space operations came of age with shuttle, not Apollo. Their benchmarks are Challenger and Columbia, not Apollo 8 or Apollo 11. That’s as much the fault of the space agency management as it is the damage done to it in the Reagan days pressing it to be a profit centered organization rather than the finest R&D organization of its time. Given the history of how bureaucracies mature, it’s doubtful the NASA of old will ever be reborn in a NASA of new. This writer believes the agency is in a slow death spiral and killing Constellation will only accelorate its disbandment. They really don’t know how to save themselves or adapt quickly to changing times. Trotting out old astronauts like Armstrong and Cernan and getting letters published by old Apollo hands few people today recall is too little, too late. These guys all probably cannot understand why 50 years on they still have to keep trying to sell their programs to fresh generations. Sad stuff. But time marches on. This writer will not be surprised to see NASA disappear or be consolidated into another agency by 2020 or 2025. There’s just no point in keeping it around w/o a viable manned space project. As Armtrong noted, it will simply fade away. And as much as this writer admires Armstrong’s skill and experience, he’s about a 15 years late taking a public stand. Cernan, other other hand, has been wailing about this for decades, but they’re both elderly now and more a curiosity than anything else.

  • Gary Church

    “Hmmm, why don’t you lead by example.”

    Where have I been ignorant in a post?

    Specifically?”

    I would say most of the time, as I gave an example of as Jeff was giving me the go around signal. I think I will call it a day. I am so tired of not being able to make any statement without getting buried in arrogant surly infomercial defender attacks. And when I try and give it back, I am told I am the one out of line?

  • DCSCA

    @JeffFoust- Agreed. The sad fact is all of us want a viable space program of some kind but in these tough times, it is becoming a high profiled ‘luxury’ open to assult and easy to justify doing away with completely. Ask somebody if they want affordable healthcare or a space program, you’ll most likely get a vote for healthcare. Such are the times we live in and even in the late 60s, NASA was fighting budget battles against competing interests- a war again. Frankly this writer wishes a lot of the younger posters had experienced the space efforts of the ’60′s as opposed to the 80′s. The management was better.

  • Gary Church

    “@GaryChurch- It’s understandable.-But time marches on. This writer will not be surprised to see NASA disappear or be consolidated into another agency by 2020 or 2025. -There’s just no point in keeping it around w/o a viable manned space project. As Armtrong noted, it will simply fade away.”

    You know what? I do not like your attitude. And you do make alot of less than credible statements. I don’t need your help buddy. But, if you could find that hypersonic stuff about the LAS Orion not being workable on the sidemount, like I have asked you several times, I will not call you a liar.

  • Gary Church

    “If we are going to get anywhere else in the Solar System and become a multi-planet species, it will take orbital space tourism and other emerging markets to open the “final frontier” for the rest of us.”

    Guess I am not calling it a day quite yet. I do not believe space tourism and other “emerging” markets are going to get us off earth. In fact, I believe it is doing the exact opposite and that is why I spend time on this site expressing my viewpoint that these space clown cheaper is better enterprises are doing great harm to HSF. And when I get so much abuse for holding this view- it only reinforces my low opinion of the infomercial regulars who try to control what is said here. Good night.

  • DCSCA

    @JoshCryer- You’ll get no arguement from me on Ares. It’s a less than stellar design for Constellation. This writer supports liquid LVs and cluster configurations a la Von Braun– but that’s a personal preference. The existing LVs in inventory could and should be man-rated and used to fly a fully funded Orion, with a lunar vehicle and heavy lift rocket- public or private funded in out years and a long term lunar facility as a logical expansion for human space exploration then outward to Mars. That’s a sound space program for the next 30 years w/private enterprised efforts ‘carrying the load’ for LOE operations. But not for these times. This writer fears the budget problems facing the nation will swamp much of these discretionary projects. Last evening there was a report the DoD is looking to cut costs interally and recycle the savings into the war effort. And their budget is massive compared to NASA.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch- “You know what? I do not like your attitude.” As if this writer care. You own post wishing failure for SpaceX speaks volumes: “I watched it fly. It looked good. I love rockets. I wish it had blown up on the pad but…..oh well.” You can do your own homework on the popularity of sidemounting payloads these days within NASA. Apparently you missed Columbia and Challenger. Good grief.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom- “And for the umpteenth time, stop littering this forum with idiotic and ignorant posts.” Again, why don’t you lead by example. As the host requested- move to a higher level of discourse.

  • Gary Church

    “You can do your own homework ”

    I guess I can call you a liar then. It “speaks volumes” that you will not back up your statement. And yes, I wish it had blown up on the pad.

    Now…..goodnight.

  • Personally, I’m glad the Space X launch was a partial success since a familiar could have pushed Congress to endorse the other extreme, the Ares I.

    But this is not Space X’s first payload launch into orbit.

    Space X has a long way to go before it can successfully and routinely place humans safely into orbit and return them safely to the Earth. And how much that is going to cost them, we don’t know.

    I have to be honest and say that I don’t like the fact that their rocket relies on petroleum fuel, a major cause of global warming. However, the Air Force is working on renewable sources of kerosene based fuels. Whether these future renewable kerosene fuels will be compatible with the Space X engines, I don’t know.

    I also suspect that the reason that Bolden wants a kerosene fueled heavy lifter is because he wants to outsource heavy lift to his buddy Elon Musk.

  • DCSCA

    @GaryChurch “And yes, I wish it had blown up on the pad.” Your lack of concern for damage to life and property is… disturbing.

  • amightywind

    One must agree with Senator Shelby. The old Politburo would have been proud of they way SpaceX covered the event. But they did have to perform, at least to ‘their’ definition of success. The bruising battles will continue with no end in sight, and America’s manned space program held hostage.

  • Interested to know the Falcon 9 first stage recovery merlin x 9 engines recovery system costs and turnaround period.

  • David C

    Josh and Vlad, my thanks, it helps me understand this a lot better;
    one questions, the Dragon Mods are to be reusable; ok, can see that, but yesterday they tried to recover the first stage; presumably for study; but in practice, would the first stage engines, etc be reusable; I have heard that the salt water has huge detremental effect on rocket engines, and makes refurbishment expensive;

    Cheers

  • DCSCA

    @amightywind- Well, it’s in character with private enterprised operations. BP should give you an on going example of efforts to control information and minimize public exposure when you’re trying to establish a position for your investors. But as tax dollars were spent on SpaceX facilities, the public should be allowed to review the data from the flight in a timely fashion.

  • Vladislaw

    Robert wrote:

    “if there was oil on the Moon, Au on Mars or even one could launch the space shuttle orbiter full of lead bricks and take one or two or 14 days worth of spins around the Earth and magically with no process involved convert them to “Au”…it wouldnt matter.

    At the cost of transportation to and fro that NASA vehicles have now, even with Au sky high, the venture would lose money.”

    I have argued this before, the only thing that will be worth shipping back to earth’s gravity well, at first, will be Lunar gemstones. There are terrestrial stones that routinely get sold for over 1 million per carat. You will be able to bring back a ton of various Lunar gemstones and still hardly penetrate the global terrestrial gemstone market. This rarity factor will make even the most common lunar gem stone worth more in the terrestrial markets. The new wedding rings advertisements will surely capitalize on that.

    “if you really want to show your love … blah blah blah”

    As far as gold, why do you have to bring it home? There would be absolutely no reason to, a certified deposit of lunar gold in a lunar bank vault will spend, electronically, just as easy on earth as on the moon. None of the platinum medal group ever has to leave the moon, in the begining, to represent a terrestrial asset.

    If you are a medals merchant and you have 5 tons of titanum, 3 tons of nickel, 30 tons of copper billets and ingots laying around in the yard at your place of business those are all assets that can be bought and sold and at times some of it never leaves, the only thing that changes is, who owns a particular pile at any given moment.

    So as long as you can stack up processed and certified medal at your lunar location it all represents assets on the books that can be used for loan guarantees etc.

    That is why ownership for lunar resources has to worked out.

  • Vladislaw

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “I also suspect that the reason that Bolden wants a kerosene fueled heavy lifter is because he wants to outsource heavy lift to his buddy Elon Musk.”

    No he probably wants to go with kerosene because it is a cheaper system to build over cryogen and high end turbopumps.

    A “Super Delta” Concept Capable of Outperforming Ares V

    “These Super Heavy alternatives tend to use either 8.4 meter ET type tanks, or the 10 meter diameter tanks planned for Ares V and/or Ares V Lite. For payloads in the 100 tonne class, they tend to add strap on boosters based on existing EELV Atlas 5 or Delta 4 cores. Known alternatives use either RS-68 or RD-180 engines, though NASA is thought to favor RD-180. Russian-built RD-180 engines cost much less, as much as one-third less, than an equivalent U.S.-built version would cost, but building RD-180 in the U.S. might be necessary for this application. If built in the U.S., RD-180 would cost about the same as the existing U.S-built RS-68 engine.

