Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
ISS NASA Science

How NASA and SpaceX Get Along Together 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-folks dept.
mblase writes "SpaceX and NASA have been working hard to make this weekend's launch happen — and that has meant navigating the cultural differences between this small, young startup and the huge veteran space agency. The relationship involves daily calls and emails between people who live in two different worlds: age versus youth, bureaucracy versus a flat startup-like structure, and a sense of caution versus a desire to move forward quickly. But they both have an almost religious belief in the need for humans to venture forth into space, a geeky love for rockets, and technical know-how — plus, they both need each other to succeed." The launch is scheduled for 4:55AM EDT (08:55 GMT) tomorrow morning. NASA TV will begin coverage at 3:30AM EDT, and there will be a press conference at 8:30AM. SpaceX's press kit (PDF) has mission details. The rendezvous with the ISS is scheduled for day 4 of the mission after a series of maneuvering tests to ensure the Dragon capsule can approach safely. It carries 1,200 pounds of supplies for the people aboard the ISS, and it carries 11 science experiments designed by students.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How NASA and SpaceX Get Along Together

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now let's see some kids !!

  • I liked the idea of Wine in space above many of the other experiment that made it to the mission. (I bet many of the Astronauts would like it too)

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:03PM (#40045423)

    One-half of one penny of every tax dollar [imgur.com]. That's what the NASA budget is. We spend an assload more money on trying to kill people than we do planning for the future of the human race. On top of the measly NASA budget, we still have to outsource most of our space program.

    Did you know the US spends more on the military's Air Conditioners than the entire NASA budget? http://gizmodo.com/5813257/air-conditioning-our-military-costs-more-than-nasas-entire-budget [gizmodo.com].

    • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:07PM (#40045455)

      I'd say SpaceX would be only delighted to have NASA's budget. And imagine what they could do with it.

      • You would have a point if all NASA does is launch delivery ships.

        • by TWX (665546) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:33PM (#40045741)
          Or if the exponential increase in funding would actually result in more happening.

          Trust me, throwing money at a problem doesn't, in of itself, solve that problem. Money is certainly necessary, but spending the correct amount of money and providing proper oversight of how that money is allocated and spent is essential. Otherwise we're back to the dotcom bubble again, where venture capitalists were throwing millions upon millions of dollars at people who had no effective ideas but managed to put up a good marketing website.

          I want SpaceX to succeed. First they have to succeed in this important early step. Then they have to succeed with the same step several more times without failures. Then, they need to move on to the second step, a man-rated capsule, and repeat that step several more times too. Once that is achieved we can consider how we allocate more money to them, but we have to reward only success and to demand nothing less than success. That's been part of the problem of the old military/industrial complex, especially as it applies to cutting edge, it tends to throw more and more money at systems that are marginally effective or outright not effective. That has to stop.
          • by queazocotal (915608) on Friday May 18, 2012 @05:39PM (#40046493)

            Space launch has cost $10K/lb or so since 1960.
            This isn't a law of physics.
            NASA has systematically proved incapable of lowering launch cost - their primary contractors have no interest in doing this, and they are biased to 'clever' rather than 'workable' solutions. And then there is the problem that NASA has to spend money politically, not efficiently. It's largely a welfare organisation for aerospace - it's not a space organisation.

            One of the last attempts at lowering launch costs - X33 - had three separate untried technologies on it.

            SpaceX is taking a rather different tack - using shiny stuff only when it has a major benefit.

            Their next rocket is planned to come in at around $1K/lb.
            And they're thinking of reusability, to lower the costs to well below this.
            Fuel costs are around $5/lb.

            http://www.spacex.com/multimedia/videos.php [spacex.com] - this is a cool video on their reusable design.
            And this is a picture of the hardware - the foldable landing legs for the first stage of the Falcon 9.
            http://img.ly/i5JQ [img.ly]

            The space program isn't pathetic because of the lack of money being spent on it.
            If you take the funding from SLS, up to the first couple of launches, and use it to buy commercial launches on SpaceX - you get comfortably enough launch to lift the USS Iowa - closing on 200 times the mass of ISS.

            And this assumes that SpaceX can't get reusability working.
            If they can, then multiply these numbers by a _large_ number.

