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NASA Splits $1.1B For Three Commercial Spacecraft

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the paying-others-to-do-the-heavy-lifting dept.

NASA 184

coondoggie writes "NASA today continued its development of commercial space systems by splitting a little over $1.1 billion with Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies (Space X) and Sierra Nevada to develop and build advanced spaceships. 'Today's awards give a huge advantage to the three companies that got them, because competitors will need to fund their own development in its entirety. On the other hand, by partnering with the competitors, NASA has managed to seed the development of five different manned space vehicles for under $1B so far, a leap forward for the evolving space passenger market. They've paid for it on a reward-for-progress basis, handing out pre-agreed amounts of money for each specified milestone. SpaceX was well ahead of the other two competitors because of the unmanned Dragon, which has already berthed with the International Space Station. The company has borne the brunt of the development costs itself, putting in about $300 million of its own money in addition to about $75 million from NASA.'"

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Attention unemployed geeks! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40867775)

Attention leftist free software hippies!

Hows that free Obamacare colonoscopy going?

Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon

Egypt and Libya handed over to the Islamists on a silver platter

45% increase in debt.

Regulatory policies strangling business

That perfect health care for all, casuing businesses to not hire and drop coverage to put more people on the dole.

Unemployment above 8%

GDP Growth below 2%

Changed his mind four times on that OBL kill, which was set up by the hardwork of Bush, Bush worked 8 strong, Obama got the save.

Domestic energy production hamstrung, while billions of tax dollars wasted on masturbatory green energy companies, run by his cronies.

A racist running the Justice Department.

Hundreds of Mexican citizens and a US law enforcement officer dead because of Obama/Holder's agenda on guns.

Photo ID laws being challenged because they interfered with typical Democrat voters, the Dead and Illegal Aliens.

Chrysler bondholders screwed out of their money so the UAW could receive a giant wad of cash in the illegal government takeover of the Auto industry.........

Yeah, he's a raving success.

Re:Attention unemployed geeks! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40869205)

Yeah, he's a raving success

Considering who he replaced and who he was running against yes, he is a raving success.

Now please, quietly, go fuck yourself.

Splitting this post (0)

MeNotU (1362683) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867799)

1, 2, 3

Bittersweet (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867801)

On one hand, I am glad to see how much private sector interest there is in space exploration and tourism. Ultimately, it will be commericialization and profit opportunity that propels mankind to the stars.

OTOH, the reason we are seeing so much of it now is that the US has given up its leadership position in science. I'm not saying we aren't still on the top of the heap, but while Republicans and Democrats argue about whether we should drive ourselves into debt funding the military or social programs, science funding has suffered. When 50% of GDP growth since WW2 has come directly from science, this short-sighted non-funding view will cripple us.

Ultimately, there are projects where profits cannot be privatized. In these instances, government funding is the only way to go. But this doesn't get votes, so we are stuck.

Cynically Yours,
MyLongNickName

Re:Bittersweet (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40867869)

The Republicans and Democrats aren't really caring about anything they say. They put on a good show to keep you suckers buying into their scams. It's like professional wrestling in a different costume to make you think it's really real.

Re:Bittersweet (5, Funny)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867993)

I like Jess Ventura's idea to have politicians wear "sponsor" patches on the suits, like NASCAR drivers.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868007)

I mean Jesse, not Jess.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867933)

While space travel capability may be a public good, both space ships and actual travel are not, being both rivalrous and excludable. So COTS seems like an ideal answer to your objection: the capability/technology are subsidized, while the vehicles and transportation using them are at the whim of the market.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

boaworm (180781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868045)

When 50% of GDP growth since WW2 has come directly from science, this short-sighted non-funding view will cripple us.

What are the other 50% that does not come directly from science?

Re:Bittersweet (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868155)

Population growth.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

boaworm (180781) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868247)

It wouldn't be too hard to argue that the population growth is a direct consequence of scientific progress. Medicine, food production, transportation etc.

But I could agree that without the growth in population, a lot of the GDB growth would have been missing. Good point :-)

Re:Bittersweet (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869047)

It wouldn't be too hard to argue that the population growth is a direct consequence of scientific progress. Medicine, food production, transportation etc.

Considering that population density in the USA is lower today than it was in, say, France in 1740, it's pretty hard to argue that population growth is a direct consequence of scientific progress.

Likewise, China had a population density by 1900 that was about 30% higher than the current US population density.

Certainly our standard of living has much to do with science (or, rather, technology, since while the two are related, they're not identical), but our population has much less bearing on science (or technology).

On the other hand, the size of our country is pretty much predicated on technology - without the telegraph and railroads, it's likely we would have split into two (or three countries) in the 19th century.

And for those about to bring up the Civil War, note that the telegraph and railroad were crucial to actually winning that war for the North.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868189)

I can't answer that. The info I got came from a radio program (NPR?), that gave the 50% number.

