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SpaceX, suborbital advocates fight NASA authorization bill

This morning SpaceX sent out a message to those subscribed to the company’s email updates asking for help to block the NASA authorization legislation the House is set to consider as soon as this week. The key portion of the email, signed by “–Elon–”:

Your Help Urgently Needed to Save the Future of Human Spaceflight

If you care about the future of American space exploration, your urgent help is necessary. The only hope for the average citizen to one day travel to space is in danger due to the actions of certain members of Congress. SpaceX does not have the enormous lobbying power of the big government contractors to stop them, however with your help the day can still be saved.

NASA’s Authorization bill (H.R. 5781) will be debated on the floor of the US House of Representatives tomorrow. Despite the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle, H.R. 5781 authorizes over five times as many taxpayer dollars to fly NASA astronauts on the Russian Soyuz than it invests in developing an American commercial alternative, moreover at a time when jobs are sorely needed in the United States. Quite simply, this bill represents the sort of senseless pork politics that has driven our national debt to the point where our economy can barely service it.

The bill is expected to be brought to the House floor this Friday under a special “suspension of the rules,” which is a procedure that limits debate and amendments.

Telephone your Congressional representative right away via the House Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask them to vote NO on H.R. 5781, and instead support the bill unanimously agreed to in the Senate last week.

Your five minutes will make a critical difference, ensuring an exciting and inspiring future in space travel! SpaceX rarely asks you to take action, so you know it really matters when we do.

Also, commercial suborbital spaceflight advocates have been sending similar requests for people to call their representatives and ask them to vote no against the bill.

Note that the message indicates that the legislation will be taken up by the House on Friday. The bill does not show up in today’s anticipated schedule of legislation, such as this one from the minority whip’s office, which also includes a forecast of legislation expected to be considered Friday. However, such schedules are subject to change.

Update: Space News has some more details on current efforts, including word that House Science and Technology Committee chairman Bart Gordon “is expected to meet with aggrieved lawmakers July 29 to address concerns with key elements of the measure”, including commercial crew development and technology programs.

98 comments to SpaceX, suborbital advocates fight NASA authorization bill

  • MrEarl

    Already spoke to the offices of a few representatives in my state asking them to vote FOR the bill. We’ll get everything sorted out in the conference committee between the house and senate.

  • Ferris Valyn

    MrEarl – it’ll never reach conference committee

  • Already spoke to the offices of a few representatives in my state asking them to vote FOR the billcontinued stagnation and waste in human spaceflight.

    FTFY

  • Dang.

    Already spoke to the offices of a few representatives in my state asking them to vote FOR the billcontinued stagnation and waste in human spaceflight.

    Much better.

  • MrEarl

    Ferris: “it’ll never reach conference committee”
    Enlighten us on your political astuteness Ferris. You’ve been wrong about everything else.

  • I called my rep and told him to vote no

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    I can’t say that I really blame SpaceX. As it stands, the House bill would make their lives a lot harder. Come to think of it, I have only seen one or two people in the community actually to make statements in support of it. Everyone else likes either the President’s FY2011 proposal or the Senate bill.

  • Ferris Valyn

    MrEarl – no, I haven’t been wrong about everything, but we’ll leave your slandering of me to the side for the moment.

    The reason I say it will never get to conference is that stuff only gets through the Senate by unanimous consent, or inertia. Unanimous consent, at the moment, looks VERY unlikely (and it has to be unanimous – not 2/3, not 3/4, all 100 Senators signing off). That means that inertia is the only method. And for inertia to work, there has to be severe outside pressure (we are talking Katrina, or 9/11).

    Thats not there.

  • Bennett

    Ben Russell-Gough wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I don’t know that it would make their lives harder, but as an interested party (Elon wants to see humanity get out there sooner rather than later) it adds unnecessary delays and wastes billions of dollars.

    That’s not going to stop SpaceX from fulfilling their COTS commitments, or bringing HR Dragon on line, but no one knows how much a travesty the House bill is more than the folks working their asses off in New Space.

    I’m sure that everyone here has made the calls.

  • amightywind

    Nice to see the shoe on the other foot. I am enjoying this immensely. Smart tactics on Musk’s part to use the ‘red scare’. Heck, that’s what I do!

  • OMG… Windy endorses Elon. Whodathunkit?!

  • “Nice to see the shoe on the other foot. I am enjoying this immensely. Smart tactics on Musk’s part to use the ‘red scare’. ”

    It seems to me, though, that Musk is taking more of an anti-outsourcing approach versus the traditional Cx supporter “The commies are winning!” approach.

  • GaryChurch

    Thanks for the phone number Jeff, I just called. And I sent out an email to those couple dozen people who do not hate my guts for disagreeing with them- to call also.