        • With NASA's budget, SpaceX could do a lot more than launch delivery ships, would be the point.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          You would have a point if all NASA does is launch delivery ships.

          You know, that's actually quite important. SpaceX has some pretty big incentives to improve here.

          Any gains they can make in efficiency, size of the ship, etc. would be a huge boon for the company. As time goes by their fleet will grow.

          In 10-20 years, LEO point-to-point flights will be the modern equivalent of the Concorde. All of the convenience and none of the sonic boom.

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            In 10-20 years, LEO point-to-point flights will be the modern equivalent of the Concorde. All of the convenience and none of the sonic boom.

            Except a quarter of the time you'll be accelerating at 3g so drinking your champagne will be tricky, half the time you'll be in zero-g so drinking it will be impossible, and the rest of the time you'll be braking at 1-2g so you would have a chance to drink it but it will already have splattered all over the cabin during the first three quarters of the flight.

            • by Ihmhi (1206036)

              Well yeah, but wouldn't an end-to-end LEO flight be something like 30-60 minutes? I recall reading somewhere the aimed goal is 30 minutes from A to B, where A and B are points anywhere on the world.

        • by khallow (566160)

          You would have a point if all NASA does is launch delivery ships.

          NASA doesn't do that either. Personally, I think they're spending abou ten bucks to get one buck of results.

          I think it'd be a mistake to overfund an organization, even one like SpaceX or for that matter NASA. SpaceX really needs to demonstrate a lot of stuff first. And if SpaceX turns out to be good at what they do, then they won't need that NASA budget either.

      • And imagine what they could do with it.

        I imagine they might be tempted to waste it instead of inventing cost-saving technologies and processes. Keep'em (reasonably) slim, I'd say.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They'd do cool things for awhile, yes, but they'd continue to grow (which means more managers, vps and directors), there'd be a launch incident here or there, and then the hyper-paper trail mindset would set in, as I'm going to guess it would be just a bit easier for the launch customers (or the insurance companies) to want to sue SpaceX than NASA.

        Then SpaceX would of course have to get into lobbying, because now they'd also be competing to an extent with ArianeSpace, ULA (and both Lockmart and Boeing separ

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bomazi (1875554)
        Once you have 10000+ employees under a gazillion layers of management you lose your ability to innovate. They will probably achieve a lot more if they stay (relatively) small. Musk himself said he didn't want to grow too much for precisely this reason, although I don't have the quote on hand.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Sad, but true. It's the fundamental bug in the way publicly-traded corporations are run. The moment a company goes public, it loses all common sense and turns into something that's halfway between a psychotic human and brain-eating zombie that only knows how to feed its insatiable hunger and destroy whatever it touches. There's occasionally a small exception or two when you have a company that's run by an exceptionally powerful individual who's earned the respect of both the company and its shareholders (Wa

          • You hear it on here all the time. People who think that a company has the legal responsibility to make ever greater profits (ignoring the fact that this forgets which shareholder metric they may have in mind). This is of course rubbish. A company has to follow the will of the shareholders (where 1 share = 1 vote). and the shareholders have certain rights to information and possibly the right to demand a new board. but that's pretty much it.

            People think a corporation has to get ever bigger but that is a meme

    • So you're suggesting the US should outsource some of the military power flexing and military cost to other nations?

      It works so nice for everyone else that we'll keep everyone safe (except arabs, apparently) and moral international overlord while everyone else sits by... is that what you're trying to say?

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:24PM (#40045619)

      One-half of one penny of every tax dollar [imgur.com]. That's what the NASA budget is. We spend an assload more money on trying to kill people than we do planning for the future of the human race. On top of the measly NASA budget, we still have to outsource most of our space program.

      Ah, "future of the human race"? Sorry, but warp drive technology isn't exactly around the corner, and getting us to the moon isn't likely going to save a damn thing. We've got to learn to do more to save this little fragile planet we're destroying first.

      Did you know the US spends more on the military's Air Conditioners than the entire NASA budget? http://gizmodo.com/5813257/air-conditioning-our-military-costs-more-than-nasas-entire-budget [gizmodo.com].

      Gee, only a few billion people on Earth and thousands of computer systems that rely on A/C...go figure the priority. Would you go to work for a company with no A/C? Would you buy a house with no A/C? How about a car?

