What's the cost per pound? It's one of the eternal questions in our launch business, like "when is NASA going to Mars" and "who called this meeting?" If you were curious about this question more than 15 years ago, you would quickly hear someone say – it's about $10,000 a pound. Nowadays, we can ask … Continue reading Launch costs – are we there yet?
Category: Falcon 9
NASA: Making markets, not rockets?
There is an old joke in NASA, “a million here, a million there, before you know it, you might have real money.” It’s probably a line in any business grown large enough to develop an unhealthy disrespect for money. Yet our more serious discussions enforced the same idea. Could NASA nudge industry this way or … Continue reading NASA: Making markets, not rockets?
A checklist for commercial space and NASA
A paper of mine was published last week in the New Space Journal, “Ingredients and Anticipated Results for Characterizing and Assessing NASA and U.S. Department of Defense Partnerships and Commercial Programs.” Yes, that’s a mouthful. I often write about what’s next for NASA, the commercial space sector, and how these must move ahead together. My … Continue reading A checklist for commercial space and NASA
Commercial launch trends – what do you see?
Graphs with a lot of space launch data can be a bit of a Rorschach test, including the part about seeing angels or demons. The lonely data point, on the other hand, is easy to employ to jump to about any answer, and nowadays, there is no lack of these unique space sector events. In … Continue reading Commercial launch trends – what do you see?
The problems we want to have
A curious thing happened along the way collecting data about rockets and spacecraft to see what patterns emerged over time. This week I published the mid-year “State of Play,” an assortment of graphs mainly, driven by the belief a picture does so much more to communicate than rows or columns or endless bullets on a … Continue reading The problems we want to have
One word: Propellant
Some graphs, like pictures, are also worth a thousand words. They do what a beautiful painting does while wandering in a museum, holding your stare like reading from a wall. For rockets and space travel, there is no shortage of figures and numbers and graphs, oh my. One especially telling figure came around in 2010 … Continue reading One word: Propellant
Inflation, NASA’s budget, and ambition
Inflation is a hot topic in the news of late. This is to be expected when daily experience brings a far-off abstraction home for a visit. Also unsurprisingly, this phenom happens more so when the news is terrible. A price dropping is fodder for a moment of amazement, good company with a happy grin about … Continue reading Inflation, NASA’s budget, and ambition
It ain’t over till it’s over
It's over. They worked out an agreement. The boss stuck his head into the conference room to make the announcement. Judging from the look on everyone's face, clearly, there was some confusion. Interrupting our meeting and just blurting out late-breaking news does this. How could it be over when we were just getting started? February … Continue reading It ain’t over till it’s over
Breaking the speed of analogies
Analogies. Everyone loves a good analogy, all the better when they cut right into the heart of a matter. Our space biz is not immune to the allure of analogies, chock full of complex backstories, technology, and eccentricities just begging to be simplified. Though when it's oh so clear, it's probably oversimplified. Elsewhere, the analogies … Continue reading Breaking the speed of analogies
Space launch – the state of play in graphs
I don't have my usual blog this Monday, as I'm working on something a little more extensive, so crunching numbers. But I would like to point out pages available on the main menu here. I update these as launches occur. Global commercial orbital space launches Recent space launch pricing US launches by launcher Falcon 9 … Continue reading Space launch – the state of play in graphs
Not in our stars
The saying “getting your wings clipped” took on a new meaning. It was 2002, and the plan for even a partially reusable replacement for the Space Shuttle now seemed a bridge too far. The debate had already devolved once, from fully reusable to partially reusable. It would devolve again, as all of a sudden, old-style … Continue reading Not in our stars
Time is supposed to be the way the universe keeps everything from happening all at once. My wife and I were in London in 2016, and we made a point to see The Fighting Temeraire by Joseph Mallord William Turner. London has endless museums. So for a time, we were taking it all in with … Continue reading Parallels
Please phrase your answer in the form of a question
The best answers led us to better questions. It is easy to embrace this notion as just part of the process, learning and all that, and all good. Admittedly, this sentiment may just be comforting fiction. I wasn’t lost. I was exploring. Why admit that we didn’t look far enough ahead, that what was evident … Continue reading Please phrase your answer in the form of a question
Here there be dragons
Being average is great until it's not. For an engineer or scientist, a predictably average data point means the task is complete. We even count how many data points are a certain distance from what we wanted, our job being to make sure nearly none of the points in the herd stray too far. There … Continue reading Here there be dragons
New space, a Rorschach test
Depending on the news, “new space” is commercial, innovative, well-funded by billionaires and changing the world. The site of a Falcon 9 booster returning to land after being flown eight times tells a story of change, a revolution that as predicted is being televised, in high definition. Crews that are not NASA astronauts have now … Continue reading New space, a Rorschach test