Talk:Private spaceflight

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I'm not sure why you think AMSAT should not be in this list. I'm putting it back as a fourth item in the list. --Alba 23:10, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

AMSAT doesn't make rockets, it makes satellites. There have been hundreds if not thousands of private, university, or non-profit satellites. But this article is about space flight. Rmhermen 05:57, Feb 19, 2005 (UTC)

space elevators[edit]

Added a brief paragraph covering Space Elevators, link to the Wikipedia article. Bdunbar 07:55, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

This article has more on the topic of planned spacecraft[1] that might be of use. Rmhermen 15:56, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Personal spaceflight and Space tourism[edit]

Any idea on how we should reconcile the Personal spaceflight section of Private spaceflight and the stand-alone Space tourism entry? They have a lot of conceptual overlap.

They have a lot of non overlap as well though. They are logically distinct. Space tourism can be provided by government or non government organisations; and private spaceflight can be unmanned (e.g. Falcon I).WolfKeeper 15:54, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Good article?[edit]

Has somebody involved with editing this article considered putting it forward for a GA nomination? I've just read through it informally, and at first glance it appears to fit the definition. JulesH 16:59, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

What is a GA nomination? How does one submit an article for it? Kavanagh 12:54, 25 June 2007 (EST)
You can find everything about Good Articles and the nomination process for it at Wikipedia:Good articles. — Shinhan < talk > 17:20, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
As of April, 2008, it's not appropriate for GA. Far too much speculation, essay. Even though I worked in this field for years, I found this article, itself, more confusing in some areas than helpful. See Discussion below. (talk) 21:41, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Fundamentally misleading[edit]

The lead section states:

Government space agencies pioneered space technology in the early decades of the Space Age. Later on, large defense contractors began to develop and operate space launch systems, derived from government rockets, and commercial satellites.

This is fundamentally misleading. Private contractors large and small were involved in the U.S. space program very early. Rocketdyne and GE (Hermes project) in the 1940s, for example. Would it bo OK to say, "In the U.S., government space agencies contracted with private enterprises to pioneer space technology at the end of World War II"? And then, is there a good way to characterize the public vs. private interactions in the Soviet space program? (sdsds - talk) 05:13, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

If the article at private sector were better, I would suggest a link to it. But neither it nor private enterprise (which is a redirect to capitalism) quite gets across the full flavor of the term "private" in this context. Although it is clear to those familiar with the subject, the article should probably state for naive readers that this is the intended meaning of private (as opposed to a meaning more like secret). (sdsds - talk) 17:39, 24 June 2007 (UTC)
Sdsds: Does this clarify: "In the early decades of the Space Age, the government space agencies of the Soviet Union and United States pioneered space technology in collaboration with affiliated design bureaus and private enterprises." (Kavanagh - talk) 13:12, 25 June 2007 (EST)

Space launch organizations and List of private spaceflight companies[edit]

What portion of the List of private spaceflight companies should be included in the Space launch organizations section? Or should the Space launch organizations be empty and just refer to the List of private spaceflight companies? Kavanagh 12:57, 25 June 2007 (EST)

I think none of the list need to be here. If a company is really important it should be mentioned in the text of this article. Rmhermen 17:10, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
Rmhermen: Does this article consolidation under the Private spaceflight companies subheader make sense? Kavanagh 16:49, 25 June 2007 (EST)

Private vs governmental[edit]

OK, this seems to be causing some problems with some people.

If an individual or group of individuals hires an aeroplane for a flight, then it's a private flight. Similarly if an individual or group hires a spacecraft for a flight, it's a private spaceflight.

If the government hires the same aeroplane for a flight, then it's a governmental flight. Or the same spacecraft, it's a governmental spaceflight.

For example The Space Shuttle was built by the companies that got folded into Boeing. So Boeing built the Space Shuttle, but it was paid for by the government. Boeing is arguably private (or at least corporate) but The Space Shuttle is a governmental launcher. The government pays for all of the flights on the space shuttle, so it is not part of Private Spaceflight.