      When YOU can't even prioritize things above A/C, don't expect others to, and don't be so shocked when they don't.

      • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday May 18, 2012 @06:44PM (#40047037) Journal

        Sorry, but warp drive technology isn't exactly around the corner [...]

        And it won't ever be unless we actually start figuring this stuff out.

        I somewhat agree, don't get me wrong: "Future of the human race?" Self-important much? Puhleeze.

        But let's go back a hundred or so years. Orville and Wilbur Wright [wikipedia.org] are credited with building the first successful airplane. Without their work, you wouldn't be hopping on that jetliner to go where you want in a few hours.

        Now there are a bunch of steps in between the Wright Flyer and a Boeing 787. But you don't just wake up one morning and build a 787, either. So there's lots of stuff that has to happen beforehand. That's where we are now and we won't get to domed cities on the Moon with a million people and other fantastical stuff without spending the time upfront to figure out how the heck we keep 6 people alive in orbit.

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      That's what the NASA budget is. We spend an assload more money on trying to kill people than we do planning for the future of the human race.

      The "assload more money", as you put it, pales in comparison to entitlements. Not that we shouldn't cut the size of DOD down some... we should... but you're ignoring the much bigger elephant in the budget room for your anti-military rant.

    • by Bomazi (1875554)
      NASA just pissed 8 billions away on Ares-1 and is preparing to waste a lot more on the SLS, not to mention the cost overruns of MSL and the JWST. They already have more money than they need. Until they learn to manage it better their budget should certainly not be increased. Now I know this is congress's fault not NASA proper but that's irrelevant.
      • No it's not irrelevant. When congress mandates which technical solution (and contractors) the agency should use to solve a problem you know something is seriously wrong.
    • by khallow (566160)
      That's actually pretty good funding by international standards especially for a program that doesn't do all that much. Russia might spend more of its budget on space flight, but in their case, the program has actual economic value, delivering hard currency. It's also worth noting that the land of the $20 billion A/C, the US military and intelligence (including space reconnaissance) is also more aggressive in their space activities than NASA is.
      • The US stopped being the major launch provider for several reasons. Uncompetitive/unresponsive launch vehicles is one of them. ITAR was kind of the nail in the coffin. Much easier to build your satellites in Europe and launch them with a Russian rocket. The Russians don't care which country you are from as long as you pay pretty much.
    • One-half of one penny of every tax dollar. That's what the NASA budget is.

      Umm, no.

      What it is is one half of one penny of every dollar SPENT by the Federal government. Since we take in 63 cents for every dollar we spend, it's a bit large a fraction of our tax dollars.

      Which is not to suggest that your sentiment is wrong - just your numbers...

    • One-half of one penny of every tax dollar [imgur.com]. That's what the NASA budget is. We spend an assload more money on trying to kill people than we do planning for the future of the human race. On top of the measly NASA budget, we still have to outsource most of our space program.

      Did you know the US spends more on the military's Air Conditioners than the entire NASA budget? http://gizmodo.com/5813257/air-conditioning-our-military-costs-more-than-nasas-entire-budget [gizmodo.com].

      How much out of every tax dollar goes on keeping people in prison? From what I hear, the USA has about half the worlds prison population...

  • Too damn Early (Score:1, Informative)

    by h4rr4r (612664)

    NASA you suck at public relations. Why in the hell is this launch so damn early? How are people supposed to watch this live?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by A10Mechanic (1056868)
      Intercept orbit to the ISS dictates launch window. Changing the obit of the ISS, to allow the launch during prime-time would require tremendous amounts of fuel on the ISS, and a tremendous sense of humor on someone's part.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        So pick a different day.

        Are there no days at all when the launch window would be between 9am and 9pm?

        • I don't know about THIS case, but I know that when they were planning shuttle launches last summer, the daily landing window for a landing in Florida was approximately 10 minutes, and shifted by about 10 minutes per day. I believe there are technically launch windows every 50 or 70 minutes, but they have to commit to one before the countdown begins. In other words, they can't shoot for a 5am launch, miss it due to a rainstorm, and try again an hour later. If the planned launch window passes, they call the w

    • by geekoid (135745)

      h4rr4r you suck at rocket science.
      Launch conditions dictate the time. Where they suppose to wait until dark and when the wind picks up for the first joint venture launch because it would be better for you schedule? are you really that stupid?

