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NASA Space Transportation

Space Shuttle To Be Replaced By SpaceX For ISS Resupply 297

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-squelch-space-mercantilism? dept.
destinyland writes "Next year SpaceX will perform resupply missions for the International Space Station after the Space Shuttle is grounded, as part of a $3.5 billion NASA resupply contract. 'The fledgling space industry is reminiscent of the early days of the personal computer,' notes one technology reporter, 'when a number of established vendors and startups reversed-engineered Microsoft's DOS and manufactured PCs using the Intel 8080 chip set. We're likely to see a similar industry shakeout in the private space vehicle market segment in the coming decades.'"
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Space Shuttle To Be Replaced By SpaceX For ISS Resupply

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:16PM (#29279569)

    LMFAO!!!

    • by Bill Currie (487) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:18PM (#29279577) Homepage

      Yeah, I noticed that too. It was IBM's bios that was reversed engineered, not MS DOS.

      • by iocat (572367) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:24PM (#29280597) Homepage Journal
        Just to add to the horse-shit, there was a key difference between the early computer industry and the nascent private space industry. Two guys in a garage could start a small hardware or software company and have a shot of success. Getting a rocket to orbit or manned flight takes a few more resources than maxxing out your credit card to buy an Altair or even an Apple II.
        • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @11:29PM (#29281323) Homepage

          Two guys in a garage could start a small hardware or software company and have a shot of success.

          Yeah, playing with LEO-capable rocket motors in your garage tends to piss of the neighbours, if not the feds. :/

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dododuh (806858)
        You guys are ten years too late. Back in the 1970s, when computers ran on 8080 processors, the company Micro-Soft [wired.com] (which is what they were called when they were in Albuquerque before the name change to Microsoft and the move to Washington) had an operating system and a basic interpreter that were widely pirated, reverse engineered, and otherwise ripped-off. At the time, I was running an MITS Altair [ucdavis.edu]. This thing started with 256 bytes of RAM, but we eventually upgraded it to, I think, 8k bytes. After loading
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          You guys are ten years too late. Back in the 1970s, when computers ran on 8080 processors, the company Micro-Soft [wired.com] (which is what they were called when they were in Albuquerque before the name change to Microsoft and the move to Washington) had an operating system and a basic interpreter that were widely pirated, reverse engineered, and otherwise ripped-off. At the time, I was running an MITS Altair [ucdavis.edu]. This thing started with 256 bytes of RAM, but we eventually upgraded it to, I think, 8k bytes. After loading a few hundred bytes of boot code in using the panel switches, it would suck Micro-Soft's "Disk Basic" boot loader in off the first sector of the 8" floppy drive, then load the OS and BASIC interpreter. It was so nice when we finally burned that first boot loader into a ROM! By 1976, Bill was pissed about people ripping his wares, and he wrote a famous letter [digibarn.com] about it. This may have happened before you were wearing nappies, but you should still be embarrassed about laughing at the author. I now ROFL at your childish and uninformed antics!

          Yes, but that wasn't MS-DOS. MS-DOS did not exist until Microsoft contracted with IBM to supply the OS for IBM's new PC (which Microsoft already had a contract to supply a Basic and a C compiler for). Microsoft bought the rights to what would become MS-DOS off of another company that had developed it as QDOS.
          So, what you were using was something completely unrelated (except for the fact that it came from the same company) to what would later be MS-DOS. What Bill Gates was pissed about was people ripping o

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:22PM (#29279611) Journal

      And built computers using the 8080, no less. I actually used a computer with an 8080, but they were much less common than machines using the Z80, which was 8080 compatible and also included a number of other instructions. I suspect this 'technology reporter' wasn't around in the '80s and hasn't read any history of technology, which makes me wonder how he or she is considered qualified for the title.

      If this is like the computer revolution of the '80s, I wonder who will be claiming that we need a rocket on every desk...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by negRo_slim (636783)

      LMFAO!!!

