Blue Origin today revealed details of its successful tests of its BE-3 hydrogen rocket engine.


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The competition heats up: Blue Origin today revealed details of its successful tests of its BE-3 hydrogen rocket engine.

More details here.

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19 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    Man I remember – 6 years ago, when the program manager for Blue said that in 18 months they’ld have DC-X like suborbitals in test flights, in 36 months they’ld be testing the orbitals, adn going operational with the suborbital tourist flights. Etc.

    And now they are back to reinventing another set of engines.
    ;/

  • Dick Eagleson

    They’ve got a serially restartable, deep-throttleable oxy-hydrogen engine with four times the thrust of an RL-10. That strikes me as an item eminently usable for Blue Origin’s internal projects and also quite salable as a component to third-parties for a variety of uses. I’ve been a considerable B.O. skeptic to this point, but I look forward to future announcements.

  • Kelly Starks

    Hey the RL-10s have a perfect record over 60 years, very high efficiency, have been tested as reusable for hundreds of flights with servicing, are pretty throttle-able, and are off the shelf of a respected (?) major manufacturer. So why the hell does Blue need another engine for? Unless you have some new expansive need, why design a new one?

  • “Why design a new one?”

    Because you want to own and sell your own product. Blue Origin can’t make any money selling the RL-10.

    Because by building something new you stand a chance of doing it better.

    Because if humans were satisfied as things are rather than how they could be, we would still be living in caves and wearing rags.

    Your attitude here, Kelly, illustrates perfectly why the American aerospace industry produced practically nothing new from around 1978 until 2005 (when SpaceX appeared) and thus lost the commercial communication satellite market to the Russians and Europeans. What is the best today is certainly not guaranteed to be the best tomorrow, and if you think so you will be left in the dust.

  • Kelly Starks

    >>“Why design a new one?”

    > Because you want to own and sell your own product. Blue Origin can’t make any money selling the RL-10.

    Not likely to make any money selling this one either. They didn’t make any money selling the other ones they designed and built either. And entering a market by building something that goes head to head with a existing product with a 60 year perfect service record, which is as efficient as theoretically possible with a pure rocket engine with those fuels.

    If you want to enter into a market – try developing something the market doesn’t already have. For example there’s been a lot of noise about the lack of a good LOx/Kerosene engines in the market, and US becoming dependent on Russia’s RD-180’s. Kerosene/LOx engines are far more applicable to Blues goal of a commercializable SSTO then LOx/LH – so that would make sence from a marketing engines, or your internal program, views.
    Or, make a mixed mode engine like a LOx/Kero rocket ramjet hybride. Its a minor advance over 1050’s technology, hobbiests have made them, and they would double the ave ISP from ground to orbit. That would REALLY help their efforts, adn all commercial developments toward space. I expect Virgin would be real interested right now.

    But going head to head with the king product in the market – the legend amoung engines, as a first effort??!!
    Thats not good busness sence – its vanity.

    > Because by building something new you stand a chance of doing it better.

    See vanity above.

    > Because if humans were satisfied as things are ..

    And if buisnessmen were following your lead they’ld still be reinventing the model T.

    >..Your attitude here, Kelly, illustrates perfectly why the American aerospace industry produced
    > practically nothing new from around 1978 until 2005 (when SpaceX appeared) and thus lost
    > the commercial communication satellite market to the Russians and Europeans. ..

    They lost the market to gov funded programs like Arian and Proton, who weren’t limited by ITAR. (ITAR also got lessened about 2005.) And lets face it, its a dieing market.

    Yeah gov backed and funded SpaceX has gotten some contracts – but their not as cheap as you like to say, have reliability problems, and the market is not as wildly excited about them as NewSpacers are.

  • Edward

    You missed the part where they *have* been redesigning the Model T for the past century. It has evolved so much that it no longer looks like the same model, plus it has seatbelts, better air conditioning, intermittent wipers, power steering, and even power mirrors. However, there have been no revolutionary year-to-year changes to the automobile since they abandoned the Stanley Steamer.

    Be careful about asking too much from a young company. Since Blue Origin was not founded on a revolutionary design, we should not demand that they come up with one before they are ready.

    I agree that your attitude could use some adjustment. Please allow SpaceX to create a track record. It is rare that first launches go without problems, often with spectacularly disastrous failures. SpaceX is doing OK, and they have plenty of backlog of customers for the pace at which they can make and launch rockets so far. They are also ready, willing, and able to make plenty of newer and better rockets, but the downside is that they have a lot of first launches of their new designs.

