What's the big deal about private space launches?

May 22, 2012 By SETH BORENSTEIN , AP Science Writer
The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from space launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., early Tuesday, May 22, 2012. This launch marks the first time, a private company sends its own rocket to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- The first private spaceship is headed to the International Space Station. Some questions and answers about the cargo mission by Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX:

Q: If this is just supplies and no astronauts, why is this launch such a big deal?

A: It's not the ship or what's in it that makes this important. It's who's behind it. Until now, going to and from the space station has been the job of governments, big ones at that. This is a privately built and run spaceship and it's loaded with food, clothing and equipment for the test run.

Q: What's next in this space trip?

A: The Dragon capsule is in orbit after its launch on top a Falcon 9 rocket. When it gets close to the space station on Thursday, it will do some to show NASA that it can safely dock with the multibillion dollar giant orbital complex. If NASA gives the OK, the capsule will linkup with the space station on Friday.

Q. Is this capsule different from other cargo-hauling spacecraft?

A. This is the only one designed to return to Earth and that can be reused. After Dragon is unloaded, it will be packed up for the return trip, landing in the Pacific Ocean. Supply ships now are loaded with garbage and burn up on re-entry. Russia's ferry three station residents at a time; Dragon can be refigured to eventually take seven people.

Q: Has NASA stopped flying to the space station?

A: To build new rockets to eventually send people farther into space, NASA has stopped - for now - launching its own spacecraft to the space station. So it's paying Russia $63 million a seat to taxi astronauts to the space station, and hired like SpaceX to make deliveries. promises cheaper rides when they start carrying people.

Q: When will these new take astronauts into space?

A: There are several companies vying for the job, all with different timetables. Many haven't finished building test rockets. SpaceX's mastermind, Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, is aiming to launch a crew by 2015; other firms are targeting 2016 or 2017. A good rule of thumb in the rocket business: Few early flights go even close to schedule.

Q: Will others be able to fly in space or just ?

A: Private space companies are counting on real people as paying customers in space tourism eventually, but it won't be cheap. Still, experts say commercial space firms are probably the only way everyday people will get to space.

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CapitalismPrevails
1.9 / 5 (15) May 22, 2012
3 cheers for capitalism! NASA can no longer get things done without throwing its weight on the efficiency of private enterprise. This is why Capitalism always Prevails.
Russkiycremepuff
2.6 / 5 (9) May 22, 2012
Capitalism without big bad corruption prevails. Russian scientists and engineers are happy to help take American cosmonauts to ISS and back. Let SpaceX take their time building new craft.
Mike_Massen
3.6 / 5 (12) May 22, 2012
CapitalismPrevails sounds like he is on an ideological quest with propaganda
3 cheers for capitalism! NASA can no longer get things done without throwing its weight on the efficiency of private enterprise. This is why Capitalism always Prevails.
Capitalism is fine if you have debt management & enforceable regulations to ensure consumers don't get cheated or poisoned.

Regulated capitalism with debt & executive salary controls for public companies would be a good start, otherwise we will continue to see the excesses of the Enrons & Lehman brothers - regardless of their profit or loss the principal shareholder walked away with over half a billion dollars - sounds more like rape and pillage exercise of the 1700's pirates than anything civilised !

Nasa paid around $300 million plus to SpaceX to get them under-way & a secure contract which SpaceX can borrow against.

We need effective enlightened management more so than mere profit for the few. Education is sadly lacking.
Jonseer
4.7 / 5 (7) May 22, 2012
THIS IS A PRIVATE/PUBLIC EFFORT.

"NASA awarded $381 million to SpaceX as part of a 2006 agreement, according to press materials from the company. SpaceX has spent $1 billion over the last decade, according to the Associated Press."

Typical of the private sector, they take all the credit. This could NOT have happened without active, substantial support from NASA the Public Space agency.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (9) May 22, 2012
Regulated capitalism with debt & executive salary controls for public companies would be a good start,

This is called socialism and is currently failing all over the world.
Free market capitalism is regulated by competitors and consumers.
excesses of the Enrons & Lehman brothers

Were enabled by the govt. Crony 'capitalism' is just another form of socialism.
Vendicar_Decarian
4.3 / 5 (6) May 23, 2012
Is that why China owns America's backside?

"This is called socialism and is currently failing all over the world." - RyggTard
Vendicar_Decarian
2.7 / 5 (7) May 23, 2012
Poor RyggTard. He can't even manage to figure out what Socialism is.

