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Thread: SpaceX COTS-2/3 Flight

  1. #31
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    That's pretty much what the wiki page says as well. Interesting.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravens_cry View Post
    That's pretty much what the wiki page says as well. Interesting.
    From that Wiki Article:

    Dragon is a conventional blunt-cone ballistic capsule with a hinged nose-cone cap which opens to reveal a standard International Space Station (ISS) Common Berthing Mechanism.

    It allows the Dragon to be captured by the Space Station Remote Manipulator System and berthed to the non-Russian segments of the ISS. The manned variant will use Androgynous Peripheral Attach System (APAS-95) or International Low Impact Docking System (iLIDS) for docking. More...
    -- Dennis

  3. #33
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    I meant about the difference between berthing and docking. Sorry, should have explained further.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJSF View Post
    SpaceX's Dragon capsule docking instead of "station keeping" this fall with ISS!
    I will nitpick something different than everyone else: not fall. Winter. Anyone seriously believe this "30 november" date?

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaDeR View Post
    I will nitpick something different than everyone else: not fall. Winter. Anyone seriously believe this "30 november" date?
    It's "31 November" I wouldn't believe. (Because thirty days hath September and all that.)

  6. #36
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    Nothing much new for this yet, except for this interesting (to me) Universe Today article:

    http://www.universetoday.com/89666/l...ex/#more-89666

    Navias stated emphatically that the Russian Space Agency never stated that they would not allow SpaceX to dock with the ISS – only that they wanted to ensure that the NewSpace firm followed the same procedure required of all other participants on the station (both a Stage Readiness Review as well as a Flight Readiness Review).
    CJSF
    "Soon the man who sweeps the room brings the secret telegram, 'COMMENCE OFFICIAL INTERPLANETARY EXPLORATION.' "
    -They Might Be Giants, "Destination Moon"

  7. #37
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    Here is a more skeptical view of the launch dates:

    http://www.spacenews.com/civil/11100...ex-delays.html

    Looks like the SpaceX schedule will have slipped about 3 years in the end. On the other hand, we are likely to see Shenzhou 8 docking with Tiangong 1 before the end of the year, only about 1 year behind schedule. Sounds to me like this 'new space' thing has been overhyped perhaps?

  8. #38
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    Hmmmm, Damburger I get where you're coming from - yes there have been a few voices claiming Musk is singlehandedly saving manned spaceflight - but I'm not sure that comparing delays on the order of years isn't a case of pointing at your favourite snail and boasting 'it's the least agonizingly slow'. Although at least neither China nor spacex have a rock tied to their tail the way the NASA snail seems to.

    Even thats a little unfair - As you pointed out in a different thread, space is more complicated than people like to think, and NASA has space and politics to contend with. In fairness to spaceX the chinese government probably has a bigger budget and less worries about staying solvent as a business! The more the merrier I say.
    In space PR and Politics are as important as engineering and science. And no-one can hear you screaming about it.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    Exploring other worlds with people is a great idea, but look at what has happened since the end of Apollo: How much could unmanned exploration (and astronomy) have discovered with all that money blown on paper rockets?

  9. #39
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    Reading the article The major delaying factors affecting the next Dragon launch appear to be the loss of the Progress flight and Russian reluctance to approve the rendezvous. Yes it's taken longer than expected for the commercial companies to reach their goals than originally expected, still ahead of the best case for Constellation though, and I suspect vastly less expensive than the Chinese program.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by marsbug View Post
    Hmmmm, Damburger I get where you're coming from - yes there have been a few voices claiming Musk is singlehandedly saving manned spaceflight - but I'm not sure that comparing delays on the order of years isn't a case of pointing at your favourite snail and boasting 'it's the least agonizingly slow'. Although at least neither China nor spacex have a rock tied to their tail the way the NASA snail seems to.
    China has a delay of 1 year (and that was simply waiting to get the go ahead for the project; once the government decided to spend the money its going pretty much as planned, even in spite of a launcher failure.) Yet, in the thread on the subject, someone claimed that the Chinese space station is irrelevant because by mid-decade there is going to be a multi-modular bigelow station tended by dragon capsules, based on some wikipedia article!

    Both private enterprises that have gone over 100km are suffering very long delays that have not finished yet. It isn't certain that Virgin Galactic will be able to complete SpaceShipTwo, or that the FAA will let it carry passengers. It isn't certain that the Dragon capsule will pass COTS, and even if it does, if it will become a regular thing (there is already plenty of cargo carrying capacity, and now fewer astronauts and declining political interest in the ISS.)

    There is far, far too much hype surrounding these so called 'newspace' projects.

