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Old 03-14-2018, 02:26 AM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 27,302
What he was talking about was splitting off the space operations of the Air Force into its own command, much as the Air Force was created by spinning off the Army Air Corps. That's what the 'Space Force' is.

I don't have an opinion on the change, as I haven't read much about it. I think it might make sense if space operations really expand.

About that... The militarization of space is inevitable. No treaties are going to stop it. If the cost of space declines as much as it looks like it's about to, all kinds of new offensive and defensive military uses will open up. Not only that, but space could become accessible to a lot more state actors. There's no way that something as strategically valuable as space will remain off-limits - especially since the USA, China and Russia have been in the military space game for a long time.

My prediction is that everyone is watching the economics of Falcon Heavy and the upcoming BFR and Bezos rockets very carefully. If launch costs come down anywhere near to what Musk is claiming/promising, there are going to be crash reusable rocket programs going on at pretty much every space agency and consortium. There's no way a Delta IV is going to remain viable at $600 million per launch when a Falcon Heavy is 90 million. BFR could potentially fly for $5 -$10 million per launch, and launch 5X the mass. That's a rounding error for a military budget.

It seems to me that the genie is out of the bottle. Even if BFR doesn't live up to the promise, Musk has shown that reusability is viable. Now that we know that, others will follow. Market competition will drive incremental improvements in a way that cost-plus government contracting did not. Eventually, rockets will be almost completely reusable, have fast turnarounds, and be highly reliable like aircrraft.

I think the Falcon Heavy Launch may eventually be remembered as the first step in the 'New' Space era, where spaceships are reusable like airplanes, and rocket flight into space is routine and fairly inexpensive, compared to the earlier era of throwaway rockets and billion dollar launches. Falcon 9's have been pulling off this trick for a while, but that spectacle of the twin booster landings and the Starman in orbit I think really startled a lot of people out of complacency. The game is on. There's too much money in the space industry to allow Musk to take it all. I think a few space execs were in denial until that moment.