    The reason that Arian and Proton gained such a large market share was because of US government interference in the US launch market. The US dictated that only the Space Shuttle would launch satellites in the US, but the Shuttle’s pace was not up to the task. Arian and Proton took up the slack while the US rocket manufacturers recovered from the disastrous government interference.

    ITAR didn’t screw things up until the late 1990s, at which point the US government treated friends as foes and allowed (forced, actually) foreign manufacturers of satellites to get the drop on the US, too. Government has been a bane to the US space industry, not the help that we had expected during and after the Apollo years. Thanks to government, foreign manufacturers, launchers, and operators have gained a large market share, experience, a manufacturing base, and a brain trust that they would not have had if we were still the primary source for the world’s space needs. Trusting government turned out to be a fiasco.

    It is about time that commercial space companies and their investors take over the market and make the advancements as they are able. We may be impatient, since we expected more over the past four decades, but they do not have government-sized budgets and have to convince the world that they are capable. Before Space X and Orbital Sciences took supplies to the ISS, people doubted their ability to do so. They have now proved themselves on that score, now they have to prove themselves on other endeavors.

    And NewSpacers are trying new ideas that government wouldn’t.

  • Kelly Starks

    Edward your missing the point that NewSpacers are NOT trying new ideas that government wouldn’t, or even copying current or recent ideas – but ones disproven decades ago. As in not making a modification of a current descendant of the model T, but repeating the origional model T for the current market..

    >.. Since Blue Origin was not founded on a revolutionary design, we should not
    > demand that they come up with one before they are ready.

    Actually they were founded to copy the McDonnel Douglas DC-X design of the 90’s. A good solid, well developed design – which they droped work on and came up with several completly different succeeding design, each unrelated to each other — and kinda strange in some cases.

    >.. Please allow SpaceX to create a track record…

    They have a track record, high cost, low quality, depending on PR adn political connection. The Solindra of space fight.

    >.. ITAR didn’t screw things up until the late 1990s, at which point the US
    > government treated friends as foes and allowed (forced, actually) foreign manufacturers
    > of satellites to get the drop on the US, too. Government has been a bane to the
    > US space industry, …

    Agree here – before then the US launched the bulk of launches open to them (obviously your not going to get Soviet etc busness etc). ITAR virtually ended that.

    >.. It is about time that commercial space companies and their investors take over
    > the market and make the advancements as they are able….

    To a degree that option is gone. Many nations already have their own space industries and will no longer risk becoming dependent on US suppliers who might get locked out due to a political whim. Many of them are very wiling to subsidize their industries costs, or can control labor costs (China’s slave labor ?) to undercut competitors. its possible given this, and the declining market, will force all non subsidized providers out of the market. So the US won’t be able to regain the market dominence they had 20-30 years ago.

    One out could be if you change the rules of the game as in the book “The Rocket Company” where they built RLVs, adn marketed them internationally – so you bought your own launch capacity, rather then launch services.

    >.. they do not have government-sized budgets and have to convince the world that
    > they are capable. Before Space X and Orbital Sciences took supplies to the ISS, ..

    Their dev costs were paid for by a gov budget, since no one could raise the private funding needed develop new boosters etc the COTS market. (Kind of the plan for NASA.)

  • Kelly,

    You say: “[SpaceX has] a track record, high cost, low quality, depending on PR and political connection. The Solindra of space fight.”

    As far as I can tell, you are the only person in the universe who believes this. While SpaceX clearly used government subsidizes to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon, the fees they are charging for their commercial launches remain less than everyone else’s. And that fact comes not from my opinion, but by statements coming from the people in charge at Boeing, in China, at Arianespace, and at respectable news organizations like Business Week, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other sources.

    In addition, I talk to a lot of people in the space industry. They all say the same thing: SpaceX is cheaper, by a lot. And they cite numbers to me.

    As for reliability, SpaceX is a new company. The delays in launch and the single engine failure on one Dragon launch have surprised no one, but absolutely no one but you sees them as “low quality.” Instead, everyone else sees them as the baby-steps any new company needs to struggle through. The bottom line is that, since those early Falcon 1 attempts a long time ago, they have successfully launched everything they have attempted. That doesn’t imply “low quality” in the least.

    I don’t expect to change your mind, but I do wish to illustrate how few people agree with you. That you disagree with the entire world is not proof that you are wrong, but it does require extraordinary evidence to change everyone else’s mind. The only evidence for cost that you have ever presented has been the Augustine report, which as a government report designed to lobby for government funds to certain big players doesn’t carry much weight. I pay much closer attention to statements coming from SpaceX’s private competitors.

