Sunday, June 20, 2010

Articles of Interest

Launch vehicles in the history of India's space program.

Some recently published articles of interest ...

In a June 7 Florida Today article, columnist John Kelly writes that the government-run satellite program is years behind and billions of dollars over budget.

In at least a dozen outside reports issued during the last five years, including one just provided to Congress, experts say replacement satellites are not on track because of disagreement among federal agencies in charge, overly rosy assumptions about how fast the spacecraft could be designed and built, and skyrocketing costs forcing repeated changes in the satellites.

Sounds similar to the 2009 Augustine Panel's report about the Constellation program.

Space News reports that President Obama has submitted an amendment to his FY 2011 NASA budget proposal that would transfer $100 million of the $19 billion budget to programs "aimed at helping Florida and other states bracing for job losses associated with the end of the space shuttle program." The money would be transferred from funds "originally requested for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate."

Space News also reported that Lockheed says it can build an Orion capsule as an International Space Station escape system for $4.5 billion if NASA relaxes its oversight. has an interview with SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who among other topics discusses why SpaceX can build rockets cheaper than the current space-industrial complex.

If you go to heart of it, SpaceX operates with really with a sort of Silicon Valley operating system and DNA as applied to problem of space transport. And in that sense, culturally, the way things operate are closer to an Intel or Google or Apple in the way that it functions.

We’re quite vertically integrated, which increases the number of problems you have to solve, but you also have fewer middlemen. I think the aerospace guys got into this craze of outsourcing everything, then even the suppliers would outsource, and eventually it got to where you had to go four companies down before you found someone cutting metal. And there’s an old maxim that if you want efficiency, you have to cut out the middleman, and so we’ve done that at SpaceX.

Also, to the degree that we inherited legacy components, we inherited the legacy cost structure, and that necessitated rebuilding almost the whole market in order to achieve significant breakthroughs. Because if you look at the cost of our market, if you break it down, it's the cost of the engines, the structures, the electronics, the launch operation, and the overhead of the business, and in order to make a significant breakthrough, you have to really see improvements across the board, systemwide.

Aviation Week reports on India's progress in joining the list of spacefaring nations.

The Space Review details a new hydrocarbon engine that's part of the Obama budget proposal that could become the main propulsion system for a heavy lift vehicle.

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