NASA Official Describes Commercial Crew and Its Importance to Human Space Exploration


Video courtesy of AmericaSpace

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — AmericaSpace spoke with Trent Smith with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. He detailed the basics behind efforts to cede responsibility of delivering crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit (LEO), primarily to the International Space Station, to commercial companies. Under this plan, this should allow NASA to focus on sending crews beyond Earth’s influence for the first time in over forty years. 

NASA currently has a two-pronged strategy in place in terms of its future human space flight program. The first half, the commercial segment, would handle operations in LEO. This would be comprised of companies such as SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and The Boeing Company.

The second half involves a powerful new heavy-lift booster, the Space Launch System, and the Orion spacecraft. These vehicles are currently being developed and built to send astronauts to destinations that, excluding the Moon, have never been visited before.

“Some folks think that we can have one without the other—this isn’t the case,” said Bob Cabana, a four-time space shuttle veteran and the current Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

In some ways, the current issues with NASA’s commercial efforts are similar to another situation faced by the space agency between the Apollo era and the space shuttle program. The shuttle was proposed as being one-half of a two-part “shuttle-station” duo.

However, then as now, budgetary woes interfered. NASA was told to either choose the shuttle or station—but they could not do both. Hoping that the financial situation would eventually turn around, the space agency opted to build the shuttle first. From the time of the first space shuttle mission in 1980, until the space shuttle’s first flight to orbiting components of what had morphed into the International Space Station, some 18 years had elapsed.

During the closing ceremonies of Florida Space Day, Cabana expressed optimism that the current budget cuts to NASA’s commercial program would be hammered out and that NASA’s commercial crew program could get back on track. As for Smith, he reinforced the concept that NASA should not be forced to choose between either maintaining access to LEO or returning to the business of space exploration.

“I look at SLS as a ‘rocket to anywhere,’ but we need these commercial companies to maintain our presence on the International Space Station, which I view as a stepping stone out to destinations out in the solar system,” Smith added.


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  1. “Some folks think that we can have one [Commercial Crew] without the other [SLS] —this isn’t the case,” said Bob Cabana, a four-time space shuttle veteran and the current Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

    And I say, why not?

    By design, the Commercial Crew program satisfies both NASA’s needs for the ISS and the needs of non-NASA customers who want access to LEO. After it’s in place, even if the ISS is no longer in operation, the capability still stays with the commercial companies that created the service. In fact, that is the true worth of the whole effort, in that it leverages assets that are already in place (Falcon 9 and Atlas V) and adds spacecraft that don’t require standing armies to maintain. Commercial Crew operations can operate at a low flight rate.

    For the SLS, it cannot operate safely at too low of a flight rate, and it only has one customer – NASA. In order to fly the SLS safely, NASA thinks it requires at least two flights per year, every year, for the decades that it will be in operation. That’s about 260mt of mass per year that NASA will be paying to send into space.

    What will that 260mt of payload be, year after year?

    And how much will that cost? Look at any NASA space mission, and you can see that anything complex will likely take at least 10 years to build and cost at least $10B. The Mars Science Laboratory cost $2.5B and only weighs less than 1mt. The JWST will end up costing $8B and only weighs 6.2mt. So given two missions per year, that is $20B per year devoted to just building SLS payloads – and NASA’s entire budget is only $18B per year.

    So will Congress be doubling NASA’s budget soon so the SLS can be fully utilized?

    Commercial Crew becomes a service after NASA gets it up and running. NASA only has to buy a ticket to get their personnel to LEO. The SLS becomes a yearly obligation that NASA has to pay for, regardless if they use it or not.

    So can we have one without the other? Yes, because they aren’t really connected. The SLS assumes the MPCV will be used for crew transportation, and Commercial Crew doesn’t use the SLS at all. And while Commercial Crew could support BEO missions that start in LEO, the SLS would never be used for LEO crew transportation.

    Time to kill the SLS program, which the Senate only intended as a jobs program anyways.