Re:Bittersweet (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868649)

I would say that 50% of the GDP growth came not from science, but from the Federal Reserve's money printing. It distorts the real value of the GDP.

When you adjust today's GDP into 1920 dollars, the ramp is near flat. $13.5 trillion becomes a mere 0.4 trillion in 1920 dollars. So the actual Real GDP was from 0.1 to 0.4 trillion.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869127)

So you're saying the Real GDP quadrupled? Seems pretty good to me...

Re:Bittersweet (1)

gdy (708914) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869327)

How much a trip to ISS cost in 1920?

Re:Bittersweet (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869551)

And you bring up another good point that I didn't want to touch on. First, the economy has grown by a factor of 15 but this only tells part of the story. While some goods are more expensive than they were 90 years ago, we have goods and services that could only be imagined of 90 years ago. A university education? out of the reach of all but the elites in the 20s. Internet access? Air conditioning? Transplants? Even electricity wasn't near universal in 1920.

So you are correct in pointing out that a single number doesn't paint the picture of how much our economy has grown.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869477)

I verified numbers and found the following

In 1920, our GDP was 88 billion not 100 billion as your post indicates. Rounding isn't appropriate when it would lead to a 14% difference in numbers
In 2010, our GDP was 14,527 billion. In terms of 1920 dollars, we must divide by 10.9 to get 1,332.66 billion not 400 billion as your post indicates.

In real terms, our economy has grown by a factor of 15, or almost four doublings in 90 years. That is incredible, and to my knowledge unprecedented in the istory of the world to have that type of growth.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868177)

No. This is not commercial spaceflight, because the only customer is the government. The idea that profit motives will make everything work is largely discredited in real life these days.

Re:Bittersweet (4, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868239)

Is _is_ private.

If you give them enough money for a private launch, I'm sure they'll be quite happy to fly your and your stuff.

Money buys anything these days -- look at those ridiculous $30m junkets rich people were buying to the ISS recently (facilities bought and paid for with taxpayer funds, no less), for instance.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868945)

They cost $20m last time I checked, and there have only been 7 customers over 11 years of operation. The size of that market, year on year, is about 1000 times smaller than the current NASA budget. So no, the profit motive is not going to expand us into the universe.

Re:Bittersweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868971)

Rich people were buying flights to the Russian segment of the station. Which belongs to Russian taxpayers, and they're getting a pretty good return on the otherwise wasted seat. Just because America can't run their side efficiently doesn't mean tourists on the ISS isn't profitable for taxpayers.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868375)

No. This is not commercial spaceflight, because the only customer is the government.

No true. SpaceX already has several private-sector contracts, to launch various communications satellites (for Iridium [wikipedia.org] and SES [wikipedia.org] , most notably).

Re:Bittersweet (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868897)

None of those are manned flights, which is what NASAs 'commercial' contracts are for. Try to keep up.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869251)

First of all, not sure how that is relevant since most space exploration is and has always been unmanned (largely of necessity), and second, NASA's commercial contracts are for both unmanned and manned missions. The CCP contracts mentioned in TFA are specifically for manned (being the Commercial Crew Program), but the CRS includes unmanned supply missions such as that recently carried out by the Dragon capsule, developed partially by funding from the COTS program.

Realistically, there never was much demand for manned missions, scientific or otherwise, and frankly given the extreme cost I think we would have been better to simply invest it in more advanced robotic "telepresence" systems.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868939)

Those launches are using SpaceX's rockets. NASA didn't fund any of that development.

Re:Bittersweet (0)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868387)

You are missing something important. The reason NASA is able to fund only part of the development costs (unlike the many billions they flushed on Constellation) is that these vehicles are designed to also meet the needs of non-NASA customers. In effect, NASA is paying part of the development costs to get a vehicle that they can use, and the companies involved are paying the rest to be able to serve both NASA and non-NASA customers. While profit motives don't make everything work, they make most things work, far better than top-down control does. I'm not sure how, after the disaster of 20th century communism, fascism and social democracy, somehow it is markets who are seen as having failed. It's takes phenomenal ignorance of history and economics to make that argument.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868881)

The 'failure' of social democracy? Notice how people in the UK live as long, and have similar health outcomes, as people in the US - despite spending 3 times less on their (state provided) healthcare?

Libertarians are hilariously ignorant, and hence why you have an absurd view of the 'new' space industry.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869065)

Libertarians are hilariously ignorant...

Not so much ignorant as ignoring. They ignore the 90% of history which doesn't support their world view, and every other economic theory which contradicts the one they choose to believe.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

progician (2451300) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869103)

I'm not sure how, after the disaster of 20th century communism, fascism and social democracy, somehow it is markets who are seen as having failed. It's takes phenomenal ignorance of history and economics to make that argument.

