Tag Archives: commercial

Shell abandons oil drilling plans in Alaska after EPA ruling

And Obama wonders why oil prices are high? Shell has abandoned its oil drilling plans in Alaska after an EPA regulatory board denied it permits. This after the oil company had spent $4 billion over five years developing those plans. To me, the quote below reveals much about the political agenda behind the EPA’s decision:

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund.

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“We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.”

Elon Musk: “We’ll probably put a first man in space in about three years. We’re going all the way to Mars, I think… best case 10 years, worst case 15 to 20 years.”

I believe him when he says he’ll launch his first manned mission in three years. However, I think he seriously underestimates the challenges of a mission to Mars, based on our present engineering abilities to build interplanetary spaceships.

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NASA Awards Next Set Of Commercial Crew Development Agreements

NASA has awarded the next set of commercial crew development agreements, giving contracts worth from $22 to $92 million to four companies, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, and Boeing. More here and here.

The amounts that NASA is giving these companies is minuscule, compared the monies spent on the program-formerly-called-Constellation. Yet I bet they all get their rockets/capsules launched and in operation, supplying cargos and crews to low Earth orbit, before NASA even test fires its heavy-lift rocket.

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China finds SpaceX’s launch prices challenging

Competition! China finds SpaceX’s launch prices low — and a challenge to meet.

Declining to speak for attribution, the Chinese officials say they find the published prices on the SpaceX website very low for the services offered, and concede they could not match them with the Long March series of launch vehicles even if it were possible for them to launch satellites with U.S. components in them.

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SpaceX Unveils Plan for World’s Most Powerful Private Rocket

SpaceX unveils its plan for the Falcon 9 Heavy, what would be the world’s most powerful private rocket.

The new rocket will be able to carry about 117,000 pounds (53,000 kilograms) of cargo to orbit – about twice the payload-carrying capability of the space shuttle. The Falcon Heavy would launch more than twice as much weight as the Delta 4 heavy, currently the most powerful rocket in operation. Only NASA’s Saturn 5 moon rocket, which last launched in 1973, could carry more cargo to orbit, SpaceX officials said.

Musk said the rocket should lower the launch cost of cargo to about $1,000 per pound, about one-tenth the cost per pound on NASA shuttle launches.

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Russia Speeds Up Moon, Mars Plans as U.S. May Cut Spending

Russia is accelerating its space program.

“It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us,” Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in a phone interview on April 2. The agency’s $3.5 billion budget for 2011 has almost tripled since 2007, reaching the highest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. “We can now advance on all themes a bit,” Perminov said.

Unlike 50 years ago, when beating the U.S. into space marked a geopolitical victory in the Cold War, Russia is focusing on the commercial, technological and scientific aspects of space travel. President Dmitry Medvedev has named aerospace one of five industries the government plans to nurture to help diversify the economy of the world’s largest energy supplier away from resource extraction.

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For Some Entrepreneurs, Moon Is Money

Software engineers to the Moon!

Crazy? Absolutely! Impossible? Probably not! There are a growing number of people who believe that with federal funding for our space program getting scarce, the future lies in private-public partnerships. Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s third job (after leading electric car company Tesla and acting as the Chairman of solar installer SolarCity) is heading up SpaceX, which was the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a rocketship. Virgin’s Richard Branson has a similar private space venture.

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