• Jeff Smith

    My recent observation about the successful New Space startups is that you either need a deep pocket investor/customer to keep going through the initial failures, or a teaming with an established space player who’s experts will help you avoid some of the obvious mistakes (preferably, both).

    SpaceX had Elon’s money to get off a successful F1, but when that wasn’t enough, NASA had both money and experts to help F9/Dragon become a success. SS1/SS2 have had both Paul Allen and Richard Branson. Rocket Lab teamed with LM. BO has Jeff Bezos. SpaceIL has had both Sheldon Adelson and now Morris Kahn.

    Companies like XCOR, the asteroid miners, and Armadillo just couldn’t survive without both a depth of money and technical expertise. When SS1 won the XPrize, a lot of us (me included) assumed the space revolution was right around the corner. It’s been a much slower evolution instead. Space is STILL hard.

  • Douglas Messier

    Israel Aerospace Industries has teamed with OHB to offer a version of Beresheet lander to ESA for payload delivery. So, they have teamed up with established company part. Where that exactly leaves SpaceIL is not clear.

    Presumably, the OHB/IAI will be competing for ESA missions. It’s also possible they could provide a lander for a joint ESA/Israel moon project.

    Your central thesis is correct: billionaires are pretty key. The XPRIZE competitions wouldn’t have produced much of anything without billionaires.

  • Jeff Smith

    Isn’t that just a recent marketing team-up? If OHB offers a lot of technical help for the Beresheet 2, AND markets the product, I could see that being a valuable teaming. But the finished, ready-to-sell product is still years away.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    SpaceIL will certainly provide mission-control, and even spacecraft (CAD) design experience/expertise. SpaceIL members have nothing to hang their heads in shame about.
    How many of you amateurs living in the goyem nations have built and sent a spacecraft to the moon and successfully parked it in lunar orbit? None of you? Weren’t some of you amateurs here on this Parabolic Arc Blog website hoping to be part of some team to go on and win the Google Lunar XPrize when it was first announced years ago?

  • Saturn1300

    Good for them.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Glad to see that the determination is there to go on. That is how breakthroughs are made.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The COTS funding for Falcon 9/Dragon was useful, but I wonder about the “experts” part. The entire purpose of COTS was to see what private industry could do. But given the joke that SLS/Orion/Gateway is I could see how NASA might want to grab some of SpaceX’s glory.

    As for the Asteroid miners, most of their engineering staff came out of NASA, which was probably one of the things that doomed them to failure.

  • savuporo

    Yep, to make a small fortune in space you gotta start with a big one. Still holds true.

    The only field in space where barrier to entry has been lowered a lot is building a smallsat and get it launched to LEO. Everything else absolutely needs deep pockets.

  • Lee

    You might want to read up on Apollo, Ranger, Surveyor, and any number of other lunar probes before you start firing shots at those of us in the “goyem” nations…

  • windbourne

    BTW, it was not Elon’s money. It was actually a lot of his friends, him, and NASA (for about 1/4 of it with 299). And yeah, NASA contributed LOTS of help.

  • ThomasLMatula

    NASA did not invest in SpaceX, they bought services they needed. If I buy a bottle of Coca-Cola I am not “investing” in Coca-Cola. I am simply buying their product. The problem with folks used to Old Space is they misuse the language of business, like confusing the cost of a launch with the price of it.

    Also just saying NASA contributed “lots of help” doesn’t really answer any questions. Just what exactly did NASA contribute to the design beyond the existing knowledge base in industry? For example did NASA design the landing gears for the F9R? Or did they design the abort or propulsive landing for Dragon? Surely not the real secret, the software. Especially given how far behind NASA is on designing the software for the SLS.

    BTW an RFP is not contributing to the design of a system, it is merely a request for bidders. If I fill out a consumer survey for Coca-Cola I am not designing their next product, merely stating my preferences and desires.

    Falcon 9 is called Falcon 9 because it is a clustering of 9 Falcon 1’s. The last Cluster rocket NASA did was the old Saturn V. So how folks are left at NASA that know how to build one?

  • windbourne

    COTS did not buy anything directly. With COTS, NASA put 299 M into SX. NASA helped with QA esp after F1, and looking over shoulder and saying yes/no

  • ThomasLMatula

    So tell me, how many shares of SpaceX stock does NASA own? Or how many bonds? Buying engineering data from a firm is not the same as investing in it. NASA simply paid SpaceX to do demonstration flights. NASA received engineering data from those flights that enable NASA to make a more informed decision on how to service the ISS. A simple business exchange, just like hiring someone to sing some songs before signing them to a long term contract singing.

  • windbourne

    What? You think that NASA doing cots is not an investment just because it does not have stock? It absolutely was an investment, and a smart one. Because of it, their future costs came down. They invested into the future.

  • Vladislaw

    “BTW, it was not Elon’s money. It was actually a lot of his friends, him, and NASA (for about 1/4 of it with 299). And yeah, NASA contributed LOTS of help.”

    Windbourne didn’t say NASA “invested money”. He stated elon didn’t use all his own money. No where in his comment did he state NASA invested. Although in effect it was an investment for the american taxpayer with taxpayer money.