Elon Musk wants to win America's Space Prize

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wvbraun

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<br />Race for Next Space Prize Ignites<br /><br /><br /><i>With most of the other space entrepreneurs focused on suborbital flight, Musk is closest to the holy grail of manned commercial spaceflight: orbit. Although Falcon I, with its single Merlin engine, will be able to launch only small satellites, five Merlins will be mated to the first stage of the far more powerful Falcon V rocket, perhaps as early as this year. Falcon V, Musk told Wired News, will be able to carry at least five people into low Earth orbit.<br /><br />Five to orbit is a significant number; it's the number required to win the next big space prize. America's Space Prize is a $50 million purse established last year by Las Vegas hotelier and, yes, space entrepreneur, Robert Bigelow. Bigelow will award the money to the first U.S. company to build, without government funding, a spaceship that can send five people into orbit twice within 60 days. Bigelow has more than an academic interest in commercial spaceflight; through his Bigelow Aerospace, he's expanding his real estate empire off-planet with the first commercial space stations. While he can launch his stations on existing unmanned commercial rockets, he needs an orbital passenger vehicle to succeed in his venture.<br /><br />Musk told Wired News that he intends to win America's Space Prize, and that he can do it by the Jan. 10, 2010, deadline (that's when Bigelow wants to open his commercial space station for business). The space prize is right in line with Musk's business plan. "We hope to be the company that takes people back and forth from Earth to either the International Space Station or to Bigelow's space station, or to applications we don't know about today," said Musk. Ultimately, though, his ambitions extend beyond even orbit. "I think it's very important that we become a spacefaring civilization, and that we eventually become multiplanetary."</i><br /><br /><b></b>
 
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starfhury

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It makes NASA's plan look tepid and expensive doesn't it? I hope Musk and Bigelow can pull it off with out going under. It might also be a very big wake up call for the likes of Boeing and LockMart. Fast and nimble competitors will drive them out of business. Boeing has already lost its industry lead in it's core competency. What's next? Should SpaceX, Bigelow and Scaled Composites not to mention Blue Origin succeed over the next decade, the dam could finally burst open to greater utlization and eventual colonization of space. Maybe its still too soon to hope, but the hazy darkness at the end of the tunnel has gotten a smidgen brighter. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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no_way

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"Maybe its still too soon to hope, but the hazy darkness at the end of the tunnel has gotten a smidgen brighter. "<br /><br />Im hoping too, but every time i read those optimistic projections, im reminded of 90ies LEO constellation satellites hopes when everybody thought we well have a fleet of RLVs launching satellites any day now.
 
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wvbraun

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Musk has a rocket sitting on the launch pad. The first launch will definitely take place this year. It's a small step from Falcon I to Falcon V compared to what was needed to get this far in the first place.<br /><br />I don't think we will see a repeat of the 90s. In fact Musk, Rutan and Bigelow have already achieved much much more than the ill fated RLV companies of that period.
 
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no_way

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Well, ROTON _appeared_ to be sort of "on the launch pad" too, and Falcon launch has been continuously delayed for what .. about a year now ?<br /><br />Nonetheless, yes, the progress we are seeing is very encouraging, but you'll still have to keep in mind that its the business case, not the technology that will make or break these efforts.<br />The RLV companies would eventually have gotten off the ground too had the business case not fallen apart. Lets just hope that Falcon will be a successful business and space tourism will not prove to be a fad like LEO constellations were.
 
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starfhury

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I think tourism and space hotels have a more sustaintainable life than the LEO constellation. Once you put up a constellation, you enter maintenance mode. The satellites themselves will be built to last for years, so the need for more of them diminishes over time up till the point they start to fail frequently. That scenerio leads to boom and bust episodes. Putting up a space hotel or a manufacturing plant in space provide for more of a continuous stream of activity. The continuity will be the key to whether any of these plans succeed. Today, we don't have a constant need to launch a new satellite in to an existing constellation even once a year or every other year. Tourists on the other hand, will want to visit multiple times over the year and you don't have to count on the same ones if the price is reasonable enough. The same goes for manufacturing even though that is more long term and a lot further down stream. What's really important is continuity which tourism and manufacturing offers and a satellite constellation does not. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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mikejz

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Personally, I really respect Musk as a business person. He seemed to of studied a lot of the industry and of past attempts before he entered in with his concept. He looks towards scalability and simplicity of design and operation. He realized the large costs and technical challenges and therefore was wise in not trying to anything that hasn’t been done before: Just do what is proven and do it cheaper with vertical integration and a small nimble company. <br /><br />In terms of SpaceX long term, It seems that they understand the possible shift that there product will bring about better than most others—therefore they could see entering the satellite business as the next logical step. <br /><br />Also, while it says SpaceX intends to win the prize, its actual contribution could only be the Falcon V booster—a third party could build the actual capsule that carries the crew. Also given the delays in the Falcon launch some staff could be experiencing a little ‘down time’ that leaves them with the freedom to play around a little in terms of future projects. <br />
 
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arobie

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Another step along the path to commercial space flight.<br /><br />I love it!
 
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spacester

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Ain't it great?!?<br /><br />thedream: However, the opposite could occur. In which all the small aerospace companies get together to combat boeing and lockmart which will actually make them more competitive. <br /><br />I am certain that this is exactly what will happen.<br /><br />Portland Oregon is known as the microbrew capital of the USA, aka Beervana. There is a reason for this: when the three major players in the keg market all got started, they decided that if they got together and grew the size of the pie, their slices would be much bigger than if they fought. So they grew the local market for fresh delicious beer together. They formed the Oregon Brewer's Guild and launched the Oregon Brewer's Festival. (The only major North American Beer Festival that is put on by brewers and for brewers. They don't compete, they get together and have a good time behind the scenes)<br /><br />At the same time, the McMenamin Brothers were opening dozens - <i>dozens!</i> - of brewpubs all accross the Portland area and eventually the rest of Oregon.<br /><br />Synergy is inevitable, if only because there is so much pent-up demand for exploiting the resources of space. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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