"Crony 'capitalism' is just another form of socialism." - RyggTard

Under RyggTard's definition, socialism is anything he doesn't like.

What a Moron.

Vendicar_Decarian
2.7 / 5 (7) May 23, 2012
Correct.

It was even launched from a government owned and operated launching pad.

"This could NOT have happened without active, substantial support from NASA the Public Space agency." - Jonseer
Vendicar_Decarian
2.5 / 5 (8) May 23, 2012
Delusional.

"NASA can no longer get things done without throwing its weight on the efficiency of private enterprise." - CapitalismFails

Craft developed with largely government money, developed largely with government created technology, flight paid for by government money, ship containing government supplies, and launched from a government owned and run launching pad.

Private enterprise? Ahahahahahahahaahah Absolutely Delusional.

Eikka
4.5 / 5 (8) May 23, 2012
Craft developed with largely government money

38% government funding.

developed largely with government created technology


Private subcontractors created almost all of the technology NASA has. The rest came from captured German scientists who were basically used as indentured servants (read: slaves).

flight paid for by government money, ship containing government supplies


Only customer in town for that sort of delivery. There are other private spaceflight companies, but they mostly deal with private satellite launches and get less publicity because they've been at it for 20 years now.

and launched from a government owned and run launching pad.


As if the government would allow anyone to launch anywhere else.


Absolutely Delusional.


You better take your colored glasses off first...
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (4) May 23, 2012
You gotta love the political trolls on this site. Capitalism vs. socialism is so last century. Every notable nation is a mixed economy.
Mike_Massen
3 / 5 (6) May 23, 2012
ShotmanMaslo made a damn good point
..Capitalism vs. socialism is so last century. Every notable nation is a mixed economy.
I also take this to imply funds flow with some social conscience, this is not socialism per se and the moderation of corporate excesses which remove capital from the flow.

Although I have issues with both sides of mainstream federal political parties in Australia we do seem to have a good mix which has (so far) weathered the GFC well though I concede we are resource fortunate & China is a large consumer of our resources.

We now have the dilemma China is buying up a lot of our farms but at rather good (current) prices. As a consequence our economy will be rather more mixed in global terms, any distinction between capitalism & socialism will therefore blur even more.

Raw unregulated capitalism/pillage consumes itself to death through gluttony.

I'm generally confident to buy food products here moderated by various regulations but as always 'buyer beware'.
Vendicar Dickarian
2.3 / 5 (9) May 23, 2012
This could NOT have happened without active, substantial support from NASA the Public Space agency.


Quite incorrect actually. SpaceX is well funded and was (is) developing their entire line of vehicles independently of any government. No doubt they are quite happy to take a paying customer's cash. But, your premise is way off.

ISS contract or not, SpaceX has a very bright future. This is more like the icing on the cake.
ryggesogn2
1.7 / 5 (6) May 23, 2012
You gotta love the political trolls on this site. Capitalism vs. socialism is so last century. Every notable nation is a mixed economy.

And most every nation is on the verge of economic collapse because of the socialism in their economies.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (4) May 23, 2012
You gotta love the political trolls on this site. Capitalism vs. socialism is so last century. Every notable nation is a mixed economy.

And most every nation is on the verge of economic collapse because of the socialism in their economies.


Budgets are collapsing due to world economic crisis, which was caused by American subprime mortgage bubble.

And what caused the subprime mortgage bubble?
djr
5 / 5 (4) May 23, 2012
"ISS contract or not, SpaceX has a very bright future. This is more like the icing on the cake."
I think your read is overly optimistic. Listen to this interview on NPR - http://www.npr.or...ith-nasa The relevant quote being -
"I think, at this point, it's heavily dependent on NASA contracts and will continue to be for many, many years."

There is an interesting lesson in this story in terms of private enterprise being significantly more efficient than big gvt. agencies - look at the per lb. cost of spaceX vs. the shuttle. Overall I agree with Shotman - we have mixed economies for good reason. Ask the victims of Bhopal what they think about unregulated capitalism.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 23, 2012
Ask the victims of Bhopal what they think about unregulated capitalism.

Bhopal was the fault of Indian govt regulations, not Union Carbide.
Another fine example of a 'mixed' economy.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 23, 2012
You gotta love the political trolls on this site. Capitalism vs. socialism is so last century. Every notable nation is a mixed economy.

