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Stupidity on display

In hearings Wednesday, several members of Congress suggested that NASA force the new competing commercial space companies to combine their efforts in order to save money.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden during a March 21 hearing on the agency’s 2013 budget the same question he asked of the White House’s chief science adviser last month: would NASA’s partnership with commercial companies to develop astronaut transports be cheaper if the companies competing for NASA funds combined their efforts into a single “all for one and one for all” project?

Similarly, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) made the same stupid argument in her continuing effort to keep the funding of the Space Launch System, the rocket-formerly-called-Constellation, as high as possible, at the cost of cutting everything else in NASA if necessary.

If you needed any evidence that members of Congress are ignorant idiots, you only need read the comments of these elected officials at these hearings to get your proof. Wolf or Hutchison as well as several others from both parties very clearly haven’t the slightest idea what these various space companies are building. Nor do they have the faintest notion of the difficulties entailed in building these manned space vessels.

First of all, the rockets and capsules being built by all of the commercial companies are fundamentally different from each other. Dream Chaser is a space plane like the shuttle. Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Dragon are capsules more like Apollo, though neither is much like the other. And Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus capsule is not even designed to carry humans, just cargo. It can’t return to Earth.

So, how the hell does Frank Wolf imagine it would save anyone any money to combine the efforts of these companies? The only way he could even make this suggestion is if he has never even glanced at any news story anywhere, describing these rockets and capsules.

Hutchison is even more shameful. She has become the queen of heavy-lift, not because it will get the U.S. manned program back into space (which it will not), but because it brings jobs and pork to her state. And she has been willing to let the budgets of any other NASA program die in her effort to further that pork.

Many of these elected officials have indicated that they want to cut commercial space in order to put funds back into the Mars program. And in this area, NASA administrator Charles Bolden displayed his own stupidity.

Bolden said during the hearing that the Mars program was targeted for budget cuts because “when we took a look at the portfolio, the area that seemed to be in the best shape was our Mars exploration.”

That explanation did not sit well with members of the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee. “That’s an answer that says, ‘in order to make budget cuts, we savage the most successful program we have,’” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat whose Pasadena-area district includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Yup. Bolden actually made the argument that because the Mars program was so successful, they decided it deserved to be cut.

Meanwhile, these same elected officials continue to campaign for the one program at NASA that truly is a waste of money, the heavy-lift Space Launch System imposed on NASA by Congress. Costing about $3 billion a year, SLS will only produce its first manned launch about nine years from now. (Wanna bet that will never happen?) Yet, despite its high cost and unlikely payoff, Hutchison and other elected officials somehow think the program is getting short-changed, and want to cut commercial space in order to pour more money down that garbage drain.

As I wrote last November, NASA should focus its spending on its most successful programs, the planetary and astronomy programs and its relatively inexpensive competing commercial manned space program, and dump SLS entirely. Should they do that, we not only would get some really spectacular planetary missions to Mars and elsewhere, the astronomy program could be revived, the manned program might function more effectively for far less cost, and the overall NASA budget could even be cut.

Sadly, no one in either the Obama administration or Congress seems interested in doing this, which makes me very depressed. If SpaceX’s first launch of Dragon to ISS, presently scheduled for April 30, does not succeed, I can see the entire American space program dying for want of brains in Congress.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

106 comments

  • Calling these stupid knuckleheads “ignorant idiots” is an insult to stupid ignorant idiots everywhere. Congressman Wolf seriously wants four different companies, with millions of dollars invested in years of research and development on their respective vehicles, to combine their efforts into a single “one for all” project? He seriously thinks that that’s somehow going to save money and time? Seriously? And does he not understand the concept of proprietary information? Does he not understand the concept of free markets and competition? Could someone please explain to Congressman Wolf that this is the United States of America and not the old Soviet Union? He seems totally incapable of making the distinction.

    Listening to these clowns is starting to get so depressing. It is clear that some of them are absolutely intent on doing everything they can to strangle the baby in the crib before she even gets a chance to even fly.

    Even if the Dragon flight to ISS next month (fingers crossed) is a stunning success you can bet the house, the ranch, and the farm that bad actors like Wolf, and Hutchison, and Hall will bend over backwards to completely dismiss the accomplishment, or otherwise find other ways to totally downplay the significance of the event and the nation’s urgent need for commercial crew capability as soon as possible.

    And as for Mars, it’s not going anywhere. It’ll still be there in August when Curiosity finally reaches it. It’ll still be there 20-30 years from now when all these old fossils are long gone and long forgotten. And the science will still be there too, waiting for us, whenever choose to go ahead and discover it. What is all this sudden urgency about? In these economic times certain programs will inevitably slide to the right. In NASA’s case just about every program will slide to the right.

    But the one program that we can’t afford to let slide anymore than it already has, and the one capability that continues to recede from our grasp is the ability to place our own astronauts into orbit. If these dubious civil servants continue unchecked on their present course there’s no telling how many years may pass before we ever possess that capability again.

  • Iterator

    @Ron Atkins: Actually, I don’t think he truly believes that. Realize that it’s only part stupidity. The other (more important) part is them being puppets of the dinospace lobby. I think they understand quite well that if such an idea were to be executed, it would have a huge chance of failing miserably, but that’s the point! That would keep the current monopoly in place and that is exactly what the millions of dollars paid in lobbying fees were meant to provide.

  • Kelly Starks

    >..w the hell does Frank Wolf imagine it would save anyone any money to combine the efforts of these companies?

    Actually Combining all these projects WOULD save money, adn is a routine methould of doing so it gov contracts. By eliminating most of the functions. I.E. you don’t build Dreamcharer AND CST AND Dragon and Orbitals launch only. You only build one vehicle that satisfies all functions each would do. Split up the parts of the resulting consolodated design amoung the teams and their providers. Don’t set up for 3-4 launch vehicles, pick one or two.
    …or the gov could just pick one provider and downselect the others out of busness.

    Given the fixed costs of developing these multiple solutions and then having the gov or market (if one develops) carry all of them, would be expected to quadruple costs (fixed overhead is too high a fraction of per launch costs for competician to lower costs), no way will the gov bankroll all of them in this political environment.

    Of courseIf you do a fair teaming arrangement most of these folks get whiped. Why fund Falcon development when existing Delta adn Atlas boosters work far better and cheaper (course then Congress/NASA look stupid for pouring money into SpaceX & Orbital booster programs), Orbitals cargo only craft is road kill, Dream chaser is pretty redundant with X-37 – which is ni production flying and integrated with EELV. Or if you want Capsules Dragon and CST-100? Do we need 3 life support designs? 4 Avionics and flight control? Why develop any when Boeing can use off the shelf ones already tested and in production.

    etc.

    Its a proven way to save money ni programs like this — assuming you actually want to save money, you should support it.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Hutchison is even more shameful. She has become the queen of heavy-lift, not because it will get the
    > U.S. manned program back into space …

    The whole argument for CCDev was it would free up NASA funds for ISS suply efforts so NASA could develop the BEO equipment – which Griffin convinced congress needed a HLV – so sacraficing the BEO program to sustain the “supporting” ISS suply contracts makes no logical sence. Given Hutchison is retiring and hence has no reasno to care abuot the votes eiather way, and what shes doing is arguably very sensable prioritizing (not waht I’ld be working toward, but given congresses assumptions, shes completly right) .

  • Kelly Starks

    >.SpaceX’s first launch of Dragon to ISS, presently scheduled for April 30, does not succeed, I can
    > see the entire American space program dying …

    Really – SpaceX succeding wildly or failing couldn’t make a difference (assuming they don’t plow into the ISS). They are simply to limited to support any real american program. If anything, their success could be used to accelerate the dismanteling of US capacity to have a space program or space capacity, since “mearly having SpaceX’s limited capacity is enough to support the ISS and existing programs”. Which of course would eliminate everything ni the US capable of doing anything beyond that.

    Really, seriously, SpaceX failing would do more for US having a serious future in space then anything they could do. It would certainly highlight the US is a “formerly spacefaring nation”, and perhaps getting that discused as a issue.

  • Joe2

    You certainly seem very angry.

    If the intent of this posting is simply to vent and/or preach to the quire, then I suppose if serves its purpose.

    However, if the intent is to change someone’s mind or convince a neutral to agree with you, then repeatedly calling people with whom you disagree stupid and idiots (as well as questioning the integrity of their motives) is off putting and counterproductive to your cause.

  • Robert Horning

    If you bring up the argument about the Delta IV and Atlas V, you need to ask why fund the SLS when you have already existing launchers in the form of the Delta IV-Heavy and Atlas V. If anything, the Orion capsule is being explicitly designed so it simply can’t be put onto one of those launchers… so the question that should be asked in Congress is why that should be the case? Why can’t either the Delta IV or the Atlas V be uprated?

    As far as why funding for the development of the Falcon rockets is concerned, it merely helps to have some added competition in the marketplace. If you look at how much has actually been spent and what the taxpayers are getting for the money being spent toward the Falcon 9 commercial cargo delivery, it will pay for itself several times over even if the original five or six planned flights happen alone compared to using even a Delta IV. Those EELVs aren’t cheaper and in fact are more expensive than a Falcon 9, but that really doesn’t matter when literally billions are being dumped annually into the SLS and Orion programs for something that still is going to be nearly a decade away before it even flies.

    If the Dragon is successful next month on SpaceX’s launch to the ISS, these guys are going to be shown to be even larger idiots. Even more so if Elon Musk can make good on his promise of a round-trip ticket to Mars for a half-million dollars.

    I would normally suggest simply giving these guys a whole bunch of rope to hang themselves with, as the legacy they leave is going to be as silly as what William Proxmire of Wisconsin left behind. I might even dare say worse as at least William Proxmire didn’t bring billions of pork barrel spending into Wisconsin at the expense of the programs he criticized.

  • Robert Horning

    “Really – SpaceX succeding wildly or failing couldn’t make a difference (assuming they don’t plow into the ISS). They are simply to limited to support any real american program.”

    So I suppose a space capsule capable of sending seven people into space at the same time and being able to withstand the re-entry speed of coming in from Mars (not that the capsule will be used alone on the trip to and from Mars, but it can handle that kind of re-entry velocity) is something to think is of limited quality and insufficient for missions beyond LEO?

    I wonder what you think might actually qualify as something reasonable for those kind of missions? Even if the most optimistic and wild dreams happen with the SLS/Orion programs and they actually start flying before 2017 as is claimed (I have serious doubts that will happen… but I’ll take a chance here), where can those vehicles actually go than to the ISS? What else could be done that has actual funding and is being developed right now? Yes, there are some very far out ideas, but those have no current funding and based on the current attitude from Congress I highly doubt anything will get done at all.

    What I see is the eventual dismantling of NASA as a whole, or at least that organization needs to “re-invent” itself in a substantive way. It needs to get out of the glory days it has been living in for the past 30 years and realize that it isn’t the 1960’s any more. How that can be accomplished is something I don’t know if it is possible though.

  • Kelly Starks

    > So I suppose a space capsule capable of sending seven people into space at the
    > same time and being able to withstand the re-entry speed of coming in from Mars
    > == is something to think is of limited quality and insufficient for missions beyond LEO?

