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...Sending your fridge to space, $20.8M

By ramses0 in News
Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 10:16:03 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

According to MSNBC, NASA is privatizing it's space program, and has posted a price list for corporate (or perhaps private) interests. You think software consultants make big bucks? Try $15,000 per hour to rent the services of an astronaut.

Ok, so nobody here is going to be sending their refrigerators into space. (And I don't know how discussion-worthy this article is, but I'm posting it anyway, since it's neat and brings back up the MIR space-station project posted a while back.) Have fun! And Rusty, maybe when you get quickies working, you could add categories to your quickies... "science quickies" or "techie quickies" or "java quickies"

Consider this a "science quickie".


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...Sending your fridge to space, $20.8M | 6 comments (6 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Off Topic. :) Did you know that yo... (none / 0) (#2)
by joeyo on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 12:01:39 AM EST

joeyo voted 1 on this story.

Off Topic. :) Did you know that you can apply to NASA to be a project leader if you have a background in the physical sciences and 5 years experience in industry and/or a masters degree? NASA is definately on my wishlist of places to apply to someday.

"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

space (a la neuromancer) is cool! :... (none / 0) (#1)
by rongen on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 06:19:08 AM EST

rongen voted 1 on this story.

space (a la neuromancer) is cool! :)
read/write http://www.prosebush.com

$10000 per pound (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 11:16:54 AM EST

I know most of us here believe that the "market" will cause the space program to become more efficient and less expensive, but a few years ago, I was talking to someone "on the inside", and he told me that sending up a pound on the shuttle cost $10000, which is exactly the price quoted in the article.

The question is: how much more cheaply can this be done? Will the price get lower? Can it get lower? As it stands, it appears that NASA still has a monopoly on this sort of high-maintenance space service, and will continue to do so unless other companies (or nations?) start building their own launch vehicles and hiring their own astronauts.

A country might be able to pay the initial start-up cost for this sort of endeavour, but whether a private company can or will be willing to manage it is a different question.

The $24 million price that SpaceDev gives for a Mars mission robot looks intriguing, though.

The Eternal Frontier (4.00 / 1) (#4)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 01:53:28 PM EST

AFAIK, the cost is basically a result of the fact that space is an almost unimaginably hostile atmosphere. To everything. Just the fact that we have been able to put people there, and bring them back alive, is itself nearly unbelievable, regardless of the cost. People tend to think of space as "emptiness," and assume the expense is mainly getting up the gravity well, but that's not particularly true. Space is cold. Except that where there are particles of any kind, it's really really hot (that is, any particles there are tend to be moving *really* fast). So much of the challenge lies not in getting where you want to go, but in not getting your payload torn to shreds by grains of sand traveling at ungodly speeds

That said, I think the market will work it's magic. I do imagine that we'd have to send a lot of things into space before the price started to come down through economy of scale. Right now the cost is probably a loss or at most a *possible* break-even. So it's a while yet before sending things into space is even "usually" a break-even proposition, at the current cost.

There's also the fact that so far, no one has found any way to make money going into space. That is, there's nothing that can be made in space so much [better || more easily || cheaper] that it's worth manufacturing in space. So right now, every trip is a dead loss economically, for someone. Reasearch is important, absolutely, but when you talk about making it a commercial venture, someone needs to think they can make money by going orbital.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: The Eternal Frontier (none / 0) (#5)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 02:44:40 PM EST

The many factors you describe are reasons why a market may be a long time coming for space exploration. After all, a market must be built before it can work its magic, and from a corporate perspective, there is no rational reason to invest in space unless there is a market to drive these costs down. It seems the chicken and egg exist off the planet as well as on.

In Heinlein novels, brave corporate entrepreneurs, unfettered by the petty limitations of government, made bold steps towards the stars and reaped massive rewards. In reality, corporations are not likely to do more than put a decal on the shuttle, much as they do racing cars. This is an immense pity. I suppose the wrong people were reading RAH.

[ Parent ]
Re: The Eternal Frontier (none / 0) (#6)
by rusty on Fri Mar 03, 2000 at 03:28:17 PM EST

In Heinlein novels, brave corporate entrepreneurs, unfettered by the petty limitations of government, made bold steps towards the stars and reaped massive rewards.

Yeah. Our problem is, we haven't yet found any massive rewards to reap out in space. I suppose if we found huge deposits of oil on meteors or nearby planets, and there were a way to ship it back to earth, and our oil supply were dwindling, then it might be worth it. Same for a few elements and metals that seem to be rare around here.

But no one's really found any of that stuff yet, so...

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

...Sending your fridge to space, $20.8M | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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