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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    Posted on: Tue Oct 10, 2006 12:59 pm
Check me on this but if SpaceX can get their systems going as they want to then they'll still be cheaper than any of the other launch variants for the full and partial loads as stated. Yes?

Musk recently stated in his September Update that they are not going to raise launch prices. He didn't say how long they would remain at the published levels but I guess that failing a major catastrophe then he'd at least keep them for his current launch manifest plus any customers that come on board out to the end of timeframe for that manifest. Just guessing on the last bit but he doesn't strike me as an individual that would go back on what he's said in the press.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 10, 2006 1:30 pm
beancounter wrote:
Check me on this but if SpaceX can get their systems going as they want to then they'll still be cheaper than any of the other launch variants for the full and partial loads as stated. Yes?


That's right SpaceX will still be a cheaper option for Bigelow but there is no reason he has to wait for Elon to get it flying if there is a man rated Atlas available. Remember that this partnership costs Bigelow nothing financially and that the cost of man rating to Lockheed will be spread out over a number of scheduled launches.

From Lockheed's point of view they are probably looking to improve the Atlas with every launch and if any changes they make help to man rate it as well thats just another benefit for them. From what I've read it appears that the required changes will happen gradually with each launch rather than a major redesign all at once. I would have thought that Lockheed expects SpaceX to get Falcon IX flying but if they can get there first with a man rated launcher then they could pick up a lot of the business which would enable them to drive launch costs down and be more competitive.

Also it is not just a question of cost, Lockheed can bring other things to a launch contract such as experience and manufacturing infrastructure. How many Falcon IXs is SpaceX going to build initially? Lockheed could easily have a dozen rockets available every year for Bigelow to purchase, so while SpaceX might be cheaper they are not large enough (at the moment at least) to service the entire market that Bigelow is expecting.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Oct 10, 2006 1:43 pm
Given the number listed fro the larger launch rate by Lockheed they seem still to be above SpaceX's prices - this might weight in Bigelow's eyes. And he is going to use a Falcon 9 to launch the third inflatable module.

The disadvantage of the high hardware costs at Lockheed's Atlas will speak against them in the long run - SpaceX can't compete for the ASP but they might be very interesting for Bigelow in the future. May be that their prices decrease instead of increase if their launch rate increases compared to now - and the more if they develop a resuable upper stage.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:16 am
I think we'd all be very surprised at how quickly SpaceX could gear up if it needed to do so. Remember that all the systems currently be used on the Falcon1 are transferrable to Falcon5 and 9 with the only exception being running more than 1 engine at a time as well as vehicle size. The only reason at the moment for slow production rates is that there is no need for faster ones and SpaceX is still developing and testing as they go. They haven't reached what might be called a normal production state. Fact is that I don't think any launch provider has reached that exalted and valuable state of being. :lol:

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 11, 2006 8:44 am
I'm sure SpaceX will get Falcon IX flying and that it is highly probable that it will be a lot cheaper than the Atlas. But from Bigelow's point of view he doesn't want to pin everything on a rocket that hasn't been built yet (let alone flown) so I can understand why he is talking to Lockheed and probably anyone else who might be interested. Lets not forget here that SpaceX has yet to get to orbit and that there is no substitute for actual flights for creating confidence with your customers.

Any delays in the Falcon IX would impact Bigelow and slow him down if he was completely dependant on it. While SpaceX can no doubt increase their output to produce more Falcons, this would probably require a major investment in facilities, equipment and staff. Lockheed only has to ramp the Atlas production up to what it originally expected and planned for.

From a passenger point of view I think most people would feel happier about flying on a launcher with a 100% success rate rather than a new booster with little or no flight record. Whether they would be willing to spend the extra millions for their ticket on an Atlas is anyones guess.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:49 am
I don't know of any launch provider that has a hundred percent success rate and the Atlas isn't yet human-rated. Even the human-rated vehicles have had losses - USSR several, Apollo one, STS two. Sorry forgot China with zero.
I agree that SpaceX has yet to prove itself and Bigalow has to pursue more than one launch provider - that's his normal contracting philosophy and approach anyway. He's always seen his place in the scheme of things as a catalyst for change and a provider of space habitats. By providing somewhere to go he's hoping that will provide the impetus for the launch industry to get it's act into gear and move forward without having to worry about NASA and other government agencies or other governments for that matter. And guess what - it's happening. Yee hah
:lol:

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 12, 2006 8:08 am
beancounter wrote:
I don't know of any launch provider that has a hundred percent success rate and the Atlas isn't yet human-rated.


Astronautix quotes Atlas V as having a 100% success rate (although this could be out of date), anyone know if this is correct? I know its difficult to say for sure given there are so many Atlas variants and its unclear (at least to me) one starts and the next finishes.

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

As for man rating, thats be discussed in other threads and appears to be a bit vague about what is needed. Lockheed obviously dont think that it is to much of a problem if they are going to fund the process themselves, they are not known for spending their own money on lost causes. :)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 12, 2006 12:48 pm
AFAIK the Atlas V does have a 100% success rate, but not that many have flown. The shuttle had flown more times than Atlas V has so far before the Challenger accident.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:30 am
Umm, launch providers not launch vehicles :!:

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:48 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
AFAIK the Atlas V does have a 100% success rate, but not that many have flown. The shuttle had flown more times than Atlas V has so far before the Challenger accident.


Atlas V is certainly a better choice than pad-sitter Delta IV, curse or no

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/653/1


I would have liked to have seen him use Falcon 9. A private rocket and a private payload.

That would have been a true private space-shot.

As it stands, Glushko and the Gulag will give Bigelow his ride--by extension--with the Soviet RD-180


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