If anything certain emerged out of the US Senate hearing (go here for archived webcast) yesterday it was that no one really knows how long any space transportation programme will take or how expensive it will be
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) president Gwynne Shotwell confidently told the US Senate Commerce Science and Transportation committee’s science and space subcommittee hearing that ”we can guarantee crew flights to the [International Space Station] for less than $50 million a seat. Three years from the time we intitiate”.
However former NASA Comptroller Malcolm Peterson (who worked with the agency’s administrator Dan Goldin) had said that he did not expect any US provider to be able to beat the Russian price of $150 million for three seats on Energia Soyuz TMA spacecraft and predicted a per flight cost of around $400 million. Of course SpaceX’s Dragon can seat up to seven so they can both be right. SpaceX could offer seven seats, or more likely, six, at a cost of up to $300 million, Peterson’s mission cost neck of the woods, while beating the $51 million Russia charges per seat
In SpaceX’s defence they do have a rocket, the Falcon 9, whose technology has been ...