Author Topic: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX  (Read 33553 times)

Offline Sean Lynch

Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX


 
Scheduled for Jun 4, 2014 10:30 EDT

Please join the Atlantic Council's Captains of Industry series for a special conversation with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX at 10:30 a.m. on June 4th, 2014.
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I found this on NSF last night in another SpaceX topic and I can't remember which or who posted....thanks to original poster though!
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline Burninate

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« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 02:04 pm by Burninate »

Online Chris Bergin

Can someone cover this. There's a big event for HSF (space policy) that I have to cover.

Notes and screenshots would be great.

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I really need to get a proxy ready. YouTube blocks live streaming for Germany. Any non YouTube video source?

Thanks.

Offline Dudely

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It has just started. Gwynne has yet to be introduced.

Offline Sean Lynch

Introduction by gentleman from Indian Space Council.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline Sean Lynch

I really need to get a proxy ready. YouTube blocks live streaming for Germany. Any non YouTube video source?

Thanks.
I'll put a copy up after its over.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Offline Sean Lynch

General Jim Cartright.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline Burninate

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Can someone cover this. There's a big event for HSF (space policy) that I have to cover.

Notes and screenshots would be great.

AAS224?

Competing webcast at 11? http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DEPS/ASEB/DEPS_069080?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=napsm&utm_campaign=Hootsuite

Or still a fourth event this morning?

edit: 10:43 Gwynn arrives at the podium
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 02:49 pm by Burninate »

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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General Cartright

"Great Honor to To Introduce you"

Said Went to visit SpaceX when it was just Gwynne and her fearless leader in an empty building

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Running SpaceX Promo Video

Offline Sean Lynch

Gwynne presents short video.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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CRS-3 Landing video!

Offline Jarnis

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CRS-3 Landing video!

Indeed, a small bit of the partially reconstructed clip was in the video that was played.

Offline Dudely

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She started by showing a new SpaceX promo clip; it had a shot of the repaired booster return video in it!!!

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"Not much market in the light launch vehicle class."

Offline InfraNut2

The general said "This is a real honor for me; I have been in the Shotwell fan-club for a lot of years".

He first met Gwynne and "her fearless leader" in an empty hangar in LA and was impressed by their "vision, energy and drive". He had been on a long search with many trips to space startups etc to look for ways to shake up the launch industry and find more competition and innovation and was near the end of it.

Dont skip the generals part if you go back to view the video -- it was fun and inspiring as opposed to the generic introduction of the first guy.

edit: Updated to more accurately reflect what was said, and to recommend hearing the generals part
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 06:17 pm by InfraNut2 »

Offline Sean Lynch

2.5B market on civil side launch market. 3b on mil side, commercial 2b/yr. 18-24 sats per year.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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42 Launches on Manifest at value of $4.2B

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2 rockets per month production rate.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Captured 100% of business in Falcon 9 Market

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50% or greater worldwide launch market capture is the target with Falcon 9 family.

Offline Sean Lynch

Lost the market in the 80's, us lost the market.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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Targeting the "Russian Reliance" which she says is based on  "questionable decision making"

Offline Sean Lynch

Questionalble decision making.
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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US lost crew access with retirement of shuttle. NASA working to fix this: Commercial Crew program. Downselect confirmed this fall. SpaceX hopes to be one of them

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"Looking for a Policy change to allow us to compete"

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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"Want to fly more missions for the Air Force"

About to go into future plans.

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"They (USAF) are certifying us."

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Falcon Heavy is targeted now for first half of next year.

"How hard can it be.. it's just 3 Falcon 9 strapped together.. right?"

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Video of Falcon 9R Hop at McGregor

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Says "It's ablative on the legs.. it's not on fire"

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"ablative on the legs, its not on fire"

Offline Sean Lynch

"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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Open for Questions

Offline Sean Lynch

Sorry i'm not very good at this....
Questions:
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

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question time

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Tweet  #ACCOI

Offline woods170

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SpaceX investment in COTS/CRS: US $ 459 million. NASA investment: US$ 400 million.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Praises Space Act Agreements

Each party gets to do what they do best.

Offline stichtom

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Not the clearest picture but you can still read the launch manifest.

« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:09 pm by stichtom »

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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accessible space launch market is $7.5-8B

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Commentator says Falcon 9 is not on the "bleeding edge of technology"  Gwynne argues that assertion.  "Merlin is best T/W Kerolox engine"
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:11 pm by TrueBlueWitt »

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: Falcon 9 is innovative because it can perform critical missions for far less cost than any of our domestic competition.

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: avoiding mobile service towers was a decision taken early. MST's are expensive.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Horizontal Integration keeps cost low.  Same thing the Russians do.

Rocket not built in High-Bay space in Hawthorne, so the cost for the space is far less.


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They really don't like the idea of vertical pad integration.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Have 3000 Suppliers,  63 cents on the dollar goes to suppliers.  They are just on a much lower level of integration.

Offline woods170

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So far for the 'SpaceX build everything in house' myth. SpaceX has 3000 suppliers.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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ULA Atlas 3 launch site to Atlas 5 cost $250-300m  Gwynne says she can build a LOT of Launch sites from scratch for $300m

Offline Sean Lynch

Bringing in interns :)
Engineers want to build stuff...
"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: no regrets on starting bid protest against 36-core block buy.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Paraphrase: Easy to recruit talent to SpaceX.. They are there to work on exciting projects and "Build Stuff"

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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SpaceX providing literally Terabytes of data to the Air Force as part of Certification.

Pushing hard to have completed this year.

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: We're working on certification complete (for Falcon 9 in EELV program) towards end of this calender year.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Atlas has 38 mission to fly and 15 RD-180 in country. "I think it's a problem"

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: It is a false assumption that the USAF does not want changes to a rocket's configuration. ULA changes it rockets too. Rockets do change. Issue arises when a rocket becomes completely different as a result of changes.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Question about conflict between AF wanting "Frozen" configuration vs SpaceX changes.

Gwynne " ULA makes changes between launches a well" 

Also says AF will have option of current vs Previous version if needed.

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The first questioner had a second question, asking about the "soft water landing" -- did she actually address that at all?

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Have to get out of Mindset the the best engineering and best rocket are those that were created decades ago.

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: Investing in a RD-180 is not necessarily a good idea. Investing in development of next generation liquid propulsion is a great idea on the other hand.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Someone who works for congressman on one committee asking a question.

"Hopes that discussion on what the new Liquid propulsion investment is still open"

Pushing Raptor, or pieces of that as relevant in that discussion.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Going to Mars and moving off the planet is "Risk Management for Humans"

Offline woods170

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First reason for going to Mars: Disappointment if Earth would be the only place for humans. "Is this just it?" Seems uninspirational.
Second reason for going to Mars: Risk management for humanity.

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: I don't have a crystal ball. Hate to predict future, will always be wrong. (Eat that Prober   ;) )

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Question on Investment:  Given the focus on Operation and production

Gwynne says she "Doesn't have a Crystal Ball"

Elon makes sure we continue to push Innovation.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:31 pm by TrueBlueWitt »

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: No need to raise capital in near term (no IPO). Every SpaceX employee shares in company.

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: finishing up EIS for Brownsville (Texas). Last bureaucratic hurdle before moving there.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Space.com question.

Brownsville site?
"Finishing up final throws of the Environmental work" "Still keeping options open"  Going to need lots of launch sites.

Falcon Heavy?
Working on Tanks and engines right now.

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Tanks and engines for first heavy vehicle are in production

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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SpaceX absorbed cost of Range issues.. doesn't think ULA had to absorb that cost.

Says SpaceX now certified to fly using their own telemetry resources. (New news?)
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:35 pm by TrueBlueWitt »

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: great relations with folks at both eastern and western ranges. Delays due to range issues not burdened on customer; it's business risk.
SpaceX certified to fly on Eastern range on their own telemetry.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:53 pm by woods170 »

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Thinks Chinese will be "fierce competitors" "Need to keep an eye on them"

Offline woods170

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Gwynne: new entrants are always disadvantaged when entering an established market. SpaceX will keep pushing to take a share of the DoD market.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:37 pm by woods170 »

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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We're at disadvantage.. ULA has more money to spend on lobbyists and on Marketing.

Offline woods170

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Question about lawsuit:

Where are roadblocks?  Institutional issue?

Two elements.. procurement and certification.

Moving forward.. learned a lot of lessons.

Certification process is NEW for Air Force and SpaceX.. paving the way.

