Author Topic: Asteroid experts plan privately funded Sentinel Space Telescope  (Read 26241 times)

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7435
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1429
  • Likes Given: 4444
The B612 technology is not a big step, in fact it is well within the current technology, for instance a random search
picked up this web site
http://www.teledyne-si.com/infrared_visible_fpas/index.html
that shows a MWIR arrays at 16 megapixels in 2008, it is no stretch to assume a 50% improvement in the past 4 years. As for cost the array and ASIC is probably on order $10 million, my guess is the whole satellite is on order $100 million. Maybe Launch and operations total on order $250 million.

Not even close. This is easily $500 million+

And the processing is not simple.
You don't think that a private enterprise can be made cheaper than government procured? I'm not doubting your numbers, but I'm wondering about my first question, and, if you think a private can do it for less, how much would it cost to the government.

Online douglas100

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2128
  • Liked: 204
  • Likes Given: 91
Even if they can do it cheaper than an equivalent NASA mission, raising hundreds of millions for a philanthropic space mission is, shall we say, ambitious.

The consensus seems to be that it is doable technically and is well worth doing. Good luck to them.
Douglas Clark

Online Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10672
  • Liked: 2213
  • Likes Given: 1
You don't think that a private enterprise can be made cheaper than government procured? I'm not doubting your numbers, but I'm wondering about my first question, and, if you think a private can do it for less, how much would it cost to the government.

Actually, they probably _cannot_ do it much cheaper, and here's why--what very few people outside of the robotic science spacecraft community know is that the companies that build scientific spacecraft make very little profit doing so. They make their profits on DoD spacecraft, and they bid low on the scientific spacecraft because they are prestige items. I know former Lockheed officials (top ones) who have admitted this. There's also a lot of sweat equity in these missions too, meaning people working long hours without pay.

Now maybe you'd get some of that in a private procurement, but probably not more than you would with a government procurement. And frankly, if I'm a company working for some billionaire investor, why should I work cheap?

Now the thing that can drive costs up on the government side is a) funding uncertainty (for instance, OMB cuts the budget one year, forcing the project to spread out costs) and/or b) the government changes requirements, driving up change fees. But a can just as easily happen with a private funder, and b doesn't happen all that much with NASA science spacecraft--requirements generally don't creep the way they do with DoD spacecraft.

There is a popular meme that "private = cheaper" when it comes to everything space-related. But that's way too broad a brush to apply to everything. It's just not true, and you have to understand the costs and the assumptions and the drivers for each procurement.

I like the B612 Foundation, by the way (except for their stupid name, which sounds like a vitamin supplement).

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7435
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1429
  • Likes Given: 4444
I was more wondering about FAR overhead, bidding requirements for most costs, government management overhead, etc. Big corporations usually have almost as much overhead (but don't have things like minority owned supplier requirements). Also, the govt is sort of restricted to do direct contracts and when they do, it has a lot of overhead and oversight. If you are a private and you know that only one company has the product or the knowledge, and if their quote is reasonable, you just go for it. I'm thinking more of those sort of extra costs. In other words, I don't think the saving is so much on the actual development and testing, as much as on the surrounding overhead.
There's also the case that the govt worries more about total amount of money, than present value, and that makes a lot of difference on how you administer the project's cashflow. In their page the do quote a "few hundred million" and "a firm-fix price from Ball Aerospace". So I'm not doubting that this might very well be a 700M mission. But may be they can do it for 80% of what it would cost the government.
Another thing that I read on their site, is that they've signed an SSA agreement with NASA who would provide the DSN and communication services. So NASA might need to chip in ???

Online Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10672
  • Liked: 2213
  • Likes Given: 1
I was more wondering about FAR overhead, bidding requirements for most costs, government management overhead, etc.

There is no way that B612 has anybody capable of managing a contract in the hundreds of millions of dollars, or anybody capable of conducting technical oversight. You could wave a magic wand and dismiss all those encumbering things that the government brings to the table, but along with them comes a set of management tools and people that are required for success and oversight.

Offline Danderman

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9488
  • Liked: 334
  • Likes Given: 430
This thread is about to break down on the issue of commercial vs government procurement efficiency, so I would suggest that anyone wanting that discussion start up their own thread.

This thread should focus on the issue of whether this not-for-profit has the capability of raising the cash for the mission and managing the mission.

Offline MP99

This thread should focus on the issue of whether this not-for-profit has the capability of raising the cash for the mission and managing the mission.

...which depends on whether commercial can actually do it cheaper than NASA procurement.

cheers, Martin

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7435
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1429
  • Likes Given: 4444
This thread is about to break down on the issue of commercial vs government procurement efficiency, so I would suggest that anyone wanting that discussion start up their own thread.

This thread should focus on the issue of whether this not-for-profit has the capability of raising the cash for the mission and managing the mission.
We are discussing if their claims seem plausible. They have said that this project is on the amount of money of some privately funded projects (like museums, telescopes and such), but most assumed something like 200M. If it's more like 750M, I can't see how are they going to raise that money.
In particular, we are not discussing private vs government, but if they can do it for less than NASA. I know from my personal experience tha when you've managed a budget in the millions, and you do a project in the tens of millions, things get ugly. I can totally understand what Blackstar said about managing a project in the hundreds of millions. And that was the sort of discussion that's quite relevant to this thread.
At no point there was name calling, ideological issues or nothing like that. Just a discussion of where are the cost drivers and if there are any sort of private management practices that are able to handle a project like this.
When the discussion gets to "gvt sux" and "you ignorant liberal" we'll call the mods and start a new thread. For now, I've found Blackstar insights very interesting.

