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July 15, 2011


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The funny part is that the end of the Shuttle could be the beginning of a real flowering in American manned spaceflight.

The Orion is (still) being developed, despite its faux cancellation and its intended to be for more than just LEO.

SpaceX's Dragon is going to be a manned capsule, gov money or not. It'll just take a bit longer without the government money. SpaceX is also building the Falcon Heavy...if that gets going for reals and Elon has a good track record, I'd say, then...

Boeing is working on its CST-100; Sierra Nevada is working on the DreamChaser; and Blue Origin is working on their own capsule work.

As I pointed out in email back in Feb about the CCDEV2, you could get all the cargo of the shuttle flights, three different systems, and 72 passenger berths for the price of 30 on the shuttle.

You've more than double the number of people going into orbit.

You have triple US redundancy for space access systems.

You keep the same cargo to orbit.

If Orion continues to be developed and the Dragon can be enhanced for past LEO flights, then we have redundancy in past LEO.

It sounds like a really big win to me.

And it sounds like the beginning of a new era. A good one. Though I hesitate to call it a golden one.

Let me play devil's advocate for a minute.

So, nationalist rivalry is out of place in space exploration. What, then, is a good (safe) place for it?

??? Better rephrase that, David. I missed a step somewhere.

Okay. Doug said:

"And it’s a global age. Here’s a thing you’ll notice, if you hang around space enthusiasts for long: there’ll be a conversation about “space exploration”, and after a bit you realize that half the people in the room are taking that to mean MANNED space exploration BY AMERICANS, with any other sort being at best a bit disreputable and at worst vaguely threatening, and the “failure” of manned US space travel seen as some sort of failure of will. This is incredibly annoying for multiple reasons."

I understand Doug as saying that the Cold War Space Race mentality is about a quarter century past its last sell date and should be tossed onto the compost heap of history. Mostly I agree with him.

However, while the Space Race mentality may have hurt the science and led to some bad engineering decisions that got people killed, it also provided a way for the US and the USSR to compete that didn't involve guns. And there's plenty of international rivalry out there now. Which would be a better competition for the US and the PRC, space exploration or building aircraft carriers?

Wow. David, I think we have radically different views on a number of things.

Competition, IMNSHO, is a great source of innovation. Whether its nationalist or otherwise. Fortunately or unfortunately, the nationalism is about the only source of competition large enough to drive space exploration relatively sustainably.

There are some exceptions to that, like the GLXP which - full disclosure - I am a team lead for. Competition seems to work better, imo, than collaboration, /but/ they are not mutually exclusive either.

We're starting to work with other GLXP teams even as we are directly competing with them.

I understand Doug as saying that the Cold War Space Race mentality is about a quarter century past its last sell date and should be tossed onto the compost heap of history. Mostly I agree with him.

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