Articles tagged with: NASA

06
March
2017

Don't expect a space race between SpaceX and NASA. They need each other

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

Don't expect a space race between SpaceX and NASA. They need each other

SpaceX, the upstart company, and NASA, the government agency, both have plans to venture to Mars and orbit the moon. But that doesn’t mean they’ve launched a new space race.

In fact, NASA has long been SpaceX’s most important customer, providing contracts to deliver cargo and eventually astronauts to the International Space Station. And the Hawthorne company will need NASA’s technical support to achieve the first of its grand ambitions in deep space.

A major milestone for the partnership came in 2012 when SpaceX launched its first NASA cargo load, making it the first private company to send a spacecraft to the space station.

Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at the Teal Group, said the NASA supply missions gave SpaceX “almost instant credibility."

"Having NASA as an anchor client allowed them to have enough revenue flow so that they could establish themselves and eventually diversify and get some commercial contracts and eventually to be able to get into the military establishment,” he said.

Today, SpaceX and Boeing Co. are developing separate crew capsules as part of NASA contracts to transport astronauts to the space station.

SpaceX noted that this NASA program provided most of the funding to develop the Dragon 2 spacecraft, which will make the moon trip. It is planning to conduct the first test flight of the Dragon crew capsule in November, followed by a flight test with humans in May 2018.

Media Outlet: The Washington Post Tags NASA | SpaceX

18
January
2017

SpaceX sends 10 satellites into orbit, lands rocket booster on drone ship in first flight since September explosion

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

SpaceX sends 10 satellites into orbit, lands rocket booster on drone ship in first flight since September explosion

Four months after a launch pad explosion, SpaceX returned to flight Saturday morning, delivering 10 satellites into orbit and landing its first-stage booster on a floating drone ship. Analysts had described the launch as “all-important” for the Hawthorne space company to reestablish customer confidence and momentum after a Sept. 1 launchpad explosion in Florida destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and a commercial communications satellite perched on top. But beyond the specter of the accident, stakes were high for Saturday’s launch because it involved deploying the first 10 satellites of a new commercial constellation for well-known operator Iridium Communications Inc.

The new satellites have more capability than their older counterparts, including higher data speeds. Saturday’s launch is the first of seven that SpaceX will perform for Iridium to carry a total of 70 satellites into orbit.

“There was a lot riding on this for SpaceX, but also for Iridium, and I think they can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at the Teal Group.

The launch occurred at 9:54 a.m. Pacific time from Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara. About eight minutes after liftoff, the first-stage rocket booster landed upright on a floating platform called “Just Read the Instructions” in the Pacific Ocean.

About an hour after the launch, company Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that the mission “looks good.” By 11:15 a.m., Musk tweeted that all satellites had been successfully delivered to the correct orbit.

Media Outlet: Los Angeles Times Tags Elon Musk | NASA | SpaceX

23
March
2015

A New Space Race Emerges as NASA Prepares to Award Contract to Ferry Supplies to Space Station

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

A New Space Race Emerges as NASA Prepares to Award Contract to Ferry Supplies to Space Station

Marco Caceres, an analyst with the Teal Group, says there is a strong business case for ULA to retire the Delta IV, as the cost for keeping two redundant lines is significant. But he also acknowledged that there is a smart political angle at work. "If they were to cancel the Delta IV medium and all they have is the Atlas V, then there is a better argument to be made for preserving the RD-180 shipments," Caceres said. "No question about that. Have they thought about it? I'm sure people at ULA have considered it as a good strategic move."

But, Caceres said, there are many practical reasons for ULA to move away from the Delta IV, a largely redundant and expensive capacity. He notes that part of the reason Bruno was brought in to lead ULA last summer was to streamline the company in the face of SpaceX's competition. "If the Air Force wants ULA to be more competitive on price, it has to become leaner, and it can't do that with two redundant systems," Caceres said.

Media Outlet: The Washington Post Tags cargo supply | International Space Station | ISS | NASA

09
December
2014

Russia, Orbital Sciences, and the American Rocket Problem

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

Russia, Orbital Sciences, and the American Rocket Problem

"I don't see how Orbital, given all the negative publicity around Russian engines, could go with another Russian engine," says Marco Caceres, space industry analyst for aerospace and defense consultancy Teal Group. "How could the CEO explain another accident to shareholders? I think you have to go with a red, white, and blue company."