Errr... Fail. All of those you mention was directly or indirectly a response to the growing capitalist fears of the organized working class, the real sufferer of that beloved free market ideology. The "markets" somehow piss themselves and run immediately to the authoritarian solutions, when communism (which has nothing to do with the Eastern European radical social democratic political structures. I'm coming from one of these countries, so I have some ideas about the topic.) appears.

This whole free market bullshit is just an other dream, an other idealistic cry of the small capital owners. The big ones have already rigged the game for themselves around 100-150 years ago, so it is time for these libertarians to wake up really, and realize that what they want is a simple anachronism, or even just a misplaced nostalgia. With corporations, with an income of entire government budgets, there's no free market, there is an overlapping corporate and government interest, with ever bitter struggles, within the corporate and government structures. Funny thing is, that what this free market crowd wants, only a strong government organization can provide, enforcing the dismantling these large capital concentrations. Free market and its individualistic utopia brought us here, in to the middle of individualistic but highly accumulated power structures.

Re:Bittersweet (5, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868589)

You're correct, 'commercial' is a bit of an a awkward term here. However, there are two reasons this is a big change from past contracting methods for developing spacecraft that the government uses:

1. There is competition. The reason (well regulated) markets are efficient is not profit motive, but competition. This is why Sen. Wolfe's proposal to select only one winner was so antithetical to the purpose of the program.

2. The government is buying rides, not buying vehicles. The companies that produce Dragon, CST-100, and DreamChaser are free to sell rides to anyone arms control treaties allow. There is some mile-stone based development money right now, but thats only because it is in NASA's interest to stimulate and accelerate this market rather than build competitive vehicles.

While this won't be truly commercial until a company can do well without a government customer, this is a step in the right direction, and nothing to sneeze at.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868753)

No. This is not commercial spaceflight, because the only customer is the government.

That's not how it works. If the service is for profit, and here they all are for profit, then they are "commercial" whether or not the only customer is publicly funded.

The idea that profit motives will make everything work is largely discredited in real life these days.

Not in real life. It's really tiresome to have to deal with these delusions over and over again. Profit works both as a motivation to do the thing in question and as a lever to insure good behavior (do something wrong, lose your profit).

If you don't like bad behavior, then don't incentivize it.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868919)

You've forgotten 2008 already then, or perhaps for ideological reasons, taken the wrong lesson from it. If the private sector couldn't manage banks, what makes you think it can manage a mission to Mars?

Re:Bittersweet (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868193)

OTOH, the reason we are seeing so much of it now is that the US has given up its leadership position in science. I'm not saying we aren't still on the top of the heap, but while Republicans and Democrats argue about whether we should drive ourselves into debt funding the military or social programs, science funding has suffered. When 50% of GDP growth since WW2 has come directly from science, this short-sighted non-funding view will cripple us.

I have no idea why people think this. The problem is that government funded science hasn't really done that much for us. Most of US science is and always was privately funded.

What has happened is that government funding has crowded out private for basic science, the longer view stuff. IMHO researchers now focus on maintaining funding rather than doing science or delivering value. This results in a substantial decline in both quality and quantity of the science they do. Socialize the losses, privatize the gain works in science funding just like it does elsewhere in public funding. What you are complaining about above is just (again IMHO) a natural consequence of public funding of science.

Ultimately, there are projects where profits cannot be privatized.

That's generally because there's no gain to be had either because it never existed and never will, or because society has created obstacles which render the project valueless to anyone who tries to pursue it.

For example, someone was claiming research into new vaccines and antibiotics were solely the domain of public funded research, ignoring that the rules on new drug testing throughout the developed world created an expensive testing situation where developing a valuable drug isn't sufficiently profitable even though it can save many lives.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868275)

That's bullshit, what's being "crowded out"?

I GUARANTEE you, moron, that most researchers will happily take private funding if it's on offer. Researchers on everything from nanotechnology, to psychology, to fusion energy, are screaming for resources. It just so happens that your fat cat banker and farmer friends have the ears of the politicians.

The only "crowding out" I see, is the scar tissue from all those idiotic Republican talking points crowding out the brain cells inside your head.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868559)

I GUARANTEE you, moron,

How much is that "guarantee" worth? Nothing.

that most researchers will happily take private funding if it's on offer. Researchers on everything from nanotechnology, to psychology, to fusion energy, are screaming for resources. It just so happens that your fat cat banker and farmer friends have the ears of the politicians.

Why should it be "on offer"? The people "screaming" for resources are already well funded or they're too incompetent to bother with. It's so hard to find scientists, in the basic sciences, who actually look for private funding. Also, please keep in mind that the sciences are way overstaffed. A lot of people looking for funding doesn't imply that there's not enough funding.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868987)

I'm sorry that I don't have mod points, but you should be ashamed of this post. You've totally ruined whatever argument you were trying to make by calling khallow "a big stupid poopy head".

