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starship-design: Fwd: Now they think of it!!


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     News cliping
     NASA officials are considering proposing a set of incentives, 
     ranging from promises to purchase launch services to loan 
     guarantees, to support the private development of reusable 
     launch vehicles (RLVs), Space News reported last week.
      William Claybaugh, business advisor to the deputy associate 
     administrator for space transportation technology at NASA, 
     told Space News that the agency is considering a number of 
     incentives to support RLVs that would require government 
     backing but "may not necessarily cost the government 
     anything," he said.
      Among Claybaugh's proposals include promises by NASA to 
     purchase a specific number of RLV flights, tax credits, and 
     underwriting commercial loans or subsidizing the interest 
     rates on those loans. 
      Those proposals would reduce the perceived risk in the 
     project and lower the interest rates, making more capital 
     available, according to Gary Payton, NASA's deputy associate 
     administrator for space transportation technology.
      A study last year by the Aerospace Corporation showed that 
     commercial RLV builders could expect to invest no more than 
     about $1 billion in a new project, requiring either outside 
     investment or government funding. The finding raised concerns 
     about the future of VentureStar, the full-scale follow-on to 
     the X-33, which has an expected development cost of about $5-6 
      While NASA's proposals of loan guarantees and other 
     incentives appear targeted specifically at Lockheed Martin, 
     developer of the VentureStar, Claybaugh said any incentives 
     would be available to other companies developing RLVs.
      Claybaugh was skeptical that any company could develop an RLV 
     that provided low-cost access to space solely on commercial 
     funding. "If a company has to pay back all the development 
     costs on a commercial basis, [it is] not going to be able to 
     hit the $1,000 per pound cost target," he told Space News.
     This is the deal Lockheed offered them 2 years ago instead of the X-33 
     program and they turned it down!!  They agreed to spend an extra billion 
     dollars instead!
     On the plus side, this kind of idea has been considered the most
     way to greatly accelerate the development of these low cost launchers.
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