    • Coastal Ron,
      Exactly the opposite. Time to kill commercial. If station is gone – what exactly will be the point in going to LEO? Essentially your backing a trajectory to nowhere. Better to redirect those funds to exploration & allow the commercial industry to do what they claim they’ve been doing all along & that is fund their own way. Some estimates have taxpayer’s investment at 90 percent. For that? They get missions to Earth orbit – the same place we’ve been stuck since 1972. I think any person that is about real space exploration will tell you that’s going to new destinations, Moon, asteroids and Mars – it isn’t filling the coffers of companies, who are just trying to accomplish what John Glenn did in the early 1960s.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Jason, please explain how NASA will be able to afford using the SLS, regardless what happens with commercial space. For instance, how much (on average) do you think SLS payloads will cost, and what are you assumptions for the cost of the SLS and how frequently it will fly. This is a test to see whether you are a financial realist, or just a space fantasy type of person (i.e. money is free).

        And what problem is the SLS supposed to solve? In business, you only spend money when you have to, otherwise it is a waste. Here we have Congress mandating NASA build a rocket for 130mt payloads that are 8m in diameter – what drove this requirement? Name specific potential customers that have a demonstrated need for rockets bigger than what we already have.

        We have already proven that we can build 450mt space structures using 20mt payload rockets, and if you’ve ever watched the astronauts on the ISS, they have plenty of room to move around. We don’t lack for the ability to put mass into space, so why are we spending $30B to build yet another rocket – and this one a government-owned one that only has one customer? It’s beyond crazy!

        As to being “stuck” in LEO, the reason for that is that we don’t know how to live and work in space, so where is the least expensive place to solve those problems? Low Earth Orbit (LEO). If we can’t learn to live and work in space in LEO, then why in the world would be pay substantially MORE to learn the same lessons beyond LEO?

        Now the good thing is that the work on the ISS is paying off, and that is why Inspiration Mars feels confident that they can use a non-government rocket and non-government spaceship to fly to Mars. No NASA needed. Relying on the government to satisfy your space fantasies is only going to result in frustration.

        • Coastal Ron,
          Anyone who glances on the amount (& length of time) that elapses between SLS missions will see that the agency is taking its time. This is, more than likely, conducted for financial reasons. I believe NASA is hedging their bets in the hopes that, after they prove the viability of SLS/Orion – that funding will be increased. That’s not saying it will.
          SLS is designed to fix the problem you ignored in my reply to your last post. That is, we’ve not ventured beyond LEO since 1972. Other than propping up NewSpacer’s fantasies & selfish desire to be “real” companies – what problem will funding all these companies solve? Thanks, by the way, for making my argument for me. If there is no destination for these companies to journey to? That’s money wasted. If ISS is deorbited in 2020 – what point is there in funneling billions to them? Exactly – there isn’t any. SLS/Orion isn’t about customers/business. Not sure where you got that idea from – it’s about sending crews into deep space. Ron, I not only watched the construction of the ISS – I watched it happen first hand, I’ve toured inside some of the individual components, spoke with those that assembled it & interned at NASA for two missions & have covered KSC for years. You’re talking shuttle – which, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but it’s been retired (finally!).
          No, beyond crazy is to pay for a launch vehicle/spacecraft – but to not own it – which is what I think any sane person would call paying for 90 percent of something (SpaceX’s numbers – not mine).
          Ron, we’ve been “living & working in space on the station since the 60s. I don’t guess you know much about history – the shuttle was stuck in LEO – for 30 years. How much longer do we need to gain experience Ron? We’ve been “Living & working in space” since the Apollo era! Therefore one can only assume, you’re neglecting to acknowlege all of these experiences – just to support commercial space. That’s pretty selfish. Your argument says, lets stay in LEO & accomplish nothing new so commercial companies can be funded. We’ve never traveled to an asteroid, doing so could provide valuable experience in deflecting these objects or even placing one in orbit to mine it. Furthermore, we got two warnings a short time ago. One asteroid zipped by Earth at a distance that was closer to Earth than the Moon. On that same day a meteor struck Russia. Having a base on the Moon would serve as a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system. So, forgive me, sacrificing all that just to give a few companies billions who might one day do something (to date of the commercial crop only SpaceX has accomplished NASA’s commercial objectives) – seems wasteful & selfish. Especially when one considers that many of these companies accomplish little before going bankrupt (Rotary Rocket, Kistler & so on).
          The ISS paying off? Jeez, $100 billion & assembled decades later than it was supposed to (Do yourself a favor & “Google” Space Station Freedom). It seems you’re rewriting history, a common NewSpacer problem. Sorry, the station has conducted little science & some reports have it being deorbited as early as 2020. So, again, you’re suggesting we spend our (very limited) money to fund private companies to deliver crew & cargo to LEO, where we’ve been stuck for over 40 years & even worse – to a destination that could be at the bottom of the Pacific in 7 years. Talk about wasteful.
          Inspiration Mars? Wow! Who’s the “space fantasy” person now? NewSpacers place so much value in what is worthless, PowerPoints, MOUs, press events & conferences. You should try looking at who is actually bending metal & sending spacecraft into orbit. Lastly, I’d recommend you spend a lot less time on NewSpace sites & a little more in a book on space history, there appears to be some appaling gaps in your knowledge concerning basic space history. Judging from your comments I would put you in a 3rd category – NewSpace troll. Before you post, please rein in your selfish space fantasies.
          Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  2. Jason, you are deluding yourself if you think it’s wise to build a rocket as big as the SLS and then hope it will be used some day. That is the “build it and they will come” strategy.

