back to article SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis

NASA has named SpaceX and Boeing as its official partners to deliver cargo and crew to the International Space Station, and says both should be ready to deliver within three years. Boeing CST100 capsule Space old-timer Boeing will charge $4.2bn for its delivery service "President Obama has made it clear that the greatest …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Low expectations

    > safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle,

    "set" or "delivered" ?

    1. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Low expectations

      "1:10,000" vs "2:135"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Low expectations

      "President Obama has made it clear that the greatest nation on earth should not have to rely on any other country to get into space,"

      I'm sure China will appreciate Obama's concern about it's space programme...

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    LOHAN

    Was the reg special projects bureau not invited to bid?

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: LOHAN

      Apparently El Reg did put in a bid, but NASA pointed out that none of their astronauts were only 3 inches tall.

      1. dotdavid

        Re: LOHAN

        I think judging by the fatalities to launches ratio, LOHAN's safety record isn't great either.

        RIP Playmonaut.

  3. banjomike

    safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

    ...right. 135 launches and 14 deaths. More than 1 death per 10 launches. Very high standards.

    1. Turtle

      @banjomike Re: safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

      "135 launches and 14 deaths. More than 1 death per 10 launches. Very high standards."

      Or 1 fatal incident per 67.5 launches. Or a MTBF of 17 years. (The Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003.)

      Thanks for the post, which reminds us all that statistics don't lie, people do.

      1. Brandon 2
        Pint

        Re: @banjomike safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

        If 1 out of very 67.5 airplanes crashed would you get on one? I wouldn't. Astronauts may be smart, and talented, but they are a bit crazy, and I don't think this generation gives them the credit the deserve for their bravery (or stupidity?)... thin line between the two.

    2. dotdavid

      Re: safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

      "More than 1 death per 10 launches"

      Dunno about you but I think that's a pretty good record, considering they were blasting people out of Earth's atmosphere by means of very large explosions happening directly underneath them, and then almost always bringing them safely back down again afterwards.

      True, catching the bus is safer, but new complex things are always going to be dangerous. For some it is worth the risks.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

        But 1 death / 10 launches for a craft that was supposed to launch twice/week and where managers claimed it had a 1:100,000 chance of failure is a bit poor.

        Especially because it was only sheer luck that several other flights with damaged tiles didn't go bang (incur prompt unintended aerodynamic disassembly in Nasa speak )

        1. Turtle

          @Yet Another Anonymous coward Re: safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

          "But 1 death / 10 launches for a craft that was supposed to launch twice/week and where managers claimed it had a 1:100,000 chance of failure is a bit poor. Especially because it was only sheer luck that several other flights with damaged tiles didn't go bang"

          That's an excellent point, to be sure, but then again, consider that the engineers directly responsible in one case for the o-rings and in the other for the missing tiles, knew there was something wrong and wanted to take action but were overruled by bureaucrats. So it can be said that the two disasters were not so much the result of technological or engineering failures, but of administrator-failures.

          1. banjomike

            Re: @Yet Another Anonymous coward safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

            "not so much the result of technological or engineering failures, but of administrator-failures"

            No argument there but it is still a shitty safety record. I certainly never mentioned "technological or engineering" but safety includes everything.

      2. pseudonymous blowhard

        Re: safety standards as high as those set for the space shuttle...

        Except the shuttle wasn't supposed to be new and complex - it was supposed to make space travel routine.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Hail, Hail, Hail!

    "President Obama has made it clear that the greatest nation on earth should not have to rely on any other country to get into space," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a press conference on Tuesday.

    Did he crack one off in public to rousing applause, too?

    USA - Please embark on the 'B' Ark, stat. The rest of the world will manage, we will retrain some to do the phone cleaning. Thanks.

    Putin & Co cast their eyes towards Lebensraum in the Ukraine.

    I didn't know La Madame Psaki had joined Team Reg? Oh well.

    I guess once Rabbis start getting chased out of Kiev the Lebensraum will be on the other boot, to mix the sayings.

    1. ian 22
      Trollface

      Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

      Yanks destroyed Iraq, now they want to destroy Ebola. Destroy, destroy, destroy. It's all they know...

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

        I've never been to Ebola, but I hear it's a lovely place in the spring.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

          "after Putin & Co cast their eyes towards Lebensraum in the Ukraine."

          But will arbeit macht America frei? That is the question...

