Good point about recovering the supposedly reusable parts.
Asking for 10 to 20 test launches prior to beginning commercial use is just ridiculous to expect, unless they get a string of failures after their first success. Expecting complete success on the first two launches is even more ridiculous.
Man-rating will probably take longer, but if NASA (the regulating body in this case) knows their stuff as well as they should, it’ll happen sooner than you think.
Private business will always innovate at a higher rate than government, so I’ll gladly put my money on where SpaceX will be in 10 years compared to any national space program in a cost vs. benefit analysis.
Well, he better first get his *second* rocket up in one piece of first stage.
Then he may try to launch a rocket on an announced schedule that isn’t the schedule for a launch 3 months after the originally planned date.
After that, there’s the Falcon 9 and hoping the complexity doesn’t blow it apart.
Another 10 or 20 launches of that one later he may launch the first serious commercial payloads. (Screwing up the first 2 Demo launches and the first commercial launch, none of which were on schedule, probably didn’t help with credibility.)
Man-rating will and should take even longer than that.
This is not the cold war. When one of those boys comes down in pieces he didn’t do a great service to his country and there won’t be a hero’s funeral waiting for him.
And then of course, there’s the small matter of actually achieving the planned costs. SpaceX has yet to recover a single one of the supposedly reusable parts of its rockets.
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