My Sidebar For Popular Mechanics

…didn’t run, so I’ll run it here.

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Andy Pasztor reported that SpaceX’s CEO, Elon Musk, has claimed that it will cost a billion dollars to develop the launch escape system for the Dragon capsule needed to allow it to carry crew. This would be twice the amount that it has cost to develop both the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, and the Dragon itself, from scratch, and seemed quite improbable to many who have read it.

Mr. Musk notes in an email:

“I definitely didn’t tell Pasztor that our LES would cost $1B. He is off by a factor of ten! All I told him is that there is no way it would cost us more than $1B to demonstrate crew transport. That includes development, testing and certification to the most stringent NASA standards of everything needed for a seven-crew vehicle. I’ve also said that our price per person would be $20M, assuming the seven-person configuration and minimum of four flights per year. This compares to $30B for Ares I/Orion and a per person cost of ~$250M.”

In a follow up, he noted that the billion (if it goes that high) will include two abort flight tests (one on the pad, one high altitude) and a demonstration flight to and from ISS. Sounds like a bargain to me.

Commercial, One For One

Government, Oh For Two:

A half-Russian, half-Korean rocket likely exploded a few minutes after liftoff Thursday, dealing a second blow the South Korea’s $400 million program to develop its own satellite launcher.

They spent almost as much on this as SpaceX has in their entire company history, to develop two rockets and a capsule, not to mention manufacturing and test facilities, and launch infrastructure.

There’s an idiot commenter (well, there are a lot, actually) over at Space Politics who keeps repeating the mantra, “There is no cheap.” Well, maybe not, but there does seem to be inexpensive and affordable, as long as a government isn’t intimately involved.

More Of That Smart Diplomacy

Mahmoud Abbas:

Pressed repeatedly by Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations Chairman Alan Solow and others, Abbas didn’t directly answer the question of why he wouldn’t simply accede to Netanyahu’s demand for direct talks.

Abbas blamed the hold-up in talks on the White House, noting that they had raised the issue of settlements: “They are the ones who requested for the Israelis to stop settlements, what do you expect of me? Less than them?” he was quoted saying in paraphrase.

Come to think of it, they’re the ones that compared the Arizona law to Chinese human rights violations with the Chinese, too.

Just brilliant.

[Update a couple minutes later]

More smart diplomacy, with the UK:

[London] Mayor Boris Johnson demanded an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling” after days of scathing criticism directed at BP by the President and other US politicians.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit branded Mr Obama’s conduct “despicable”. And with the dispute threatening to escalate into a diplomatic row, Mr Johnson also appeared to suggest that David Cameron should step in to defend BP.

He spoke as the US onslaught against the firm became a “matter of national concern” — especially given its importance to British pensions, which lost much of their value today as BP shares plunged to a 13-year low.

Will someone wake me when it’s 2012? Some time in the fall?

Stop The Power Grab

at the EPA. Especially if you live in Virginia.

[Update a few minutes later]

Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like:

Senator Boxer lost any credibility she might have had left when she said that the Murkowski Resolution would be like Congress “saying the Earth is flat.”

I’ve got two idiots for senators in California, but only one of them is blithering.

[mid-afternoon update]

The amendment failed:

I don’t want to hear a liberal bemoan executive supremacy ever again. This is Congress abdicating its own authority because the Democrats know they can’t get the votes to pass cap-and-trade.

Yup.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!