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Gwynne: Two issues: procurement (block buy) and certification. Certification process is new for USAF. Paving the way together. USAF adding staff to keep up with SpaceX.

Procurement side: all we asked for is the chance to compete.

Offline Sean Lynch

Banking...
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looking to leave ground based range behind entirely, autonomous vehicle flights.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Wrapped up.

Offline woods170

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Finished.

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So much for twitter questions.   :-\

Offline woods170

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Summarizing: most of what she said has been heard before.

Some tidbits:
- US re-capturing parts of commercial launch market because of SpaceX. US once had large market share but lost it due to wrong decision making in 1980's and 1990's.
- Russian reliance (Russian engine for national security booster) was result of wrong decision making. Needs to be corrected.
- Part of cleaned up CRS-3 core stage water landing (NSF effort!!) shown in intro clip. BIG WOOT FOR NSF even if NSF wasn't explicitly mentioned.
- Two rockets per month production rate right now
- After EIS wraps up SpaceX expect to move into Brownsville on short notice
- Hardware for first Falcon Heavy in production
- Certification for EELV class missions is new and cooperative effort between SpaceX and USAF
- USAF has trouble keeping up with SpaceX on certification. Hiring extra staff to do so.
- SpaceX pushing hard to wrap up certification this calender year
- Mars for inspiration and risk management for humanity
- SpaceX can do launchpads much cheaper than competition can do them
- Avoiding vertical integration was deliberate early decision to avoid high costs, related to MST (amongst others)
- SpaceX interested in investing in development of next generation liquid propulsion systems, possibly for wider use than just SpaceX.
- Both USAF and SpaceX are looking to leave ground base range assets behind: goal is fully autonomous launch vehicles with regards to range safety.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 03:55 pm by woods170 »

Offline stichtom

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Not the clearest picture but you can still read the launch manifest.

Where are the 2 AsiaSat flights?  :o

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Elon is at his best when talking about human colonization of Mars. Shotwell is at her best when talking about dominating the commercial satellite market. It's not so easy to imagine "lots" of automated launch sites operating at high launch rates, but Google's planned constellation might be the template for the future of the comsat industry, and SpaceX's vision of high flight rates with rapid pad flow seems to be most applicable to these types of large constellations.

Space industry veterans describe satellites as diverse, idiosyncratic hangar queens. But can these solitary divas complete with large numbers of mass produced satellites specifically designed to accommodate high launch rates? The geosynchronous market won't go away, of course, but it certainly feels like the comsat industry has to move toward large LEO constellations in order to provide the interactive communication services which consumers demand. SpaceX really wants to tip the economics in favor of constellations and dominate that market segment, and in this context, their plans make the most sense.

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A few nuggets I think were new.

Ms Shotwell said they are transitioning from Sats waiting for F9, to F9 waiting for Sats, and looking how to manage this.

Seems to have zero interest in vertical hanger, payload processing, so the AF and Jim will take it or leave it.

SpaceX will continue to innovate, mass production will be in parallel.

Customers can choose which version they want to fly of any future tweaked Falcons.

SpaceX can build many launch sites for 300 million, not just one.

Apparently does not segregate launch customers monies and accounts. All one big pot. Spreads the costs through all its business. No one customer gets the full costs. (IDK if that is normal, but if its not, probably drives critics nuts)

FH now being built. 2015 flight.

SpaceX at the Cape is no longer beholden to AF range safety radar.

Brownsville approval almost done, hinted at more sites anyway. 

Still pushing 1 launch per month this year and 2 per month in 2015.

Appears Raptor is not open to competitors, but Raptor subsystems and components could be Gov funded and then be open to the engine community.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 09:55 pm by GalacticIntruder »
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Offline InfraNut2

SpaceX at the Cape is no longer beholden to AF range safety radar.

It was not safety radar -- SpaceX is allowed to run their own telemetry for now.

More work underway from USAF to lessen rockets dependence on the range, with the ultimate goal of making the rockets mostly autonomous in the end, presumably without sacrificing safety. Gwynne said SpaceX expected to be at the forefront of this development. I assume this work will go on over many years.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 05:00 pm by InfraNut2 »

Offline Jim

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Seems to have zero interest in vertical hanger, payload processing, so the AF and Jim will take it or leave it.

SpaceX at the Cape is no longer beholden to AF range safety radar.


Neither are correct take aways.