  • Rush to a floor vote stinks of political intrigue, which probably means a corporate push somewhere to weed out the little competition.

    I’ve asked my rep to vote NO on a bad piece of legislation, H.R. 5781

    Hate to see an entire industry be born in another country that is willing to make a commercial investment; Russia, UAE, are already planning and funding spaceports.

    But hey, more American jobs won’t even be created here, so they won’t really be lost.

  • Ferris, you very certainly have been wrong. I read your nasaengineer posts in which you indicate that the House and Senate space bills won’t make it on the floor because of other, more pressing, legislative issues. Oops! Or that unanimous or near so votes by Authorization Committees of both houses does not translate into wide-spread support. Indeed! Or that passage by Appropriations Committees does not either. Right… How’s that working for you?

    I don’t know where you studied civics or where you learned politics. But, as long as you’re working for the “other side”, that’s fine by me. Keep up the good work!

  • I think the Senate bill is a good approach. It significantly refund the NASA vehicle, which I’m not fond of, but will grudgingly acknowlege as a political necessity. It also preserved the commercial funding at a lower level, but with the promise of a potential full funding over a longer period. I think the Senate bill’s amount was adequate for the commercial side and government side.

    The house bill, frankly, once more pulls away the carrot from private spaceflight. The funding is practically non-existant and not adequate to the task of helping those companies.

    And yes, I do realize that this is ‘commercial’ companies asking for government funds and that does raise some issues. But I think the cost plus vs open-ended contract distinction has been beaten to death already. I also think $6 billion over 4-6 years for as many as 5 different manned spacecraft is a hell of a steal. We spent $9 billion on one spacecraft and got little more than a tab for another several billion for it. If NASA can straighten up and fly right on the government rocket on the middle-of-the-road budget the senate proposes and we can get 1-5 private companies flying to ISS in the mean time, I think we’ll get the best of both worlds.

    While I used to be an FY 2011 supporter, I think I’ve switched camps to a Senate appropriations supporter. I think the House appropriations bill and the FY2011 draft both push the pendulum too far in their respective directions.

  • Major Tom

    “Enlighten us on your political astuteness Ferris. You’ve been wrong about everything else.”

    “Ferris, you very certainly have been wrong.”

    Per Mr. Foust’s update and SpaceNews, Mr. Valyn is so far being proven right. “Aggrieved” lawmakers are already pushing back on how the House authorization treats commercial crew and technology investment.

    Folks should learn to hold their water until the fat lady sings.

    FWIW…

  • Ferris Valyn

    Ferris, you very certainly have been wrong.

    I didn’t claim I am always right. However, MrEarl claimed I had been wrong about everything.

    I read your nasaengineer posts in which you indicate that the House and Senate space bills won’t make it on the floor because of other, more pressing, legislative issues.

    I’ve never claimed anything about the House. The Senate, though, is what I’ve claimed will not come to a floor vote.

    Or that unanimous or near so votes by Authorization Committees of both houses does not translate into wide-spread support.

    Haven’t seen the actual vote totals from the House Authorizers – would really like to.

    Also, you keep assume that, because this particular committee signed off on it, it means the rest of congress will fall in line, and give a damn about space. And the simple fact is, it doesn’t.

    Or that passage by Appropriations Committees does not either. Right… How’s that working for you?

    Again, it’d be nice if people learned the difference between Authorization and Appropriations. And I have no doubt that some amount of the Senate’s wishes will be in the appropriation, because THAT has to get done. The same cannot be said about an authorization bill.

    Major Tom – thanks for the kind words

  • Major Tom

    “I think the Senate bill is a good approach. It significantly refund the NASA vehicle, which I’m not fond of, but will grudgingly acknowlege as a political necessity.”

    I have to disagree that the Shuttle- and Constellation-derived vehicles in the Senate and House bills are political necessities. Shuttle workers are still being laid off in droves, despite these bills:

    nasawatch.com/archives/2010/07/usa-lays-off-al.html

    And if the relevant lawmakers (or their staffs) stopped to think for a second, they’d realize that NASA’s FY 2011 budget plan would have provided greater employment in their districts/states than the PoR. The FY11 budget would have given Alabama 2-3 new engine developments in Huntsville plus increased LV production in Decatur, instead of one new engine development and a little vehicle management at Huntsville under the PoR. Same goes for Florida — KSC revitaliation employed more than the PoR. Even when informed by the most cynical political motives, resurrecting Shuttle/Constellation over the FY11 budget is dumb, dumb, dumb…

    I think this is a case of knee-jerk political stupidity, not necessity.

    FWIW…

  • Might be better to have a vote, watch it fail.

    House would have to rethink the plan without Gordon ramming his vision down their throats.

