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Bigelow offers new prize

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:42 am
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Bigelow offers new prize 
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Post Bigelow offers new prize   Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 11:42 am
The NewScientist (http://space.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn12836) reports that Bigelow offers a $760 million contract for crew transport to the Bigelow space stations.

The contract is for 8 flights, so that would make some $95 million per flight if one wouldn't have development costs.

Bigelow seems to want to force commercial crew transport as this amount is quite a lot. I wonder if that could have impact on investors for e.g. Rocketplane Kistler?

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:06 pm
95 million dollars is a lot per flight. And he doesn't even state how much kg payload has to be delivered. As long as that hasn't been specified, it's not really usefull to speculate. If SpaceX can get into an higher gear with their Falcon 9's, they would be the only choice for Bigelow.

It's a big gamble what Bigelow did. Developing an inflatable habitat in orbit withouth having a(n) (American) transportation to get there.

And for Rocketplane kistler? Laugh laugh laugh, last thing i heard, they were suing NASA. Please don't take these guys serious any longer. Does more damage to the space industry and people's thinking on the industry.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 02, 2007 9:13 am
Bigelow is now investing up to $100m in a venture with Space Florida to try to develop a commercial orbital transport system operating out of the Cape.

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/sit ... ewsLang=en

I think that this, along with the previous $760m announced, indicates that Bigelow is getting frustrated with the current progress of commercial crew transport systems to orbit and is prepared to play a much bigger role in making it happen. He needs this to happen quickly to meet his timescales so he is prepared to become much more involved than he had originally planned.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:02 am
I wonder if these announcements have any impact on the SpaceX's development progress.

Could their Falcon 9 / Dragon development done faster when they would allocate more money? Or do you think it is limited by fixed times for testing, manufacturing etc? (like hammering one nail into a board takes one person and a fixed amount of time, you could assign 20 people and it won't go any faster)

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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:11 am
I think SpaceX is being very sneaky.

Everybody thinks they're not going as well as they should. They still haven't had a successful flight and their next flight isn't due till 2008. But The problems with flight 2 were all relatively minor.

Now, rather than rush back to flight they've taken the time to develop the merlin engine from 1 to 1c.

When they return to flight it will be with a falcon 1 with the major bugs all fixed, and essentially a third generation engine.

Look at the program they have scheduled for 2008. Five flights, including 3 Falcon 9s.

It sounds ambitious but it wouldn't surprise me if they pulled this off.

Consider:
1/ Flight 2 of Falcon 1 went very well for most of its flight.
2/ The merlin engine performed flawlessly,
3/ The merlin engine is the key part of Falcon 9.
4/ Their hold down before launch means they KNOW everything is working flawlessly before launch. The least glitch and the flight automatically scrubs and the fuel unloads safely.
5/ Falcon 9 can still reach orbit with a first stage engine failure.

So to me it is not surprising that SpaceX has done a quiet bit of development work on it's engines this last seven months, plus get Falcon 9 ready for flight. A successful Falcon 1 flight might have spooked ULA into a crash program to design a cheap reliable replacement for the Atlas and Deltas. Something cheap and reliable which could compete with the Falcon 9. Instead ULA is still fast asleep while SpaceX continues to prepare the Falcon 9 for it's first flight.

One last point. Am I letting the cat out of the bag here for SpaceX?

No. Nobody in ULA believes for a minute that SpaceX can possibly succeed.

2008 will tell the tale.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 03, 2007 5:12 am
Then, of course, Bigelow has his launches on Dragon

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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:05 am
I agree with most of your points. I only think that they won't do 3 Falcon 9 launches in 2008, for me it just seems, that it's the "rest" of the manifest they once made and instead of TBA they just kept the original dates until their first F9 launch after that they can decide what to do.

A few things on Falcon 9 will be new for SpaceX as well. They for example need a new flight control system (I just say two words: "Ariane 5").

Also firing the Merlin in space will be new for them. They of course can test that in a vacuum chamber but engine ignition remains one of the most complex "riddles" in rocket development (-> Aestus upper stage failure on an Ariane 5 in I think it was 2001).

edit: Getting Dragon working is another major task after Falcon 9 I think. A spacecraft is not that easy to develop.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:13 pm
Frediiiie wrote:
Everybody thinks they're not going as well as they should.
Not everybody. I think they are doing very well.


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