    In order to lift 100 tonnes or more to LEO, seven or more EELV-class booster engines would be required. These could be arranged in groups of five to six at the base of the core stage. Additional engines could be added via. strap-on boosters.

    Since it would use dense kerosene fuel, an RD-180 powered rocket could use 8.4 meter diameter core tanks. An RS-68 powered Super Heavy would almost certainly require 10 meter diameter core tanks. While an RD-180 powered rocket would have a smaller core stage than an RS-68 powered rocket, the RS-68 powered rocket would be able to use a substantially smaller, lighter upper stage.

    Both alternatives would be shorter than Ares V. Both would weigh vastly less during stacking and rollout, since loaded solid motor segments would not be used. All-liquid alternatives would not require the new super-crawlers, mobile launch platforms, and new crawlerway needed by Ares V.”

  • Donald Ernst

    The Space-X launch was a solid accomplishment and Iam very glad they suceeded, however it’s not going to reduce launch cost by much. I never was a supporter of Constellation, actually I felt except for the Orion capsule in it’s ISS ferry mission there never was a Constellation project, just phony unfunded Bush era PR. Obama on the other hand is pushing commercial space flight because he and his left wing anti-tech/anti-space flight cohorts think that approach will fail. This back fired on them yesterday, I wonder how he will go about trying to destroying Space-X?

  • Donald Ernst, costs for astronauts will be reduced by $30 million per head.

  • Donald Ernst

    I hope that cost reduction you site turns out to be true Mr. Cryer, but we have to do better than that.

  • @ Vladislaw

    The latest NASA HLV study, ” National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Study May 20, 2010′ showed that the shuttle derived hydrogen fueled rockets were cheaper to develop. There also doesn’t seem to be much difference in launch cost between hydrogen and kerosene per equivalent amount of payload.

  • Ben Joshua

    Many years ago, something called the Industrial Space Facility, a flexible mission, orbital module, was swatted aside to protect space station chances of making it through congress.

    So much untapped potential.

    Yesterday’s Falcon 9 launch tells me the door has finally opened, and SpaceX has got its foot in. A nice sweet change.

    Orbital markets are small now because of cost and perhaps procedural hurdles. That will change slowly, but change it will.

  • Robert G. Oler

    David C wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I think that the “first stage” recovery stuff is “mostly” an “test project”…I dont think that they have any real intention of recovering the entire first stage…they might be the money saved over the refurb cost would not be all that much. Particularly with the first stage flight profile.

    What “I” Think that they are doing is some test effort toward the day when the “drop” a certain number of engines, a la the old Atlas on the way up the hill. They “already” shut down two…run some numbers on a “drop a few” going up the hill..and the performance is pretty impressive.

    The other option I know that a few people outside SpaceX have looked at is to increase mass by a “Falcon9 medium” which is to partner the core with a “Falcon 1″ strap ons. Those strike me as being recoverable.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Eric Sterner

    @Major Tom:

    You wrote:

    “And if the government were in a position where it can no longer afford human space flight, then why wouldn’t we want the private sector to take the baton?

    For the umpteenth time, think before you post.”

    Um…..your comment doesn’t follow logically. If gov’t can no longer afford human spaceflight, exactly how is the private sector going to get paid? If the private sector is doing something that’s truly commercial, then it really doesn’t need a protected government market in order to stay in business. In that event, it’s not picking up a public interest baton from anyone; it’s pursuing private interest for private gain. That may be good for us in general (the hidden hand and all that), but it’s NOT the pursuit of space exploration which, as of yet, still isn’t commercially viable. (It’s likely to remain that way since there’s likely no way that private interests can secure enough ROI to warrant the cost of developing the capabilties.)

    Let’s face it, folks, the commercial supply and demand curves in human spaceflight do not cross. Obama is proposing a massive government intervention in a functioning market in order to make them cross by guaranteeing a set demand and providing development capital. If he succeeds, we haven’t suddenly gotten commercial human spaceflight, we’ve created another industry dependent on government funding for its existence. Usually, that’s economically stupid as it dries up capital and talent otherwise available for more productive purposes. The administration’s policy re HSF is not the same thing as commercialization, although it’s dressed up in the lingo.

    One could argue that a commercial market is viable and merely needs a kickstart to get it going, which is where I gather you’re coming from. I hope so. COTS was an attempt to do that. With it, Bush, in effect, placed a bet commercial demand would grow, private supply would follow, and the gov’t could eventually get out of the business if he won the bet. But, he hedged (designing Ares I for the moon but requiring it to be able to service ISS) in case he lost.

    Obama’s policy is to bet the whole farm and not develop anything for the moon. One can argue that it’s still a bet worth making (as many here do), but let’s not pretend all that Obama is doing is merely passing the baton to the private sector.

  • Anyone who wants a copy of the ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Study May 20, 2010′ can email me at:

    newpapyrus@yahoo.com

  • Marcel F. Williams, as a preliminary study, it’s OK, but I think that private industry will change the equation considerably. Where’s the SpaceX build RS-84 derived SHLLV? :)

    (The paper is on nspires if anyone is interested in it.)

  • common sense

    @ Eric Sterner wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    ” If the private sector is doing something that’s truly commercial, then it really doesn’t need a protected government market in order to stay in business. ”

    Hmm who said they need such a market “to stay in business”? Where do you get this information from. Reference please.

    “In that event, it’s not picking up a public interest baton from anyone; it’s pursuing private interest for private gain. ”

    Here again. Airlines are private companies are they not? Energy providers? Are you saying they are not performing anything in the “public interest”? If not who is?

    “it’s NOT the pursuit of space exploration which, as of yet, still isn’t commercially viable. ”

    Again references? You make up as you go. Let’s take SpaceX, are you saying that the CEO is doing all he’s doing even though he knows very well it is not commercially viable??? Come on.

    “Let’s face it, folks, the commercial supply and demand curves in human spaceflight do not cross. ”

    References?

    “Obama is proposing a massive government intervention in a functioning market in order to make them cross by guaranteeing a set demand and providing development capital.”

    Funny because I was under the impression you liked the VSE by Bush. In what way is this any different? I mean the commercial part. Please explain.

    “If he succeeds, we haven’t suddenly gotten commercial human spaceflight, we’ve created another industry dependent on government funding for its existence.”

    References?

    “One could argue that a commercial market is viable and merely needs a kickstart to get it going, which is where I gather you’re coming from. I hope so. COTS was an attempt to do that. With it, Bush, in effect, placed a bet commercial demand would grow, private supply would follow, and the gov’t could eventually get out of the business if he won the bet. But, he hedged (designing Ares I for the moon but requiring it to be able to service ISS) in case he lost.”

    All right so there you go! If it’s Bush then it’s good policy? Obama is bad? Even though it is the same! Constellation was NOT the VSE. It is what most people complain about, NOT the VSE. Policy and implementation are two very different things. Bush never, NEVER, hedged using Ares. Griffin did. O’Keefe was all for EELVs. So this you are making up too!

    “Obama’s policy is to bet the whole farm and not develop anything for the moon. One can argue that it’s still a bet worth making (as many here do), but let’s not pretend all that Obama is doing is merely passing the baton to the private sector.”

    Who the heck cares about the Moon? If you ever did you never should have gone the ESAS way. Go ask Dennis Wingo: Dennis does care about the Moon and he said Constellation is a failure. No one EVER said Obama is “passing the baton to the private sector”!!!! Where did you read that? Obama’s policy is to finally get what the VSE was about, i.e. to get the private sector complement NASA for LEO access and let NASA take care of the rest.

    Eric it is very disappointing that you make up stuff. You know you are. You know you are not helping. And it can only be politically motivated. I cannot see how someone like O’Keefe or Gingrich propose or approve of things similar to what this WH is proposing and make the statements you make.

    Very disappointing.

  • Bush, in effect, placed a bet commercial demand would grow, private supply would follow, and the gov’t could eventually get out of the business if he won the bet. But, he hedged (designing Ares I for the moon but requiring it to be able to service ISS) in case he lost.

    It was Griffin that did that, not Bush. Bush didn’t pay much attention to space once he appointed Griffin. And it’s crazy to “hedge” a few hundred million dollar bet with a program costing many tens of billions of dollars.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Eric Sterner wrote @ June 5th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Um…..your comment doesn’t follow logically. If gov’t can no longer afford human spaceflight, exactly how is the private sector going to get paid? If the private sector is doing something that’s truly commercial, then it really doesn’t need a protected government market in order to stay in business…

    You assume that just because “now” government is the only procurer of human spaceflight that it has to stay that way.

    The irony for this is that the same debate which is going on NOW about human spaceflight went on in the 1960′s about Geosynch communications platforms. The argument then was about affording geo comm platforms. The MIC (military industrial complex) solution was Advent…it was a really big, very complicated geo platform that in all respects mimics what today’s geo platforms do but with 1960′s technology.

    The concept of Hughes, which hoped to sell some of the satellites was much more modest…essentially a hat box sized bird that would at best do 1 (count them 1) black and white maybe color TV signal.