If Bill Gates hired an Atlas V to launch himself or something into space, that's a private spaceflight.

Right?WolfKeeper 19:16, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

I disagree that a government hiring a private operator makes it a government flight.(Kavanagh - talk) 16:45, 25 June 2007 (EST)
You're seriously claiming that if the government charters an aeroplane, that that isn't a governmental flight? Do you have a cite for that?WolfKeeper 21:08, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
An instance of government spaceflight is when NASA, who owns and operates the Space Shuttle, flies it. (Kavanagh - talk) 16:45, 25 June 2007 (EST)
I'm not entirely sure to what extent the Shuttle is operated by NASA, and to what extent by other companies; I think to a fair degree the actual work is contracted out. If the Shuttle was 100% operated and owned by Boeing, paid for by the government, it would still be a governmental spaceflight.WolfKeeper 21:08, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
The manufacturer is not important but the operator is. If Bill Gates hires an Atlas V to launch himself, I'd argue the most accurate descriptor of that event is Personal spaceflight a.k.a. Space tourism, a subset of the Private spaceflight category. (Kavanagh - talk) 16:45, 25 June 2007 (EST)
It's not a question which is the 'most accurate' as the terms are not mutually exclusive, and you should note that space tourism is not in general a subset of private spaceflight; for example the Russian Soyuz is used, which probably doesn't entirely meet the definition of being run by a private company.WolfKeeper 21:08, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

A good example of governmental spaceflight by a NASA employee[2].WolfKeeper 21:46, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

WolfKeeper: This confusion goes to the heart of the definition of Private spaceflight. I think there are two points of ambiguity: When one hears 'private' do they equate it with 'personal' or private enterprise? Do they understand Private spaceflight as an industry as much as it is an actual instance of a spaceflight? Is a spaceflight operator (or airline) any less 'private' whether the customer buying the flight is a company, individual or government?(Kavanagh - talk) 16:45, 25 June 2007 (EST)
Yes, it is different. Governments are neither private nor personal nor private enterprise.WolfKeeper 21:08, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
If the exclusive customer for a particular flight is the government, then it makes sense to also call that individual flight a "government spaceflight". But what about the label for the entire for-profit industry that provides space transport services to both government and private entites? Can we not call it, as it has been called, the "private spaceflight" industry? I'd argue that we should continue to call it the "private spaceflight" industry. Or do you just disagree with the industry label? Note the MIT Technology Review article: "NASA's Bold Plan for Private Spaceflight: The space agency wants private partners to launch cargo and crews into orbits. But is the private sector up to the challenge?"[3] or "Private Space: Times have never been more promising for proponents of commercial spaceflight".[4] In this article MIT classifies the firms that fly NASA's payloads in a competitive launch market as 'private spaceflight'. Is MIT incorrect with this use of the phrase? If MIT is correct... since those companies can sell their launch services to BOTH private customers and government customers, we cannot restrict the definition with the clause "and paid for by an entity other than a government." Do you still wish to restrict the Private spaceflight definition with that modifier? Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. If you find the MIT article persuasive, please remove the "paid for" modifier. Thanks! Kavanagh 22:11, 25 June 2007 (EST)
Well, if the particular company created the launch capability without any government money, then it's a private or commercial launch capability, and them launching government payloads on it, doesn't change that. But the particular launches that have government payloads on are governmental spaceflight. To a fair degree though, you're trying to work out exactly how much governmental support turns private into public (governmental), and there's no precise dividing line. I think that the main point of the article is not to find the dividing line but to describe the archetype.WolfKeeper 09:43, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

"For Sale" image[edit]

Is this image really appropriate? It has nothing to do with the article and appears to be a poor attempt at humor.--Rtphokie (talk) 04:45, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:SpaceShipOne ground.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot (talk) 05:29, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Style, essay issues, citations[edit]

A little too much of this article is written like a personal essay. That's especially a problem where it drifts between the fanciful, the planned, and what's currently funded and in development.

