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NASA to Announce New Commercial Space Partner 69

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the only-32-million dept.
NewScientist is reporting that NASA has kicked their previous space partner, Rocketplane Kistler, to the curb and is in search of a new commercial space partner. The new partnership will try to develop a new shuttle to service the International Space Station. "The GAO's decision clears the way for NASA to select a new COTS partner in addition to SpaceX, whose partnership with NASA continues. Only $32 million was paid to Rocketplane Kistler, leaving $175 million for new partnerships."
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NASA to Announce New Commercial Space Partner

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  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:25PM (#22270038) Journal

    NASA has kicked their previous space partner, Rocketplane Kistler, to the curb

    They just kicked them to the curb? In my day they would have kicked them to the moon. Yes, Alice, to the moooooon.

    --MarkusQ

    P.S. And yes, statistically speaking, I probably am older than you.

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:46PM (#22270180) Journal

      NewScientist is reporting that NASA has kicked their previous space partner, Rocketplane Kistler, to the curb and is in search of a new commercial space partner. The new partnership will try to develop a new shuttle to service the International Space Station.
      Well, I've got this patent pending on this REALLY BIG sling-shot, if NASA is interested ...

      After all, the USPTO will approve anything nowadays ...

      • NewScientist is reporting that NASA has kicked their previous space partner, Rocketplane Kistler, to the curb and is in search of a new commercial space partner. The new partnership will try to develop a new shuttle to service the International Space Station.

        Well, I've got this patent pending on this REALLY BIG sling-shot, if NASA is interested ...

        After all, the USPTO will approve anything nowadays ...

        It's not a "sling-shot", it's an elastic energy-storage with single-release multi-directional propulsion device. Your patent is a given with that description.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      P.S. And yes, statistically speaking, I probably am older than you.


      Not unless you're old enough to remember when that was first run, because I do.

  • Rocketplane? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jpedlow (1154099) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:27PM (#22270056)
    So what is it that the company who got kicked out did? The link didnt work for me:( It seems though that if they just burned through $30M, maybe they should be held accountable for paying some of it back... I'm not 100% sure how things work in the states (I'm Canadian Eh), but shouldnt there be some form of performance rendered from this "partner", or is it just NASA sending money in this company's direction hoping from some sort of result? Maybe there should be more nerds doing open-source aerospace....or it could be a new field for google to go into ;)
    • Re:Rocketplane? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:40PM (#22270134)
      In 2006, NASA signed agreements earmarking $485 million to be split between two companies trying to develop vehicles to service the orbital outpost. As part of its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) programme, it set aside $278 million for SpaceX, based in El Segundo, California, and $207 million for Rocketplane Kistler of Oklahoma City, both in the US.

      The money was to be gradually doled out between 2006 and 2010 - as long as the two companies kept meeting performance milestones along the way. But after Rocketplane Kistler failed to raise a required $500 million in private financing, NASA cancelled its agreement with the company in October 2007.
      • This seems to me to be a failure of NASA as much as Rocketplane Kistler. The objectives appear to be entirely unrealistic. NASA wants two separate companies to develop two separate vehicles capable of unmanned resupply of the ISS in a very short time frame. Now, this is an agency that has access to literally DOZENS of off the shelf rockets. None of them will do. This is an agency with experience spanning decades, working with several companies to design DOZENS of rockets. None of them cost any less th
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Nyeerrmm (940927)
          Umm, SpaceX seems do be doing just fine (yes, I know they haven't had a completely successful launch yet). They have designed and built a $6 million rocket capable of getting to LEO with a reasonable load, as well as have the tooling and parts for a much larger version. Granted they have an advantage over Rocketplane Kistler because Musk has a rather large piggy bank, but its still very minimal compared to what NASA, Boeing, Lockheed and Rocketdyne are doing.

          There are a number of reasons for why they can
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Teancum (67324)
            In spite of what you are suggesting here, I do think the COTS program is a poorly designed government program on many levels. There certainly is room to criticize NASA on the approach, and there are some additional methods/objectives that could have been done to help improve the whole program.

            Even so, your comments about SpaceX being successful with COTS money are valid. Rocketplane Kistler and their financial model seemed to have been built around the idea that the NASA money would have been the payoff,
            • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Even so, your comments about SpaceX being successful with COTS money are valid. ...
              The "failed" launch they did earlier certainly got into space and even into orbit...

              I'm sorry, but this second statement is incorrect. Although I'm cheering for SpaceX to succeed, their second launch did not in fact get into orbit. It got "almost" to orbit... but "almost" to orbit is not the same as orbit. news and discussion [2robots.com]

        • by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:16AM (#22271100) Journal
          NASA wants two separate companies to develop two separate vehicles capable of unmanned resupply of the ISS in a very short time frame. Now, this is an agency that has access to literally DOZENS of off the shelf rockets. None of them will do.

          Actually, two of the four finalists are proposing to use those already-existing off-the-shelf rockets [flightglobal.com] you mention. If I understand correctly, both Spacehab and PlanetSpace have partnered with Lockheed Martin in order to use their currently-existing rockets.

