[FPSPACE] reflections on the great Boeing vs. SpaceX debate

David Portree dsfportree at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 23 16:40:47 EDT 2014


Keith:
 
We've seen an increase in the number of launch providers on a global scale. Some would assert that this means trouble for companies like SpaceX, which have a business model that already requires that they dominate world-wide commercial launches. 
 
My difficulty with SpaceX is the utter nonsense that they spout - you mention the Mars settlement thing - Mars is a fascinating place from a science standpoint, but it's crap for long-term survival. That and the credulity re: SpaceX of many people who call themselves space supporters. 
 
The other thing is, I don't give a drat about grocery runs, and through masterful exercise of hype SpaceX has turned such simple, routine flights into glorious achievements in the minds of many. Perhaps they don't know that the Soviets started such flights in the 1970s? The same with comsat launches - these are routine things. I don't care that an Internet mogul is behind these flights. The public is confused enough about spaceflight without this inflation of routine accomplishments.
 
It's a little like the people who say NASA is dead because the Shuttle is retired. Such misinformation clouds the issue, makes it hard to talk about real space programs beyond those already in place. 
 
Interesting (though only obliquely related) thing - my WIRED blog comments section has been hit over and over by people using different names who promote SpaceX no matter what I post. Though different names are used, the posts read as though written by one or two people. This only stopped after I accused them of being paid to post the SpaceX gospel. I only had to mention this possibility twice and all such posts stopped. 
 
dsfp

David S. F. Portree
author and stuff
 
Email:
dsfportree at hotmail.com
dportree at usgs.gov
 
Profile:
http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/people/david-portree
 
Blogs:
http://www.wired.com/category/beyondapollo/
http://theportreelibrary.blogspot.com/
 
> Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:56:26 +0200
> From: kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
> To: fpspace at friends-partners.org
> Subject: [FPSPACE] reflections on the great Boeing vs. SpaceX debate
> 
> Dear Friends,
> 
>     First, I imagine that most of us are agnostic on whether SpaceX will succeed or fail: time will tell, launch by launch. SpaceX has been boasting of a manifest of significant numbers of customers signed-up for launching. Now we wait to see how those launches will fare.
> 
>        Second, as a general principle it seems sound for the USG & its agencies to want to broaden the number of domestic contractors who acquire the capability to launch satellites. Two, such as ULA & SpaceX, is surely the absolute minimum. Soyuz is a third.  The US has not approached the Chinese to launch either cargo or passengers to ISS, but that is a theoretical possibility, provided China does not seize a new Crimea-sized chunk of Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh.
> 
>           Third, the historic odds are stacked against Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser, or Blue Origins, or Xcor, having their own funds to R&D a spacecraft all the way to a successful orbital insertion & recovery. But good luck to them.
> 
>          Fourth, there is something unreal about current claims of people wanting to go on a one-way ticket to Mars.
> Mars' temperature range is a match to our Antarctica, from -10C to - 90C, with only Mars' equator, like the Antarctic Peninsula, having a few months at +1 to + 3 C. I do not see a stampede of civilians wanting one way tickets to settle in Antarctica, even though you can breathe the air there. Even though you have all the water you need, provided you have  fuel to melt it. I do remember that an Argentinian junta hugely subsidized a pregnant woman to give birth in a prefab in one of their Antarctic bases, which they considered would establish an Argentinian birthright to territorial possession. But as best as I know, that family has not permanently settled there.
> 
>         My point is that while most of us would like to visit both Antarctica and Mars for a one week holiday, how many people would like to spend the rest of their life confined to living in a caravan or trailer-sized living quarters? Those who have languished in prison confinement are not sentimental about enjoying that. Even in the largest US Antarctic base, with over one hundred persons, no one stays for more than two years at a time.
> 
>        Also, only millionaires can afford not to earn a living for a decade or more of life.
> 
> - Keith
> 
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