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NASA Space Science Technology

NASA Splits $1.1B For Three Commercial Spacecraft 184

coondoggie writes "NASA today continued its development of commercial space systems by splitting a little over $1.1 billion with Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies (Space X) and Sierra Nevada to develop and build advanced spaceships. 'Today's awards give a huge advantage to the three companies that got them, because competitors will need to fund their own development in its entirety. On the other hand, by partnering with the competitors, NASA has managed to seed the development of five different manned space vehicles for under $1B so far, a leap forward for the evolving space passenger market. They've paid for it on a reward-for-progress basis, handing out pre-agreed amounts of money for each specified milestone. SpaceX was well ahead of the other two competitors because of the unmanned Dragon, which has already berthed with the International Space Station. The company has borne the brunt of the development costs itself, putting in about $300 million of its own money in addition to about $75 million from NASA.'"
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NASA Splits $1.1B For Three Commercial Spacecraft

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  • Re:Bittersweet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2012 @10:32AM (#40867869)

    The Republicans and Democrats aren't really caring about anything they say. They put on a good show to keep you suckers buying into their scams. It's like professional wrestling in a different costume to make you think it's really real.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @10:39AM (#40867957) Homepage
    You are correct: you do not understand. Try fixing that.
  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @10:49AM (#40868067) Homepage Journal

    Anyone that thinks we are living in a socialist era isn't worthy of paying attention to... and they need to be bought a dictionary and a history book.

  • Only $375 Million? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Piata ( 927858 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @10:56AM (#40868161)

    If Space X has only spent $375 million to get where it is today, imagine what NASA could do if it wasn't plagued by pork and had actual funding. Movies have bugets of $300 million: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php [the-numbers.com]

    As a human race, we have some pretty mixed priorities.

  • Re:Bittersweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @11:04AM (#40868239)

    Is _is_ private.

    If you give them enough money for a private launch, I'm sure they'll be quite happy to fly your and your stuff.

    Money buys anything these days -- look at those ridiculous $30m junkets rich people were buying to the ISS recently (facilities bought and paid for with taxpayer funds, no less), for instance.

  • Re:Bittersweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @11:35AM (#40868589)

    You're correct, 'commercial' is a bit of an a awkward term here. However, there are two reasons this is a big change from past contracting methods for developing spacecraft that the government uses:

    1. There is competition. The reason (well regulated) markets are efficient is not profit motive, but competition. This is why Sen. Wolfe's proposal to select only one winner was so antithetical to the purpose of the program.

    2. The government is buying rides, not buying vehicles. The companies that produce Dragon, CST-100, and DreamChaser are free to sell rides to anyone arms control treaties allow. There is some mile-stone based development money right now, but thats only because it is in NASA's interest to stimulate and accelerate this market rather than build competitive vehicles.

    While this won't be truly commercial until a company can do well without a government customer, this is a step in the right direction, and nothing to sneeze at.

  • Re:Bittersweet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @12:04PM (#40869047)

    It wouldn't be too hard to argue that the population growth is a direct consequence of scientific progress. Medicine, food production, transportation etc.

    Considering that population density in the USA is lower today than it was in, say, France in 1740, it's pretty hard to argue that population growth is a direct consequence of scientific progress.

    Likewise, China had a population density by 1900 that was about 30% higher than the current US population density.

    Certainly our standard of living has much to do with science (or, rather, technology, since while the two are related, they're not identical), but our population has much less bearing on science (or technology).

    On the other hand, the size of our country is pretty much predicated on technology - without the telegraph and railroads, it's likely we would have split into two (or three countries) in the 19th century.

    And for those about to bring up the Civil War, note that the telegraph and railroad were crucial to actually winning that war for the North.

  • Re:Bittersweet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @12:48PM (#40869665) Homepage

    Understand that all the progress we've made since the 70's with mars probes could be done in one week with a manned mission.

    If you can get the meat Popsicles to Mars alive. Yes, with a huge increase in funding, we may be able to work through the technology to do that. However, what your argument misses is the concept that both manned and unmanned space flight have been woefully underfunded. If you gave Mars researchers the kind of budget needed to get a manned expedition to Mars but instead used it for unmanned flight, we could have thousands of rovers wandering about the planet, doing more than some random astronaut kicking pebbles.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.