      Yes I agree it is laughable that our government is thinking it appropriate to move basic space endeavors to the private sector. I might have more faith in this move if we were pursuing greater feats while leaving the left overs to the private sector. Seams to me that since the abandoning the Apollo kit for the Space Shuttle we have been on a steady downward decline at NASA.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The Space Shuttle was designed (badly) as a low cost re-launchable vehicle. However, when it was discovered that it would need to be stripped down to the bare airframe and totally rebuilt for each relaunch that idea sort of fizzled. Then it simply became a funding mechanism for the aerospace industry, which it remained for the remainder of it's use life. Thank goodness most of the airframes are ash now, so we don't have to continue that particular bit of 'earmark' funding any longer.

    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:46PM (#29280363) Journal

      Sorry for hijacking the first post. However, this story appears to be completely false. There is a report which recommends this as an alternative. However, I can find not reputable news source that is suggesting this will happen. So, either I cannot find the right sources, or we have another example of shoddy Slashdot journalism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:18PM (#29279579)

    I love how journalists rewrite history. So now the personal computer industry was founded upon stealing DOS from Microsoft and building PCs from 8080 chips?

    Wow. Just wow.

    • by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:26PM (#29279671)
      It's all true. If Steve Jobs hadn't been off flying his private plane the day IBM came to buy an OS PC's would have all been running MacDOS, and Bill Gates would be selling snow tires to Hutterites in Minot, North Dakota.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by yurtinus (1590157)
        Of course, if Wozniak were able to fly that plane things would have ended differently-- but as we all know, Wozniak will never set foot on an airplane because it reminds him of his days in the 'Nam.
        • Jef Raskin was controlling the plane. The reason that Steve Jobs didn't get to the meeting was that Raskin got confused when the plane was coming towards him, turned right instead of left, and crashed it.
      • The cool part about the story is that Steve Jobs wasn't flying kilos of coke around in the plane at the time.

        He was such a nice boy.

  • oh no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ascari (1400977)
    Let's hope their wrong. Doesn't anybody remember how crappy the first PC clones were? And compatibility, compaq gear didn't work with tandy, whcich didn't work with... etc. etc.Not what you'd want to experience when you're trying to dock to a space station made by another manufacturer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by magsol (1406749)
      But this is how the computer industry got going. Sure, those first few PC clones and Compaqs and Tandy graphics were horrendous in retrospect, but at the time they were leaps and bounds ahead of anything designed up until that point. If the space industry is going to be successful in the private sector, it will have to grow out of its infancy first, and that means (unfortunately) making mistakes along the way.
      • Re:oh no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by snuf23 (182335) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:27PM (#29280607)

        Really? Those crappy PC clones were leaps and bounds ahead of the Macs, Amigas and Atari STs available at the time?
        It was not about being better. It was about being affordable and compatible with the software you ran on computers at your work place.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        If the space industry is going to be successful in the private sector, it will have to grow out of its infancy first, and that means (unfortunately) making mistakes along the way.

        The space industry is almost entirely in the private sector.
        OTOH, it's also almost entirely gov't funded, which is why you get descriptions like "space-industrial complex".

        You'd think one of the titans of aerospace would be designing the launch vehicle of the future,
        but it looks like they're unwilling to do so unless it is on a federal cost plus contract.

    • Doesn't anybody remember how crappy the first PC clones were?

      Doesn't anybody remember how crappy the PC was? Crippled CPU (in too many ways to list), edge-triggered interrupts, no software (one of the most popular upgrades was a chip that let you run CP/M-80 on it), bizarre wasteful memory map, premium price for an entry-level product? Of course the clones were going to suck. Sheesh.

  • I love journalists. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:21PM (#29279605)

    Yes it was JUST like the early computer days.

    SpaceX bought a shuttle, worked on it in their parents garage, brought it to Berkley and got friends to help out.

    I suggest an equally stupid title:
    The fledgling Independant Space Industry is just like the Alaska Gold Rush; Folks are excited about getting up their and getting rich!

    • by Kratisto (1080113)
      And then a few of them decided to reverse engineer the Russian's rockets and distribute them as free and open source rocketry, starting a slow and powerful revolution for freer space travel?
      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        I know you're joking, but if someone in the US did that, they'd be facing criminal sanctions under ITAR.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jamstar7 (694492)

          And then a few of them decided to reverse engineer the Russian's rockets and distribute them as free and open source rocketry, starting a slow and powerful revolution for freer space travel?

          I know you're joking, but if someone in the US did that, they'd be facing criminal sanctions under ITAR.

