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Which modifications of the prize-part of the ASP?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:17 am
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Which modifications of the prize-part of the ASP? 
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Post Which modifications of the prize-part of the ASP?   Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:17 am
Bigelow has reported problems to get competitors for the ASP. The problem merely is that they lack funding - not their capabilities.

beacounter proposes to increase the prize money - but only one team can get that prize. So what about the others?

Bigelow also said he will award a contract (or severals?) - but not necessaryly to the prize-winner. This might make it interesting for funders, backers etc. to invest money into teams. But Bigelow's issue might be insufficient for them.

To me it seems as if the problem is that the required funds are much larger than those required to win the Ansari XPrize - Burt Rutan estimated an investment of $ 400 mio to be required in 2004 and t/Space's CXV will require that also - the level isn't at tens of millions but at hundreds of millions.

Paul Allen is an enthusiast and was willing to invest $ 20 mio - but $ 400 mio may be even too much in his eyes as a billionaire since that sum is a large portion of his fortune compared to $ 20 mio.

At present the suborbital market is emerging - it can't be expected that the orbital will follow that quickly. This doesn't fit into the expectations of funders, backers or investors that revenues, ROIs, profits are got from that investment of hundreds of millions.

The contract(s) Bigelow has been speaking about promise revenues - and thus fit into expectations.

Should the prize-part of the ASP modified so that

1. prize money is awarded to a first-place winner, a second-place winner and a third-placer winner (or more) and

2. contracts differeing in conditions are awarded to a couple of teams (let's say ten)

?

What else modifications can or would you think of?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:50 am
I would think Burt needs to get half of the investment money from Nasa and half from backers and then go after bigelows contrats and Nasa's COTS contracts. Nasa is not willing to throw money at unproven companies, but that equation should change if the only have to come up with half of the coin.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 11:55 am
Hello, idiom,

this doesn't work given the ASP-rules that I want to keep completely.

But can you imagine a modification of the prize-part so that it contributes to COTS also? COTS-fit vehicle without NASA-funding but got by the ASP-competition?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:05 pm
Cots, is I think a fair contract. Its not development money I don't think. I think Bigelow wants something developed in competetion with Nasa so that he can afford it.

There are banks and institutions that would fund to levels sufficent to compete for the ASP, but you have to show that there really is a LOT of profit to be made and secondly, that you are the person who can make it.

The Cots promise and Bigelows ongoing workload add something that the X Prize did not have, tangible near-term follow-up funding that should make the risk of throwing a fortune at the ASP worthwhile.

I dont think the problem is with the prize, I think its with the field.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:05 pm
I dont think it is reasonable to expect Bigelow to throw any more money in the prize pot, he is already commiting $50M (10% of the $500M he said he was willing to spend on Bigelow Aerospace), increasing the amount might divert money away from his real aim which is to create orbital stations. One man cant do everything and I think finance needs to come from elsewhere.

As to the other rules I dont see why government cash should exclude a team, just so long as any strings attached dont have to much impact on what Bigelow wants to do. I also see no point in excluding non-American teams as this narrows the possible competitors, although admittedly foreign teams might be a bit thin on the ground. Using foreign technology to launch to orbit was not a problem originally for him as he had planned to use Russian Soyuz. Allowing only US only teams might limit the amount of funding available from abroad, as any assets would be in the US and might be hard to claim (or at least time consuming through the US legal system) in the event that a team needed to secure financing through a foreign source.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:00 pm
If I remember correct it was Bigelow himself who said that SpaceX can't compete for the ASP because their COTS-bid hurts the rules of the ASP.

Regarding the money he awards to the winner it wouldn't be required to increase that money. He could award combinations of cash and contract(s) instead. The third could get $ 10 mio plus a contract to service Nautilus once per month or regarding repairs, the second could get $ 15 mio plus a contract to service Nautilus once per week regarding food and water while the first could get $ 25 mio plus a contract as taxi for astronauts, tourists. The fourth and so on could get contracts for maintenance or assistance for it, for providing rescue, for filling gaps of service and the like. These contracts could be designed so that their revenues fill up the cash including the zero-cash-cases - revenues of $ 40 mio for the third, of $ 60 mio for the second, of $ 75 mio for the first. These are examples only. The winers might be interesting for NASA also - COTS...