    As for evidence for low quality, the facts speak for themselves, and they are not on your side.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    I agree with you most of the time, and you have a lot of good things to add. Here is another point we agree on:

    > Many nations already have their own space industries and will no longer risk becoming dependent on US suppliers who might get locked out due to a political whim.

    I have always considered that ITAR killed the commercial satellite business, but not much else. Your point about it adding further damage to the launch business is well taken (after the Shuttle was to be the sole launch vehicle, US launchers were replaced by Arianne and eventually Proton and the Chinese, and they have yet to recover). Yes, ITAR pretty much was a nail gun used on that coffin.

    You also pointed out that other countries got serious about their own space industries when the US became an unreliable place to do business, at least where space was concerned. Who knows what the next administration (or even the current one) will change between the time a launch is ordered and the time the satellite is on the pad. Stability of the law is required for businesses to know what to expect so that they can plan for the future. We don’t have that stability right now, but at least the law is changing in the direction of promoting business.

    However, I disagree with you on a point or two:

    > Their dev costs were paid for by a gov budget, since no one could raise the private funding needed develop new boosters etc the COTS market. (Kind of the plan for NASA.)

    True, the funding for development was part of the price paid for the service that SpaceX and Orbital are now providing, however when we add in that development cost the total price for the service is still less than the traditional method – and those rockets were long ago developed, also on federal funding.

    Blue Origin, however, is not funded by government Commercial Crew Development, Part 2 (CCDev II). They opted not to run in that competition and are funded privately.

    I compare the CCDev with the transcontinental railroad. The US government paid two inexperienced upstart companies to build the largest railroad ever attempted, and this effort proved the concept, leading directly to other companies building their own railroads from the eastern US to the west coast. That competition created a railroad industry that truly opened up the United States and helped create an economic boom that made the US an economic, political, and military power that won two world wars that multiple other countries were not able to do.

    Between the CCDev companies, other startup crew launchers, Bigelow’s space habitats/space stations, Cubesats, and other non-manned commercial startup NewSpace companies, I expect space to become a real player in humanity’s economic and technical markets.

    > They [SpaceX] have a track record, high cost, low quality, depending on PR adn political connection. The Solindra of space fight.

    They have been successful at putting spacecraft into orbit and taking cargo to the ISS, and as mentioned above, for low cost. The only failure (where their customers are concerned) that I can find is a secondary payload, a prototype OG2 communications satellite, in October – their quality could be improved, but it is not low. Plus they are pioneering the reusable first stage in order to save a lot of money and reduce costs, which I don’t think is being funded by the government. Orbital Sciences has a similar contract, so I don’t think that political connection has that much to do with it. You will have to explain to me the Solyndra reference, as I don’t understand it.

    SpaceX is so successful that the rest of the world’s launchers are rethinking their business models and paradigms.

    > your missing the point that NewSpacers are NOT trying new ideas that government wouldn’t, or even copying current or recent ideas – but ones disproven decades ago. As in not making a modification of a current descendant of the model T, but repeating the origional model T for the current market.

    Well, there’s Skybox, which is making enough small Earth observers to be able to photograph every spot on Earth daily rather than the current (about) weekly coverage. Cubesats are being used in a multitude of unique ways that government has yet to try – a satellite concept invented by a couple of University professors, not government. Nano Racks is providing a service for ISS customers that NASA didn’t think of. Planetary Resources is providing space telescopes while it figures out how to successfully mine asteroids for materials for use in space – now *that* is thinking ahead, as we are not yet ready for space industrialization – and government didn’t even *think* of an asteroid capture project until after Planetary Resources’ announcement. Frankly, and I said it before, government will only fund that which it wants, not necessarily what NewSpacers want in these exciting times. Need I say more about how government is lagging behind the ideas that are generated and funded by American NewSpacers, or may I stop this long-winded rant here, before *everybody* stops reading it?

  • Kelly Starks

    >>Kelly “[SpaceX has] a track record, high cost, low quality, depending on PR and
    >> political connection. The Solindra of space fight.”

    > As far as I can tell, you are the only person in the universe who believes this.

    Hi cost, as in 20% higher per ton to ISS then shuttle has been documented by CBO numbers, and SpaceX press statements. SpaceX bid to customers like Bigelow used to be “competitive” with traditional providers, and their current cost numbers are below what even the Chinese think they could do with slave labor and a doctored exchange rate.

