Space

Turning and Turning, Falcon Widens Gyre

|

After three abortive tries, Space X's Falcon I rocket reached orbit yesterday:

reason has a long, proud history of getting too excited about developments in the private space industry, something Ron Bailey will be chronicling in the upcoming 40th anniversary issue of the print magazine. But I'm going to go ahead and get excited anyway.

For more of me getting pumped about a space vacation—which I'm sure I'll be able to afford when the market recovers—revisit Space Travel for Fun and Profit.

Advertisement

NEXT: More About That Lending Crisis...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m all in favor of non-government spaceflight capability, but I think I prefer that it be…well, non-government. Douglas and Lockheed are private corporations, too: never mind that their only customer is the government. So it is, as far as I can tell, with SpaceX. I looked at their website, and the only future business it mentioned was NASA and the International White Elephant.

    So basically, so what?

  2. Joel,

    Good question. I forget who said that it’s impossible to tell where the government ends and the contractors begin. I do know that SpaceX is doing business beyond NASA; the next Falcon 1 launch will carry a Malaysian satellite (not sure if gov’t or private).

    They will probably end up doing a lot of business with Bigelow Aerospace. Bob Bigelow has stated in public that he would prefer to purchase launches from a domestic company.

    The “so what” of it is that Falcon 1 is the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit. On the other hand, they have taken NASA money, around $200 million, to develop a larger rocket to resupply the ISS. And given the unwillingness to pay the Russians for rides to the ISS after the shuttle is retired, SpaceX will probably get more money for the development of their capsule (COTS option D).

  3. I dearly hope that years from now, when you mention “September 2008” this event, SpaceX reaching orbit, is what people remember and not anything else.

  4. Atanarjuat,
    “The “so what” of it is that Falcon 1 is the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit.”

    Actually, no. Orbital Science Corporation beat them to it back about 10-15 years. They’re the first liquid-fueled privately developed rocket to reach orbit though, which is still an accomplishment.

    And I agree, the Bigelow business is likely going to be far more important than NASA business. NASA just doesn’t have a huge amount of demand for their plans for ISS. Bigelow however could provide enough demand to keep SpaceX pretty busy if they can deliver on Falcon IX and Dragon.

    I know several of the propulsion guys involved at SpaceX (I interviewed there last year, but decided to stick with my current startup–Masten Space Systems). They’re really sharp, and a seemed like a great team to work with.

    It’s going to take more than just Falcon I to revolutionize the space industry, but Falcon I at least shows that they’ve figured out what they’re doing.

    ~Jonathan Goff

  5. I dearly hope that years from now, when you mention “September 2008” this event, SpaceX reaching orbit, is what people remember and not anything else.

    I had the same thought.

  6. I dearly hope that years from now, when you mention “September 2008” this event, SpaceX reaching orbit, is what people remember and not anything else.

    Really?

    Congress not flushing 700$ down the toilet in my opinion really needs to be remembered.

  7. They’re not done yet, Joshua. Do you really think that the pot won’t be sweetened enough eventually for enough Reps to roll over?

  8. Jonathan,

    Thanks for the insider’s perspective. It’s fascinating that Bigelow might have more demand for launches than NASA. Is that simply because people will stay on the ISS for longer periods of time?

  9. While the Space X launch is awesome, the congress reps who stood up to Pelosi and Bush are heartening. World wide investors are starting to realize that DC restraint is not the end of the world. The Hong Kong market closed up almost a percentage point. The India market closed up a couple of percentage points. Congress will be on holiday until Thursday, and many Asian countries have a Thrusday-Friday or a Friday-Saturday weekend. That means they will be shielded from DC’s antics better than most.

  10. Nice Yeats reference, Katherine.

    “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

  11. I’ve launched privately funded rockets to 2,000 feet. They used solid propellant, though ?

    I wonder if model rockets, especially the bigger ones, are more tightly regulated since 9/11? It just occurred to me that that hobby could be affected. I haven’t launched anything in several years.

    As usual, the Urkobold scooped Hit & Run on this news.

  12. Immodesty compels me to remind everyone that this is not the only Yeats reference to appear recently on H&R.

    BTW, getting into orbit is a big deal. In energy terms, it’s “halfway to anywhere.” In other words, it takes roughly as much delta V (velocity change) to get from Earth’s surface to Earth orbit as it does to get from Earth orbit to orbit around most other major bodies in the Solar System.

  13. Have space-suit. Will travel.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.