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Win the ASP, get a NASA gig?

Posted by: SawSS1Jun21 - Mon May 23, 2005 7:02 pm
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Win the ASP, get a NASA gig? 
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Space Walker
Space Walker
Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:17 pm
Posts: 243
Location: So Cal, baby!
Post Win the ASP, get a NASA gig?   Posted on: Mon May 23, 2005 7:02 pm
NASA to Seek Bids for ISS Cargo Deliveries ... onday.html

Griffin says:

"If transportation providers can develop a level of credibility and confidence in reliability and safety in their systems, we would follow our interest in buying cargo services with an interest in the purchase of crew services on a commercial basis," Griffin said. "But I am absolutely interested in buying seats to orbit instead of buying vehicles."

...sounds like he's pretty serious. Here's another great quote from the same article:

"NASA exists to work at the frontier," he said. "Today the frontier should not be the delivery of 5 or 10 tons of cargo to the station."

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Rocket Constructor
Rocket Constructor
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 12:19 am
Posts: 6
Location: Logan, Utah
Post    Posted on: Mon May 23, 2005 11:25 pm
I'm confused with what t/Space has said with the following:

"The question is 'what's the best way for NASA to meet a NASA need,'" Alexander said. "If we do it with private financing, the eventual service price costs more and the program takes longer to complete, but we can do it."

The drawback of the private funding approach, Alexander said, is that it takes considerable time and energy to raise capital and the financial return demanded by investors would add significantly to what t/Space would have to charge NASA for flights.

What does this mean? t/Space wants to go the route of Union Pacific (as in the Trans-Continental Railroad-like approach to fund raising) where the government will even pay up-front capital raising requirements? Something there just doesn't smell right.

I know that going into space is a very capital intensive business. The point I'm trying to make is that it would be better for everybody if space transportation systems could become a "cash and carry" type of service, where if you want to get something into space you throw your money on the table, possibly sign a contract (because it is millions of dollars on the line), bring your cargo and watch it go up. If you wanted to ship something to Japan by shipping container, it would be no different, or even air freight at the moment.

One difference right now is that (with some notable exceptions) most deliveries into space are a single purpose flight. That can and will change, and indeed should in terms of simply having a generic box that goes up, and the launching company doesn't really care what it in it (unless it is a nuke or some other proscribed material). Again, just like air freight but with a LEO or GEO destination.

XCOR is going on this sort of mindset, and I hope that they succeed. Much of their first batch of customers are government contracts as well, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to see them doing ISS resupply missions as well. Rendevous in orbit is a bit of a bigger thing to chew than simply launch into LEO, but not nearly so big of a hurdle as getting up there in the first place.

The real question is going to be to discover what sort of qualifications NASA is going to require in order to schedule a flight with a private launch service. Is it going to be so restricted that only current NASA contractors have a chance to get involved? Can a start-up even hope to get any business from NASA, regardless of price (assuming that a fresh start-up decided to give away flights to NASA just to prove their technology)?

What would be cool is if someday soon you could go down to your local FedEx or DHL office, drop off a package, and find it in orbit a few days later. It would be fun to speculate as to when something like that would happen?

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Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:23 am
Posts: 3745
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Post    Posted on: Tue May 24, 2005 6:27 am
Hello, Teancum,

I think t/Space has in mind something to be discussed in detail in the Financial Barriers section: NASA needs a new vehicle and NASA needs something to fill the gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the availability of the CEV. The dates when these needs become real, urgent and acute are known but aren't any technical or organizational problem for t/Space - but funds are required. It is no problem to get sufficient funds on solely private basises but it is a problem to get them as early as required to have a vehicle ready to those dates when NASA's needs become real, urgent and acute. So t/Space only say that based on private funds they can't have ready a - gap-filling - vehicle because of the time required to get private funds.

t/Space simply says that funding by NASA is required to speed up the process of funding: time is NASA's bottleneck.

To repeat it - time is NASA's bottleneck. t/Space has no problems to remove that bottleneck concering the vehicle - but t/Space has another bottle-neck currently yet which are the funds. This is no problem for t/Space because they themselves have no bottleneck "time" - there is no orbital market yet.

Result: It is reasonable and a usual and nurmal business if the one who has the time-bottleneck removes the financial bottleneck of that other who can remove the time-bottleneck of the first.

It doesn't have anything to do with the ASP and private personal orbital vehicles and flight - t/Space couldn't compete for the ASP with the CXV unless NASA refuses to fund it.

To terminate with another hint to the Financial Barriers section: the funding doesn't mean that the vehicle funded has been bought by the funder.

Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)

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