Re:Bittersweet (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869081)

You're the same guy from the other NASA thread. Don't you ever get tired of crabbing about the government?

What you're saying is beginning to sound more and more like some kind of objectivist viewpoint. That doesn't immediately discredit it, but I'd suggest (especially if you're going to talk about science, here, and make assertions as if you know something about it) you need to back up what you're saying with some (any) kind of citation or evidence.

"government funding has crowded out private for basic science" - what? Is there any evidence you can point to for this?

"researchers now focus on maintaining funding rather than doing science or delivering value" - again, what? Researchers get paid, and get better positions and more credibilty, by publishing in peer-reviewed journals, novel and substantial research. You can't tread water as a researcher. There's not enough money around for that to work for very long. But if you have some evidence or even anecdotal data to show, please do so.

"vaccines and antibiotics[...] an expensive testing situation where developing a valuable drug isn't sufficiently profitable even though it can save many lives" that's at least a swag at a particular example. It's a particularly bad one however, because people nearly universally demand and expect that new human vaccines and medicines to be thoroughly tested. The government is pretty clearly reflecting the will of the majority on this. And yes, it's expensive, but the work itself is big, and rigorous, and the liabilities for screwing it up are enormous. None of that has to do with commercial spaceflight however.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

I_am_Jack (1116205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869139)

The problem is that government funded science hasn't really done that much for us. Most of US science is and always was privately funded.

Yeah, that big, stupid government-funded Apollo program really set privatized science back decades, didn't it?

And another thing (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869271)

"The problem is that government funded science hasn't really done that much for us." This is just utter BS. Its hard for me to imagine a more fallacous statement. If you include that science that was done under the aegis of fighting wars, its hard to think of a facet of life or a field of endeavor that hasn't been affected by public investment.

Just for starters, a lot of the early development of computers was done by governments during and after the war, and private actors that participated (for instance the IAS - read TURING'S CATHEDRAL) accepted public money for their work.

Lots of the work at sequencing the human (and other) genome was funded by NIH, and the private actors that later contributed all received money and their training through NIH.

Most medicines, vaccines, new treatments in the medical world are to some degree the result of public investment.

I'm just going to type a little list - you are welcome to look these up and check for accuracy
Radar
GPS
the internet
drones
supercomputers
satellites
vitamin-fortified foods
sonar
velcro and tang

Re:Bittersweet (4, Informative)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868197)

When 50% of GDP growth since WW2 has come directly from science, this short-sighted non-funding view will cripple us.

Ultimately, there are projects where profits cannot be privatized. In these instances, government funding is the only way to go. But this doesn't get votes, so we are stuck.

Cynically Yours, MyLongNickName

There is a ton of government funding going into science, composites got a huge boost from the R&D of building lighter planes. Darpa spends defense money and much of that research goes on to commercial applications, many colleges and universities receive federal grants to conduct research. The notion that the US does not spend money on research is foolish there are billions of dollars spend on just that, the only reason you think the amount of money spent on research is small is because the research facilities are scattered, the US doesn't have a ministry of Science to control all research. The US government spends about $140 billion per year, 75 Billion on defense R&D and 65 Billion is classified as non-defense. This does not include and private companies R&D which would easily put the number over 200 billion which is more then any other country.

Re:Bittersweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868967)

DARPA only has a budget of ~3.2 Billion dollars, in other words, less than NASA.

Re:Bittersweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868251)

"Ultimately, it will be commericialization and profit opportunity that propels mankind to the stars."

What justifies that position? Do you have any idea of the distances involved? The energy required? And what, precisely, do you think it out there in a gigantic vacuum that will run a profit? Real, practical technology and materials limit this "private space tourism" to a few minutes in the upper atmosphere as a thrill ride.

Technology and energy sources propel things, not idealistic rhetoric and delusional fantasies.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868421)

Why are technology and energy sources incompatible with commercialization and profit opportunity? Do large distances or time frames suddenly change human nature?

Re:Bittersweet (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869613)

Do large distances or time frames suddenly change human nature?

Most certainly. Much of how humans have organized their societies is directly reflected in our typical lifespans and commercial return-on-investment considerations. If humans lived for 1000 years it would dramatically change how societies have been structured.

If we ever get faster than light travel, this too will change 'human nature' (ie, base assumptions of human behavior).

Re:Bittersweet (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868901)

"Ultimately, it will be commericialization and profit opportunity that propels mankind to the stars."

Well, what does "profit opportunity" mean? It means an activity that has the potential to return more than is put in. Do you think that mankind will be propelled "to the stars", if every relevant activity costs more than you get out of it? Not a chance.

This is just a basic economic truism, something like saying the sky is blue.

Technology and energy sources propel things, not idealistic rhetoric and delusional fantasies.