          Sorry, but one Godwin fail begets another. Mine is that black leather trenchcoat...

          Armband, what armband? Get away from me, it's not my bloody armband!

        2. AbelSoul

          Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

          I've never been to Ebola, but I hear it's a lovely place in the spring.

          Indeed it is a lovely place, not just in the Spring but all year round. Unfortunately the tourist trade isn't doing so well since it had a lethal virus named after it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

        "Yanks destroyed Iraq, now they want to destroy Ebola"

        Apparently Man Utd have put in a £50 million bid for Ebola...

    2. launcap Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

      >President Obama has made it clear that the greatest nation on earth

      I didn't know he had the authority to talk on behalf of China..

      Ok, OK, mine's the red overcoat with the copy of Long March in the pocket..

      1. Flyberius

        Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

        It's such a hideously arrogant statement to make in this day and age. Especially since old Musky is South-African/Canadian.

        He then followed it up with a comment about everyone in the room being "'Murcan! Or at least pretending to be."

        I watched that conference live and I have to say I almost turned it off then and there.

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hail, Hail, Hail!

      > 29 thumbs down

      Well, I'm pretty proud to have rustled the jimmies of 29 Internet "people" (more like nationalistic cancer, amirite) of which I would punch the teeth in IRL.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    All Mr.Putin is thinking is:

    They'll be back.

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      WTF?

      Why would he be thinking that?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More like

      I got 3 years to use this as a choice for counter-sanctions, not like the contract will be extended.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: More like

        Unlikely, it is more a warning shot. It works both ways, Russia had some dependence on USA to keep its space programme going, afterall, if spaceX can move cargo cheaply then come satellite launches then private companies will go for the cheaper option squeezing Russia even more.

        They have already had to sign an exclusive gas deal with China - something they will have done under duress and for a lower than they expected sum I imagine. Once they start to lose other businesses then it wont look good for an already failing economy in Russia.

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge

    I have a feeling SpaceX might embarrass Boeing.

    They've got a system that has been able to get to ISS and back. They've got to demo pad abort (scheduled for November) - demo altitude abort (January) and have a NASA astronaut command a flight to ISS, and they're certified.

    In contrast, Boeing hasn't even reached orbit.

    I wonder if Boeing is in the usual cost overrun/schedule slip mindset, and if they are, they're in for a rude awakening.

    1. VeganVegan
      Unhappy

      Indeed, and it gets worse

      The Atlas rocket that Boeing is hoping to use to loft their capsule depends on, you guessed it, Russian rocket engines.

      The US sure dug a hole for itself, solely because holes can be purchased cheaply. Bean-counters should be banished to some remote island to count beans, and leave the rest of us alone.

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        Re: Indeed, and it gets worse

        What gets bigger the more you take away?

        Hole.

      2. Dan Paul

        Re: Indeed, and it gets worse (not really)

        The engines you are speaking of are hardly any different that the ones that were on the V2.

        The "Atlas" platform has been lifting human cargo since the early days of the space race. Ever hear of Project Mercury? Circa 1959??

        The ONLY reason why they bought engines from Russia instead of making their own was they were less expensive. There is nothing special about the design of an oxy/kerosene liquid fueled engine. It is the result of applied physics so the principle is actually commonplace.

        The Russian engine is literally identical to the Agena engine made by Bell Aerospace in Western New York and used for years before the "beancounters" got involved.

        I believe MOOG now owns the rights to that product and I'm quite sure they would be interested in making more.

        The USA never dug a hole for themselves, they just outsourced production.

        1. Beachrider

          Atlas is a brand, not a technology..

          Atlas V is a substantially different config than 'earlier' Atlas rockets. It was built to use twin-RD-180 engines for moderate-heavy payloads. Its ancestry is clearly to RD-170 not any American Engine.

          Agena had a hydrazine engine, not KeraLOX. There is NO way that RD-180 is similar to Agena.

          1. Dan Paul

            Re: Atlas is a brand, not a technology..

            The Agena design was bought by Rocketdyne and is identical and uses LOX and Liquid Methane just like ULA wants to. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RS-18

            The Atlas missile FAMILY is huge and there have been hundreds of flights since 1959. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM-65_Atlas

            The design precedes any Russian product used on Atlas regardless of fuel. Hypergolic fuel/oxidizer systems were designed to start multiple times reliably. Kerosene/Lox does not do that without complex igniters that are usually light once and ground based.