  • DCSCA

    Musk was a ‘guest’ on Colbert’s show Wednesday evening. After describing the Falcon9/Dragon test earlier this year, Colbert asked him how long it was ‘up’ and Musk replied, “A month.” A wry Colbert quipped in reply, “Ahhh, just like Sputnik!” ‘Nuff said.

  • “Colbert asked him how long it was ‘up’ and Musk replied, “A month.” A wry Colbert quipped in reply, “Ahhh, just like Sputnik!” ‘Nuff said.”

    What the heck is that supposed to mean? It was up as long as planned. And given that Russia is one of the top two space programs in operation, holding by far the greater market share, I don’t know what your point is. Perhaps you are suggesting that SpaceX or commercial space will shortly become one of the world’s great superpowers? Or maybe that it’s successes will spur a push to the Moon and beyond?

    Or, or, maybe it’s that this rocket is accomplishing something that has already been accomplished. Okay, so that’s true to some degree, but it’s also true of every other space company or power out there. In fact, it’s less true of SpaceX in that it is the first US company in decades to make a brand new rocket engine. It’s also the first time in a very long time that a brand new rocket has been made from bottom to top (all the others including the ULA designs and OSC’s rockets have used heavy doses of legacy parts).

    It was a funny one-liner, but aside fromone very very superficial similarity, it’s not really applicable.

  • Major Tom

    “Colbert asked him how long it was ‘up’ and Musk replied, “A month.” A wry Colbert quipped in reply, “Ahhh, just like Sputnik!” ‘Nuff said.”

    This is an idiotic comment. That’s two weeks longer than Shuttle.

    Duh…

  • MrEarl

    DCSCA:
    How DARE YOU!!!!!!

    You have made sport of the lord high MUSK!

    If Ferris hears about this he’ll declare it slanderous!

    Musk and SpaceX is all seeing and knowing. Why, in 10 years he will have $99 super saver fares to one of the half dozen Bigalow space hotels.

    Do not mock the Musk! :-)

  • Ferris Valyn

    Do not mock the Musk!

    Actually, Musk isn’t my favorite, not by a long shot. The booster and vehicle are top grade, but not my first choice.

  • Bennett

    aremisasling wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    You’re wasting your energy responding to a troll. Like most trolls, he tries to bring the quality of debate down to his pointless level. I can’t imagine being such bitter and negative person.

  • DCSCA

    Major Tom wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 4:03 pm<- compares the manned, operational and reusable space shuttle to an inert, unmanned object. Idiotic indeed. "Think before you post."

  • DCSCA

    @MrEarl: Indeed:

    “Memo” to: Elon Musk
    Subject: Human Spaceflight

    WE do care about ‘the future of American space exploration’… which is why WE know you are not it. You are not the future of ‘human spaceflight’ for ‘the average citizen’ either– which is quite a ficticious straw man for the maker of a ficticious Ironman to pitch. As if Goober Pyle and Aunt Bea are going to be rocketing to Tycho for a weekend moon rock and snipe hunt. Good grief.

    Nor is private industry the future of ‘human spaceflight,’ as you stated on Colbert’s show– certainly not in this era. For it has no past to build on. Nada. The 80 year history of rocket development has shown why governments, in several political guises, not private industry, have led the way to space and not profit-driven, private sector companies. It has always been a follow along, cashing in where it could. You know why, too, as went to Wharton. And nobody put the future of moving humans off the planet in your hands so it’s fairly ego-centric to assume the ‘responsibility’ w/o having put anybody up yet in any fashion yourself. What experience in physically putting people into space,launching and manning space stations, landing people on to other celestial bodies and returning them safely to Earth have you demonstrated to post this kind of self-aggrandizing plea? So far, none .. All the world– governments, private investors and Stephen Colbert get from you is talk. Talk, talk, talk.

    Shut up and fly.

    Your own business experience in other fields and personal judgments have shown to be a mixed record–and you can’t even manage your own personal life. So asserting yourself as an ‘authority’ on charting the path of how we move people out into the cosmos when your own organization has failed to do so to date is amusing, if not alarming, to say the least. You haven’t even flown anybody into space a top your own rocket or aboard your own untested space capsule– a vehicle you seem reticent to fly aboard yourself.

    And now this:

    “Despite the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle, H.R. 5781 authorizes over five times as many taxpayer dollars to fly NASA astronauts on the Russian Soyuz than it invests in developing an American commercial alternative, moreover at a time when jobs are sorely needed in the United States.”

    In other words, give more bo tax dollars (borrowed from other nations) to commercial space.