    Given it has no capabilities to sustain anynoe BEO, little capacity even in BEO, definatly. (Its like assuming a Soyuz capsule means the Soviet union can go to the moon – which even they never said – or do complex missions in space. Its pretty much just built as a Earth to LEO taxi.

    Also theres the “They are simply to limited to support any real american program.” part. The SpaceX has no expertice, or resources to do BEO, or even much in LEO, and those that do are all being laid off. Even getting off the pad into space has proven FAR harder for them then their competitors, as shown by their extreamly high failure rates.

    really we don’t have anything in work. SLS/Orion at least could get you BEO, but fropm waht I saw when working for it — it was scarry crude adn low quality compared to Shuttle or ISS. But the companies with the infastructure, resouces, and expertice are still mostly there to develop something. They they are all benig dismanteled.

    >== What else could be done that has actual funding and is being developed right now? ==

    Obviously a lot more could be done for the money, especialiy if yuo did commercialize a lot of the functions, support, etc. Other then subcontracting missions to JPL – NASA demands a lot of NASA handholding and overhead that drives costs through the roof. COTS and CCDev are (fairly effectvly) being used as proof to congress that comercialization is impossible, just like X-33 was used to “prove” RLVs and low cost launch are impossible.

    Burt as you said, Congress is not going to focus no this enough to work anything much out. Obama wants space dead, Romney isn’t that interested eiather way. So not much else is going to be done. So the best you can hope for now is to keep from burning down all the capacity for us ever to have a commercial or governmental “space program” in the future. SpaceX simply has nothing to offer there, and are to adament none of its needed to care to try.

    Really, other then mil projects like X-37 and the RLV to replace the EELVs they are going to do, there isn’t much in work to hang your hopes on. The vast bulk of waht we could do, adn the resounrces to do it, a decade ago is gone now. Even 80% of waht we had a couple years ago is gone now, adn even the space advocates don’t really care.

    Maybe that commercial shuttle dev project Mary Ditmeyer (sp?) talked about will go through, but its pretty damn iffy.

  • Kelly Starks

    >If you bring up the argument about the Delta IV and Atlas V, you need to ask why fund the SLS
    > when you have already existing launchers in the form of the Delta IV-Heavy and Atlas V.
    > If anything, the Orion capsule is being explicitly designed so it simply can’t be put onto one
    > of those launchers…

    Yes Orion was respect up so it couldn’t be carried no EELVs to justify a secound big booter program (Ares-I). Course SLS is the Ares-V to be developed for heavy lift adn BEO missions — or realistiocly at this point, just to keep the whole launcher development industryfrom closing down.

    >== it merely helps to have some added competition in the marketplace.==

    Not if its substandard quality and just going to drive everyones launch costs up.

    >== If you look at how much has actually been spent and what the taxpayers are
    > getting for the money being spent toward the Falcon 9 commercial cargo delivery,
    > it will pay for itself several times over even if the original five or six planned flights
    > happen alone compared to using even a Delta IV. ==

    You do know they are now projecting SpaceX’s cost per pound to ISS will be higher then shuttle or other existing or passed launchers right? There was a big camosion when GAO and congress issued that report last summer.

    [Musk didn’t include a lot of the costs to the gov in his cost projections.]

    >== Even more so if Elon Musk can make good on his promise of a round-trip ticket to Mars for a half-million dollars.

    Musk hasn’t had a great track record of delivering no his grand promises, and his goingin the last 2-3 years from talking about SpaceX MAYBE launching a maned mission to Mars in under 20 years – to them founding cities with millions of people on Mars in that time (along with other jaw droping statements) has really raised eyebrows.

  • George Turner

    Actually Combining all these projects WOULD save money, adn is a routine methould of doing so it gov contracts. By eliminating most of the functions. I.E. you don’t build Dreamcharer AND CST AND Dragon and Orbitals launch only. You only build one vehicle that satisfies all functions each would do. Split up the parts of the resulting consolodated design amoung the teams and their providers. Don’t set up for 3-4 launch vehicles, pick one or two.

    And we all know how much cheaper vehicles are when they’re built for a government contract than when you just walk down to the car lot and choose from dozens of models.

    The problem with building one vehicle to do the functions of several seperate vehicles is that it explodes the cost. The Shuttle was a re-usable space truck designed to fulfill almost every conceivable mission, and thus it cost a fortune.

    Suppose you needed a mini-van to haul lots of people, a jeep to go off-road, and a boat to go fishing. Thinking that three seperate vehicles is wasteful, at $30,000 for the van, $22,000 for the jeep, and $50,000 for a Ranger bass boat, you decide to buy one vehicle that can perform all those functions. So your wife comes home to find a Marine advanced amphibious assault vehicle sitting in the driveway and a $22.3 million hole in the family budget. “Honey, but at least it’s not wasteful!”

    The other issue is that we’ve only flown four manned vehicles in space. That’s not a lot of design lineage, and aviation certaintly hadn’t made many advancements by the time it produced only the fourth flyable airplane. To produce better spacecraft faster, we need to produce a lot of different spacecraft, because each individual design only contributes a finite amount to our knowledge of how to build more optimal vehicles. If we put all our eggs in one very expensive basket then we’ll tend to use that vehicle far beyond the time it should’ve been retired and replaced, just as we did with the Shuttle.

  • Lyle

    Calling the combining of private business, each with their own craft, as idiocy, is a fair allegation. George Turner in his post explains the idiocy well with the van/off-roader/boat analogy. This analogy while needed here, should not have been needed. The point being, if a pollie makes an idiotic statement, then idiocy is the correct lexicon. This is not about disagreement, rather it is stating the obvious about two matters, the reality of the craft being built and the reality of the term private business. The post by Joe2 complaining about such descriptive language is akin to a pollie claiming the world is flat in order to justify a political path, with anyone suggesting otherwise being damned for ignoring the status driven emotions and ego of the pollie.

  • Robert Horning

    “The SpaceX has no expertice, or resources to do BEO, or even much in LEO, and those that do are all being laid off. Even getting off the pad into space has proven FAR harder for them then their competitors, as shown by their extreamly high failure rates.”

    What failure rate? Are you talking about the early failures of the Falcon 1? Yes, there were some bone-headed things they did wrong, but they were able to learn from those mistakes and they weren’t systematic problems endemic in how the spacecraft were built. They have since acquired many engineers who have experience in the industry.

    BTW, what competitors does SpaceX have? Are you talking Copenhagen Suborbital and Armadillo Aerospace, or are you talking Lockheed-Martin and Boeing? If it is the former, they haven’t even been into LEO yet (although it is a long-term goal for both groups). If it is the latter, I would beg of you to look at the failure rates for both companies. It was huge, but it also happened some time in the past. When the Atlas rocket was originally built, there was a serious question as to if it would fly at all. The Atlas also has the interesting distinction of being the only American rocket system to have sent an astronaut into orbit that is currently in production… but you need to go back a number of years to when that happened.

    The comparison is murky at best, and if anything the “competitors” don’t look nearly as good as SpaceX. Elon Musk does have the benefit of being the most recent to make the trip into space, and is using more modern technology to get the job done (like using TCP/IP for internal component data transfer and telemetry as well as more modern metallurgy). I have no doubt that Boeing can also get into space if they want, and they are working on the CST-100… something that I’m also interested in seeing get developed as well. Or perhaps you thing Boeing is a Johnny-come-lately into the space launcher business with a decided lack of experience? Boeing is certainly prepared and ready if commercial spaceflight seriously takes off, and they’ve been involved with both CCDEV and COTS. Boeing certainly has been more favorably considered for such programs over companies like ATK with their “Liberty” rocket that has no chance at all to realistically enter the commercial spaceflight launcher market.

  • Tom Billings

    “The whole argument for CCDev was it would free up NASA funds for ISS suply efforts so NASA could develop the BEO equipment – which Griffin convinced congress needed a HLV – so sacraficing the BEO program to sustain the “supporting” ISS suply contracts makes no logical sence.”

    Well, now, that is the core of it, isn’t it, Kelly? Except for the one item, that development of BEO tech is not being sacrificed to a program far smaller at its largest proposed size than was proposed for BEO Tech. What BEO Tech is being sacrificed to is SLS and MPCV!

    The administration caved on SLS and MPCV, so you are treating them as a given part of the woodwork. They are not, they are the hogs in the kitchen that are eating the food for the children who should be growing on that food, The BEO Tech. All the jabber about CCDev doing that is propaganda to finish off the contracts that might yet show that SLS and MPCV are for *nothing*except letting the higher managers in MSFC, JSC, and KSC, benefit from getting to manage SLS tech they already know about from shuttle, so they can look good, as they advance to salary levels set in far larger programs, at far higher levels than if MSFC, JSC, and KSC were developing lots of smaller BEO Tech projects.

    In short, we saw you, and Wolf, and Hutchison, and ATK, and the NASA Club contractors palm that card. Note that few here accept it.

    “Given Hutchison is retiring and hence has no reasno to care abuot the votes eiather way, and what shes doing is arguably very sensable prioritizing (not waht I’ld be working toward, but given congresses assumptions, shes completly right) .”

    On the contrary, retiring from *Congress* does not mean Hutchison is retiring to anywhere but lucrative lobbying contracts with the same people who are benefiting from MPCV and SLS, which she is now pushing. She is guaranteeing her job prospects for the future, at the cost of wrecking the ability of US citizens to fly regularly to Space on US rockets for a decade, if she wins, which is not yet certain.

    The choices are *not* between commercial crew and BEO, but between SLS/MPCV and any budget for any technology *not* depending on monster rockets. Monster rockets which are eating the manned spacecraft budget almost entirely, just so managers can have large programs, justifying their larger salaries, and larger retirement pensions, alongside Senators retiring to “K Street” positions guaranteed by their last efforts in office.

  • Joe2

    For the record, I did not complain about anything.

    I simply stated what I believe to be a fact – If you are trying to win people over, repeatedly insulting them is not an effective strategy.

    You obviously disagree. I suppose (by your rules) that means I should call you a stupid idiot, but I will not.

  • Joe2

    “The problem with building one vehicle to do the functions of several seperate vehicles is that it explodes the cost.”

    The problem is you are confusing design implementation with design requirement.

    While each of the CCDev vehicles is of a different design they are all attempting to individually fulfill the same basic design requirement.

    A top level description of that requirement would be – Deliver X number of people in increments of Y in a time period of Z for a certain fixed price.

    All that has been suggested by the Congress is an early down select to fewer competitors (and thus fewer designs) to save money. There are credible (though not necessarily winning) arguments to be made against that approach, but you are not making one of them.

  • Kelly Starks

    > What failure rate? Are you talking about the early failures of the Falcon 1? ..

    And ones in the F-9 flights. “near misses”.

    A lot of supporters like to shrug those of as start up errors, but SpaceX’s major competitors haven’t been making them in decades.

    >..what competitors does SpaceX have? [if] are you talking Lockheed-Martin and Boeing? .. I would
    > beg of you to look at the failure rates for both companies. It was huge, but it also happened
    > some time in the past.