Indeed. But it is fortunate for our idealistic rhetoric that we do have technology and energy sources to realize that rhetoric.

Re:Bittersweet (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868465)

For the past quarter century NASA's manned space program has been just one squandered opportunity after another. Very little science has been done that wasn't just a repeat of what was done on Skylab [wikipedia.org] or Mir [wikipedia.org] decades earlier. But the unmanned programs have been a huge success. I have heard it said that the manned program is needed to keep the public interested while the "real" science done in the unmanned program is just along for the ride. But my experience is the opposite. When I talk to kids, they are very interested in the Mars rovers or the New Horizons mission to Pluto, etc., but not so much interested in the ISS making pointless loops in the sky.

I am encouraged that NASA finally seems to be a path for sustainable progress. My grandpa used to say that if you have two hours to chop down a tree, you should spend the first hour sharpening your ax. So, instead of pounding away with a dull ax, I am glad to see NASA doing some ax sharpening. We need better launch platforms, we also need more reaseach into better materials (super alloys, composites, syntactic metal foams, nanotube fibers, etc), better propulsion systems, and more versatile and autonomous robotics. We could make significant progress on any of these for the cost of one shuttle launch.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868949)

The problem isn't that the manned program is not valuable, but that it's not funded or organized well enough to actually provide a return on investment. If you refused to give the planetary scientists anything bigger than a sounding rocket, the unmanned programs would look pretty worthless too. Understand that all the progress we've made since the 70's with mars probes could be done in one week with a manned mission -- and if it was done spacex style, it could be done on something close to the current budget. Hell, look at some of the alternative proposals that private industry came up with in the 70's for the shuttle, which were discarded in favor of the reference design shuttle.

Re:Bittersweet (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868985)

We need better launch platforms, we also need more reaseach into better materials (super alloys, composites, syntactic metal foams, nanotube fibers, etc), better propulsion systems, and more versatile and autonomous robotics.

The key obstacle is economic. Simply put, any orbital launch system ever made would benefit significantly from even a slightly higher launch frequency. We are finally developing launch systems that will try to create and take advantage of this economy of scale. With a cheap launch vehicle and a burgeoning launch market, then one has both the resources and the motivation to develop better technologies without requiring NASA guidance or funding.

Meanwhile... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40867879)

Meanwhile, China is fully committed to manned space exploration missions that are soon likely to surpass those of the United States and NASA.

Way to keep that edge guys!

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868073)

Not sure how much of an "edge" we've had for the last 30 years anyway, unless you think spending $1bil per shuttle flight with only 20-ton payload capacity was a good idea.

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868783)

Meanwhile, China is fully committed to manned space exploration missions that are soon likely to surpass those of the United States and NASA.

Given that China has taken 12 years to do what we did back in the '60s in five years, it would be pretty hard to argue that they're going to surpass the US "soon"....

Re:Meanwhile... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869311)

Good for them.

The US found going to the moon was a great PR stunt, but not anything worth continuing.

If there was a worthwhile reason to be on the moon we would be on the moon with the Chinese.

Granted there are many reasons to be on the moon, but the technology isn't there yet and there is not much reason to have a manned mission to the moon until the technology is ready.

WTF? (-1, Flamebait)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867923)

I don't understand one bit of this, and since there's less than 25 replies thus far, slashdot rules state I have to post without RTFA lol. So NASA gets government funding and now they're using it to make commercial products to sell and make money on (like satellite launches I assume) which is almost another Solindra. Then they take the majority of the money and hand it over to completely private companies, which is another Solindra.

Sounds like a great use of my tax dollars to me...oh wait no, the other thing. It's bullshit. If someone is going to make a profit, get a fucking loan or something and don't touch my tax dollars. That's not what they're for! They're basically for the government buying stuff for me like roads and the FBI and army protection, not free investment capital for a company that won't ever pay me back in any way shape or form.

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867957)

You are correct: you do not understand. Try fixing that.

Re:WTF? (2)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40867991)

Yep, you've completely misunderstood what this is. Feel free to RTFA. At least this one: http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/ccicap-announcement.html [nasa.gov]

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868233)

He might be right you know.

It's not a loan or a free ride, but it's a lot of money and expertise under the guise of a partnership. My question, and probably GP's as well, is what happens with the results?
I'm sure, they'll do great things. But I find it hard to believe Boeing will just let NASA patent any technology in it's own name. No, considering the patent trolling that began since their creation, it will be Boeing getting them and NASA will get some hardware and a few bus rides into space for it's astronauts. The same will be for the others as well.

Don't lie to yourselves, NASA kept going for so long, because the science it needed to get to the moon could be put to good use back here on Earth. Without that incentive, nobody, and I mean NOBODY would have spent the billions needed to bring back rocks from space.