    No. You went to Wharton, remember? Private sector capital markets are available to tap for investment in these ventures and assume the high risks, absorb the losses or reap any reward. Nothing is stopping commercial space from soaring-except the very limited market their free enterprised, profit driven projects want to service. That’s why governments do it. You stated foolishly on the Colbert program that ‘private enterprise’ will be how people move out into space Wednesday night. Then you ask for increased government funding Thursday morning for commercial space. Hypocrite.

    Instead of making movies, watch one: Destination Moon. See how the private sector ‘did it’ in 1950 – in Technicolor. Entertainment elements aside, it’s actually not too bad a business plan– if you luck out and find uranium on the moon. Then you’ll see why the immediate future of ‘American space exploration’ is with government funded space projects and not in with the private sector. Colbert wryly compared Falcon 9 to Sputnik. There’s truth in satire. But you know that.

    Frankly, it’s time you just quit asking for government subsidies, stop talking and just start flying.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Translation: that pork is mine.

  • Major Tom

    “compares the manned, operational and reusable space shuttle to an inert, unmanned object. Idiotic indeed. ‘Think before you post.’”

    You were the one who first started the comparisons to inert, unmanned objects — from the 1950s, no less. Or, rather, you borrowed the comparison from a TV comedian with no aerospace engineering experience or training.

    Don’t make stupid statements and then blame others for them.

    FWIW…

  • Mrearl

    You have to remember that MT has no sense of humor and dose not even understand it. He is “humorly impaired”.
    Other than that he’s a nice guy.

  • Er “Comment is Free But Facts are sacred!”
    Sputnik-1 4 October 1957 – 4 January 1958. RIP So that’s three months then.
    Товарищи Поздравлений

  • Major Tom

    “You have to remember that MT has no sense of humor and dose not even understand it.”

    It’s not a joke to repeat factually inaccurate statements as if they had value.

    “He is ‘humorly impaired’.”

    Take your insults and poor grammar elsewhere.

    FWIW…

  • If I were writing to Elon, as clearly writing to your Congress would be a waste of electrons, I would say that if the Socialist Apparatchiks *of both parties* are determined to rule in favour of the ‘OldSpace’ status quo. I would move: lock; stock and nine smoking barrels to an independant state. Puerto Rico springs to mind! :)
    18.25º N vs 28.39°N (Tasty!)

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Musk and SpaceX is all seeing and knowing. Why, in 10 years he will have $99 super saver fares to one of the half dozen Bigalow space hotels. ..

    that is not going to happen, those fares are really not even supportable in the airline business…but Musk or someone might come to the functional equivelent.

    IF and it is a big IF, Musk can make his cost with the Falcon9/Dragon combination then the “launch bar” lowers enormously. IF the cost per seat goes down to under 50 million…(and that includes all training etc cost) then the cost to orbit comes within range of a LOT of groups which are now simply priced out of the market by NASA launch and operational cost.

    Dragonlab is an excellent (though uncrewed) example of this. Dragonlab brings space access for experiments (sort of a modern day Space Industries effort) down to the university level in terms of flying experiments…something that most universities are out of the market on now.

    This is not exploration in the sense of a bunch of NASA astronauts tossing rocks on the moon at each other…but in terms of doing actual space “things” the audience/customer base gets far wider.

    If Musk can make his numbers on crewed flight…well the world simply changes. You and I may never be able to just walk up and buy a ticket, but with NASA’s planned 200 billion dollar effort…that was also the case.

    Perhaps it was the pictures that turned you on.

    BTW did you do your homework assignment on the Delta…knowledge is power

    Robert G. Oler

  • Bennett

    brobof wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I noticed an article a few days ago with further development of magnetic field shielding for BEO spacecraft. Did you catch that?

    I tried to leave a comment on your blog back when you posted that silliness about British Boffins :-) but it didn’t take. Operator error I’m sure.

  • Mrearl

    Old data Oler. Boeing is now looking at an 8m core for the Delta IV super heavy. I think that’s why they did the study on SDLV’s to present at the AIAA conference in May, to get access to them Michoud facility.

    The statement of mine you quote is called sarcasm. There are so many people on this site, I would include you as one, who are just overly enamored with Musk and SpaceX to the point that they have lost their objectivity.

  • This has turned into a hockey brawl- not a lot of scoring, skating, or anything else productive but lots of fun to watch from the stands. Best part is, when you get back from goin’ to the bathroom, it’s still goin’ on.

  • vulture4

    The President’s bill is the best. We need to stop the house bill. We’re not trapped in LEO by the lack of an HLV, we trapped on the ground by the astronomical cost of human spaceflight with huge throw-away rockets. The resurrected Constellation program will such up every dollar the taxpayers can cough up, and when it’s over we’ll have another Apollo 17. The end.

