[FPSPACE] Speaking of Atlas V

Chris Jones clj at panix.com
Wed Sep 17 20:45:46 EDT 2014

On 9/17/2014 7:51 PM, Marc Boucher wrote:
> At this point the CST-100 will be launched on the Atlas V and most
> likely the new variant powered by the new Blue Origin B4 engines when
> it gets certified down the road. I doubt we'll see a CST-100 on a
> Falcon rocket anytime soon, if ever.
> And Boeing did not win first place. There were two equal winners. The
>  five NASA required certification milestones are the same for both
> companies. Each company must, as part of the certification process,
> complete a crewed demo mission. Once the certification process is
> over both companies will have a minimum of 2 launches and up to 6.
> NASA left wiggle room based on budget, ISS needs etc. The funding
> difference is simply what each company bid to complete the same
> requirements set by NASA. Boeing just costs more.
> On Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 6:59 PM, David Portree
> <dsfportree at hotmail.com <mailto:dsfportree at hotmail.com>> wrote: My
> understanding is that CST-100 can operate on multiple boosters; the
> idea is that it's not stuck in integral booster/spacecraft system
> rut. So, if that's correct, it might be launched on some other
> man-rated booster (whatever that might be).
> I was pleased that Boeing, the fifty-year spaceflight veteran, won
> first place in the competition. It's hard to see how it could have
> been otherwise, given SpaceX's very limited experience.

David, there you go again.  We all get that you're down on SpaceX, but
"stuck in ... rut"?  I'd say Dragon has demonstrated the ability to
operate on multiple boosters as much as CST-100 has, and, in fact, has
already flown an unmanned prototype into orbit and recovered it, which
is more than Boeing (with its 50+ years of experience and all) has done.
  Calling Boeing the first place finisher on account of its bloated
dinospace pricing (to use arguments analogous to yours) is a stretch.

I'd also point out that Blue Origin's BE-4 is not a drop-in replacement
for the RD-180.  Two BE-4s generate slightly less thrust than an RD-180,
and use methane rather than kerosene based fuels, so the entire first
stage is new, and undeveloped.  My best reading of the availability of
the new launcher is 2019 for first flight, which is later than NASA
requires, so Boeing is depending on continued availability of RD-180s
until then.  At the least, this puts a damper on NASA's "NASA Chooses
American Companies to Transport U.S. Astronauts" press release.

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