NASA, and those that believe in it, consider space to be the future, while the others see it as a possible untapped market.

So ... who gets to keep the booty?

Re:WTF? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868619)

and NASA will get some hardware and a few bus rides into space for it's astronauts.

Well, that's what NASA needs. And if they can get it for cheaper than the alternatives (such as continuing to pay Russia for access or building another Shuttle/Ares/SLS boondoggle), then that's a good trade for them.

Re:WTF? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868671)

which is almost another Solindra

[...]

If someone is going to make a profit, get a fucking loan or something

I take it you haven't a clue what the problem with Solyndra was. They got a fucking loan backed by the full faith and credit, such as it is, of the US government. At least getting paid fixed rate for services rendered is a better contract model.

Happy Friday from the Olden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40867981)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true you're a pal and a cosmonaut!

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say thank you for being a friend.

"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (1, Troll)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868043)

"It's seeding!"

"It's the well-connected using government to pick economic winners and losers."

Don't laugh. We are not so far from the era where government deciding, "This country isn't big enough to support several, therefore company A may operate and company B is hereby put out of business." was viewed as a legitimate principle. Socialists cheered while money exchanged hands behind the scenes just like it had for thousands of years with kings.

Only the memetic wrapper changed.

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (4, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868067)

Anyone that thinks we are living in a socialist era isn't worthy of paying attention to... and they need to be bought a dictionary and a history book.

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868253)

Anyone who describes the Obama Administration as 'socialist' is a Republican looking to push hyperbole instead of having a honest discussion of policy. It's not an opinion that would be formed from a proper history book, or from a dictionary, but likely from the cesspool of yellow journalism known a 'talk radio'.

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (0)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868487)

Define your terms, then. What is "socialist" to you? In what ways does the Obama administration not follow the pattern of what you deem socialist?

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869383)

In what ways does the Obama administration not follow the pattern of what you deem socialist?

How about you explain why you think he is a socialist, please provide examples and citations.

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868467)

I wonder what your definition of socialist is, then. If socialism fundamentally means that the government regulates and controls all aspects of economic behavior, and owns those economic assets deemed "essential", we're pretty close to that, and getting closer all the time. (As opposed to communism, where government directly controls all economic behavior, or fascism, where government indirectly controls economic behavior via regulation and control, but now ownership.) Granted, we are really a fascist economy rather than a socialist economy, but with GM and so forth, that line's getting mighty thin.

Re:"Lemme seed you, c'mere!" (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869521)

I do believe that was largely the point of my post.

In any case those modding it -1 Troll need to go watch the Howard Huges movie starring Leo DiCaprio.

In there his TWA has to fight a battle against Pan Am, not to be an internal domestic carrier but to be the international one for the US. Pan Am was god and had convinced the Congress, for its own benefit, that "This market ain't big enough for he two of us."

Hughes launched a public campaign about freedom of choice and Congress backed down.

This socialist nonsense is indeed within living memory, sir.

If you wish to chastize me that times have changed, then good. Freedom has won and shifted the debate.

Allow me the conceit of continuing to plunge a dagger into the dead vampire's heart once in awhile. After all, it does no harm to something dead, right?

sierra nevada? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868139)

are they as good at making spacecraft as they are at making beer?

dawning of a new space era (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868141)

this is exciting...the dawning of a new space era where private industry is leading the space race, spurred onward by government prize money and contracts. With the proper oversight, this could be more productive than having NASA build inhouse.

I can already see a crash coming... (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868145)

Competition for first product without considerable concern for safety and backup leads to...... I've said enough.

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868367)

There might still be dead pilots in space because of accidents in the Soviet space program. It didn't get them to the moon first.

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868657)

1st object in space - 1942, Germany
1st Earth satellite - 1957, Soviet Union
1st photograph of far side of the Moon - 1959, Soviet Union
1st landing on the Moon (unmanned) - 1959, Soviet Union
1st human in orbit - 1961, Soviet Union
1st large biological specimens outside LEO (around the Moon, turtles) - 1968, Soviet Union
1st landing on the Moon (manned) - 1969, United States of America
1st rover on another body - 1970, Soviet Union
1st landing on Venus - 1970, Soviet Union
1st landing on Mars - 1971, Soviet Union
1st space station - 1971, Soviet Union

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868499)

Why do you conclude that there is not considerable concern for safety and backup?

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868573)

Why do you conclude that there is not considerable concern for safety and backup?

Rush... to see who completes first and wins... You know, childhood behavior that repeats itself throughout life.... "I'm the coolest and best and I want to be recognized FIRST, no matter what it takes"?

That's why I concluded as I did.

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (2)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868679)

So basically, you have no evidence besides what you think stereotypically happens?

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869061)

You know, childhood behavior that repeats itself throughout life.... "I'm the coolest and best and I want to be recognized FIRST, no matter what it takes"?