    BTW Boeing proposed the 8M Delta years ago, before the ULA merger. As soon as Griffin came out with his BOTE sketch of the Ares I and V and said “build this and be rich”, Boeing and Lockheed immediately acted like they had no interest in man-rating the Delta or Atlas. Why? Because they are also primes on the Ares, which would make them a lot more money. Which is also why there was so little resistance to cancelling the Shuttle; USA is also owned by Lockheed and Boeing. Is a pattern starting to emerge?

    As soon as it began to look like the Ares might not survive, ULA mysteriously discovered that it had a couple rockets that could carry people. What a surprise! But my money would still be on SpaceX and eventually Virgin.

  • Byeman

    “Boeing is now looking at an 8m core for the Delta IV super heavy”

    That proposal has nothing to do with Delta IV. It is SDLV.

    Boeing and Lockheed immediately acted like they had no interest in man-rating the Delta or Atlas. ”

    Wrong, Boeing and LM and now ULA were always working the manrating issue. But ULA cannot build a spacecraft and therefore must team with someone for crew launch.

  • Bennett

    “But ULA cannot build a spacecraft “

    Why? Is there a legal issue here? I’m serious. If Boeing is half of ULS, and is building a capsule with Bigelow in mind, what am I missing?

    Is it really that difficult to be partners with yourself?

    When Griffin decided to build his own stable of launch vehicles instead of following the directives in VSE, LM, Boeing, and ATK found out that the bread was buttered on both sides. Why make waves?

    Both companies seem to be filled with “can do” people, who can design and build any damn thing you could want. So they do. For a profit. Which is exactly how it should be!

    I don’t get how some folks can have two standards for developing and building something for a profit. For years and years, the US Government has paid companies to develop planes and guns, and bombs, and humvees in order to have the things that aren’t available to American Consumers. Like rockets. Many many times our tax dollars have gone to start-ups to help them bring a product or service to market with our government as the only customer.

    Why is SpaceX singled out as different and unworthy of equal advantage?

    Of course it’s for a profit, everything is for a profit!

    I don’t love Elon Musk, but I love that he builds rockets that fly, and will spend LESS of OUR tax dollars (you and me, our tax dollars) to get our astronauts to the ISS.

    The same goes for LM, Boeing, or anyone else who takes a NASA contract at fixed price with some development funds as sweetener.

    Go baby, build it!

  • Matt Wiser

    I’ll echo what DSCA said. Musk and the other would-be commercial providers need to shut up and fly. Prove they can do the job and then see about getting government funds. In this political climate, a government vehicle (HLV, crew vehicle, etc.) is necessary-and the sooner it’s done, the better. The House bill addresses the concerns of a number of congresscritters who asked (rightly, IMHO) “What about the $9 Billion we’ve spent on Constellation? Aren’t we going to get anything out of it?” The Presidential Science Advisor and General Bolden weren’t specific enough for the House or the Senate, and thus here we are. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson said it best when she was grilling Bolden before hearing from Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, when she emphasized that the committee wasn’t against commercial crew, but they were against the “Run, not walk” approach the Administration was advocating.

  • DCSCA

    @MajorTommy “It’s not a joke to repeat factually inaccurate statements as if they had value.” And yet you continue to do so– to the great amusement of others. ‘Think before you post’ Tommy. You’d do well to ask what Musk was doing there in the first place- and why he passiv ely sat there as Colbert lampooned him. And FWIW, you’d do well to bone up on Colbert using his show as a platform for support of American manned space activities. “Don’t make stupid statements and then blame others for them, Tommy.”

  • Byeman

    “a government vehicle (HLV, crew vehicle, etc.) is necessary”

    Why? There is no legitimate argument for this. There is nothing in NASA’s charter or US law that mandates this.

    One of the many reasons against it, is the $9 Billion and no flights to show for it.

  • Byeman

    “But ULA cannot build a spacecraft “

    “Why? Is there a legal issue here?”

    Yes, it is part of the agreement between Boeing and Lockheed in forming ULA.

    Boeing is not 1/2 of ULA. ULA is a separate company, a joint venture. ULA employees are not Boeing or Lockheed, they are ULA. Boeing is only 1/2 owner. ULA only exists to operate the EELV fleet and any derivatives.

  • Bennett

    Thanks Byeman, I didn’t know.

    But still, I understand “closing a business model”, and unless some of the development costs are offset (for anything, helicopters, tanks, solid rocket boosters, high tech electronic parts etc), the profit on a fixed price contract may not make sense given an uncertain volume. The number of units ordered may never pay off the cost of developing something that our government decides it needs.

    It’s how we get things built around here. But fixed price is worlds ahead of cost plus (for you and me), especially if a company can sell it to non-government customers.

    Enter SpaceX.

  • Byeman

    ULA sells its launch services to NASA for a firm fixed price.