    Even thats a little unfair - As you pointed out in a different thread, space is more complicated than people like to think, and NASA has space and politics to contend with. In fairness to spaceX the chinese government probably has a bigger budget and less worries about staying solvent as a business! The more the merrier I say.
    China has a space program, SpaceX provides services (or, more correctly, aspire to be able to provide services) to the US space program.

  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
    Reading the article The major delaying factors affecting the next Dragon launch appear to be the loss of the Progress flight and Russian reluctance to approve the rendezvous. Yes it's taken longer than expected for the commercial companies to reach their goals than originally expected, still ahead of the best case for Constellation though, and I suspect vastly less expensive than the Chinese program.
    So far, the amount of money SpaceX has got from COTS is about half the annual budget of the Chinese space program (which, by the way, has a lot of other things to invest in.) So SpaceX isn't order of magnitude cheaper, for sure.

    Stop overhyping SpaceX.

  12. #42
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    I've gotta question your example there: how long has spaceX recieved that amount of money over?

    To the point: Yes there is too much hype, people want to see someone accomplish the great things that I personally have waited my whole life to see government agencies do. It's not rational, but I empathise entirely with it.

    The delay in the Chinese launch was entirely due to waiting for politicians to decide to spend the money?
    In space PR and Politics are as important as engineering and science. And no-one can hear you screaming about it.

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    Exploring other worlds with people is a great idea, but look at what has happened since the end of Apollo: How much could unmanned exploration (and astronomy) have discovered with all that money blown on paper rockets?

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by marsbug View Post
    I've gotta question your example there: how long has spaceX recieved that amount of money over?

    To the point: Yes there is too much hype, people want to see someone accomplish the great things that I personally have waited my whole life to see government agencies do. It's not rational, but I empathise entirely with it.

    The delay in the Chinese launch was entirely due to waiting for politicians to decide to spend the money?
    This is an issue I have with the Chinese space program, sure now it's a big priority with the Chinese leadership but at the end of the day they are politicians and I believe more interested in prestige than space exploration per se. It's not magically going to escape the problems that have afflicted the US program in modern times, or the Soviets in the 60's for that matter.

    At the end of the day I think 'commercial space' is more likely to open things up than any national program in the remit of politicians.

  14. #44
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    SpaceX received that money for COTS; they received it in one single sum AFAIK.

    The Chinese space program is not a big priority with its government. As a % of PPP GDP, their spending on space would be about average for a European nation.

    "Commercial" space is insignificant, at least for manned flight. If you add the handful of insanely rich people who have bought a Soyuz flight, to all the people who have bought a Virgin Galactic ticket, you see the size of the market is a fraction of what nations spend on space. There simply is not a market for commercial manned spaceflight. The only 'commercial' company to have a shot at manned orbital spaceflight is SpaceX, and they are entirely doing that thanks to Musk's personal money and, more importantly, big fat cheques from NASA.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damburger View Post
    SpaceX received that money for COTS; they received it in one single sum AFAIK.
    So you are critiquing them based on at least one false assumption as you can see if you check out the table at this link, scroll about half way down:

    SpaceX’s COTS Milestone Progress, Payments and Delays

    You'll not eit also discusses the problems they've encountered so no one can accuse me of overhyping.

  16. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Damburger View Post
    SpaceX received that money for COTS; they received it in one single sum AFAIK.
    This discredits you, right there. Why should anyone listen to your argument when you can't even be bothered to get the simple facts straight? Also, you think you know everything going on behind China's program?

    COTS was never meant to be a timeline-based program in the first place. The delays were not paid for by NASA, they are absorbed by the companies themselves. Only once NASA painted itself into a corner with no Shuttle replacement did they introduce extra risk reduction milestones for the COTS partners, with associated extra payments. These were NOT asked for by Orbital or SpaceX.

    But don't listen to me.

    Alan Lindenmoyer, who has overseen the COTS effort as manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program at NASA, noted that companies all met their original negotiated milestones with no change in the value of those milestones, with the exception of Rocketplane Kistler, which failed to meet its milestones and had its agreement terminated by NASA. Additional money was added to the COTS program this last year to support additional testing milestones. “That money was used to reduce risk in the development program for our COTS partners” through the use of additional ground testing and a demonstration test flight for Orbital’s Taurus 2, he said.