            Other than injectors and fuel, Agena was almost the same design as the engine on the V2

            1. phuzz Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Atlas is a brand, not a technology..

              Saying that the engine on a V2 (or A4 as its more accurately known) is "almost the same design" is a bit of a stretch. It's like saying a diesel engine and a petrol engine are 'almost the same', they just use different fuels, ie true as far as it goes, but there's big differences.

              For example, the Bell 8096 use on the Agena uses a gas generator to pump the fuel, ie a small amount of fuel and oxidiser are used to produce energy that's used to pump the rest of the fuel/oxidiser into the combustion chamber. The A4 used a pump that was powered by a secondary fuel source (H2O2>steam).

              Rocket engines are not simple things and just because an engine uses a particular fuel, doesn't make it identical to every other engine using the same fuel.

              For starters, the RS-18 is an upper stage engine, designed for use in a vacuum, and it's relatively small (thrust ~ 25kN). The RD-180 is MUCH bigger and is designed for use in an atmosphere and produces 4150kN of thrust. You're basically comparing a two stroke lawnmower engine to a truck engine, both of them may use internal combustion, but that's where the similarities end.

        2. cray74

          Re: Indeed, and it gets worse (not really)

          "The engines you are speaking of are hardly any different that the ones that were on the V2. ... The Russian engine is literally identical to the Agena engine made by Bell Aerospace "

          There's a world of difference between the RD-170/180, the V2, and the Bell 8096 of the Agena.

          The Bell 8096 is an open-cycle (gas generator cycle), low pressure (35-bar), hypergolic-fueled engine. I don't think you could compare it to the V2's crude engine at all; the fuels were completely different, the pumps were different, and Bell had really leapt forward in the fuel injectors compared to the V2's kludge system of fuel injection.

          Meanwhile, the RD-170 and its half-sized little sibling, the RD-180, were completely different from both the Agena motor and the V2. The RD-170 is a staged combustion engine rather than an open cycle. (The different engine cycles should be a giant, blinking neon sign, "These aren't the same engines!") The RD-170 also ran on different propellants than the Agena (LOX and kerosene, not red fuming nitric acid and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine.) The RD-170 also has a single turbopump complex feeding 4 combustion chambers, something alien to the Bell 8096 and V2. (The RD-180 has 2 chambers.) Finally, the RD-170 manages the incredible feat of using an oxidizer-rich turbopump. Speaking as a materials engineer with some background in high temperature materials, I have to assume that the Rooskie designers walked around with a wheelbarrow to carry their enormous cupro-zinc gonads when they made that design decision.

          And, of course, the RD-180 has *58 times* the thrust of the Agena's Bell 8096, at higher specific impulse (335 vs 292).

          So, no, the RD-180/170 are not the same as the Agena's engine.

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Indeed, and it gets worse (not really)

          The USA never dug a hole for themselves

          Rocket engineers don't dig holes. In their field of endeavour, holes tend to appear semi-spontaneously, accompanied by sudden loud noises and impressive pyrotechnics.

          The root cause may well be human effort, like the desire to see whether some concoction with lots of double-bonded nitrogen and such makes a good propellant, or the way a control circuit is wired, but stating that rocket engineers are the ones digging holes there would be similar to saying Bomber Harris was digging holes all over Germany during WWII, i.e. only methaphorically.

          1. Oninoshiko
            Joke

            Re: Indeed, and it gets worse (not really)

            "Rocket engineers don't dig holes."

            Don't be so sure. "Once the rocket go up who cares where they come down? That is not my department, says Warner von Braun."

            (there is nothing metaphorical about a blast crater.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You missed a bit

      They have a US system which is independent of the potential next round of tit-for-tat sanctions/countersanctions. If Russia replies to the last round of sanctions with a prohibition on rocket engine export Boeing will have no bid.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: You missed a bit

        then a subsidiary company buys the bits, changes them enough to avoid the sanctions and resells to parent company. That's what arms exporters were doing for years.

      2. cray74

        Re: You missed a bit

        If the supply of RD-180s gets shut down**, Boeing will switch to the Delta IV launcher or (heh) Falcon 9. The CST-100 capsule is designed for use on multiple launchers, currently including the Atlas V, Delta IV, and Falcon 9. Atlas V is currently the initial launch vehicle for the CST-100, but not the only option.