So... competition is bad because you saw it on the playground? I take it you don't learn things too gud. A lot of childhood behavior repeats itself throughout your life because the childhood is where you learn about the world. One would be foolish to expect or even desire a childhood completely detached from reality.

Re:I can already see a crash coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40869301)

Where did GP say competition is bad?

He's just pointing out an economic truism: if you focus on doing one thing (getting first to implement/market/recognized), you have less resources to devote to other things (safety, cost, etc)

If anything, if you are the first out of the gate and it turns out to be a HUGE DISASTER, it'll certainly get you recognition (see: Titanic, Hindenburg, etc.). So cutting back on safety is actually not a bad idea (it'll certainly safe on costs, which is a plus!)

Only $375 Million? (4, Insightful)

Piata (927858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868161)

If Space X has only spent $375 million to get where it is today, imagine what NASA could do if it wasn't plagued by pork and had actual funding. Movies have bugets of $300 million: http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/records/budgets.php [the-numbers.com]

As a human race, we have some pretty mixed priorities.

Re:Only $375 Million? (2)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868323)

I saw this [imgur.com] on reddit today. Sorta takes your thought to its logical conclusion.

Re:Only $375 Million? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868335)

$300 Million dollar movies also return you $1 Billion in a year or two.

Re:Only $375 Million? (1)

kwakmunkee (118985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868811)

And $154 billion modern-day dollars ($25 billion in 1969) returned sensors that detect hazardous gases, haz-mat worker suits, cordless power tools, better insulated clothing, reflective blankets, CAT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, athletic shoes, freeze-dried food, new water purification technology that reduces lead poisoning, kidney dialysis, physical therapy now used by football teams and rehabilitation centers, advances in avionics, telecommunications, and computers...

All pretty much useless to $700 million of today's dollars, wouldn't you agree?

http://space.about.com/od/toolsequipment/ss/apollospinoffs.htm

Re:Only $375 Million? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868363)

Movies have bugets of $300 million

If any industry is paying $500 for a toilet seat, it's Hollywood.

That is just the capsule. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868555)

That number is just for the dragon capsule. Falcon 1 was fully privately funded and I haven't been able to find info on how much it cost to develop. The Falcon 9 has received $396 millon in funding from NASA as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, and from what I have heard that is close to it's full development costs.

Still, dirt cheap compared to previous rockets.

Re:Only $375 Million? (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869023)

This is not insightful, its simplistic and idiotic. NASA was doing everything for the first time. SpaceX is just rehashing a well established technology - hence their very low development costs. This may cause problems down the road; in order to have these very low development costs, SpaceX takes from the common pool of knowledge (all the help/free R&D they got from NASA) but do not give back, because of course everything they do develop is a commercial secret. This may be a sign that technological development in the space industry is slowing down, if all people are interested in is the lowest possible costs - because they can only be achieved by being a technological free rider.

Hardly surprising... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868277)

The three lucky "winners" were widely expected to make the cut, so this isn't such big news. I wish they could have continued supporting some of the other contenders a while longer, but if they have to pick three, these are the obvious ones. Even so, I'd rather they had let Boeing pull its own weight on developing the CST-100/Orion. They've got deep pockets, after all, and don't really need the help from Uncle Sam. I'd have preferred they give a boost to Blue Origin or Orbital Sciences instead, but hey, this is better than nothing.

"Picking winners" (1, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868319)

Right-wing stupidity is strong today. Must be something in the water supply.

There are lots of people whingeing and whining and complaining about governments "picking winners".

You just can't win with these stupid, vindictive pricks. If you have it contracted out, it's socialism and pork-barrelling. If you then turn around and try to appease the right-wing neoliberal extremists by designing a good, functioning market for US government rides to orbit, then you're "picking winners".

The stupidity and hyprocrisy with the nutjob Nazi Right is breathtaking.

Re:"Picking winners" (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868447)

Godspeed, Godwin!

Re:"Picking winners" (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868511)

And in your next post, you are to decry "haters" and such?

Re:"Picking winners" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40868561)

Right-wing stupidity is strong today. Must be something in the water supply.

There are lots of people whingeing and whining and complaining about governments "picking winners".

You just can't win with these stupid, vindictive pricks. If you have it contracted out, it's socialism and pork-barrelling. If you then turn around and try to appease the right-wing neoliberal extremists by designing a good, functioning market for US government rides to orbit, then you're "picking winners".

The stupidity and hyprocrisy with the nutjob Nazi Right is breathtaking.

Did you build that?

Glad Obama's "plan" worked. How's that now-endemic loss of jobs going? Or is the private sector "doing fine"?

Closed Gitmo yet?

What's your take on going from "warrantless wiretaps" to "extrajudicial execution of US citizens"? (Imagine the fucking COW you'd be having if BOOOOSH! did that....)