    What really tipped the scale in favor of what became Syncom was oddly enough money and lift. Advent very complex was eating up a lot of dollars and needed the Vega upperstage which was proving balky…

    so out of more or less desperation they worked up Syncom.

    In reality NASA had almost nothing to do with Syncom. It launched it on a Thor, but otherwise the entire effort was tax dollars going to Hughes to fund Syncom. For the military it was a very unsatisfying experience…at least initially then the military came on board with their first geo com systems IDSCP was kind of a copy of Syncom.

    And well the rest is history.

    It is impossible to know where reliable relativly cheap access to space takes human spaceflight…but and unless it becomes something that eventually private industry does without the government…it wont go anywhere. The last 50 years have illustrated that.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Roga

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ June 4th, 2010 at 7:15 pm
    Final score:

    Falcon 9
    Ares 1

    Um, actually, it is:

    Falcon 9
    Ares 1-X

  • Major Tom

    “Um…..your comment doesn’t follow logically. If gov’t can no longer afford human spaceflight, exactly how is the private sector going to get paid? If the private sector is doing something that’s truly commercial, then it really doesn’t need a protected government market in order to stay in business.”

    I never said that a “truly commercial” industry needs a “protected government market” or other government support.

    The other poster was making an emotional argument that the U.S. federal government is headed toward “bankruptcy” and that the “true goal of private rocketeers” is to see the “civilian agency [NASA] become a luxury” that the nation can no longer afford.

    Setting aside the stupidity of the argument that the likes of Musk, Bigelow, etc. want to see a meltdown at the U.S. Treasury, nevertheless whether they could actually play a role in bringing about such an event, I was simply making the observation that if the poster cares so deeply about the pursuit of human space flight, it shouldn’t matter who the sponsor or performer is. They should be thankful that some private actors are stepping forward in the arena of human space flight, in the event that NASA does fall into a budgetary black hole in the years ahead.

    “…but it’s NOT the pursuit of space exploration”

    This is an arbitrary definition based on the institution performing the activity, instead of the activity itself. If, as Bolden has indicated, NASA executes a circumlunar human mission circa 2020, you would call that “space exploration”. But if Bigelow and SpaceX put up a BA-330 and MDPM with crew on a Falcon 9 and send them around the Moon, that’s apparently not “space exploration” in your dictionary.

    Private institutions conduct exploration all the time today and historically have been critical in these pursuits. Witness the National Geographic Society, Carnegie Institution, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, etc. To make up definitions of exploration based on public versus private actors ignores history and reality and is a poor foundation for a policy argument.

    “Let’s face it, folks, the commercial supply and demand curves in human spaceflight do not cross.”

    There are independent market studies, one of which our very own Mr.
    Foust worked on, that indicate otherwise.

    futron.com/upload/wysiwyg/Resources/Space_Tourism_Market_Study_1002.pdf

    Discount those studies if you want, but don’t make up absolute statements about undeveloped future markets, especially when projections show otherwise.

    Moreover, most of these systems and vehicles are dual-use and don’t rely on commercial human space flight to close their business cases. Falcon 9, for example, already has a healthy, non-human space flight manifest.

    “Obama is proposing a massive government intervention in a functioning market”

    First you claim that the “commercial supply and demand curves in human spaceflight do not cross”. Now you claim that it’s a “functioning market”.

    It appears that in your mind, the commercial human space flight market is whatever you need it to be to score political points. That may play to your party, but it doesn’t provide your argument with any consistency, logic, or grounding in reality.

    Moreover, the Obama Administration doesn’t have a choice. Shuttle was set on a shutdown course years ago. Constellation is an abject management failure requiring political unrealistic injections of tens of billions of dollars into NASA’s budget in an austere budget environment to maintain schedules that are no longer relevant to ISS or a timely exploration program. Constellation and variants thereof show that the Shuttle infrastructure and workforce are too expensive for NASA to maintain and have significant change left over to pursue human exploration beyond Earth orbit. If the VSE is going to see realization — heck, if NASA’s just going to have a domestic source of human space transport — it has no choice at this point but to turn to commercial vehicles, whether Atlas, Delta, Falcon, or Taurus. The President wasn’t my choice for the office, but the White House decision has little to do with government intervention in markets. It’s about saving what’s left of NASA’s human space flight program after years and years of mismanagement.

    If we’re going to whine about the White House intervening in markets (whether this, Detroit, AIG, etc.), then we have to propose plausible alternatives. What’s the programmatic and budgetarily realistic alternative to turning to commercial LVs?

    “If he succeeds, we haven’t suddenly gotten commercial human spaceflight,”

    No, but you have the tools (privately owned and operated launch vehicles, human capsules, and human modules) upon which a commercial market can be built, just like the first NASA-funded but privately built communications and remote sensing satellites provided the tools to build those markets.

    “… we’ve created another industry dependent on government funding for its existence.”

    Maybe that will happen, maybe it won’t. But in the worst case — Falcon 9 and all its competitors go into receivership and NASA has to take over and nationalize their operation — we’re no worse off than we are now. In fact, that infrastructure and workforce is going to be less burdensome than the current Apollo/Shuttle legacy institution. If the downside is practically zero and the upside is significant, it’s a smart move. (And again, even if it’s a dumb move, what else is the Administration going to do with Constellation in shambles and Shuttle in shutdown?)

    “One could argue that a commercial market is viable and merely needs a kickstart to get it going, which is where I gather you’re coming from. I hope so. COTS was an attempt to do that. With it, Bush, in effect, placed a bet commercial demand would grow, private supply would follow, and the gov’t could eventually get out of the business if he won the bet.”

    You’re confusing programs and policy. The Bush policy, in the VSE, was for NASA to acquire, not develop, cargo and crew transport to the ISS. The Griffin programs that misimplemented (if that’s a word) that policy were Constellation and COTS.

    “But, he hedged (designing Ares I for the moon but requiring it to be able to service ISS) in case he lost.”

    First, this was not a “Bush” hedge. It was Griffin’s decision. The Bush II White House, OSTP, and OMB largely abandoned NASA to its fate, budgetarily and otherwise, after ESAS and Constellation’s rollout.

    Second, a “hedge” is a small, counterbet to a primary risk. At $35-50 billion in total development cost, Ares I/Orion is anything but small compared to the COTS budget, which is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

    “Obama’s policy is to bet the whole farm and not develop anything for the moon.”

    It’s hard to see how relying on multiple providers, including two long-established EELVs and now Falcon 9, bets “the whole farm”. In terms of spreading risk and heding bets, I’ll take that over betting the farm on a single system like Ares I/Orion, even without its technical issues, budget growth, and schedule slippage, any day.

    And it’s just factually incorrect that NASA’s FY11 budget does “not develop anything for the moon.” The budget explicitly calls out lunar robotic missions, ISRU development, and other relevant developments, all of which have been followed up this summer with ESMD RFIs and industry workshops.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “One can argue that it’s still a bet worth making (as many here do), but let’s not pretend all that Obama is doing is merely passing the baton to the private sector.”

    I never did. Don’t make things up.

    FWIW…

  • amightywind

    Why do you all refer to SpaceX as commercial space? At best it is crony capitalism. This Whitehouse more than any other in history delights in picking winners and losers and developing cozy, corrupt relations with those it favors and vilifies the rest. Look at health care, the banks, the public unions, the autos, ‘green energy’ etc. Musk is close pals with Obama and has jumped the line ahead of more worthy competitors. But he has created bad enemies in during so. It will come back to bite him. There are a handful of Senators who would clearly like to squash him like a bug. Can you imagine Lockmart and Boeing running their businesses sucking up personally like that? It would be suicide.

    Enjoy the giddy euphoria while it lasts. Personally, I don’t get excited over a vehicle that is the functional equivalent of a Gemini Titan 50 years after the original. Especially when the rocket seemed in such distress before video was cut off. What were they trying to hide?

  • Rhyolite

    Marcel F. Williams wrote:

    “I also suspect that the reason that Bolden wants a kerosene fueled heavy lifter is because he wants to outsource heavy lift to his buddy Elon Musk.”
    “I also suspect that the reason that Bolden wants a kerosene fueled heavy lifter is because he wants to outsource heavy lift to his buddy Elon Musk.”

    Vladislaw wrote:

    “No he probably wants to go with kerosene because it is a cheaper system to build over cryogen and high end turbopumps.”

    Actually, I think there is a policy desire to create a domestic alternative to the RD-180 for powering Atlas V. I would wager someone in USAF has noticed that we have national security payloads that depend on deliveries from Russian to get to orbit and has been making the case for an alternative with the administration.

  • JasonAW3

    I do applaud Elon Musk and SpaceX for a major step forward for commercial manned space flight.

