[FPSPACE] from MirCorp to an ISScorp

KEITH GOTTSCHALK kgottschalk@uwc.ac.za
8 Oct 2000 16:13:41 +0200


   Thanks, Dwayne. Being  some 10 000 kms distant from  US
domestic polemics & lobbies, I had not realized that the
space free marketeers were bored by comsats, & did not
regard NASA the same way, eg. a real life contractor does. 
Also. my curiosity & passion for planetary astronomy
naturally inclines me to want a well-funded NASA alongside
well-capitalized space companies.  Just like we have
university-company partnerships.

     Let's take the view that MirCorp DID help extend Mir's
life by another twelve months, & might well send up the 1st
space tourist before closing its books. I say first space
tourist, as that Japanese TV announcer was up there for work
as well as play. Alas, MirCorp cannot afford to either
double Mir's altitude, nor to pay for that new inflatable
heatshield tested in a German-Russian partnership, which
could theoretically bring it down in one battered lump in
some  Russian forest. Mir also demonstrated the orbital
safety margin of being able to deal off a punctured module,
and soldier on. This is a vital capability for its
successors, both space stations & spacecraft to the Moon &
Mars.

    By the time ISS is as geriatric as Mir, we can
reasonably expect that a hypothetical ISScorp will have in
existence  at least two rival RLVs to lower space tourist
costs from the billionaire bracket to the millionaire
bracket. The managing directors of Boeing, with their 60 ton
H205 rocket engine, & Lockmart's directors with their  X-33
aerospike engines, both have more capitaliation than Kistler
or Roton. They can persist longer with R & D,  & have more
options to find a profitable niche in space transportation. 
 VentureStar itself may well go the way of the French Hermes
dream. Aluminium propellant tanks may leave it with a
"negative payload" in orbit  :)                             

    But we can confidentially  predict that something will
follow the VentureStar paper proposals, & that successor
will get as far as bending metal - or bending carbon-carbon
or nanotubes.