Skip to comments.SpaceX: Solyndra in Space
Posted on 08/26/2012 10:17:25 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Despite the news and pictures from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, America's once great space program is on life support because we no longer have a serious manned space exploration program....And the Obama Administration's unimaginative and amateurish vision for space exploration -- even if successful -- will not revive the dying program. It merely follows the disturbing pattern of the Solyndra scandal, funneling tax dollars to Obama donors and fundraisers.
....SpaceX collects tax dollars so that it can learn how to build and develop something that other companies were doing a generation ago. It is curious that SpaceX is now receiving so much taxpayer cash given its stunningly thin record of success in space....even more troubling given that SpaceX's founder and CEO is a big-time Obama donor....
However, the problem with how the Obama Administration is pursuing its uninspiring and unimaginative space program goals goes well beyond picking donors to receive favorable contracts and guaranteed government cash with little accountability. Even if SpaceX accomplishes everything asked of it, it will not get us beyond low-Earth orbit. Simply stated, the Obama administrations vision for space exploration is essentially to replace the hauling capability of the shuttle -- something that was developed more than 30 years ago. Beyond that, real space exploration is not a serious priority.
....NASA is transitioning from being a highly respected nonpartisan space exploration agency to just another arm of Obamas political operation -- wasting tax dollars on friends, diminishing America's global leadership in space exploration, and ensuring that if we continue down this path, we will fall behind China, Russia, India, and others. This will have dire implications for our economy and national security. The Administration has been asked to correct course, but so far has refused to act.....
(Excerpt) Read more at breitbart.com ...
WOW nice hit piece.. most is incorrect, so far SpaceX is the only one to send a resupply to the ISS and return samples back in there COTS demo neither Japan, Russa or the EU can do so... and it was on where near Solyndra $$$
The Great and Wonderous NASA had directed them to continue down the path of high pressure cryogenic impellers using fuel rich staged combustion engines (viz., the SSME).
Now this was pretty high tech cool stuff with impressive Isp but uh...it's damned expensive to build and run. Especially when you mate it up with a massive structure like the Shuttle just to put 7 people in space.
SpaceX merely commercialized an existing NASA program: the Low Cost Pintle Engine. This program had been technically successful but was canceled to continue feeding the Shuttle cash monster. SpaceX was founded to see the vision through to its conclusion: low cost routine access to space.
This is a standard start-up strategy, well known in the Venture Capital industry. In fact, it's the model.
SpaceX is no Solyndra. It's founded on solid engineering and their flight to the ISS proves that. If this guy is so damn clever, tell me when Lockheed plans to get off their dead butts and do something similar. They competed in the COTS program but got shut out or dropped out early, don't remember or care which. They're more interested in churning a few more ECO's with the USAF so they can turn a 100 million program into a 1 billion program, all of course with an 8% fixed margin. Good Ol' Cost Plus.
Musk is a product of his ethnic and social environment, but he takes incredible risks with his own money and succeeds by relentless work. He now has won the game with the authority to proceed on the 1.6 billion ISS resupply contract.
Regardless of his twinky social outlook, his great business attitude should be respected.
PS: building and launching a rocket is no trivial task. Been there, done that. NO ONE who has never done it should sneer at it.
I think that the article’s author is poorly informed - first off, NASA’s own development program for a shuttle replacement, the Constellation, was heavily over budget. The Space-X developed Falcon family of rockets and the Dragon capsule have been far cheaper in terms of developmental costs then the Constellation, and have came further.
Secondly, as things appear so far, the Space-X system isn’t “more then a decade” away from carrying personnel to the ISS. There has already been a successful unmanned resupply mission to the space station. As things look right now, the first manned Dragon flight will occur within the next three years, and Space-X has kept fairly close to their timeline in the past. Even if the amount of time needed doubles, that is still far less then a decade.
SpaceX is ready for cargo missions to ISS.
I don’t think the comparison to Solyndra is justified.
We DO want private industry to start taking on the “mundane” tasks of space taxi and cargo.
At some point yes, they should stand on their own.
Problem is, Obama wanted to kill ALL Orion and delay NASA heavy lift rocket development five years.
Thankfully that was stopped.
But NASA is starved of proper funding. We expect miracles from NASA on literally LESS then half a penny of federal discretionary spending. NASA is NOT a place to cut funds or starve. During Apollo it was FIVE cents on the dollar at one point.
The nations that lead on the frontiers, dictate the course of human history.
It’s a parallal path to the stars, commercial and NASA.
NASA should pioneer and lead the way, commercial should follow with working business models.
Given SpaceX’s successes, I don’t see that is anything like Solyendra. They will be getting business from other then NASA so let’s see where they can go.
What is incorrect?
Please tell us how much funding you believe SpaceX (hailed as a commercial enterprise) has received from the taxpayers.
Where do you see the U.S. space program in 10 years?
“I dont think the comparison to Solyndra is justified.”
