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Old January 22nd 19, 09:23 PM posted to sci.space.policy
Fred J. McCall[_3_]
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Default Stratolaunch Out Of Launch Vehicle Business

"Greg \(Strider\) Moore" wrote on Tue,
22 Jan 2019 10:48:59 -0500:

"Rocket Man" wrote in message ...


"Rocket Man" wrote in message
...

"Fred J. McCall" wrote in message
...
Stratolaunch is halting development of its own engines and launch
vehicles and focusing on aircraft development to launch
Northrop-Grumman boosters. This action, with the accompanying layoff
of 50 or so people, is occurring in the wake of Paul Allen's death and
may be a sign that without a 'sweetheart' investor the development of
their own engines and vehicles, announced last year, is just too
expensive for them to sustain.

I'm pretty sure that in the near future they'll cease operations
completely. There're simply too many competitors out there, a number of
which have already established themselves in the market. And then there's
the state-sponsored competition from Europe, China and India. The pie is
simply too small for all of them to make a living. China is also
'creating' so-called 'commercial' space companies, some of which are
SpaceX copy-cats and wannabes.


One has to wonder if the same thing could happen to Blue Origin if
Jeff Bezos were to drop dead for some reason. That seems less likely,
as they're further along in vehicle development, but still possible.


I'm pretty sure the same thing would happen. For Bezos, Blue Origin is
just a (very expensive) hobby. Without the cash he's putting up Blue
Origin would collapse almost overnight.


In addition, I believe Bezos is not getting his money's worth for the $1
billion a year he's spending on Blue Origin. Yes, there are plans, but New
Shepard is still being tested and New Glenn and New Armstrong are nothing
put PowerPoint slides at the moment. Very little metal has been cut.

I imagine Blue Origin employees are feasting and getting fat on the the
money their sugar-daddy's providing. SpaceX wasn't as lavishly funded and
got a lot more done.


Perhaps, but I think Jeff's point in another reply is a critical one and if
I'm understanding him correctly should be expanded upon:

Engine development really is the long pole in the tent. Yeah, it took a lot
of tweaking to get Falcon 9 to the current Block 5 design, but, they did
that while flying and the engines are the complex part. If BO closes
tomorrow as a launch company, they still have contracts for engines.
And honestly, could probably start flying New Glenn as a non-reusable pretty
soon if they wanted.


They also have a USAF contract to help pay for development of New
Glenn. They say it will be flying payloads to orbit in 2021. For it
to be reusable, they're going to have to procure and prepare a large
merchant vessel for the first stage to recover on.


--
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable
man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore,
all progress depends on the unreasonable man."
--George Bernard Shaw
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