    Unfortunately, I recgonize a basic truism of business. While SpaceX will be able to establish a fairly stable and profit making business with cargo flights, ISS crew transfers and passenger flights to the future Space Hotels and private Space Facilities, it would be complete lunacy to expect a corporation to ‘take the point’ in manned exploration of Space beyond Earth orbit.
    The expenses, risks and potentile bad press for such a business, should something go wrong, or worse yet, go catastrophically wrong and a mission is lost with all hands. As bad as things are after the loss of a Space Shuttle, (eighteen months down time while all aspects of the accident are examined, and then a reduction of the budget to NASA) a similar delay, even if the company is totaly exhonerated of all negligence, would cost a fortune in wrongful death suits, bad press, and the expense of paying all of the employees of the company while both NASA and the FAA investigate, comittes are formed and review the results, politicians pose for the media both in a pro and con position that, in the end, will mean nothing because by the time that the investigations are over, the company will have been bankrupt and out of business for three months, causing a cascade of other businesses going out of business, due to their dependance upon that company’s orbital transport business, which will be banned while the whole company is investigated.
    While I do support SpaceX’s phenominal success, I am realist enough to acknowledge that the Aerospace Giants will not allow any real competition and when such an incident does occure, they will sweep in to buy up the stock in the smaller company at firesale prices, and absorb it into themselves with an ‘I told you so’ attitude, and continue to charge NASA as much as they want for commercial space access.

    I truely hope I am wrong, but judging from past actions from both the government and big business, I find this scenerio all too likely, no matter how well smaller aerospace businesses do in the future.

    JasonAW3

  • JasonAW3

    I will admit to being a touch confused about this launch.

    On the one hand, several different media outlets are stating that the Dragon Test Article that was launched yesterday was essentially a boilerplate bird.

    On the other hand, several other outlets are stating how SpaceX are going to try to recover both the first stage, (unfortunately, it broke up during descent, as I understand it) and the Dragon capsule, which is carrying a load of instrunmentation for further data retrieval.

    So the question is, was the Dragon Flight Test Article a boilerplate bird or an actual Dragon Capsule?
    I suspect that it was an actual capsule, as SpaceX is asking to skip the next test and go right to a rendevous with the ISS, which was to be the third flight. (Check out the Spaceflightnow website for this article).

    Somebody know the answer to this?

    JasonAW3

  • Rhyolite

    JasonAW3,

    SpaceX has characterize the capsule they launched yesterday as the “Dragon spacecraft qualification unit” or “qualification spacecraft”. There are several entries on their updates page and a number of picture of the unit including ones with the unit in a structural test rig:

    http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

    From this, I take it that they launched the structural qualification test article into space once they were done with testing. If this is correct, then it is structurally identical to Dragon capsule but without the systems installed. Since a boiler plate doesn’t necessarily have any commonality with the ultimate design other than the outer mold line, I would characterize it as a test article rather than a boilerplate.

  • Brett

    I think that the comment about the Falcon 9 launch being 1 year late is very rich. How many government developed rockets has NASA launched on time and on budget? Wasn’t constellation cancelled due to massive increases in the cost of development and the time taken to do this? Its good to see that Politicians across the world are consistent in their efforts to analyse every event in a way which suits their own political ambitions. I congratulate Spacex on their success and expect to see more of the same.

  • Rhyolite

    Space Cadet @ June 5th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    You make some excellent points about cost plus contracting.

    There are conditions where cost plus contracting is appropriate but it is overused – largely to the detriment of the taxpayer. Cost plus should only be uses when there is no alternative. For example, if the development risk in a project is so high that no one will bid it or will only bid it with an astronomical risk premium.

    The conditions that warrant cost plus contracting simply don’t apply to the medium lift launch vehicle market in 2010. People have been building and operating launch vehicles in this class for 40 years. There are two (now three) of them operating in the US and and another half a dozen operating internationally. There already exists a market for launch services in this class and largely operates on a fixed price basis; that’s how Intelsat or Inmarsat contract for their satellite launches.

    Ares seen in this light looks like a colossally botched procurement strategy.

  • On the other hand, several other outlets are stating how SpaceX are going to try to recover both the first stage, (unfortunately, it broke up during descent, as I understand it) and the Dragon capsule, which is carrying a load of instrunmentation for further data retrieval.

    That’s not the case. The Dragon structural test article will burn up in the atmosphere, and that was always the intent. It had no entry or recovery capability in it.

    As for the recovery of the first stage, that’s not a mission-critical capability. They’d just like to be able to do so for the purpose of forensics and to ultimately reduce costs. This was the first test of the ability to do so, and it obviously failed. That’s why you do tests. Every future flight (even when it goes into operation) will provide another opportunity to improve on the capability.

  • red

    amightywind: “Musk is close pals with Obama and has jumped the line ahead of more worthy competitors.”

    SpaceX got its NASA COTS and cargo work during the Bush Administration. SpaceX didn’t even win one of the CCDEV crew contracts during the Obama Administration.

  • Robert Horning

    Here is an interesting side-effect of the launch “malfunction” which caused the 2nd stage to spin out of control:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/05/oh-those-falcon-ufos/

    (via Slashdot)

    Yeah, that is one interesting “UFO” in the sky. I would love to have seen that in the Australian sky. BTW amightywind…. does that qualify as “independent observations” of the orbital characteristics for this flight that you think is being hushed up by the military-industrial complex in the USA?

  • Robert Horning

    “Unfortunately, I recgonize a basic truism of business. While SpaceX will be able to establish a fairly stable and profit making business with cargo flights, ISS crew transfers and passenger flights to the future Space Hotels and private Space Facilities, it would be complete lunacy to expect a corporation to ‘take the point’ in manned exploration of Space beyond Earth orbit.”

    SpaceX is going to be the vehicle provider, not the organization doing the actual exploration or movement beyond. If it happens, that will be something for an organization like Space Adventures to bear the cost and a private individual or organizations like the National Geographic Society to foot the bill for both insurance (or legal waivers) and the cost of getting it to happen.

    Exploration hasn’t always been a government endeavor, and certainly private “exploration societies” have been developed in the past to check out the remote corners of the world in the past. It was a group like that which funded the Amundsen expedition to Antarctica as well as Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition, and Robert Perry’s expeditions to the North Pole as well. I see this pattern continuing in the future when access to space is much more routine.

    The largest obstacle for getting into space has been simply getting to low-earth orbit. That is the focus of this launch with the Falcon 9, because that is indeed the hardest part of the journey to other planets. Assuming that Robert Bigelow gets his space station enterprise going and can provide a sort of “base camp” along the lines of what currently happens on Mount Everest, I certainly can envision trips to near-Earth asteroids and circum-lunar flights that are entirely privately financed. There certainly are plenty of billionaires that would love to lay claim to be one of the first fifty people to orbit the Moon, and to note that only three people have ever been there twice.

    Such flights won’t be routine by any means, but once the raw infrastructure is in place for getting people routinely to low-Earth orbit, I really do believe it will take an organized effort (read military interdiction) to keep private individuals from at least attempting to travel elsewhere in the Solar System. I don’t know why anybody would want to stop them either if such an attempt is on their own dime.

  • MajorTom, Oler… you people have WAY too much time on your hands. Hell I don’t even have the time to sit here and real all of the leftwing crap you’re posting… and this is a Saturday! Get jobs… I mean jobs other than working for some leftwing loonie bin directing you to post endlessly on the net to push Obamaspace. Excuse me now while I go back to earning a living.

  • Major Tom

    “it would be complete lunacy to expect a corporation to ‘take the point’ in manned exploration of Space beyond Earth orbit.”

    No one is saying that a private corporation should “take… point” in deep space exploration. That’s why NASA’s FY11 budget includes billions of dollars of investment in the systems (HLV, in-space propellant management, closed loop life support, lightweight modules, aerocapture, ISRU, highly efficient propoulsion, etc.) that supports affordable and sustainable deep space exploration. Click on the presentations at:

    nasa.gov/exploration/new_space_enterprise/home/workshop_home.html

    Most folks are only saying that routine, ETO transport functions should be performed by the private sector so that NASA can focus budget, workforce, and other resources on these things, which no private corporation is going to do anytime soon.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Why do you all refer to SpaceX as commercial space? At best it is crony capitalism. This Whitehouse [sic] more than any other in history delights in picking winners and losers and developing cozy, corrupt relations with those it favors and vilifies the rest. Look at health care, the banks, the public unions, the autos, ‘green energy’ etc. Musk is close pals with Obama and has jumped the line ahead of more worthy competitors.”

    It may or may not be true that the Obama White House has “cozy, corrupt relations” with various industries. But SpaceX’s COTS Space Act Agreement and CRS contract were signed under the Bush II White House. If you think Musk “jumped the line ahead of more worthy competitors”, then blame the Bush II Administration.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

    “There are a handful of Senators who would clearly like to squash him like a bug.”

    Desire and capability are two different things.

    “Especially when the rocket seemed in such distress before video was cut off. What were they trying to hide?”

    The video cuts out when the upper stage goes over the horizon, genius.

    Don’t make stupid statements out of ignorance.

  • Major Tom

    “Hell I don’t even have the time to sit here and real all of the leftwing crap you’re posting…”

    I wrote in an earlier post that the President wasn’t my pick for the White House.

