Orbital Sciences gets ready for its first cargo mission to ISS.


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The competition heats up: Orbital Sciences gets ready for its first cargo mission to ISS.

The article gives details about the status of Cygnus and Antares, including mentioning that the first test of Antares is now set for late October.

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  • Joe

    An interesting article. Especially when compared to the article linked to below.

    http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1208/24cots/

    Both quote supposed details of contracts for delivery of cargo service to the ISS. Assuming these articles are both accurate (and both companies can meet the terms of the contracts). A comparison can now be made between the two service providers.

    Space X
    – Number of flights – 12.
    – Contract cost – $1.6 Billion.
    – Up mass per flight – 7,300 lbs.

    Based on these figures the following metrics can be derived:
    – Cost per flight (rounded down to the nearest million dollars) – $133 Million.
    – Total payload delivered (rounded up to nearest metric ton) – 40 Metric Tons.
    – Cost per pound to delivered payload (rounded down to the nearest thousand dollars) – 18,000/lb.

    Orbital Sciences
    – Contract cost – $1.9 Billion.
    – Total payload delivered – 20 Metric Tons.

    Based on these figures the following metric can be derived:
    – Cost per pound to delivered payload (rounded down to the nearest thousand dollars) – 43,000/lb.

    This (obviously) makes Space X look much better than Orbital Sciences in terms of cost.

    However, there is (to me at least) an even more interesting point. Orbital Sciences (to the best of my knowledge and to there credit) has made no grandiose claims, but Space X has talked of revolutionary reductions in launch costs (Elon Musk has even asserted that he will be selling round trip tickets to Mars for $500,000/ticket by 2030). Even the Space X figure in an actual contract comes nowhere near supporting such claims. The $18,000/lb. figure is extraordinary only in how ordinary it seems.

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