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SpaceX Given Approval For ISS Mission

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the try-not-to-run-into-it dept.

ISS 143

An anonymous reader sends this snippet from an AFP report: "California-based rocket maker SpaceX said that it will make a test flight in late November to the International Space Station, now that NASA has retired its space shuttle program. 'SpaceX has been hard at work preparing for our next flight — a mission designed to demonstrate that a privately-developed space transportation system can deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS),' the company, also called Space Exploration Technologies, said in a statement. The mission is the second to be carried out by SpaceX, one of a handful of firms competing to make a spaceship to replace the now-defunct US shuttle, which had been used to carry supplies and equipment to the orbiting outpost. 'NASA has given us a November 30, 2011 launch date, which should be followed nine days later by Dragon berthing at the ISS,' the company said." SpaceX has an information sheet for the Dragon capsule, as well as an interesting post about the costs involved in their launches.

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FRIST PSOT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115436)

YEAH, NIGGER BITCHES

The whole space program is private anyway (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115458)

As far as I know, NASA doesn't have a factory. Everything they used was made by the likes of Boeing, Lockheed and others. All NASA added was 50 layers of management, to ensure that everything was behind schedule and over budget.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (0)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115684)

Nevermind the engineers who figure out what kind of craft is needed to complete the mission, how it will complete the mission, and what to do when it goes wrong. Boeing, et al. handled all of that, right.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116044)

NASA has some tame engineers on hand, partially out of organizational inertia, partially to tech the tech with the contractors (who are the real leaders in this apparatus for converting worthless government money into valuable congressional campaign contributions) but mostly because the management enjoys crushing their personal little nerds' hopes and dreams.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (4, Insightful)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116954)

NASA are the admin, everything else is sub-contracted out...

Engineers are sub-contactors from the likes of SAIC ( http://www.saic.com/ [saic.com] ) & Booz Allen Hamilton ( http://www.boozallen.com/ [boozallen.com] ) aswell as the manufacturers (Boeing, ATK, Lockheed Martin, etc).
Launches are handled by ULA ( United Launch Alliance - http://www.ulalaunch.com/ [ulalaunch.com] )
In-space operations are handled by USA (United Space Alliance - www.unitedspacealliance.com/ )

Both ULA & USA are joint operations of Boeing & Lockheed Martin.

So yes, Boeing, et al. did handle all that :-)

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (2)

justsayin (2246634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118008)

Ouch, guess you told him. OTH here is a nice little quote from the Space X career page,
SpaceX is a US based space technology company founded by its residing CEO and CTO, Elon Musk, the former co-founder of PayPal. The company's goal is to renew a sense of excellence in the space industry by disrupting the current paradigm of complacency and replacing it with innovation and commercialized price points; laying the foundation for a truly space-faring human civilization.
Notice the back handed insult? The clever use of the word complacent? I assume they are talking about NASA.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116052)

yes private by companies who only exist on government contracts

been on an airplane recently? yea that cross country flight you were on? remember that 1984 chunk of shit that shook more than a school bus on ice and still had the ashtrays in the seat arms, that represents their commitment to the private sector.

yea, fucking dead (sometimes) decades before we were even born

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117272)

"emember that 1984 chunk of shit that shook more than a school bus on ice and still had the ashtrays in the seat arms, that represents their commitment to the private sector."

Riiiiight, because the 787 and 777 were designed in the early 80s.

Perhaps you should pick a better airline , one that doesnt fly you around in planes that Air Congo wouldn't consider air worthy.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (1)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116196)

Factory or not, NASA bureaucracy or not. NASA has a record of nearly perfect machines accompanied by nearly perfect software. Their scientists deserve at least the same dues as the corporate engineer.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (2)

Wovel (964431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118084)

Nearly perfect machines? Except for 40% of them blowing up and killing the entire crew, I suppose your right. It is dangerous activity, and accidents are inevitable. Using the word perfect in any context (even qualified with nearly) with NASA is absurd.

Maybe you didn't mean machines (even though you said machines). Maybe you meant missions. 2/135 of them ended with the complete obliteration of the crew. Acceptable for a high-risk exploration machine? I certainly think it is. Anywhere near perfect? No not at all. Could it have been lower if NASA was actually perfect? The Rogers report seem to indicate it could have.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118386)

Nearly perfect machines? Except for 40% of them blowing up and killing the entire crew, I suppose your right.