    About half a century ago, back when they were developing the scientific concepts of launch vehicles, while developing the technology, adn developing systems using the technology – while under a huge cold war driven time crunch. Its like comparing failures of the wright brothers, against the industry standards while the SR-71s adn 707’s were being developed.

    Specificly SpaceX’s falcons compete against the Delta-IV and Atlas V, the EELV twins. in a 130 flights they had paying customers on all of them (even the test flights), and the worst problem was 1 flight was off in the final orbit – but it was still a completly acceptable orbit to the customer.

    >..The Atlas also has the interesting distinction of being the only American rocket system to have sent an
    > astronaut into orbit that is currently in production..

    Not really. They still use the Atlas name on their rockets, but the current Atlas-V is no more like the ones that carried the Gemini astrounauts into space, then the 787 is like the 707 just because boeing still likes 7’s in the names.

    The Atlas adn Delta could carry people, it was something in the base design, but they never have. They are planing on launching Orion, Dream chaser and others on them.

    >..the “competitors” don’t look nearly as good as SpaceX.

    ???
    Thats pushing it a lot!! Asside from the relyability problems and failures to meet schedule and cost savings goals. The designs rather crude with a lot more failure modes.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Except for the one item, [the] BEO Tech is being sacrificed to is SLS and MPCV!

    SLS adn Orion/MPCV are the core tech for all NASA BEO plans. The are also about the only project paying for any HSF system dev work. Without them those industries close their doors, and NASA and the US has no capacities to even make a BEO program out of.

    Ignoring the sladerous and unjustified comments against Hutchison.

    Any event theirs broad bi-partisan support of SLS/Orion, adn their being the top priority for NASA for a while.

  • George Turner

    No, they are building to very different requirements. NASA’s short-term goal is delivering to the ISS, but is that the only goal of manned spaceflight? Advocates of government style space flight have trouble taking their blinders off, unable to see that programs should exist for more than merely justifying the existance of a different government program. Follow the circular logic. The SpaceX Dragon and other commercial ventures only exist to support the ISS, and the ISS only exists to justify the Space Shuttle, and the Space Shuttle only existed to justify NASA’s continued activities after Apollo and to build a space station, and the space station exists to provide a reason to build spacecraft to deliver people and supplies into orbit.

    The wheels on the bus go round and round, and if we keep making decisions the same way we’ll never break out of the cycle. We’ll always have one very expensive, infrequently used spacecraft performing essentialy the same mission over and over again in a grand aerospace make-work program. On my first birthday NASA launched a Gemini mission to study the efects of zero-G on human physiology. On my forty-sixth birthday NASA launched a mission to the ISS to study the effects of zero-G on human physiology. What’s the point of studying how zero-gravity will effect how well humans work in space if nobody plans to move beyond the lab rat stage?

    One of the key differences between private enterprise and centralized government planning, and one of the key reasons that private enterprise vastly outperformed communism, is that private enterprise doesn’t limit itself to just one goal. It pursues almost all conceivable goals in parallel, often working at cross purposes to itself in what seems to any outside observer to be a highly disorganized, bumbling, wasteful, and inefficient approach. For most of American history our foreign policy was viewed as far inferior to the Europeans’ disciplined, focused system. Our farmers pushed policies opposite those of the State Department, the military pursued something different still, our businesses undercut everyone, our missionaries stirred up trouble for our businesses, and Hollywood’s messages were completely contrary to anything the missionaries had to teach. Yet we were like an octopus, forging close ties with everyone on some level or another. If our chaotic, free-market approach to foreign affairs had been as successful as the efficient, centralized European model over the course of the 20th century, we’d have been reduced to thirteen colonies clinging to the Atlantic coast.

    The scattershot method of development seems inefficient to an outside observer, but it outperforms the top-down systems in every field of endeavor, and human spaceflight won’t prove an exception. The arguments for a more efficient, centralized approach to spaceflight are little different from arguing that back in the 1960’s, all US semiconductor, computer, software, and communications development should’ve been solely left to IBM and AT&T. If we’d have done that, we’d be havnig this discussion on a monochrome TTY via 1200 baud dial-up modem reaching a bulletin board system (written in PL/I) running on an IBM 370.

    Back to the particulars of the current debate, some of the commercial ventures are pursuing a winged rocket plane approach, but those would never be used beyond low Earth orbit because wings and landing gear are useless in space. SpaceX is building a capsule that would be useful for both ISS missions and future endeavors beyond Earth orbit. It may turn out that a re-usable winged re-entry vehicle is the lowest cost per pound to the ISS, but if NASA killed off the capsule designs then NASA would’ve once again locked itself into low Earth orbit. But if NASA kills off the winged approach, it might be denied the potentially lower-cost, higher-volume orbital delivery vehicle, and delivering a high-volume of materials to low Earth orbit is fundamental to any development beyond Earth orbit.

    Likewise, many zero-gravity experiments don’t even need to reach orbit, and such missions could much more cheaply be performed by suborbital vehicles, which are also in commercial development. If NASA were to kill off those programs then the amount of potential experimentation taking place would be negatively impacted, and much more expensive orbital platforms will be saddled with experiments that didn’t even need to be done in orbit

    We don’t need fewer ventures building unique spacecraft, we need far more of them.

  • Joe2

    “No, they are building to very different requirements. NASA’s short-term goal is delivering to the ISS, but is that the only goal of manned spaceflight?”

    The only government requirements they are “building to” are the ones I described. If you want the government to pay them to attempt to meet additional requirements, then get the government to sign up to those requirements. Until then what I said remains accurate and your arguments remain lacking.

    “We don’t need fewer ventures building unique spacecraft, we need far more of them.”

    So you say. Then you must (if you want government money to subsidize your ‘commercial’ ventures) get the government to sign up to pay those subsidies. Until then your arguments remain lacking.

  • Not really. They still use the Atlas name on their rockets, but the current Atlas-V is no more like the ones that carried the Gemini astrounauts into space, then the 787 is like the 707 just because boeing still likes 7′s in the names.

    The early Atlas booster was used exactly four times to carry astronauts into space and then retired from manned spaceflight. At no time did it ever carry any Gemini astronauts into Earth orbit.

    (Replying on this thread stream as there is no reply button furnished beneath your original comment.)

  • Kelly Starks

    True – I ment Mercury.

  • Kelly Starks

    >And we all know how much cheaper vehicles are when they’re built for a government contract
    > than when you just walk down to the car lot and choose from dozens of models.

    Eiather way, the CCDev contenders are being built for a gov contract. However building and operating 4 to do essentially the same thing, is a lot more expensive then building and operating 1.

    >..The problem with building one vehicle to do the functions of several seperate vehicles
    > is that it explodes the cost. The Shuttle was a re-usable space truck designed to fulfill
    > almost every conceivable mission, and thus it cost a fortune.

    Actually the shuttle cost far less then the fleets of separate craft it replaced.

    And given Dreamchaser, Dragon, CST-100 etc do the same thing with the same functions – consolodating them is a obvious cost saver.

  • Kelly Starks

    > No, they are building to very different requirements. NASA’s short-term goal is delivering to
    > the ISS, but is that the only goal of manned spaceflight?

    You forget, NASA is the customer. You build for the market, and for what the investor wants to pay for. NASA is both at the moment, and they don’t want the extra cost of the redundant providers redundant programs.

    >== some of the commercial ventures are pursuing a winged rocket plane approach, but those
    > would never be used beyond low Earth orbit because wings and landing gear are useless in
    > space. SpaceX is building a capsule that would be useful for both ISS missions and future
    > endeavors beyond Earth orbit.

    Actualy not, adn again – thats not what NASA wants them for, and they are paying the bills.

  • George Turner

    Joe2 said:

    The only government requirements they are “building to” are the ones I described. If you want the government to pay them to attempt to meet additional requirements, then get the government to sign up to those requirements. Until then what I said remains accurate and your arguments remain lacking.

    The commercial providers aren’t just building to the NASA mission. They were building spacecraft for a variety of uses and NASA sought to take advantage of some of their capabilities in preference to relying soley on the Russians for access to space. Note that the Soyuz was not built to any NASA requirements at all, yet NASA is using it and paying a pretty penny for the privilege. To help make these private domestic projects more useful to NASA’s own particular missions, both in terms of capabilities and schedules, NASA decided to help with funding and development efforts. If NASA withdraws such support then these programs will all continue at a slightly reduced pace, and they need make no further efforts towards docking compatibility with the ISS. They can isntead focus on Bigelow modules which could be placed in an orbit that’s useful for BEO goals, which the ISS is not.

    The private ventures are not government programs, they are commercial programs that the government would like to take good advantage of, just like they do with supercomputers and a host of other commercial technologies. The problem is that if NASA chooses not to pursue using the domestic companies, they’ll have to rely on the Russians until they develop their own launcher, which looks to be sometime between 2018 and the twenty second century.

    Kelly Starks said:

    Actualy not, adn again – thats not what NASA wants them for, and they are paying the bills.

    And they’re paying the bills with my money. Like most government agencies, they seem to have forgotten the taxpayer part.

  • George Turner

    And ones in the F-9 flights. “near misses”.

    A lot of supporters like to shrug those of as start up errors, but SpaceX’s major competitors haven’t been making them in decades.

    Unless you count NASA as a competitor to Space X. The first Shuttle launch came close to blowing up in many, many ways. It would certainly have blown up if they hadn’t done a shake test that nobody thought was really needed, but was done mostly out of curiosity, which twisted the helium tank’s support structure into a pretzel. If the Columbia had been equipped with better instrumentation, the pilots say they would’ve ejected when they saw what was going on with the body flap during launch. These errors continued throughout the program, twice resulting in the loss of vehicle and crew, and nearly losing one in orbit when an incorrect state vector was uploaded while everyone was asleep. Fortunately the crew had left the thrusters on low or all the maneuvering fuel would’ve been expended before they could intervene.

  • George Turner

    Joe2: Our purpose isn’t to win you over, it’s to set you in the corner with a dunce cap on your head. There is a difference, and you will get brownies with walnut sprinkles which are very tasty.

    Arguing that centralized government planning is more efficient than the private sector is an idea so wildly refuted that it doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Just advancing it is politically suicide even in the former Soviet Union.

  • However building and operating 4 to do essentially the same thing, is a lot more expensive then building and operating 1.

    Wow. That assertion sounds great. Uh, is it true?

    Those four would be in competition right? Do you understand what competition does? No? Ok. Do you understand what lack of competition does? [cluebat, swing and a ???]

    [Dragon is] pretty much just built as a Earth to LEO taxi.

    I fell on the floor when I read that. Dragon, from day one, before NASA was ever involved, was designed to land humans on mars. In fact, it will be able to land people on just any rock in the solar system (and beyond.)

    This doesn’t mean it was meant to carry people from earth orbit to mars orbit (although Zubrin has proposed exactly that.) Just that it will be used to propulsively land on mars from mars orbit.

    However, it will be perfectly capable of putting people on the moon without needing a ship (although a ship in lunar orbit or Lagrange point would be useful to a lunar mission using the Dragon as shuttle.)

