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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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  • 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 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...

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> 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.

  • Re:Wait a second? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:36PM (#29279775) Homepage Journal

    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 negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:45PM (#29279843)

    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.

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:53PM (#29279937)

    I meant no NASA hate--I have followed everything they have done. My hate is for our leaders since JFK who did not have the foresight to move maintenance off to dedicated resources. The rocket scientists at NASA should be spending their time dreaming up cooler stuff. Think of the innovations that came out of the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo missions. And in the intervening 40 years we have had no more of that innovation. The shuttle was designed in the 1970s. I think if our rocket scientists were put up to the challenge by giving them nothing else to do but invent new stuff--that innovations would come that would spur new technologies.

    Only recently, I've gotten the idea that the space program, somehow, went on out of the public eye. I never used to think that but now I'm thinking the reason the public was not treated to the continuing space program was because they were all already preoccupied with the secret space program. Think about it. We designed the shuttle and all that in the 1970s. And in 40 years nobody has thought up a better way? So, innovation in space just stopped in 1970? I don't think so. I think they just classified it.

  • by tftp (111690) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:13PM (#29280105) Homepage

    is there any other vehicle capable of either servising Hubble, or bringing anything down?

    There are plenty of vehicles that can bring themselves down; most of them do, somewhere around South Pacific. If you mean "safely" then the list narrows, but a used satellite, well past its "use by" date, is just not worth of bringing down in one piece. The value is in data bits, not in bits of metal and silicon - and data can be easily sent over the radio.

    Hubble is yet another issue. The original cost of Hubble was estimated at $400 million [wikipedia.org], but it grew out of proportion because of endless delays with launch and because of the defective mirror. It would be probably cheaper and better today to build a copy of Hubble telescope, with all new cameras installed and all the improvements made, instead of replacing failed components one by one in a risky and limited servicing mission. Many components of Hubble telescope are not serviceable anyway. So while STS is a system capable of servicing Hubble, the overall value of such a service is debatable. Of course, if you have STS you use it, but I wouldn't say that without Shuttle the Hubble telescope project can't happen - there would be some other vehicle to launch it on, likely a cheaper one.

  • by EdZ (755139) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:42PM (#29280331)
    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 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.

  • Re:ATV? Progress? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:59PM (#29280459)

    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.

  • 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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:57PM (#29280813)

    Wow. Yes, it matters. Because even if I don't get the excitement etc. of being on Mars, someone does, and I bet that person is just as excited as I would be. And I get a small piece of his excitement by listening to his radio transmissions, or watching himself walk around on the surface, or reading about it in the newspaper... whatever. Is it as good as the real thing? I doubt it's even in the same league. But it's also better than nothing, and nothing is what you seem to think we should have.

    I'm really picking up a huge vibe of jealousy here. "If I don't get to go to Mars, nobody else should either." Or perhaps it's just that you think others should feel that way. I don't really get it. But perhaps you're also one of those people who don't think I should aspire to be wealthy because the so-called American dream is really a myth designed to keep me in de facto indentured servitude for my entire life, only my deluded hope of bettering my situation or my children's preventing me from overthrowing the bourgeoisie.

    (Is there a law like Godwin's for calling someone a communist? I think there should be. By the way, I'm not trolling or... flamebaiting... a lot of people actually believe what I wrote above. I don't get that either, but it does explain the parent's sentiment, if I'm reading him correctly, and also why he's +4 insightful when he should be, at most, +4 buzzkill masquerading as "realism.")

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:02PM (#29280851) Homepage Journal

    Speaking as someone who had one, yes, that's true. But the only clone makers that made it were the ones using Phoenix's BIOS, since Phoenix had reverse engineered it, and everyone else copied IBM's BIOS and got sued.

  • by curmudgeon99 (1040054) <curmudgeon99@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @11:42PM (#29281395)

    My intention was not to slam the current folks at NASA. I too am proud of their achievements.

    But you know that they were twiddling their thumbs. They had nothing to do. The shuttle was a craft looking for a mission. It was a mistake from the start. It never possessed the ability to go anywhere and so it merely soaked up all the dollars that should have been sent to the private sector so that NASA could do something interesting.

    The shuttle satisfied our need for blast offs without actually attempting to do anything. Surely it did a great thing in putting up Hubble. No one wants to disparage what the shuttle did--it just was unambitious from the start. It never was a travel-to-mars platform. We should have started a space launch business and then NASA would have done something new.

  • by iocat (572367) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @12:18AM (#29281531) Homepage Journal
    Early PC software pioneers might have maxxed out their credit cards to BUY an Apple II. I wasn't suggesting Woz or Jobs did so to BUILD the Apple II. And they sold blue boxes -- the means to steal from the phone company -- not actual time.
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @12:22AM (#29281545) Homepage

    Wasn't Lebensraum ("living space") [wikipedia.org] one of the main justifications for World War II? People just want to explore.

    And is a bizarre sort of way, Großdeutschland actually happened, only we now call it the European Union and it's (arguably) a good thing.

  • 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.

  • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:13AM (#29281741) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, what it is with the insane, ingorant NASA hate around here these days. No exploration? What about spirit and opprtunity?

    Children ...

    NASA should never have been a government agency. That was President Eisenhower's doing and aren't all Republicans evil?

    The moon missions were done as stupidly as they possibly could be. The mathematics of space, delta-V is everything and once you're in Earth orbit you're half way to anywhere, dictated the establishment of a space station that could be used to launch further flights outward. This was debated before they chose the throw-everything-away-along-the-way design they ended up using.

    So after all the money spent on R & D we ended up with less than two dozen men walking on the moon and nothing to show for it afterwards except that a follow on space shuttle that occasionally blows up and kills everyone on board.

    Or, let me put it another way, we could have had colonies established on the moon and probably Mars by now if we had pursued space exploration sanely. A space station with a hostile environment outside isn't any more difficult than the world outside Mom's basement.

    Ah, it's Slashdot let me try a car analogy. What good is it to drive a car if it could only remain within 1 mile of your house?

    Now, get off my lawn.

  • by Krisbee (644227) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:52AM (#29282457)

    and without NASA there wouldn't be any Google Maps at all.

  • by Z80a (971949) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:07AM (#29282521)
    Super nes

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