Compare this to the other nations around the world that have no space programs, it's not (always) because they don't care, it's because they know they couldn't pull it off even if they tried. NASA could be better, but I don't think there's a similar group on this planet that's better than NASA.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118760)

I will say that for the shuttle main computers, the software engineering standards are perhaps the highest in the computer industry and really do set the gold standard for software design and review. On average the software engineers developing the guidance system software produce about 4,000-5,000 lines of code per year.... and the rest of the time is spent busting up each other's software and mathematically proving the correctness of the algorithms they've produced. The amount of software generated per programmer may be even less, but it seems like that is about the right figure from what I remember.

In that sense, perfection is perhaps the appropriate word to be used, but it is in certain contexts. That said, the overall spacecraft design for the Shuttle did have some incredibly huge and sadly fatal design flaws, so I agree with your general sentiment that perfect is perhaps a bit overstated. The problem with spaceships is that you can't fix bugs with software that your hardware engineers couldn't resolve. There is this little thing called physics that must be dealt with and can't be brushed aside. Then again, that is why the Shuttle program was a couple of decades late in being canceled.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118926)

Nearly perfect machines? Except for 40% of them blowing up and killing the entire crew, I suppose your right.

100% of everything will eventually fail if you use it enough.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119270)

135 shuttle missions, 2 accidents. That's better than 40%.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117074)

This sounds like the opinion of someone without any age under their belt. Although NASA subcontracts for 'parts' and equipment, they are pretty much a top down organization, much like Apple in that respect. It doesn't mean they aren't in full control of their projects. Without NASA, we wouldn't have been the first on the Moon. A feat still unrepeated for over 40 years. They had a unique style to getting things done in the beginning. Something that got lost over the years under regulation and administration overhead somewhat, but the spark was still there.

I'm very curious to see how this turns out, and I'm hopefully that private industry can step in and spur competition, but you shouldn't dismiss NASA's achievements to 'administration' work when they literally went where no man has gone before.

NASA, Apollo, engineering (2)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118438)

"Although NASA subcontracts for 'parts' and equipment, they are pretty much a top down organization, much like Apple in that respect. It doesn't mean they aren't in full control of their projects. Without NASA, we wouldn't have been the first on the Moon."

The contractors in the Apollo program did a lot of their own engineering. I remember watching a documentary about the LEM, and how Grumman had to solve a lot of challenges, flowing change requests up to NASA. Sure NASA was heavily involved, but it wasn't like all ideas originated from the top.

I don't intend this post as a knock against NASA, just your perception of them.

Re:The whole space program is private anyway (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118680)

Funny thing, sure seems like a manufacturing facility at JPL where they're building the next Mars Rover. Lots of guys and gals twisting wrenches, running milling machines, lacing cables, etc.

Sure, NASA contracts out a lot: federal law prohibits "competition with industry", so if there's an industry supplier, the law requires that we use it, rather than build it ourselves.

And, it's not like NASA stamps out tens or hundreds of the same widget: everything is a prototype.

Go private enterprise! (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115476)

Space-X may be the future of space travel. They designed that thing. It's not a NASA design, and it didn't go through NASA's process of spreading everything out among contractors spread across the US.

Re:carry on (1)

xeon13 (2268514) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115568)

yup i agreed i also getting this point the scientists are using the lazer satellite who hit that comet which will be coming on earth to change their direction after hit the lazer.

Re:carry on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116030)

There's no better way to advertise your essay writting service than to make a non-sensical post with poor grammar and shit capitalization! Keep up the great work, I'm sure many posters here will need your services completing their 5th grade special education exam essays!

Re:Go private enterprise! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115552)

Just to be clear, this isn't "NASA's process", it's the new normal for just about everything which requires Congressional approval. If a gear doesn't touch all 40+ states during manufacture, it probably won't get built.

Re:Go private enterprise! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115712)

doesn't touch all 40+ states during manufacture

Hooray American geography classes!

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116296)

Didn't you hear? Texas, Florida, Utah, Arizona, and Wyoming all seceded from the federal union about a month ago, and Nevada is considering to follow suit.

Or perhaps that message was jumbled in the process......

Re:Go private enterprise! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118158)

Some of the smaller states don't have a big enough congressional delegation to ensure that they get a piece of the action.

Re:Go private enterprise! (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116032)

Yeah, they could go with the lowest bidder no matter where they were located!

Re:Go private enterprise! (1)

crutchy (1949900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117154)

spacex will eventually subcontract the russians when they figure out how much they (don't) make from their dragon

Re:Go private enterprise! (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117342)

SpaceX make their money on the Falcon launch system, not the Dragon capsule as their are limited customers at the moment wanting to put people into orbit.