  • DCSCA

    @MattWiser :”Prove they can do the job and then see about getting government funds.” Yep.

  • Matt Wiser, SpaceX will be flying a second man-capable rocket within the next few months. This in stark contrast to NASA who hasn’t flown their own new rocket to orbit in nearly three decades. Out with the old, in with the new.

  • In this political climate, a government vehicle (HLV, crew vehicle, etc.) is necessary

    No, in this political climate a government vehicle is unaffordable.

    The House bill addresses the concerns of a number of congresscritters who asked (rightly, IMHO) “What about the $9 Billion we’ve spent on Constellation? Aren’t we going to get anything out of it?”

    No, it’s a stupid question. It’s the sunk-cost fallacy.

  • Bennett

    “ULA sells its launch services to NASA for a firm fixed price.”

    True, but who helped pay for the development of the rockets they fly?

    I’m guessing, you and me.

  • Martijn Meijering

    What hypocrisy. Griffin made no secret of the fact NASA needed to rebuild its launch vehicle design skills. ULA on the other hand has maintained them and SpaceX has developed them from scratch. MSFC has shown it’s unable to deliver. Things are precisely the opposite of what you state. If track record was the deciding factor then money should go to SpaceX and ULA instead of MSFC.

  • Byeman

    “”Prove they can do the job and then see about getting government funds.” ”

    That is not how it works and you know it. Just more blatant misinformation. Can’t use the truth so you make up things. Your statement doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and logic.

    General Dynamics never built an ICBM and they got the Atlas contract. Martin never built an ICBM and they got the Titan contract. Rockwell never built a launch vehicle and they got the S-II contract. Lockheed never built a spacecraft and got the Agena contract. Lockheed has never built a manned spacecraft and they got the Orion contract.

  • Byeman

    “Prove they can do the job and then see about getting government funds.”

    The same should be applied to MSFC. Let’s see how they have proven themselves. Since Apollo and shuttle develoment was more than 35/30 years ago, which is more than a generation and it does not apply to the current organization, much like pennants of the past do not apply to current baseball team.
    MSFC’s legacy

    Challenger
    Hubble optics
    DART
    SLI
    NLS
    X-33
    X-34
    Columbia
    OSP
    Ares I

    I would say, and would be correct, that MSFC has not proven it can manage a launch vehicle development. So why should MSFC be given gov’t funds?

  • Byeman

    “ULA sells its launch services to NASA for a firm fixed price.”

    “True, but who helped pay for the development of the rockets they fly?”

    Mostly, they did, more than 66- 80% of the development costs. The US Gov’t provided 500 million a piece and Boeing and LM put in 1.5 to 2.5 billion into it. So, Boeing and LM got a smaller percentage from the US Gov’t than Musk has.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Shouldn’t the loss of Challenger and Columbia be held against JSC/KSC rather than MSFC?

  • Bennett

    Boeing and LM got a smaller percentage from the US Gov’t than Musk has.

    Interesting. So it’s all the same, just different percentages. I’m good with that. I think Atlas and Delta are fine rockets and I look forward to seeing them topped with crew capsules headed for the ISS.

    It’s the wave of the future.

  • No, Challenger was definitely Marshall. They overruled the Morton-Thiokol engineers and told them to “put their management hats on.”

  • Byeman

    “Shouldn’t the loss of Challenger and Columbia be held against JSC/KSC rather than MSFC?”

    MSFC gave the go on the SRB temps for Challenger and MSFC was responsible for the ET.

  • DCSCA

    “That is not how it works and you know it.” Yes, it is, especially today as we enter the Age of Austerity.

    “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door…” as the Emerson quote goes.

    It’s not “Congressman, if you fund my proposal, Project Mousetrap, on paper I may be able to deliver cheaper and better mousetraps some day and turn a profit for my investors as well, but no guarantees. Remember, I have virtually no track record in building any profitable mousetraps in the past on the scale of government mouse trapping and I do not have over a half century record of successfully catching mice as the government has. But my way is a better way to catch mice. Trust me. Fund me with tax dollars.”

    But you go one believing othwewise. Especially in this depressed economic period. It’s amusing. The smartest thing private rocketeers can do now is shut up and start flying.

  • Byeman

    “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door…” as the Emerson quote goes. ”

    Done. Falcon 9.

    ” half century record of successfully catching mice as the government has”

    Wrong, see posts above. The gov’t, MSFC, hasn’t done anything successful related to launch vehicle development in more than 25 years. But you go one believing otherwise.

  • DCSCA

    @Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:40 pm Simberg’s right. Marshall was really where the critical decision was made on Challenger.

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    ROFLMAO What’s done about it?? The rocket has flown– once. And with minor problems as well. Colbert’s lampoon was stinging– and accurate.