    On schedule, Lindenmoyer acknowledged “some criticism about delays” in the original schedules. He said that he considered putting no dates in the original SAAs with the companies, since they key was to measure technical progress. NASA decided they needed dates in those agreements, but indicated they accepted the schedules proposed by the companies even if they seemed overly optimistic. “I will say, when we evaluated these proposals, we on the NASA side certainly believed these were very aggressive schedules,” he said. “We didn’t change the schedules—we accepted them as they were proposed—but over time I think we’re all seeing very typical type challenges in the development of very complex space systems.
    http://thespacereview.com/article/1941/1

  17. #47
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    You guys are clearly fanatics. I was making an order of magnitude estimate (which, by the way, still stands, because it was just an estimate) and because you can nitpick a detail of it, you think that refutes my entire argument? I think your behaviour here is very telling; you have emotionally invested in so-called 'commercial' manned spaceflight which is why your defence of it looks so bizarre to someone who doesn't share your position.

    You have to at some point accept that SpaceX is just another contractor, providing services for the government. This is not the beginning of some magical neoliberal conquest of space, it is just NASA buying another rocket, but this time with some ideological fluff surrounding the event.

  18. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Damburger View Post
    You guys are clearly fanatics.
    Lol. Is that the best comeback you can come up with?

    I was making an order of magnitude estimate (which, by the way, still stands, because it was just an estimate) and because you can nitpick a detail of it, you think that refutes my entire argument?
    I did not nitpick your argument. Your whole argument is based on that since SpaceX and OSC have delays that it must mean this "commercial" approach is not working. But feel free to ignore that point and resort to name calling others.

    You have to at some point accept that SpaceX is just another contractor, providing services for the government.
    What YOU have to accept at some point is what exactly *commercial* means. It cost NASA not a single dime extra to pay for the time delays, compared to the traditional cost+ approach where constractors are basically incentivized to delay to get paid more.

    Instead, for ~$300M investment in SpaceX and Orbital each, NASA is getting two complete systems for cargo delivery to ISS. The same NASA that paid $450M for a Ares I-X sham test and had the same vehicle's operational capability move N years to the right. But hey, delays only happen in the commercial sector.

    This is not the beginning of some magical neoliberal conquest of space, it is just NASA buying another rocket, but this time with some ideological fluff surrounding the event.
    You once again expose your ignorance. NASA doesn' buy a rocket nor does it buy a spacecraft. It buys a service. It does not own the hardware flown nor the intellectual property on that hardware. It is an end user to something that is procured on a fixed cost basis. If you cannot see the difference between that an the way NASA has been doing business until now in the HSF arena, but are instead just determined to push your own constructed opinions on this, good luck.

    It is you who failed to address the arguments brought up above and instead had to resort to ad hominems. Classic.

  19. #49
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    Thanks ugordan, I wanted to wade in here and you've done a more eloquent job than I was going to.

    As a Brit I was always a tad jealous of the resources NASA was able to throw at the space programme, but at the same time, I understood the major issues with the type of funding that always led to budget overruns etc.

    The COTS programme does seem to have all the benefits for NASA of FIXED COST contracting... the winning bidder absorbs the cost of any overrun but also reaps the benefits of coming in ahead of time/budget. It's basic risk/reward.

    I'm assuming that as a result of the contract, SpaceX also reaps the benefit of their technology being funded (in part at least) by NASA. Long term, SpaceX are able to maximise their revenue and profit from launching payloads for any agency.

    I'm no hardcore capitalist, but this does seem from the outside to represent good value for money from the government/NASA side and a valuable leg-up from the SpaceX perspective.... everyone's a winner baby!

  20. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Mellow View Post
    I'm assuming that as a result of the contract, SpaceX also reaps the benefit of their technology being funded (in part at least) by NASA. Long term, SpaceX are able to maximise their revenue and profit from launching payloads for any agency.
    Yes, SpaceX gets to operate a launch vehicle which NASA helped fund and make money on other launch contracts, NASA gets a service ability (cargo mass to ISS) for a fraction of the cost it would normally cost to develop AND it gets two new vehicles to replace the Delta II for unmanned missions. I don't see how anyone can view this COTS program as a failure.

    The biggest difference in why this CAN be lower cost is probably due to the limited amount of government oversight of the "contractor" in terms of requirements levied, etc. The infamous "how many people does it take NASA to screw in a nut" effect is reduced because NASA's direct role is reduced to insight, not total oversight of all operations. Resulting in less people required to do each task and ultimate cost savings for the government and contractor. The contracting arrangement for COTS and CRS is similar to NASA's Lanch Services Program procurements which have been operating on a fixed cost basis for years, buying launches for their probes commercially. It's just that for some reason people frown upon this when it's invoked for human spaceflight as well.

    One might say this can make the company in question more sloppy and profit oriented, but really the impetus is on them to keep the quality high. If they start losing vehicles or killing people eventually, they go out of business. It's as simple as that.