        **Boeing's probably already got contingency plans. There's been consideration for manufacturing the Atlas V's RD-180 engine in the US (3-5 years to certify the resulting engines), and there are enough RD-180 engines on hands for 2 years of Atlas V launches. That leaves a 1- to 3-year gap for the Atlases but the Atlas isn't the only game in town.

        Boeing's definitely put further thought into options since Elon Musk has been suing (April 2014) to break the United Launch Alliance monopoly, and part of his rhetoric focused on Rooskie-sourced RD-180s. (The South African basically argued, "No 'Murican rocket should launch 'Muricans with Commie engines.") The ULA's first response (in June) was to step up RD-180 acquisition, bringing forward Energomash's RD-180 deliveries from November 2014 to August and September, and stepping up annual purchasing from 6 engines per year to 8 in 2015. Its other response is to get government funding for a new, US-built large rocket motor, which would be ready in 2019.

        1. Beachrider

          Delta IV won't be man-rated anytime soon...

          NASA has many standards in the post SS activity. Deltas, with their continuous refueling requirement, just won't get there. The new standard is KeraLOX-friendly. Expect CST-100 to go up on RD-180 with a backup plan for Falcon 9. I agree with earlier posts that advise that all of these launchers use a standardized control approach, so that CST-100 and Dragon 2 would be adaptable to any other approved rocket-system.

          ULA cannot change their rockets. Boeing and Lockheed would have to do this on their own. CST-100 is a Boeing (not ULA) system.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      To be fair, SpaceX haven't flown their human-rated version 2 of the Dragon capsule yet, and Boeing are using the Atlas 5 as a launch vehicle, which has had plenty of flights, although not carrying people.

      Basically both companies are in about the same position, both with a proven launch vehicle that needs to be rated to carry people, and both have an untested capsule, although SpaceX have the slight edge their in that their capsule is derived from the existing Dragon v1.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    And in case anybody's confused like I was, the Boeing CST-100 capsule is completely different from the Lockeed-Martin Orion capsule that's also been approved for development as part of SLS.

    There's no commonality between the two and they're built by completely different companies.

  8. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "should be able to keep their crews alive for 210 days if disaster strikes"

    No, this is wrong. The capsules can stay docked 210 days (7 months) to ISS w/o an issue, ready to undock in an emergency. Soyuz can only do 180 days (6 months) at the moment.

    1. Eddy Ito

      "if disaster strikes"

      I would think that disaster would entail something like being knocked out of standard orbit and having no thrusters. Emergencies, glitches, hazards and incidents are one thing; disaster is pretty much when you swing your head down, grab your ankles, follow through and kiss your arse goodbye and in which case 210 days is a bit much but may allow you, hopefully, to turn said situation into merely a dire emergency. That said, they did get Apollo 13 back.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: "if disaster strikes"

        "I would think that disaster would entail something like being knocked out of standard orbit and having no thrusters. "

        Not considered what would happen if there was a fire in the ISS?

        "210 days is a bit much but may allow you, "

        That is the length of time the vehicle can be docked to the ISS in standby mode.

        If it all goes pear shaped the plan is to pile into the vehicle, undock and return to Earth.

        BTW the big difference between what SpaceX is doing with Dragon now and this is that the cargo vehicle is berthed, need in active assistance from the ISS IE someone to operate the robot arm. "Docked" vehicles can separate from ISS under their own steam.

        1. Eddy Ito

          Re: "if disaster strikes"

          Excellent clarification especially the berthed v docked bit. Thanks.

  9. PhilipN Silver badge

    ... the greatest nation on earth ....

    Ahead of the game but that would be what next week could be the World's newest nation?

    The one whose citizens were responsible for the telephone, the television, penicillin, radar, the modern novel, modern economics, modern human rights, moral philosophy.....

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Trollface

      Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

      ...fried Mars Bars, no underwear with skirts for men(!), bloody awful bagpipes...

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

      I was going to ask, by what metric are USA the greatest?

      Population: nope

      Land Area: nope

      GDP: nope

      ... nope

      Narcissism: yep

      1. Paul Mitchell
        Happy

        Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

        I think you'll find they don't use that new-fangled "metric"

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

        "I was going to ask, by what metric are USA the greatest?"

        Teenage pregnancy rates in the highest GDP countries in the world?

        I'm pretty sure they score #1 in that table on a regular basis.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

          ""I was going to ask, by what metric are USA the greatest?""

          The worst healthcare of any developed nation?

      3. phuzz Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

        "by what metric are USA the greatest?"

        Highest prison population in the world.