If Spacex wants AF business they will have to do vertical payload processing.  Shotwell just was referring to the base business

Spacex is still beholden to AF range safety radar, just not the Range telemetry receivers.

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

Not the clearest picture but you can still read the launch manifest.

Where are the 2 AsiaSat flights?  :o

I think that's the "Space Systems/Loral" flight(s) - as SS/L is the one who build the 2 satellites for AsiaSat.
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Offline Sean Lynch

I really need to get a proxy ready. YouTube blocks live streaming for Germany. Any non YouTube video source?

Thanks.
I've downloaded the YT video, if it would help (not available in Germany) I can upload it for you.
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I really need to get a proxy ready. YouTube blocks live streaming for Germany. Any non YouTube video source?

Thanks.
I've downloaded the YT video, if it would help (not available in Germany) I can upload it for you.

I would appreciate it and I am not the only one.

Offline Sean Lynch

I don't want to kill Chris's bandwidth caps. The 360p version is 210 Mb, the 720p is 810Mb.
loading to billionuploads- fast and free but watch what you click...(uncheck the download "download accelerator" box).
Here is the 360p version.
The 720p version will be available in 30 minutes or so and I'll post another link. With permission I'll attach the videos, otherwise don't want to hurt NSF bandwidth.


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Offline Sean Lynch

"Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others."
-JFK May 25, 1961

Offline Lobo

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- Avoiding vertical integration was deliberate early decision to avoid high costs, related to MST (amongst others)

Be interesting to see how they handle USAF's requirement for vertical integration then.

Offline Sean Lynch

- Avoiding vertical integration was deliberate early decision to avoid high costs, related to MST (amongst others)

Be interesting to see how they handle USAF's requirement for vertical integration then.
Perhaps vertical integration is not a technical requirement for every DOD payload, just the traditional integration method....the RFQ would state vertical integration as a requirement (one would think), and quoted (or not) accordingly.
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Offline RDMM2081

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I really liked seeing this picture in her new promo video, it really reinforces to me her emphasis on increasing production from 1 rocket per month to 2 (@ 24:12 in the video)

edit:  added the time tag for the statement she made after I watched it again and found it.
« Last Edit: 06/04/2014 06:37 pm by RDMM2081 »

Online Chris Bergin

Super work by all concerned - absolutely superb coverage! Looks like you guys got to watch the more interesting event today.

Marshall's going to write this up into an article! :)

Offline savuporo

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #100 on: 06/04/2014 10:28 pm »
The disappointing part is that she talked about producing rockets more than the obstacles of actually getting them launched. According to the SpaceNews short article, she didnt really refute the "overcommitted manifest" claims.
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Online Joffan

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #101 on: 06/04/2014 11:12 pm »
I didn't see a Youtube link so
Max Q for humanity becoming spacefaring

Offline Sean Lynch

I didn't see a Youtube link so
Thanks, clicking on the YT video in first post should do it too.
The billionupload download links provided above will expire in 30 days or so.
Here is the 360p version for those without YT access.
If you have YT access please use youtube to minimize NSF bandwidth.
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 05:25 am by Sean Lynch »
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Offline sdsds

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #103 on: 06/05/2014 07:09 am »
So the FH cores are in production now, and they are producing cores at a rate of two per month. So in 1.5 months all three FH cores will be out of the factory. Does that mean we can expect a "really loud test" at McGregor sometime in early August?
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Offline garidan

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #104 on: 06/05/2014 07:56 am »
They have to produce cores for the other missions meanwhile ....

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #105 on: 06/05/2014 08:16 am »
We will all be totally stoked when they can launch F9 vehicles faster than they can build them (i.e. faster than two launches per month). Meanwhile, in the almost-month-long delay since the OG2 static fire, they've apparently needed to find warehouse space for another two cores....
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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #106 on: 06/05/2014 08:20 am »
They have to produce cores for the other missions meanwhile ....

I read the statement they are producing the Heavy cores as they are past production bottlenecks now and have no problem delivering cores for all  missions, with pad time the limiting factor.


Offline MP99

They have to produce cores for the other missions meanwhile ....

I read the statement they are producing the Heavy cores as they are past production bottlenecks now and have no problem delivering cores for all  missions, with pad time the limiting factor.

Gwynne said they were moving to waiting on customers payloads "which, frankly, is a relief".