  • Kelly Starks

    > George Turner
    > Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    > The commercial providers aren’t just building to the NASA mission. They were building
    > spacecraft for a variety of uses and NASA sought to take advantage of some of their
    > capabilities in preference to relying soley on the Russians for access to space. ==

    That’s a bit disingenuous. NASA is paying the bulk of their dev costs, and is the bulk of their projected market. So at best the other folks are taking advantage of the capabilities NASA chooses to have them provide. And given this isn’t delivering the cost savings promised, and NASA has a budget all voters want tightened, their economizing the program is on the horizon. So they will either drop most of the companies completely, or get them to team up and share the dramatically reduced pie.

    >== To help make these private domestic projects more useful to NASA’s own particular
    > missions, both in terms of capabilities and schedules, NASA decided to help with funding
    > and development efforts.==

    No, they were originally going to develop on their own but couldn’t raise the investor money since investors realized their was no way to make money or break even on the COTS project, and their projected other markets didn’t happen. With the companies droping out or stoping in their tracks, NASA picked up the bulk of the tab. If NASA pulls out they don’t slow down – they die.

    >==They can isntead focus on Bigelow modules ==

    Bigelows market projections have imploded as well. A few years back he was talking about maybe needing 24 maned launches a year (with up to 6 per flight) – a stagering jump. Now hes talking about a couple nation possibly interested, and maybe getting NASA interested in buying one to extendISS (odd given NASA wants to dispose of ISS).

    > The private ventures are not government programs, they are commercial programs that the
    > government would like to take good advantage of,==

    These are ventures contracted to develop craft for a gov contract, to support a gov mission. When you do that, you do what the customer wants to pay for, not what you want them to want.

    >..they’re paying the bills with my money. Like most government agencies, they seem to
    > have forgotten the taxpayer part.

    Voter money, and NASA has always focused on delivering what the voters want. And “wasteful redundancy” isn’t the flavor of the month.

  • Joe2

    I wasn’t talking about winning me over George.

    I was talking about winning over the people in Congress (and elsewhere) that might actually give money to support the so called commercial space ventures.

    Thanks for the insults about dunce caps, considering the other people you name call; I take it as a compliment coming from you.

    Keep using your ‘winning personality”, I am sure you will do your cause a lot of good.

    Have a nice day.

  • Kelly Starks

    >George Turner
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    >>And ones in the F-9 flights. “near misses”.

    >> A lot of supporters like to shrug those of as start up errors, but SpaceX’s major
    >> competitors haven’t been making them in decades.

    > Unless you count NASA as a competitor to Space X.

    No, at the moment they are the customer, and not one providing to other folks in the market. A Market SpaceX has to compete in.

    >.. Shuttle ..

    NASA does like to be sloppy and is no longer a competent technical lead. Most of the Shuttles problems and accidents lead straight back to a stupid NASA order. But the shuttle showed 5% near miss rate, and 2 of 130 loss rate. Far better then the Falcons or Soyuz. Not as good as the Delta-IV/Atlas-V.

  • Kelly Starks

    > ken anthony
    > Posted March 25, 2012 at 4:59 AM

    >> However building and operating 4 to do essentially the same thing, is a lot more expensive
    >> then building and operating 1.

    > Wow. That assertion sounds great. Uh, is it true?

    Oh yes. Lots of history in gov and commercial contracting, in situations like this, to demonstrate it.

    > Those four would be in competition right? Do you understand what competition does?

    Obviously more then you, and I know HOW it works. When the supliers fixed costs are a small fraction of the total launch costs, and they can economize the rest, competition pushes them to compete to lower costs to get a larger market share. NONE OF THATS TRUE HERE.

    Here fixed costs are the vast bulk of the per flight costs, so the only way to lower cost per flight is to fly more and lower fixed costs. So for NASA having fewer vendors means fewer development programs adding costs, and fewer programs overhead costs to carry (i.e. all the fixed costs are reduced), and the remaining provider(s) fly more, so the smaller fixed costs divided over more flights, makes for cheaper flights.

    This is the big reason why when the GAO and congress audited the COTS program they found (even getting special cuts in the overhead they needed to support) Shuttle was delivering cargo to the ISS for lower cost per pound then COTS, and was even cheaper still considering it replaced the need for CCDev.

    >> [Dragon is] pretty much just built as a Earth to LEO taxi.

    > I fell on the floor when I read that. Dragon, from day one, before NASA was ever
    > involved, was designed to land humans on mars.==

    Nope, its designed to survive reentries to from Mars, but it has non of the systems it would need to land on Mars – or get to Mars. Not do complex missions in orbit, or support people in it for long duration, etc

    >== it will be perfectly capable of putting people on the moon without needing a ship ..

    ??
    As long as its a one way trip, and you don’t need life support for long.
    ;)

  • Kelly Starks

    Sadly, talking with the space advocacy community is one of the most effective ways for people to become convinced space is useless pork.

    ;(

  • Karl Hallowell

    All that has been suggested by the Congress is an early down select to fewer competitors (and thus fewer designs) to save money. There are credible (though not necessarily winning) arguments to be made against that approach, but you are not making one of them.

    It doesn’t matter if it is a sincere suggestion rather than the blatant pork to certain regions and businesses that it most likely is. There’s no reason or basis to choose winners and losers at this time. If ATK or another business wants to present an SLS-style system using parts of the Space Shuttle supply chain, then they shouldn’t be given a huge funding advantage over more valid and effective approaches such as the EELVs and Falcon 9. If that means the end of the Shuttle supply chain, then that works for me. Those people can be employed in more productive industries in or outside the space launch industry.

    The problem is you are confusing design implementation with design requirement.

    Certain design requirements lead naturally to huge implementation problems and costs. That’s the whole reason why so much effort is spent in designing something. The SLS approach of throwing huge amounts of money (more than is necessary, I might add) at space launch in favor of particular approaches and special interests has failed naturally in the past.

  • Karl Hallowell

    And given Dreamchaser, Dragon, CST-100 etc do the same thing with the same functions – consolodating them is a obvious cost saver.

    Competition is a cost saver. Consolidation is not.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Really – SpaceX succeding wildly or failing couldn’t make a difference (assuming they don’t plow into the ISS). They are simply to limited to support any real american program. If anything, their success could be used to accelerate the dismanteling of US capacity to have a space program or space capacity, since “mearly having SpaceX’s limited capacity is enough to support the ISS and existing programs”. Which of course would eliminate everything ni the US capable of doing anything beyond that.

    What “real” American program? SpaceX has a better upgrade path (leading to such as the Falcon Heavy and the Falcon XX) than anything the US government or industry has made since Saturn 1. NASA hasn’t successfully developed a launch vehicle since the Space Shuttle in the 1970s and no longer has the capability to launch or support white elephants in space (which is what the manned aspect of the US space program has fallen to). You need to rethink your priorities here.

  • Karl Hallowell

    I was talking about winning over the people in Congress (and elsewhere) that might actually give money to support the so called commercial space ventures.

    The loss of face will be more effective than a polite and easily ignored correction. Either they change their ways or their voters replace them with someone who doesn’t do and say idiotic, embarrassing things.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Sadly, talking with the space advocacy community is one of the most effective ways for people to become convinced space is useless pork.

    So what are you offering? I’m sure the space advocacy community has reasonable rates. When NASA’s space activities are dominated by useless pork, then you need some $ignificant incentive in order for advocacy groups to propagate the correct point of view.

  • Joe2

    There is a plan.

    Wait for their constituents to vote them out of office because they do not like their space policy.

    Stick with that one.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Wait for their constituents to vote them out of office because they do not like their space policy.

    They aren’t going to be stupid only with space policy.

  • Let’s try again.

    You have two choices regarding the four. You’ve suggested merging, an argument which George has destroyed. The other choice is selecting one of the four. You make the same mistake Stalin makes, assuming you know the winner. If you’re that good, give up science because you’ll earn so much more money gambling.

    NASA having fewer vendors means fewer development programs adding costs

    Having fewer vendors is better? [Everybody else stop laughing, this is a serious discussion.] I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt here to see if your why holds water. You’re conflating fixed costs with development costs, but we can sort that out.

    In a very limited sense you are right. Development costs are split between the companies and NASA. So if NASA gives the same amount they would have given to just one company, they do get that minor saving.

    Using your reasons, we now know which one of the four to pick; the one with the lowest fixed costs. That was easy. Was it the right choice? Well, a good chance it wasn’t. But even a wrong choice could save NASA money… all they have to do is get out of the business all together. Ya know, I’m thinking more and more you’ve hit the bullseye.

    As SLS and the Webb telescope show. Wrong choices can be very expensive. More vendors lowers your risk.

  • [Dragon] has non[e] of the systems it would need to land on Mars

    Really? Well I suppose you would know better than Elon.

    You are right that the Dragon has not the systems to get to mars (which I’ve already mentioned) that’s what Falcon Heavy is for (and a ship, say like Nautelus-X.) Nobody is suggesting Dragon is the vehicle for interplanetary flight because IT’S THE LANDER. You fly on a separate ship and either take a Dragon along or have it waiting for you in mars orbit.

    As for life support. Most of your consumables will be waiting on the surface of mars. You just need enough life support to get from orbit to surface. Dragon could do that now, but will have integrated life support in the future that will allow it to accomplish it’s designed goal… landing people safely on any rock, any where.

    They will integrate the superdracos soon. How hard do you think it will be to add landing gear? Yes, there are other details and SpaceX has considered them.

  • they were originally going to develop on their own but couldn’t raise the investor money

    Now there’s some inside information. What’s publicly know is they had a Dragon mockup on their factory floor long before NASA got involved so that tells us what goal they had in mind (mars lander, not ISS crew shuttle.)

    You don’t know what investor money they looked for, but we all know that when Elon wanted the safety of cash he had investors immediately. He didn’t need it, but it does show Elon is a cautious man (and his bravado is earned but that’s just opinion.)

    He’s no saint, but he is a visionary and his naysayers will have to keep moving the goalposts as their arguments against keep looking sillier and sillier (the latest being his flight rates are too low. Which does not at all look at the actual company he’s created.)

  • This video leaves out the interplanetary ship but leaves no doubt what SpaceX has in mind. Note supplies waiting for lander on mars.

  • Kelly Starks

    > ken anthony
    >Posted March 25, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    > You have two choices regarding the four. You’ve suggested merging,
    > an argument which George has destroyed.

    NASA suggested teaming, George did not destroy it.

    > The other choice is selecting one of the four. You make the same mistake Stalin
    > makes, assuming you know the winner. ==

    Again your missing the point. The winner is the person they buy from. Same as the “winner” archetech gets to design your building, or the winning supplier gets to sell you suplies.

    These are REALLY REALLY basic economic principles your laughing off as nonsence.

    >> NASA having fewer vendors means fewer development programs adding costs

    > Having fewer vendors is better? ==

    >You’re conflating fixed costs with development costs, but we can sort that out.

    Generally dev costs are a major fraction of fixed costs – and per flight total launch costs. About 1/4the shuttle, and shuttles flown a lot more then most anything else.

    Assuming the 4 dev programs cost about the same, they save 3/4th the costs by ordering a teaming.