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37117440)

they still won't be able to compete with the russians and will go broke like all their predecessors

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37117288)

They did that for the USAF refuelling tankers and gave the contract the the Europeans (and Lockheed Martin) using Airbus aircraft.
For some reason the contract was withdrawn and applications had to be resubmitted and a purely US bid won the second time.

Re:Go private enterprise! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116482)

A company that sells a service to another organization that has a monopoly on initiation of violence over some geographical area cannot be called a private enterprise. NASA is an extension of the US government and so is paying spaceX 1.6 billion dollars that it stole from others. Voluntary exchange and respect for private property are absent in this arrangement to a significant degree. Much of the investment capital comes from those who choose to invest money they own, but that only changes the degree to which they have elements of private enterprise. It does not negate the funding that comes through state theft.

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118132)

You Libertardians don't get anything, do you? How do you get through life on fantasies, parroted whacko opinions and made-up facts?

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118598)

Just FYI, your tax payments funded all this tech.

Re:Go private enterprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118978)

Wow, the future of "space travel"! So grandiose! So full of promise! They're going to the same place, the same way, to do the same things we always have. Don't you guys ever get bored of this? It's like a retard running up the stairs and shouting "Look MOM!!! LOOK!!!" Enough already.

Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (0, Flamebait)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115484)

Surrounded by "the void" as you contemplate the approach of a mass hurtling along at 22,000 MPH (give or take) whose design was dictated by a cost vs. capabilities calculation...that would be exciting.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115528)

"It's a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one's safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract." - Alan Shepard (supposedly, it's often quoted but I haven't seen a definitive source)

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116214)

It's an old old joke that a lot of the astronauts always told, and probably still do.

Which is why we should cheer on Space X (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117228)

and other companies trying to compete in this area.

Government contractors usually get to hide behind the same government. So when they screw up they get paid more to do it right the next time. Private contractors cannot afford the screw ups. Oh I am sure they will screw up but when your trying to make a buck in a high risk area you do your damned best to eliminate all those risks, especially ones that will end your business like losing a life.

Private industry is not magic (4, Interesting)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118552)

"Private contractors cannot afford the screw ups."

You ever work for a private contractor? I assure you, they screw up all the time. Sometimes it costs them, sometimes they dodge it. Sometimes they learn, sometimes they don't. Cronyism, nepotism, favoritism, bureaucracy, inertia, etc., all exist in the corporate world, too.

SpaceX succeeds because they're new and small and nimble and aren't tied to existing dead weight. And more power to them for it.

The main advantage of private industry is that (ideally) there are opportunities for competitors to replace the defective ones. (It doesn't always work that way in practice, due to startup costs, network effects, etc., of course.)

Aerospace has high startup costs, so it's been a tough one. Fortunately, with SpaceX, some investors with very deep pockets have decided to have a go. They've also gotten funding from the government, but so far have largely avoided getting tied into any existing pork, which is great.

Re:Which is why we should cheer on Space X (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118812)

Private contractors cannot afford the screw ups. Oh I am sure they will screw up but when your trying to make a buck in a high risk area you do your damned best to eliminate all those risks, especially ones that will end your business like losing a life.

By the time business ends, the manager who made the decisions leading to it has already cashed in his bonuses for his part in cutting costs and moved somewhere else. Similarly, the shareholders who rewarded him have cashed in on the temporary stock prize boost. And the employees, knowing fully well that they have no job security whatsoever, don't sweat it either, since they know that they'll have to find another job every couple years anyway.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (1)

jlar (584848) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115538)

But how much extra will you spend for say a 2% points reduction in risk? Let us assume a crew of 5 astronauts. Will you spend 50 million USD extra per launch for that? This means that you are spending 10 million USD to remove a 2% of an astronaut dying. Or on average 500 million USD to save an astronaut.

Of course my numbers are pulled out of my a** and there are also other costs of mission failure. And we don't even know if NASA can provide better safety. But the point is that NASA is spending a disproportionate amount of money on safety. Money that could have saved a very large number of people if invested in improving safety/health in other areas.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (-1, Troll)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115950)

Money that could have saved a very large number of people if invested in improving safety/health in other areas.

You mean the Republicans are going to spend the money saved on improving the safety/health of the American people?

I hadn't realized that; I had rather assumed their declared intent of reducing or eliminating existing social safety nets precluded new safety/health initiatives in other areas.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116098)

I guaran-god-damned-tee that 2% risk reduction would be easy if we were not shoving 60+ % into contractors pockets to reelect senator dickfuck, not like we have a choice about it, our system is setup to only provide the opinion to our representatives, who do whatever the hell they feel like and say we voted for it.

