The two Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts awarded to Boeing and SpaceX by NASA on September 16 should come as no big surprise to anyone familiar with both the agency's conservative culture and its relatively small annual budget of just under $18 billion. Boeing received $4.2 billion to continue with development of its human-rated system based on the Atlas V rocket and CST-100 capsule, while SpaceX got $2.6 billion to continue work on its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket and Dragon V2 combo.
Last week, I wrote about Boeing's decision to ramp up 737 output to 52 per month in 2018. I sounded a cautionary note about long-term overcapacity, particularly if Airbus matches Boeing. But I'm starting to think there's no reason to worry; this announcement is far from certain to be executed. Consider the factors that could derail the ramp up: First, we're talking about 2018. A lot can happen in four years. Over the past five years, single aisle production has been massively increased by a combination of three factors: low interest rates, expensive fuel (which makes new jets more appealing than keeping or buying cheap older ones), and fast growth in emerging markets (primarily the BRICs).
"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words." That chilling quote is from a character in George Orwell's 1984. As someone who likes to write, I usually disagree with that sentiment. But every so often, a word merits destruction. It's time to destroy (or at least avoid) the word "shortage." Shortages are a serious problem...if you are living in the old Soviet Union. "Comrades," they'd say, "the minister in charge of APU factories has failed to meet his quota. Due to the shortage of APUs, aircraft production is off by 25%. We will airbrush him out of all Politburo photos, and send his widow a bill for the bullet."
BAE Systems plc (BAE), the United Kingdom's largest defense and aerospace contractor and the world's third largest defense contractor, is working to manage pressures on its business from budgetary cut¬backs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The planned merger of the defense and space portions of ATK with Orbital Sciences will create a $4.5 billion company. Orbital and ATK's managements maintain that they are creating a much stronger company that will benefit from accelerated growth. In space, Orbital will bring its systems integration capabilities and ATK will provide its techologies. The result will be a much larger space company. Orbital's space work is about $1.5 billion annually, with ATK's space work totaling $1.2 billion.
I don't want to make a documentary. I want to make a documentary about the making of a documentary. This meta concept seems appropriate after watching Al Jazeera's Broken Dreams. You can find it at www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787. I make a few appearances, but that's why DVRs have fast-forward buttons. The documentary does not make a persuasive case against the 787 and is somewhat sensationalist. But it also tells us a lot about the state of things at Boeing. Boeing management's actions have produced a deeply angry work force. This documentary depicts some of the damage from that anger, and there's likely more blowback to come.
Deliveries from just Airbus and Boeing last year reached $92 billion in value, another record after two other record years. In 2012, they rose 29.4% in value over 2011, capping a remarkable 55.5% growth spurt in 2008-2012.
If you look at the number of satellites being launched to earth orbit over the past decade, there has been consistent growth. In 2004, a total of 76 satellites were launched (or attempted). In 2013, there were 215. That is almost a tripling of the market. But these numbers are deceptive. Here's why. In 2004, only 17% of the satellites that went up had a mass of 100 kilograms or less. In 2005, it was 11%. Last year, about half of the satellites weighed 100 kg or less.