          For future reference, since it wasn't mentioned in the original submission, here are the four finalists (info from rlvnews.com [hobbyspace.com]:

          - Spacehab [spacehab.com]
          - Andrews Space [andrews-space.com]
          - Orbital Sciences [orbital.com]
          - PlanetSpace [planetspace.org]
        • This seems to me to be a failure of NASA as much as Rocketplane Kistler. The objectives appear to be entirely unrealistic. NASA wants two separate companies to develop two separate vehicles capable of unmanned resupply of the ISS

          To the contrary. Both of the companies who won the COTS contract had already been developing vehicles-- in Kistler's case, for over a decade. The agreement was for the companies to take low-cost launch vehicles that they were already developing, and adapt them to the NASA needs.

          It looks like a win-win situation; these companies have proposed that they can reduce the cost of space access, and are using non-government funding to develop their vehicles. If they succeed, it would be a very beneficial thin

      • > Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) programme

        So, I take it this doesn't mean Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) then.
    • So what is it that the company who got kicked out did?
      The agreement was to provide some kick-start funding, contingent on the company gathering private funding to develop the vehicle.

      Kistler failed to gather the commitments for private funding within the mutually-agreed period of time.

      this link [spacefellowship.com] has some info and cool pictures.

  • this needs an edit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:33PM (#22270098)
    Statements like "kicked to the curb" are not factual and just inflamatory. The editors should prevent slashdot from becoming a tabloid and adding the writers comments to the news. This doesnt say what Kistler did wrong, if anything, and why. It just presents kistler in a bad light.... we dont know why the person who submitted the article doesnt like Kistler?
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      It has been going on with the politics section here for so long that I doubt anyone really notices it anymore. Well, of course you have, I didn't pay attention until after you mentioned it.

      So I guess slashdot isn't becoming but has became a tabloid.
    • by 1 a bee (817783)
      I agree wholeheartedly--with one proviso. This /. story doesn't need an edit; it needs to be "kicked to the curb."
  • A/S/L (Score:2, Funny)

    by Hojima (1228978)
    What a coincidence, I'm in search of a new "Space partner" as well. 399/Protoss Templar/Aiur here. I know it's cheesy but I can't wait for starcraft 2
  • What did Rocketplane Kistler come up with before this breakup?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      What did Rocketplane Kistler come up with before this breakup?

      Here's Kistler's design:

      http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/kislerk1.htm [astronautix.com]

      Basically, they were started up back in the late 90s, but went into bankruptcy when the economy tanked. Rocketplane bought them and attempted to resuscitate them for COTS, but they were unable to get the sufficient private funds that NASA's milestone required. They attempted to sue NASA to get more money despite not meeting the milestone, but weren't successful.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)

        Here's Kistler's design:
        Ohh yes... Very futuristic. /sarcasm
        • Here's Kistler's design:
          Ohh yes... Very futuristic. /sarcasm
          It's not supposed to be "futuristic". It's supposed to be cheap and reliable.
  • Why contract it out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daveodukeo (260037) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:45PM (#22270174)
    Why in the world does NASA contract out the construction of its vehicles to begin with??!

    When there is a world where there is a fluid market of space agencies and vehicle makers, then yeah, let the free market decide. Until then though, let's let the governments "waste" their money by developing them themselves, ok?
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Why in the world does NASA contract out the construction of its vehicles to begin with??!

      Its all CYA (Cover Your Ass). This way, when the next vehicle fails, NASA can try to claim it doesn't stand for "Needs Another Seven Astro-nuts".

      (Yes, its' in poor taste, but so is NASA. It became a pork-barrel agency, first with the moving of after-launch comms to Houston (LBJ) and then with the shuttle program and Martin Thiokol getting the SRB contract, even though it required segmented booster sections and O ri

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by O2H2 (891353)
      The reason NASA was essentially forced to proceed with the COTS program was based on their stubborn refusal to permit anything else to deliver payloads to the International Space Station that was made in the USA. They adamantly defended their turf and refused to even consider expendable solutions even though they are far cheaper and even more reliable than Shuttle. Then Columbia was destroyed on reentry. This, and the desire to go back to the moon drove retirement of the Shuttle by 2010. But there was n
      • Why the hell is the parent a troll? It's interesting at least. Come on mods...
      • by Teancum (67324)
        In terms of why this comment is marked as a troll.... that was the wrong mod mark to make. I hope the meta-mods fix that and kill the troll moderation. Or somebody else marks this up as at least interesting.

        In response to your suggestion that NASA choose the weakest of all possible entries into the COTS-I competition, I don't think that is necessarily the case. The "big boys" (LockMart, Boeing) weren't really interested in the competition and all of the rest of the submissions were far and away weaker th
    • There is a free market of vehicle builders - and has been since the dawn of the space age. Boeing, etc have extensive and current experience in developing and operating launchers.