I agree. The only thing that Solyndra and Elon Mush have in common is the fact that Elon owns a factory in Fremont CA where Tesla Motors is located. It’s just a few 100 yards from the Solyndra factory ;-)
What markets do you see buying from SpaceX - the ticket to becoming profitable? Other countries already provide commercial launch services.
Which brings me to my question: I thought SpaceX was entirely PRIVATELY funded, or is that incorrect?
If you put my hand over a burning flame, I'd swear I read that somewhere --- I just don't remember where.
And this achievement should excite us why?
Rockets are easy - good nukes are harder... :)
As I understand it, this is not true. The Dragon capsule recently sent to the ISS is the same basic design that will be the manned sapsule, but is also the same basic capsule which will go to Mars or the moon. Also, with the reusable space booster, space will become an order of magnitude more accessible.
Sometimes I don't get conservative's attitude towards NASA. It was successful in its day, but aren't we supposed to be for privitizing government programs which could be privatized? The only true innovation in access to space that I see is coming from private industry right now. I feel we should let them lead.
It must be pointed out that the CEO of SpaceX said if the last mission had not worked. It would have been the end of SpaceX.
I also don't like SpaceX funding the Obama campaign. Very unseemly.
“Musk is a product of his ethnic and social environment”
When do you think SpaceX will be rated to carry humans? How much taxpayer money will be needed and spent to reinvent that wheel?
Do you actually believe Obama wanted to shrink a government agency in order to spur private enterprise and American space power?
Space X’s next launch of the Falcon 9 is set for October 2012 with the one following that set for December 2012.
You should see the number of launches they have scheduled.
Do you see SpaceX going public within 2 years?
I oppose all forms of subsidies and stuff.
Your Wikipedia source has the manifest into 2017 - very nice advertising and self promotion but hardly a factual record of achievement. The proof will be in the pudding.
A lot of liberals make terrific business leaders, especially for young and growing companies. As long as they stay out of government and earn their money, I'm happy.
Great post, BTW.
I’ve heard some rumors that SpaceX is planning to go public. I haven’t heard a timeframe yet, but when it happens I’ll certainly invest in the company.
You should see the failures of the SSMEs. When a turbopump goes out of control, it could hit 400,000RPMS within a second. Computers weren’t yet fast enough so they went through quite a lot of iterations for turbopumps.
I wish I could find the report I read that identified the problems and fixed them.
Oh yeah, the reason they needed cryogenic fuels for the SSMEs was the power output. You get more power out of H+LOX VS Kerosene and LOX although they provided enough power for the first stage Apollo rockets..
They had three failed launches before making it to orbit successfully. Since then they’ve had no failures. Their cashflow is good plus they are getting contracts to launch satellites from the private sector. Their goal is to get the cost of getting to orbit from $10,000 per pound to $1,000 or possibly even $500 per pound. If they are able to re-use the first and second stages plus the space capsule of manned rockets this is achievable.
Launching satellites into LEO is a major achievement and not an easy thing to do. Just try launching model rockets and getting them back undamaged.
Elon Musk has stated that he wants to get to Mars by around 2020 and not stay just in LEO like the author feels will happen.
SpaceX is also trying to qualify to launch DoD payloads. They pay more per launch but the rate SpaceX will charge the military will also save the taxpayer money compared to what the other companies charge.
Many naybobs keep saying all kinds of negative crap about SpaceX but Elon keeps proving them wrong.
When SpaceX lands on Mars can you think of anything negative you’d like to say at that time?
You’ve really got it bad, don’t you?
By your own naysaying it sounds to me that’s your problem, not mine!
Elon Musk and his extended family are getting subsides and contracts for their electric car company Tesla, for their solar panel company Solar City and so far, around $800 billion for SpaceX.
Meanwhile, thousands of skilled U.S. space workers are beating the bushes (with many other Americans) looking for any job to pay their bills.
While Elon Musk gives pie in the sky interviews about how he plans to settle Mars in 10-20 years, China is set to land on the Moon next year.
I posted the article and politely asked questions of FReepers who posted.
You felt it necessary to flood the thread with pro-Space X cheerleading. I do not fault you - only pointed out your obvious annoyance at having an Obama supporter (who gets hundreds of millions in government funding for 3 businesses) pointed out and held up for inspection.
How is SpaceX different from airlines that run private cargo AND government-contracted cargo such as mail?
What if SpaceX pays back the R&D costs over time? Would that make you a happy camper?
I would rather see Elon stick with SpaceX and get out of Tesla since electric cars aren’t going anywhere until the powerplant situation is resolved.
I think you have the wrong letter in front of the "illion"...
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Another big difference between Space-X and Solyndra...
Space-X is actually making something that works, is working on a technological frontier (private orbital operations), and this market is not in danger of becoming commoditized any time soon.