    Since it takes at least 10 years for NASA to build anything of moderate complexity for space, we are already behind on building the first real payload mission for the SLS. And since the SLS program is already underfunded, there is a good chance that the schedule will slip even more, in which case SLS-sized payloads won’t be going to space until the 2030’s. You thin that’s a good idea? Weird.

    From an operational standpoint for the SLS, if you can’t keep your workers busy doing real work, then you won’t be able to keep the good ones, nor will the work they do be top-notch and safe. That’s just the way it is. ULA launches about 12 rockets per year, and SpaceX will be working up to that rate within three years. Who would you rather trust for your important payloads – ULA and SpaceX, or NASA that hasn’t launched anything for years?

    And no, ULA and SpaceX can’t match the SLS today, but if Congress put the requirement out for a certain amount of mass, of a certain size, put in space at a certain rate, then the private sector would be able to do that for far less than what NASA is spending. Elon Musk has already estimated that he can develop a 140mt launcher for $3B, and charge NASA $300M per launch. And since NASA hasn’t had to pay SpaceX any extra money for what it’s been developing, I’d say SpaceX is more likely to stay on budget than NASA, wouldn’t you?

    Even the Augustine Commission said it was a bad idea for NASA to build and operate their own hardware (pg 113 of the Augustine report). I mean really, why is the government trying to be a transportation provider, when we already have at least two companies that can do it better and for less money?

    • Ron,
      Thanks for being insulting & putting words in my mouth all in your first paragraph. I said that’s what NASA could be thinking – not me. Typical insulting NewSpacer.

      NASA might not be so far behind if Obama hadn’t mucked things up so much. I “thin” that commercial is proving to be a waste of funds & it’s time to turn off the tap. The weird thing is that NewSpacers deem trapping us in LEO even longer as a “good” thing. But then, NewSpacers equate selfish with good.

      Given all the workers that lost work so NewSpace efforts could get funds – I think a lot of folks would find your comments more than a little insulting. “Will be” – ah the NewSpace tactic of making up statistics that don’t exist yet. If you’re suggesting that ULA or SpaceX should handle SLS? Actually? I don’t have a problem with that. I really, truly don’t care who builds the rockets. I just want us to finally get back to the business of exploration.

      Your comments about what Musk says are devoid of actual facts. They haven’t happened yet. I don’t make statements off what people say. Dick Morris said Romney would win in a landslide – look how accurate that was. Stop basing your thoughts off of events that haven’t happened yet. As for NASA not having to pay more, you must have totally missed (again you seem ignorant of basic space history) Musk’s testimony. Also, reports are that NASA has, in fact had to pay SpaceX more. So, I’d have to say – time will tell. To date, I’ve been impressed by SpaceX, but some issues have arisen, I will be more comfortable after they launch the Falcon Heavy.

      Augustine Committee? Wow! I love it when NewSpacers drag that joke of a committee into the light. The results were stacked by the requirements placed on the committee. In the end it was rigged so that they could only pick certain selections. Ron, no “official” effort out there do I deem as being more worthless than the 2nd Augustine Committee (there were two, but I knew which you were referring).