        Land of the free my arse.

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

      I think you may be overstating a little, all things Scots have given the world but not necessarily in Scotland.So not so much the nation as some of it's people.

      Something the Nation has given us are some of the best a bravest fighting men to help the world fight tyranny. Oh and the bagpipes.

      Although I have a feeling they are an Indian invention.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

        "some of the best a bravest fighting men to help the world fight tyranny"

        ^^^ 'cannon fodder' is the term you are looking for...The low value ones that they send in first.

    4. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

      And the best of luck to you @PhilipN whatever the result

      Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I'm.....

      - Passionately Welsh

      - Half English

      - One Eighth German

      - One Sixteenth Flemish

      - Fully in touch with my inner Scot

      Now let's get back to the rocket science, shall we?

    5. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Penicillin?

      Florey wasn't Scottish.

    6. Flugal

      Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

      The television was not invented by a Scot. Colour television, yes, but not television per se.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ... the greatest nation on earth ....

        Yes it was

        Baird invented a TV based on a spinning disc with holes drilled in it. It produced low quality video at a low frame rate and lead to actors passing out from the bright lights it needed to function.

        It was terrible and an evolutionary dead-end. It has precisely 'bugger all' commercial transmissions, being used at all only because of appeals to patriotism. But it did mean they invented television.

  10. Kharkov
    Flame

    What a total rip-off!

    Ok, Boeing gets... 4.2 BILLION dollars for CST-100 and SpaceX gets...

    Wait for it, wait for it...

    2.6 billion dollars.

    The company that's doing the most to make space travel cheaper gets... less than the company that's making REALLY expensive stuff and has NO plans to make stuff cheaper.

    /ragequit

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a total rip-off!

      Do you not understand that each company made a bid for what they thought they could do the described job for? Boeing is getting more because they bid higher. Unless Boeing performs better than SpaceX, they will have to bid lower if they want to get future contracts where only one winner may be chosen.

      1. Martin Budden Bronze badge

        Re: What a total rip-off!

        Unless Boeing performs better than SpaceX

        I suspect SpaceX will perform better.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: What a total rip-off!

          At the moment, that seems likely unless there's some hanky-panky in the background that we're not being told about.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Go

          Re: What a total rip-off!

          "Unless Boeing performs better than SpaceX

          I suspect SpaceX will perform better."

          As do many others.

          But until deliveries start nobody knows and the "Old Space" companies can still play the "(sniff) Well anyone can claim they can do it cheaper but that's because they don't understand the real costs of doing a proper job (like we do)"

          So now we get to see if they are right and SpaceX can't deliver or if the they are just spouting the usual cost plus BS, Musk was right all along and in the next round of cargo and crew transport services contract both Boeing (crew) and Orbital (cargo) have to cut their prices or be turned into road kill.

          Things are getting interesting.

      2. Kharkov
        Facepalm

        Re: What a total rip-off!

        Yeah, just re-read the NASA twitter feed. You're right, it was the figure bid, not the figure NASA arbitrarily awarded. I just read the numbers and the red mist descended...

        Still, it looks really bad (for Boeing) that SpaceX can do a launch for, at best figure for an Atlas V, 3 times less and will provide a passenger-carrying capsule that can land propulsively on land (there's got to be a better way of saying it instead of 'land on land') for half the price of the CST-100 which, I think, will only do parachute landings on water - I'm sure about the parachute bit but I'm assuming the land on water bit.

        Anyway, if all goes well, then I firmly expect Boeing to end up with one launch a year (gotta have competition, don'tcha know? Even if that competition is much less capable and much more expensive) while SpaceX, as speculated in the article, takes 99% of the astronauts up to ISS.

        1. stizzleswick
          Headmaster

          Re: What a total rip-off!

          "[...] that SpaceX can do a launch for, at best figure for an Atlas V, 3 times less [...]"

          You mean to say that SpaceX can offer a launch and pay NASA back twice the amount Boeing are asking? (or do you mean, one third the price...)

        2. Andrew Newstead

          Re: What a total rip-off!

          CST 100 does come down on land, using airbags to cushion the landing.

          1. Alistair
            Joke

            Re: What a total rip-off!

            CST 100 does come down on land, using airbags to cushion the landing.

            What a wonderful way for the americans to recycle used polititcians!

            1. Simon Harris
              Coat

              Re: What a total rip-off!

              "CST 100 does come down on land, using airbags to cushion the landing."

              If they're anything like as bouncy as Pathfinder's landing airbags, will the CST 100 be a boing boing boeing?

    2. hammarbtyp

      Re: What a total rip-off!

      You don't understand the American competitive bid process.

      Each company puts in a bid based on the technical requirements. These are analysed by the technical experts, government advisers, lawyers and other stakeholders and a recommendation is made based on value for money and best technical solution

      This is then totally ignored when scrutinized by the Senate and Congress committees, who base their decision on how much of the pork barrel they can divert to their particular state.

      So basically that's 2.6 billion for the space capsule, and 2 billion for state subsidies, lobbyists kick backs, and government funded state job creation schemes.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Kevin 6

      Its Boeing they probably have a pile of politicians paid off that will cut NASA funding unless NASA passes over Space X's bid for some idiotic reason.

      1. Bleu

        Not probably

        Boeing does. By Whitehouse links and demonstrably doing the better job here, space-X avoids the eclipse.

        Note that Boeing, a very profitable company, is getting a far bigger handout for a project at the concept or Autocad stage.

  12. jaime

    Time schedule seems overly optimistic to me, then again this is the Musk that says he's also going to get people to Mars in a couple of years!

    1. flearider

      where does musk find the time ? billions on a new factory for cars ,space flight , what next ?

      but if he says he can do it .. I really would believe him ..

      musk for president .. maybe that would be a better plan

      1. Raumkraut

        > where does musk find the time ?

        In his wallet. Time is plentiful when you can simply pay other people to do all the real work.

      2. fajensen Silver badge

        where does musk find the time ?

        The "Elon Musk" is the fleshy interface for the strong AI who does all the heavy inventing, planning, scheduling, e.t.c ... and making sure that the Musk-units public appearances never overlap.

    2. Bleu

      Musk not likely on Mars, but perhaps near-death?

      He says he will get himself there, too.

      I wouldn't give too much credence to it, until he feels life here is up. Somebody has told him of the radiation hazard by now. He may make the infrastructure for a colony of folk who know they're going out soon anyway, others who want to be on Mars so much death is alright.

      No way he will be supervising creation of the necessary and necessarily unpleasant underground habitations for survival, nobody even knows the conditions of rocks there, though we can guess a little.

  13. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "We will end the nation's reliance on Russia by 2017."

    He's an optimist, the way things are going it looks like the world will be lucky to survive till 2016.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: "We will end the nation's reliance on Russia by 2017."

      It'll remove total reliance sure, but I'm sure Soyuz will still be kept on for half the trip to the station, even if only everyone except the US fly on them.

      Also, if at least one Soyuz is kept on as a lifeboat (which would make sense even if there's a US capsule as well, eggs/baskets and all that), presumably US astronauts will still need at least some training on Soyuz.

      1. Beachrider

        Russia advises that they are NOT continuing with ISS past 2020.

        The USA has floated a proposal to extend the ISS to 2024. It is not 'pumpkin-time' for Russia's decision YET, but they have advised that they would decline to continue participation past 2020.

        More to come...

  14. hkultala

    Russian engines still used

    CST-100 will use Atlas V as launch vehicle. Atlas V uses russian RD-180 engines as it's main engines.

    So russia will still get considerable amount of money for every launch of CST-100.

    1. Beachrider

      Russian engines on Atlas...

      Clearly, having a backlog of 2 years-of-engines within the USA is part of a plan to sustain launches with short-term-stoppages of deliveries. Boeing is working on 'Atlas 6', with some more details by October 1.

      Stay tuned...

  15. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

    Nice picture, but who's driving this thing? Where's the bloody steering wheel?

    1. A Known Coward

      Re: SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

      It's the console you see at the top of the picture, it folds away there to allow easy access to the seats then swings down in front of the two forward seats where it's reachable by the pilot and co-pilot.

      There's a video of Elon Musk demonstrating it at the unveiling a few months back

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

      They don't need a steering wheel - they run Ardupilot.

    3. Darryl
      Unhappy

      Re: SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

      ...and not a cupholder in sight, either.

    4. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

      The computer drives it.

      I'm assured that it has the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission, and wants to help.

      1. DocJames
        Joke

        Re: SpaceX's cheaper Dragon capsule has room for seven

        And says "share and enjoy!" after each mission.

  16. Lionel Baden

    regardless of price

    I feel that NASA would be much better off keeping both companies employed, and possibly try and get a third to join.

    allocate % of flights to price differential cheaper = more flights.