Also, said they'd need to get better at predicting when those customers will be ready.

cheers, Martin

Offline MP99

My notes from the broadcast. Duplicates ground already reported:-

COTS F9 + Dragon:- £396m NASA + £450m+ Sx

Annual demand 14:00
Civil 2-2.5b / yr
CCrew + CCargo + science

NSS $3B / yr

Commercial $2B / yr
LEO lumpy. GTO 18-24 per year

Serve lots of markets. Vert integrated.  Rely on redundancy + simplicity, and think this has served us very well.

$4B backlog, 46 missions vast maj commercial

42 mission on manifest, $4.2b. Bit less than $100m per.
2011/12 (one year period), captured 100% of F9 class business. 30% of overall market.

1/month now. 2/month by end 2014. Launch cadence to be demonstrated in coming month.

Anticipate 50% market capture as build up Falcon family.

Domestic RD-180 dropped in 2008.

USAF cert.

F9R dev1.
Ablative on legs, not burning.

Q&A.
SAA only works when residual market outside govt.

3000 suppliers, 1100 extremely active - product received every week.
63 cents in dollar spent with suppliers.
Lower level of integration - wires, connectors, raw materials.

Atlas III-> launch site upgrade £250-300m. They are *much* less.

Getting to meat of cert process, now. Mountains of paperwork / TB of data. Are overwhelming them.
Working to cert complete by end year.
ULA changes LV configs over time.
SpaceX changes to improve reliability. AF has option of flying previous version, or upgraded.
Have already talked about delta certification.
Customers can request to fly on certified config.
Is a new process for AF. They are adding staff to keep up with the process.

American RD-180.
Would like to participate.
New RD-180 may be poor choice, Investing in liquid propulsion a great choice.
Would like to see investment on component / technology dev.
Elements / components of Raptor that would be of interest to broader propulsion community.

Transition from development to operations. Will always have a major element of development to keep evolving.
Moving to wait on customers, which frankly is a relief. Have to get better at predicting when customers will be ready.

Brownsville - final throws. Need lots of launch sites.

Building FH engines & tanks right now. Hope to launch in "first half or so" of 2015.

Eastern range - now allowed to fly on own telemetry. Shelton looking to fly fully autonomously.

International competitors. Chines launch 19-21 per year. One to keep close eye on. Fierce competitors.


cheers, Martin


Offline InfraNut2

They have to produce cores for the other missions meanwhile ....

I read the statement they are producing the Heavy cores as they are past production bottlenecks now and have no problem delivering cores for all  missions, with pad time the limiting factor.

Gwynne said they were moving to waiting on customers payloads "which, frankly, is a relief".

Also, said they'd need to get better at predicting when those customers will be ready.

cheers, Martin

Yes, things are looking good.

They recently solved the final production problem that stopped them from producing more that 1 core per month that until then was the primary bottleneck.

They have also implemented measures to better protect umbilicals and other pad equipment from launch damages, after having more repairs than expected for a the last launches.

With these things out of the way, I assume it is now a more of a planned improvement process to get further gains in launch rate instead of a problem-elimination (aka "firefighting") process..

And there will presumably gradually less often be unexpected problems with the rockets and pads (like the recent helium leak) as time goes on.

They may actually start to be payload-limited in relatively few months. Maybe even before the end of the year as I optimistically predicted at the start of the year.

edits: some
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 09:13 am by InfraNut2 »

Offline newpylong

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #110 on: 06/05/2014 01:57 pm »
Finally got to watch this - awesome interview.

Offline Nomadd

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #111 on: 06/05/2014 02:04 pm »
 Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.
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Offline RocketGoBoom

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #112 on: 06/05/2014 02:46 pm »
It seems like her comments indicate that SpaceX is aiming for about 50% market share in each of their addressable markets.

50% of the commercial launch market, although they won 100% of the Falcon 9 weight launches over a period of time. Maybe with Falcon Heavy they can even do more of the commercial market?

50% of the NASA launch market. NASA will always likely split the baby with Orbital Sciences.

50% of the USAF/DOD launch market. They will likely split the baby also with ULA.

And that all roughly adds up to about $2.5 billion to $3 billion in annual revenue potentially for SpaceX.