  • Bennett

    Colbert’s lampoon

    An off the cuff 2 word toss-off, is stinging?

    But wait, Colbert had him on the show, just to deliver those 2 words?

    You really reach for your bitter points, and then fail to make them.

  • Byeman

    “The rocket has flown– once. And with minor problems as well. ”

    Still more than any US Gov’t/MSFC launch vehicles in the last 25 years and it is was also orbital. And it cost less than the admiral’s test called Ares I-X

  • DCSCA

    Bennett wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:11 am Try six minutes. And you have it backwards- why was Musk there at all– he has a rocket and spacecraft to get operational and flying PDQ. And yes, given Colbert’s use of his show as a platform for promoting space activities, it was stinging indeed, and humiliating for Musk the Passive, who didn’t jump to defend his own rocket’s success.

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:17 am <- nonsense.

  • Byeman

    This is for you Spacex bashers/CxP pumpers

    Ares I-X
    Was it worth $500 million and 700 people working on an existing SRB, using an existing launch pad and assembly building to:

    1. Demonstrate control of a dynamically similar, integrated Ares
    I/Orion, using Ares I relevant ascent control algorithms 2. Perform an
    in-flight separation/staging event between a Ares I-similar first
    stage and a representative upper stage 3. Demonstrate assembly and
    recovery of a new Ares I-like first stage element at KSC 4.
    Demonstrate first stage separation sequencing, and quantify first
    stage atmospheric entry dynamics, and parachute performance
    5 Characterize magnitude of integrated vehicle roll torque throughout
    first stage flight

    Where as $400 million and 1000 people developed and flew:

    1. two new launch vehicles
    2. two new engines
    3. two new launch sites
    4. Designed and developed a soon to be flight ready logistics
    spacecraft that can be modified for crew

    And on the first flight of the larger launch vehicle, it:
    1. Demonstrated control of a dynamically similar, integrated Falcon
    9/Dragon, using Falcon 9 ascent control algorithms 2. Performed an
    in-flight separation/staging event between an operational Falcon 9
    first stage and a actual and an operational Falcon
    9 upper stage.
    3. Was able to partially demonstrate assembly and recovery of a new
    falcon 9 first stage element 4. Unable to demonstrate first stage
    separation sequencing, and quantify first stage atmospheric entry
    dynamics, and parachute performance
    5 Characterized magnitude of vehicle roll torque throughout flight
    necessitating some fixes.

    Which mission was more successful?
    Which mission was had marginal benefit to cost ratio?
    Which mission was better use of money?

  • Bennett

    Of the x number of people who have seen the interview, 50% didn’t catch it. Of the 50% that did, half didn’t process it. Most thought “Oh yeah, I know what sputnik is…” (really old guys), and the rest didn’t have a clue. No one but you twisted that comment to mean something “stinging” or “lampoon-ish”.

    You must feel lonely.

  • Byeman

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Nonsense? No, it is the truth. Obviously, you have no credible response (nor does one exist) and you just tried hand wave it away.

  • No one but you twisted that comment to mean something “stinging” or “lampoon-ish”.

    That’s because only an idiot would think that it was that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Dude…wow seek help it is all a conspiracy with you…

    wow Robert G. Oler

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    At the end of all the discussion, SpaceX has a 2 stage booster that has made a virtualy 100% successful test flight to leo on the first go.
    All the nay-sayers can’t change that fact no matter how much they may squirm and bluster.
    At the rate it’s going, the NASA bill may not even be resolved before the first COTS-C SpaceX Demo’ 1 flight which, if successful, will put another nail into the coffin of the POR(K) admirers. This flight will test out the Dragon cargo version which is slated to demonstrate independent operation and communication in space as well as EDL. The ‘upstart’ will continue to move forward while NASA HSF stagnates (unfortunately).

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:29 am- ROFLMAO “Still more than any US Gov’t/MSFC launch vehicles in the last 25 years..” is nonsense worthy of dismissal. But you go on believing it isn’t.

  • DCSCA

    Byeman wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:21 am Comparing the half century strides of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to the baby step of SpaceX is a non-starter. Apples and oranges. and nonsense. You ‘SpaceX’ huggers best just stop talking and start flying.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 2:12 am

    Dude?? More strange babble from a fella who insists HSF is dead. Take off the goggles, loosen the scarf and put down the bong, Waldo.

  • DCSCA

    @Downunder “At the end of all the discussion, SpaceX has a 2 stage booster that has made a virtualy 100% successful test flight to leo on the first go.” Hmmm. Seem to recall Explorer 1 doing the same thing 52 years ago– and its payload was operational. ‘Virtually 100%’ is kind but nobody disputes the rocket worked rasonably well– once. But any attempt to compare SpaceX’s capabilities to NASA operations is bogus. They have yet to orbit an operational spacecraft, loft and successfully land crews; let alone assemble space stations, fly crews to the moon, land and return and so on. SpaceX huggers best just stop talking and start flying.