    Read and think before you post.

    “and this is a Saturday! Get jobs…”

    My workweek is Monday through Friday.

    Duh…

    “Excuse me now while I go back to earning a living.”

    Working the late weekend shift at McDonald’s?

    FWIW…

  • red

    Donald Ernst: “The Space-X launch was a solid accomplishment and Iam very glad they suceeded, however it’s not going to reduce launch cost by much.”

    We will have wait to see how it turns out in the long run. At the moment the SpaceX launch prices look pretty good for Falcon I and 9. They should be competitive in the commercial market. As for NASA, SpaceX should be able to play a role in saving considerable development and operations costs there, too – for cargo and possible for crew.

    “I never was a supporter of Constellation, actually I felt except for the Orion capsule in it’s ISS ferry mission there never was a Constellation project, just phony unfunded Bush era PR.”

    Yes, the Constellation approach has been quite a debacle. As far as I’m concerned Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration made a lot of sense, and could have been funded, but Griffin decided to ignore the VSE and build not 1 but 2 government rockets. It was unaffordable, and unsurprisingly even 1 is turning out to be too much.

    “Obama on the other hand is pushing commercial space flight because he and his left wing anti-tech/anti-space flight cohorts think that approach will fail. This back fired on them yesterday, I wonder how he will go about trying to destroying Space-X?”

    Do you really think that people like Bolden, Garver, Whitesides, Ladwig, Holdren, and the Augustine Committee members are anti-tech and anti-space flight? If so, why did they spend so many decades working in technology and space flight jobs?

  • Major Tom

    “One must agree with Senator Shelby. The old Politburo would have been proud of they way SpaceX covered the event.”

    Yes, the Politburo, being the bastion of the free press, would have filmed the whole launch, including a failed ignition attempt, and streamed it to the world in realtime from their own website.

    Think before you post.

  • Major Tom

    “You just keep on constantly f*cking with people and then say they are the ones doing it.”

    Pointing out false information is not “f***ing” with anyone.

    Read, check your sources, think before you post, and don’t make stuff up, and you won’t have a problem.

    And please, enough with the profanity. Either grow up or get out.

    “That is a lie. Lunar surface missions with a Falcon 9 heavy? Tell us how that will happen Tom.”

    Sigh…

    cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2007/02/22/4351158-bigelow-shoots-for-the-moon

    space.com/businesstechnology/private-moon-bases-bigelow-aerospace-100414.html

    Actually, it looks like I was wrong — not even a Falcon 9 Heavy is needed. Apparently, Falcon 9s alone can launch BA-330 modules and MDPMs for assembly at Lagrange points or lunar orbit.

    “You lying con artist. Trying to keep the lie alive;”

    Repeating facts that any idiot can look up with a Google search is not “lying” or playing “con artist”.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “You are double talking monkey crap slinger Ahole.”

    Again with the profanity?

    Really?

    What’s your major malfunction?

    “You keep saying you are going to stop reading my posts or replying but you just wont do it.”

    I said that I would stop replying if another individual was added to Mr. Simberg’s troll list. That hasn’t happened yet.

    Don’t make stuff up.

    “I would say most of the time, as I gave an example of as Jeff was giving me the go around signal.”

    I’m sure you were.

    [rolls eyes]

    “I am so tired of not being able to make any statement without getting buried in arrogant surly infomercial defender attacks.”

    If most of the posters here are repeatedly telling you that you’re wrong, then maybe, just maybe, you should take the hint and try to understand where your facts or logic are missing, instead of calling them profane names.

    “And when I try and give it back, I am told I am the one out of line?”

    Yes, you’re the one resorting to profanity. Get control of yourself.

    “Could you please tell Captain Tom to leave me alone? I am so sick of his B.S.”

    If you’re not mature enough take fact-based criticism of your own posts without resorting to juvenile profanity or running to the site owner, then you probably shouldn’t be posting here.

    Grow up or get out.

  • Major Tom

    “@MajorTom- “And for the umpteenth time, stop littering this forum with idiotic and ignorant posts.” Again, why don’t you lead by example.”

    You’re calling my posts “ignorant”. This from the poster who repeatedly, over multiple posts, can’t figure out: the correct name and acronym for Cape Canaveral, what level of risk venture capital represents, what type of invester Warren Buffett is, and how much federal money went into yesterday’s Falcon 9 flight.

    Really?

    Doctor, heal thyself.

  • Jeff, please ban Gary Church and amightywind and all these other idiots who drag down this site so we can have sensible and civil conversations instead of flamewars in every thread.

  • As I’ve said before, there is no need to ban commenters. Just ban certain phrases (by your repetitive idiotic phrases shall we know thee).

    “space clown”
    “infomercial”
    “thunderhead”
    “right wing” (and variations thereon)
    “toy rockets”
    “hobbyists”

    …and so on.

    It also helps to ban comments that contain words in ALL CAPS and with exclamation points. This effectively eliminates a class of idiocy.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Cant we all just get along? man hug Robert G. Oler

  • Robert Horning – I liked your post regarding launch prices and the market elasticity of demand. Futron did a great study in (I believe) 2003 that looked at the price elasticity for space launch, and all established markets had essentially none. The reason is that, for military payloads, telecom sats, etc, sticker price of the launch is 3-5% the total system cost (difficult to believe, but true). By comparison, things you could blow at launch up account for 6-10X the cost of the launch itself. Add to that the cost of capital on a multi-billion $$ piece of hardware, and it doesn’t take much to realize that the 2 R’s – reliability and responsiveness – are much more important than sticker price. The study also found a small but reliable human space flight market, on the order of 5-50 per year sustainably at going costs. It looked at several other options – on-orbit servicing, research, manufacturing – and did not find a business case closing in the near to medium term.

    The worst thing – the elasticity is so low that, if you lower your prices the added demand does not keep up. Your revenue goes down as you lower prices! The market actually solves to make space launch as expensive as possible!

    It is somewhat bleak, but it also somewhat “IBM broadcasts demands for computers at 2 mainframes per year”. I have been able to identify three possible ways out of the trap:

    1) Demand elasticity is not the only type of elasticity. There is also supply elasticity, and space has much better characteristics there. Supply elasticity is the inverse of demand elasticity – it is the change in price versus change in units supplied. I know Rand has said it a bunch – launch rate is the most important variable for driving down prices. It’s not all paying forward either – with launch rate comes responsiveness, which delivers more value so you can charge more. It also means reliability if you are geared to meet the launch rate (if not you’re just doing sloppy work).

    2) Reusability. Most people think this only applies if you get a stage back intact, but there is a gradient of possibilities. The advantage to spaceflight is probably far greater for recovery of parts. If you can get several engines, turbopumps, computers, and other cost drivers back in good enough shape to do really good post mortems, you will be able to improve both the R’s in a remarkable manner. This is far more important than simply trading out manufacturing cost for refurbishing cost.

    3) Feedback. It is currently best to build extremely expensive satellites, because launch is unresponsive and there is no in-space infrastructure to repair mistakes. The Futron survey did not force execs to consider how they would change their own engineering and development processes. With reliable, turn-key launch solutions, it starts to make more sense to standardize and modularize payloads. This is good in two ways – first, the payloads are cheaper. That’s a good thing because when you divide the cost of payload, you multiply the elasticity of the launch by the same factor. If my payload goes from 5% to 20% of total system cost, I will start bargain shopping. Second, it means quantity over quality, and that is great for an industry where launch rate is the primary driver. It leverages demand into supply elasticity. Combine the two effects, and cheaper payloads make the business case for launch service close, finally, almost without a doubt.

  • Paul Ad.

    I think the SpaceX team did an amazing job. Congrats to them!

    NASA can choose or not to benefit from companies like SpaceX. A few notes though:
    1) The only real alternative to the Shuttle for human transportation is the Soyuz rocket at this point. Soyuz is an extremely reliable rocket (with 1700+ launches so far) and cheaper than the Shuttle anyway. I think that, in a few years, having a local alternative such as SpaceX for human transportation could only be goodness.
    2) SpaceX has other customers, not just NASA. Their promised cost for Falcon 9 is one of the lowest so far (AFAIK, around $3300/kg to LEO per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9). They already attracted other customers with Falcon 1.

    Bottom line, SpaceX could be only goodness for the American people and the rest of the world.

    My other hope is that other commercial companies such as ULA will jump into this new revolution with cost-reduced Delta IV or Atlas V variants. That way we will have some real competition as well … :-)

  • Florida Today has an article about why CCAFS can’t attract commercial launches due to the inefficiencies of the Eastern Range:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20106060331

    President Obama proposes to spend $2 billion to make CCAFS competitive again.

  • red

    Eric Sterner: “Obama’s policy is to bet the whole farm”

    Obama’s policy is similar to Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration. There are some tweaks that you could chalk up to the expense and delay required to clean up after Constellation, but it’s pretty close: a strong line of robotic precursor missions, enabling the Moon and beyond in a sustainable way, a significant emphasis on technology development, acquiring rather than developing access to space, a focus on economic, science, and security benefits, enabling international participation, strong commercial participation across the board, and so on.