Is that about right?
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 02:49 pm by RocketGoBoom »

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #113 on: 06/05/2014 03:06 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

Offline RocketGoBoom

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #114 on: 06/05/2014 03:15 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #115 on: 06/05/2014 08:04 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.
Outside funding is nice but the question would be do Spacex want to be the goto company for rocket engines?

They have an engine. They have cash flow. They already know their engine team is good. If the US governments RFP for a new big engine fits in with Musks schedule to develop a new big engine then they may compete. If not I'd guess they have enough to be getting on with.

The question you have to answer is "How does doing this help Elon get to Mars better/faster/cheaper/safer?" If it doesn't why expect Spacex to do it?

And BTW let's not forget that US Senator who's keen to drop FAR25 cost reporting on a project that was originally bid as a Firm Fixed Price contract?

Let me suggest that the way US government policy and corporate management decisions over decades  mean that the government needs Spacex more than Spacex needs a government research contract.  :(
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structure booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #116 on: 06/05/2014 08:15 pm »
Outside funding is nice but the question would be do Spacex want to be the goto company for rocket engines?

They have an engine. They have cash flow. They already know their engine team is good.

Your engine team can only stay good if they are doing something. If they are already busy doing something else and have a backlog of work for next few years, it absolutely makes no sense to compete. However, if the other alternative is sitting around twiddling thumbs or be laid off, it does make sense.

The question then is, what propulsion work does SpaceX have in it's backlog to keep the engine R&D team busy - and that means design and development, not manufacturing obviously.
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 08:16 pm by savuporo »
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Offline RocketGoBoom

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #117 on: 06/05/2014 08:22 pm »

The question then is, what propulsion work does SpaceX have in it's backlog to keep the engine R&D team busy - and that means design and development, not manufacturing obviously.

Raptor and future versions of the Merlin seem like a lot of work.

I am just surprised that the US Congress is even offering to fund a new engine when there is an obvious example of private companies doing it already on their own dime.

Offline InfraNut2

Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.

For SpaceX it would probably be a good move, but I doubt USAF would allow a launch company to compete. If they did, the other launch companies would be extremely reluctant to buy engines from a competitor and that then defeats the whole purpose. (Besides: If the engine is also used in an EELV class vehicle of their own USAF also lose the advantage of dissimilar redundancy).

I think for example ULA or Orbital would even more afraid to be (or be seen to be) at the mercy of Elon than Rogozin, even though their fear would probably be (mostly) unfounded.  ;)
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 09:07 pm by InfraNut2 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #119 on: 06/05/2014 09:09 pm »

Let me suggest that the way US government policy and corporate management decisions over decades  mean that the government needs Spacex more than Spacex needs a government research contract.  :(

Not really.  The USG has been fine without SX and SX wouldn't be where their at without USG funds

Offline dlapine

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #120 on: 06/05/2014 09:37 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.

For SpaceX it would probably be a good move, but I doubt USAF would allow a launch company to compete. If they did, the other launch companies would be extremely reluctant to buy engines from a competitor and that then defeats the whole purpose. (Besides: If the engine is also used in an EELV class vehicle of their own USAF also lose the advantage of dissimilar redundancy).

I think for example ULA or Orbital would even more afraid to be (or be seen to be) at the mercy of Elon than Rogozin, even though their fear would probably be (mostly) unfounded.  ;)

More to the point, won't SpaceX engines be designed from now on for non-expendable vehicles? They may well be expended, but the design will include reusability as part of any new design. Not sure that SpaceX engines would be a good fit for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

That being said, any engines funded by such a program would potentially be under "ease of access rules" or an open design (well, an ITAR restricted version) such that US firms could purchase or license to build with reasonable terms.

Offline HMXHMX

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #121 on: 06/05/2014 09:56 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.

For SpaceX it would probably be a good move, but I doubt USAF would allow a launch company to compete. If they did, the other launch companies would be extremely reluctant to buy engines from a competitor and that then defeats the whole purpose. (Besides: If the engine is also used in an EELV class vehicle of their own USAF also lose the advantage of dissimilar redundancy).

I think for example ULA or Orbital would even more afraid to be (or be seen to be) at the mercy of Elon than Rogozin, even though their fear would probably be (mostly) unfounded.  ;)

More to the point, won't SpaceX engines be designed from now on for non-expendable vehicles? They may well be expended, but the design will include reusability as part of any new design. Not sure that SpaceX engines would be a good fit for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

That being said, any engines funded by such a program would potentially be under "ease of access rules" or an open design (well, an ITAR restricted version) such that US firms could purchase or license to build with reasonable terms.