And most every nation is on the verge of economic collapse because of the socialism in their economies.


Budgets are collapsing due to world economic crisis, which was caused by American subprime mortgage bubble.

And what caused the subprime mortgage bubble?

Bad govt regulations that attempted to pick winners and losers in a 'mixed' economy.
djr
5 / 5 (5) May 23, 2012
"Bhopal was the fault of Indian govt regulations, not Union Carbide."

A private corporation causes the death of 25,000 civilians. The courts indict 7 union carbide officials for causing death by negligence - and you blame the Indian Gvt!!!! You really are incapable of understanding reality. http://blogs.wsj....5-years/
Russkiycremepuff
1.7 / 5 (6) May 23, 2012
Delusional.

"NASA can no longer get things done without throwing its weight on the efficiency of private enterprise." - CapitalismFails

Craft developed with largely government money, developed largely with government created technology, flight paid for by government money, ship containing government supplies, and launched from a government owned and run launching pad.

Private enterprise? Ahahahahahahahaahah Absolutely Delusional.

- Vendicar_Decarian -

@Vendicar_Decarian
It might be small misunderstanding on your part, but I see that you insist that government owns the money. I assure you that it does not. This is not Soviet Union. It is America, and in the 15 years that I have lived in this country, I have yet to see that American government can have money without first lawfully taxing the citizens. The government is hired by the citizens to perform certain services, and the citizens pay them out of the taxed money for those services. Government has no money of its own.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (2) May 24, 2012
Ignorance.

"It might be small misunderstanding on your part, but I see that you insist that government owns the money." - Ruskie

Government creates money. Banks create money. Ownership is a matter of accounting.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) May 24, 2012
A private corporation

You don't believe a socialist Indian govt played no part in this plant?
In India at the time, their economy was even more 'mixed'.
The Indian govt, bears much responsibility for the actions leading up to the accident.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (6) May 24, 2012
The only plant here is you, Tard Boy.

"You don't believe a socialist Indian govt played no part in this plant?" - RyggTard
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 24, 2012
"When the Government administers justice, people are treated in the worst manner possible."
"What is even more striking is the fact that the Government continually failed in taking measures to prevent the disaster, and its actions aggravated the pain after it had happened. Objections were voiced against Union Carbide planning which used deadly chemicals, but no action was taken. Concerns were raised against establishing a plant in the vicinity of the railway station, but Union Carbide got its way. It is worth noting that the Government allowed Union Carbide to set up its plant when 125,000 people, nearly 20% of Bhopals population lived within a few miles of the plant. In 1979, an American team emphasized the need to inform people in the locality and evacuate them if a spill happens. The local officials didnt even know of these recommendations and they didnt take any move to put such a plan in operation. "
http://libertaria...failure/
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) May 24, 2012
Yes, it is better for gangland justice to prevail.

Mexico provides a grand model.

"When the Government administers justice, people are treated in the worst manner possible." - RyggTard

'El Loco' Arrested After 49 Beheaded Bodies Found

http://news.yahoo...ies.html

How dare that evils gubderment arrest such an outstanding capitalist like El-Loco.

When the Government administers justice, people are treated in the worst manner possible.
Vendicar_Decarian
4 / 5 (4) May 24, 2012
If it appears in the "Libertarian Economist" then you just know it is a lie.

"What is even more striking is the fact that the Government continually failed in taking measures to prevent the disaster" - Libertarian Economist

Fantasy stories for the citizens of Planet Conservadopia and it's forest moon Libertaria.

Do you intend to be a liar for the rest of your life Tard Boy?
Jeddy_Mctedder
3.7 / 5 (3) May 26, 2012
i love how american morons think privatisation of everything is the way to go.

russia collapsed in the early 90's under the weight of it's own military industrial complex. their kgb tried keeping it all going with a coup de ta but the people were just TOO poor to let that happen.

so, they 'PRIVATISED' just about everything overnight and gave people free money which they spent immidiately and their economy has been a complete mafia controlled state ever since, for 20 years.

a healthy country has a sustainable balance of public and privately managed resources, and has room for consistent individual failures that don't threaten to take down the whole system.

the u.s. is headed for russian collapse, and the question is whether we veer to hard to the public, or too hard to the private "solution" ---instead of taking our time and managing the changes in a sustainable "public/private" fashion. After all that is precisely what a constitutional republic is all about.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 26, 2012
economy has been a complete mafia controlled state ever since,

The US economy is controlled by the govt now. How is this any different than organized crime?
The only difference is govt is 'legal' plunder.
After all that is precisely what a constitutional republic is all about.