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I know why they picked that time, I also know they should have then selected a different day.

        Do you really believe there are no days when the launch window would be between 9am and 9pm?

        • Sure there are other days, a week or more later if you are lucky - but what happens if you miss that slot due to a technical issue, do you wait for the next one in the same time slot?

          No, you launch when you can - this is about getting the payload up there, not competing for viewers with Friends reruns.

        • Re:Too damn Early (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Friday May 18, 2012 @06:00PM (#40046685) Homepage Journal

          They really don't have other days to try and perform this launch either. The Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Station (a USAF base) is a very busy place with a great many launches happening going to a great many places being done by a great many different companies and people. Some of those other launches simply can't wait, and in fact are a higher priority to this launch by SpaceX (as they contain weather satellites, various military satellites, GPS satellites, and other things important for America as well).

          Your ignorance is showing even more for posing this question at all. Besides, there is no reason for this launch to happen at a time convenient for you to be able to eat your breakfast and take in a bit of entertainment. This is rocket science.

          But more to the point, there won't be days in the near future that would allow a launch window between 9 am and 9 pm and meet all of the other conditions needed for this flight as well as dealing with everything else that needs to happen at this launch site. Of all of the things that these engineers should be worrying about, your need for sleep is the last consideration they should have.

        • by khallow (566160)

          I know why they picked that time, I also know they should have then selected a different day.

          Do you really believe there are no days when the launch window would be between 9am and 9pm?

          There's a simpler solution. Set that alarm clock and get up early. The problem with rescheduling is that the more criteria you toss in for scheduling, the harder it gets to launch stuff in a timely fashion. I'd rather ignore this than have them experience weeks or months of delays just so that they can get on TV at a good time.

      • by petsounds (593538)

        are you really that stupid?

        Let's leave out the personal attacks, eh? Slashdot used to be relatively free of that stuff, but I'm seeing it more and more.

    • Re:Too damn Early (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hadlock (143607) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:34PM (#40045751) Homepage Journal

      Go buy Kerbal Space Program [kerbalspaceprogram.com], get a ship in orbit, then launch a second one to go chase after the first ship in orbit. Even if your launches are only a few hours apart, it's difficult to match orbit (speeding up to "catch up" with the ISS causes your orbit to go all egg shaped).
       
      I've been playing that damn game for about 3 weeks now and I have yet to successfully complete an orbital rendezvous. Matching orbits is hard. Space is hard. If this shit were free and easy, North Korea would have a manned space station already.
       
      NASA makes it look easy, but the fact of the matter is you've got objects zipping through low earth orbit at tens of thousands (17,500 mph generally), and if you're off by "only" 500mph, well, hope you're not on a collision course with the station. Imagine roughly the same result of your car hitting a brick wall at 500mph.
       
      TL;DR you've got to launch that shit when you have to, no ifs, ands, or buts. Apollo moon missions don't have a rendezvous element so they had the option of launching during prime time.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Sorry, they don't have a linux client, so no sale. It does look interesting, so if I can get the demo to work in wine maybe I will buy it.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        Apollo moon missions don't have a rendezvous element so they had the option of launching during prime time.

        Well, obviously they did have a rendezvous element, it's just that the target wasn't moving terribly fast (relatively speaking) and there was a valid launch window more or less every day.

        • Re:Too damn Early (Score:5, Informative)

          by 0123456 (636235) on Friday May 18, 2012 @04:57PM (#40046019)

          Well, obviously they did have a rendezvous element, it's just that the target wasn't moving terribly fast (relatively speaking) and there was a valid launch window more or less every day.

          There was a valid launch window every once in a while, because they had to arrive at their landing site early in the lunar morning so that their entire stay was during the lunar day and, I believe, so that the sun was still low so it they wouldn't exceed LEM cooling margins.

          They were somewhat flexible in launch time during that window because they would spend some time in orbit around the moon before landing, so if they had to pick a launch window an hour or two earlier than the ideal because of other constraints, they could potentially wait a few orbits before the landing.

          If you look up the NASA documents on Apollo launch planning there were a number of constraints they had to work within. Unfortunately I can't remember them all :).

