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Companies Skeptical of Commercial Space

pickens (49171) writes | about 4 years ago

Businesses 0

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Boeing and Lockheed Martin will happily sell rockets to carry astronauts into space, but are leery about taking a leading role in President Obama’s vision for a revamped NASA that relies on commercial companies to provide taxi transportation to the ISS. “I don’t think there is a business case for us,” says Lockheed Martin's John Karas about space taxis. Both Boeing and Lockheed were stung during the last burst of optimism for the commercial space business about a decade ago. They invested several billion dollars — Lockheed to develop its Atlas V, Boeing for the Delta IV — in the hopes that the huge market for commercial satellites would supplement their traditional business of launching American military spy satellites. The market did not materialize, and what business there was went to European and Russian rockets that were cheaper. The hoped-for commercial market for space taxis hinges on one small company, Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing inflatable space habitats that it hopes to market as research facilities to companies and foreign nations looking to establish a space program. “I think people who have been in the launcher business for many years find it hard to take the president’s plan seriously,” says Loren B. Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute. “They think it sounds like an elaborate wake for the human spaceflight program more than a plan for moving forward.”"

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