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Bigelow may partner with Lockheed

Posted by: Andy Hill - Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:11 pm
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Bigelow may partner with Lockheed 
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Post Bigelow may partner with Lockheed   Posted on: Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:11 pm
This article on nasaspaceflight indicates that Bigelow and lockheed may be moving towards an agreement to provide the 401 variant of Alas V for human transportation to his inflatables.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4823

Astronautica gives the payload of 401 as 12,500kg to LEO and the launch cost as being $138m, so while it is should be powerful enough to get a reasonable sized capsule into orbit it isnt going to give cheap access to space.

http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/atlasv.htm

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:47 pm
:!:
Okay, it's been forever since I've posted a news article and I'm not on my own computer, so I'll post this on the forum. I'm at Space 2006 in San Jose, and I just got out of a luncheon where Robert Bigelow was the keynote speaker. Here's what he announced:

If the Genesis II spacecraft works out, he hopes to have a brand new vehicle, called "Sundancer", in orbit by May 1 2009, and no later than the second half of 2010. It will have a maximum launch mass of 19,000 pounds, designed to house 3 people, have a volume of 180 cubic meters, and have full ACS, orbital maneuvering, and (of course) ECLSS systems. It will be designed to stay on-orbit for an extended period of time.

After a minimum 6 month shakedown, he will be starting flights (first unmanned, and then manned) to the vehicle. In '08, he will be issuing conditional contracts for transportation to Sundancer, with 4 to 8 flights in the first year alone.

In '11 or '12, he plans to launch a BA 330 module and a propulsion/docking node; this would give the station a total volume of 510 cubic meters. At this point, he said the station would support a minimum launch rate of 16 launches per year. Tickets would be for a 3 week stay at $10M per. His statement near the end of his talk: "If you can create those seats, Bigelow Aerospace will buy them, and see to it that they get filled." He also said that BA is looking for experienced astronauts along with engineering staff.

He also spoke of a new contract with Lockheed-Martin to human-rate the Atlas V. Lockheed will have a press conference on this at about 1pm local time; don't know if I can get in.

He said suborbital tourism is "very valuable" from an "orbiting standpoint", and congratulated the courage and foresight of people like Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

He said that "predictability of launch schedules" is necessary to commercial spaceflight, and also stated that "America is definitely in a new space race."

If anybody wants to repost this in the news section, please do.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:48 pm
The first link did say that the hoped for launch rate of 16 per year would dramatically reduce the Atlas per launch cost. The reduction would have to be pretty large to compete with SpaceX though, if SpaceX can get the Falcon9 flying at the announced price that is.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:38 pm
The $138m was the revised cost in 2004 after the commercial launch market collapse, the original 1998 price was $77m. Perhaps if the launch rates start to creep up the price will go down to near the earlier figure again.

Lockheed is currently bidding on the Aries I upper stage, I wonder why they are looking to create a potential competitor to that. Maybe they are thinking about man rating some of the larger Atlas V variants as a possible launch vehicle for Orion.

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Post Round-up of analysis   Posted on: Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:59 pm
(From a slashdot comment I made, here's a collection of initial analysis by various people in the space blogosphere, many of whom are current or former aerospace engineers)

Clark Lindsay's RLV News, an (excellent) site for private spaceflight news, has some pretty good analysis of the deal. From his latest post:

http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid =2397

Quote:
* Even though it initially only involves a study into the possibility of Atlas V transport to the Bigelow station, just the fact that one of the largest aerospace companies is taking seriously the prospect of commercial manned spaceflight independent of NASA is going to have a big impact on attitudes towards it by NASA and other mainstream companies.

* The high launch rates depend to some extent on space tourism but Bigelow is currently focusing on plans to convince a lot of the countries that currently do not have manned space capabilities to create their own astronaut programs and to center these programs around utilization of the Bigelow facility. The Lockheed deal should make it easier for Bigelow to convince such countries that the opportunities for space access to the facility are for real.

