Re: SPACE: Is ISS a boondoggle?, was Re: SPACE: Why so much EVA on ISS?

From: Adrian Tymes (
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 20:57:30 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> Its fascinating if you go over this design. You have the U.S.
> Destiny lab, then the ESA lab, then the Japanese lab, then a
> couple of Russian labs. What precisely are all these labs going
> to do? What can the labs do that hasn't already been done on
> the the Mir or Spacelab? Have you looked at the prices that NASA
> anticipates charging for the hourly allocation of an astronaut
> as a "lab operator"? Makes hourly rates for lawyers and doctors
> look positively "minimum wage".

Even NASA is not immune from the temptation to the sorts of abuses
(deliberate or not) that monopolies incur. And let's face it: even if
they don't actively try to knock potential competitors out (and despite
what some say, I don't think they do), the extremely high barrier to
entry means they are a de facto monopoly on this kind of stuff.

> The whole thing has a bad smell. In contrast if you positioned
> it as an orbiting observatory platform or an "assembly" operation
> then you would be getting something from it.
> Answer this -- why can't one attach a couple of dozen Baby Hubble's
> to the space station? Is there some orbital difference between
> the Hubble and the ISS that makes it unusable as an observatory?
> Is it simply not stable enough? What gives here?

"Beauraucratic inefficiency". Money is almost no object to their
planners, but safety is, so their desired point on the "cheaper/safer"
curve is where most businesses would not even bother drawing a
gradation and just label, "goes to infinity here". Plus, efficiency
does not give them as high a payback as it would if they might actually
lose customers due to having high costs. They do many things well,
just not economics.

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