THE SPACE BUG SCRAPBOOK: NASA ON TRACK FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS TO ISS ...February 8, 2015
In the light of yesterday's blog about the FAA and space, and the possibility of secret space capabilities bot military and otherwise, consider this important article contributed by Ms. P.H.:
Now the critical thing here to note is that the commercialization of space launch capability is considerably cheaper than government-sponsored platforms (which should be good news to capitalists):
"SpaceX and Boeing said Monday that they are on track to carry out their first manned test flights to the space station in 2017. NASA chose the two private companies last September to transport American astronauts to and from the orbiting lab.
"U.S. manned launches ended with the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011. Until SpaceX and Boeing begin flying crews from Cape Canaveral, NASA astronauts must continue to hitch rocket rides with Russia.
"NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said the average price for a seat aboard the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 capsules will be $58 million. That compares with $71 million a seat charged by Russia under its latest NASA contract."
The size of the contracts themselves are intriguing, for they are indicators of how rapidly the commercialization of of space is, as predicted, proceeding this year:
"Lueders said the plan is to have two "robust providers" for crew transport, in case one of them ends up grounded by technical problems. NASA awarded SpaceX $2.6 billion for crew transport, while Boeing got $4.2 billion. Each is to provide two to six missions."
The intriguing thing here is, however, the launch capability itself, for the new space capsules being developed are supposedly capable of carrying five astronauts, one more than NASA's minimum requirement of four:
"Unlike the Russian charge, the $58 million per-person cost estimate includes a fair amount of cargo to be flown aboard the SpaceX and Boeing spacecraft, along with four crew members. That price tag is based on a five-year period, Lueders said.
"The Russian Soyuz holds a maximum of three people, with at least one a Russian to pilot the craft.
"SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said the future enhanced Dragon capsule could carry five astronauts — one more than NASA's stipulated four — and still meet all the cargo requirements.
However, I hope you noticed something peculiar about this article, one that, when I saw it, immediately brought home to me the possibility that we are looking at some "news between the lines," i.e., we're being told things "without being told." In this instance, what caught my eye was not what was said in the article, but what was pictured, and I rather suspect that this may have been the main reason Ms. P.H. shared the article. Note that the picture at the top of the article carries a rather bland caption "NASA expects to save millions of dollars sending astronauts to the international space station," a rather bland caption for what is really pictured, namely, a picture of a mock-up Boeing space capsule, on which is boldly emblazoned the statement "7 person maximum capacity," a picture suggesting that the practical lift capabilities being developed are rather well-beyond what is being said publicly.
The real question is: why seven? Why such a large number in a capsule? Here comes my high octane speculation: I suggest what we are being given glimpses of is a quiet, but nevertheless very real, development of large transport capacity, not for any missions to the International Space Station, but rather, for something far more long distance, namely, Mars, which in the context of yesterday's blogs and tidbits, included, you'll recall, a rather thought-provoking Lockheed-Martin commercial about manned missions to Mars as a regular occurrence, and a story about investigations of fusion based propulsion systems. In other words, it would seem that the popular mainstream media is deliberately ratcheting up the disclosure of space objectives and capabilities.
In that light, Ms. P.H. also shared this about the developments in Russia:
What's intriguing in this article is the clear indication that Russia to some extent appears to be "commercializing" space as well, and more importantly - the sanctions regime notwithstanding - doing so with China and the other BRICSA bloc nations (as predicted) but also in conjunction with Germany.
Packaging all this together and what is one looking at? A real bona fide space race, one fundamentally different than that driving the space race of Cold War, version 1.0, for in this new version 2.0, the race is ultimately commercial... and that means ultimately that the race is also military. Once one admits this, one has admitted that the real race is in the development (and public disclosure) of at least some of those hidden technologies that many people, this author included, think exist off-the-books. Given the dates in the articles - 2024 - we are looking at a decade of development that will, I believe, be rather stunning.
See you on the flip side...