Statements such as "during the early years of spaceflight only nation states had the resources to develop and fly spacecraft" are both untrue and speculation. A personality such as Howard Hughes could easily have used his organization to develop spacecraft, just as a casual example. (It wouldn't be difficult to come up with other possibilities, but, again, those too would be speculation!)

An example of a pointless, essay-type assertion is that asteriod mining "rewards" are "indeed huge", but that the technical challenges are somehow "equally large"? What does any of that mean? Then to go on "it seems like the private sector will wait..." is totally unfounded speculation.

Where the article already has much of the necessary information, but could benefit from a little essay-type speculation, is to tie together the events in the "History" section. For example, to explain the causes of changing role of the Space Shuttle. (Budgeting? NASA refocussing? Failure to meet international competition? Diminishing market?) (talk) 21:34, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

Is Arianespace Private???[edit]

Arianespace seems to be substantially owned by several different European governments. From the article: "financial and political entities from 10 different European countries." I understand that they are publically traded and, if that were the only criteria, they are a private enterprise. But how is this private space if state entities own more than a very small token amount of the firm? N2e (talk) 00:05, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Private vs Governmental redux[edit]

As the prior conversation went cold over a year ago, I'm reviving it in a new section. I've been wrestling with this definition in my head for some time. I think the prior sections on this topic as well as the discussions at the List of private spaceflight companies page have gone 90% of the way to a definition, but not quite there. Here are the criteria I've settled on in my own head (that is to note specifically that it is encyclopedic, which poses an issue). Private spaceflight is:

  1. Any launches/flights of spacecraft developed using primarily private funding and owned by private companies.
  2. Any spaceflight with at least one entirely private payload.
  3. Any privately-owned spacecraft with a history of flights meeting criteria 2.
  4. Any company providing spaceflight services funded entirely by a private individual or entity.

This one, I believe neatly removes Energia from the runnings as, although space tourists have flown aboard Soyuz, they have always been required to heavily participate as assistants on the ISS or as scientists on government projects, making the mission itself not entirely a private one. However Space Adventures would be private space in that they provide spaceflight services to private individuals without government funding. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs a bit much here, but I've been wracking my brain over this issue on and off for a few years now. I'm not sure there will ever be a clear line on it unless one is at least somewhat arbitrarily drawn. I'm feeling a bit like the guys who reclassified Pluto as a Dwarf Planet. aremisasling (talk) 08:13, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

This definition leaves Arianespace in limbo due to the ownership issue mentioned in the previous topic. I think it would lean towards not private. But then it does have substantial private ownership and launches a good number of private payloads. aremisasling (talk) 08:18, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
I support the idea of attempting to engage a small group of interested editors in discussing and hashing out this issue of the scope of private space or privately-funded space or NewSpace. I think it will be important to develop a consensus on a rough set of criteria for the scope of such articles, guidelines for how we assess what fits within scope and what is out of scope. So I'm signing up to help.
As an approach, I want to suggest we 1) discuss things on Talk Pages first and attempt to develop consensus before making major changes any related articles and 2) first figure out on which talk page we ought to engage the discussion. This talk page, Talk:Private spaceflight, is one possibility, but I think both aremisasling and myself believe "private" doesn't quite cover it as it fails to make the rather critical distinction of the source of funds for mongo-space-projects from Boeing, Arianespace and Lockheed Martin, all charter members of the MIC. Better might be Talk:NewSpace, although that terminology is only a couple of years old and I don't know whether it has yet established terminological traction. For those who haven't seen it, there is also a discussion that got started recently on Talk:List of private spaceflight companies to improve that article. What do others think?N2e (talk) 04:34, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I support the notion that, rather than attempting to reach consensus on a "bright-line" definition of private spaceflight, we should focus on establishing criteria that specify what is "in scope" for this article. For example, the Ariane programme differs from e.g. the Titan program in ways that relate to the privatization of spaceflight efforts. So discussion of those differences seems like it should be "in scope" even if the article does not definitively claim that Ariane is a "private" program and Titan a "national" program. (sdsds - talk) 05:01, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
As expected, you can count me in. And for what it's worth, I think this is the best place for the discussion. I actually do support private spaceflight as the term. I think there is a distinction to be made with Arianespace and LockMart. I would suggest as a starting point the idea posed by MIT that the difference between SpaceX and LockMart is that SpaceX's COTS contract was an agreement to financially support development of the hardware, but not to drive the development itself. Lockheed Martin's contracts with NASA are from bid to launch designed with NASA in mind with private launches left to fit their payloads to the design. With Arianespace I think it really comes down to a percent ownership. They've demonstrated a history of private launches but the substantial ownership by various governments, in particular France, leaves it up to exactly how much control is exerted by governments. I can already see in my head the counters to this idea as pretty much any definition is a bit problematic, but that's my take on the matter. aremisasling (talk) 05:42, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
At some point, as well, I think both company size and market goals need to be considered, too. I doubt Boeing and Lockheed Martin would have developed their own space programs if gov't contracts didn't fund them and the gov't wasn't, at least initially, the primary customer. I think there's a big difference in those business models and the ones of much smaller companies, such as XCOR and the Scaled/Virgin/Spaceship Company consortium, who do received the occasional government/DARPA contract in order to partially fund their operations, but whose ultimate goal is to develop and market space access to the civilian world, rather than to the government. AKRadeckiSpeaketh 14:55, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Summary of the last decade in commercial space[edit]

