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Review on Two Books About Space Startups

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发表于 4-17-2018 12:58:21 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
April 19 is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts and Patriot's Day in Maine. (Massachusetts Agreed to Maine secession, which became a state in 1820.)  A state holiday, the day is observed on third Monday in April, when Boston Marathon is held. This year it is Apr 16. And I had a hard time accessing a computer, but I did not know until last night I reached a private community center, only to find it was closed also.

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Randall Stross, Stargazers See a Business Plan; The space startups launched by Elon Musk and others have reduced costs far below what NASA and defense contractors are accustomed to. Wall Street Journal, Apr 16, 2018.

Quote:

(a) In Fernholz's book: "Mr Musk's SpaceX gets more attention here because it is the company that, so far, has achieved the most.

(b) "The SpaceX story is enlivened by a secondary storyline: David competing for government contracts against a Goliath, United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of defense behemoths Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The ULA rockets cost $400 million per launch; SpaceX's, $100 million. When asked to explain the difference, SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, quipped: 'I don't know how to build a $400million rocket.' "

(c) "SpaceX builds its rockets horizontally, for example, so that it can use ordinary warehouse space instead of building expensive “high bay” space. SpaceX and Blue Origin are similar in their approach to reusability as well, constructing rockets, not planes, that rely on retropropulsion for landing. By flipping the the descending rocket so that the nose points upward, and by switching on the rocket engine in the final stage, a cushion of hot gas provides a gentle landing.

"Practical reusability also entails reducing the need for extensive refurbishing after each flight, something that SpaceX seems to have achieved. The space shuttle did not. After each flight, it required 1.2 million procedures and many months before it was ready to fly again.

"To its credit, SpaceX has allowed the public to watch its launches and landings, some of which have ended badly. When a SpaceX rocket exploded as it was about to land on a drone ship, the company shared videos of the fireball. Mr Musk tweeted: 'Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event.' By contrast, Mr Bezos's Blue has operated in secretive fashion. When it reaches a milestone, it calls up reporters to show them the video. If it fails -- Mr Davenport describes 'a thundering explosion' in 2011 in the vicinity of Blue Origin's facility in West Texas -- the company remains silent.

Note:
(a) This is a book review on two books:
(i) Tim Fernholz, Rocket Billionaires; Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the new space race.. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018; and
(ii) Christian Davenport, The Space Barons; Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the quest to colonize the cosmos. PublicAffairs, 2018.
(b) There is no need to read the rest of the review, which is not new.
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