  21. #51
    The aircraft business has been self-regulatory for many years for exactly that reason: if their planes come down, they'd be out of business so they make sure their planes are safe. From that perspective, it's logical to let the aircraft constructors do (the majority of) the tests themselves instead of letting an external organ control everything.

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    The aircraft business has been self-regulatory for many years for exactly that reason...
    You may want to clarify that. I think the FAA and NTSB has something to say in that respect.

    Although; I do know what you are getting at. As long as the guidelines and regulations are in place, it can work. Unfortunately, I don't think the space industry is mature/broadbased/bit enough to fit the same mold(yet). We may be on the cusp with new ways of contracting the services, so maybe we will get to that point. But; as long as aircraft is primarily a public customer base rather than dominated by government customers, it's going to be hard to compare.
    It will be interesting to see how things work out.

  23. #53
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    Well Ugordan and Neowatcher seem to have summed everything I might have said, and with less bad language.

  24. #54
    You may want to clarify that. I think the FAA and NTSB has something to say in that respect.
    I must say that I didn't get much aeronautic law in my aerospace engineering studies. But I understood that while the rules are made by the FAA, NTSB and the like, the craft are tested in-house by the constructors rather than externally by one of the aforementioned organisations. I'm not familiar with the details though; I don't know to what extent these organisations are involved with the in-house tests.

    So self-regulatory was a wrong choice of words if the above is correct, because it's not Boeing and Airbus that make their own rules. What I meant was that (as far as I know, to some extent) they are allowed to do their own conformity testing.

    It's a bit like my plumber who is allowed to test and approve his own gas installations. But he has to do so by the rules from the government safety board, not his own rules.

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    So self-regulatory was a wrong choice of words if the above is correct, because it's not Boeing and Airbus that make their own rules. What I meant was that (as far as I know, to some extent) they are allowed to do their own conformity testing.
    I think we are getting into a grey area here. Up until now, we have been comparing a complete vehicle to components of a vehicle from various manufacturers.
    I'm not sure where you consider SpaceX in this testing mix. We have a bit of an added complexity where we have a limited choice of facilities and windows of opportunities for the testing.
    Besides; don't airlines do thier own testing of the planes to make sure it can work within thier own infrastructure. This can equate to NASA having thier fingers in the pie.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    It's a bit like my plumber who is allowed to test and approve his own gas installations. But he has to do so by the rules from the government safety board, not his own rules.
    I consider that an overly simplified analogy that we can't apply to rockets. Besides; That might happen in Belgium, but we have city inspectors and/or the gas company that comes out and does an inspection.

  26. #56
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    A regulatory framework is one of those things that really needs to be worked out if commercial spaceflight market does expand. The current situation where manrating requirements seem to be a set of constantly moving goalposts isn't very practical.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garrison View Post
    A regulatory framework is one of those things that really needs to be worked out if commercial spaceflight market does expand. The current situation where manrating requirements seem to be a set of constantly moving goalposts isn't very practical.
    We have goalposts to move?

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    We have goalposts to move?
    Well alright more like a couple of jerseys that NASA throws down wherever they feel like it...

  29. #59
    Besides; don't airlines do thier own testing of the planes to make sure it can work within thier own infrastructure. This can equate to NASA having thier fingers in the pie.
    I don't know about that [equating to]. I mean, when an airline buys an Airbus, they will of course want to know if its performance, seating capacity, turn-around time at their gates etc is what they need. And they will indeed test their interiors, luggage handling... But they won't doublecheck whether the wings can deal with 1.5xmax load (Airbus has checked that in-house with NTSB(?) approved tests), whether its engine out take off capacity is sufficient (Airbus has checked that in an NTSB(?) approved test flight) etc. They will believe that the thing can fly like it should.

    I'm not sure whether NASA at this point works as a SpaceX client like say Air France does as an Airbus client. I'm not involved so I don't know exactly, but I can imagine that in this case they also want to be involved with the "can it fly" part and not just the client details, because SpaceX is new to the game and as said by others, this manrating thing for rockets isn't regulated as the "can it fly" for aircraft is regulated. Anyone can shed some light on that?

  30. #60
    I consider that an overly simplified analogy that we can't apply to rockets. Besides; That might happen in Belgium, but we have city inspectors and/or the gas company that comes out and does an inspection.
    (I know this is off topic, but I explain it to show one way of regulating a system). AFAIK, not every plumber is allowed to approve installations here, but some of them have the right qualifications to do so. And those that do, can therefore also approve their own installations, but obviously approving always has to be done by following the official guidelines. If you'd want any such approval system for rockets, having some serious official guidelines would be a good starting point...

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