      As to your last comment. I think that SLS is an effort to hedge their bets. NewSpace (except SpaceX) really hasn’t accomplished much. Rather than place all their eggs in one basket I believe the U.S. government is making sure that if the current batch of private firms follow the path that soooo many others of their type in the past have done? They won’t be left high & dry.

      You’re under the mistaken impression that I want commercial to be done away with. Actually, I like the idea of commercial companies providing access to LEO while NASA focuses on BEO. In my “space fantasy” after NASA has established a presence on the Moon or asteroids, commercial firms would take over the operation of that location & then NASA would move on to the next destination (Mars and so on).

      I’ve been asking for a while now what you NewSpacers think acting so obnoxious will get you? It could be the reason why Congress is cutting off the tap. You guys bit the hand that was funding you for too long. Have you all considered actually talking to people (instead of at them) & maybe having just a smidge of respect when you address those who might not agree with you?

      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  3. This is a continuation of the above…

    Jason said:

    If there is no destination for these companies to journey to?

    The great thing about commercial space transportation companies is that when they aren’t flying NASA payloads, they are flying payloads for other U.S. agencies, companies and countries.

    ULA doesn’t depend on NASA for much business, and if NASA went away today, SpaceX would continue along just fine. In fact Inspiration Mars would still be able to count on the SpaceX Dragon and Falcon Heavy, since Elon Musk has stated that human space travel beyond LEO is a company goal. The same would be true for Bigelow’s planned private space stations, since SpaceX has already proven out their autonomous cargo capability, and NASA’s Commercial Crew program will finish off the development of their crew transportation ability. I think it’s likely that Boeing will also get their CST-100 operational, and I know NASA wants the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser to become operational, since they would prefer a horizontal landing spacecraft again (more gentle on the G’s, and more landing options).

    So the way that I see it, commercial space, who builds everything that NASA uses, is pretty close to being able to offer a full-range of space hardware that can get anyone to Low Earth Orbit. And as Robert Heinlein once observed, “get to low-Earth orbit and you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system.” And this is really what’s been keeping us from leaving LEO, the high cost of getting to orbit. SpaceX is focused on lowering the cost to access space, and you can see how much business they have been able to acquire in such a short time.

    And what is Congress focused on? Spending as much as possible apparently. If you think “NewSpace” is a fantasy, then why don’t you think that the whole idea of the SLS isn’t a bigger one, huh? The program is under-funded, and Congress hasn’t shown any interest in even asking NASA what it wants to fly on it.

    Look, I want us to expand our presence out into space – I want us to go everywhere. But NASA’s puny budget is too small to expand humanities presence out into space. Right now NASA can only support about three U.S. citizens at a time in space, and NASA’s budget is not likely to get bigger. Unless the private sector kicks in it’s own money, we’re not going very far very fast.

    Here it is 40 years since Apollo, which was a political program (i.e. show that we were better than the Soviets), not an exploration one (it was a secondary consideration, not part of Kennedy’s challenge). We lack a known need to expand our funding for all-things-space, and the SLS is not going to magically solve that. In fact, we could be out exploring by the end of this decade by using existing launchers, and using the SLS money for reusable space hardware. That’s what I want, to be exploring space NOW, not in 20 or 30 years – which is what the SLS commits us to.

    My $0.02

    • Ron,
      Okay, so I’m guessing you’re referring to satellites. So, now you’re saying we should gut exploration efforts, throw funds at private companies so that they can be able to conduct their business? Sorry, if they want to be in the satellite business, they shouldn’t expect to have their efforts financed by the U.S. gov.

      So, if SpaceX & other NewSpace companies are so self-sufficient why are you opposed to the U.S. gov cutting their funds? Hmmmm…

      Also, you state as what “might” happen as already having happened. No CST-100 or Dream Chaser has ever been launched but, yet again, you talk about these vehicles as if they have a proven track record (yet another NewSpace tactic). For all we know these craft will be totally unreliable.

      Robert Heinlein. You called my statements “space fantasy” & then you use a science-FICTION writer’s comments as the foundation for your space world-view! How very NewSpace of you. There’s a name for folks who are guilty of behaving in a manner they accuse others of.

      NASA has already stated what they want to fly on it & the destinations. You apparently haven’t been listening (cherry-picking your info?).