    1. Beachrider

      Price matters

      Two is all that they can afford, with current budgets.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musk

    The smell of success.

  18. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Silly question, but if they hate the Ruskies so much, why haven't the US cloned the engines yet? Cheaper, stable supply ...

    Ok, "Boing" would probably get the supply contract so at least it'd be a stable supply ...

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Because all the clever engineers are handsomely rewarded doing Financial Engineering; while the "oily rag and shop clothes" engineers are in China: There is nobody left to do the design and nobody who can build it!

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Silly question, but if they hate the Ruskies so much, why haven't the US cloned the engines yet? Cheaper, stable supply ..."

      Fair question.

      In theory the US/Russian joint venture that buys the engines in from Russia, Americanises them and ships them to Boeing can do this and have done some small scale tests on various bits of the engine.

      But it's estimated they'd need 5 years and at least $1Bn to set up a production line (on the usual cost plus contract basis naturally, as this "experimental" work we're dealing with). It's beleived the RD180 is quite manpower intensive to build (because man power was cheap in the former Soviet Union at the time it was designed?) so it needs a fair bit of metal bashing on each one to get it working properly.

      Man power intensive design + Cost plus development contract --> much more expensive clone version.

      Basically Boeing has the pain but the joint venture would be responsible for fixing it.

      BTW IRL (not on Twitter) It's actually been BAU. Russia is shipping new engines and presumably America is handing them the cash to buy them.

      1. rh587 Silver badge

        "It's beleived the RD180 is quite manpower intensive to build (because man power was cheap in the former Soviet Union at the time it was designed?) so it needs a fair bit of metal bashing on each one to get it working properly."

        Wouldn't be at all surprised - when that NASA team reverse-engineered that Saturn V F-1 engine, they reduced the number of components by an order of magnitude. Thanks to the wonders of modern manufacturing we can bend complex pipework from a single length or fabricate complex components from a single billet rather than having to weld simpler sub-components together. The result was an engine that looks the same but is built from the viewpoint of "how would we fabricate that today?" - and is thus far stronger, easier to produce (push "Start" on the CNC mill) and easier to bolt together.

        If the RD-180 is simply an incremental evolution of earlier models I can easily imagine there are lots of parts that could be redesigned to be produced cheaper and more efficiently, but which aren't.

        1. Beachrider

          Boeing is looking at alternatives for Atlas...

          Boeing is advising that BE-4 KeraLOX and other engines can be adapted to a new rocket. They are looking at 5 years before it clears all testing. There is NOTHING stopping Boeing from requesting Falcon 9s for their work, though.

          The Atlas Vs used in the proposal are about $100 Mn per launch (plus other payload and capsule). Falcon 9s are supposed to be available for under $70 Mn per launch.

          Astronaut training, recovery and flight operations are all on the commercial vendor, and in their proposal.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "Thanks to the wonders of modern manufacturing we can bend complex pipework from a single length or fabricate complex components from a single billet rather than having to weld simpler sub-components together. "

          This was why one of SpaceX's first investments was a pair of German CNC pipe benders.

          Pipe bending sounds kind of dull but the ability to do it with high precision, and repeatability helps a lot.

    3. cray74

      "Silly question, but if they hate the Ruskies so much, why haven't the US cloned the engines yet? Cheaper, stable supply ..."

      It's not necessarily cheaper to build rocket engines in the US. Starting up US production of the RD-180 would cost about $1 billion, according to a March 2014 Aviation Leak article. As of June 2014, Aerojet thinks it could built an alternative engine for about $25 million each (not including $1 billion development costs). I've only found 1990s pricing for the RD-180, which was $10 million then. Aerojet says $25 million would be cheaper than the current RD-180, so I guess the prices have gone up (or Aerojet is BSing to get the contract).

      "Because all the clever engineers are handsomely rewarded doing Financial Engineering; while the "oily rag and shop clothes" engineers are in China: There is nobody left to do the design and nobody who can build it!"

      There are plenty of US rocket engineers who can handle new engine design - all the SpaceX engines are being designed by US engineers. Aerojet regularly (every few years) offers some new, interesting engine design under NASA contract that goes nowhere. Alliant Techsystems does a nice job with solid rocket boosters.

  19. Wombling_Free
    Unhappy

    Let's put that in perspective shall we?

    US gov spends $6.8b over 3 years to make sure Local Astronauts use Local Spacecraft.

