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New SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo Details Emerging

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:12 pm
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New SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo Details Emerging 
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Post New SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo Details Emerging   Posted on: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:12 pm
The SpaceReview had a story about the current developments (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/943/1):

[quote][color=black]“I believe that after operations [of SpaceShipTwo] start, that there’ll be about 100,000 people that can fly over the next 12 years,â€

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:15 am
Hello, Klaus

Thank You Very Much for that article.

I read the quote only up to now - but that alone already is sufficient to go on in the Accumulation-thread in the Financial Barriers section.

Very interesting seems to be that Rutan now is speaking of a capacity of four launches per day while formerly the number were two. May be that the former number was for SpaceShipTwo while this one is for White Knight 2.

I will make full use of the article and the quote later.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:20 pm
For years burt Rutan has been vocally critical of NASA and the large aerospace corporations. I find it ironic that Scaled Composites is now completely owned by Northrop Grumman. :roll:

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:43 pm
Hello, Rocket Scientists,

like I already m athread under Latest News that ownership might be a strategy to get the construction of the CXV or the orbital SS3 funded Scaled and Virgin have been speaking about.

Orion and Ares are under contract at Lockheed Martin and Boeing - Northrop Grumman only is part of teams but didn't succeed with own designs.

So the Northrop Grumman may be interested in the CXV and now owns a partner of t/Space.

Also Northrop Grumman publicly appreciated the pioneership of Scaled Composites and grants that Burt Rutan remains at helm, the management is kept in their positions and the employees are kept also - which holds for Scaled's projects too.

It can be supposed that Burt Rutan himself and his partner owned the majority of the shares now sold to Northrop Grumman.

So there is no irony in it - it is a strategy for funding, construction and success.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:38 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Hello, Rocket Scientists,

like I already m athread under Latest News that ownership might be a strategy to get the construction of the CXV or the orbital SS3 funded Scaled and Virgin have been speaking about.

Orion and Ares are under contract at Lockheed Martin and Boeing - Northrop Grumman only is part of teams but didn't succeed with own designs.

So the Northrop Grumman may be interested in the CXV and now owns a partner of t/Space.

Also Northrop Grumman publicly appreciated the pioneership of Scaled Composites and grants that Burt Rutan remains at helm, the management is kept in their positions and the employees are kept also - which holds for Scaled's projects too.

It can be supposed that Burt Rutan himself and his partner owned the majority of the shares now sold to Northrop Grumman.

So there is no irony in it - it is a strategy for funding, construction and success.



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

Good points all. I thought the whole point of the "commercial" space travel business would be that small startup companies would be pushing mankind into space. I've met Burt Rutan once. I graduated from the same university he graduated from. I was part of a student group that got to tour Scaled Composites in 1997. Scaled Composites also helped me with my senior design project. Rutan spoke to us for about an hour and it was clear that he has no love for NASA and the large aerospace companies, especially Lockheed Martin. It's good that Rutan and his management will be left in place. However, they are now going to have to work with the Northrop Grumman "bean counters" and I guarantee you that they will clash when it comes to allocating financial resources at some time in the future. Rutan is simply not a corporate type and they may hurt him int he future. There's nothing wrong with Northrop Grumman owning Scaled Composites but I believe that shows that to push commercial space travel the big aerospace companies will most likely be heavily involved.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:29 am
Hello, Rocket Scientist,

you might be right regarding the hurting and the bean counters and one additional point in principle.

But the known facts about the ownership and the deal make it likely that that principle is of no or less meaning for Scaled Composites.

First if all Northrop Grumman is a trust. There is one company owning shares of other companies - all shares now in the case of Scaled Composites. This ownership of shares doesn't allow for control by the "bean counters of the owner yet - the owned company - Scaled Composites here still is independent by law. So no Northrop Gruammn-accountant or -controller can control Scaled Composites. This would require more additional agreements and contracts requiring additional agreements by the FCC.

The second point is that Northrop Grumman already held 40% of the shares of Scaled Composites. These 40% already enabled them to shift some control to their own accountants and controllers if they would have wanted that.

Third Scaled Composites have their own revenues to finance projects and they have their own contacts and relationships to banks etc. - in so far they are still independant from Northrop Grumman.

The main direct funding-effect is the money Northrop Grumman had to pay for the additional 60% of the shares although that money will not have gone to Scaled Composites - there will be a later point about that.

As fifth point there is a likely advatge of the ownership for Scaled Composites. The ownership menas increased trustworthyness regarding credits. Bankers etc. now will be willing to give Scaled higher credits than before and Scaled will have more flexibility now.

Sixth Rutan has said that he thinks that 50 White Knights will be sold now - 25 times the amunt bought by Virgin Galactic. This is catching my eyes. It seems as if the 100% ownership by Northrop Grumman has got him a lot of new additional customers (although potential perhaps at presnet).

The seventh aspect is that Rutan will have known very well what he is doing and that he wouldn't have done the deal if he hadn't saved an secured influence, control etc. including his projects.

A major eighth aspect is that the article I quoted in the thread in the Latest News-section quoted Northrop Grumman to have said that this opens access to Northrop Grumman infratsructure or so for Scaled Composites. So Scaled can avoid invetsments required and to be funded. These investments may be huge and difficult to fund.

Very important as ninth is that the design etc. of WK2 and SS2 are own by Tne Space Ship Company which is owned by Virgin Galactic to some degree. Scaled only does the development and manufacturing. So Northrop Grumman does have very limited control about that only. And it might be that Burt Rutan is an additional owner of The Spaceship Company besides Scaled and Virgin Galactic. Perhaps the money got by the deal with Northrop Grumman has increased or created such an ownership.

Because of this I think that Burt Rutan is safe against hurtings, bean counters etc. It is a real strategic partnership between companies as the innovative idea developed by enterprise economists decades ago.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 22, 2007 9:46 am
I think they just see it as an investment and when Scaled becomes even in their eyes better then the big company, they own it allready. They just keep making money no matter who makes the technology. They just buy it if they can't make it themselves. That's one of the perks of having to much money youn don't know what to do with.

I would very much like to hear why the management of Scaled decided to do it. Probably an offer which they couldn't refuse.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Sep 22, 2007 4:23 pm
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
I think they just see it as an investment and when Scaled becomes even in their eyes better then the big company, they own it allready. They just keep making money no matter who makes the technology. They just buy it if they can't make it themselves. That's one of the perks of having to much money youn don't know what to do with.

I would very much like to hear why the management of Scaled decided to do it. Probably an offer which they couldn't refuse.

I'm sure this is exactly why Northrop Grumman purchased Scaled Composites. And I'm sure Northrop will give whatever funds are necessary to make Scaled Composites more successful.

On another note. When I toured Scaled Composites I was amazed at the work environemnt. It has such a "garage" mentality, kind of like how people build cars in their garages. It was quite refereshing actually. The one thing I'm sure Northrop can help Scaled with in high volume production. Scaled Composites is a prototyping company with little experience with high production. Building 50 White Knights is going to be a challenging manufacturing, planning, and logistical undertaking.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 23, 2007 12:39 pm
Hello, Stefan,

I am nearly sure that they really are out on the strateigic partnership - althought it may well be that except for Burt Rutan and his partner none of them knew about the deal before it was ready. The reason for this idea is that nobody at Scaled could comment it when asked by Space.com.reporters. It would fit into Burt Rutan's secrecy-policy completely.

Hello, Rocket Scientist the one number you mention is the reason for what I have said above - it's an aspect I forgot yesterday: production of 50 White Knights menas to manufacture them. This requires engines and capacities Scaled Composites don't have - they wuld have to invest into them and that's very risky.

So the better solution is to have access to production capacities of somebody else - and this is Northrop Grumman. Now Scaled can produce without having to invest whiel Northrop Grumman alreday have invested.

Northrop Grumman on the other hand may have insufficient business to exhaust their production capacity and thus welcome usgae of free capacities by Scaled Composites. This reduces their cost margins and by the ownership they additionally earn this way.

The public comments on it by Northrop Grumman let this appear the more likely.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:34 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:

Hello, Rocket Scientist the one number you mention is the reason for what I have said above - it's an aspect I forgot yesterday: production of 50 White Knights menas to manufacture them. This requires engines and capacities Scaled Composites don't have - they wuld have to invest into them and that's very risky.

So the better solution is to have access to production capacities of somebody else - and this is Northrop Grumman. Now Scaled can produce without having to invest whiel Northrop Grumman alreday have invested.

Northrop Grumman on the other hand may have insufficient business to exhaust their production capacity and thus welcome usgae of free capacities by Scaled Composites. This reduces their cost margins and by the ownership they additionally earn this way.


Hello Ekkehard Augustin,

In 2001 I had the opportunity to tour the Boeing commercial airliner manufacturing facility in Everett, Washington.

http://cache.eb.com/eb/image?id=27118&rendTypeId=4

The facility is an amazing place. To build 50 Spaceship IIs they will need a similar facility, maybe not as large of course. But a high production environment requires a mindset that is foreign to Scaled Composites. A mindset that is based on industrial and quality engineering principles is key. Scaled Composites is a prototyping company so they never have to really deal with such things. I wouldn't be surprised that the actually production of the 50 spacecraft will be performed at a Northrop Grumman facility and not at Scaled Composites.

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Last edited by Rocket Scientist on Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:29 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:24 pm
Well I don't think you need such a large facility as the production is visioned over perhaps 10 years I would think. That would make about 5 a year what should be manageable in an existing Scaled facility.

I remember that there were news perhaps two years ago that they rented several additional hangars.

But first they have to fly their two crafts before they can go ahead with "mass" production.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:31 am
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Well I don't think you need such a large facility as the production is visioned over perhaps 10 years I would think. That would make about 5 a year what should be manageable in an existing Scaled facility.

I remember that there were news perhaps two years ago that they rented several additional hangars.

But first they have to fly their two crafts before they can go ahead with "mass" production.

It doesn't make sense to build them in Mojave. What happened to Scaled Technology Works, the Scaled Composites offshoot company, in Montrose, Colorado? Weren't they supposed to be the production facility for Scaled Composites?

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Post    Posted on: Mon Sep 24, 2007 2:38 am
Ok, I found this article.

Quote:
STW Composites in Montrose to close

The Denver Business Journal
February 14, 2003

Precision Castparts Corp. has added STW Composites of Montrose to a growing list of businesses it has closed during the current aerospace downturn. After failing to find a buyer for the business, it closed the unit, according to a quarterly Securities & Exchange Commission filing by Portland-based Precision.

STW Composites designs and manufactures composite components for aerospace applications, and is a part of the Precision Castparts' industrial products segment.

The closure of STW is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003, the filing said.

The actions are "a response to a steady and continual decline in the machine tool industry over the past several years," the company said.

As part of a restructuring plan that began in 2001, Precision has eliminated approximately 1,000 jobs and recorded more than $68 million in related charges, according to the 10Q filed Feb. 12.

As of Dec. 29, 2002, Precision's assets declined $40 million to $2.525 billion from year-ago assets of $2.565 billion. For the nine months ended Dec. 29, 2002, Precision's cash declined $10.8 million to $27.3 million, compared with the year-ago period.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:26 am
Just a few moments ago I found time to read the link Klaus posted. The article quotes Burt Rutan about the background of the deal with Northrop Grumman and the future:

[quote]Rutan said the deal was a way to provide a “liquidation eventâ€


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