Bigelow Aerospace + Atlas 5 Rockets = New Space Station

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holmec

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SDC article<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Bigelow Aerospace officials said Feb. 1 they are making progress in their negotiations with United Launch Alliance for six initial launches for their planned commercial space station, starting around 2011.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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At the end of the article:<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Bigelow did not disclose what type of spacecraft the company intends to put atop the Atlas 5 to carry passengers.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Wow! How great is that? So who will it be, SpaceDev, ULA, or some other company with a capsule? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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windnwar

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I wonder if they can or will buy Dragons from SpaceX to put on the Atlas and if its possible to do so. Of the possibilities its probably the cheapest capsule they could buy as long as integration costs don't balloon. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font size="2" color="#0000ff">""Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." --Albert Einstein"</font></p> </div>
 
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Testing

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Sounds like a win,win situation to me. Bigelow gets a launch vehicle with ALOT of heritage. ULA/LMA can boast a man rated Atlas V. We have been working on upgrading engine controls for a couple years for LMA. Good deal for them and the industry. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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docm

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Based on Bigelow's previously announced requirements of 5+ passengers there are only 2 possibilities;<br /><br />1. Lockheed's CTV/PTV (8 passengers)<br /><br />2. SpaceX's Dragon (7 passengers) <br /><br />3. Dream Chaser (6+)<br /><br />Nothing else is as close as Dragon (test flights late this year/early next year) or with the financial backing that could be rapidly thrown at PTV by Lockheed. It wouldn't surprise me of Lockheed has one sitting in a back room. Benson has been working with Lockheed on man-rating Atlas V for the DC, so with Lockheed $$ it too has to be taken seriously.<br /><br />Some might argue PlanetSpace's spaceplane is an option, and in PowerPoint it is, but I don't think they're funded well enough to catch up with SpaceX or Lockheed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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crix

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I'm amazed by the number of launches per year they're projecting. I suppose when you're doing that many launches that the costs come down, but still, any idea what he would paying for each launch?<br /><br />If Bigelow can keep up with a monthly launch schedule it must mean that the manufacturing process of these inflatable has got to be pretty streamlined. <br /><br />Wow. I'm just blown away. What a fantastic, visionary individual Bigelow is.
 
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Testing

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Or he already has paying custumers plus backlog. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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windnwar

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Perhaps this will get Rocketdyne to start a line in the U.S. to build the RD-180 here, thus elimaniting the issues of whether or not Russia will throw a wrench in the works if they decide to get upset with us. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font size="2" color="#0000ff">""Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." --Albert Einstein"</font></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I wonder if they can or will buy Dragons from SpaceX to put on the Atlas and if its possible to do so.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Somehow, I don't think that wouldn't be Elon Musk's optimal preference. I think he would be inclined to sell Dragon and Falcon 9 combo rather than put his capsule on a competitor's rocket. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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Huntster

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>>I think he would be inclined to sell Dragon and Falcon 9 combo rather than put his capsule on a competitor's rocket.<br /><br />That may be so, but if Dragon can be developed before F9, as a businessman he would have to see the value in making some "early" sells, while at the same time proving the worthiness of the capsule.<br /><br />If F9 develops into something as good as they are saying it will be, there will be customers nonetheless; if Dragon is viable, having two available launch platforms can only be a good thing for his company's business and for the space community as a whole in the long term. If the tourism field does take off, pardon the pun, I cannot see SpaceX producing enough Falcons to meet demand. If Bigelow's plans come to pass, it alone should use up a sizeable fraction of the current (and predicted future) launch capacity.<br /><br />A lot of "if"s, but that is the current track. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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thereiwas

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Both the Falcon and Atlas use RP-1 for fuel. My concern about this is not the lower ISP compared to hydrogen, but the fact that it is made from oil, and that is only going to get more expensive (I think a <i>lot</i> more expensive) in coming years.<br /><br />Does anyone know the relative energy costs in manufacturing LH2 compared to RP-1?<br /><br />Fossil-fuel based rocketry is something we need to stop doing.
 
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larper

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Fossil-fuel based rocketry is something we need to stop doing. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Why? No matter the cost of the oil, the fuel of a rocket will never be anything more than a small fraction of the launch costs.<br /><br />LH2 is WAY more expensive than RP-1, and way more dangerous and difficult to handle. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong><font color="#ff0000">Vote </font><font color="#3366ff">Libertarian</font></strong></p> </div>
 
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spacelifejunkie

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The rise of alternative energy may start to cut into the price of oil despite the rising energy needs of the world. Hybrid and electric cars are here and solar power is exploding. This combination as well as a new, increasing acceptance of nuclear energy could keep oil prices in check. Besides, as it was pointed out above, the cost of RP-1 is negligible for a launch even if the price of oil went to $200/barrel.<br /><br /><br />SLJ
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">Fossil-fuel based rocketry is something we need to stop doing.</font>/i><br /><br />I've read that the cost of the fuel/propellant is almost negligible in terms of the overall cost of the launch. You could make the fuel/propellant free and you wouldn't see much of a drop in launch price.</i>
 
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josh_simonson

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Bigelow/ULA/SpaceX will not be willing to pay for Atlas V flights to certify the Dragon for manned use. Dragon's development and certification will use the Falcon 9 and no other. Falcon 9 is slated to be ready before Dragon, and it makes no sense for SpaceX to defer work on the Falcon for Dragon. That'd be putting the cart before the horse.
 