    Walmart's CAPEX for FY2015 is $12.8b. For one year. To build or refurb concrete-tilt-up boxes.

    Manned spaceflight is worth 2.72 Minecrafts.

    There will never be any off-world colonies, will there?

    1. Beachrider

      Re: Let's put that in perspective shall we?

      Not so long as ESA continues with miniscule budgets when the EU is a larger-than-USA Economy. Get the ESA doing more! They have had significant achievements, now MORE.

  20. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Competition

    Can only be a good thing in the space industry. IF this will move further than a couple of press-conferences with flag waving.

    Hopefully, a working alternative to Soyuz will also push Russia to move beyond simply upgrading its "Routemasters" to designing something new and exciting in order to keep up (just hope it won't be a bendy-bus). This is the kind of space race I would like to see.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    conspiracy practicians ahoy...

    Conflict is good for business, good for the God of (current) capitalism - the Growth. What is Russia good at? War and reminiscing about the past glory (war). What is the evil, evil West good at? Business, bad business (bombs, bullets, other shiny toys). And let's not forget the spinoffs hitting the "consumer markets" (well, what's left of them if the toys get serious use, eh?). In the meantime, both sides profit, the Russian people get their false sense of being an EMPIRE, the West gets its economy kick-started... mission accomplished!

    And the Ukrainians? Well, who the fuck cares about the Ukrainians?! They should be happy they haven't been nuked by Putin... Is it NOT something to be happy about?!

  22. Bleu

    Another massive case of state-funding

    I have some admiration for Mr. Musk's ventures, but this gives the absolute lie to it being an independent business venture.

    2,600,000,000 as a payoff, it means launching 36 or 37 people on Soyuz.

    It also means that Space-X is not a commercial venture, but massively subsidised by the state.

    So much for all who were claiming otherwise.

    Boeing is, of course, much worse, their project appears to be a CGI creation, they have probably developed some physical parts, but if they had anything substantial to show, they'd be showing it.

    They had a great record with their Dreamliner, constant criticism of the A-380 becoming a bit late totally hid the Dreamliner being much later and much more trouble-prone.

    Just have to wonder how that works.

  23. b 3
    FAIL

    "Lebensraum"??

    "In April NASA cut most of its ties with the Russian space program after Putin & Co cast their eyes towards Lebensraum in the Ukraine." er wot?

    actually russia already had troops in the crimea under a SOFA with ukraine from the 90s. 93% of the people of crimea (60% of which are russian) voted for alignment with russia and away from the fascists in kiev.

    "ukraine", like so many countries in the world today, is a very recent construct. the solution today is to split the country into two and let donbass be independent.

    1. Beachrider

      Remember the Anschluss?

      The Russian movement into Crimea has stark similarities to the German movement into Austria and Czechoslovakia. Following that up with Eastern (or all) of the Ukraine even more so.

      That didn't work out very well...

  24. Catweazle666

    "after Putin & Co cast their eyes towards Lebensraum in the Ukraine."

    Er, that would be the EUSSR, which to the tune of €50 billion, financed a neo-Nazi uprising to overthrow the democratically government and install a EUSSR-friendly puppet regime, and has boasted that it foresees the time when its kleptofacsict writ runs "from the Atlantic to the Urals".

    See HERE:

    "EU should extend further into former Soviet Union, says David Cameron

    Speaking in Kazakhstan, British PM says European Union should stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals"

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/01/eu-extend-soviet-union-david-cameron

    The last time anyone said that, it was a little Austrian chap with a funny mustache, the upshot cost Mother Russia almost incalculable blood and treasure, so it's hardly surprising that Mr. Putin is more than a little defensive.

  25. JCitizen Bronze badge
    Coat

    Obummer promised we'd gain respect in the world..

    Then he pulls so much stuff the US is in worse condition as to opinion world wide, that it is even worse than when "W" was in office! Then he makes a statement like that! Believe me, we in the US know full well how stupid our politicians are here, but we can't vote in any better because the choices is limited! Sorry - Republican Democracy is messy - it always has been - ask the Germans about the Weimar debacle. For those of you who may be confused the word "Republican" does not refer to a party but a concept of a Democratic Republic - not "Republicans" - Thank you very much!

  26. Master Rod

    Oh my God! Why would Space X lower their standards to those of NASA? YOU GO ELON!

    BEST REGARDS

    Master Rod

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