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Comment Problem of production (Score 1) 163

The big reason why Falcon costs only $60 million is due to the production volume. Reuse slashes production volumes, which means the cost to produce will soar. 10 launches of disposable Falcon rockets means 100 engines built, while 10 launches of a reused Falcon will only result in 19 engines built. Cutting production volume means higher costs, so it is not a slam dunk for SpaceX.

Comment Re: Yes! (Score 0) 213

You do realize that the budget is a meaningless piece of paper holding no authority, yes? Spending resolutions are the real thing and the Senate has passed those. Why waste time on hollow gestures with no authority?

Comment Re:what a joke.... (Score 2) 27

NASA does many such contracts on a regular basis. This is for suborbital research, commonly done on vehicles such as the Black Brant and Terrior, a class of vehicles called Sounding Rockets. Several small companies have stepped forward with new suborbital programs which cost far less than these older systems, such as Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo, Blue Origin's New Shepherd and the XCOR Lynx, and the old contracts expire next year, so this is the right time to gather replacements.

The last contract setup cost us $4 million, but was in 1998, so with inflation in place, $10 million sounds about right.

Comment Check the sources (Score 5, Insightful) 954

The article in Forbes is written by a fellow for the Heartland Institute, one of the numerous front organizations for the coal and oil industries alongside other such groups as "CO2 is Green". The study is not peer reviewed, it has been published *for* peer review, there is a dramatic difference between the two. Beyond that, you have the issue that the study argues 180 degrees opposite to the articles claims. In short, the article is complete bunk, written by a fraud with an attempt to reinforce the positions of those who wish to kill scientific progress and research.

Comment Re:Frankenstack (Score 1) 275

He's not the only person, or company, with heavy lift designs, and many of those involved have a longer track record. There are, in fact, 13 companies now submitting heavy lift designs now. Boeing's proposal is already relatively well known, as is SpaceX. But I am curious what Orbital is proposing. They are, after all, the operators of more models of launch vehicles than any other company out there (having 6 operational rockets at the moment) and the engines on their upcoming Taurus II happen to have come from a previous Heavy Lift Vehicle. (literally, when it was cancelled, they yanked the engines off of the 4 units which hadn't been launched and mothballed them. Refurbished, the engines are now the powerplant behind the Taurus II launch vehicle)

Comment Re:A Bit Left Off (Score 1) 275

Aerojet, the other solid rocket engine company, warned of this in the 1960's. They built large single-piece solids, including the most powerful rocket engine ever built, the mighty AJ-260-2. The AJ-260-2 was part of the evolved Saturn program. Stage 1 of the Saturn I would be replaced by this one, huge, solid rocket motor. This would reduce the cost to operate the unit dramatically it was felt. After Challenger, they again offered the skills to manufacture the single-piece solid, but were rejected.

Incidentally, the AJ-260-2 is still sitting in Florida, all but forgotten in an abandoned warehouse.

Comment Re:A Bit Left Off (Score 1) 275

Unfortunately, those solids are *not* the same as the shuttles. New formula, new machine tooling, new design. They re-use the casings only. The rest of it, an all new SRB design. Oh, and they got rid of the old tools, so they can no longer manufacture them. Handy trick wouldn't you say?

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