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          That's debatable, they didn't have an orbital rendezvous element, although there was a separation and docking stage after they had entered orbit together as a single unit. Docking in orbit with something that shares your exact orbit isn't terribly difficult; they sighted that with human eyes via a periscope and used manual thrusters. It's probably one of the last real example of pilots doing piloting in space. Everything since has been largely automated.

      • Well...
        That's fun and all - but it's quite, quite irrelevant.
        For some time now, we've had the solution to the problem - calculus.
        The maths involved would not tax Newton greatly.

        Humans suck at intuitively understanding and controlling stuff outside narrow realms of experience and reaction time.

        This is why we use maths to do it for us.
        From calculating loads on a bridge, to working out the cost of an order - you don't just randomly guess on the basis of experience, unless it's very uncritical.

        The mathematics i

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          Right, but those dozen or two lines of code spit out your launch date/time. Sure, it's not hard for a computer, but your launch time is a fairly specific point that you can't stray from, which was my original point.

          Once you have your launch time, you just give it a specific series of headings and specific impulse times and you'll be in the correct orbit; with final approach done separately once you've arrived in your parking orbit. If you launch 2-3 hours off from your computer-calculated launch tim

        • by Teancum (67324)

          Humans suck at intuitively understanding and controlling stuff outside narrow realms of experience and reaction time.

          I think this is one of the reasons why he suggested an approach for you to get that experience in a simulation to give you some information allowing you to comprehend the task at hand for SpaceX. Spending time building a rocket even in a fairly accurate simulator (which the Kerbal Space Program does very well for the price) can give you that ability.

          I have killed enough astronauts in that simulator that I shouldn't set foot anywhere near a launch pad, and getting a vehicle to orbit at all is impressive eno

          • The two things 'only three organisations' and 'humans can't do it' - are completely unrelated.
            Nobody is trying to fly rockets up by hand - it's completely insane.

            The computations used for docking are not the hard part.
            The fine control, implementation of the guidance sensors, reliability of the rocket, able to perform reliably are the hard part.

    • by Megane (129182)

      I hope you're just trying to be funny and failing. The launch has to be exactly when it's set for ("instantaneous launch window") so that it can have the lowest-fuel path to the space station. If it reached orbit in the wrong place, it would have to use the capsule thrusters to catch up, but it needs all its fuel for all the planned maneuvers. And the opportunities only happen once every three days. This is because of the need to rendezvous with something already on orbit. It's not like the days of pre-ISS

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I might stay up too, I am EDT but if I go to bed I could never be up by 4:55.

      • There is almost certainly enough margin for a little leeway either way.

        For an initial launch - you want to remove all of the possible variables you can, and have as much margin as possible.

        Once you're a dozen launches in, and have a good handle on what the actual operational performance is, then the launch window can stretch out and use a little bit of the margin.

        If, for example a 3 minute window lets you launch rather than wait for next time, that can be worth spending some of your margin on.
        Margin is ther

        • by Megane (129182)
          Right, but this launch leads to a fuel-intensive test. So they really only want the optimal launch time to ensure the capsule has as much fuel as possible when on orbit in range of ISS.
    • Early? 11 AM? Perfect for me. :D
    • by trout007 (975317)

      I am going to explain why without bein so condescending as the other replies.

      The problem is limited fuel and trying to rendezvous with the ISS.

      Here is an analogy. Take a oval race track with a car going around at 200 mph. You have another car you want to start from rest and accelerate to pull in right behind them. The problem is you only have enough fuel just to reach 200mph. So you have to be very careful with your timing when you hit the gas. You will only have one chance each time around. The ISS orbits

  • Granted, it's cool that the private and public sector and working together to go into space, but let's not go crazy here. This kind of stuff happens all the time with ventures on earth. The article says NASA wants to focus on deep space exploration (the REALLY cool shit) and they want SpaceX to do the pedestrian work of hauling supplies and people to the ISS and such. It's focusing your energy and letting people who are really good at what they do do their thing for you.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Friday May 18, 2012 @06:30PM (#40046919) Homepage Journal

      The real news here is that NASA is conceding the idea that launches into low-Earth orbit are now routine enough that they really shouldn't be spending money on building rockets going there. This is a very recent admission that has only happened under the Obama administration.

      What will likely not be mentioned is how a great many other companies are also involved with this effort of having NASA get rid of its native launch capacity, or how nearly $20 billion is currently being spent on a heavy lift rocket that has no mission and will likely be cancelled in the next presidential administration (whomever that may be... in 2013 or 2017 of either political party). The other companies that are involved at the moment is really exciting, and shows amazing potential for America being a real leader in developing technologies for spaceflight.

      The hope and dream of many people here is that travel into low-Earth orbit will become something as routine as sending passengers and cargo on intercontinental flights by airplane. There was a time that deservedly justified 40 point type headlines in newspapers, just as early flights into orbit did several decades later. The sad thing is how long it took for routine intercontinental flights to happen compared to when the first such flights happened, and then how long it is taking from when the first flights to low-Earth orbit happened to when they've become routine. As evidenced by the fact this is a major story and posted here in Slashdot, flights into orbit still aren't routine. That can and should change.

      • Actually COTS started during Bush's second term while Griffin (author of the pork launcher called Ares) was head of NASA. So yeah even that team made correct decisions on occasion. Obama proposed to increase funding but it seems the congress critters are not interested in inexpensive commercial spaceflight.
        • by Teancum (67324)

          On the other hand, COTS was seen as a back-up plan just in case Constellation didn't work out... which it really didn't. It was a sort of bastard step child and not really something that NASA treated seriously, even though I'll admit that the idea did start under the Bush administration.

          The first NASA administrator to say that NASA needs to get out of the Earth to LEO transportation business was Charles Bolden, in testimony before the Spaceflight subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee (the actu

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The UK privatised a major part of its defence research agency (as Qinetiq) and now that is almost half-owned by foreign companies.

    I don't think America is as stupid as us, but please be vigilant. Or at least be aware of how much your costs go up when you're working to financial goals rather than scientific ones. Because things are fantastic during the first couple of rounds of funding but eventually it all becomes about the returns.

    • I beg to differ, I thing we can be and *are* far more stupid than the British.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Megane (129182)

      and now that is almost half-owned by foreign companies.

      One of the main goals of the COTS program [wikipedia.org] is to use U.S. companies for LEO cargo and crew capability. Right now, we're completely dependent on Russia, EU, and Japan for crew and cargo launches to ISS.

      And it's not about just privatizing a lot of space stuff. It's really more about (IMHO) pushing the "frontier" for NASA to be responsible for exploration out beyond LEO, and let LEO get commercialized.

      • by the gnat (153162)

        And it's not about just privatizing a lot of space stuff.

        It's arguably not about privatizing at all - it's about doing it in such a way that NASA actually saves money. The launch vehicles have already been privately built for a long time now, but under "cost-plus" contracts where NASA guarantees a profit, and with significant political interference from Congress (and, to be fair, top-down design decisions). It was easy to forget this because programs like the space shuttle were not run competitively, and

        • by Teancum (67324)

          It is also about privatizing spaceflight as well.... explicitly one of the things NASA is by law supposed to be doing as it is a part of NASA's charter.

          The telling thing to see if this move towards privatized launches makes any difference is if NASA and the U.S. federal government will constitute a majority of SpaceX's launch manifest in the future or if the market for private commercial ventures into space will begin to take over the manifest making the government launch market something more of a niche si

          • by the gnat (153162)

            Private commercial spaceflight is already happening and is a multi-billion dollar industry in terms of annual revenue.

            But it's entirely unmanned, and isn't that mostly communications satellites in LEO?

            Private commercial spaceflight will happen eventually. I just don't know if it will happen in America or somewhere else like China or India. It would be a sad day if socialism is so entrenched in America that private companies can't succeed to access the resources of space.

            So far I haven't seen any indication

            • by Teancum (67324)

              The real reason why private commercial spaceflight hasn't advanced very far, IMHO, is that it has historically required relatively huge up-front capital costs, and because anything beyond communications satellites has been too expensive and too unprofitable for companies to pursue. A secondary reason, I suspect, is that the US was never very motivated to pursuing inexpensive spaceflight - efficiency was less important than "winning the space race" and the perceived military and technological advantage this implied. Russia, on the other hand, was relatively poor and their national development in the first half of the 20th century couldn't have been more different from America's.