* NASASpaceflight.com notes the potential impact on the COTS winners - SpaceX and Rocketplane-Kistler. However, if those companies succeed in their development plans, their reusable vehicles should be considerably cheaper to operate than the Atlas V. Also, I doubt that Bigelow would want to be dependent on just one vehicle and would most likely contract with at least one other transport company.

* If this plan goes forward and Lockheed-Martin begins developing a manned version of the Atlas V, it's difficult to believe that NASA could continue with the Ares I/Orion program as currently configured. Arguing that the Orion couldn't possibly be made lighter is not going to be sufficient reason to justify a multi-billion dollar duplication of a launch capability that's available at a much lower price.


From Selenian Boondocks:

http://selenianboondocks.blogspot.com/2006/09/lock heedbigelow-space-tourism-deal.html

Quote:
* Lockheed has the contract for the Orion capsule, which means that they can probably piggy-back a lot of their space tourism capsule work off of what they're doing for Orion. Also, if they happen to be able to field their Atlas V tourism vehicle before Orion, they might be able to make out like total bandits--netting billions in development funds for something that they can turn around and say "look, we have a cheaper, and better alternative that's already on the market, --go with us, and you could save lots of money". The upshot being even more flights on their Atlas V. I think this is potentially win-win-win for Lockheed.

* As LM has pointed out elsewhere a lot of the price hikes for Atlas V stem from the fact that they're only launching 2-4 of these per year. They have to cover all of their payroll costs, factory maintenance and upkeep costs, pad ops costs, etc but spread out over much fewer launches. At 2-4 flights per year, they're looking at $140M for their barebones Atlas V, while at 6-8 flights per year they were offering it initially for about $70M. At 20 flights per year, maybe they could cut the price down into the $35-50M range. At that point, the costs per person would be in the $5-10M range.

* Bigelow has stated time and again that he's not in the orbital hotel business. He expects to make most of his money off of building space stations for research, manufacturing, providing low-cost space programs to countries not traditionally thought of as having space programs, as well as orbital tourism. A lot of those other markets aren't as sensitive to cost per ticket as they are to reliability of access. 16 flights per year means that you have a ride to orbit about every 3 weeks or so, which while not perfect, makes many space-based research projects a lot more feasible. Frequent, reliable access to space is just as important as cheap access to space.


There's also some interesting commentary from Rand Simberg's Transterrestrial Musings, who's actually at the conference where this was announced.


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Post Re: Round-up of analysis   Posted on: Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:19 am
NeuronExMachina wrote:
...who's actually at the conference where this was announced.


spacecowboy wrote:
...and I just got out of a luncheon where Robert Bigelow was the keynote speaker...


So am I, mate. I just presented here yesterday (I was part of the AIAA Undergraduate Space Transportation Design Competition winning team), and have gotten the chance to speak (albeit very briefly) and shake hands with some of the prime movers in the industry (Elon Musk, Alex Tai, Jim Benson). Hence the fact that I excitedly hijacked a friend's computer and posted Bigelow's comments. I will admit, however, that I missed a little bit of the facts on the Sundancer vehicle, since it took me a few moments to consciously think about writing this all down.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 22, 2006 7:24 am
Hello, spacecowboy and Andy Hill,

there is an article about it under www.space.com: "Private Space Habitat Could Launch by 2010" ( http://www.space.com/includes/iab.html? ... plans.html ).

I am going to read it later but by a short view I remarked that Atlas V and Lockheed are metioned.

Hello, NeuronExMachina,

Thank You Very Much for the list of quotes.

I suppose that the one mentioning the lower price-sensitivity of some countries is the closest to reality. There are or were only five space tourism customers up to now at a price level of $ 20 mio. Regarding a price of $ 100 mio world wide 1000 potential customers are identified worl-wide by Space Adventures - if it is a trip to the Moon. In so far it might be hard to compete to potential future orbital tourism companies by a man-rated Atlas V.

On the other hand the price is at the level at which the price for a flight by the CXV would be - by CXV the flight would cost $ 20 mio according to t/Space which menas $ 5 mio per passenger at four passengers and one pilot (the pilot to be payed by the four pasengers). At five passengers and one pilot the price could drop to $ 4 mio.

