STS-119 music video and Space 2.0 updates. 2.10

We open with a great STS-119 music video from Max-Q highlighting the best parts of Space Shuttle Discovery’s recent mission to the International Space Station. Come back with a a couple awesome updates from SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.

Also make sure to check out While the web site needs a little (ok a lot) of love, the basics ideas and concepts are interesting. Worth a good read.

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  1. KaiYves on April 4, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I love the “Mars Madness” T-shirt. Also, Cariann really reminds me of the character DNAmy from Kim Possible. Minus the whole evil geneticist part.

    • Benjamin Higginbotham on April 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm

      That’s because I’ll play the role of the evil geneticist. MWAAA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

  2. Rick Boozer on April 5, 2009 at 12:50 am


    In answer to your question on the show. Burt Rutan refers to White Knight as a mothership.

    • Benjamin Higginbotham on April 5, 2009 at 2:26 am

      Oh, that’s a cool thing to call WK2. Although I feel like a mothership should be larger. With lasers. And a force field.

  3. KaiYves on April 5, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Yes, it’s referred to as a mothership on the official Virgin Galactic site.

  4. Shanuson on April 6, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Some infos:
    SpaceX F1 is 10-11 M$
    F9 is 40-45 M$
    F9+Dragon is over 100 M$
    And the amount of cargo is diffrent, so i dont know if there really is that huge reduction in costs.

    And the 20 min timedelay is the time it needs ONE way if we (Earth) are on one site of the sun and mars is on the other side. So if you want to say hi to someone it will be 40 minutes till you get a response.

    • Robert Horning on April 6, 2009 at 4:50 pm

      One thing that the F9/Dragon combination does is to make American spaceflight competitive to flying on the Soyuz vehicles… that end up for a similar price point.

      Currently (well this is mainly historical now as the Russians aren’t accepting new private cosmonaut candidates), the price per seat to travel on a Soyuz spacecraft as a private citizen is about $30M. If you compare that to the price on a Dragon spacecraft, assuming training and everything will run to about $100M for the total flight with six seats… and assuming two professional astronauts flying with the private individuals… that still ends up at about $25 million per seat. It certainly sounds like a plan.

      Assuming three Falcon 9 flights to send up a BA-330, a load of just fuel and/or a special rocket stage for boosting and changing delta-v, and the Dragon capsue; you could come up with a figure of about $200M to set up a circum-lunar voyage or about $50M each (with two professional astronauts to help out along the way). Now *that* would be one hell of a trip, and something I bet more than a few individuals would love to be able to put their names with the other 24 individuals who have made the same trip. Since a couple of private folks have already paid for a second trip into space, it seems reasonable there is even a market for something unique like this.

      Compared to the price of about $1 Billion USD (in 1970’s dollars to boot!) to fly a Saturn V around the Moon for Apollo 8, this seems like a huge bargain. So yeah, I think there is a chance for massive reductions in the cost of spaceflight, especially for stuff that goes beyond LEO to the point that previously impractical trips like going to Mars may actually be affordable for at least some private individuals where previously it was simply impossible.

      • Rick Boozer on April 6, 2009 at 9:51 pm

        Consider the following. When a space tourist goes to the ISS, the professional NASA astronauts or Russian cosmonauts are guys whose governments were going to be paying for both their training and flight to the station anyway. Two seats are already paid for, then add four passengers – six paid passengers. Therefore, a better estimate of what SpaceX might charge each civilian would be to divide the $100 million by 6. About $17 million per passenger.

        Also, the launch costs that Shanuson quoted are for early on. Musk says costs will certainly go down as time goes on. Especially if all of his launcher recovery techniques work! But even without that, he says costs will go down with frequent flights. Remember, ISS will not be the only possible orbital tourist destination, there will be the Bigelow station as well.

        • Rick Boozer on April 7, 2009 at 11:29 am

          OOPS! Dragon has a crew capacity of 7 not 6!

          The cost would be $100 million divided by 7 or about $14 million per passenger.

        • Robert Horning on April 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

          I can think of several situations where you would want to have a full-time professional astronaut in the position of “mission commander” or something along those lines…. have have his spot and position paid for by the “participants” who are coming along for the ride. Basically, when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head (as it often has done so in space), you need somebody who has experience and specialized training to deal with all of the problems you will encounter.

          If private spaceflight is going to go anywhere, we need to have more specialization in terms of roles of folks who go into space. While it is true that most of the space tourists that have gone up so far have essentially completed a full cosmonaut training program, this doesn’t appear to be what is going to be expected in the future.

          Even now, Bigelow Aerospace is hiring full-time professional astronauts that are presumably going to be doing the hard and dirty stuff up in space. BTW, unless you are a current NASA astronaut (or qualify to become one for NASA), you need not apply for this position… but it is a sign of things to come. Other companies are also hiring astronauts… presumably trying to pick off some from NASA that are getting discouraged due to not getting assignments from NASA with the end of the Shuttle program.

          Also, I’ll point out that the amount that the space tourists on the Soyuz pay for a flight into space more than pays the salaries of the cosmonauts + spacecraft by itself. That the cosmonauts needed to get up there anyway is just gravy for the Russians, and provides an excuse for them to take private citizens into the ISS.

          I mention two full-time professional astronauts mainly as having one “senior” and more experience professional and a “junior” one (perhaps even a “rookie”) who has none the less gone through extensive training on procedures and is expected to do more than a typical space tourist. If you are on the back side of the Moon or even just stuck in orbit with your thrusters not working, you’ll be glad that these folks are along for the ride.

          • Rick Boozer on April 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

            But even with the two professional astronauts you’re adding on the Bigelow mission, you will have 5 paying passengers because Dragon has a crew capacity of 7 instead of the 6 that you cited. Your stated price per passenger of $25 million is reduced to $20 million.

  5. Alex Csete on April 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Hey, what happened to ToW (TLA of the Week)? I hope you didn’t run out of them!

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