      NASA's only significant "living" experience is the Space Shuttle.
      • The "etc." these days is pretty small. There's Boeing, Lockheed, and then a handful of more specialized companies. And they don't operate on a very free-market basis with government contracts either: Generally the government provides up-front money to pay for development and so on, rather than just buying a product. The reason is that it costs too much to develop a product that the government might or might not buy, so nobody would do it. So you don't have privately-developed products, and therefore don't h
        • ROTFLMAO. In a world where all [US] launchers were developed to goverment contract, you'd have a point.

          We don't live in such a world. Not even close.
          • Just about all "commercial" launchers either had their development directly funded by the government, or are relatively minor updates of an earlier rocket in the same family that was funded by the government. A combination of missile repurposing and direct funding from NASA, the US Air Force, and the Department of Defense accounts for the Atlas, Delta, Titan, and Centaur rocket families. In many cases even the minor updates are directly funded by the government, such as through the Evolved Expendable Launch
            • by O2H2 (891353)
              Educate yourself before speaking. The vast majority of the funding for the recent EELV's (Delta and Atlas) was provided by the companies (Boeing and LM) themselves. Nearly 3 billion was invested by these private companies. And these were not minor updates. A complete rocket engine, the RS68, was developed as well as a brand new Atlas booster, Centaur upper stage with a single engine system, a wholly new Delta booster and two Delta upper stages. Not to mention new Atlas solids, payload fairings and paylo
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tmack (593755)

        There is a free market of vehicle builders - and has been since the dawn of the space age. Boeing, etc have extensive and current experience in developing and operating launchers.

        NASA's only significant "living" experience is the Space Shuttle.

        Which, actually, Rockwell International (now Boeing, Orbiter) designed and built under contract and in joint partnership with Lockheed (Martin Marietta, the ET) and Thiokol/Boeing (SRBs), which form the United Space Aliance (USA). Its what happens when anything is done by a government agency: contract out to the lowest bidder while packing the project full of pork to spread about and make politicians and their affiliates happy.

        Tm

    • by jd (1658)
      Come off it, it's not as if it's rocket science! Oh....
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      Until then though, let's let the governments "waste" their money by developing them themselves, ok?

      Erm, that's actually what NASA is doing: They're spending several billion dollars on cost-plus contracts to have the Ares rockets developed according to their specifications. COTS is basically a side-bet, with them spending a total of $500 million (which will only get paid if the companies meet pre-specified milestones) on the chance that private industry will be able to develop their own rockets which can mee
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Why in the world does NASA contract out the construction of its vehicles to begin with??!

      When there is a world where there is a fluid market of space agencies and vehicle makers, then yeah, let the free market decide.

      Do you really think NASA could design and produce the 250.000 parts or so that go into the Shuttle? A lot of this would happen at subcontractors anyway, it's not ilke it would become a NASA craft simply by taking on the architect role. I understand why you think this has anything to do with letting the free market decide, this is like wanting a custom application built and deciding on whether to go with an inhouse solution or a professional development house. In either case it's public money and NASA rathe

    • by khallow (566160)

      Why in the world does NASA contract out the construction of its vehicles to begin with??!

      Why should NASA be in the business of making launch vehicles? That's not its area of expertise. No other branch of the US government is expected to make its own equipment.

      When there is a world where there is a fluid market of space agencies and vehicle makers, then yeah, let the free market decide. Until then though, let's let the governments "waste" their money by developing them themselves, ok?

      No, that's not ok. Where's that "fluid" market going to come from, if the main customer isn't buying? Keep in mind also that NASA has a history of sabotaging businesses that compete with its own projects. As I see it, the most important thing, that NASA should be doing, is establishing that market. When it makes its own rockets and ot

    • "Why in the world does NASA contract out the construction of its vehicles to begin with??!"

      Your question is akin to asking "Why does Fedex buy (contract out) it's airplanes from someone else, instead of building their own.

      Because FedEx isn' tin that business.

      Thus NASA, which isn't chartered (in the business) to make rockets purchases (contracts out) to people who do it for a living.

      It's less expensive. If FedEx had to have the necessary talent and infrastructure to build their own planes it would fail to br
      • You're very correct -- it makes senses for fedex to buy planes instead of making them. The difference is that there is a multitude of plane makers and buyers. This keeps costs low and manufacturers honest. If FedEx was the only company buying cargo planes, then there's no reason for them to buy the planes... they should buy the plane-making company and bring it all in house! Then they'd get the same product cheaper, and can have better oversight.
  • New low for /.? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Friday February 01, 2008 @11:20PM (#22270350) Homepage

    I'm trying to decide which is worse. The "article" is a page complaining "We were unable to forward you to the advertisement you clicked on.", or the fact that most of the people posting comments seem blissfully unaware of that fact.

  • Article link not working at the moment
  • Just want to put that out there.

  • The "unable to forward" message one gets when trying to click on the link to Pheedo says "you'll also need to select Internet Explorer as your default web browser." Aren't the market share stats for Mozilla high enough yet that web sites like Pheedo would be best served by either testing on Mozilla or simply just coding to published standards? Or is their engineering team simply lazy and/or incompetent?


    Barring further information, I'll put my money on the latter. What a bunch of nobs.

  • Read too quickly and thought it said NASA was announcing a new space panther.

    That would be sweet. I would totally read about that.

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