But finding that company could prove daunting. Aerojet Rocketdyne's existing production line produces powerful engines for the Delta IV and NASA's new super-heavy-lifting Space Launch System—likely too much engine for Orbital's medium-sized Antares rocket, Caceres says. 

Media Outlet: Fortune Tags Antares | NASA | Orbital Sciences | Russian engines

05
December
2014

NASA Launches Orion Capsule in First Test for Mars Mission

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

NASA Launches Orion Capsule in First Test for Mars Mission

The agency doesn't yet have a rocket powerful enough to blast it into space that is also deemed safe enough to transport people. "It's kind of like sitting in a beautiful Cadillac, without an engine or tires," said Marco Caceres, director of space studies for Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

Media Outlet: Bloomberg Tags Mars | NASA | Orion | SLS

02
December
2014

NASA Prepares to Test the Spaceship That Could Take Us to Mars

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

NASA Prepares to Test the Spaceship That Could Take Us to Mars

The cost of the SLS and Orion could grow to more than $30 billion, said Marco Caceres, a senior space analyst with the Teal Group consulting firm. There is a fair amount of opposition to the asteroid mission in Congress, and a Mars landing, some 20 years away at best, remains a dream.

"To make matters worse," Caceres wrote in a recent blog, "is the painful fact that the rocket doesn't actually have a mission."

The Mars program is subject to funding constraints and a balky political system.

"This is the problem with anything that takes 20 years — people have very short attention spans," Caceres said. "And you have numerous presidential administrations and Congresses, and inevitably someone gets around to canceling it, or reducing it."

Media Outlet: The Washington Post Tags Mars | NASA | Orion | SLS

13
October
2014

SpaceX May Be A Bargain For NASA, If Musk Delivers

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

SpaceX May Be A Bargain For NASA, If Musk Delivers

"Boeing's cost structure is higher than SpaceX — that's just a fact," said Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at the Teal Group.

Because the aerospace giant has been around longer, it most likely has an older, more experienced workforce with higher wages and labor costs, he added.

But the biggest cost differences likely come from manufacturing processes. Boeing builds its Delta rocket and Atlas V launchers in a vertical position, while SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets are assembled horizontally, which is easier and saves on time.

Meantime, SpaceX is a vertically integrated company, building all of its parts in-house, with no subcontractors. Boeing employs numerous subcontractors to build components, which adds to costs. "When you become a more established company, you can't be a specialist in everything," Caceres said.

Media Outlet: Investor's Business Daily Tags Atlas V | Boeing | Commercial Crew Vehicle | Falcon 9 | NASA | SpaceX

10
September
2014

Musk Seeking Mars Mission After NASA Picks SpaceX-Boeing

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

Musk Seeking Mars Mission After NASA Picks SpaceX-Boeing

"SpaceX is the new kid on the block, but it's proven its capabilities very quickly," said Marco Caceres, director of space studies with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant. "SpaceX would love to be the first commercial company to land its own private astronauts on the moon and eventually go on to Mars."

Media Outlet: Bloomberg Businessweek Tags Boeing | CST-100 | Dragon V2 | NASA | SpaceX

10
September
2014

Boeing-SpaceX Team Splits $6.8 Billion Space Taxi Award

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

Boeing-SpaceX Team Splits $6.8 Billion Space Taxi Award

"It's entirely possible that we wake up one day and the Russians say, 'We're not taking your astronauts up anymore,'" said Marco Caceres, director of space studies at Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant Teal Group. "NASA's anticipating this possibility. That's why they want to move as quickly as possible with this program."

Media Outlet: Bloomberg Tags Boeing | Commercial Crew Capsule | CST-100 | Dragon V2 | Dream Chaser | NASA | Sierra Nevada | SpaceX

10
September
2014

Musk’s SpaceX Vies With Boeing as NASA’s Taxi to Station

Featuring: Marco A. Caceres

Musk’s SpaceX Vies With Boeing as NASA’s Taxi to Station

Funding two ventures may raise development costs while also fostering competition and giving NASA an alternative if one vehicle encounters technical difficulties, said Marco Caceres, director of space studies with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

Congressional opposition to a similar arrangement for the crew contract has waned as the fraying U.S.-Russia relationship focuses attention on NASA's dependence on Soyuz rockets to put astronauts into orbit, Caceres said in a telephone interview.

"The Russians have done NASA a favor in terms of funding," Caceres said.

Media Outlet: Bloomberg Tags Boeing | Commercial Crew Capsule | CST-100 | Dragon V2 | Dream Chaser | NASA | Sierra Nevada | SpaceX

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