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Robert Bigelow's USD $50 million Orbital Bounty

Posted by: koxinga - Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:49 am
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Robert Bigelow's USD $50 million Orbital Bounty 
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Post Robert Bigelow's USD $50 million Orbital Bounty   Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:49 am
http://www.xprizenews.org/index.php?p=520

It has finally happened. (well almost, after he ties up all the loose strings). The America's Space Prize. I wonder if the X-Prize board will have a role here, since they have the experience in organising such prizes.

The article finally answers some of the questions we are all wondering regarding his long term plans.

1) He has budget $500 million of his own money for his Bigelow Aerospace
2) BA is aleast 5 years ahead of schedule (Damm! U'll never hear this from NASA)
3) The use of water blankets to shield radiation (We speculated on this before)

All i can say right now is WOO HOO! 8) Space hotels by the end of the decade!

With a firm announcement from him by the end of this week and the coming X-Prize flights, these are exciting times indeed.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:47 am
But we should be cautious - to me as a not-native speaker the article sounds like NASA is working together with Bigelow Aerospace. If it does that as customer - very good. But if it does that by other ways - suspicious I think.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2004 7:20 am
Irregardless of who the second donor is, the prize is primarily to provide access for his own private space habitat business which he intends to lease out to anyone who can foot the bill. It provides the necessary continuation from the X-Prize into orbital goals on top of the XPrize Cup and the Cent'Prizes. Personally, I do not think NASA is involved as a donor as they already have their own prizes in the works.

It is important. People will not be satisfied in a 10 min jaunt in zero G. A real space tourism would give sufficient time for a variety of activities, things which would require a permanent facility in orbit.

As for private contractors working with NASA, it is not a bad thing. Rather it is an acknowledgment of their capabilities. Furthermore, it helps the private companies both in funding and knowledge gain. Scaled and Mojave themselves are major contractors in previous NASA projects like the X-38 and the X-34.

Considering the recent problems with the ISS, it is good news for one.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2004 9:58 pm
sounds pretty ambitious to me...
I'd love to see a private manned spacecraft making affordable flights to orbit by the end of the decade, but , isn't the timeline too tight here? I mean, the funds needed to develop it will be imense.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:31 pm
109Ace wrote:
I mean, the funds needed to develop it will be imense.


Indeed. I think I remember someone saying 30 times the cost of going suboribital? Which wouldn't quite work for Scaled. I doubt Paul Allen's willing to fund the extra $850 million. But with different technology it might work?

The more important thing is that all this will get serious investors thinking. If the prize is won, it's likely to be by a firm with a similar financial structure to Scaled.

What I'm saying is effectively, a financial backer who is willing to provide three times the value of the prize in anticipation of being able to sell either the technology (as Scaled seem to have done) or services.

So I believe we're not talking about getting to orbit for $50m or $900m but for $150m.

Can it be done? That will be the question to answer in the coming months. No doubt many will answer yes.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 28, 2004 12:37 am
i'd say $150 - $50 mil for the prize = $100 mil will easily pay itself off what with orbital hotel service, ISS shuttling, maintinance stuff (may take some modifications to do this), and joyriding.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 28, 2004 5:53 am
Hello, TerraMrs,

I agree to you.

No prize is designed to cover the sum of costs. Scaled Composites seems to get license revenues in the neaby future, production costs of SSO will be reduced and private space travels causing market revenues are to be expected. All this together will contribute to the coverage of the costs of going to the orbit. Especially the costs and prices of all parts of spacecrafts that are not propellant will be reduced.

So the major challenge will be development and its costs. But even the amount of this can be estimated once SpaceX will have launched an object to the orbit successfully first time during the coming quarter of 2004.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 28, 2004 1:20 pm
I hope Virgin will be followed by x company. Who will fill in the x ? Any thoughts ?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:34 pm
Kerstens wrote:
I hope Virgin will be followed by x company. Who will fill in the x ? Any thoughts ?


Space Adventures for one. Although it is uncertain if they want to operate their own hardware or lease / sell seats.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 27, 2004 5:02 pm
Two things: 1: I'm not sure I understand why orbital flight is 30 times more expensive than the suborbital flight we've seen so far. I know about the rule of squares, which would seem to indicate that twice the size might need four times the effort, but I don't see how else the cost would be scaling up.

2: I think if the craft is properly developed, the prize might very well indeed cover the cost of development and launch. The prize includes a contract for shuttling for a year, which would be worth quite a bit of profit, especially when you include the profit derived from the publicity in future years down the road.

The X-prize didn't cover the costs of Spaceship One, but consider this: Spaceship One wasn't the cheapest design possible, although it was designed to be reasonably cost effective. Also, Scaled composites is deriving real benefits that it can directly trace to the X-Prize, including a contract from Virgin.

Orbital flight similarly has other real benefits that would probably be directly related to winning this prize. One such benefit is the standing contract from UPS (for a huge sum of money, but I can't remember how many zeroes right now) to anyone who can provide them a service that lets them do anywhere in the world 24 hour delivery.


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