Sunday, May 9, 2010

SpaceX Waits for Government Bureaucracy

John Kelly of Florida Today has a column in today's edition about SpaceX waiting for Air Force clearance to launch its Falcon 9 test rocket.

SpaceX is determined to break through the barrier to launching new, cheaper rockets from Cape Canaveral.

The firm and its brash founder, Elon Musk, are on a trajectory that reaches beyond launching the first Falcon 9. They aim to disrupt the whole launch business.

They want to change how rockets are designed, built, prepped and launched. They want to change how new launchers are cleared for flight by the Air Force safety team that protects all of us on the ground from wayward rocket shrapnel.

They want a new American-made rocket that's cheaper than others. In the process, they want to blaze a trail for other new space companies. If they succeed, the U.S. could regain dominance in the worldwide space-launch market the old-fashioned way — by being competitive on price.

The article notes that the Air Force is "forcing SpaceX to use older components and a limited supplier base" for its flight termination system instead of "modern, off-the-shelf components, that could be obtained from a broader range of suppliers — likely at a substantial cost savings."

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