    While SpaceX clearly used government subsidizes to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon, the fees they are charging for their commercial launches remain less than everyone else’s. And that fact comes not from my opinion, but by statements coming from the people in charge at Boeing, in China, at Arianespace, and at respectable news organizations like Business Week, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other sources.

    In addition, I talk to a lot of people in the space industry. They all say the same thing: SpaceX is cheaper, by a lot. And they cite numbers to me.

    > As for reliability, SpaceX is a new company. The delays in launch and the single
    > engine failure on one Dragon launch have surprised no one, but absolutely no one
    > but you sees them as “low quality.”===

    2 falcons had engine complet failures, another had eaither a engine shutdown and staging timing error, or a seperation error leading to the inflight loss. (2 out of 11 launchers were total losses.) Several others had com loos, “death rolls”, etc as reported by SpaceX. So they have a lot more trouble then their main competitors. You can assume they’ll work it out sooner or later – they haven’t yet, so thats a quality issue.

    > I don’t expect to change your mind, but I do wish to illustrate how few people agree with
    > you. That you disagree with the entire world is not proof that you are wrong, but it does
    > require extraordinary evidence to change everyone else’s mind.

    The entire world isn’t as “entire” as you think.

    > The only evidence for cost that you have ever presented has been the Augustine report,==

    No for gov numbers I’ve quoted the NASA budget numbers for the program, the CBO report from spring 2011, and SpaceX reports.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Their dev costs were paid for by a gov budget, since no one could raise the private
    >> funding needed develop new boosters etc the COTS market. (Kind of the plan for NASA.)

    > True, the funding for development was part of the price paid for the service that SpaceX
    > and Orbital are now providing, however when we add in that development cost the total
    > price for the service is still less than the traditional method–

    No actually the total program cost per flight for the SpaceX part of the COT/CRS contract is $400M a launch. Compared to $1.2B total program costs per shuttle launch. 1/3rd the cost per launch, but only carrying 1/4th as much cargo, and no people, per flight. And Shuttle was never exactly prussed as a cheap delivery option.

    Commercial contracts costs are harder to pin down since they don’t publicly disclose everything, but most of the contract weren’t talking about SpaceX being a lot cheaper then ULA etc bids.

    >
    >Blue Origin, however, is not funded by government Commercial Crew Development,
    > Part 2 (CCDev II). They opted not to run in that competition and are funded privately.

    Agreed

    > I compare the CCDev with the transcontinental railroad. The US government paid two
    > inexperienced upstart companies to build the largest railroad ever attempted, and
    > this effort proved the concept, leading directly to other companies building their own railroads ..

    I’ld disagree since the gov is about the only customer on the horizeon for CCDev systms. Unlike virtually all other transportation systems ever developed (since we trained pack animals) – theres no (practically no) existing market taking anything where these are built to go. (And the current markets are declining with fewer adn fewer launch per years for technical reasons.) No real market they are built to support. And given these are high cost systems, not exactly from the best vendors in the field – and NASA use of the contracts to discredit the idea of commercializing its transport… I don’t see that as a good metaphore?

    >> They [SpaceX] have a track record, high cost, low quality, depending on PR adn political connection. The Solindra of space fight.

    They have been successful at putting spacecraft into orbit and taking cargo to the ISS, and as mentioned above, for low cost. The only failure (where their customers are concerned) that I can find is a secondary payload, a prototype OG2 communications satellite, in October – their quality could be improved, but it is not low. Plus they are pioneering the reusable first stage in order to save a lot of money and reduce costs, which I don’t think is being funded by the government. Orbital Sciences has a similar contract, so I don’t think that political connection has that much to do with it. You will have to explain to me the Solyndra reference, as I don’t understand it.

    SpaceX is so successful that the rest of the world’s launchers are rethinking their business models and paradigms.

    Yeah, thats not what I’m seeing in the industry. Given other providers weer raising their costs lately – they don’t exactly seem to feel the wolfs at the door.

    Frankly a biger issue is more international gov supported providers further draining the market.

    > Well, there’s Skybox, which is making enough small Earth observers to be able to
    > photograph every spot on Earth daily rather than the current (about) weekly coverage.

    Ah, the NOAA sats (and certainly the mil) do at least daily images? Effectivly all the polar orbiting sats cover every spot ever 12 hours — they man not release/market them – but it is observed by them.

    >.. Cubesats are being used in a multitude of unique ways that government has yet to try ..

    Still not seeing that as that inovative. New product, but not a big innovation or new idea. Obviously not suitible to NASA needs for high cost, but commercial and mil – as well as some scientific – could be a viable market.