          I was thinking that'd only apply for exporting the rockets, but when I looked up ITAR, it includes importing as well. Personally, though, I'd be more worried about zoning law violations & running afoul of the loca

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EdZ (755139)
        If somebody managed to reverse engineer and open-source the NK-33, a lot of people would be VERY happy indeed. Nearly 40 years old, and still the highest thrust-to-weight ratio chemical rocket engine ever created.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      I agree, the analogy sucks. Any hobbyist could by a PC clone to experiment with and develop software or hardware peripherals for, while only huge corporations with multimillion-dollar deep pockets can get into the private space flight game. (E.g. all of Invisible Software's original hardware and software was developed by one person. I would like to see anybody outside of Burt Rutan do that with a spaceship.)
    • by syousef (465911)

      I suggest an equally stupid title:
      The fledgling Independant Space Industry is just like the Alaska Gold Rush; Folks are excited about getting up their and getting rich!

      Too wordy! Try "Space is like a box of chocolates..."

  • Last year, SpaceX, along with a rival in the private launch-vehicle business, Orbital Sciences, received a $3.5 billion NASA cargo resupply contract to provide payload deliveries to the International Space Station after the Shuttle fleet is grounding for good next year (and before NASA's own Orion is operational). SpaceX's share will be $1.6 billion for 12 launches of it Falcon 9 vehicle (numbers which could easily increase).

    Most of the article is about Tesla anyway. Interesting, but I'd prefer to read a

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:26PM (#29279669) Homepage Journal

    that doesn't understand computers, and why that revolution doesn't apply to every other technology.

  • A Better Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:26PM (#29279675) Homepage Journal

    For anyone who would like to read a good article about SpaceX [popularmechanics.com] check out that link. And it's not just SpaceX that will be delivering cargo to the station under COTS, there's also Orbital Sciences.

  • Wait a second? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:28PM (#29279697)

    'The fledgling space industry is reminiscent of the early days of the personal computer,' notes one technology reporter, 'when a number of established vendors and startups reversed-engineered Microsoft's DOS and manufactured PCs using the Intel 8080 chip set.

    What, exactly, is it about the space industry today that is supposed to be reminiscent of those false memories of the early days of the personal computer? All the startups reverse engineering Space-Shuttle-compatible launch vehicles in their garages and undercutting the United Space Alliance on price?

    Its hard to figure out which is worse, the analogy proposed or the recollection of history that it is in part based on.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      I think the dipshit author is trying to channel this article: A Netscape moment for the commercial space industry? [venturebeat.com] Which is actually quite a nice article, and if you were to remove Netscape from the title it might even be accurate.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      All the startups reverse engineering Space-Shuttle-compatible launch vehicles in their garages and undercutting the United Space Alliance on price?

      They aren't so much reverse engineering as following established standards [wikipedia.org], but yeah, basically that's exactly what's happening.
  • SpaceX is awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voss (52565) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:37PM (#29279783)

    Theres a can-do attitude that NASA lost long ago.

    Elon Musk is an amazing dude. At a time where rich people are not popular, here is a reason that people
    should become rich , he uses his paypal money to do the stuff he wants to do like electric cars and spaceships
    and in doing the stuff that makes him happy benefits us all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by witherstaff (713820)
      Musk also manages to take a long term view on a project. Being the first private individual to control a space fleet could make him the richest man in the world. Now there's vision.
  • After years of people confusing relatively simple computer concepts with unnecessary and imprecise analogies to "real-world" things, people are now confusing relatively simple space transport concepts with unnecessary and imprecise analogies to computers.

  • Why is there a need for a SpaceX resupply? Where is the evidence that it will be cheaper per kg of cargo than these existing solutions?
    • Re:ATV? Progress? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cyclone96 (129449) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:06PM (#29280047)

      Disclaimer - I work for NASA.

      I don't think the cost per kg of cargo is a driving factor on this decision. The US government has a vested interest in supporting both SpaceX and Orbital on the COTS contract. If successful the vehicle SpaceX is developing will provide a domestically produced launch vehicle that has shows some promise in having a lot of launch flexibility and much cheaper rides to orbit.

      Additionally, if SpaceX is successful it will provide some negotiation power in getting upmass to ISS (the rides get more expensive when Progress is the only game in town) and will also provide some competition on government contracts to the United Launch Alliance consortium of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      The biggest concern isn't the cost so much as the existence of a domestic supplier, whether it be Orbital, SpaceX or the big old guys.