    Griffin’s Ares-based plan that scrapped the VSE is the one that bets the whole farm. With this plan, everything depends on a huge, expensive, multi-decade development plan to build Ares I, Orion, Ares V, EDS, and Altair. Without this whole huge stack of cards, we get nothing. Even the Ares I/Orion pair give us nothing because with Griffin’s plan we would have to deorbit the ISS to fund Ares I/Orion, so the pair would have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Without the ISS we also would lose that market for commercial services, the national lab ability, and serious prospects of international cooperation, difficult enough already with the closed Constellation transportation plan. We’ve already seen some of the damage Constellation caused to NASA’s science, aeronautics, and space technology programs. The CBO’s “The Budgetary Implications of NASA’s Current Plans for Space Exploration” from April 2009 (i.e. it refers to Constellation, not the new plan) shows how Constellation would need to inflict even more damage to these areas in the future. With Constellation there wouldn’t be much left of NASA but the Ares-based transportation system. That’s betting the whole farm on 1 thing.

    The new NASA plan doesn’t bet the whole farm on 1 thing. For crew transportation, NASA expects up to 4 competitors, as opposed to the single Ares-based system. 1 is betting the whole farm; 4 is hedging bets. NASA’s making it easier for them, too, by funding the crew competition adequately, funding CCDEV, modernizing KSC infrastructure that they could use, keeping the ISS intact and thereby keeping the crew and cargo markets alive, and offloading the CRV requirements to the Orion-based CRV. If 1 of the competitors fails, we still have 3. If 2 fail, we still have 2. … and so on. If every single one of the commercial competitors fails, we still have what the Ares-based plan has for the next decade – Soyuz. Also, NASA would be able to pick up the pieces with a government program based on Orion CRV, the hypothetical remains of the commercial efforts, the remains of the Ares efforts, and the ISS cargo systems.

    Not only that, but, unlike the Ares-based approach, with NASA’s new approach, even if we don’t have U.S. crew transportation at all, we still have a strong NASA and U.S. space presence. We will have a strong robotic science program and associated industry infrastructure, especially in Earth science. We will have a better shot at a strong commercial suborbital RLV industry. We will still have the ISS, more actual use of the ISS, and new capabilities on the ISS. We will be able to finish the ISS with the additional funding in the new budget for that. We will have modern KSC infrastructure. We will have vigorous lines of large and small scout robotic HSF precursor (as opposed to science) missions to the Moon, asteroids, and Mars. Aeronautics will be better off. General space technology will be better off in areas like smallsats, telecommunications, power beaming, and many many more. We will have strong flagship exploration technology demonstrations in space in areas like propellant depots, automated rendezvous and docking, closed-loop life support, inflatable habitats, efficient in-space power and propulsion, and aerocapture. We will have a powerful new spacecraft to service these demonstrations and possible to do other space tug jobs. We will have more technology demonstrations in areas like ISRU, landing, and many other technologies. We will use U.S. instead of Russian sources for Pu-238 and RD-180 class engines. We will actually work on HLVs, and the work will be geared towards affordable HLVs.

    So … not only are we not betting the whole farm on 1 system, but even if we lose the farm in spite of having many bets on it and in spite of making our odds better with each bet, with the new plan we will have lots of other farms, some of which are arguably bigger and better than the crew transport farm, which we apparently will be doing without for 8 or 9 years anyway with the Ares plan.

  • amightywind, Why do you all refer to SpaceX as commercial space? At best it is crony capitalism.

    Crony capitalism is usually about being paid (or supported) by government before a product or service is delivered. Fossil fuel subsidies, agricultural subsidies, turning a blind eye toward offshore tax havens.

    SpaceX has not received a dime until it has reached milestones, in almost all cases. The refurbished pad is the only exception (and that pad may be used by other companies in the future, if SpaceX moves on to greener pastures). Even still, the pad would not have been refurbished if SpaceX did not meet its previous milestones. Of the 4 COTS providers two did not survive the milestone process (PlanetSpace and SpaceHab).

    Musk is close pals with Obama and has jumped the line ahead of more worthy competitors. But he has created bad enemies in during so.

    This is hardly established. Obama, being a politician, put his money on SpaceX, and it worked. If Falcon 9 blew up on the pad there would be a completely different tune from the administration (possibly even distancing themselves from SpaceX). The new direction relies on private space being successful, this is one argument used again and again at the hearings, with so called conservatives bemoaning capitalism. SpaceX has proved them wrong. Businesses can build something without getting paid until they reach milestones or have a product ready to be delivered. The rocket industry can assume the vast majority of the risk with their products. If you go back and watch some of the conferences about private space, there’s one in particular by a ULA representative that essentially claims “space is too risky and government should pay for everything.” It was the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. If you want I can find a link for you. SpaceX followed up the panel with a discussion about costs, and how companies can take risk if they know how to handle costs. It was a beautiful contrast between the two companies.

    JasonAW3, SpaceX will not be leading point on future BEO (Beyond Earth Orbit) activities, because even if they build a rocket that can lift a craft that goes BEO (heavy lift), they will not be doing the BEO activities! Their job would end as soon as the craft reached LEO! The point of going with private industry for fully delivered rockets is that it lowers costs by a factor of 5 at the bare minimum.

    There won’t be BEO commerce for quite some time (we need something like Sea Dragon to lower costs again by a magnitude). But SpaceX is certainly paving the way, and the new direction has a lot of potential to bring it to us far sooner than it would’ve happened naturally.

    And I would agree with Rhyolite about the Dragon module on Falcon 9 flight 1 being a “test article.” I don’t think calling it boilerplate is too off the mark, though, as long as you emphasize that it is a Dragon based piece of equipment. Structurally, it was definitely a Dragon.

  • vulture4

    @roga — The Futron study does describe the “existing commercial” market as completely inelastic, but notes that price elasticity of demand is extremely high in the “evolving commercial” market segment, which would increase almost 500% with a 75% reduction in launch cost. The 50% reduction announced by SpaceX would by itself triple the market in this sector.

    From the Futron study: “In the case of Government sectors, there are other reasons, documented in the Study, why launch demand is virtually insensitive to launch price. ..However … some individual markets in the Evolving Commercial Market Sector experience a more profound increase in demand from launch price reductions.. Figure E 5 shows this much greater sensitivity in launch demand to launch prices in the Evolving Commercial Market Sectors. The increased sensitivity in the Evolving sectors is largely driven by the public space travel market.”

    http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/images/ascent_study_final_report_executive_summary.6.png

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ JasonAW3,

    I know that Elon Musk has given an interview in which he stated that one objective of SpaceX was to land a robot greenhouse on Mars and grow some plants on the surface.

    Whilst I don’t think that any private corporation would be interested in ‘taking the point’, this and similar moderately relevant stunts would have the effect of ‘nudging’ the state space programs: “Hey, if we can do stuff like this, why is it taking you guys so long?”

  • vulture4

    >>The rocket industry can assume the vast majority of the risk with their products.

    True only for ELVs that involve little new technology, like the Falcon, and even then SpaceX is unique in the amount of capital it has available. When NASA tried to force Lockheed and Orbital to take over the cost and risk for the X-33 and X-34 programs, they simply couldn’t do it. These were developmental test vehicles, not prototypes of operational systems, and the risk, cost, and payback period were too great even for large companies. The NACA was originally formed for just this purpose in 1915; not to carry passengers but to fund or perform the development of new technology that industry needs but can’t do on its own, to produce major advances, in this case the difficult but essential leap to fully reusable launch vehicles and spacecraft.

  • @ vulture4 – The 50% reduction announced by SpaceX would by itself triple the market in this sector.

    Absolutely, and I believe I mentioned that in my post. The problem is that I think even at that 500% increase, there were still only a handful of launches per year for emerging markets. Numerous other studies have found this to be true as well. The one that speaks to what you are saying best is probably … by … His thesis is that the elasticity curve bends when the volume of human spaceflight starts to match the volume of low-elasticity payloads, but that that doesn’t happen until about $100/lb.

    This is a good thing, because it means the problem is not a fundamental one. Rather, there is a “Valley of Death” between current launch rates and $100/lb launch rates. We flirted with the upper end of the valley in the early 2000′s when the ruble was worth nothing and the market was flooded with old ICBMs. A lot of people got burned. I’ve studied it pretty thoroughly and I think you need a few things to get through it:

    1) You need to be able to corner the market if you start undercutting prices, in terms of your ability to provide the launch, or else you will lose any advantage your price gives you. You need to do this for a long time, so that your competitors must innovate or die.

    2) You need to be profitable doing it, because your goal as an organization has to be a 100-fold reduction of sticker prices.

    3) You need to actively encourage payloads that are standardized and (relatively) cheap. If you have a backlog like SpaceX does, you should offer to move up payloads that require the minimal launch integration. You should give steep price discounts for package deals. Eventually you won’t have the luxury, so do it now.

