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June 03, 2010

Stephen Clark noticed the elephant

Nice quote at the bottom of an article at Spaceflight Now:

Lost in the debate is the presence of more established companies like United Launch Alliance, which oversees Atlas and Delta rocket flights, and Orbital Sciences Corp., SpaceX's main competitor in the market for cargo services to the space station.

"When it comes to the commercial crew activity that everybody's talking about, what's missing from most of the public discussion is the Atlas 5 is the rocket of choice for many competitors in the field," Alexander said. "That Atlas 5 has flown 21 or 22 times successfully in a row. When we look at SpaceX, they are achieving quite a lot and should definitely be applauded for it, but we have established companies with existing rockets ready to be used for putting people on top."

When Falcon 9 fails tomorrow, the thieves in Congress are going to present it as a proof that the commercial services are not to be trusted. This is why they and their lapdogs pretend that SpaceX is the only commercial spaceflight company.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at 04:19 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 Sigh. You're probably right. And it likely will fail since it's a brand new technology. Another article I read today said that a human cargo capable atlas rocket should be ready by sometime next year, while the Falcon 9 is just starting actual flight tests and no way to tell when it will be ready to carry humans.

Posted by: Kazriko at June 03, 2010 04:48 PM (pH05c)

2 It's wildly overoptimistic. I don't know for sure, but the article probably referred to Atlas V with EOD (Early fault Onset Detection), which was supposed to be test-flown on a regular cargo mission. If so, the rocket may be ready, but where is the spaceship? A few companies want to use Atlas V: Sierra Nevada (DreamChaser), Bigelow (former Orion-Lite, now known as B+B for Boeing+Bigelow), and a small number of smaller players (e.g. whoever owns plans for t/Space CXT now). None of them is anywhere near ready to launch next year. 2015 may be it, if we're lucky.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 03, 2010 05:36 PM (/ppBw)

3 Unlike some other people I don't think Dragon on Atlas is DOA, because by the terms of the agreement that created ULA, they are not permitted to build spacecraft. And the spacecraft business is more lucrative than the launcher business, so SpaceX may be willing to do it too. But it's very unlikely. Also, Dragon is 3 years way from having a useable abort system anyway. Try to reseat it on Atlas and you won't be ready even in 2015. Maybe 2017, if everything matches perfectly.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 03, 2010 05:41 PM (/ppBw)

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