      Ron: We lack a known need to expand our funding for all-things-space, and the SLS is not going to magically solve that. In fact, we could be out exploring by the end of this decade by using existing launchers, and using the SLS money for reusable space hardware. That’s what I want, to be exploring space NOW, not in 20 or 30 years – which is what the SLS commits us to.

      Ron, only SpaceX has accomplished much of anything & they’re finding (shock & surprise) that it really is as hard as everyone said it was. I’m glad you threw the years into it. NewSpace has been trying to accomplish what NASA, the folks you hate so much, accomplished in 1962. It’s taken them 51 years – & they still haven’t launched a SINGLE person. I’m placing my money on the people that have launched crews into space 150 times so far & have landed people on the Moon. You’re betting on people that have yet to accomplish even sending someone into orbit. With all due respect? I’m not the one suffering from “fantasy” issues…

      Also, it’s ironic that while SpaceX might say they’re reducing the cost to orbit – each flight appears to be getting progressively more expensive. This will likely increase as issues with both the Falcon 9 & Dragon have cropped up during the past two flights.

      Personally, I’d like SpaceX to handle cargo to ISS, Dream Chaser to provide crewed access to ISS and Bigelow to provide the inflatable habitats for next-gen stations & deep space efforts. Read my “fantasy” from your last post.

      let me help you & other NewSpacers out. You get more flies with honey than vinegar. NewSpacers have talked down, insulted, belittled & been generally obnoxious for years. To use the language of one NewSpacer – your attitudes – “suck.” That could be why folks aren’t as supportive of you guys anymore. You talk a good game, but only one of your companies has really accomplished the objectives laid out in front of it. NASA was striving to help you, yet as your comments so eloquently illustrate, you guys just can’t help yourselves when it comes to being disrespectful. The political winds are ever-changing. Today’s SpaceX is tomorrow’s Constellation Program. Seqestration has caused the foul-smelling winds of how you guys have been behaving back in your own faces. Sorry, but after watching how you guys have been acting even as NASA was opening up its wallet to you? You’re getting what you deserve. If you can’t treat the people who are funding your projects with courtesy & respect? You don’t deserve to be funded.
      Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Jason said:

        Okay, so I’m guessing you’re referring to satellites. So, now you’re saying we should gut exploration efforts…

        What “exploration efforts” are you talking about? Except for that brief period of the Constellation program, which even Bush himself didn’t really support, there has been no recognized national effort to leave LEO.

        The ISS is a science platform (a National Laboratory in fact), not really exploration, and Congress has not agreed to fund NASA to do anything beyond LEO. Sure they have told NASA to build the biggest rocket in the world, but don’t confuse that with intent to use it. Since you’re so proud to only use facts, it’s a fact that Congress has not funded any use for the SLS, and there is no indication that they plan to.

        All of NASA’s space exploration plans beyond LEO continue to be powerpoint slides, and nothing else.

        So, if SpaceX & other NewSpace companies are so self-sufficient why are you opposed to the U.S. gov cutting their funds? Hmmmm…

        NASA is paying SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to deliver cargo to the ISS. Since Congress wants the ISS to stay in operation, don’t you think using American companies to resupply the ISS is better than using Russians? I don’t understand your logic here – do you support Russia or the U.S.?

        NASA also wants (as does the President and Congress) the ability to get crew to the ISS using American spacecraft, and stop being reliant on Russia for our access to space. It should be quite apparent to everyone by now that SpaceX has a spacecraft that can deliver cargo to the ISS, so it’s not a great leap of faith to see that it can be modified to deliver humans. As for Boeing, does anyone doubt that they can build a workable spacecraft? I don’t.

        As for Sierra Nevada, they do have a big challenge ahead of them. If they can make it work, I think Boeing may not be able to get enough human transportation business, since the Dragon will likely be the least expensive transportation system, and the Dream Chaser will be the most desirable one.

        But back to your question, you are advocating cutting off funding to some undefined “NewSpace” companies? Stop beating around the bush and say who it is you mean, and why. And describe how the government will replace the services you plan to cut off, and how much that will cost.

        For someone that says they like facts, you sure leave a lot of them out… 😉

        • Ron,
          SLS & Orion, you should prolly watch the video we shot about the future of human space flight – that way you wouldn’t ask questions that have so obvious an answer. Moon, asteroids, Mars – you know – exploration. Staying in Leo – is anything but.

          Funny, I could say the same about you. I support the U.S. But what you’re saying is that we focus on LEO, which really means the ISS, which could be at the bottom of the Pacific in a little over six years. To me? That’s a waste of money & if we’re cutting projects – I say we cut the ones that aren’t going anywhere. You’re only rational for this policy appears to be that it will give money to the company’s you prefer.

          I couldn’t care less as to what Obama wants. As to Congress? What’s their approval rating again? Again your fixation on the ISS is disappointing. It has not, nor will it ever, live up to what it was advertised to do. We’re getting reports that some of the International partners want to pull out to – go to the Moon & other destinations. The only reason your hoisting ISS up? Is it means more money to the companies you support. Sorry Ron, time to cut our losses.

          As to anything being “quite apparent.” it was “quite apparent” that the shuttle was ready to fly regular citizens into space right? It was “quite apparent” that the shuttle could handle damage to its tiles right? Shuttle flew 135 times, Dragon has traveled to the station three times – there’s some facts you’re either (conveniently) leaving out or are unaware of. BTW, Dragon didn’t get to station this time without a few issues.

          I’m not surprised that you laud Dragon & Dream Chaser while downplaying CST-100. You’re a NewSpacer & your “grace” only extends to those companies – of which Boeing is not. There’s another word for it – you’re biased.

          Again, you might not want to skim what I’m writing. I’ve already said which companies I think should do what – you just haven’t been paying attention (yep, you’re a NewSpacer). Again, since you missed it the first time: SpaceX – Cargo to ISS/LEO, SNC – Crew to ISS/LEO & Bigelow to develop inflatable habs for LEO & deep space exploration. Also, I’ve got zero problems with exploration efforts being remanaged to utilize existing resources (such as what Golden Spike has come up with).

          Before you joke about how folks are leaving info out – you might try reading everything they say. However, I prefer it when you do behave that way – it validates a lot of what I’ve been saying.

          Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

        • Ron,
          While you might not have exactly been totally polite (neither have I, it’s been a long day) I do want to thank you for arguing the point, debating the numbers & the management philosophy. I’ve grown really tired of NewSpacers coming here & lording their genius over us. So, the fact that you actually debated the points, whether, I agree with them or not, was deeply appreciated. In fact, it appeared that, at times, you were picking my brain & at least somewhat appreciated my point of view. Again, my thanks.
          Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

          • Jason, no doubt we are both passionate about space, and space exploration, and I too appreciated the chance to exhange our views about how to get us “out there” sooner.

            Coastal Ron

  4. Jason said:

    NASA might not be so far behind if Obama hadn’t mucked things up so much. I “thin” that commercial is proving to be a waste of funds & it’s time to turn off the tap.

    Who do you think builds all of NASA’s hardware? Commercial companies. Who designs most of the hardware that NASA has flown? Commercial companies.

    NASA has a lot of great people, but NASA is not the place where all space hardware is imagined, built and tested. For instance, NASA didn’t design the Shuttle, didn’t build it, and didn’t even operate it. Commercial companies did that.

    Now let’s discuss the pejorative use of the term “NewSpace”. Who specifically is “NewSpace”? I know it became popular with those that didn’t like SpaceX, but nowadays companies like Boeing could be called “NewSpace” when talking about the work they are doing on the CST-100.

    Here is how I look at the definition of “NewSpace” and “OldSpace”. The book “The Lean Entrepreneur” defines a startup as:

    A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty

    That to mean defines “NewSpace”, regardless if it’s SpaceX being the new kid on the block, or Boeing risking company funds for the CST-100. Any company that is risking their own money, either alone or in partnership with government entities like NASA, fall under than definition.

    The converse of that would be “OldSpace”, which would be those companies or company divisions that don’t face any substantial risk or uncertainty in the work they do. The division of Boeing that is working on the SLS would fall under that definition, in that the SLS is not their responsibility – NASA tells them what to do, and they get paid. No risk. And no ownership of the result either.

    America was not settled by people that took no risk, and by definition they were the equivalent of “NewSpace” in their time.

    We need more “NewSpace” if we’re going to expand our presence out into space, not less.

