Space Access ’11: Gary Hudson Channels Admiral Ackbar

Gary Hudson
t/space
“It’s a trap” Monosony and NewSpace

What monopsony is:

  • too many sellers with only one buyer (government!)

What it is not:

  • Monopoly the Game
  • Sony the company
  • The kissing disease

The Back Story

  • t/space proposed COTS to NASA as Alt Access — proposed a demo flight in 2004
  • specifically wanted to avoid needing to go to ISS, competing with Constellation — it’s a trap
  • Should have focused on crew capability first — once you have that, cargo is easy
  • Mike Griffin mutated the program
  • NASA went with cargo first and then went to crew
  • NASA has ended up as the primary market — not a good development

The Result

  • COTS has created ULA-lite companies — smaller, but not significantly so
  • Only factor of 2 reduction in costs — not a factor of 10 as hoped
  • Barriers to entry for new providers
  • Would not be where we are without all the work NASA did — also wouldn’t have the barriers to entrepreneurship that have developed over last 50 years
  • NASA adding money to COTS contractors for milestones is not fixed-price contracting — it’s the capture of contractors by NASA
  • CCDev tied to job creation
  • CCDev tied to funding for the Space Launch System (HLV)
  • Drives costs up

Is There Any Hope?

  • Sadly, no 🙁

Q&A

If SpaceX gets to $1,000 per pound to orbit, then Land Launch will be at that price as well

SpaceX will be charging NASA about $130 million for COTS flights on Falcon 9 while satellite companies will pay about $50 million — government paying about 2.5 times more