But to man-rate an Atlas V may increase the costs per flight and the price per passenger - and a reusable rocket will tend to be cheaper than an expendable Atlas V...



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EDIT:

Just a few moments ago I read the article. Here some quotes:

Quote:
But the module Bigelow plans to launch at the end of the decade would be capable of supporting visiting crews of up to three people.

At a luncheon speech today in San Jose, Calif., at the AIAA Space 2006 Symposium, Bigelow said his third module, dubbed Sundancer, would have a mass of 8,618.4 kilograms and be equipped with life support systems, attitude control, three windows, on-orbit maneuverability, reboost and de-orbit capability.

He plans to place it at an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Bigelow said that while Sundancer will be a scale model of the large, human-rated habitat he eventually plans to launch into orbit, it will nonetheless have 180 cubic meters of habitable space.


Quote:
Initially Sundancer will require a six-to-nine month period to check out all of its onboard systems. After that, Bigleow said, Sundancer would be able to stay in orbit for several years, which may be necessary since he acknowledged that at present there are no commercially available spacecraft designed to take humans into orbit.

Sundancer will, in effect, be a destination waiting for a means to get there.

With a solution to that problem in mind, Bigelow and Lockheed Martin announced today that they will jointly fund and conduct a study to determine what it would take to get Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 launch vehicle rated for human spaceflight.


Quote:
Bigelow and Sowers both acknowledged that even if the Atlas 5 is human rated, what Bigelow would have at his disposal for a crew capsule is uncertain at this point.

Bigelow's goal is to have a commercial space station in orbit around 2012. Once Sundancer is in orbit, the plan is to launch a propulsion module that would dock at Sundancer. After the docking is completed, a full-sized module, called the BA-330 would be launched and dock with Sundancer and the propulsion module, completing the private orbital outpost.


In total this sounds as if the Atlas V-idea is an intermediate stage only to enable flights to BA-330/Nautilus in the time before there is a winner of the ASP or a vehicle that is similar to a winning vehicle but couldn't compete or wouldn't have wanted to compete by its developer/producer. And Sundancer seems to be a component of the final private station.

MAy be the Atlas V-idea is a test, experiment or rehearsal...


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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 22, 2006 12:32 pm
Here is what Bigelow Aerospace has to say about this partnership on their website:

http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/multive ... ckheed.php

I wonder where all this is leaving Boeing, Lockheed seems to have got in bed with not only NASA but one of the prime movers in the private space group. I wonder if we will see a Boeing partnership with someone to produce a rival space transportation system, with SpaceX, RpK and now possibly Lockmart (I know no one has mention a crewed craft yet just the launcher) producing private craft in addition to Orion they could be frozen out of the human spaceflight business altogether. They have the experience and resources to go it alone but their recent NASA bid partnering with Northrop showed that maybe they havent got the balls.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 22, 2006 1:09 pm
Hello, Andy Hill,

what about the likelyhood that Lockheed Martin have recognized that privates might threaten their own role too and thus took the opportunity of having rivaled out Boeing for now to join with one of the privates with the idea in mind to take over the privates this way? The partnership with Bigelow might remove obstacles to get rid of the privates...



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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 22, 2006 2:39 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
what about the likelyhood that Lockheed Martin have recognized that privates might threaten their own role too and thus took the opportunity of having rivaled out Boeing for now to join with one of the privates with the idea in mind to take over the privates this way? The partnership with Bigelow might remove obstacles to get rid of the privates...


Possibly Lockheed see there is a threat from privates but I cant see the likes of Bigelow or SpaceX selling out to them. Both companies are run/owned by individuals who are in it for the long run and are not afraid to put 100s of millions of dollars into the business from their personnel wealth, why would they sell to Lockheed?

I think that Lockheed are maybe using this as an insurance policy where they have a foothold in the new space companies should they suddenly take off. I think Boeing should do the same if they dont wont to get left behind, especially as they dont have a contract like Orion to fall back on at the moment.