Thats how a country votes in one guy, but the dumb fuck outdated points system votes in whoever the state wants in, weather it be a unqualified two faced, snaked tongued community member, or a fucking retard drunk coke head.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118622)

So try to get your state to split your electoral votes based on percentage, dumbass. Booo hooooo the electoral college, boooo hoooo. The states can effectively end the chances of another popular vote winner not winning the electoral votes.

Re:Oh, to be sitting in the Space Station... (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116360)

Since the cost of almost any NASA project can't be nailed down to within an order of magnitude anyway, pulling numbers out of your a** may be about as accurate as anything else you might find in any formal report that even comes from the GPO. I've seen the cost of a shuttle mission anywhere from about $50 million to about $5 billion (usually somewhere in between those numbers) depending on how you make the calculations... just to give an example. The costs for the ISS are in a similar range and even more extreme.

Since it is all other people's money, the amount NASA spends on extra safety is irrelevant. Keep in mind that during the Apollo era, the mantra was "waste anything but time" in order to get people put on the Moon. And they succeeded as well for both cost and getting people there.

The difference with SpaceX is that they are indeed footing the bill and are accountable to investors on Wall Street (or rather investment groups in Silicon Valley... Wall Street is just around the corner though with an IPO) and so far all SpaceX has done are fixed cost contracts where the costs for safety must be accounted for to the penny. That kind of focuses the engineers a bit more as well as makes them very much paranoid about a NASA engineer saying they need to add an extra billion dollars worth of safety features.... when the whole project (engines, spacecraft, launch vehicle, launch pad, testing facilities and more) has been done for less than a billion dollars. NASA can't even do a power point presentation for less than $100 million.

Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115494)

I remember they pushed them up when the Shuttle retirement was announced.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (3, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115592)

Apparently the ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle and JAXA's H-II Transfer vehicle can also resupply the ISS [wikipedia.org], so the Russians do not have a lock on unmanned missions to it. I wonder when Dragon will be ready for human "payload"?

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115686)

I wonder when Dragon will be ready for human "payload"?

That's what I'm wondering too. I know that getting something man-rated is a lot more difficult than just cargo-rated. I'd bet that many of the systems require for human use will be installed on the demonstrator even if it's going up with a bunch of cargo, just to prove those systems work, and to assist in achieving certification for use for people. What I wonder, though, is how many launches, how many non-launched capsules, and how many years would be required to certify the design, even if it never suffers a failure in the testing process.

Space is a dangerous business and we've been lucky in the US that we've never had a vacuum-based death. We've been limited to launch and return deaths only, but those have been over with comparatively quickly. It's tough to say how people would react if astronauts died aboard a craft that failed slowly, with nothing that could be done about it. That's probably a big reason for the schedule and why it takes so long. I just hope the process isn't far too unnecessarily inefficient.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116036)

There was one accidential vacuum exposure during training and equipment testing. He survived. Turns out humans don't explode like in the movies.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116358)

There was one accidential vacuum exposure during training and equipment testing. He survived. Turns out humans don't explode like in the movies.

Yeah, we've actually known that for a long time. The theory came from some idiot who doesn't understand that the tensile strength of your skin, muscles, blood vessels, and other tissue can withstand quite a bit more than 1 atmospheric pressure before tearing apart. Even though the pressure outside the body is zero, your heart is still pumping which creates pressure within the closed-system of your vessels so no your blood won't boil... because inside your body you're not at zero psi.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116528)

But the saliva in your mouth can boil, you get real bad nosebleed, and other problems can happen as well. The main issue is oxygen deprivation of the brain, which is irreversible damage and head-smacking obvious. The other stuff, while nasty, can be overcome if you get back under pressurization quickly.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116766)

The main issue is oxygen deprivation of the brain, which is irreversible damage and head-smacking obvious. The other stuff, while nasty, can be overcome if you get back under pressurization quickly.

Yes, but it doesn't happen instantly. If it did, people doing freediving would also be in trouble. (The pressure gradient is in the opposite direction there, but the difference is also much larger; you get to 2 atmospheres of pressure — as much difference as between sea level and outer space — at only about 10m deep.)