Article is here: Commercial Spaceflight: Big Decade, Big Future, by Leonard David, Cheers. N2e (talk) 19:54, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

"Commercial" spaceflight -- a US Federal government definition is provided[edit]

We have discussed on this Talk page for some time how one might go about making the distinction between commercial, or private, spaceflight and spaceflight by companies under exclusive government to produce space vehicles under, typically, cost-plus contracts or for exclusive government use. I think the new US Federal space policy goes a long way to helping us with the distinction. Here is a definition and description of commercial space from the new US Space Policy document. (link to the government doc can be found at the link) From Clark Lindsey:

National Space Policy and commercial space -- The National Space Policy statement (pdf) mentioned in the previous posting includes the following section on commercial space. Sounds pretty good to me:

Commercial Space Guidelines

"The term “commercial,” for the purposes of this policy, refers to space goods, services, or activities provided by private sector enterprises that bear a reasonable portion of the investment risk and responsibility for the activity, operate in accordance with typical market-based incentives for controlling cost and optimizing return on investment, and have the legal capacity to offer these goods or services to existing or potential nongovernmental customers."

Let's start to work once again on a definition that will work for this Wikipedia article. N2e (talk) 22:43, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

More private spaceflight press[edit]

Contrasting Private spaceflight to Governmnet spaceflight, through the eyes of NASA[edit]

NASA is now getting into the game of defining/clarifying the differences between commercially-oriented spaceflight and the more government-controlled version of the early space age.

Phillip McAlister of NASA headquarters presented this table describing the differences between the standard NASA approach to hardware development and the commercial approach as seen through a NASA lens. This article] at NewSpace Watch shows the summary table, and also helpfully provides a link to the slides of McAlister's FISO presentation.

The NASA lens is clearly not the only way to see this phenomenon, but it is an interesting alternative way of contrasting the two approaches, and may be relevant to improving the content of this article. Cheers. N2e (talk) 04:06, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

Billionaires involved with space[edit]

Article just out. Only nine of the world's 1400+ billionaires have been publically interested in space. Here is the detailed list with the particulars: Not Many Billionaires Focused on Commercial Space, Parabolic Arc, 5 March 2013. Cheers. N2e (talk) 00:39, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Definition of NewSpace[edit]

In the book 'The Lean Startup' by Eric Ries, he defines a startup as:

"A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty."

A startup could be a new "human institution" like a company, or it could be one or more people within an existing organization.

To me that epitomizes what the definition of NewSpace should be. Some examples of NewSpace using that definition would be:

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) - Musk risked his own capital, and the capital of others, to enter a variety of mature and new markets.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) - Although they are a mature company, they have not built launch systems or spacecraft, but they are co-investing with NASA on the CCiCap program to launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and other low Earth orbit destinations. They are risking their own capital to build a capability, even though they have no guarantee from the government that they will ultimately receive a contract.