Here's another article on the subject from Alan Boyle which also mentions a possible manned space ship that could be mounted on the Atlas.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/ ... /4632.aspx

Here's the pdf of Lockheed's concept for a crewed spaceship for Atlas:

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/13344.pdf

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 24, 2006 7:14 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

I agree in so far - I had in mind that Lockheed Martin might have in mind a different and partially more subtile strategy. Their financial ressources are more voluminous than Bigelow's and even Musk'2 which means that they have more financial market power they might abuse hidden to the competition agencies and the public. Alternatively they might use the ressources for unfriendly hostile take-overs - then they would need only a little bit mor than half the amount required to rival them out because they only need to get more than 50% of the shares. Musk already has said that the rocket beyond the Falcon 9 S9 requires co-investors... The subtile strategy might be to get insight into internals of the small privates - especially into their problems ideas, solutions, reseraches, developments and thus into their secrest. Then they might offer solutions and thus take over all the ideas etc. step by step without the small privates recognizing that.

The privates simply might have to be very very cautious and to watch what will happen to Bigelow Aerospace, Atlas V and Bigelow's requirement(s) of vehicles capable to reach Sundnacer and BA-330.

...?



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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:59 am
Although I agree with you that Lockheed are probably not beyond creating a situation where they can absorb some of the privates to reduce competition, I think it unlikely that people like Bigelow and Musk are stupid enough to get into that position. Besides I'm not sure that the US government would allow that to happen as they want to encourage more competition in the the US space market and drive prices down.

Also am I right in thinking that both Bigelow and SpaceX are owned by individuals and do not have shareholdes? If this is the case then the question of a hostile take over by accumulating shares is not a problem, that is not to say that in the future this may change if either of the companies are floated of course.

Looking at what has been said about the Lockheed/Bigelow partnering agreement it seems that all lockheed are doing is seeing what it will take to man rate Atlas V (A lot of the work has already been done via various NASA and in house studies anyway). From Bigelow's perspective having a commercial US man rated launcher available can only be a good thing and he is obviously willing to help in defining what is required from his company's point of view to encourage Lockheed that there is a real market out there for their rocket.

Perhaps Bigelow might also partner with other companies to help in the production of a crew vehicle? Not necessarily financial assistance but more in technical help, in this way he can adjust the market to better suit his own requirements. Loaning equipment such as docking systems to another company would ensure that that company would produce a craft that would be compatable with his stations for instance, no cost to him but a lot of help for both sides.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:46 pm
Both Bigelow and SpaceX are privately owned companies with no publicly traded stock. However, Musk has said that he does want to take SpaceX public in the future, some time after Falcon 9 flies successfully. At that point they would be vulnerable to a takeover. Still, there is a lot of behind the scenes battling, part of which is the law suit that SpaceX they recently lost. Bigelow's strategy seems to be secrecy. That plus the fact that he doesn't really have any competition. He is a launch customer and not a launch supplier. He really has no competition in his role of space station supplier. At least I can't think of any other companies that make space stations that might consider him as the competition.


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Post Re: Bigelow may partner with Lockheed   Posted on: Fri Oct 06, 2006 10:40 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
This article on nasaspaceflight indicates that Bigelow and lockheed may be moving towards an agreement to provide the 401 variant of Alas V for human transportation to his inflatables.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4823

Astronautica gives the payload of 401 as 12,500kg to LEO and the launch cost as being $138m, so while it is should be powerful enough to get a reasonable sized capsule into orbit it isnt going to give cheap access to space.

http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/atlasv.htm


12 tons to orbit. That beats R-7.

Probably worth it.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:19 pm
At 5000kg T-space could develop the CXV to launch on an Atlas 401 and save the cost and time of developing the larger quickreach.

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/cxv.htm

Not a cheap option for Bigelow but if T-Space concentrates on the capsul and Lockheed man rates the Atlas then at least there should be a working system by 2010.

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