  • I couldn’t find that reference, but it was a paper by Sven Abitzsch and Fabian Eilingsfeld according to my notes.

  • Alden Richards

    Evolving Commercial Sectors Market….That’s a term that I have heard,in all it’s variations,over almost 30 years in the Space business.
    Does anyone really believe that large #s of tourists will pay top-dollar for a view of earth and the exclusive use of a vomit bag?A few-absolutely. But regular tourism? I have my doubts..
    I think SpceX has every reason to be proud of what they’ve accomplished so far. I just scratch my head at what these non-satellite,non-ISS related missions are going to be? Space science,yes..but what are all these other “commercial” uses?

  • Vladislaw

    “Does anyone really believe that large #s of tourists will pay top-dollar for a view of earth and the exclusive use of a vomit bag?A few-absolutely. But regular tourism? I have my doubts”

    Define large numbers? 10? 100? 10 launches per year? 50?
    I would imagine, once the realization that commercial space travel is a reality many people, globally, will define that as a life time goal and invest time and money into making their personal flight a reality. A lot of tourists, in my opinion, will look to ways to offset some of there costs, like Garret did, with his website and a couple experiments. I believe creativity will be opened up as more and more people expend energy in trying to achieve a goal.

  • [...] 6/7/2010: Here’s a link to a posting with reactions from some Senators and Representatives: http://www.spacepolitics.com/2010/06/04/congressional-reaction-to-falcon-9-launch/ var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="Success!! SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket [...]

  • red

    I’d like to reply to a few comments that at least attempt to take us a bit away from the “Griffin vs. Bolden approach” debate:

    Major Tom: “Gone unmentioned so far on this forum is the impact this Falcon 9 flight will have on unmanned payloads and other LVs. There are some potentially big implications …”

    It will be interesting to see how Orbital’s COTS entry feeds into the markets you mentioned, too (e.g.: Delta II’s science mission role), especially with Falcon 9 having now been demonstrated.

    Robert Horning: “The danger that SpaceX faces here is that the market is mainly fixed, and the efforts to drive down the cost of space access are going to be mostly efforts of vanity alone.”

    Even if the launch market doesn’t grow quickly, there will be some incentive for SpaceX to drive down cost. For example, that will make it easier for them to win market share in the global launch market. Also, if they keep their price higher but their internal costs lower, they’ll be getting more profit or money to invest in rocket improvements other projects. In the short run they may be obliged to keep their price low to compete with other launch providers with more lengthy track records.

    Robert Horning: “That is the launcher market we’ve had for the past couple of decades, and unfortunately I don’t really see a major change in that market either.”

    For the U.S. government, the presence of Falcon 9 in the launch class it’s in and at the price it’s going for may encourage that government market to use this kind of rocket more, which might be considered a major change in that market. There is also the prospect on the NASA side of considerably more work launching ISS payloads, Earth observation missions, robotic precursor missions, and technology demonstrators in Falcon 9 or Falcon 9-Heavy classes. Of course as you mention that market is susceptible to government whims.

    I wouldn’t be too discouraged by the traditional commercial markets like telecommunications satellites, either. SpaceX is making good inroads there, and although these may not be growing exponentially in terms of number of launches, they are steadily growing in capability and importance, and probably therefore are good reliable markets.

    roga: “The worst thing – the elasticity is so low that, if you lower your prices the added demand does not keep up. Your revenue goes down as you lower prices! The market actually solves to make space launch as expensive as possible!

    It is somewhat bleak, but it also somewhat “IBM broadcasts demands for computers at 2 mainframes per year”. I have been able to identify three possible ways out of the trap: … Supply elasticity … Reusability … Feedback”

    I think the forces that roga identifies are slow but powerful ones. SpaceX and other launch providers will have to be determined and in it for the long haul to benefit from them. However, if they stick with it, they could find themselves in quite good shape when launch rates pick up.

    Jeff Foust and Charles Miller have a Space Review article on the “vicious circle” of high launch costs encouraging slow development and high payload costs causing even higher launch costs to ensure successful launch of the valuable payloads here (part 2 of an important multi-part series [I think part 3 mentioned a part 4 that I missed or never saw]):

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1121/1

    “With launches much less expensive and more frequent than today, large spacecraft crammed with instruments—an approach designed to get the most out of expensive and infrequent launch opportunities—can be replaced with networks of smaller spacecraft. … The cost of DoD space programs is out of control. Again and again, major national security satellite programs — in both the US Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) are over budget, and take years longer than promised. The list of major cost overruns includes Space-Based Infrared Systems (High and Low), Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellites, Future Imaging Architecture, and the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, among others. … DoD space systems are in a vicious cycle of continuously higher costs. The DoD knows this is happening, yet it is extremely difficult to get out of this cycle. … CRATS will solve this problem. When this nation acquires cheap and reliable access to space, the systematic influences and factors will be stood on their head, and we will get a virtuous circle …”

    See the article for the graphical depiction of the vicious and virtuous circles.

    Falcon 9 may be one part of getting to the virtuous circle. The COTS approach that Griffin fostered and Bolden wants to continue may also help. Falcon 1 could be another part. The commercial suborbital RLVs can be expected to have a role, too. NASA’s new efforts in smallsat technology development and in-space smallsat demonstrations, use of those commercial suborbital RLVs, “Venture-class” Earth observation missions, scout-class robotic precursors, and various other new NASA uses of commercial launch vehicles of various sizes may be helpful. Other government changes (e.g.: ITAR reform, DoD Operationally Responsive Space) may help.

  • [...] candor (what other aerospace executive has the nerve to a) publish fixed launch prices, and b) openly criticize a U.S. Senator?) have made him one of the most impressive figures on the American scene [...]

  • Robert Horning

    The problem I see with a market to government agencies is that I perceive that as a fixed market, and a sort of zero sum game in terms of whoever is going to get the money. Congress basically has a certain tolerance for spending money on space, and as can be made apparent by the comments by Senator Shelby, et. al., they really don’t care what happens to it other than to maximize the jobs for their home district… and shy of that at least being able to use it as a political tool to further their own political ambitions.

    It is sad to say, but the congressional appropriation process doesn’t even require the space industry to even get into space in order to keep the money flowing. If something cool happens on occasion, it makes for good P.R. moments every once in awhile but otherwise it isn’t perceived as a problem. That is one of the reasons why nobody bats an eye at the issue where Constellation is actually going to be costing more per astronaut than even the Shuttle program (depending on how you crunch the numbers).

    My own local representative, Rep. Rob Bishop (1st district, Utah) a long time critic of “commercial space” himself and in fact one of that chorus of Republican congressmen that are in strong support of Constellation, is not really even concerned about getting into space himself. I spent about 10 minutes talking to him with a one on one conversation at a political convention recently (politicians pay attention to you a bit more when you can vote for them… even more when you vote for them as a delegate in a convention) and his #1 concern had absolutely nothing to do with spaceflight in general, but rather at maintaining production of Ammonium Perchlorate. His attitude was seriously that as long as NASA continued to purchase large quantities of this stuff to keep the price down for future ICBM procurements, he didn’t care if NASA actually made it into space. This is somebody who is very likely going to be a future chair of the House Armed Services Committee (assuming the Republicans re-take the House… I don’t want to get into Red vs. Blue politics here, but it is a possibility). I have also talked with both of the current Republican candidates for U.S. Senate (Utah is about as Red as it comes… one of them is going to make it), and their response is essentially the same thing with them even suggesting I talk to Rob Bishop about the issue…… grrrr.

    So yeah, I’ve been waging a one-man lobbying effort on the cheap for commercial space in the past six months, and it has been mostly an exercise in futility. But at least I’m getting face time in front of my elected representatives and they are realizing that at least some of their constituents think differently from the official ATK viewpoint on the issue.

    The two realistic areas of growth for commercial space are space tourism, and space-based manufacturing. Space tourism has some real numbers to back up the idea that it is a viable “industry” or at least market segment for commercial spaceflight. If you look at the luxury yacht market (has been done before, I know) there certainly are some folks with real money that would be willing to spend a modest fortune on purely frivolous travel to exotic destinations. Looking at commercial aviation, there was the era of the “Jet Set” where people with money went out of their way to engage in commercial air travel simply because of the novelty of the travel mode. I certainly see that kind of thing happening with space travel, and you are certainly going to see it with Virgin Galactic’s promotions in the not to distant future.

    If a virtuous circle is going to happen in commercial spaceflight, it will have to deal with two rather different issues:

    1) Cutting down on paperwork and red tape for going into space. There will always be some sort of regulations involved with spaceflight, but most private individuals and I dare say most corporations don’t want to hire a team of lawyers just to send up a single payload into space. This can be formed from somebody on the federal government level swinging an axe to cut out bureaucracies on a wholesale fashion, but more likely it will be done by service providers who will take care of the details for you. For example, if you send a package by Fed Ex to another continent, as a customer of Fed Ex you don’t worry about meeting FAA flight requirements or even dealing with import customs duties. All you do is simply fill out a single page “package bill” giving details that are mainly contact information and a destination address, and pay for the package or even just put down a billing account number.