Boeing - Although Boeing as a whole would be thought of as OldSpace, they are also co-investing with NASA on the CCiCap program. They are risking their own capital to build a capability, even though they have no guarantee from the government that they will ultimately receive a contract.

Examples of OldSpace:

Boeing - Boeing is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, but other than performing it's job as a contractor, is not in a position to lose their own money.

Lockheed Martin - as the prime contractor for the Orion/MPCV, but other than performing it's job as a contractor, is not in a position to lose their own money.

Interesting enough, both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, using my proposed NewSpace definition, were acting in a NewSpace way when they risked their own funds to build their own EELV's. However when they merged their separate operations into the joint partnership United Launch Alliance (ULS), that service reverted to being OldSpace.

In that light, being called NewSpace is really based on what you are doing and how you are doing it, not how long you've been around, or what size organization you are.

Thoughts? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Coastal Ron (talkcontribs) 04:48, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Private spaceflight Illegal?[edit]

I have heard that private spaceflight was illegal in the US until recently. The article is very unclear if that is true. If someone who knows about this subject can check this fact and add it in, it will help a lot!

J1812 (talk) 19:00, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Private spaceflight was never illegal in the US. What happened in 2004 was that the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act was passed (leading to regulatory changes at the FAA in 2007). This law had the effect of clarifying who has the authority to grant launch permits, and making it easier to obtain permits for the launch of experimental spacecraft. More information to clarify this can probably come from this source, which is currently cited in our article. Someguy1221 (talk) 22:26, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Would a "Criticisms" Section Be Warranted?[edit]

Would a section for criticism pertaining to the privatization of space exploration be warranted, or is there a general consensus that such a thing is best left out? I personally feel there should be one, but I'm just one person. Jersey John (talk) 05:29, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Reference cleanup[edit]

The reference section should not be hosting blocks of copyrighted text from the sources. If the ideas are important to the article they should be reworded/summarized/etc. Preferably in the article itself. Rmhermen (talk) 12:05, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

American Regulation[edit]

In this paragraph, it is stated rather heavy-handedly that commercial space ventures were written into the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, then quotes a paragraph from public law 85-568:

(c) Commercial Use of Space.--Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space

This part wasn't added until 1985, and wasn't in the initial charter.


Sorry if this is a bad "talk", I've never found a mistake on wiki before. First time on the backstage! Badrew (talk) 16:40, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

I changed it. Rmhermen (talk) 17:47, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Agile Aerospace[edit]

This is the new company that is being formed by three of the four founders of XCOR Aerospace, including Jeff Greason. Nothing much covered in the reliable source media yet that I can find, but I'm guessing we may have future notability for this new company, Agile Aerospace. Cheers. N2e (talk) 20:47, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

On the significance of the recent Blue Origin and SpaceX vertical landings of used booster rockets[edit]

There have been several items written by various analysts and editors about the significance of the recent Blue Origin and SpaceX vertical landings of used booster rockets: SpaceX Falcon 9 Flight 20 and Blue landing of the New Shepard PM2. Adding a few sources here for potential future use, as some are claiming this is a seminal event, as well as a top technology event of 2015. Please add others that relate to private spaceflight. N2e (talk) 21:35, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

"... reusability revolutionizes the economics of spaceflight. Which both democratizes and commercializes it. Which means space travel has now slipped the surly bonds of government — presidents, Congress, NASA bureaucracies. Its future will now be driven far more by a competitive marketplace with its multiplicity of independent actors, including deeply motivated, financially savvy and visionary entrepreneurs. ... We have no idea which plan is more likely to succeed and flourish. But the beauty of privatization is that we don’t get just one shot at it. Our trajectory in space will now be the work of a functioning market of both ideas and commerce. It no longer will hinge on the whims of only tangentially interested politicians. Space has now entered the era of the Teslas, the Edisons and the Wright brothers. From now on, they will be doing more and more of the driving. Which means we are actually — finally — going somewhere again."

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