Category Archives: Business

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.

Space “Democratization”

Ferris Valyn has some thoughts on that WaPo editorial on commercializing LEO transportation.

It’s kind of amusing to see him arguing with some of the lefty anti-capitalist loons who populate Kos. This was a little less amusing:

Competitive markets (and I stress the word competitive) can be very good at lowering price points. Sometimes they can get too low, and we end up with things like Wal-mart, but this is an situation that desperately needs its price points lowered.

I doubt if the millions of lower-income people whose lives have been improved by Walmart think that their prices are “too low.”

Global Warming

…and the sun:

I applaud Meehl’s reluctance to go beyond where the science takes him. For all I know, he’s right. But such humility and skepticism seem to manifest themselves only when the data point to something other than the mainstream narrative about global warming. For instance, when we have terribly hot weather, or bad hurricanes, the media see portentous proof of climate change. When we don’t, it’s a moment to teach the masses how weather and climate are very different things.

No, I’m not denying that man-made pollution and other activity have played a role in planetary warming since the Industrial Revolution.

But we live in a moment when we are told, nay lectured and harangued, that if we use the wrong toilet paper or eat the wrong cereal, we are frying the planet. But the sun? Well, that’s a distraction. Don’t you dare forget your reusable shopping bags, but pay no attention to that burning ball of gas in the sky — it’s just the only thing that prevents the planet from being a lifeless ball of ice engulfed in darkness. Never mind that sunspot activity doubled during the 20th century, when the bulk of global warming has taken place.

What does it say that the modeling that guaranteed disastrous increases in global temperatures never predicted the halt in planetary warming since the late 1990s? (MIT’s Richard Lindzen says that “there has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.”) What does it say that the modelers have only just now discovered how sunspots make the Earth warmer?

It says that there is some other agenda going on.