    > Using your reasons, we now know which one of the four to pick; the one with the lowest fixed costs. ..

    None of them are far enough along to tell.

  • Kelly Starks

    > ken anthony
    > Posted March 25, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    > [Dragon] has non[e] of the systems it would need to land on Mars

    > Really? Well I suppose you would know better than Elon.

    Elon said that also — though he contradicts himself now.

    >== IT’S THE LANDER. ==

    highly unlikely. Again, they lack systems for that — like chutes rated for that, landing gear, etc..

    > As for life support. Most of your consumables will be waiting on the surface of mars. =

    The consumables don’t keep you alive unless thelife support systems designed for prolonged service.

  • Kelly Starks

    > ken anthony
    > Posted March 25, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    >> they were originally going to develop on their own but couldn’t raise the investor money

    > Now there’s some inside information.

    Hardly. Very public when all the bidders reported it and requested NASA pick up the tab.

    >What’s publicly know is they had a Dragon mockup on their factory floor long before
    > NASA got involved so that tells us what goal they had in mind (mars lander, not ISS crew shuttle.)

    Mock ups don’t mean crap. And your assumptions contradict Musk/SpaceX’s statements at the time..

    > You don’t know what investor money they looked for, but we all know that when
    > Elon wanted the safety of cash he had investors immediately. ==

    Then why did he need the gov to suply over half his dev budget? ..and he and others stated they couldn’t raise the money from investors.?

  • Kelly Starks

    With nothing from NASA but the pork selling to people, and most space advocate arguments really obviously nonsence,. You can’t blame congress for not being to strong in fighting voters who don’t buy that their lightat the end of this tunnel — or even that space advocates care.

  • Kelly Starks

    Their constutuents are with them on this – or want NASA cut back farther – especially “flaky pork” like CCDev.

  • Joe2

    The video to which you link shows the Dragon using it’s (yet to be developed) Launch Abort System to land on Mars. It not only “leaves out the interplanetary ship” but any indication how the Dragon would get back to Mars orbit to rendezvous with it. It is also somewhat dated since it says cargo delivery to ISS will begin in 2011 (it didn’t).

    Given the task I am sure the Space X PR department could come up with an A Budget Movie quality Special Effects CGI extravaganza showing the Dragon skateboarding down the PCH toward San Diego.

    That does not mean it could do it.

  • Very public when all the bidders reported it and requested NASA pick up the tab.

    Oh. You’re referring to later in the game. Are you suggesting that SpaceX not bid? That would be strange.

    your assumptions contradict Musk/SpaceX’s statements at the time

    Again, you are late to the game. But I’m beginning to understand how you can be so wrong.

    Mock ups don’t mean crap.

    They do establish a timeline which you seem to want to disregard.

    Also, it is funny how this mock up turned into the real thing later. Probably just some strange coincidence. It’s not like a mock up gives any indication of what someone is thinking.

    So the mock up they sent to orbit on the first F9 was just some crap they had lying around?

    why did he need the gov to supply over half his dev budget?

    He didn’t need them to. SpaceX has been profitable since before launching a single rocket to orbit. However, SpaceX happens to have a product that serves NASA’s need. I’d take the money which of course speeds development. Any smart businessman would.

    ..and he and others stated they couldn’t raise the money from investors.?

    So what if he did? Let’s make it simple for you. They are profitable. They had a vision they were working toward. The only variable is how long that vision would take which depended on how much money they could put toward it. Those are the basic facts.

    If you want to say NASA made them because they accept their money that’s delusional. There’s no reason they shouldn’t take NASA money but if they hadn’t they’d still be profitable. They’d still be working toward their vision. It sounds a bit like sour grapes to me.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Competition is a cost saver. Consolidation is not

    Oh PLEASE! Competition isn’t a magic word that always delivers the same results regardless of the situation. Congress made the same stupid assumption over 20 years ago about competition always lowering costs, ordered it on a fighter engine contract and doubled the per unit costs of the engine, adn nearly drove both supliers out of the business.

    THINK! Your quadrupling the costs for the same capability, nearly quadrupling the infrastructure cost, all with no market able to absorb them or expand. With the fixed costs dominating the per launch costs, how in hell do you think they wont quadruple the per launch costs?

    Your playing into NASA hand! After this NASA will be able to show Congress that commercials are not only grossly substandard compared to NASA run programs – that they are several times more expensive!

  • The F9 has the same success rate as the Saturn V… 100%. The F1 is the reason.

    Before putting crew in harms way they will have over a dozen test flights with the same hardware the crew will use. Unlike those amateurs at NASA that intended to put crew on the second flight of Ares.

  • Kelly Starks

    > What “real” American program? ==

    Certainly nothing currently in the works.

    >==SpaceX has a better upgrade path (leading to such as the Falcon Heavy and the Falcon XX)
    > than anything the US government or industry has made since Saturn 1. ==

    Its a peace of antiquated, badly designed junk, by a company trying to build space ships for a tenth the price of bottom end biz jets. Who arrogently shugg off questions about why other commercials spend dozens of times more, and NASA a hundred times more, to develop about the same systems. “We know what it takes to do these things, and have no idea why everyone else spends so much.” Not surprizingly – their failure rate is huge compared to everyone elses – even NASA’s.

    >
    > NASA hasn’t successfully developed a launch vehicle since the Space Shuttle in the 1970s==

    Note that was the last time they tried, other then Constellation – which is still in development (though renamed).

    >== and no longer has the capability to launch or support white elephants in space ==

    We they can do whatever Congress will support and fund, but yes they have already scraped out most of the US maned space capacity and expertise.

  • Kelly Starks

    ken anthony
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    >> Very public when all the bidders reported it and requested NASA pick up the tab.

    > Oh. You’re referring to later in the game. Are you suggesting that SpaceX not bid?

    I’m saying they wern’t able to get investor funding to buildor develop the systems for the contract.

    >> your assumptions contradict Musk/SpaceX’s statements at the time

    > Again, you are late to the game. =

    Not hardly, been watching them closely for several years – from the inside and outside of the busness. Up to a few years ago I thought they would be the leaders –but the few things I saw that didn’t make any sence (like the designs) gained a lot of other things that were just nonsensical (like SpaceX’s staffing, and grosely underfunding). Combined with the jaw droping failure rates, management “issues”, and the rest – they clearly not only can’t cut it – they don’t even know what it is!

    >> Mock ups don’t mean crap.

    > They do establish a timeline ==

    No they don’t. Companies and governments have done tons of mockups that never went anywhere – many were never expected or intended to.

    >> why did he need the gov to supply over half his dev budget?

    > He didn’t need them to. SpaceX has been profitable since before launching a single rocket to orbit.

    SpaceX hasn’t made a profit – they are onlygoing on investor money coming in faster then their bills come due.

    >==, SpaceX happens to have a product that serves NASA’s need. ..

    They certainly didn’t when they bid – or yet. They needed NASA funding to develop one, which they have not yet show they can do acceptably. They are no longer credibly able to suggest they will be able to deliver one that meets their promises and projections.

    And a big point is -NASA doesn’t need them. Its likely they won’t be able to use them – or survive using them.

    >>….and he and others stated they couldn’t raise the money from investors.?

    > So what if he did?

    So, the contract bid said he could – the whole point of COTS was vendors would provide commercial off the shielf systms, commercially developed, not NASA developed. They failed. Without the NASA money adn contracts, they would disapear. So while Musk initial though SpaceX was going to have this arge market adn COTS/CCDev/Other-NASA would just be a convient side busness for them – its half their paying boked manifest, adn over half their development investment funding.

    > They are profitable.

    And how did they do that with no sales yet? I’m sure they got reservation fees for the booked flights – but no way did that cover their costs – hence why they needed hundreds of millions of new investment money from NASA.

  • Kelly Starks

    Not even Musk is trying to claim that.

    Again. very high failure rates compared to any modern launcher, especially commercial launcher, development program. The bulk of all launches by the company (all 7of them) eaither failed, or had serious problems.

    And how do you think they’ll fit a dozen test flights in so quickly when they haven’t even flown 1?

  • how do you think they’ll fit a dozen test flights in so quickly

    I didn’t say anything about quick and every flight is a test flight in a sense since the same equipment will be in use. They are contracted to fly the hardware (as you can see on the manifest) and will thoroughly test everything before the first human flies. This is in stark contrast to the amateurs at NASA.

    (all 7of them) either failed, or had serious problems.

    Yes the first few failed. Those serious problems you refer to didn’t prevent successful completion of mission. The F9 was designed to handle serious problems (much worse than they’ve actually experienced) and did so. When Elon gives it a go, I’d be happy to be the first to go. Sadly, I think they plan to send someone else.

  • SpaceX hasn’t made a profit.

    Your assertion is wrong. Accountants determine profitability. They have been and continue to be profitable.

    Companies and governments have done tons of mockups that never went anywhere

    Now that is a true statement; that completely misses my point.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Oh PLEASE! Competition isn’t a magic word that always delivers the same results regardless of the situation. Congress made the same stupid assumption over 20 years ago about competition always lowering costs, ordered it on a fighter engine contract and doubled the per unit costs of the engine, adn nearly drove both supliers out of the business.

    Competition does occasionally drive companies out of business. Part of the point really. And what was this contract? I imagine I’ll find out that the competition wasn’t at all related to the cause of failure of the contract. Not because of an ideology that competition always works, but because examples that someone can’t be bothered to mention by name usually weren’t appropriate in the first place.

    THINK! Your quadrupling the costs for the same capability, nearly quadrupling the infrastructure cost, all with no market able to absorb them or expand. With the fixed costs dominating the per launch costs, how in hell do you think they wont quadruple the per launch costs?

    That would be incorrect. First, there is no “quadrupling” of costs. Overall costs of all competitors are probably lower than a NASA attempt would be. Also, a lot of those development costs are paid for by the business not by NASA or another government agency. Obviously, a lot of NASA money goes into development, but NASA is paying for outcome with CCDev, not process.

    Second, there is a commercial market. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it does exist and does considerable business.

    Third, we’re not at a point where picking winners and losers makes sense. Consolidating now would probably be very suboptimal meaning you might save a little money now, but generate great inefficiencies in the future.

  • Kelly Starks

    > ken anthony
    > Posted March 26, 2012 at 5:54 AM

    >> paceX hasn’t made a profit.

    > Your assertion is wrong. Accountants determine profitability. They have been and continue to be profitable.

    Your link to Rand’s site lists they spent $800 million by 2010 (its over a billion now last I herd) and have booking for up to $3 billion over the next 10 years. “..We have over 40 flights on manifest representing over $3 billion in revenues.” Profitable means revenues RECEAVED exceed expenses acumulated. Not projected revenues over the next decade, exceeding expenses of the last 4(?). So, if they have been profitable (other then getting nivestor money faster then expenses) you should show that.

