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posted by cmn32480 on Monday July 25 2016, @11:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the cheaper-is-not-better dept.

From the (Kansas City) Daily Star Albany :

Recent moves in Congress to restrict the use of Russian rocket engines on national security missions sparked a revolution in the U.S. commercial space program. Private businesses such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as Aerojet Rocketdyne, are lining up to offer homegrown rocket engines to NASA. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin just abolished his country's own Federal Space Agency, replacing 'Roscosmos' with a new corporation that "will design new spacecraft and implement new projects by itself."

But before you assume that Russia has been bitten by the Capitalism bug - don't. In contrast to SpaceX, which is a private venture, Russia's new-and-improved Roscosmos will be wholly owned by the Russian state.

Asserting complete control over the space effort is, to Putin's mind, a way to control costs and prevent corruption, such as when certain persons at Roscosmos famously embezzled or wasted as much as $1.8 billion in 2014. Whether the restructuring will also make space travel "cheaper," as [deputy prime minister] Rogozin hopes, remains to be seen.

SpaceX publishes a price of $61.2M USD for a Falcon 9 launch. Can Roscosmos compete with that? The Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture ULA finds that price hard to beat. So do the French and Chinese. From the article:

[...] California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez described a conversation she had with France's Arianespace a few years ago: "They were telling me that their launch costs about $200 million equivalent. They said they weren't worried about UAL [sic] but could I get rid of SpaceX? Because they were going to drive them out of business!"

And over in China, officials interviewed by Aviation Week recently lamented that "published prices on the SpaceX website [are] very low." So low, in fact, that with China's own Long March rockets costing $70 million per launch, "they could not match them."


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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday July 26 2016, @03:57PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 26 2016, @03:57PM (#380330) Journal
    My understanding is that SpaceX used to have a lot more outside parts in its rockets last decade. But they found that several of their rocket failures came from these sourced parts. By making almost all of the supply chain internal, SpaceX improved the reliability of their rockets. While your approach would be a feasible way to break up SpaceX at some future point, it runs counter to the current needs of the company (namely, making the supply chain reliable and cheap enough so that SpaceX can outcompete the other cheapest orbital launch platforms in the world).
  • (Score: 2) by githaron on Tuesday July 26 2016, @06:58PM

    by githaron (581) on Tuesday July 26 2016, @06:58PM (#380399)

    From my understanding, they also had a problem with timescale. Everyone else in the space industry was used to operating on slow timescales for big money. SpaceX was simply moving too fast to wait for them and wanted to do it for cheaper.