We really don't design expendable liquid engines (except for those using ablative nozzles).  Even in the 1950s, our specs called for 12 starts, since you'd be firing the engine in qual testing and for calibration prior to vehicle integration.

The only items of a liquid engine that need attention for long term reusability are generally the hot section (chambers/nozzles) and bearings in the pumps.  Creep in the turbine is a minor concern and seal wear on valve may be but only when the engine is cycled hundreds of times.

As an example, there is at least one "expendable" RL-10 used in test that went through >350 starts.

Offline ThereIWas3

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #122 on: 06/05/2014 10:15 pm »
USG "has been fine" without SpaceX only because they did not know they could have
eventually gotten the same service at half the price ULA was asking
« Last Edit: 06/05/2014 10:15 pm by ThereIWas3 »
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Offline dlapine

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #123 on: 06/05/2014 10:18 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.

For SpaceX it would probably be a good move, but I doubt USAF would allow a launch company to compete. If they did, the other launch companies would be extremely reluctant to buy engines from a competitor and that then defeats the whole purpose. (Besides: If the engine is also used in an EELV class vehicle of their own USAF also lose the advantage of dissimilar redundancy).

I think for example ULA or Orbital would even more afraid to be (or be seen to be) at the mercy of Elon than Rogozin, even though their fear would probably be (mostly) unfounded.  ;)

More to the point, won't SpaceX engines be designed from now on for non-expendable vehicles? They may well be expended, but the design will include reusability as part of any new design. Not sure that SpaceX engines would be a good fit for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles.

That being said, any engines funded by such a program would potentially be under "ease of access rules" or an open design (well, an ITAR restricted version) such that US firms could purchase or license to build with reasonable terms.

We really don't design expendable liquid engines (except for those using ablative nozzles).  Even in the 1950s, our specs called for 12 starts, since you'd be firing the engine in qual testing and for calibration prior to vehicle integration.

The only items of a liquid engine that need attention for long term reusability are generally the hot section (chambers/nozzles) and bearings in the pumps.  Creep in the turbine is a minor concern and seal wear on valve may be but only when the engine is cycled hundreds of times.

As an example, there is at least one "expendable" RL-10 used in test that went through >350 starts.

Fair enough. I was thinking more specifically about liquid engines design to fly more than once, rather than just restarted. I'm only aware of 2 main engines (not counting thrusters), the Merlin and SSME. And potentially the Raptor.

SSME was considered cost prohibitive for other vehicles due to its reusable nature. A new engine program might shortsightedly suggest that the new design not be reusable to save on costs. A new engine developed by SpaceX might be cheaper even with reusability multiple flight capability.  :)

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #124 on: 06/05/2014 10:35 pm »
Is there anything on the "Would like to participate" comment on the domestic RD-180 production.

the comment was not about domestic RD-180 production. It was about development of a new US hydrocarbon engine.

They would be crazy not to compete for that. It funds their rocket development team and makes SpaceX the goto company for rocket engines for the next 10-20 years.
Outside funding is nice but the question would be do Spacex want to be the goto company for rocket engines?

They have an engine. They have cash flow. They already know their engine team is good.
Actually they have a low cost LV that pretty much uses one LRE kind. That's the valuable thing right now. Not just the engine.

IMHO its overbuilt. Which makes sense given the unknowns of reuse.

And I don't think its about cash flow. I think its about market control at this point. Because then they can change the direction of the industry as they desire. It already seems to be happening, even before they've proved much. That's what's driving many crazy about these guys - how come they get so much attention having done so little.

Remember, this is a field dominated by what you did do and its results, not by what you might do.


If the US governments RFP for a new big engine fits in with Musks schedule to develop a new big engine then they may compete. If not I'd guess they have enough to be getting on with.

The question you have to answer is "How does doing this help Elon get to Mars better/faster/cheaper/safer?" If it doesn't why expect Spacex to do it?
Fair enough. Perhaps the question is "how does SpaceX operate to achieve such goals?".

If they control the market, they can change the costing for components/services. Right now its ... peculiar. Due to volumes and "value pricing"/lockouts.

Note that not needing LRE's from AR, AR encourages them into LRE's from AR. That's an example of market control.