    Also note “..Moreover, SpaceX intends to make far more dramatic reductions in price in the long term when full launch vehicle reusability is achieved. .. ”
    This ones rather contraversial given SpaceX scraped its initial concept of reusability that the Falcon/Dragon design was supposedly designed to, adn are now proposing a different (also dubious) reusability concept. The capsule no Missle configuration is about the opposite design configuration you’ld want to start with if you want to develop a RLV or toward reusability. The configuration is optimized for high performans/high-cost/sincle use. This was one of the first “red flags” I noticed with SpaceX.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Its a peace of antiquated, badly designed junk, by a company trying to build space ships for a tenth the price of bottom end biz jets. Who arrogently shugg off questions about why other commercials spend dozens of times more, and NASA a hundred times more, to develop about the same systems. “We know what it takes to do these things, and have no idea why everyone else spends so much.” Not surprizingly – their failure rate is huge compared to everyone elses – even NASA’s.

    You can be as wrong as you want to be. Being only a few years old, it cannot be “antiquated”. And the property of working for a minute fraction of the cost of its competitors puts it way outside the category of “badly designed”.

    As to why the competitors and NASA are so expensive, it’s simple. They have no real incentive to reduce costs and usually have considerable incentives to keep and inflate costs. For example, if the ULA reduced their costs significantly, then they’d have to reduce the prices they offer to the US government for launches. And NASA’s purpose is to spend money in the right districts. One would expect them to be a couple of orders of magnitude overpriced.

    There’s no benefit to Mr. Musk to alienate NASA or competitors by stating the obvious. So maybe he’s being coy by saying he doesn’t know.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> how do you think they’ll fit a dozen test flights in so quickly

    > didn’t say anything about quick and every flight is a test flight in a sense since
    > the same equipment will be in use. —

    Much of the criticle systems haven’t even been designed yet accoerding to SpaceX, and normally “test flights” means flights with a vehicle with most (if not all) the final configuration. So perhaps we (or SpaceX) have a different concept of a test flight?

    As to quick. The CCDev flights are to begin in a couple years, and SpaceX is almost a year late no their first cargo flight to the ISS – so they don’t have much time to implement the systems and do the tests.

    >> (all 7of them) either failed, or had serious problems.

    > Yes the first few failed. Those serious problems you refer to didn’t prevent successful completion of mission.

    Yes,. they were near misses. The point being, they have a lot of them compared to anybody elses systems resently in use.
    Another MAJOR read flag, which worries customers – especially the customer booking half their manefest.

  • Karl Hallowell

    With nothing from NASA but the pork selling to people, and most space advocate arguments really obviously nonsence,. You can’t blame congress for not being to strong in fighting voters who don’t buy that their lightat the end of this tunnel — or even that space advocates care.

    Again, what is the incentive for “space advocates” to play ball? Making some US contractors wealthy isn’t good enough.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Being only a few years old, it cannot be “antiquated”.==

    Duplicating older antiquated designs / systems, means you get brand new antiquated designs / systems.

    >== And the property of working for a minute fraction of the cost of its competitors puts it way
    > outside the category of “badly designed”.

    Actually it suggests its even worse.
    A commercial developing a system commercially for 3-4 times cheaper then if they were building it on a NASA program under NASA rules, is the norm.

    A top rate, ellete, commercial team of experts (the skunk works at its prime, Scaled Composits no a good day, etc.) developing a system commercially for 30 to 40 times cheaper then if they were building it on a NASA program under NASA rules, has been done sometimes.

    SpaceX, with a highly niexperence team, says they are doing everything for 1/100 th the cost of similar programs under NASA. That just isn’t cradable.

    >== As to why the competitors and NASA are so expensive, it’s simple. They have no
    > real incentive to reduce costs and usually have considerable incentives to keep and inflate costs.

    Sorry, doesn’t pas the laugh test. Every other company, building for the same markets SpaceX is, adn far more earlier when there weer more markets – facing more competician, never thought of cutting costs? Could never do this for under several to tens of times more then SpaceX? Every other related engineernig adn manufacturing field doing similra level of effort projects (cessna, Boeing, Lear Jet, etc) also couldn’t figure out how not to cost 10s of times more? [Hes fielding Draons adn Falcons for a tenth the cost a Cessnas adn Toyotas!!] Musk adn friends are so brillant they can thinks so much better then anyone else ni history?

    Yeah, thats real likely. NOT! More likely, and more consistent with the results with SpaceX adn Tessla – is they cut a lot of crners adn miss a lot of things due to inxeperence.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> With nothing from NASA but the pork selling to people, and most space advocate arguments
    >> really obviously nonsence,. You can’t blame congress for not being to strong in fighting voters
    >> who don’t buy that their lightat the end of this tunnel — or even that space advocates care.

    > Karl Hallowell Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    > Again, what is the incentive for “space advocates” to play ball? ==

    If they can’t convince the people they are trying to convince that their space projects/goals are worth doing, they don’t get done – adn space is seen as being worthless except for pork adn flags&footprints.

  • Profitable means revenues RECEAVED exceed expenses acumulated.

    Don’t take up accounting. Keep your day job. Do you not know what an outside audit is?

  • Much of the criticle systems haven’t even been designed yet

    That is the funny thing about the future. However, SpaceX is incremental in development and flight heritage is an important part of it. They do things while others sit around talking about it. It’s working.

    Spend some time in the gym. You’re going to be spending a lot of effort moving the goalposts in your future criticisms of SpaceX.

    Keep an eye out for new launch facilities because they’re going to need them.

  • given SpaceX scraped its initial concept of reusability

    Changing course is what smart people do once they accumulated some experience.

    Digging in when wrong is something not so smart people do.

    SpaceX is gaining experience as time passes. Being successful is the ultimate answer to naysayers.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> given SpaceX scraped its initial concept of reusability

    > Changing course is what smart people do once they accumulated some experience.

    Picking a dumb concept (that had been studied and rejected generations ago) then picking another dumb costs – also based on old concepts rejected decades ago — is amateurs to egotistical to learn from others experence.

  • Kelly Starks

    Do you not know the difference from nonsensical PR statements and a accounting report?

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Much of the criticle systems haven’t even been designed yet

    > That is the funny thing about the future. ==

    Yeah – which doesn’t cut it when you don’t have enough time to do what you say i the time remaining foryou to meet your deadlines.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Duplicating older antiquated designs / systems, means you get brand new antiquated designs / systems.

    Given that those “older antiquated designs” also happen to be the state of the art, you really need to come up with terms that actually describe these rockets accurately.

    A commercial developing a system commercially for 3-4 times cheaper then if they were building it on a NASA program under NASA rules, is the norm.

    So SpaceX isn’t the norm. I had that figured out already.

    SpaceX, with a highly niexperence team, says they are doing everything for 1/100 th the cost of similar programs under NASA. That just isn’t cradable.

    Replace “highly inexperienced” with “highly experienced” and you’ll see the source of your error above. Musk managed to hire a lot of good engine design people, for example.

    Sorry, doesn’t pas the laugh test. Every other company, building for the same markets SpaceX is, adn far more earlier when there weer more markets – facing more competician, never thought of cutting costs? Could never do this for under several to tens of times more then SpaceX? Every other related engineernig adn manufacturing field doing similra level of effort projects (cessna, Boeing, Lear Jet, etc) also couldn’t figure out how not to cost 10s of times more? [Hes fielding Draons adn Falcons for a tenth the cost a Cessnas adn Toyotas!!] Musk adn friends are so brillant they can thinks so much better then anyone else ni history?

    Facts often don’t pass the laugh test. But yes, that’s pretty much it. I must admit to being a bit surprised that you are questioning things that have already been done. It’s reasonable to question what SpaceX promises ambitiously to do. But what they’ve already done?

    SpaceX is pretty unique in what it has accomplished (they have launched rockets after all and their claims for design and construction costs of those rockets apparently are accurate). And a good part of that reason is that yes, most other players in the market didn’t have incentives to cut costs.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Oh PLEASE! Competition isn’t a magic word that always delivers the same results
    >> regardless of the situation. Congress made the same stupid assumption over 20
    >> years ago about competition always lowering costs, ordered it on a fighter engine
    >> contract and doubled the per unit costs of the engine, adn nearly drove both supliers
    >> out of the business.

    > Competition does occasionally drive companies out of business. Part of the point really.

    Certainly not in this case.

    > And what was this contract?

    F100enginesif I remember – but its been a couple decades.

    >== I imagine I’ll find out that the competition wasn’t at all related to the cause of failure of the contract.==

    What failure?
    They got the dual sources they wanted. They got the deliveries. They however also – and very predictably – doubled the cost per engine by doubling the cost of building them.

    >> THINK! Your quadrupling the costs for the same capability, nearly quadrupling the
    >> infrastructure cost, all with no market able to absorb them or expand. With the fixed
    >> costs dominating the per launch costs, how in hell do you think they wont quadruple
    >> the per launch costs?

    > That would be incorrect. First, there is no “quadrupling” of costs.
    > Overall costs of all competitors are probably lower than a NASA attempt would be.

    Irrelivent, your quadrupling the cost of the CCDev contract, if you have all four develop and test the 4 proposals being offered.

    > Also, a lot of those development costs are paid for by the business not by NASA
    > or another government agency. ==

    Obviously false. noneof these bidders could or would eat the dev costs. So if NASA demands 4 proposals be developed – they will have to pay for all 4 programs costs.

    >= Second, there is a commercial market. ==

    No there’s not – their MIGHT develop a market with Bigelow, but no one else is buying anything like these – sono other market.

    > Third, we’re not at a point where picking winners and losers makes sense. ==

    You always pick winners and losers when you issue a contract to buy something. And the point of the contract is not to toss out pork to 4 crappy designs. Its to provide NASA needed capacity.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Duplicating older antiquated designs / systems, means you get brand new antiquated designs / systems.

    > Given that those “older antiquated designs” also happen to be the state of the art, ==

    They wern’t state of the art for half acentury. Everyone else kept at it for political reasons – or just lazy. But they were not how you do what Musk says he wants to. Theres half a century of better designs and design proposals he could have based his stuff on -but hr has a ICBM and test capsule thing that makes no sense.

    >> A commercial developing a system commercially for 3-4 times cheaper then if they
    >> were building it on a NASA program under NASA rules, is the norm.

    > So SpaceX isn’t the norm. I had that figured out already.

    Still not listening.

    >> SpaceX, with a highly inexperienced team, says they are doing everything for 1/100 th
    >> the cost of similar programs under NASA. That just isn’t cradable.

    > Replace “highly inexperienced” with “highly experienced” and you’ll see the source
    > of your error above. Musk managed to hire a lot of good engine design people, for example.

    A statement contradicted with the folks invoved with stafing, working with SpaceX — adn the results. “highly experienced” wouldn’t make the novice mistakes that you saw with spaceX engines.

    >> Sorry, doesn’t pas the laugh test. ==

    > Facts often don’t pass the laugh test. ==

    Get some, then talk. Or try thinking about it a bit!

    >== I must admit to being a bit surprised that you are questioning things that have
    > already been done. ==

    The question is what has been done?

    The one way you can develop something for a 100 times less then top experienced teams, virtually any even remotely similar industrial project IN HISTORY, with a inexperienced team — is you cut a lot of corners adn do a really really crappy job. ….which certainly would explain the extremely high failure rate?

