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SpaceX Given Approval For ISS Mission 143

An anonymous reader sends this snippet from an AFP report: "California-based rocket maker SpaceX said that it will make a test flight in late November to the International Space Station, now that NASA has retired its space shuttle program. 'SpaceX has been hard at work preparing for our next flight — a mission designed to demonstrate that a privately-developed space transportation system can deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS),' the company, also called Space Exploration Technologies, said in a statement. The mission is the second to be carried out by SpaceX, one of a handful of firms competing to make a spaceship to replace the now-defunct US shuttle, which had been used to carry supplies and equipment to the orbiting outpost. 'NASA has given us a November 30, 2011 launch date, which should be followed nine days later by Dragon berthing at the ISS,' the company said." SpaceX has an information sheet for the Dragon capsule, as well as an interesting post about the costs involved in their launches.
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SpaceX Given Approval For ISS Mission

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @12:41AM (#37115458)

    As far as I know, NASA doesn't have a factory. Everything they used was made by the likes of Boeing, Lockheed and others. All NASA added was 50 layers of management, to ensure that everything was behind schedule and over budget.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @12:45AM (#37115476) Homepage

    Space-X may be the future of space travel. They designed that thing. It's not a NASA design, and it didn't go through NASA's process of spreading everything out among contractors spread across the US.

  • Obama was right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @02:54AM (#37116178) Journal

    Sending NASA back to the drawing boards to develop breakthrough technologies for deep space exploration is what it should do, let private enterprise do what has already been proven. Breaking the power of the aero-industrial complex with their legions of lobbyists and congressmen in their pockets took guts to do. This is a giant leap in the right direction.

    Ironic that people (used to?) claim that Obama was a socialist. Sure he spent taxpayer money to save the auto industry. Now it is being paid back although admittedly projections are that the government will lose 1.5 Billion upfront. Still, considering how many Millions of jobs were directly and indirectly (suppliers, communities) saved, that $1.5 Billion was well spent. And that's not even considering the taxes these now highly profitable enterprises (record sales and growth) are returning to the treasury and will be doing so (hopefully) for many years to come.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @04:00AM (#37116482)

    A company that sells a service to another organization that has a monopoly on initiation of violence over some geographical area cannot be called a private enterprise. NASA is an extension of the US government and so is paying spaceX 1.6 billion dollars that it stole from others. Voluntary exchange and respect for private property are absent in this arrangement to a significant degree. Much of the investment capital comes from those who choose to invest money they own, but that only changes the degree to which they have elements of private enterprise. It does not negate the funding that comes through state theft.

  • by stiggle ( 649614 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @05:56AM (#37116954)

    NASA are the admin, everything else is sub-contracted out...

    Engineers are sub-contactors from the likes of SAIC ( [] ) & Booz Allen Hamilton ( [] ) aswell as the manufacturers (Boeing, ATK, Lockheed Martin, etc).
    Launches are handled by ULA ( United Launch Alliance - [] )
    In-space operations are handled by USA (United Space Alliance - )

    Both ULA & USA are joint operations of Boeing & Lockheed Martin.

    So yes, Boeing, et al. did handle all that :-)

  • I will say that for the shuttle main computers, the software engineering standards are perhaps the highest in the computer industry and really do set the gold standard for software design and review. On average the software engineers developing the guidance system software produce about 4,000-5,000 lines of code per year.... and the rest of the time is spent busting up each other's software and mathematically proving the correctness of the algorithms they've produced. The amount of software generated per programmer may be even less, but it seems like that is about the right figure from what I remember.

    In that sense, perfection is perhaps the appropriate word to be used, but it is in certain contexts. That said, the overall spacecraft design for the Shuttle did have some incredibly huge and sadly fatal design flaws, so I agree with your general sentiment that perfect is perhaps a bit overstated. The problem with spaceships is that you can't fix bugs with software that your hardware engineers couldn't resolve. There is this little thing called physics that must be dealt with and can't be brushed aside. Then again, that is why the Shuttle program was a couple of decades late in being canceled.

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