In Light of the Loss of Orbital Sciences' Antares

October 29, 2014 7:46 PM

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In the aftermath of the recent loss of Orbital Sciences Antares, some have criticized NASA's reliance on commercial providers, and specifically Orbital Sciences. This is a subject matter upon which I have a unique understanding and perspective. I am the first second-generation astronaut, an investor in many commercial spaceflight companies and have served on the NASA advisory council. While my opinions are clearly my own and neither that of the commercial industry nor NASA, they are informed by growing up as part of the NASA family, and having a foot planted firmly on both sides of the government and commercial sides of this discussion.

It is important to understand the broad context for why it seems to be hard to make inexpensive or reliable rockets. Unlike cars and planes which have high flight rates, the lifetime launches of a particular rocket system is low. And the lifetime of an individual rocket is usually one launch. Thus t...

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