    • Ron,
      So glad you caught that. I wasn’t sure if you would or not. So, by that thinking – who produces SLS & Orion? That’s right – commercial companies. What you’re advocating is that we take funding from certain companies & give it to ones that you, personally, support.

      Wrong. Elements of the shuttle might have been designed & built by Rockwell – but requirements were built into it by both NASA & the U.S. Air Force.

      NewSpace is the smaller firms who are relatively new & their supporters (SpaceX, Kistler, SNC, Rotary Rocket, Orbital, SpaceDev, etc) are…vocal (not in a good way). I sometimes wonder if the term “noob” didn’t originate after seeing how these folks act.

      Trying to include Boeing in NewSpace is another NewSpace tactic (they also have tried to make ULA a NewSpace company) to give something the newer, smaller firms don’t have – experience.

      NewSpace is a term I use for the folks who say: “Defund NASA/SLS/Orion & give it all to the companies we support.”

      No risk? Tell that to the people who fly on the spacecraft.

      We need more competent companies, not those that follow the mentality of the NewSpacers. Again, I’m all for more companies competing with Boeing & Lock-Mart – that will drive the cost down. However, the ones that are in favor right now – have accomplished little & acted like they’ve just colonized Mars. To date, of all the proposals, new firms, MOUs & PowerPoint rockets, I can count on one hand those companies that I believe are up to the challenge. SpaceX, Orbital (maybe) Bigelow & possibly SNC. Orbital needs to start getting rockets off the ground (Antares), Bigelow I’ll be more comfortable with after BEAM & SNC needs to get their bird in the air.

      That’s another thing about NewSpacers – they take people at their word. Anyone that has been tracking these guys for a while know that’s a bad idea. Kistler made a lot of noise & Sea Launch seemed to be a good idea at the time – take a look at them now. I judge folks by what they do – what they say is worthless.

      Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m with you, we need more companies to drive down cost – but that doesn’t mean any company. Look how much money was wasted on Kistler!
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Jason said:

        NewSpace is the smaller firms who are relatively new & their supporters (SpaceX, Kistler, SNC, Rotary Rocket, Orbital, SpaceDev, etc) are…vocal (not in a good way).

        Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) was started in 1963 – how in any way is that “new”? SNC employs over 2500 people, has six different business areas, and 30 locations in 16 states along with numerous customer support sites located throughout the world. How is that “small”?

        Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) was started in 1982, and has built 569 launch vehicles with 82 more to be delivered by 2015. How many launch vehicles has Boeing and Lockheed Martin built? 174 satellites have been built by the company since 1982 with 24 more to be delivered by 2015. Orbital has a 40% share of the interceptor market, 55% share of the small communications satellite market, and a 60% share of the small launch vehicles market. How is that “new” or “small”?

        SpaceX, though only 10 years old, has won more international launch contracts that ULA has, and is viewed throughout the satellite services community as the best hope to increase revenue through the lowering of launch costs.

        SpaceDev is part of Sierra Nevada Corp. now. Rotary Rocket did not have any government funding. Sea Launch is privately funded.

        Do you have a problem with people risking their own money? Are you against entrepreneurship? It sounds like you would prefer incumbency (i.e. “OldSpace”) over “the best value”. Do you have a financial stake in “OldSpace”?

        Look how much money was wasted on Kistler!

        NASA did lose $32.1M on RpKistler when they couldn’t meet their commitments on the COTS program, but if anything that shows how well NASA does with Public/Private Partnership programs like COTS. RpKistler was kicked off, and replaced by OSC, who has been doing very well so far.

        Now compare all the money NASA lost on RpKistler to all the money they were going to waste on the Ares I. When it was cancelled, it was estimated the total cost for Ares I has risen from $28B to $40B. And that was for a rocket that pretty much duplicated the existing Delta IV Heavy.

        So don’t talk to me about waste on “NewSpace”, when it’s very apparent that Michael Griffin, in the name of “OldSpace” wasted $Billions with no lasting value.

        NASA spent $396M getting SpaceX ready to service the ISS, and now NASA only has to pay for just the services it needs, and nothing more. If that’s “NewSpace”, then it’s a much better value for the U.S. Taxpayer than “OldSpace”.

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