Category Archives: Space

Calling Pete Aldridge

If you’re serious about changing federal policy to encourage young people to learn about space and rocketry, you’ll do something about stupidity like this:

In any case, since the federal Safe Explosives Act — which requires permits for rockets with more than 0.9 pounds of fuel — went into effect in late 2002, the rocketry industry has been battered.

John Wickman, president of CP Technologies, an amateur rocketry supplier, said his company’s sales have dropped by about 50 percent since the act passed.

“It was a major hit, because people just dropped out,” said Wickman. “They just dropped out of the hobby completely.”

Part of the problem, say people like Wickman, is that the ATF doesn’t even understand the hobby it is trying to regulate.

A Few Interesting Items

First, a little bit of Blue Origin Kremlinology: They are advertising for a crew systems engineer. There are rumors that they are working on a manned suborbital ship but then again there are also rumors that they are working on a transdimensional intergalactic warp drive. Either way, it looks like they want to put humans on it.

Clark Lindsey has an interesting item on the development of GPS, with lessons for RLV development.

…and Derek Lyons starts strong out of the gate with a piece on the business practicalities of space access.

Update a few hours later: Check out Dr. Day’s detailed comment on GPS, which is meatier than either my post or the one I linked to. Good Stuff.

Another One Assimilated

I’ve been weeding the blogroll garden a little. I’ve divided my former space/science section into two separate ones, and I’ve added a new one to the space section–Spaceship Summer. Its author, Derek Lyons, says that it is “dedicated to information about space tourism, the X-Prize, and CATS (Cheap Acess to Space).”

Derek has been known on at least one occasion, in, to disparage the blogosphere.

Welcome to the evil empire, Derek.

The Starship Free Enterprise

The Economist has a good article on SpaceShipOne. There’s only one problem with it:

…it is difficult for his competitors (as well as everybody else) to work out what a ticket might actually cost.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation gives some idea. Mr Rutan says his highest costs are staff for the pre- and post-flight check-ups. He has a few dozen staff and, at one point, had a plan to run SpaceShipOne once a week for five months. Assuming each of his staff cost $120 an hour to employ, it would cost a minimum of $60,000 per tourist for staff alone.

That assumes that his entire staff is dedicated to SpaceShipOne operations. He has many other projects to which they would charge, so a SpaceShipOne flight won’t bear the full burden of his standing…well, not army, but perhaps a large squad, or perhaps a platoon. So I think that these are overestimates of his overhead costs.