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117290)

So that scene in 2001 with David Bowman jumping out of the space pod into the emergency airlock could be possible, even though you would suffer some damage? At least you would not have blood pouring out of you like in Event Horizon.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (2)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117600)

That scene was written by Arthur C Clarke directly from NASA research, ACC had a lot of friends inside NASA, and wrote several stories based on stuff he got "from the horse's mouth". Not leaked - it was all public knowledge. But he got to talk to the researchers not just read the press releases and papers.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118788)

Not so fast with internal blood pressure! The relative peak blood pressure is, say, 120mmHg = 16kPa = 0.16bar. The boiling point of water is about 50C at that pressure, so you're right -- at the systolic peak the blood will not boil. I don't know how high the absolute average pressure in your body would be with vacuum on the outside. I'd guess around 6kPa, since that's the boiling pressure of water at your internal temperature. However, there are large veins close to the heart with negative blood pressure -- if you'd puncture them at atmospheric pressure, you'd get air sucked into the system. Assuming your internal body pressure hovering around 6-10kPa, the blood in those veins (and in the right ventricle) could indeed boil for a part of each diastole. If anything, it'd probably decrease the efficiency of the right heart, as it'd deal with heavy cavitation in the atrium. I have no idea how the pressures are in the left atrium, though. Exposure to vacuum must not be good for your lungs either...

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116406)

There was a suicide which took place in a ground-based vacuum chamber. It wasn't pretty and rarely gets talked about... in part because of the circumstances involved. Just like several astronauts who died for mundane causes like a plane crash or auto accident are not listed on the space memorial wall.... even if those deaths happened during "training". Perhaps that may change some day.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118412)

Just like several astronauts who died for mundane causes like a plane crash or auto accident are not listed on the space memorial wall.... even if those deaths happened during "training". Perhaps that may change some day.

Everybody dies.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116388)

That's what I'm wondering too. I know that getting something man-rated is a lot more difficult than just cargo-rated.

Tell me when realistic human rating standards ever get established for spaceflight in America. At the moment, the only standard that I'm aware of is if the NASA administrator or one of his deputies simply declares that a spacecraft meets "man-rating" because that is what it was designed to do. So far, not a single spacecraft (including the Space Shuttle) ever met that human-rating requirement that was anything other than an arbitrary decision.

Oh, there are "man-rating" standards.... so stringent that NASA engineers or contractors themselves don't meet them. They are also politically motivated standards that are explicitly set up so only NASA engineers or favored contractors can possibly be expected to meet them. Perhaps someday more realistic standards will be established, but they really don't exist in terms of something based upon real experience or scientific principles that can be independently derived.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118772)

SpaceX will have 7 launches. Most will consider this safe after that. Personally, I think that after 3 launches, with returns, we should send one up with 7 seats for use as a lifeboat. The reason is that while there will be 2 soyuz up there, they will be at the opposite end of the station. The craft should be capable of 12 month stay, so for the next couple of years, we would send up several more missions.

Re:Will Russia drop the prices now? (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115704)

I don't think it matters what the price is. All of the alternatives to Dragon (and NASA is almost certain to go with 2 options) are planned for the Atlas V, which is expensive enough that without a significant increase in flight rate I can't see it beating the Russians on price. The point is not to find the lowest cost provider, but to enable reasonably priced domestic providers.

SpaceX Company Update is also online (4, Interesting)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115536)

SpaceX Update [spacex.com]

This goes more into what's been going on running up to the launch, and has some great pictures of the rocket/capsule/facility in hawthorne (I took one of them :P)

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

ender06 (913978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115562)

Narmacil, what department are you in? I'm currently interning in Avionics for my second summer.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115576)

Launch Ops Represent!

but seriously, avionics is always rollin in at 10am like they're too cool for school, what's with that?

Are you over in intern land or with the mass of avionics?

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

ender06 (913978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115622)

I am over in intern land, done on Friday though. We prefer the 10 to 10 kind of schedule, just like we're still in college.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (0)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115660)

yeah it's not so bad when you don't have to talk to people at the cape all the time. (those guys wake up crazy early, and with the time difference it's like 4am here in Cali when we're doing stuff sometimes)

Hope you had a good summer, and enjoy your last couple days, Thursday the froyo flavor is going to cake batter, should be a high note to go out on.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115918)

Thursday the froyo flavor is going to cake batter, should be a high note to go out on.

