Tag Archives: competition

Doubts on Display from Congress during hearing on Private Space

Several Congressmen expressed doubts about and resistance to the new private space manned effort by companies like SpaceX during hearings today in the House.

Let’s be honest: it’s all about pork and only pork. Unfortunately, the new companies don’t deliver the same kind of pork to the right congressional districts, even if they might deliver a real product faster and for less money. To quote the article:

Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., rallied to the industry’s defense, citing a “hostility” to the private space industry. “Much to my dismay, I see some of the worst elements of decision making,” he said. “I see an anti-commercial-space attitude that could have very negative consequences.” Rohrabacher (who represents a district near SpaceX’s headquarters) seemed to chide Hall and Johnson, the two Texans who chair the panel, for parochial views. “Focusing on one’s own district and directing federal funds seems to be having a major impact on this decision,” he said.

As we anticipated yesterday, there were other regional pleas connected to the word of choice heard in the halls of Congress: jobs. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., for instance, asked how the space contract could be used to create jobs in his district of metropolitan Detroit. The witnesses made the most diplomatic kowtows they could. “I’ve been pushing SpaceX to use more automotive suppliers,” Musk responded. Other space industry execs went on to claim Michigan subcontractors, to praise the auto industry, and to speak of spin-offs from space science programs.

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Tea Party in Space argues for more money for commercial space

Andrew Gasser at the Tea Party in Space website today argues strongly for Congress to fully fund the new commercial space program at the $850 million amount requested by the Obama administration.

As much as I am for these new commercial companies, I do not think it a good idea to fund them at these high levels.

For one thing, the government is still broke. It can’t afford to spend that much money. It is therefore unseemly for a website that uses the “tea party” label to advocate more spending at this time.

For another, the more money the government commits to these companies, the more control the government is going to demand from them. Far better to keep the government participation as small as possible. Make it just enough to allow the companies to succeed but not enough so as to make the whole effort a government program.

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Orbital announces revised schedule for its initial Taurus 2 and Cygnus flights

Orbital Sciences has announced its revised schedule for the initial Taurus 2 and Cygnus flights.

Orbital will conduct a test of the Taurus 2’s first stage on the launch pad in late January [2012], and the inaugural Taurus 2 flight in late February or early March. This will be followed, in early May, by a Taurus 2 flight carrying the Cygnus station cargo vehicle, a flight during which Cygnus is expected to demonstrate its ability to berth with the station. The first operational space station cargo-delivery mission for Taurus 2 and Cygnus will occur in late August or early September under this revised schedule, Orbital officials said.

Based on conversations I’ve had with people at Orbital, this delay was expected, and is a good thing. The company was under incredible time pressure to get ready for a December launch. Given that this will be the first test flight of Taurus 2, and it must work for the Cygnus cargo flights to follow, better they give themselves some working room to get it right.

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GAO and SpaceX blast military’s plans to spend $15 billion for all its launches through 2018 in one purchase

GAO and SpaceX blast the military’s plans to spend $15 billion for all its launches through 2018, in one bulk purchase.

The reason given by the military for buying all these launches up front is to save money. In reality, it is to favor the companies they want to do business with, rather than open up the business to as many competitors as possible.

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Eco-friendly festival closes down due to lack of attendence

Eco-friendly festival closes down due to lack of attendance.

Reminds me of a local news piece here in Maryland last week, where a team from the University of Maryland in College Park won a Department of Energy competition for the best built solar powered house. The problem is that the house cost $330,000 to build, is only 920 square feet in size, and the best price they hope to get for it is $250,000, if that.

In other words, it appears that these ecological projects have little to do with the real world, where creating something that customers will want to buy is the only way to succeed. All else is fantasy.

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Russia drops plans to build a replacement for Soyuz rocket

Russia has dropped its plans to build a replacement for its Soyuz rocket.

This is not the first time that the Russians have abandoned plans to come up with a new rocket, which suggests once again that — as successful as their space effort has been — they lack the ability to come up with new product. This in turn makes vulnerable the Russians’ market share in commercial space.

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Five myths about China’s space effort

Five myths about China’s space effort. Key recommendation:

Recognize the significance of space as a field of competition. Beijing is not engaged in a space race with Washington. But China is engaged in a great power competition with the U.S. in which space is one arena. American decision makers should come to terms with this duality. In this regard, the Chinese are unlikely to be manipulated by American proposals on “codes of conduct” or meetings with the head of NASA. As long as Beijing and Washington are in competition, space will be one of the major venues.

And competition is not a bad thing. It is going to be the fuel that gets the human race into space.

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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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Satellite Builders express contempt for MDA’s refueling plans for Intelsat

Sour grapes: Satellite builders express contempt for MDA’s refueling plans for Intelsat orbiting satellites.

No surprise here. If Intelsat can extend the life of its satellites, than it won’t have to buy them as often from these builders, something the builders clearly don’t want.

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Undefeated youth football team banned from playoffs for being too good

How’s this for teaching kids the wrong lessons: League officials have banned an undefeated youth football team from the playoffs because they are too good. The other teams in the league feared they lose if they played them again.

Update: Teaching kids the joy of winning instead of the misery of “fairness.” Key quote:

Every week you’ve been told that the important thing is just to have a good time. Well, this week it’s going to be different. The number one goal is to win; the number two goal is to have a good time. But I assure you: if you win, you will have a much better time!

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