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7435
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1429
  • Likes Given: 4444
BTW, Blackstar, one of the thins that interests me is that they being a not-for-profit corporation that will handle millions, I don't know if they will be able to function with little oversight. I suspect, at the very least, the IRS will want to have a good looks at their operations, not to mention the prospective donors.

Offline spectre9

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2403
  • Australia
  • Liked: 35
  • Likes Given: 66
No billionaires?

No hope sorry.

Online Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10672
  • Liked: 2213
  • Likes Given: 1
The biggest issue is going to be raising the money. It makes little difference if the cost is $750 million or "only" $200 million--$200 million is a heck of a lot of money, especially for a non-profit activity. How many museums, with long standing reputations, raise that kind of cash?

As for oversight, B612 would have to hire an independent company to provide oversight, to tell them that the contractor is doing okay. That is going to add cost.
« Last Edit: 07/01/2012 01:50 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Comga

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3808
  • Liked: 1191
  • Likes Given: 1004
As for interaction with Ball Aerospace, B612's Dan Durda has direct experience from the Ralph camera build for the New Horizons mission to Pluto.  Dr. Durda may or may not be the guy to run a half billion dollar program, but the relationship is established, and he works with other people who can.  In constant dollars the mission will be half the cost of New Horizons. 

Ball also regularly does commercial, fixed price work on sattelites and instruments.  They have exerience with "tailoring processes" to keep quality up and costs in hand. Sentinel is within their experience base, reducing risk, a combination of previous developments.

(Happy eleventh Birthday Quickbird, launched June 23, 2001 and still going strong!)

And I agree with Blackstar that B612 sounds like a vitamin, but we must be that handful of people who have not read the Little Prince and immediately think of the illustrations for the book.
« Last Edit: 07/02/2012 03:38 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Danderman

  • Extreme Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9488
  • Liked: 334
  • Likes Given: 430
The biggest issue is going to be raising the money. It makes little difference if the cost is $750 million or "only" $200 million--$200 million is a heck of a lot of money, especially for a non-profit activity. How many museums, with long standing reputations, raise that kind of cash?

As for oversight, B612 would have to hire an independent company to provide oversight, to tell them that the contractor is doing okay. That is going to add cost.

A similar spacecraft, SkyBox, is being financed for $70 million, which includes two flight units and overall corporate financing requirements. SkyBox would be launched on Dnepr, but presumably the Falcon 9 would not be that much more expensive.

Online Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10672
  • Liked: 2213
  • Likes Given: 1
but we must be that handful of people who have not read the Little Prince and immediately think of the illustrations for the book.

"The Little Prince" is not a well-known book in the United States.

Offline go4mars

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3744
  • Earth
  • Liked: 146
  • Likes Given: 3026
but we must be that handful of people who have not read the Little Prince and immediately think of the illustrations for the book.

"The Little Prince" is not a well-known book in the United States.
I believe it was a cartoon (aired in Canada in the early 1980's).  I probably didn't understand it, thought the character was a girl, and found the show boring IIRC.
Elasmotherium; hurlyburly Doggerlandic Jentilak steeds insouciantly gallop in viridescent taiga, eluding deluginal Burckle's abyssal excavation.

Online Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10672
  • Liked: 2213
  • Likes Given: 1
Bottom line: if you're going to name your organization after a pop culture character, pick one that is easily recognizable, not obscure, weird, and French.

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8412
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 987
  • Likes Given: 227
but we must be that handful of people who have not read the Little Prince and immediately think of the illustrations for the book.

"The Little Prince" is not a well-known book in the United States.

Say what? I had the book as a kid...

...Of course my parents did hitchhike to Woodstock while I was in utero, so my childhood experiences may be outside the norm.
Sharknado 5: Global Swarming
Make America Bait Again!

Online Archibald

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1994
  • Liked: 185
  • Likes Given: 508
Bottom line: if you're going to name your organization after a pop culture character, pick one that is easily recognizable, not obscure, weird, and French.


I fart in your general direction.

Have a nice day !
« Last Edit: 07/08/2012 06:32 AM by Archibald »

Offline GregsterMan

  • Member
  • Posts: 4
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
[quote}

Not even close. This is easily $500 million+

And the processing is not simple.
[/quote]

Donated some money to the cause.  I asked how they were  doing in their fundraising and they just commented that they have several large donors that are providing seed money.  I was not one of them.

Offline Robert Thompson

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1117
  • Liked: 82
  • Likes Given: 658
http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20121222/SPACE/312220018/Private-venture-wants-keep-its-wary-eye-out-asteroids
Deep-space telescope could be ready in 2018 Dec 22, 2012

Upgraded projection?

http://b612foundation.org/jointhecrew/our-supporters/
"Since June 2012 over 225 individual donors have joined ..."

Benefits include "Listing on our supporters page" for even the lowest tier contribution (Galileo), but there's no such list. Opaque. Those who put tentative skin in the game cannot stand and be counted. For crowd sourcing attribution, compare how many contributors, their canines, their canines' fleas got listed in the credits of Iron Sky.

Tags: