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back to article NASA hands out $millions to wannabe spaceship builders

NASA has stuck its hands far into its pockets of the third development round of the Commercial Crew programme, giving hundreds of millions to SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation. The funding will help put the firms (further) ahead of their competitors in the race for manned craft jollies and cheap science expeditions …

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Meh

I have made a rocket out of two fairy liquid bottles, some double sided sticky tape and baking soda and vinegar.

Can I have a couple of billion dollars to develop my ideas?

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I'm not sure the double-sided sticky tape is up to the job, this is real engineering not Blue Peter - you want gaffa tape...

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Big Brother

Bring back a weaponizable Xenomorph and we will see what we can do.

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Thumb Down

That's not much less than what Boeing's done. You'll need a couple senators in your pocket, some powerpoints, and a half-assed mockup to display at a KSC press conference.

I am truly pissed Boeing got any of my money.

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Bronze badge

Boeing and space flight...

I know that Boeing is a favorite whipping boy for Europeans, but the major lesson for Boeing here is cost effectiveness. Their contracted work with NASA (mostly by acquisition) has been good quality, but often late and overpriced. You really cannot blame the space shuttle on them. It was a Grumman design that got rescripted by Nixon's California redirection.

Boeing is an OK company, but they seem to do their best work when forced to compete.

COTS is making American companies do what they know how to do, compete...

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Alien

Perfectly reasonable plan

But I fear it will end badly.

Crew hunted down dimly lit corridors, engines set to overload, that sort of thing.

Just a thought..

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Boffin

I hate to say this but that's a bit harsh on Boeing.

The Atlas V LV is what everyone but Dragon will launch on and that's now been human rated to NASA standards and they delivered most of a capsule design for what is (by Big Aerospace standards) hardly anything.

This might be because Boeing still has divisions that actually make products in a *competitive* market, rather than LockMart, who are a pure govt con-tractor..

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Anonymous Coward

Britain

Developed the first supersonic aircraft design, Government cancelled project, US took over and had first man to go faster than sound.

Developed first passenger jet, the Comet then lost ground and US took over with Boeing.

Developed first practical nuclear reactor power station, then lack of funding to the point that we no longer have expertise in the industry to build new reactor plants and have to ask the Germans and French.

US leaders in manned space flight, funding cut, now being overtaken by Russia, China and India.

If only politicians studied History at University, they might actually learn something.

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$440 Million

It had to be noted. The same figure appears twice in today's news...

1. Wall street firm loses $440 Million thanks to bad software.

2. SpaceX receives $440 Million from NASA.

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Anonymous Coward

NASA's budget has been cut again and again....

If you thought the CIA messing with a few centrifuges in the middle east was the height of blackhattery, you really haven't considered what a few thousand scientists and engineers in fear of unemployment are capable of.

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Coat

Re: $440 Million

Ah, if only...

If it WERE true though, there's supposed to be between 21 TRILLION dollars & 35 TRILLION dollars held off-shore by the 1%.

Just think, you could have one hell of a space program AND schools AND healthcare AND conventional infrastructure (roads, bridges & stuff) AND hi-tech infrastructure (High-speed internet).

I'm just saying...

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Re: $440 Million

You couldn't really though... it's not $21tn per year but a one-off.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Finding work for all three might be a problem.

The ISS needs 12 crew members a year, and four Soyuz launches fulfils that need. And Russia won't want to be elbowed out completely.

All three American vehicles can carry seven people, far more than the ISS needs in one go. Whatever, the next 10 years look interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Finding work for all three might be a problem.

that is the point, the ISS has never been truly international, or they would have let China in when they achieved spaceflight, they didn't want their own space station originally, they wanted to partner with the world. the USA said no... So now we will have China in their space station as the ISS burns up, there will be private stations at the same time, and NASA will suddenly realise they are falling behind the world on space because private companies and other governments are doing more than them...

My only hope is they focus on Mars and push Gas Core Nuclear rockets, that is about the only thing that can really kick off interplanetary missions.