Is this some kind of spaceX code meaning the dragon will use android 2.2 on its main computers? (yes, google's naming conventions for android releases have ruined me, they are even worse then ubuntu with their leprose lemurs and demented donkeys)

Also, hats off to you rocket scientist guys, makes me wish i was made of sterner stuff and actually went to aeronautics school instead of electronics.. Being a programmer seems very menial right now.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (2)

Narmacil (1189367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116362)

Unfortunately it's not a code for anything, we just have a frozen yogurt bar at work and they change the two flavors bi weekly. It's normally original tart cause elon supposedly likes that the most, but we get some interesting things every once in a while

And we've got a bunch of programmers, jobs are posted on the main site (careers page) if you're interested

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

Walkingshark (711886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117220)

I wish you were looking for emergency managers. I graduated in the wrong field. I'm actually considering going back and getting a masters in some kind of engineering just so I can get a job at SpaceX.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118720)

Do you guys need really tall people? I'm 6'5" and unemployed... I can reach really high things without a ladder, like lightbulbs and books on the top shelf! I'm a people person and I think laterally!

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#37115706)

Thanks to both you guys. I got to stand feet away from the Dragon capsule that went to space and back an hour after watching the last shuttle launch. Pretty. Farking. Awesome. Keep up the amazing work.

Re:SpaceX Company Update is also online (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116988)

So are we going to get more "nominal" jokes this time around? :-)

re (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115678)

i love the america f*ck yeah in the costing sheet...

Kerbal Space Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37115696)

I see, they've taken inspiration from the Kerbal Space Program.

Obama was right (2, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116178)

Sending NASA back to the drawing boards to develop breakthrough technologies for deep space exploration is what it should do, let private enterprise do what has already been proven. Breaking the power of the aero-industrial complex with their legions of lobbyists and congressmen in their pockets took guts to do. This is a giant leap in the right direction.

Ironic that people (used to?) claim that Obama was a socialist. Sure he spent taxpayer money to save the auto industry. Now it is being paid back although admittedly projections are that the government will lose 1.5 Billion upfront. Still, considering how many Millions of jobs were directly and indirectly (suppliers, communities) saved, that $1.5 Billion was well spent. And that's not even considering the taxes these now highly profitable enterprises (record sales and growth) are returning to the treasury and will be doing so (hopefully) for many years to come.

Re:Obama was right (1, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116492)

I wish I could take credit for this quote, but I have to give the credit to some other person:

Democrats don't think capitalism works below the sky, Republicans don't think it works above

That about sums up the problem here. I've raised the issue in Republican political discussion forums thinking that maybe somebody might get a clue that Republican congressmen are two faced on this particular issue. Such discussion threads usually go like a lead balloon and die a premature death as nobody responds or even sees a problem... or worse yet defends Republican congressmen for their actions to support a central design bureau with a command economy structure because it benefits their own districts.

Re:Obama was right (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118686)

I've raised the issue in Republican political discussion forums thinking that maybe somebody might get a clue that Republican congressmen are two faced on this particular issue. Such discussion threads usually go like a lead balloon and die a premature death as nobody responds or even sees a problem... or worse yet defends Republican congressmen for their actions to support a central design bureau with a command economy structure because it benefits their own districts.

Questioning Republican policies on Republican forums is like questioning the existence of God on Rapture Ready forums.

Re:Obama was right (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117330)

And that's not even considering the taxes these now highly profitable enterprises (record sales and growth) are returning to the treasury and will be doing so (hopefully) for many years to come.

Considering that large companies don't pay taxes in the US, the direct return on that is probably very low.

Re:Obama was right (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117380)

let private enterprise do what has already been proven. Breaking the power of the aero-industrial complex with their legions of lobbyists and congressmen in their pockets took guts to do.

In other words, let private industry do what has already been proven - but only if it's the right private industry.

Blatant propaganda (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116192)

From TFA: "If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference."

With what? Oh, right, by hiking up the prices of launches that will follow, because even the engineers at SpaceX don't have their money tree working properly yet.

So "these prices are not arbitrary, premised on capturing a dominant share of the market, or “teaser” rates meant to lure in an eager market only to be increased later"; perhaps not, but you already announce that SpaceX will cover any cost overruns and will pay for them "themselves", i.e. the customer after you will pay for them. It's a name game, but sounds to me like arbitrary pricing, aimed at capturing a decent share of the market and it looks like they're succeeding at teasing in an eager, Space Shuttle-less market.

Don't get me wrong, I think commercial spaceflight is the way to go, but this kind of talk doesn't exactly help to give me the feeling SpaceX is being entirely forthcoming. And I dread the day we'll be picking up the pieces from the first failure from someone's backyard. Who will explain to Timmy's mom and dad why all those safety regulations (which are generally something hiking up the prices quite a bit) were struck?

