exactly how is trying to put a man in orbit profitable for a private company? that would put them 50 years behind NASA's progress. now eventually someone is going to discover something profitable up in space some where, however if we leave our exploration in the hands of a private company some 50 years behind the curb, what are the chance of them making that crucial discovery especially when the chinese and russians are decades ahead?
Well let's count the ways..
1. providing LEO access services to government entities like NASA and the Air Force. (as proposed by Obama)
2. Space tourism: Russia had a line of Millionaires and Billionaires wanting to fly.
3. Manned access to a private space station. Bigelow Aerospace already has two test modules in orbit and is prepping for space station construction in 2012.
4. LEO and GEO orbital access for satellites.
6. Manned satellite repair. (some of those satellites cost hundreds of millions)
7. Long term there is a lot of resource utilization see from this.
By having a private company provide LEO access for NASA, the administration is doing the same thing the government did with AirMail. That gave birth to our airline industry. This is no different.
I would like to hear you tell me how you think they are 50 years behind NASA and the Russians. You act as if they are trying to reinvent the wheel. They are building off of everything NASA built up. This is the ultimate NASA spin off technology. Actual commercial space flight.
But lets face facts. NASA is the one that is now behind the curve. 129 Space Shuttle flights have killed 14 astronauts. The odds of dying on a NASA space craft are now higher than 1 in 100. The Space Shuttle was supposed to have been replaced over a decade ago but has failed each time due to mismanagement and Congressional interference. It cost roughly $1.2BILLION to fly the Shuttle. It can carry 7 people and a lot of cargo but a single engine failure can not only cause a mission failure but the loss of the entire crew and the ship. The Ares 1 rocket was originally based on this 1970's technology but has been modified so much that it only looks similar to the SRB used on the Shuttle. Even then, there are a lot of questions about its safety. NASA was only planning a small handful of test flights before putting people on it. Oh, and Ares is expected to cost about $120MILLION per launch.
Falcon 9 has no single point of failure. It's designed can lose one engine at launch and still get to orbit. They even designed it to be held to the launch pad at ignition to make sure all engines are running before releasing it. Falcon 9 and Dragon are also A LOT cheaper than either the Space Shuttle or Ares. Only $30Million a pop. Even if they end up costing twice as much they'll be cheaper. Dragon and Falcon 9's first stage is also designed to be reusable up to a few flights.
But really, what is the real point of this? The point is to get NASA back to EXPLORATION. Getting to LEO is NOT exploration. The point is to free NASA up providing LEO access and cargo replenishment to the Space Station. That frees up money to develop a heavy lift rocket that can put large components into space for lunar and interplanetary exploration. Anyone taking a close look at the proposed budget can see that the administration is prepping NASA for LONG TERM success. They are putting money into technologies we'll need for Interplanetary Manned transport. They are accelerating technologies like the VASMIR engine. They are upping the funding for Space Station research on things like radiation shielding and life support systems. There is also funding for nuclear reactors for spacecraft. This kind of technology will get us FAR beyond the moon. You're looking at the potential to see humans orbiting Jupiter and Saturn in our own lifetimes.
Why the fuck do we care about NASA providing LEO access when there is an entire fucking solar system to explore?