    >==.. a good part of that reason is that yes, most other players in the market didn’t have incentives to cut costs.

    That is utterly absurd. no other developer of any system in history before musk had competicia? Or the insight of Musk and SpaceX?

    I’m sure the nobel community will be calling soon.
    That is simply ridiculous.

  • Do you not know the difference from nonsensical PR statements and a accounting report?

    Yes.

  • Picking a dumb concept…

    You can’t imagine how revealing this comment is. It says that you think the problem isn’t really about concepts at all. It’s about having the ‘right’ people do the picking. It’s why you think you know which of the four to pick when others would not. This is elitism. Ironically, this is just the sort of egotism you are accusing others of.

    Also, a lot of those development costs are paid for by the business not by NASA
    > or another government agency. ==

    Obviously false.

    The link I gave you showed what SpaceX paid to develop their stuff. Making you obviously wrong.

    You’re not completely wrong, but don’t confuse that with being right.

  • I ignored your double negative, so you could have some fun with that. As for accounting, Intuit hired me back when I was a kid, so they thought I understood accounting. When I was a consultant in NYC, installing turnkey accounting and POS systems, my employer and customers and salespeople I assisted thought I understood accounting. Yep. Fooled them all.

  • Yes, execution is important. We will see how they do.

  • Kelly Starks

    Then why did you present a PR statement as a accountant report?

  • Kelly Starks

    ken anthony

    Posted March 26, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    >> Picking a dumb concept…

    > You can’t imagine how revealing this comment is. It says that you think
    > the problem isn’t really about concepts at all. It’s about having the ‘right’ people do the picking.

    No, though obviously picking a disproved concept is something you wouldn’t expect capable people to do. For example The Booster capsule configuration Musk adopted is almost 60 years old. Its been used for cargo for nearly that long, and to lift people for over 50 years. So their limitations and cost problems are well known. Its the opposite place yuo’ld start if you were going to start with a clean sheet of paper to developa low cost, high relyability, commercially flexible system. Further some of the systems used could be bough off the shelf rather then developed yourself, which would cut your costs adn timeline. Or you could easily start with a much higher performance design if you want to stanrt from scratch (Say rocket ramjets, rather then just rockets which would double your average ISP to orbit, etc.).

    In other words there are decades of lessons learned they are ignoring by going with a 1950s configuration originally developed for utterly unrelated goals adn reasons then Musk/SpaceX had.

    >== It’s why you think you know which of the four to pick when others would not.

    Completly unrelated.

    >>>Also, a lot of those development costs are paid for by the business not by NASA
    >>> or another government agency. ==

    >> Obviously false.

    > The link I gave you showed what SpaceX paid to develop their stuff. Making you obviously wrong.

    No, because SpaceX DIDN’T pay for it with their money. More often then not, they pased the bill on to the gov

  • Kelly Starks

    Ok Ken were going around in circles here. Your central points are that

    1 – nothing was known before SpaceX, so SpaceX ignoring all the lessons learned in over a half century of space launch programs and engineering is just being open minded.

    2 – investor money = profit, which is why SpaceX can be profitable even though they haven’t sold anything yet.

    3- SpaceX’s ability to do ever design and development task for 1/100 th NASA norms, and dozens of times cheaper then every other remotely similar commercial aerospace or non aerospace industrial projects in – ever – is just a reflection of SpaceX being the first engineering company who ever had to compete, everyone else was just ripping off their customers.

    4 – The customer (NASA in this case) should not constrain them to just doing what the customer wants, since its the various developers ideas / goals that should guide.

    My points are that
    #1 is just ignorance or arrogance, and drove Space to make a lot of basic mistakes that cost them time and money, and greatly limited the potential for their systems..

    #2 – nope – thats a Ponzi scheme, profit is sell product or services for more money then you spent, not getting grants/investors faster than you spend their money.

    #3 – You don’t get that dramatically better then everyone in history without developing some major breakthrough, or getting a stunningly brilliant and skilled team. SpaceX and Musk has never claimed or shown the former. Their string of amateurish errors and failures screamingly demonstrates they don’t have the former.

    #4 – We all want NASA to sponcer research programs no innovative technologies and systems, but that’s not what this contract is for, and none of the COTS/CCDev bidders is proposing anything new or innovative.

  • Kelly Starks

    Again, you list they will do dozens of flights of the systems adn craft.
    Many of the systems haven’t even been designed, much less flown.
    There’s only a year or two to do the test flights.

    Over the last several years they’ve only tried 7 launches, adn have slid test flights on their big COTS contract for – has to be a year now.

    So getting 12 test flights of a CCDev config in the next 2 years say is really unlikely.

  • Kelly, now you’ve gone over the deep end with four strawmen.

    1) Knowledge is always incomplete. SpaceX does not rely on just Elon, it has other experienced engineers. Not everything known is true. Sometimes you have to make your own mistakes. They’ve built a multibillion dollar space company which is quite an achievement. Mistakes are expected. The ultimate result is what matters.

    2) You may continue to disagree with independent auditors.

    3) They are the only private company to recover a capsule (and cheese wheel.) They have many other firsts.

    4) NASA decides what it pays for.

    Bottom line: SpaceX has silenced many of its early critics. They still have a way to go to silence the rest.

    However, I do encourage you to continue being critical. Chances are you will have good points to make.

  • Kelly Starks

    > 1) Knowledge is always incomplete. SpaceX does not rely on just Elon, it has other
    > experienced engineers. Not everything known is true. Sometimes you have to make your own mistakes.

    Thats a lot of PR spin to avoid the basic question of why they copied a very old, half century used design, long since proven to be completly wrong for what he wants to do in space. (it like saying you want to build deliverytrucks, adn start by copying rail dragsters.) Then male a lot of amaturish errors developing it.

    Or, my point, they you insist that SpaceX’s highly suspicious 100 fold cost savings over NASA dev programs, or ten fold cost savings over comparable commercial space or non space dev programs – is due to spaceX being so much smarter then anyone else in ay aerospace or other commercial engineering projects. That just isn’t credible.

    >== They’ve built a multibillion dollar space company which is quite an achievement. ==

    True, but their are lots of ghost companies that ran on image, political conections, no substance, and burned through their money adn died.

    > 2) You may continue to disagree with independent auditors.

    You made no reference to any independant or other auditors statements – or even rationel suggesting how they could come to that conclusion.

    > 3) They are the only private company to recover a capsule (and cheese wheel.)

    False.

    > 4) NASA decides what it pays for.

    No, Congress decides, based on what they think is going to get them reelected -I.E. voter support.

    Your answer tend to be evasive, or ill informed.

  • Kelly Starks

    Evasive is the wrong word. More the flavor of a revival meeting. Apealing to faith and vision, and like a politician or PR rep simply “staying on message” and giving answers you want, regardless of what the questions were – or their basis in facts.

  • Robert Clark

    Good points, Turner.

    Bob Clark

  • Karl Hallowell

    Your answer tend to be evasive, or ill informed.

    And your answers are peculiarly out of date. Concerns about SpaceX’s competence in launching rockets would have made sense to ask in 2008, not 2012 after SpaceX performed four successful launches.

    Thats a lot of PR spin to avoid the basic question of why they copied a very old, half century used design, long since proven to be completly wrong for what he wants to do in space. (it like saying you want to build deliverytrucks, adn start by copying rail dragsters.) Then male a lot of amaturish errors developing it.

    Because the design works. It wasn’t proven wrong and it wasn’t a rail dragster. Everyone made a lot of amateurish errors in developing rockets. SpaceX showed it could get past that phase with those four successful launches.

    Or, my point, they you insist that SpaceX’s highly suspicious 100 fold cost savings over NASA dev programs, or ten fold cost savings over comparable commercial space or non space dev programs – is due to spaceX being so much smarter then anyone else in ay aerospace or other commercial engineering projects. That just isn’t credible.

    What’s suspicious or not credible about it? I didn’t claim SpaceX was smarter, I claimed that they were trying. NASA exists to spend money in the right districts. And those other commercial space businesses get paid for cost. Every dollar they save by cutting costs usually means a dollar less they get paid. There’s zero incentive for them to cut costs until they hit the payout caps on their contracts or the cost of documenting the cost is too high.

    And SpaceX already did it. You’re “highly suspicious” of a fait accompli.

  • Karl Hallowell

    No, though obviously picking a disproved concept is something you wouldn’t expect capable people to do. For example The Booster capsule configuration Musk adopted is almost 60 years old. Its been used for cargo for nearly that long, and to lift people for over 50 years. So their limitations and cost problems are well known. Its the opposite place yuo’ld start if you were going to start with a clean sheet of paper to developa low cost, high relyability, commercially flexible system. Further some of the systems used could be bough off the shelf rather then developed yourself, which would cut your costs adn timeline.

    That makes no sense. Ignore proven (not the Orwellian term “disproven”) technology? Why go with clean sheet design when the capsule already has all the advantages SpaceX needed without the R&D overhead? And the problem with “off the shelf” systems is that if they don’t exist for 60 year old capsule designs, then they sure don’t exist for clean sheet designs.

    Or you could easily start with a much higher performance design if you want to stanrt from scratch (Say rocket ramjets, rather then just rockets which would double your average ISP to orbit, etc.).

    Using what R&D budget? Rocket ramjets are a nice idea, but SpaceX’s business model is to launch stuff into space cheaply, not spend a bunch of money on unproven technology.

  • Karl Hallowell

    > Again, what is the incentive for “space advocates” to play ball? ==

    If they can’t convince the people they are trying to convince that their space projects/goals are worth doing, they don’t get done – adn space is seen as being worthless except for pork adn flags&footprints.

    That condition holds. We can’t convince these people that “our projects” are worth doing. Approval of the SLS demonstrated that. Replacement is the other option open to us.

  • Kelly Starks

    > That makes no sense. Ignore proven (not the Orwellian term “disproven”) technology?
    > Why go with clean sheet design when the capsule already has all the advantages ==

    Because the Capsule on ICBM design has all the disadvantages – its more expensive, more complicated, more failure modes, harder test and debug, more limited, etc. Thats been known 60 years. Plenty of newer more advanced designs out there you could build from the same systesm – fewer in some cases.

    When you have a couple production lines running off ICBM’s you can use for no dev cost, and you were going to use capsule like pods (initially there were concerns over pilots being so incapacitated by exposure to space they couldn’t fly a craft, so they choose a parachute pod like they were usung for recon sats), its a quick and dirty solution. Hence Mercury and Apollo design work in the 50’s, and Gemini & Soyuz in the ’60’s.

    Also it seemed less risky and time consuming for the space race, hence the Saturns using the old Apollo config..

    Thats not a design the industry/military/NASA ever thought you could do major projects in space with, or be economical to fly often.

    >== And the problem with “off the shelf” systems is that if they don’t exist for 60 year
    > old capsule designs, then they sure don’t exist for clean sheet designs.

    They exist equally for both (though its harder for capsules systems – been there), but given SpaceX didn’t buy off the shelf but tried to do everything on their own – its a moot point.

    >> Or you could easily start with a much higher performance design if you want to stanrt from
    >> scratch (Say rocket ramjets, rather then just rockets which would double your average ISP to orbit, etc.).