Solyndra was working in a mature market (conventional photoelectric solar cells) that has been commoditized. They were not working on the frontier of this technology.
Solyndra was a scam and a money play.
Sort of like wind farms. The promoters and wind turbine manufacturers make all their money up front, but the bondholders and rate payers are going to be screwed in the long run.
Space-X is in fact on a technology leading-edge. Yes they are getting money from Nasa for development contracts. BUT they are hitting the deliverables (in a reasonable way given the challenges).
Between giving money to GM and Solyndra - versus Space-X - there is IMHO no comparison...
Funded by Musk and venture capital firms, but primary customer has been NASA: IOW, government contracts.
Which they produced the required hardware for even exceeded the requirements in a competitive program (Orbital Sciences has basically been floundering in this program).
SpaceX has a number of commercial contracts now but remains to be seen how significant those will be in the near term.
Prob'ly true, but I'm sure building nooks is a blast...to er, um, make a pun...
If this wasn’t sarcasm, then I challenge you to design a vehicle that accelerates from 0 to 18000mph, over 200 miles, which also has to get to the exact correct angle relative to the earths surface to achieve orbit, and neither crash and burn back to earth nor fly off to infinity. Then approach a teeny tiny dot at an exact altitude and location and velocity, and link up with it. Then leave that dot, and enter the atmosphere at an exact time, at an exact angle, so you neither bounce off it, and fly into infinity, not burn to a cinder. And then after not burning up, land at an exact spot, while the planet is moving and rotating. Finally slowing from 18000mph to 0
lets see, i believe that Spacex has received at the time of the COTS demo Elon Musk and NASA had put in $1B 1/2 from NASA. and you object WHY
No, I actually think he cut it because there is a historical animosity between civil rights activists and NASA. When NASA, at the time a bunch of white men, were going to the moon, the civil rights crowd started using the phrase, "If we can put a man on the moon..." to redirect the attention NASA was getting on to their goals. The fact that the first black president, from that crowd, would cut NASA, and that's pretty much the only cuts he has made, is not surprising in a historical context.
I think they will be rated in a couple of years. As for taxpayer money, SpaceX is getting contracts just like any other contractors, Northrop Grumman, Lockeed Martin, etc. The decision to retire the shuttles was made, and it wasn't made by SpaceX. SpaceX seems to have the best plan to get us back into space, and unlike Lockeed or others, they seem to be more ambitious.
That is an error. Thank you for correcting. I was thinking of the $1Billion mentioned for Space X($200M from Musk) leaving the $800 MILLION.
Airlines and mail cargo had customers and a growing customer base. Add to that the difficulty — space launch/travel is not air travel.
Do you believe Space X (as well as Musk’s and his extended family’s other companies) is not getting special treatment from Obama’s administration?
Do you believe Musk is being honest when he says launch costs can be brought to a $500 cost per pound to orbit?
Simply: Why should the taxpayers subsidize his business?
So from your perspective - regardless of why - it is okay that our national space program is being dismantled?
And that you see Obama as pulling the plug on our national space program as a civil rights payback is interesting.
The idea of American exceptionalism and NASA is like hand in glove. Without a strong U.S. manned space program, America is diminished and the global playing field is leveled (John P. Holdren - Obama’s Science and Technology Adviser’s sentiment when explaining why it is better when the U.S. isn’t always number one).
If the Left succeeds in destroying the middle class (and thus the U.S. economy) where will Space X get their subsidies? By then there will be no national space program (human or infrastructure) left to put back together.
Because it reduces the cost to the taxpayers of servicing the ISS.
Why don't you complain about the money that Boeing is getting for exactly the same thing? Why do you hate SpaceX so much? It seems completely irrational.
Absolutely right on the money there!!!
Mostly satellite launching services...
These SpaceX folks got the market on the ISS resupply gig...
The Japanese had only 2-3 H-II type vehicles IIRC going up during the whole operational life of the ISS, ESA only have a handfull as well, the Russians have both the Progress vehicles AND the only PAX vehicle for the Nauts going up and down...
If SpaceX gets a man-rated vehicle going on their booster, that will become a boom for us, and give us more latitude to do things our way, and may end up being cheaper than giving the Russians 2-30 million for a seat up and down for our guys and gals...
Obama and his minions do not (and will NEVER) understand a single thing that goes into exploration/science and the spin off technologies that have come from OUR MANNED SPACEFLIGHT PROGRAM...
If you look at the early days of US aviation significant government funds were allocated for development of airplanes for the military as well as the establishment of an infrastructure for civilian use. Many of those government programs are still with us today.
I don’t have any idea if SpaceX is getting special treatment. You have to understand that they aren’t the only ones who competed in the COTS program. Out of the twenty companies the only other one to win a contract was Orbital Sciences Corporation.
They beat out Lockheed and Boeing who should have been given special treatment.
$500 per pound is a tough number to reach but with mass production of launch vehicles and their reusability I think it is possible.
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