              The reason why private commercial spaceflight didn't take hold in the 1980's was explicitly because of a combination of regulations like ITAR and some bureaucrats at NASA which cut the legs out of commercial spaceflight by advertising unrealistic launch prices on the Space Shuttle. In order to sell the Space Shuttle to Congress, NASA made unbelievable promises about its cost, and insisted that the Shuttle could perform all of the launch tasks needed for American spaceflight... including everything for the

          • by khallow (566160)

            This isn't just something said off the cuff as it should be pointed out that America has all but abandoned the private commercial spaceflight market, even for companies based in America.

            This concern is vastly premature. Even before the advent of SpaceX, the US was the leader in commercial spaceflight with the only truly privately owned launch services in the world. That remains the case. The commercial services in Europe, Russia, China, and India all have substantial government ownership.

            Sure, it's not hard to see a future where a short-sighted US has regulated this industry out of existence (we didn't need that future anyway!), but it hasn't happened yet.

            • by Teancum (67324)

              This concern is vastly premature. Even before the advent of SpaceX, the US was the leader in commercial spaceflight with the only truly privately owned launch services in the world. That remains the case. The commercial services in Europe, Russia, China, and India all have substantial government ownership.

              Sure, it's not hard to see a future where a short-sighted US has regulated this industry out of existence (we didn't need that future anyway!), but it hasn't happened yet.

              This isn't true. Before SpaceX stepped up, commercial spaceflight had all but been acquiesced to the ESA and Roskosmos, with China filling in the gap. Boeing, ATK, and Lockheed-Martin for the past decade have been flying mainly government contracted payloads with very few commercial flights, and certainly weren't involved with launches of the communications satellite constellations like Iridium and a couple others which were proposed awhile back.

              What is currently known as commercial spaceflight is a relat

        • by Megane (129182)
          I think that in ten years, the important question won't be who NASA is using, but who isn't NASA that is using SpaceX, OSC, etc., and if they are even taking off from a NASA launchpad.
    • Yeah the radars are French and the rest is probably under so many shell companies you couldn't fathom who owns them.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "age versus youth" Without age there is no youth.

    The youth take advantage of the lessons learned by 'aged'.

    Something about standing on the shoulders of giants.

  • So... has SpaceX made any kind of arrangements for cheering Floridians who might feel like driving up tonight to watch the launch in person from some meaningful vantage point? I've checked, and SpaceX themselves seem to be completely silent about that particular topic. I know their launch site is beyond the gates and isn't going to be accessible, period... but how about the causeway? Are any of the old shuttle viewing areas (like the northern tip of the public beach directly south) likely to be worth drivin

    • They set up a private viewing area on the causeway, but nothing big, and I doubt that the visitor complex is doing anything. Their rocket is tiny compared to shuttle, or Delta IV or Atlas V even, and while fun, it's a tiny bottle rocket. Their first launch compared to Delta II launches if anything, neat but nothing to write home about. You get what you pay for in this case, about 9 million pounds of thrust for shuttle, 7 Million for Saturn V, 2 million for Delta IV heavy And Atlas V, and around 800k pou
    • by Megane (129182)

      I can't tell you what their plans are, but I can tell you that they are NOT launching from 39A/39B (the Shuttle pads). They are launching from pad 40 (I think) which is in the CC Air Force Station, somewhere to the south of 39A/39B. Gut feeling tells me that it's probably at the north end of the AFS, but I have no idea which pad that is because I didn't find a map of CCAFS pads.

      And isn't this only the third Falcon 9 launch? Of course it's going to be bigger than the Falcon 1 launches. But yeah, it's no Shu

      • It's 9 times bigger than 1, 9 engines, hence Falcon 9. Each engine produces about 100k pounds of thrust. I saw the last Falcon 9 launch from CCAF, as well as most Atlas Delta and Shuttle launches. The Falcon 9 may be 9 times bigger than the 1, but it's still about that much smaller than the shuttle. It launches off of Pad 40, and you can google it, it's no secret, it's right next to the Atlas pad.
  • "It carries 1,200 pounds of supplies for the people aboard the ISS,"

    I hope that includes a large wheel of cheese.

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

Working...