I’ve heard a lot of people recently referring to a Griffin talk at the Mars Society, where he called the COTS program a “bet” or a “gamble”. The obvious implication being that the Stick and NASA “business-as-usual” is a sure thing, and those risky, unserious, alt.space companies can’t possibly really be able to deliver stuff cheaper than the status quo. Space is hard dangit! The reason why NASA is so expensive has nothing to do with the fact that they’re a make-work nerd-welfare program. It has nothing to do with the fact that the decision making process for funding most of its programs is little better than porkbarrel politics. It is only because physics is just so onforgiving. I mean, just because every other form of transportation which wasn’t mostly controlled by the government has become drastically cheaper over time doesn’t mean that that could possibly still apply for space transport. The laws of economics have no jurisdiction above 100km after all!
Ok, enough sarcastic strawman bashing. I guess my main point after hearing the “oh-so intelligent skeptics” out there is that I wonder what Lloyd’s would say. The X-Prize was funded using an insurance policy. Basically, the X-Prize foundation paid the ~$2M or so that it had raised to-date to buy a policy that would be worth $10M if someone won the prize before the deadline, but worth $0 if they didn’t. I wonder what Lloyd’s of London would say about the relative odds of a crewed CEV flying on Ares I before a COTS provider flies people to orbit. If you were to propose two policies, one betting that the CEV would win, and one betting that COTS would be first, I wonder which would have the better premium?