      Of course the other important part of COTS is encouraging the development of a fixed-price contract system for orbital launches instead of the cost-plus system that dominates vehicle development right now, a change that does have the implication of leading to lower costs.

  • Go SpaceX go (Score:5, Informative)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:55PM (#29279949) Homepage

    I'm happy to read that SpaceX will be taking over resupply. We should encourage private launch companies.

    Having NASA handle all launch needs was putting all our eggs in a single basket, and killed any chance for private launch. It's already expensive and hard to develop a new space launch system; to do it when NASA is offering launches at cut-rate prices was impossible. (NASA has always been embarrassed by how expensive the Shuttle actually was, and never charged anywhere near a profitable amount for flying things on the Shuttle.)

    Once we have several private companies flying things to orbit, we can expect the cost to orbit to come down drastically. And once you are in orbit, you are halfway to anywhere in the Solar System [nss.org].

    NASA is talking about a return to Mars 30 years from now. That's crazy; once we have cheap launch, we can assemble a Mars mission in pieces, rather than launching the whole mission on one giant rocket (as we did the Apollo missions). If you can cheaply and reliably launch dozens of launch vehicles, each ferrying up a tonne of fuel, you could make a Mars mission with lots of gear, lots of fuel, lots of safety margin.
    steveha

    • Re:Go SpaceX go (Score:5, Informative)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:46PM (#29280361) Homepage

      Having NASA handle all launch needs was putting all our eggs in a single basket

      NASA does not handle "all" US launch needs. In fact, NASA buys most of its launches from commercial providers. And the defense and commercial sectors-- both of which, I should remind you, has more funding than NASA-- buy all of their launches from commercial providers.

      • Re:Go SpaceX go (Score:4, Informative)

        by steveha (103154) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:01PM (#29280839) Homepage

        I apologize for unclear writing. I didn't mean to imply that NASA was still trying to handle all launch needs. I was referring to the dark days before the Commercial Space Launch Act:

        From the beginning of the Shuttle program until the Challenger disaster in 1986, it was the policy of the United States that NASA be the public-sector provider of U.S. launch capacity to the world market.[4] Initially NASA subsidized satellite launches with the intention of eventually pricing Shuttle service for the commercial market at long-run marginal cost.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight#American_deregulation [wikipedia.org]

        Clearly private launch is not killed now, given that SpaceX is taking over resupply of the ISS! But it would have been rather difficult to get SpaceX funded in 1983 or so, would it not?

        My first-ever conversation with Geoffrey Landis [geoffreylandis.com] and it's about my vague, unclear writing? Pardon me, I need to go weep in a corner.

        steveha

  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:04PM (#29280027) Homepage Journal

    It was the Intel 8088 chip not the 8080 chip used in the IBM PC and PC Clones.

    MS-DOS was not reverse engineered, it was originally IBM PC-DOS and Microsoft released the MS-DOS to work with IBM PC clones that had reverse engineered the IBM PC BIOS. MS-DOS used GWBASIC.COM to replace the IBM BASICA.COM that used the IBM PC BIOS and wouldn't work on PC Clones.

    Some say MS-DOS and IBM PC-DOS which was based on 86-DOS/Q-DOS was really a reverse engineered DRI CP/M-86 with some commands renamed to be more user friendly and moved into RAM instead of the floppy disk. DRI later on released DR-DOS to compete with MS-DOS. Anyway DRI lost the DOS wars and when they tried to make a competitor to Windows named GEM, they got sued by Apple and had to change the way it looked.

  • Are you sure about this? Trusting our fate to a rocket we hardly know? The Hill will not approve.

  • As far as I can see the only thing in TFA that wasn't covered months ago in http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/24/0151211 [slashdot.org] is the entirely useless analogy to the computer industry. I wonder if that section is replaced with say, an equally bogus analogy to automobiles so it can be sent to Car And Driver.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:57PM (#29280443) Homepage Journal
    1.6Gdollar;12launches;10ton_metric/launch ? dollar/kg = 13333.3 dollar/kg

    Here come the parasites.

    Could turn into a buy-off of a threat to big aerospace.

