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Old April 5 2012, 12:32 AM   #46
Caliburn24
Commodore
 
Location: Gig Harbor, Washington
Re: NASA's budget: Help save space exploration!

Interesting article, particularly the last line.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 flights to the ISS.
A shuttle flight costs what about a billion per trip? If SpaceX can deliver that is quite a savings.
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Old April 5 2012, 12:40 AM   #47
Knight Templar
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Location: Oklahoma
Re: NASA's budget: Help save space exploration!

Caliburn24 wrote: View Post
How big a prize would it take to get commercial groups to start heading to Mars? 10-20 billion dollars tax free to the first team to bring us back some pretty red rocks?

Financial investors are afraid of risk, which exploration is, so give them a concrete profit motive. The X-Prize writ large.
This was debated hotly at the NewMarsforums and elswhere.

Because Dr. Robert Zubrin discussed the idea of a series of "Mars Prizes" with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.

It would probably only cost 3-7 billion dollars for a manned mission to Mars to be carried out by a private group with adequate financing (Zubrin explains the costing of it) so a 20 billion dollar "Mars prize" would theoretically be enought for a private group to take a shot at it.

Theoretically. In real life it is quite different.

For starters:

It would cost at MINIMUM 3 billion dollars to put a manned mission on Mars. Today, large corporations are unwilling to invest even a few billion dollars in building a new oil refinery in the United States.

Secondly

The Mars Prize could indeed pay out a lot of money. But that could only be when a manned Mission actually landed on Mars. That would be a few years from when a private group invests the money. At least 5-7 years. So they're going to be out 3-7 billion dollars up front for up to 7 years before getting paid off. No reasonable business plan will agree to that.

Thirdly

BEFORE any private group agreed to something like trying for a Mars Prize, they would have to be ABSOLUTELY assurred that Congress is going to authorize the prize money, the president will agree to it, and even more that no future congress or president will RESCIND the prize money.

What if a private group invests 5 billion dollars in getting a manned mission to Mars, puts a manned mission there successfully 6 years later......but then a war breaks out or extreme budget cuts have to be made and Congress cuts the Prize Money to only 4 billion? Saying "we all have to make sacrifices".

In short, there is not a chance in hell that any private group would send a manned mission to Mars for prize money.
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Old April 5 2012, 12:43 AM   #48
Knight Templar
Commodore
 
Location: Oklahoma
Re: NASA's budget: Help save space exploration!

Caliburn24 wrote: View Post
Interesting article, particularly the last line.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 flights to the ISS.
A shuttle flight costs what about a billion per trip? If SpaceX can deliver that is quite a savings.
Actual space shuttle flights cost about 40 million each.

The "one billion per trip" includes the costs of the massive infrastructure to support it. In short, if you don't fly the shuttle, you don't save one billion dollars per flight because that massive infrastructure (including thousands of people who work on the shuttle) have to be paid whether its flying or not.

Every shuttle flight you don't make saves only about 40 million dollars.
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Old April 5 2012, 02:18 AM   #49
sojourner
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Re: NASA's budget: Help save space exploration!

Dac wrote: View Post
Didn't Elon Musk say that once the Falcon Heavy starts flying he could do a round trip to mars entirely with SpaceX tech for half a million dollars?

Of course, Musk says a lot of stuff and I'm pretty damned sure its impossible, but if they successfully dock a Dragon with the ISS, and then start putting people up in them, safely in the next 2 years then he'll have pipped NASA to the post for returning Americans to LEO, and if Falcon Heavy works fine then it's just a matter of time and money. If the rest of Space X performs as its intended too, the money shouldnt be a problem for them.

Source for the half a million figure: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/03...l-cost-500000/
No, your mangling several different things Musk said into one. If you read the article, He says it could come down to the $500k mark after about 10 years of Mars flights, which is entirely different from when Falcon Heavy first flies and depends on a lot of his hopes for reduced cost coming true (re-usability, high flight rate, heavy lift, low cost).

So far he has a medium lift rocket that has successfully launched 2 times in 2 years. A decent track record but far short of his goals. Hopefully this will be the year we see the flight rate improve.
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