    > – . Nano Racks is providing a service for ISS customers that NASA didn’t think of. ..

    They did think of it, it was in old plans, kinda had something like it on shuttle, they just didn’t provide it. NASA isn’t exactly concerned about customers.

    > Planetary Resources is providing space telescopes while it figures out how to
    > successfully mine asteroids for materials for use in space –

    Its a cool proposal – but theirs been other asteriod survey projects out, more proposed — not sure if they can get the funding to do what they say – or find a buyer for the data.

    >.. government didn’t even *think* of an asteroid capture project until after Planetary
    > Resources’ announcement. ..

    No the concepts been around for a lot time. never went anywhere .. (and I really don’t think this gov proposal is more then pr eiather.)

  • Edward

    > the total program cost per flight for the SpaceX part of the COT/CRS contract is $400M a launch. Compared to $1.2B total program costs per shuttle launch.

    I’m getting different numbers: Contract cost $1.6 B / at least 12 flights = $133 M per flight, not $400 M.

    > I’ld disagree since the gov is about the only customer on the horizeon for CCDev systms. Unlike virtually all other transportation systems ever developed (since we trained pack animals) – theres no (practically no) existing market taking anything where these are built to go.

    Except for all the various governments and companies eager to rent space and time on Bigelow space habitats. The ISS is pretty much impacted for research, and the data remains proprietary for only 5 years, making the ISS a less desirable laboratory than it could be. Bigelow is one of the main reasons that I see a near future with a lot of manned space travel. It is why the future of space will be an exciting time.
    http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/38389us-intellectual-property-rules-hinder-space-station-research

    > thats not what I’m seeing in the industry. Given other providers weer raising their costs lately – they don’t exactly seem to feel the wolfs at the door.

    Except:
    http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/38331spacex-challenge-has-arianespace-rethinking-pricing-policies

    > Effectivly all the polar orbiting sats cover every spot ever 12 hours — they man not release/market them – but it is observed by them.

    Only if they have a 1,500 mile wide field of view and resolution to match. And the “not release/market them” part is the problem with government controlled data. What if my company could use that unavailable data? Skybox is filling that need, and your other comments are equally feeble (e.g. NASA not being concerned about customers *is* the problem with government).

    Your point has been (as I read it) that NewSpace is no big deal. However, these are people who are *doing* things that, as you noted, the government has not. We have been waiting ever since Kubrick and Clark showed us a nice future in their movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and now we have people who are making it come true. These guys are creatively doing what only governments have done before, and they are doing it without using government-sized resources.

    I ask you to get over your skepticism about the fits and starts and at least hope that NewSpace succeeds.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> the total program cost per flight for the SpaceX part of the COT/CRS contract is $400M
    >> a launch. Compared to $1.2B total program costs per shuttle launch.

    > I’m getting different numbers: Contract cost $1.6 B / at least 12 flights = $133 M per
    > flight, not $400 M.

    $1.2B is only the fee for the launches, not the complete program cost for COTS/CRS which including R&D, overhead, etc.
    See
    http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/052611_Charter%20CommCargo.pdf

    page 1 goes over the budget numbers for the COTS/CRS program totaling $5.119 billion.
    Page 5 shows cost per pound to ISS of $21,268 for shuttle, and $26,770 for Falcon/Dragon

    >> I’ld disagree since the gov is about the only customer on the horizeon for CCDev systms. ..

    > Except for all the various governments and companies eager to rent space and
    > time on Bigelow space habitats…

    So far I havn’t seen Biggelow sign anyone as a definite buyer – and I don’t know if SpaceX is still contracted with them… I think they switched to Boeing? NOt sure.

    > The ISS is pretty much impacted for research, and the data remains proprietary
    > for only 5 years, making the ISS a less desirable laboratory than it could be. ..

    Even worse if NASA decides to change their mind. ;/

    >> thats not what I’m seeing in the industry. Given other providers were raising
    >> their costs lately – they don’t exactly seem to feel the wolfs at the door.

    > Except:
    > http://www.spacenews.com/article/launch-report/38331spacex-challenge-has-arianespace-rethinking-pricing-policies

    Yeah Spacenews is bit optimistic. Ariane said they would discus price changes – but previously when asked if SpaceX was going to impact them, a Ariane exec burst out laughing.

    >> Effectivly all the polar orbiting sats cover every spot ever 12 hours — they may
    >> not release/market them – but it is observed by them.

    > Only if they have a 1,500 mile wide field of view and resolution to match. —

    point, course if you don’t you’ld pretty much never spot some points?