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j05h

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Guess: Bigelow will use Atlas primarily for modules followed by a possible crew-capsule. Bigelow will use SpaceX Falcons primarily for Dragon flights followed by module launch.<br /><br />If Dragon is ready before F9, having a backup launcher would be excellent and possible source of revenue.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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comga

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In reply to<br /><br />Does anyone know the relative energy costs in manufacturing LH2 compared to RP-1? <br /><br />It doesn't matter. AFAIK, most of not all of our commercial supply of Hydrogen is derived from fossil fuels. As their price goes up, so will that of Hydrogen, although raw feed stock is only a part of the total cost. <br /><br />Hydrogen from natural gas is a loosing proposition. Lots of energy is lost to the system. This is preferable because fuel is, as larper says, a small fraction of the total cost of launch, and the higher Isp can, in some circumstances, make the system less expensive.<br /><br />(Our 'pal' Bob Zubrin wrote an interesting article on this a while back. When he is not screaming at people who dislike his specific plans for Mars, he still seems to be a competent chemical engineer. IIRC he said that the energy efficiency was something like 6% going from methane to hydrogen.)
 
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j05h

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CNN is reporting on the Bigelow-ULA deal here:<br /><br />http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/space/02/05/private.launch.ap/index.html<br /><br />They say $15m for 4 weeks at the first Bigelow station and that they are talking about 6 Atlas V launches to establish that station.<br /><br />I think that RP-1 makes more sense for a first stage - you are correct about the tiny cost of fuel for rocket launches and sourcing Hydrogen (plus handling/storage issues) <br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> Really, Atlas 5s? Let's see, at best, that is $15 million times seven. Oh yea, we forgot to include a pilot or two. So, ULA would be giving Bigelow a huge launch discount. ...Something has to give here. I wonder what it will be.</i><br /><br />My guess is simply volume discount. Bigelow orders 6 flights now, with the need for at least as many yearly to keep their first station supplied. Bigelow was talking about 16 Soyuz/Progress flights per year for supplies and crew. ULA is in a good position to offer American launches instead, and Robert Bigelow is a hard-nosed negotiator, so this would be a deal for vastly more rockets than ULA is currently flying, creating economies-of-scale from the start. IMHO. <br /><br />Josh<br /> <br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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alonzofyfe

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You are assuming that Bigelow plans on making 100% of his revenue from guest room fees. Any decent business person would say, "I've got a ship going up with 5 people on it. What else can I do with this that will get me some more money?" The real question is: What are those other business opportunities that he might exploit?
 
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earth_bound_misfit

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What is the cost to the environment though? I'm dead against allowing the rich to make environment worst off, just because they can afford too. I am all for science related space exploration but not for rich tourists burning up the atmoshere for the hell of it.<br /><br />If they were made to offset the carbon released, then I might wear it. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p>----------------------------------------------------------------- </p><p>Wanna see this site looking like the old SDC uplink?</p><p>Go here to see how: <strong>SDC Eye saver </strong>  </p> </div>
 
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thereiwas

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Yes, in a time when we need to reduce CO2 emissions, switching to launchers that guzzle hydrocarbons at high rates is sending the wrong message. Especially at these projected higher launch rates. I haven't seen figures on how many gallons of RP-1 an F9 uses but it has to be something that would make people wonder why they should buy a Prius.<br /><br />LH2 <i>can</i> be made from sources other than petroleum.
 
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j05h

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<i>> You are assuming that Bigelow plans on making 100% of his revenue from guest room fees. </i><br /><br />No, i'm extrapolating directly from his statements in the media about his plans, including acting as a constructor not a hotelier and founding an "international astronaut corp". He really is innovative. <br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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spacelifejunkie

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"What is the cost to the environment though? I'm dead against allowing the rich to make environment worst off, just because they can afford too. I am all for science related space exploration but not for rich tourists burning up the atmoshere for the hell of it. <br /><br />If they were made to offset the carbon released, then I might wear it."<br /><br /><br />Before we start regulating the hell out of rocket launches with carbon offsets let's keep all of this in perspective. First of all, there is only one way to eliminate man's output of CO2 and that is through innovation. We cannot conserve or regulate ourselves into prosperity and environmental safety. Elon Musk is pushing the technological envelope and is as environmentally conscious as anyone. Using LH2 will not make global warming go away, it will make it worse. Not only will cracking the H's out of natural gas release CO2 but the burning of the hydrogen will release water vapor that was not in the regular water cycle. Water vapor is a much, much worse greenhouse gas.<br /><br />Auto racing, motorcycle racing, boats, dragsters, air shows and monster trucks consume millions of gallons of hydrocarbon fuel per year. Before we start regulating Elon's technological achievements there are many other industries that are far less important that are running free of regulation and contributing to the problem in a much more extreme way.<br /><br />Let SpaceX do what they gotta do. It's visionaries who solve the world's problems.<br /><br /><br />SLJ
 
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