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Trollface

Re: Finding work for all three might be a problem.

yeah but they couldn't let china in they would copy all of the good technology, that they make in factories in china by chinese people usign chinese materials. yes sir we kept them damn commies away from our technology!

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Re: Finding work for all three might be a problem.

International in the sense that several countries (and ESA) built and funded it. Plenty of reasons political and technical against a Chinese visit. Does its capsule have a compatible docking port?

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Anonymous Coward

How can it be 'paying off' if these subcontractors fail, which we won't know until the long term track record is known. After all the Space shuttle was a brilliant and safe launch technology until it went pop.

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Anonymous Coward

Brilliant? Safe?

It was always a disaster waiting to happen....

When they went for the Shuttle over the Apollo era tech, they gave up safety for other concerns, i.e. military needs...

If they had kept to a capsule, and then a robotic heavy lifter, they would have saved money, still been able to service things like the ISS & Hubble, plus been safer...

Dragon, China & Russia have it right...

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Boffin

"How can it be 'paying off' if these subcontractors fail, which we won't know until the long term track record is known. "

*the* classic FUD argument for why NASA *must* retain it's death grip on crewed human spaceflight outside Russia.

A launch system designed, owned *and* operated by NASA.

Because (obviously) Boeing (a multi *billion* dollar corporation, with *decades* of launches), Spacex (also a multi billion dollar corp with multiple launches) and SNC (possibly the biggest US space company most people have never heard of), also in the multi billion dollar range with decades of involvement in making the tricky bits of numerous satellite and space probe payloads *work* are likely to fail.

You can take the view that "I won't believe it till it happens" but that's pretty much a doctrine for doing nothing.

I hope that *all* designs pass their critical design reviews and go to full construction, without NASA picking just *one* design to carry the baton.

"After all the Space shuttle was a brilliant and safe launch technology until it went pop."

No. The list of "Criticality 1" items was *very* long. When NASA asked McDonald Douglas to review the solid rocket boosters they concluded the key failure element was the inter segment joint, which was *exactly* what failed.

But no one predicted even the foam tank insulation could rip into the TPS on the wing leading edge (if propelled at M3)

BTW the current estimated development costs for the STS is about $43Bn in 2009 $.

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Re "How can it be 'paying off' if these subcontractors fail

They don't get paid the full amount, but in instalments as they pass various milestones. And it already has paid off in the case of SpaceX. It had demonstrated that it can both take cargo to the ISS, and bring cargo back.

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Lets be honest

They can't really do any worse than NASA. Great as Hubble is they haven't really achieved much else since the end of the Apollo missions, they're a collection of pet projects which might be useful one day with seemingly little effort made to push the projects along at any kind of reasonable pace. They spend years studying what kind of plants would be best for long term life support in space when we aren't anywhere near the kind of mission length they would be necessary for. While I'm not entirely sure either wa on Boeing I think the general concept here is good, so long as they don't over emphasise haste or cost concerns. I don't think either will be but if they decided to make it a first past the finish line arrangement then that would just increase the risk factor frankly.

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Re: Lets be honest

"Great as Hubble is they haven't really achieved much else since the end of the Apollo missions"

Apart from the construction of a 200 tonne space station, the launch of multiple major observatories for the Sun, gamma rays, resolving AGW etc. The first efforts at building a *true* closed loop life support system.

If you did not know about these then you don't really know enough about NASA to have an opinion.

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Facepalm

NASA - The Future

NASA has a grand history and has acheived many things.

NASA's current activities, aside from ISS and ISS-related missions, are, in my opinion, primarily Curiosity (of course), the upcoming MAVEN Mars orbiter, the Mercury probe MESSENGER, Casini & Juno and the still-enroute New Horizons probe to Pluto, arriving in 2015.

Those'll keep NASA busy for a while but increasingly, to me, it seems like it's future activities/missions will be sharply reduced as SLS (which I think will be cancelled prior to it ever flying) gobbles down every last NASA dollar, leaving nothing for science & exploration.

Note that ISS is due to be scrapped by 2020 but there's nary a sign of a replacement station.

There's some lean years coming...

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