    If NASA were serious they'd cut out all their launch technology development and just put up a $2000/kg bounty for reaction mass delivered to orbit, by any domestic system, at the desired inclination and altitude, starting immediately. Grab it with a tug later.

    You can always use reaction mass.

    Let the industrial learning curve do the rest.

    Of course, if they did that, launch services would become so affordable, there would be private space stations and they'd lose their mandate for big bucks operational budgets and have to go back to science.

  • This is news?

    It was announced late last year, and has appeared on /. at least once already.

  • A lot of faith (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amightywind (691887) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:06PM (#29280487) Journal

    Great idea! They are putting a lot of faith in an organisation that has exactly one successful orbital launch of a dummy spacecraft to their credit. SpaceX is an admirable organisation, but it is a decade away from being able to launch large payloads. The Falcon 9 has never flown. Given the track record of the Falcon 1 we can expect failures. And when they lose a mission to ISS, what then? Will failure be tolerated?

    • They launched RazakSAT sucessfully. Sure beats Boeing Delta III uh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by garompeta (1068578)

      Will failure be tolerated?

      I guess that since it is a private company, the government will have to call to the customer service 1-800 number in India to claim their warranty. lol

      (ring ring, ring ring)
      SpaceX recording: "Thank you for calling to SpaceX, Where the sky isn't the limit (tm). If you are calling for customer service press 1, if you are calling for a technical support press 2, if you are..."
      US Government DTMF: "1336Hz+697Hz" (2)
      SpaceX recording: "Thank you for calling to SpaceX, Where the sky isn't the limit (tm). If y

  • by Anonymous Coward

    omfg.

    to = let's go to the movies.
    too = there are too many of them.
    two = there are only two of them, not three.

    there = let's go there.
    their = it is their house.
    they're = they are going to the house.

    seriously people. 3rd grade stuff here. learn these 6 simple things or be doomed to look like an idiot when you write.

  • Good comments from all and maybe this has been said before but I am EXCITED as hell to watch this happen.

    Private spaceflight is a long standing theme of MANY sci fi favorites.
    Its the next great frontier, the next new world.
    We have been reading about the "early days" of space exploration from the position of the future.
    Stories about clipper ships taking off in the distance.
    I think once things happen, they are going to start happening very quickly.
    If not in our lifetimes in our childrens lifetime, comm

  • Not quite... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger (8636) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @11:39PM (#29281385)

    Leaving aside the gross inaccuracies about the history of the personal computer in TFA, there's one giant shrieking difference between the "Fire in the Valley" days and the current commercial space rush: startup costs. Any number of early personal computer companies really were started by a couple of guys in a garage with a few thousand dollars. There may very well be some space industry parts vendors who still start this way. But no one starts a private launch company without a ton of money up front.

    It's still exciting, but not in the way the early personal computer days were. Back then, you could look at, let's say, Wozniak and Jobs and think, "That could be me!" No one at my pay grade is having that thought about SpaceX.

  • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @12:26AM (#29281557) Homepage Journal

    The fledgling space industry is reminiscent of the early days of the personal computer,' notes one technology reporter, 'when a number of established vendors and startups reversed-engineered Microsoft's DOS and manufactured PCs using the Intel 8080 chip set.

    I had to double check that it wasn't kdawson that edited this article. Wow. You usually do a pretty good job, timothy. But this?

    No one "reversed engineered Microsoft's DOS" and it did not come out until the industry was pretty well established. The original IBM PC's BIOS was reverse engineered. The only thing Microsoft ever did that ran on an 8080 was Microsoft BASIC (which was indeed a true standard of its time - even Apple adopted it as Applesoft BASIC).

    In the earliest years, the world was 6502 dominated - Apple, Commodore, etc. There wasn't any need to reverse engineer Apple Software, because they published it all in the Apple ][ red manual.

    Once the 8080 came out (and its competitor the Z80) there still wasn't any need to reverse engineer software as CP/M was effectively open source.

    PC DOS was very much a late comer to the game and as the industry was moving from 8 to 16 bit. Just because a bunch of whacked out journalist bozos said that the IBM PC (on the traffic light controller 8088, or so sayeth the official Intel documentation on that chip) "legitimized" personal computers doesn't make it correct.

    Sheesh.

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