    >–And the “not release/market them” part is the problem with government controlled
    > data. What if my company could use that unavailable data?==

    Oh right, again with supporting public needs, what about agency needs you inconsiderate SOB. ;)

    Yeah I’ve even seen NASA order companies to release their company data for minimal repro costs since it was done with NASA gear, even after NASA contracted and signed off that it was clear.

    >.. Skybox is filling that need,

    Kind of a nich market?

    >..and your other comments are equally feeble (e.g. NASA not being concerned
    >about customers *is* the problem with government).

    Hows that feeble?

    > Your point has been (as I read it) that NewSpace is no big deal. ..

    Well its not like they are opening the frontier, finding big new markets to sponcer it etc. They are small players working in small nitches. I got no problem with them. Hell I just accepted a contract with Orbital to do systems engineering on the Dream Chaser ECLSS and a NanoRack project for the ISS. But Blues just spinning their wheels for a decade and SpaceX is cutting nasty corners and doing spin for pork. So after all this time and money, and signs of management not learning, I don’t see them cleaning up their act.
    NewSpace succeeds.

  • Edward

    >>>> Edward your missing the point that NewSpacers are NOT trying new ideas that government wouldn’t, or even copying current or recent ideas – but ones disproven decades ago.

    I gave you several examples of what government wouldn’t try and NewSpacers are doing, but still you complain.

    >>> the total program cost per flight for the SpaceX part of the COT/CRS contract is $400M
    >>> a launch. Compared to $1.2B total program costs per shuttle launch.
    >. I’m getting different numbers: Contract cost $1.6 B / at least 12 flights = $133 M per
    >. flight, not $400 M.
    >$1.2B is only the fee for the launches, not the complete program cost for COTS/CRS which including R&D, overhead, etc.

    Except that you said that it was for the SpaceX part. Now you include the entire program and attribute Orbital’s part to SpaceX. Let’s please keep to one target and talk about that target.

    > course if you don’t you’ld pretty much never spot some points?

    That is why it takes current satellites several days to cover the entire planet.

    > So far I havn’t seen Biggelow sign anyone as a definite buyer – and I don’t know if SpaceX is still contracted with them… I think they switched to Boeing? NOt sure.

    I now understand your problem. You are looking at the small pictures and failing to add them together into the big picture. Step back and look at what is going on, and compare it to 2004, just before the Ansari X-Prize was won. None of what is happening now was seen as possible. There just wasn’t the eagerness for funding anything that approached NewSpace – even the term is new. People are succeeding at projects that were unimaginable a decade ago.

    If cubesats aren’t an innovation, then what the hell is? OldSpace makes huge, expensive, one-or-two to a launcher satellites, and here we have a couple of professors come up with something that brings the cost down to the point that even a *high school* is going to make and launch one. These things have even been launched dozens at a time, not just one or two. Now that seems innovative to me. Sheesh. I like some of your ideas and comments, but you can be so frustrating, sometimes.

    Niche markets are legitimate markets. Are you looking for do-all companies? If so, why are you so critical of the vertically integrated SpaceX?

    Once again, I ask you to readjust your attitude. Please look at the wonderful things that are happening in space, and as with all new industries, don’t expect all of the companies to survive or come out full blown with the perfect product. Think Altair vs. Commodore vs. Apple vs. PC (I know that I mixed products with companies). Hewlett Packard and others started in garages with simple products. You are expecting new companies to go leaps and bounds beyond what was done before, yet you are skeptical of them and seem to think that investors should not share your skepticism to invest billions anyway. They need to prove themselves before investors will invest those billions, and spending huge sums of money on new technologies does not give investors that warm fuzzy feeling. These guys are doing great on shoestring budgets. Some of these guys are doing what few nations, with all their resources, have done, but that does not satisfy you.

    Geez, no one seemed to think that SpaceX or Orbital could succeed at rendezvous with the ISS using 1960s technologies, why are you expecting revolutionary advances overnight?

    Even Skylon is taking years to develop. Now there is another example of NewSpace. I only hope that they can remain funded long enough to succeed.

    Those who laughed in the past may be worried now that there is proven inexpensive competition, and the laugh may have been more for potential customers than confidence that SpaceX’s would fail – politics is important in sales.

  • Kelly Starks

    > I now understand your problem. You are looking at the small pictures and failing
    > to add them together into the big picture. Step back and look at what is going on,
    > and compare it to 2004, just before the Ansari X-Prize was won.
    > None of what is happening now was seen as possible. There just wasn’t the eagerness
    > for funding anything that approached NewSpace – even the term is new. People are
    > succeeding at projects that were unimaginable a decade ago.