A constitutional republic is all about rule of law, not the arbitrary rule of kings, dons, bosses, czars, mobs, etc.
Vendicar Dickarian
2.6 / 5 (5) May 26, 2012
"ISS contract or not, SpaceX has a very bright future. This is more like the icing on the cake."
I think your read is overly optimistic. Listen to this interview on NPR - http://www.npr.or...ith-nasa The relevant quote being -
"I think, at this point, it's heavily dependent on NASA contracts and will continue to be for many, many years."

There is an interesting lesson in this story in terms of private enterprise being significantly more efficient than big gvt. agencies - look at the per lb. cost of spaceX vs. the shuttle. Overall I agree with Shotman - we have mixed economies for good reason. Ask the victims of Bhopal what they think about unregulated capitalism.


One problem here - this is purely a guess by a financial news reporter. SpaceX is a private company, no publicly available financials. However, Musk says $4 billion in revenue, of which $700 million is NASA.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.7 / 5 (3) May 26, 2012
American Government is elected. Organized crime isn't.

"The US economy is controlled by the govt now. How is this any different than organized crime?" = RyggTard

RyggTard is a typical Libertarian Moron. Laughably, their quack economic policies were adopted by the Repubicans, and since that day, America has been in rapid decline.

Failure is what you get when you vote for traitors and fools.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 26, 2012
The US gubberment hired el loco to close the border (in the only practical manner) now that import quotas have been reached, and until recently supplied him with weapons to facilitate this. He just went a little too far like noriega.
American Government is elected. Organized crime isn't.
Correction: they are both hired.
Failure is what you get when you vote for traitors and fools.
The border is closed. This is not failure.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) May 27, 2012
Libertarians are the enemies of Democracy.

"A constitutional republic is all about rule of law" - RyggTard

That is their motivation for destroying America.
hopefulbl
1 / 5 (2) May 27, 2012
Budgets are collapsing due to world economic crisis, which was caused by American subprime mortgage bubble.

And what caused the subprime mortgage bubble?


Bubble caused way back when USA decoupled gold standard to US dollar and the emergence of FIAT currencies and defecit spending....caused US dollars to leqve country to buy FIAT based cheap foreign goods with no way to redeem dollars for gold, as money had to be returned to US for redemption....fine as long as USA in deficit lots of gov't bonds and T-bills to buy...Clinton balanced budget so no more debt to buy....so dollars came into USA buying mortgages & mortgage backed securities......US laws unique only deed collateral for mortgage Canada person responsible. As needed more and more mortgages were needed people were buying homes driving up the prices and everyone taking equity out which created the bubble...when burst people walked away from mortgages they held..Canadians cannot - personally on hook for mortgages
hopefulbl
2 / 5 (1) May 27, 2012
Budgets are collapsing due to world economic crisis, which was caused by American subprime mortgage bubble.

And what caused the subprime mortgage bubble?


........So when the subprimes came due at higher rate people who should not even have qualified just walked away....dropping values a total of a trillion dollars in USA artificially created in bubble vanished, but not before everyone pocketed the equity...if this was any other country, the difference after selling repossed property would still be owed by the mortgagee....would then have to go thru personal bankruptcy......the greedy bankers just said "stick-em up" and the rest is history...that if you think that is stupid, look at the tax warrant auctions laws...even stupider...unregulated banking systems = greed= legallized thievery
hopefulbl
not rated yet May 27, 2012
still cannot use quotations properly :-))

There are a couple trillion US $ outside the country around the world looking for a way to come home
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet May 27, 2012
I assure you, it has no interest in coming home.

America is dead as a nation.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
not rated yet May 27, 2012
@ Jonseer:

FWIW, this is the article speaking, not the companies involved. SpaceX and Musk has been very careful to point out NASA's contributions to the point that Musk says the company wouldn't be like it is without NASA.
Terriva
1 / 5 (1) May 27, 2012
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 28, 2012
The destruction of Challenger and Columbia were not accidents. It was negligence. The govt decided not to investigate or repair known risks to the shuttle system.
What motivated the govt to ignore the risks?
If SpaceX has a similar incident and it is determined they failed to mitigate that risk, will SpaceX stay in business as NASA stayed in business?