And BTW let's not forget that US Senator who's keen to drop FAR25 cost reporting on a project that was originally bid as a Firm Fixed Price contract?

Let me suggest that the way US government policy and corporate management decisions over decades  mean that the government needs Spacex more than Spacex needs a government research contract.  :(
I think that's going to backfire rather badly. I predict ULA will take a hit as a result.

Back to buy/sell engines. What you'd really want is at least two engine providers and three-four LV providers. For max advantage. But you don't have the volume even for one and two.  If you change the market to reuse, then you have a bimodal distribution and asymmetrical costing. Why you'd want market control is to have things favor "your way" in this arrangement.

SpaceX has a "good enough" story for volume. ULA has a rock solid story for top end launch services any kind.

If you control, you want your fixed costs lowest. All services as a package. That's the game.

AR is saying to SpaceX, "let us have the engine business, and you don't have that on critical path". To accept that, you'd have to get under the existing Merlin and "buy out" / "head off" Raptor for them to "buy" instead of "build". Doesn't sound easy.

SpaceX selling engines would be more about underwriting Raptor/BFR development, somewhat like the Russians do/did. They'd never fear being undercut on launch, and could selectively control what fell into their "lump" of the bimodal curve.

The hard part about that would be the overlap in the RFP/RFQ bid to win. And we don't know that, or any Shelby nonsense that might come along for the ride. Too soon to tell.

But govt/AF launches with one engine type does not sound very "assured" to me. Seems like you end up with 2-3 providers and 2 engines either way. Only two combinations here I know, unless you think the Russians will be let back into the chicken coop...

Offline savuporo

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #125 on: 06/05/2014 11:44 pm »

The question then is, what propulsion work does SpaceX have in it's backlog to keep the engine R&D team busy - and that means design and development, not manufacturing obviously.

Raptor and future versions of the Merlin seem like a lot of work.


If they are not mostly done with Merlins and just about to wrap up Raptor from R&D side then i think they have a problem. The question any decent exec will ask, what is this team that i hired going to be doing 6 months and 2 years down the road, and how do i measure their success.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #126 on: 06/06/2014 12:42 am »
USG "has been fine" without SpaceX only because they did not know they could have
eventually gotten the same service at half the price ULA was asking

The "same" service is still not a given.  It has yet to be provided even once.

Offline Jim

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #127 on: 06/06/2014 12:52 am »

Sorry, but like the use of the term "evolved"  of the Atlas V from the original Atlas, or the Delta IV form the original NASA sponsored Delta design, this is pretty much total fantasy. That's like a Porsche being "evolved" from a horse because they both have 4 supports touching the ground. :(

Sorry, but hey are evolved and the term is 100% dead on.

Delta II > Delta III > Delta IV.   All three share the same avionics.  Delta III upperstage became the Delta IV upperstage.  GEM 40 to 46 to 60. 

Atlas II > Atlas III & Titan IV > Atlas V All three shared the same avionics. Used some of the Titan pad infrastructure, same upperstage.  Same first stage propellants.

Proper analogy:  911 being evolved from a Beetle

« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 12:53 am by Jim »

Offline AncientU

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Re: Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX
« Reply #128 on: 06/06/2014 01:06 am »

Let me suggest that the way US government policy and corporate management decisions over decades  mean that the government needs Spacex more than Spacex needs a government research contract.  :(
Not really.  The USG has been fine without SX
What definition of "fine" are you using?
The "fine" that launches most national security payloads on non-allied(adversarial at times) nation's engines?
The "fine" that cannot deliver its astros or supplies to a $100B space station?
The "fine" that has lost 100% of the international commercial launch market?
The "fine" that had a HUGE development program cancelled because the end product of that effort would be too expensive to operate even if it were given to the Nation as a present?
The "fine" that is attempting yet again to build a HVL that doesn't lift what US did fifty years ago?
The "fine" that is using forty year old technology to build that HLV?
The "fine" that will watch the fiftieth anniversary of landing on the Moon pass without the ability to even get an astro off the ground on a USG vehicle?
The "fine" that has started a dozen new engines and finished zero in the last few decades?
The "fine' that watches its space development dollars go to jobs programs in 'preferred' Districts year after year -- and accepts it as standard operating procedure?

By "fine" you probably mean asleep and contentedly snoring away, right? 
That's the only definition that makes sense.
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