    Actually things are getting quieter. 20 years ago their were several big and small projects for revolutionary launch vehicles, huge new markets weer projected and NewSpace (or still called alt.space then) were developing craft for them.

    > If cubesats aren’t an innovation, then what the hell is?

    Hobbiest sats for decades were about that small. We had similar projects as getaway special payloads on Shutle in the 80’s. The earliest sats launched in the 50’s and 60’s were in that size range.

    The market moved to big to ultra big sats, but some private ones stayed at minimal sizes. Obviously as electronic improved these mini and micro sats got even smaller, but its not a big new thing..

    > OldSpace makes huge, expensive, one-or-two to a launcher satellites, and here we
    > have a couple of professors come up with something that brings the cost down to the
    > point that even a *high school* is going to make and launch one. ===

    Clubs like ham radio clubs have launched sats before for decades. (They get carried up as freebee ballast on others launches.)

    > hese things have even been launched dozens at a time, not just one or two. Now that seems innovative to me.

    Sats have been launches in multiples before – but as the market moved to bigger adn bigger stas, you can’t fit as many per launch.

    Its not that these are really innovative – they just didn’t get much public press before, so your not familure with thtem – soto you it seems very innovative. Your excited because your not aware of how much more was going on before. So you (and a lot of the newSpace Alt.space folks) are wowed by “new ideas” that date back 50-60 years. New designs that were shown to be to limited and expensive generations ago, and which providers were developing better replacements to. Now were not, and are reideveloping things from the ’50’s.

    For example:

    > Niche markets are legitimate markets.

    Yeah but its like the folks marketing the JitterBug cell phone for old people. Yeah, old style flip phones without all the bells and wistles of smnart phone have a definate market – but their not a exciting new development moving the technology adn civilization forward.

    >..why are you so critical of the vertically integrated SpaceX?

    Once again, I ask you to readjust your attitude. Please look at the wonderful things that are happening in space, and as with all new industries, don’t expect all of the companies to survive or come out full blown with the perfect product. Think Altair vs. Commodore vs. Apple vs. PC (I know that I mixed products with companies). Hewlett Packard and others started in garages with simple products. You are expecting new companies to go leaps and bounds beyond what was done before, yet you are skeptical of them and seem to think that investors should not share your skepticism to invest billions anyway. They need to prove themselves before investors will invest those billions, and spending huge sums of money on new technologies does not give investors that warm fuzzy feeling. These guys are doing great on shoestring budgets. Some of these guys are doing what few nations, with all their resources, have done, but that does not satisfy you.

    > Geez, no one seemed to think that SpaceX or Orbital could succeed at rendezvous with the ISS using 1960s technologies, —

    They didn’t use ’60’s technology, and automated ockets with ’60’s tech have been docking (not just rendezvousing ) with the station, and older stations, for decades. So Other then concerns about SpaceX and Orbital having relyability concerns – this is not a surprizing ability for a competant modern firm.

    > why are you expecting revolutionary advances overnight?

    Why are you seeing such a decling market, shrinkling capacity, less and less agressive/growing/advanced commercial developers, more and more dependant on gov support – as advancing? To me its just a painful sign of how smaller and narrower our vision in space is.

    > Even Skylon is taking years to develop. …

    Its not being developed. Really its just a concept they have for the engines they are doing research and development on. Such projects have been aroud for 40-50 years, even in more strongly marketed forms like NA’s Star Raker in the 70’s, or the Star Raker designers sons attempt to get a 1/4th scale commercialy developed in the ’90s.

    > Now there is another example of NewSpace. ===

    ??
    Its a spin off of a gov project. When the gov project (HOTOL) was canceled the the engine designer kept going with study grants etc. Its a little over complicated, but its seems a doable concept. The engines arn’t bad.

  • Edward

    > Its not being developed. Really its just a concept they have for the engines they are doing research and development on. Such projects have been aroud for 40-50 years,

    That *is* my point. Things that were ideas, concepts, and dreams for 40 or 50 years are *finally* being researched and developed, not by government agencies but by companies. SpaceX is finally working on reusable first stages, and if they are successful, perhaps they can figure out how to reuse an upper stage.

    > Its not that these are really innovative – they just didn’t get much public press before, so your not familure with thtem – soto you it seems very innovative. Your excited because your not aware of how much more was going on before.