Re:Blatant propaganda (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37116456)

The difference here is that SpaceX is planning on selling flights to people other than the U.S. government, and thus is interested in a reasonable price that can induce those other customers to be using their services. They are hitting up other governments (South Korea, Brazil, and a few others) who are already going to be using Bigelow Aerospace modules for their astronaut programs, so the issue here is really the bottom line: How much does the spacecraft actually cost?

Most other space contractors use a cost-plus contracting model where the "cost" is assured to be completely paid by the government where the "plus" is the guaranteed profit from the contract. That works fine for things like building an atomic bomb when nobody has ever built one before, but it stinks for things like a rocket going to space that has been done dozens of times before and the engineers do have a pretty good idea on how to build the thing.

The launches that follow are not expected to be significantly higher in price.... and SpaceX wants to keep them low out of self interest because other rocketry companies are close on their heels within a decade or so which can compete with the flights to low Earth orbit. As it is the Atlas V is being reworked to launch the CST-100 (made by Boeing) and Oribtal's Taurus II launcher is going to be flying the Cygnus spacecraft.... either of which can also compete against the Dragon/Falcon 9 spacecraft combo. That says nothing of the dozen or so smaller companies like Xcor, Armadillo Aerospace, Scaled Composites, Blue Origin, and more that are moving onto larger spacecraft who all have eventual orbital vehicles in their long-term business plans.

These companies know full well that the number of flights for government employees and government sponsored flights is few and far between, but the U.S. government does have the money right now and the need while private groups are still trying to get themselves organized to take advantage of much lower launch costs.

Re:Blatant propaganda (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118202)

They are hitting up other governments (South Korea, Brazil, and a few others) who are already going to be using Bigelow Aerospace modules for their astronaut programs

Where do you get that information for Bigelow and the manned Brazilian space program? I used to work on the unmanned program and never heard something like that but I've been out for two or three years now. As far as I know, there's no man-rated space vehicle planned and VLS-2 was being redeveloped with Ukrainian cooperation after a VLS-1 launch pad explosion that killed a good number of engineers. There was some talk of direct cooperation with Russians but I don't know how that went. The program is probably on freeze after this year budget cuts, though.

Re:Blatant propaganda (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37118652)

Where do you get that information for Bigelow and the manned Brazilian space program?

I don't know what capsule that the Brazilian Space Agency is going to be using, but Brazil is one of the countries who have signed an agreement to lease and/or purchase one of the Bigelow modules. I presume that would involve either purchasing spaceflight from one of the existing companies or perhaps creating their own space capsule to get up to that space station on their own.

Bigelow doesn't have the list of countries on their website but there are some other stories that have come up fairly recently. This story might interest you on this issue:

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/07/18/aeb-president-wants-to-triple-brazilian-0space-budget/ [parabolicarc.com]

The Brazilian space program has been in the news in a few other cases, including some work in the CTA and the AEB starting to get serious about Brazilian access to space.

Re:Blatant propaganda (3, Informative)

vbraga (228124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119490)

The cited article has no links to Bigelow. It's difficult to imagine it would happen in the actual political context. One of the main aims of the Brazilian space program is to develop the local industry. Buying from SpaceX or Bigelow with a technology transfer program is difficult to imagine (there are legal American restrictions too). Buying without a technology transfer program should be a no-no and will probably be seen as a useless marketing gimmick, much like the when the first Brazilian astronaut flew in a Soyuz capsule just like a space tourist.

The article cites the "Cruzeiro do Sul" proposed rocket family. "Cruzeiro do Sul" depends of the Russian cooperation. Russia (MAI) has been providing training to engineers. How well the training is going and how much time it will take until those newly trained engineers to be able to engage in a useful project remains to be seen. I do have a lot of admiration for the IAE guys but I don't have much faith in the Russian cooperation program. And now Jobim resigned from the Defense Ministery - Jobim was a major backer of the Russian cooperation agreement - my hopes aren't high.

A new Brazilian capsule is probably out of question since SARA - a proposed unnamed reentry capsule for microgravity experiments - didn't even fly yet. And I'm not sure it will, considering the current deep budget cuts.

Don't take AEB press releases seriously. AEB is the problem, not the solution. The Brazilian space program is run by two entities: INPE (satellites, space physics research) and IAE/CTA (launchers). AEB is just a useless bureaucratic overhead, created because politicians and international observers didn't like the space program being run by the Air Force (maybe out of the fear of a imaginary secret ballistic missile program).

Re:Blatant propaganda (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117662)

Except that, should they do this, they will then cost as much as or more than the Chinese they are boasting about undercutting. They are saying that they are in an open market for non-man-rated launches to orbit: they are competing with the Russian and Chinese national launch systems. If they start with "teaser" rates and then raise them, a canny buyer will take the teaser and then go elsewhere once it expires. It has already been shown that you can switch a payload from one launch system to another for not many millions, especially if the possibility was considered at design time.

A case of the free market possibly working.

I am surprised that you cannot accept that the price of something cannot fall over fifty years of development without impacting safety, The price of most tech gadgets falls over over time, while the performance rises. Plane tickets cost a fraction of what they did during the Apollo program, and are far safer. Why should not freight-to-orbit have followed a similar, albeit slower, curve?

Re:Blatant propaganda (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37119310)

You're silly. The "safety regulations" are not hiking up the prices. Everyone wants a successful mission. Cutting corners usually means losing the mission. There's nothing particular that SpaceX is doing differently in the safety department that the big boys (Lockheed and Boeing) do differently. SpaceX just happens to waste an order of magnitude less money doing so. I guess you're nowhere near the current government contracting: they waste so much money it's crazy. Your mistaken belief is that somehow SpaceX is a "budget knockoff" type of a deal. I'm worried you're a shill for United Launch Alliance -- because they'll be getting their ass handed to them. If everything goes allright for SpaceX, in about 10 years there will be nobody else left selling launch services in the U.S. -- the customers aren't silly. At prices charged by SpaceX, for reasonably priced cargo you can get one launch failure and one successful launch for the price of one successful launch with closest competitor.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116424)

Spacex, along with Google, Armadillo and few others is what makes America as something more than a hated bully.

Same old socialism for the rich (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37116466)

Here we go again... Tax payers money spent over 30 years to design, test and refine technology to the point where it can now be handed over to private companies so that they can make profits. Just like the airline industry, the computer/electronics industry etc...

Still dreaming that we live in a capitalist, free market society? People should at least be honest about calling this corporate welfare or a form of sate sponsored socialism.

And please, don't spew crap about how this company has invented everything from scratch from their own pockets. Slashdot readers should know better than that.

Re:Same old socialism for the rich (2)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117702)

And, in terms of the prosperity of the country, has this been a bad thing? Countries that have not had government-funded development have remained technically backward. Countries that have hugged their government-funded development to their government heart have had inefficient, unreliable tech industries. Th US has got the leading position it has by the very process you describe of government developing a technology to prove it was viable, then leaving it to private enterprise to make something marketable out of it, and market it.

No, it is not state-sponsored socialism: if it were, the government would hang on to their inefficient dinosaur technology companies as happened in many European countries.

Go on, kill the golden goose: destroy the US tech lead by stopping DARPA, NASA etc from doing blue sky research,

Re:Same old socialism for the rich (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37118884)

First off, it IS state-sponsored socialism. We have been socialists since before Ben Franklin created the fire dept. And yes, it is socalists for us to do this R&D and then pass it off to our industries. Personally, I do not have an issue with that.

The problem is that many of these companies now send the items to china to be produced.

And as to having DAPRA, NASA, etc stopped, well, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Al Qaeda, etc would be ecstatic about that idea.

Windbourne - moderating.

Corporate Anarchists in Space (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117188)

Look at the posts here that whine about government taxes paying for a space programme now being entered by private American companies. See their total lack of a vision for America and humanity? See their commitment to destroying what is perhaps America's - and humanity's - greatest achievements and endeavors? See them demanding we do nothing but the purely private business that would never have gone to space, or if it eventually did (after much loss of life and limb) would never have shared any of what it saw or got there?

Then look at the posts celebrating America's space programme. Look at the effort it inspired, the ambition it provokes, the achievements it propels.

Your tax dollars at work. Vs your neighborhood libertarian's corporate anarchy. Space isn't the only ice-cold vacuum: you can have it here on Earth by voting Republican in 2012.

Re:Corporate Anarchists in Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37117624)

Ron Paul,

People on Kool Aid like yourself are what's wrong with humanity, just another village idiot repeating what someone else said. We need free thinking not a government nanny state.

Re:Corporate Anarchists in Space (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117730)

Corporations are a creation of the state -- they're an entitlement for the corporation's owners to limited liability for their actions. There's nothing at all libertarian about them.

#irc.tr0oltalk.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37117264)

a full-time GNAA and piis cocktail. Lube or we sell and reports and It there. Bring Rapid, With any sort

The Dragon? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37117788)

which should be followed nine days later by Dragon berthing at the ISS

Dragons roost- they do not 'berth'.

Re:The Dragon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37119004)

yes, but you see, dragons aren't real. this is a space capsule.

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