Category Archives: Business

X-Prize History

Memories from Peter Diamandis.

For the record, I have a vivid memory of sitting in a meeting with Peter in LA at a meeting on the subject in conjunction with a Space Frontier Foundation meeting around 1994-1995, and when he said that he had been talking to businessmen in St. Louis, I suggested that he suggest to them that the theme should be the “New Spirit Of St. Louis,” in memoriam to Lindbergh.

I’m not claiming that I came up with it first, or that someone else didn’t suggest it to him or them earlier, or that he didn’t come up with it prior — there’s no way to know that, unless Peter has something to say. But I recall it vividly.

Global Warming (Part Whatever)

It could forestall another ice age. Fire up the SUVs.

Because I know how much my commenters love posts like this…

Though actually, I prefer the phrase “glacial advance” to “ice age,” because we never really left the ice age. We’re just in a (brief — it’s only been a few thousand years) interglacial. The earth has been cool for a long time.

New Life For Falcon 1

Falcon 1e, that is:

SpaceX plans to launch the second-generation satellites on multiple Falcon 1e launch vehicles, an enhanced version of SpaceX’s Falcon 1 launch vehicle. Most recently, Falcon 1 successfully delivered the RazakSAT satellite to orbit for ATSB of Malaysia. Designed from the ground up by SpaceX, the Falcon 1e has upgraded propulsion, structures and avionics systems in order to further improve reliability and mass-to-orbit capability.

There’s been an assumption that the Falcon 1 was kind of a learning experience, and that the focus would shift to Falcon 9, but it looks like they’re going to continue with both for quite a while. Also, I’ve been having an argument with someone over in comments at NASA Watch who thinks that SpaceX can’t survive without NASA. That’s always been nonsense, and remains so.

Of course, Falcon 1e has never flown. Considering what happened when they switched engines from Flight 3 to Flight 4, it would behoove them to not use one of Orbcomm’s birds for a guinea pig.

[Update a few minutes later]

If this page is right (it seems a little tentative, with the question mark — it’s probably a guess based on satellite weight and vehicle performance), they will go up three at a time, so that’s six flights.

[Update a while later]

Some commenters here think that it might be six birds per launch, so that would be only three additional flights to the manifest. Seems like a lot of eggs in each basket. I wonder what the cost of the satellites is versus launch cost? It would be an interesting sales job for SpaceX, because if they tried to get more launches by putting fewer satellites up per launch, they’d be implying that their vehicle wasn’t reliable…

But there really is a trade, if the satellites cost a lot more than the launch, and you have to have a good idea of vehicle reliability to perform it properly.

I should add that this is one of the key arguments for propellant as a payload. The vehicle reliability becomes almost irrelevant.

The Hoyer Town Hall

Mark Hemingway has a report:

To his credit, Hoyer finally took questions via random lottery for almost the next two hours. What is not to his credit is how he answered those questions. I could pick apart the political objections to his claims some more, but Hoyer seemed bound and determined to sink himself by simply being tone-deaf.

When one woman on Social Security disability, and obviously sympathetic to the Democrats’ proposed reforms, explained that she had to drop her $400-a-month health insurance, Steny Hoyer (D-Math) explained that the current plan would help her because it would cap out-of-pocket expenses at $5,000 a year. Another sympathetic questioner wondered why he didn’t have a bipartisan Life Experience Panel, before asking a fawning question.

If his handling of positive questions was less than deft, his reponse to opponents was flaming-dirigible bad. After he repeatedly assured everyone that this bill was fiscally responsible, another questioner asked somewhat incredulously how this bill would save money. Hoyer responded, “I didn’t say the bill would pay for itself, I said it would be paid for.” The angry crowd didn’t like that bit of sophistry one bit. And when another questioner asked how he could assure the bill’s fiscal responsibility when Social Security and Medicare were bankrupt, Hoyer responded by saying, “Indeed, I don’t know if they are going bankrupt . . .” and had to wait to continue because of the riotous laughter that ensued.

Are they stupid, or do they think we are? Or both?

Occasional Transterrestrial commenter Chuck Divine also attended and blogged about it.