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SCI/TECH: Private company to produce old NASA shuttle design (HL-20)

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posted on Nov, 20 2005 @ 09:36 PM
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SpaceDev, based in California, is asking for $20 million in funding so that it can develop a 20 year old NASA shuttle design. SpaceDev believes it can have a 4 passenger suborbital version flying by 2008 and for an additional $100 million, a 6 passenger version able to reach the International Space Station. This shuttle will be for passengers only, so it will be much smaller and lighter than the NASA Space Shuttle. Also, since no cyrogenic fuel will be used, insulation foam will not be required.
 



www.newscientistspace.com
A private company wants to sell NASA trips into orbit on a shuttle-like spaceship that the agency itself designed two decades ago.

SpaceDev, an aerospace company based in California, US, has announced plans to build a spacecraft that will carry both tourists and astronauts into orbit.

Called Dream Chaser, it is based on a small, plane-like craft called the HL-20 that NASA designed in the 1980s as an alternative to the space shuttle. It cost the space agency $2 billion to develop the design, along with a full scale prototype, but a working HL-20 was never built.

NASA has since made details of the HL-20 design publicly available. SpaceDev also has ties with the space agency, helping NASA’s Ames Research Center explore different spacecraft concepts.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


I'm excited about all the non-governmental space initiatives that are cropping up lately. I believe that private ventures are the way to really open up space for exploitation.

We needed the big government projects, in the beginning, to get the ball rolling. The big government projects also brought with them the inefficiencies of the governemtn beaurocracy. What we need now is the battle of the marketplace to trim the fat off of these programs. This, in my opinion, is the only way to get to cheap, reliable access to space.

[edit on 20-11-2005 by BomSquad]




posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 01:05 AM
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i couldnt agree more. spaceship one really showed the world that big budget government programs with lots of red tape are going to become a thing of the past.

i just hope the private sector doesnt get strangled in all that red tape as the feds try to figure out how to regulate it.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 01:19 AM
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Is HL20 anything like the old DYNAsoar and the other "lifting body" prototypes that appeared when Muroc was looking for an extension/replacement of the X-series program of research aircraft?

Some of those designs fuelled all sorts of schoolboy space research fantasies!



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 02:12 AM
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The HL-20 is a lifting body design similar to the old HL-10.
Here is a mockup:



I have mixed feelings about private space projects.

While I think they are great, and I believe eventually most space travel will be non-governmental, it's going to take a while before there are profits to be had. The lead times for any profitable space venture are likely to be very long, and corporate entities tend to be driven by quarterly and annual profits, not long term goals - it's hard to imagine a private entity taking on an asteroid mining mission for example, as you'd have to invest billions decades before seeing a return on your investment.

Even governments have problems staying committed to long term projects, witness politicians trying to abandon the ISS before completion, or the Apollo lunar program being abandoned after only a few missions. And I have a bad feeling the current proposals for a return to the moon will never reach fruition. There is no Queen Isabella out there funding a modern-day Columbus going to Mars...

[edit on 11/21/05 by xmotex]



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 06:10 AM
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I think the beggest incentive for private industry is the need to "pay your way".

NASA has no drive to become profitable. There are no shareholders to be accountable to. (Not that shareholders are always vigilant about a company, either....look at Enron.) Private companies have a much tougher time hiding inefficiencies.

A lot of government agencies forget that the money they get from the federal treasury isn't free. That money belongs to the American people. It comes from the hard work of millions of Americans trying to make a better life for themselves and their family.

Private companies are more acutely aware of where their capital comes from. When people voluntarily invest in an enterprise, they are usually more aware of how their money is being used. When people are forced to contribute money through involuntary confiscation, they feel powerless to force accountability for how that money is used.

I feel like I'm rambling, but I hope I was clear in what I was trying to say.

When it's your money at stake, you are more willing to see the thing through to completion. When it's someone else's money, you might be more inclined to cut and run if the going gets tough (as I mince my cliche's, lol)

[edit on 21-11-2005 by BomSquad]



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 11:21 AM
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originally posted by BomSquad
NASA has no drive to become profitable. There are no shareholders to be accountable to. (Not that shareholders are always vigilant about a company, either....look at Enron.) Private companies have a much tougher time hiding inefficiencies.


but they did have that drive, at one time. originally, the space shuttle program was designed as a money making venture. putting private satellites into orbit was supposed to pay for the program. that's part of the reason why challenger happened....because they were pushing too hard to make the deadlines. the big problem was that from the get-go it became apparent that they could never maintain the originally proposed schedule, which is why the program is so far into the hole now.



posted on Nov, 21 2005 @ 12:38 PM
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They might have stiven to pay for some of the shuttle program with privately funded satellite launches, but they never came close to breaking even, let alone making a profit.

The shuttle itself wouldn't have to be profitable if at least SOME part of NASA was profitable. You don't need the shuttle to launch satellites. You need the shuttle to put people in orbit, and as an EVA platform for construction and experimetnation.

If profit was the goal, spinning off the satellite launching division would have been a good idea. If I recall, the shuttle costs about $750 million per launch. Hardly an economical approach to space flight.



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 04:08 PM
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Another thing NASA needs to do is reduce their ground crews. The last I heard was that it took 10000 people to get the shuttle prepared and launched.

I don't know about anyone else, but that seems a bit excessive.

We don't want to compromise safety, but I'm sure there must be a more effecient way to run this program.



posted on Nov, 22 2005 @ 05:33 PM
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Does every body see the red wave coming? IMO that China is the very country that will endevour to start the space mining venture...

they have all the people, time, and money to do it, and the biggest reason of all...
asteroids have minerals and metals that China is rapidly depleting all over the world...
they have the most to gain, and the most ability to risk...

while Japan is building space hotels, and China is going to the asteroid belt past Mars... the West will be debating whether God intended us to travel in space at all...

thank god for the space capitalists... may they go fast and far.



posted on Nov, 23 2005 @ 10:43 AM
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Originally posted by LazarusTheLong
Does every body see the red wave coming? IMO that China is the very country that will endevour to start the space mining venture...

they have all the people, time, and money to do it, and the biggest reason of all...
asteroids have minerals and metals that China is rapidly depleting all over the world...
they have the most to gain, and the most ability to risk...

while Japan is building space hotels, and China is going to the asteroid belt past Mars... the West will be debating whether God intended us to travel in space at all...

thank god for the space capitalists... may they go fast and far.


it may be unpatriotic to say, but as long as somebody is moving forward, i think it's a very good thing. we need to start figuring out ways to use all of the resources that are out there. and, of course, we need to have the ability to get off of this rock in a pinch, if necessary.

i truelly hope that our private ventures prove fruitful, as our government cant seem to get it together. it would be unfortunate to be under "the light of a communist moon" as LBJ would say, but its better than having no humans at all up there.



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