Remember, deficit spending is unpatriotic [youtube.com] .

What was that you were saying about "stupidity and hypocrisy"?

Re:"Picking winners" (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869533)

Because somebody objects to the republicans, it means that you must support O/dems?

Re:"Picking winners" (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869181)

There are lots of people whingeing and whining and complaining about governments "picking winners"

Well, that is what actually happened. So don't be surprised to hear complaining about what actually happened. Let us keep in mind to that Congress, including a number of Republican members, mandated that NASA narrow the field to two or three with the usual bullshit justification of being unable to fund more than that.

You just can't win with these stupid, vindictive pricks.

It does require a certain, very minimal competence which you apparently lack.

If you have it contracted out, it's socialism and pork-barrelling. If you then turn around and try to appease the right-wing neoliberal extremists by designing a good, functioning market for US government rides to orbit, then you're "picking winners".

Maybe we ought to move to your planet. On Earth, that latter part didn't happen. NASA awarded three contracts instead of four because Congress mandated that they drop someone. In other words, NASA had to "pick winners".

The stupidity and hyprocrisy with the nutjob Nazi Right is breathtaking.

I get the impression you haven't a clue what stupidity and hypocrisy is, or at least how it manifests in the real world.

Re:"Picking winners" (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869517)

The republicans were pushing NASA to fund Liberty with 1, CST-100 with 1, and ULA to get .5. IOW, the republicans only wanted their older expensive companies that are working on the senate launch system to have the money.

From the article : lobbyists much? (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868397)

Boeing 460 milllion....SpaceX 440 million...

Boeing has performed how many launches? Historically, when have they ever made ANYTHING for a low cost? As far as I know, Boeing has been charging top dollar (and, admittedly, provided top tier quality) for aircraft for over 70 years.

SpaceX, on the other hand, has shown cost efficiencies that have never been seen before in space travel. They've already done 2 dragon launches that would have been completely survivable if a stow-away passenger had been riding aboard (assuming they brought a small life support system)

Re:From the article : lobbyists much? (1)

Bigsquid.1776 (2554998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868653)

Yeah I like how these days "commercial" means "the government gave money to a private company so they could build it". Capitalism is dead; literally and linguistically.

Re:From the article : lobbyists much? (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868827)

Boeing's one half of this little venture called "United Space Alliance" which was responsible for every shuttle launch. They're also half of the "United Launch Alliance" which runs all the Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas launches.

How many launches has Boeing performed? Most of them.

Re:From the article : lobbyists much? (1)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868957)

Boeing has privately done 0 launches. They developed hardware for NASA. NASA used the hardware.

Re:From the article : lobbyists much? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869479)

How many launches has Boeing performed? All of the shuttle, and deltas come quickly to mind. I would say that it is quite a few launches.

Now, you are correct about Boeing being expensive, but, I think that you will find SpaceX is going to be ecstatic with this amount of money. That is more true considering that SpaceX has a fully functioning, human rated, and soon, tested rocket with the F9. Likewise, they have a fully functional and soon tested capsule. Then, they have a fully functional and tested engine ( super dracos). What remains is for them to add the dracos into the capsule, modify the capsule to support LIDs, then do multiple launch tests. I would not be surprised to see that dragonrider is undergoing test launches by end of next year or early 2014. Keep in mind that they will be doing FH at the same time, so, final tests might be mid 2014.

This is huge (1, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40868431)

We now have the top runners earning this. These companies make the most sense. These were certainly the ones that I was hoping for, but I think that most wanted/expected this. With this approach, it gives us 3 human launchers.

Now, the real issue is that the neo-cons oppose this. They have put all sorts of pressure on NASA to NOT do this. They wanted cst-100 from Boeing to get 1, Liberty (atk/europe/boeing) to get 1, and then ULA/L-Mart to get .5. Basically, they wanted to cut out ANY of the new space. No doubt we will be hearing cries from the house that his was not suppose to have happened and that they will attempt to punish NASA in many ways on this one.

Now, what is IMPORTANT is to back Bigelow and get their closet added to the ISS in the next year or two. That will allow them to put up their private space stations quickly. In addition, private space, esp. SpaceX, needs to get human launch in 2014. By doing that, it will enable us to run 7 at the ISS, and will allow BA to finally get ready for their private space station. Finally, SpaceX's FH really needs to fly. Once it does, then BA will have no issues with putting up their BA-330 cheaply, but could also put up a much larger station built just for the FH.

So much growth possibilities and yet, I am betting that before the end of this year, the neo-cons will be attacking NASA hard core for not doing their will and sending all the jobs to their districts.

Ditch the buddy system (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40869601)

Stop giving special treatment to your friends NASA and set a list of milestones with bounties attached and reward the company that reaches that milestone first period. There is no reason to limit the competitors to three companies.

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