  • DCSCA

    Bennett wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:23 am
    Of the x number of people who have seen the interview, 50% didn’t catch it. Of the 50% that did, half didn’t process it. Most thought “Oh yeah, I know what sputnik is…” (really old guys), and the rest didn’t have a clue.”

    Musk did.

    Rand Simberg wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 12:56 am <- You would know. But then satire may just be way over your head– sort of like a 'sputnik.'

  • DCSCA

    Josh Cryer wrote @ July 29th, 2010 at 11:18 pm <- More chatter.

    Stop talking. Start flying.

  • Vladislaw

    “I’ll echo what DSCA said. Musk and the other would-be commercial providers need to shut up and fly. Prove they can do the job and then see about getting government funds.”

    That is laughable. You really want to go three, comparing the acomplishments of the the two budgets? NASA’s 10 billion attempt to get people to the ISS with Ares I and SpaceX’s 440 million F9/Dragon?

    Diagraming a joke 101

    the comedian asks a rocket man ( a rocket being a phallic symbol) how long was it up? first chuckes .. he answers .. a month .. more chuckles.. The comedian ( playing the character of a conservative republican ) has to turn the tables on the supporter of the democatic president and brings in the russian foil …. nuff said .. laughs .. end of joke

  • byeman

    It is not apples and oranges. It was comparing two manned launch vehicle development programs and test flights.

    “Comparing the half century strides of the NASA to the baby step of SpaceX is a non-starter.”

    Wrong, past performance is not indicative of future performance. Also, the comparison was not Spacex to NASA but to Ares I project.

    Face it, DCSCA none of your arguments hold water. You have been wrong on every counterpoint and don’t know what you are talking about. What experience in the spaceflight field do you have?

    Also, Spacex support and NASA support are not mutually exclusive. In fact, one can work for NASA and be a Spacex and ULA supporter and a MSFC basher and have a clear conscience knowing that it is the best for the country

  • Martijn Meijering

    Simberg’s right.

    You bet. Hold that thought. Same goes for byeman, coming from a more down-to-earth and less idealistic background. Listen to these gentlemen, you might learn something. I know I did.

  • Martijn Meijering

    It had to be, which is why I said what I said.

  • Martijn Meijering

    I meant DCSA should listen to both Rand Simberg and byeman, not that byeman should listen to Simberg, though I’d love to see more discussion between these two fine gentlemen.

  • DCSCA

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 10:16 am nonsense. Simberg’s inaccuracies, particularly regarding space history are well known, but in this case, his comment regarding Marshall was correct. Worth noting when he finally gets something right.

  • DCSCA

    @Vlad- “That is laughable.” Indeed, Musk is becoming quite a joke. Best he shut up and start flying.

  • DCSCA

    byeman wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 9:48 am <- nonsense. You 'musketeers' best stop cheerleading and start getting your hero to shut up and start flying.

  • DCSCA

    @byeman, And for the record, to date Elon Musk has flown absolutely nobody in space.

  • common sense

    @ DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    “@byeman, And for the record, to date Elon Musk has flown absolutely nobody in space.”

    Neither has ATK nor LMT.

  • Byeman

    Better to be a ‘musketeer” than a Shaft lover.

  • common sense

    @ DCSCA wrote @ July 30th, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    You may want to learn something about musketeers. For one they worked for the government…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musketeer

  • @Byeman, Dude. Your SpaceX Merlin engine launcher as sold as a 100% 9 engine module recoverable system-Didn’t happen.

    This is where the rubber meets the road. Tell Musk & SpaceX not to sell a lift system branded RLV if you can’t demo the main selling feature to customers.

  • Tell Musk & SpaceX not to sell a lift system branded RLV if you can’t demo the main selling feature to customers.

    It’s not being sold as an RLV. SpaceX’s prices assume that they expend it each time.

  • Martijn Meijering

    @Byeman, Dude. Your SpaceX Merlin (emphasis added)

    Heh.

  • Byeman

    “Tell Musk & SpaceX not to sell a lift system branded RLV if you can’t demo the main selling feature to customers”

    1. It is not the main selling feature
    2. It is not branded as an RLV
    3. NASA has them on contract as an ELV (not COTS or CRS but as a launch service provider)

  • 1. It is not the main selling feature
    2. It is not branded as an RLV

    Where do people come up with this lunacy, anyway? They seem to live in an alternate reality.

  • Martijn Meijering

    Where do people come up with this lunacy, anyway?

    Nature provides an infinite supply of idiocy to those with ulterior motives.

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