Sunday, February 13, 2011

SpaceX, Heavy Lift, Fixed Price!

In a letter the Space News editor on February 7 SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said: "we .. develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle with a 150 metric ton to orbit capability ... We can do so for no more than $2.5 billion, within five years, on a firm, fixed price basis with payment made only on achieving hardware milestones."

Contrast this with the 2012 budget proposal for NASA's new, traditional, cost-plus contract heavy lift booster: $1.8 billion for ONE YEAR of a five year development plan! Don't for get that these cost-plus contracts almost always go over budget.

Bottom line: Congress should change the heavy lift development program to a fixed price program similar to the very successful COTS program which helped develop the SpaceX Falcon 9 (on which the heavy lift vehicle would be based) and an Orbital Science vehicle. It would b a lot cheaper.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bigalow's National Customers Revealed!

"The company [Bigalow Aerospace] plans to lease space aboard the stations to foreign nations, research organizations and businesses (Aerospace DAILY, May 6, 2010). Seven clients in The Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Singapore, Australia, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirate of Dubai have signed memorandums of understanding." From Bigelow Floats Plan For Florida Space Coast Aviation Week, Feb 4, 2011. This is the first time I've seen a list of potential Bigalow customers. Very interesting!

If you are not familiar with Bigalow Aerospace, they are building inflatable space stations. They have two sub-sized, pressurized stations in orbit right now. Their target market is national space programs for countries that can't afford to build everything themselves -- they can lease a Bigalow station. I think this is a pretty good way to get started on orbital hotels.

Bigalow's plans will not work without some kind of private, commercial human launch capacity, the kind that President Obama is trying to create. See Obama's Brilliant Space Policy for details.