SpaceX, the private sector orbital launch firm started by PayPal hecamillionaire Elon Musk (also of Tesla Motors fame), has announced activation of comms kit aboard the International Space Station which will allow operations with the company's upcoming Dragon capsule. The new equipment, known as the Commercial Orbital …
“Everything went smoothly, and we eagerly anticipate the upcoming Dragon visits to the ISS.”
Not long now before Branson announces something similar ---
and then does an interview about sustainability and saving the planet.
The start of something big?
One can hope so.
Time to scrap NASA?
Private industry seems able to do the job faster and for much less money.
NASA started out as a research organisation, well, several research organisations really. They no longer participate in some fields where things have become routine, comsats are private and weather satellites are run by other agencies these days. No private organisation would have sent Cassini or the Mars rovers, and once they get the bugs ironed out future private operations will benefit from things like the water recycling on the ISS. They need to do more basic research and development and less routine operations.
There Is Nothing...
...wrong with being filthy rich, as long as you didn't enslave, cheat or kill anyone to get that way, and you keep the money flowing by buying ISS passage, etc. I think Bill Gates revives the spirit of Dale Carnagie, etc. in terms of payying back
And for those of us who are not, there's 211.
Don't forget the other A in NASA stands for Aeronautic. It may not get the same reportage that the Space side does but NASA does very important work on plain old flying machines, basic research and testing of concepts that then gets spun out to commercial interests to turn into viable products.
An awfull lot of kit we depend on when we fly these days (as pilot or passenger) came through NASA first, no matter where in the world you are. I reckon the US tax payer gets a bloody good deal where NASA is concerned and their politicos ought to start realising that.
The biggest concern about the private industry is that they're always chasing a margin and a shareholder return on investment. It's a lot cheaper to get anywhere when you don't need to concern yourself as much with safety for example.
It's also much cheaper to do these things when NASA and the like have been there and done all the uncertain (and therefore expensive) R&D such as proving humans can even go into space.
Re: Time to scrap NASA?
I'm sorry, but what private industry has done more than the briefest sub orbital hops? They are still hell of a way from orbit.
The part of NASA that should be scrapped is that responsible for rotating temperature graphs. They should leave that to UEA and concentrate on the big fireworks, then they wouldn't have to rely on electric car salesmen to get to orbit.
Disappointed with you Lewis
"With the ISS soon to be entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz ships, commercial providers like SpaceX may well get the chance they've been begging for."
Lewis, have you become so narrow minded that only USA and Russia exist now?
What about the European ATV, which has already made one visit and another is planned for later this year; goes up and navigates itself and automatically docks. Or the Japanese HTV, which flies past while someone has a go at catching it with a robotic arm (Very 80's video game!).
Disappointed with you AC
You've quite brilliantly taken Lewis out of context. I don't believe either the ATV or the HTV is capable of carrying *people*. He was talking about NASA's manned space flight ability being in disarray. SpaceX are already in the cargo launching business.
...when I hear "COTS UHF communication unit", I start picturing the ISS with CB..
"soon to be entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz ships"
It always has been as far as crews are concerned. A Soyuz can and does stay up for six months to serve as a lifeboat if needed. The Shuttle is limited to two weeks in orbit.
"What about the European ATV, which has already made one visit and another is planned for later this year; goes up and navigates itself and automatically docks. Or the Japanese HTV, which flies past while someone has a go at catching it with a robotic arm (Very 80's video game!)."
Neither is *man* rated. There is *talk* by ESA of upgrading the ATV to do so. Bearing in mind it's currently *designed* to burn up on reentry rather than come down in 1 piece (quite an important design requirement for a crew return vehicle) this may be some time.
Soyuz and the COTS capsule Dragon and Cygnus are aiming at sample and (if NASA extracts its collective digit) crew return. This explains why Dragon has a window designed into its cargo loading door despite it being uncrewed (so far). BTW in true government con-tractor style Orbital Sciences Cygnus will mostly be based on the ATV design anyway (its structure is being designed in Italy IIRC) and most of the launcher structure in Russia. OSC seemed to have made *no* progress announcements and it's impossible to say what they have (or have not) built.
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