One item that I think is especially noteworthy is that Musk confirmed my suspicions that the scale of operations contemplated by SpaceX in the COTS competition is well above the 300 to 400-employee "small company" range (arbitrarily defined by yours truly). In the interview, Musk mentioned that SpaceX likely will be at 500+ employees next year -- about one-fourth the size of the Delta IV and Atlas V operations.
In my August 2006 post, I mentioned that SpaceX will put in upwards of $200 million of its own skin in the COTS venture versus $274 million for NASA. Subsequently-released information appears to suggest that SpaceX's investment is much larger -- perhaps in the $400 million to $600 million range. Certainly, the COTS business, as currently imagined by Musk and NASA, requires very substantial financial wherewithal and bureaucratic scaffolding. I wonder where SpaceX's head count will top out?
To be honest, I don't know why the t/Spaces of the world are so eager to sign up for similar deals with NASA, should RpK fall out of the COTS business. COTS doesn't seem to make much sense as a primary/sole customer justifying such a large commitment. Perhaps this is part of the reason why RpK is having hiccups pitching its business case to investors. To be sure, RpK is extremely sensitive when NASA fine-tunes the timing of its COTS resupply manifests, as if such fine timing will make or break the business case for the company.
This brings us to the hypothetical of what should be done by NASA if SpaceX or RpK exits COTS. Should it: (1) Solicit bids for the unused development money; (2) give the unused development money to the surviving COTS company in order to accelerate development on the manned option; or (3) use the funds for other development? I haven't settled on an answer to this questions, but my conspiracy theory has been that Griffin and his team set up COTS such that it would be difficult for anybody other than a company with a business case remarkably like SpaceX's to complete the regimen successfully.
As an aside, SpaceX's new Hawthorne facility appears to consist of 765,500 square feet of space rather than the half-million square feet quoted by the company (building 3-55 itself appears to be a half-million square feet; the other buildings in the East development appear to make up the remainder). Both figures are pretty extreme, but the higher figure is hard to imagine, as I sit in my 400 square foot studio condo here in the city. :-)