    It would be amazing if sending a “package” or “payload” into space could be as easy. It should be, and if that happens you will see a major revolution in people willing to get involved with spaceflight that hasn’t happened before. You can sort of do that right now with the JP Aerospace pong sat program, and I think it would be an excellent P.R. move for SpaceX to offer a similar program to the general public… at least as a start. If you can stuff it in a ping-pong ball, they will send it into space on a “space available” basis for free or some fixed cost.

    During the “heyday” of the Shuttle era, there was the “get away special” program that allowed different groups to get some space in the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle. This was even adapted somewhat to even simplify the process by standardizing a “pallet” that was essentially just a small box that a dozen or so “experiments” could fit inside of one of the GAS cans as well. I’m fairly familiar with these as several of my friends have flown experiments using this program (as a part of a university research project). The fact that this has been done in the past should also show that it can be done in the future.

    2) Driving down costs so space-based manufacturing can really take hold. This is a very cost-sensitive market, where even a 1% drop in price can have a huge impact on potential customers and make or break a business case for going into space in the first place. If you are making something in space, the bottom line is the only thing you are really interested in at all. We’ve all heard the stories and even since the Skylab flights there has been quite literally “pie in the sky” promises about what could be done in space. Richard Garriott has even talked about some things that he tried while on the ISS to at least partially earn a little bit back for going into space, but even he has admitted that the time isn’t quite ripe yet for such activities.

    It sort of also gets back to the first part about red tape, where at the moment there really isn’t any real ability to establish a space-based manufacturing facility at any price. Essentially, if you want to get a factory into space or do any fabrication of any kind, you need to build the rocket ship first to get you up there. Essentially, you have to re-create SpaceX from scratch and do it all over again. This is sort of the tale that Elon Musk went through trying to send a greenhouse to Mars and ending up having to build the launchers to do it himself as he couldn’t get anybody else to build the rockets for him no matter the price in the first place. I don’t know how much of that is Elon’s personal hype or a real story, but it at least rings true to me in terms of a general problem for access to space.

    There are at least things SpaceX could be doing, and if their commercial Dragon flights are successful, perhaps some interesting changes could happen to commercial spaceflight in general. That is one reason that I do have some hope with this latest launch of the Falcon 9, and why it could be a historic day.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom- Awfully anal, aren’t you. CAFB. ;-)

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTom- “And for the umpteenth time, stop littering this forum with idiotic and ignorant posts.” Again with the astroturfing. Why don’t you lead by example.

  • DCSCA

    @EricSterner “the pursuit of space exploration which, as of yet, still isn’t commercially viable.” Precisely.

    @MajorTommy: “The other poster was making an emotional argument that the U.S. federal government is headed toward “bankruptcy” and that the “true goal of private rocketeers” is to see the “civilian agency [NASA] become a luxury” that the nation can no longer afford.”

    Inaccurate, as usual. Best you begin to understand that there are other parameters besides engineering- the ‘Cernan intangibles’ – that fuel space operations. Commercial space exploitation is not space exploration. Actual post reads: “As current deficits balloon, budgets shrink and distressed economic trends continue, there will be very little of NASA worth funding by 2020. The civilian agency will become a ‘luxury’ a nation hurtling toward bankruptcy can do without— especially without an operational manned spacecraft in work. The public, who pay the freight, equates human spaceflight with the civilian space agency– from the days of the X-15 through shuttle. Without any manned spacecraft in the pipeline, a mission and a destination, it can be rationally disbanded (picture a giddy Gingrich); lauded for accomplishing what it was tasked to do in years past; its esoteric research and existing assets easily folded into existing agencies (FAA, DoD, NOAA, etc.,) doing similar research or leased/sold to commercial interests. There isn’t a politician alive who wouldn’t crow over closing down a Federal agency in this era. And a public craving more and more entitlements will agree.

    This is what’s at stake. And, of course, that is the true goal of private rocketeers, weened and frustrated since the Reagan days, who believe venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,) will fuel (and fund) space exploration, veiled as space exploitation, and expand the human experience outward into the cosmos. To be sure, in this era, viable, private enterprised space operations are to welcomed by quite literally helping to ‘carry the load’ in tandem with a government funded and managed space program. But as a replacement for NASA’s HSF operation, no.

    If NASA was/is disbanded, no doubt private enterprised space companies would be first in line to lease/purchase assets at bargain prices paid for by taxpayers. So too, would real estate developers. The Space Coast would make for some superb beachfront communities, with a return for investors faster than anything private rocketeers could deliver to shareholders.

    Oh yes… think before you post and stop littering this forum, etc., etc. et al.

  • Robert Horning

    For myself, I wouldn’t necessarily cry over the termination of NASA. It is doing little or even next to nothing for actually pushing the “final frontier” and is itself arguably stuck in the mid-1970′s making only marginal progress on figuring out how to conduct operations in low-Earth orbit.

    As far as I’ve seen, there is practically zero Congressional support for actually going to the Moon, much less anywhere else in the Solar System. Certainly the assertion that somehow killing Constellation is also killing manned spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit is a fantasy as broad and rich as anything dreamed up by the Walt Disney Corporation.

    Heck, it took Walt himself, working with Von Braun and some science fiction writers to drum up the initial public support for the Apollo program in the first place. I could imagine perhaps James Cameron, Jerry Pournelle, and Buzz Aldrin giving another go for a similar public relations blitz as Walt did elsewhen, but it would take a similar kind of major effort to really get things going. As it stands now, the general public doesn’t really care about NASA.

    Oh, I’m not saying that there is support for the complete abolition of NASA… and it will continue for some time into the future. Most non-informed voters that I’ve met, when asked about public spending on space, thinks we are still spending money at the same rate that was done in the 1960′s. At least I’m referring to those of the “baby boom” generation that is currently the largest block of actual voters who go to the polls and make a difference politically. If they are that out of touch, cutting NASA to perhaps a billion or two per year wouldn’t be missed at all.

    Certainly the general public discourse about human spaceflight is non-existent. Within the “aerospace community” and certainly among the spaceflight enthusiasts of various types the discussion is going on, but otherwise it is general apathy with a typical voter. Heck, if pressed to give a name for a Space Shuttle they would have problems, and certainly couldn’t name an astronaut who has flown in the past 20 years besides perhaps John Glenn. That one would be a lucky guess, too.

    If disbanding NASA is what is at stake, fine! I’ll give it a heave-ho and not look back. It is hardly the only space agency in American anyway, and I’ll simply say “good riddance”. The FAA-AST is the future of manned spaceflight in America anyway.

  • [...] rest is here: Space Politics » Congressional reaction to Falcon 9 launch Share and [...]

  • Major Tom

    “Awfully anal, aren’t you. CAFB.”

    I’d rather be anal than ignorant.

    What part of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) don’t you understand?

    “Why don’t you lead by example.”

    Where havn’t I?

    Specifically.

    “venture capitalists, (historically averse to high risk projects,)”

    You don’t have a clue as to what you’re talking about.

    Venture capital is the highest risk form of fiduciary capital.

    Buy a clue.

    “Without any manned spacecraft in the pipeline, a mission and a destination, it can be rationally disbanded…”

    First, NASA is going to pursue at least two crew transport providers — that two “manned spacecraft in the pipeline” on top of ISS. And the FY11 budget and the President’s KSC speech do articulate a mission and destinations. You may not like them, but they exist.

    Second, NASA has gone most of its history since the end of the Apollo program without a human exploration mission or destination, and it’s never been “disbanded” or even considered for such.

    Don’t make stuff up.

  • [...] SpaceX launched Falcon 9. There’s a state vs. market battle going on. And, it seems both the North and South Koreans [...]

  • DMS

    The spin coming from our elected representatives is almost sickening. Senator Shelby minimizes Falcon 9 as 1960′s technology — likely because of the Merlin engines — but at the same time he is doing everything in his power to save a rocket with a first stage derived from the 1970′s space shuttle SRB and a second stage with roots going back to the1960′s Saturn J-2. Meanwhile, KBH characterizes the orbital flight of Falcon 9 as a “modest success” that is “more than a year behind schedule.” This is months after she points to the much delayed 28 mile suborbital Ares 1X test flight as proof positive that NASA still has “the Right Stuff.” In my mind, both were equally successful in that they essentially met their test objectives with minor but workable anomalies. These guys need a healthy dose of objectivity.

  • Ray Davis

    The author reported: “The article also notes that the launch was praised by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who said it showed that the company will be “full operation delivering cargo to the International Space Station a year from now.”

    So does anyone know if Space X is even close to being able deliver to the ISS come June? The mainstream media is absent of any clue about the feasibility of such an ability.

  • Leonard Sobchuk

    Apparently, Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, is supposed to be holding a press conference tomorrow (Apr 5th) to talk about the big upcoming venture. Does anyone know what this will be about?

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