    *sigh* You compare ham radio clubs to the science and innovations that are being done by cubesats – the innovation being the *standardization* – and thus a standard container to take them and release them into orbit – rather than the one-off configurations of the past. Did anyone ever launch 28 ham radio satellites on one launch vehicle? It seems to me that we are making actual – not dreaming of – progress. You seem to insist upon instantaneous revolutionary advancements from the small companies that make up most of NewSpace, and when you don’t see that you complain that what they are doing are only old ideas, despite having never been done before. People are actually doing the things that were dreams and ideas of yore, but that it isn’t good enough for you. There is just no satisfying you.

    How about this: start your own company that revolutionizes space exploration and exploitation. You don’t even have to make a full up whatever (e.g. warp drive engine) by the end of next year, but just get a company started with whatever revolution you think you can get working in the next ten years. That’s all I ask. (And to think, I used to be asking for you to change your attitude.)

    I am serious. The more NewSpace the better, and better NewSpace is even better still.

  • Kelly Starks

    >>> Even Skylon is taking years to develop. …

    >> Its not being developed. Really its just a concept they have for the engines they
    >> are doing research and development on. Such projects have been aroud for 40-50
    >> years, even in more strongly marketed forms like NA’s Star Raker in the 70′s, or the
    >> Star Raker designers sons attempt to get a 1/4th scale commercialy developed in the ’90s.

    > That *is* my point. Things that were ideas, concepts, and dreams for 40 or 50 years
    > are *finally* being researched and developed, not by government agencies but by companies.

    They were always don’t by companies, not but gov. NASA, DOD, etc contracts to companies to do things they want researched – and in the cases I’m listing they weer commercial companies doing the research on their own half a century ago.

    > SpaceX is finally working on reusable first stages, and if they are successful, perhaps
    > they can figure out how to reuse an upper stage.

    Both have been done before by other companies.

    >..*sigh* You compare ham radio clubs to the science and innovations that are being
    > done by cubesats —

    Well they did develop micro sats like that decades ago, so micro/nanosats are not as inovative as you think.

    > – the innovation being the *standardization* – and thus a standard
    > container to take them and release them into orbit – rather than the one-off configurations
    > of the past. ..

    Standardized product are also not new with sats. A couple of the vendors have long had standard configs, and offer customizations if desired.

    Effectively some new vendors may have found a niche market for microsats – but that’s not a innovation or progress into space. Same way the new markets for micro drones and radio controlled vehicles don’t represent some advance in aerospace, or the US in aviation. Losing Fairchild, McDonnel Douglas, Grumman, etc, etc, etc – but then raving because a new drone company started up is nuts.

    >..It seems to me that we are making actual – not dreaming of – progress…

    It seems to me not only is their no progress – but dramatic decline. Worse, space advocates are not only unaware of this – they are often championing it.

    > You seem to insist upon instantaneous revolutionary advancements from the small
    > companies that make up most of NewSpace,–

    Because such was the norm before for the old companies. A McDonnel Douglas doing more in months what Blue Origion and SpaceX have tried for a decade to do (even when they just could have copied the old designs).

    >.. and when you don’t see that you complain that what they are doing are only old ideas,
    > despite having never been done before…

    But they WERE done before, and more advanced things were done before, and the things the “NewSpace” grouyps were trying to do before was more. You have SpaceX trying to get operational their versions of 1950’s designs, doing experiments of ’60’s concepts with Grasshoper, but ignoring cheaper better concepts that the shuttle was a prototyp of. Hell even more Rocketplane was developing even more advanced concepts drafted in the ’90’s.

    > How about this: start your own company that revolutionizes space exploration and exploitation. ..

    Tried.

    Ignoring that. How can anything from any newspace company be said to have revolutionized space exploration and exploitation?

  • Edward

    Every time that I make a comment on one of your points, you change the target — the point. Every time.

    It is impossible to discuss this topic with you when you do that. The next time that we have one of these discussions, please remain on topic, and please don’t change the point that you make after the fact.

  • Kelly Starks

    Sorry. Given I was responding point by point to your statements, I’m sincerely confused how that’s changing the point?

    My bottom line understanding of the general point of your argument is that NewSpace is now doing lots of stuff now (eiather marketed or R&D work) that was only dreamed of being done commercially before. My responses generally summarize as – those were all done commercially (either marketed or R&D work) before, and generally more and better was done before. So rather then seeing this as a great expansion forward for commercial – I’m seeing rapid declines in capability, vision, and especially the scope of what folks are building toward. NewSpace merely making timid and limited copies of what was done so long ago, its seen as innovative.

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