Would be interesting what each of you can imagine.

Somehow he might want and should get competitors both capable and funded, backed and the like - so he might fell the need to modify the prize-part.

What about it?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:13 pm
I dont think that it would be a good idea for Bigelow to split the prize up into smaller amounts. It is often said that reaching orbit compared to a sub-orbital flight costs 10 times the amount to achieve that being the case Bigelow's $50M is probably about the bare minimum that teams would consider appropriate. That is why he is enhancing the prize with the promise of future contracts.

I think that he is doing what he can to make the prize attractive by demonstrating that he is serious about creating an orbital destination that will generate future contracts. This will also help attract investment to teams competing as investors see that there is an actual market rather than a forcast or paper projection.

The ISS is another possible market for competitors although this is somewhat undermined by NASA's percieved lack of commitment to the project. With an uncertain future why would financiers invest in a transport system to the ISS. Hopefully this perception will change with regular construction flights resuming and the ISS more likely to be finished.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:43 pm
Coming up with a system that can get to orbit for $30 odd million the real prize. The prize money just provides quicker gratification. SpaceX can afford to violate the rules forthe ASP because they can still pick up the Bigelow contracts as long as nobody else spoils the party by winning. They can also pick up the COTs contracts, a pretty tidy sum indeed, but a gamble, one on Nasa showing up and one on the competition not showing up.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:07 am
Bigalow wants to influence the development of space is several ways:
1. Cheap, reliable, benign human-rated habitats for various purposes both scientific and recreational.
2. Cheap, reliable transport system to both LEO and GEO.
3. Much reduced reliance on NASA for anything and a corresponding increase in private sector presence.
4. And finally but not least, an greatly increased public interest in space-related activities.

Now he can't do all of these on his own so he's concentrated primarily on addressing point 1 while promoting the other aspects to the best of his ability. Points 2 and 3 he addresses through the ASP and point 4 by finally going public and pursuing that public through his habitat program.

With respect to the prize, I also don't think that splitting it is such a good idea. I believe that initially he wanted to get other investors to put up additional funds for the ASP but I guess he wasn't successful in that as he ended up funding it himself. I think that if real interest isn't shown in the ASP in the next year of so, then he'll probably do that again (ie. attempt to get other investors onto the ASP - he'll have more to show with his flying hardware) and try to increase the prize size. I don't think he'll split it. Remember, he really needs a cheap access to space system otherwise he won't be able to deliver the results from his program that he wants to.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:11 am
I think any COTS vehicle that actually gets to orbit at a reasonable cost, would also suit Bigelow's requirements and would be offered a Bigelow contract. Even though it wouldn't meet the rules for the ASP.

The ASP has value just for the publicity. If no-one ever wins, then he's got masses of publicity, for very little outlay. If somone can do it, within the rules, great! Bigelow will gladly pay up and probably offer a contract. So it's a win-win situation for him. Very smart thinking.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:30 am
Agree absolutely. Bigalow isn't just going to rely on the ASP to deliver a transport system for his vehicles, he'll take whatever exists just as he is currently doing. However what he's hoping happens is that a much cheaper alternative becomes available otherwise there won't be the increased level of market demand for his habitats that cheaper access to space would deliver.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:27 am
Simply to describe another way:

What I proposed - just as a catalyst onyl - wasn't a split of the prize but a combination as prize. The combinations for the first three winners really are money-prizes of $ 50 mio, $ 75 mio and $ 100 mio - this isn't an increase of the original prize of $ 50 mio nor a split.

It simply incorporates the contracts Bigelow said he will close with competitors into the prize(s). He said that he not necessaryly will close a contract with the winner(s) - this would be changed in my catalytical proposal of course.

The prize(s) would be higher but the winner(s) would have to do service for Bigelow to get the full prize.

But the incentives are more and higher - making all the teams and companies more attractive for funders, backers and investors. This would remove the problem that most of the teams willing to compete for the ASP are non- or underfunded.

The catalytical proposal is one whole thing...



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