    > Using what R&D budget?

    The same one they used to develop their falcons engines – or they cuiold just order them from Pratt whose more experenced in such things.

    > Rocket ramjets are a nice idea, but SpaceX’s business model is to
    > launch stuff into space cheaply, not spend a bunch of money on unproven technology.

    Hobbiests launch rocket ramjet craft. Turbojet/ramjets (more comlpicated and harder to integrate) were developed and become operation on production craft 50-55(?) years ago.

    If your going to do all the trouble to reinvent the wheel, at least make one better then you could just order out of the catalog.

  • Kelly Starks

    > your answers are peculiarly out of date. Concerns about SpaceX’s competence in
    > launching rockets would have made sense to ask in 2008, not 2012 after SpaceX
    > performed four successful launches.

    Thats a laugh! 3 failures and four success with near miss issues proves their competance?

    Then obvious the shuttles were proven completly relyable after the secund year with a far high success rate.

    >> Thats a lot of PR spin to avoid the basic question of why they copied a very old, half
    >> century used design, long since proven to be completly wrong for what he wants to
    >> do in space. (it like saying you want to build deliverytrucks, adn start by copying
    >> rail dragsters.) Then male a lot of amaturish errors developing it.

    > Because the design works.==

    It doesn’t work, it was never even supposed to work for what SpaceX wants from it. Like a rail dragster, its the best chioce for something, to do goals, utterly unrelated to what spaceX wants to do — or says it wants to do, with the Falcons and the dragon.

    >== Everyone made a lot of amateurish errors in developing rockets. ==

    SpaceX competitors didn’t – nor anyone else

    >> Or, my point, they you insist that SpaceX’s highly suspicious 100 fold cost savings over
    >> NASA dev programs, or ten fold cost savings over comparable commercial space or
    >> non space dev programs – is due to spaceX being so much smarter then anyone
    >> else in ay aerospace or other commercial engineering projects. That just isn’t credible.

    > What’s suspicious or not credible about it?

    I’m sdo wanting to scream at the insanity of that statement. Its like a new contractor hiting town offering to build your $200,000 house for only $2,000 – andyou thnik thats completly reasnoable.

    > I didn’t claim SpaceX was smarter, I claimed that they were trying.==

    And no one else in any industry in history, not just space or aerospace, ever “tried”? No other commercial launcher program, commercial sat program, commercioal aircraft, car, ever tried adn they all were just being lazy and lied to customers adn auditors abuot only benig able to do 3-4 times cheaper? All the greats in aviation from Kelly Johnson to Burt Rutan hail as spectacular savings of about 10 timse were just pullnig one over on the world?

    The one proven way to dothe same systems, with old designs, hugely cheaper then even legendary experts at the task is eiather develop something hugely inovative (which no one from SpaceX ever suggested much less showd) or you screw up and do a really really crapy job of, adn cut a huge number of quality corners.

    In the later case yuo’ld expect to see really huge failure rates, adn a lot of last minutes surprizes and schedule slips, senior managment folksbailnig or getting really defensive. All of which you see with SpaceX.

  • Kelly Starks

    >>If they can’t convince the people they are trying to convince that their space projects/goals are
    >> worth doing, they don’t get done – adn space is seen as being worthless except for pork adn
    >> flags&footprints.

    > That condition holds. We can’t convince these people that “our projects” are worth doing.
    > Approval of the SLS demonstrated that. Replacement is the other option open to us.

    Except SpaceX is dependant on tax money to, and lacks the public or political support (or credability) to get their projects funded, or get contracted to do public supported NASA projects.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Thats a laugh! 3 failures and four success with near miss issues proves their competance?

    Yes. It addressed your concerns. They aren’t to the level of reliability of an Atlas V or a Shuttle, but that’s not what you were complaining about.

    It doesn’t work

    So… why are you claiming things that aren’t true? It already worked. Past tense.

    >== Everyone made a lot of amateurish errors in developing rockets. ==

    SpaceX competitors didn’t – nor anyone else

    The 50s Vanguard rocket is the classic counterexample. 11 launches, 3 successes. SpaceX is already doing better than the US Navy.

    > What’s suspicious or not credible about it?

    I’m sdo wanting to scream at the insanity of that statement. Its like a new contractor hiting town offering to build your $200,000 house for only $2,000 – andyou thnik thats completly reasnoable.

    Well, after said contractor actually does make a number of houses for $2,000, then yes, you should think that’s completely reasonable.

    > I didn’t claim SpaceX was smarter, I claimed that they were trying.==

    And no one else in any industry in history, not just space or aerospace, ever “tried”?

    What was the point of this question? Anyone outside of the narrow business of making launch vehicles, indeed was not trying to make low cost rockets. There’s no point to considering the cost effectiveness of stone masons from ancient China. They weren’t trying to make low cost orbital launch vehicles.

    Out of the US launch businesses and organizations prior to SpaceX, only one had made a serious attempt at a low cost launch vehicle. That was Orbital Sciences and their Pegasus launch platform. Fortunately, NASA nipped this attempt at competition in the bud by bribing them with a bunch of NASA contracts. That maintained the stagnant launch oligopoly of the 80s well into the 90s.

    The one proven way to dothe same systems, with old designs, hugely cheaper then even legendary experts at the task is eiather develop something hugely inovative (which no one from SpaceX ever suggested much less showd) or you screw up and do a really really crapy job of, adn cut a huge number of quality corners.

    Simplest way is higher launch frequency. Every orbital launch system in the world past or present, would yield a cheaper cost per launch at higher launch frequencies. Nobody launches anywhere near their optimal launch frequency. The only explanation I have for why the entire world would operate all their launch vehicles at such a low launch frequency (keep in mind that the major customers have a great deal of control over the size of their payloads and how many of them there were), is that cost per launch was never a serious concern.

    In the later case yuo’ld expect to see really huge failure rates, adn a lot of last minutes surprizes and schedule slips, senior managment folksbailnig or getting really defensive. All of which you see with SpaceX.

    You see a lot of that anyway. For example, liquid hydrogen and tight launch windows frequently lead to last minute surprises and schedule slips. A competitor bringing up a bogus safety concern can do it as well. I don’t disagree completely with your post here. SpaceX hasn’t shown that they are viable as a business. Launching rockets successfully just isn’t enough. I just don’t see the point of exaggerating their problems and downplaying their accomplishments.

  • Karl Hallowell

    Because the Capsule on ICBM design has all the disadvantages – its more expensive, more complicated, more failure modes, harder test and debug, more limited, etc. Thats been known 60 years. Plenty of newer more advanced designs out there you could build from the same systesm – fewer in some cases.

    Compared to what? Lifting or winged bodies? Capsule is a very efficient lifting body too and the engineering is a lot simpler. The failure modes are also a lot easier to design for (well aside from a little less control over where you land) and you don’t have a lot of extra mass stuck in wings or whatever.

    Airbreathing rocket engines? SpaceX doesn’t have the resources to throw at an untested project like that. The ICBM approach also works and is well proven.

    Reusable launch vehicles? They don’t have enough market to support a reusable vehicle at this time.

    They exist equally for both (though its harder for capsules systems – been there), but given SpaceX didn’t buy off the shelf but tried to do everything on their own – its a moot point.

    And it’s worth thinking about why SpaceX didn’t do that. They found that their contractors couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver what they needed. Off the shelf wasn’t cheaper or better than SpaceX doing things themselves. This underlines my point about SpaceX being fairly unique in its efforts to cut costs. It’s also an innovation in their manufacture process that I think isn’t well known.

    The same one they used to develop their falcons engines – or they cuiold just order them from Pratt whose more experenced in such things.

    Those Falcon engines were developed for a lot less than your rocket ramjet would consume. And the development risks associated with the rocket ramjet are a bit absurd for a company making its first vehicle.

    > Rocket ramjets are a nice idea, but SpaceX’s business model is to
    > launch stuff into space cheaply, not spend a bunch of money on unproven technology.

    Hobbiests launch rocket ramjet craft.

    You make my point.

    To summarize, a capsule on a rocket remains a cheap, proven, and relatively reliable technology for orbital launch. That’s a good part of the reason their development costs are so low. You have yet to mention what technology would best it.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Thats a laugh! 3 failures and four success with near miss issues proves their competance?
    >> Yes. It addressed your concerns. They aren’t to the level of reliability of an
    >> Atlas V or a Shuttle, but that’s not what you were complaining about.

    Actually I did refer that given the Delta-4 Atlas-V are their main competitors. They are not showing a ability to build something in any way up to current standards. They cut to many corners and it doesn’t.

    > The 50s Vanguard rocket is the classic counterexample. 11 launches,
    > 3 successes. SpaceX is already doing better than the US Navy.

    The vanguard was a research rocket. While researching and developing the basis science of rocketry, in a era of mainly propeller driven fighter aircraft. So while they were designing Vangard, they had to research and the systems they would base their rocket no. While research the materials science to develop the materials for the rocket and systems. All based on technology and science they hadn’t developed.

    Comparing that with spaceX 60 years later copying decades old designs with routinely taught science and tech, is like Boeing in the 60’s having dozens of crashes of the 707, and saying the Wright brothers took years to get their plane to fly.

    Give me a break.

    >>> What’s suspicious or not credible about it?
    >> I’m so wanting to scream at the insanity of that statement. Its
    >> like a new contractor hiting town offering to build your $200,000
    >> house for only $2,000 – andyou thnik thats completly reasnoable.
    > Well, after said contractor actually does make a number of houses
    > for $2,000, then yes, you should think that’s completely reasonable.

    No you shouldn’t – especially after they collapsed into their basements in days. It’s the most insanely gullible thing I’ve heard since folks explaining why they are sure “this” Ponzi scheme will work.

    >>> I didn’t claim SpaceX was smarter, I claimed that they were trying.==
    >> And no one else in any industry in history, not just space or aerospace, ever “tried”?

    > What was the point of this question? Anyone outside of the narrow
    > business of making launch vehicles, indeed was not trying to make low cost rockets. ==

    Actually some of them WERE trying to make low cost commercial rocket. But that’s irrelevant. “narrow business of making launch vehicles” does not get a unique economics of design and development unlike anything else in history. One that unlike every other builder of commercial or government contracted products, building engineered systems of similar (or radically greater or lessor) complexity and technology, was ever in history able to do.

    You might argue that space ships are simpler then propeller Aircraft, but saying its reasonable that they are10 times cheaper to develop and field then a new Cessna is just not credible.

    > Out of the US launch businesses and organizations prior to SpaceX, only one
    > had made a serious attempt at a low cost launch vehicle. That was Orbital Sciences
    > and their Pegasus launch platform. ==
    Orbitals hardly the only project, and THEY weren’t able to get anywhere near SpaceX cost savings Eiather – and their Pegasus proved rather disappointing commercially, and from a accident standpoint (though it did get several interesting research flight with the gov like hypersonic flight test vehicle launches).

    >> The one proven way to dothe same systems, with old designs,
    >> hugely cheaper then even legendary experts at the task is eiather
    >> develop something hugely inovative (which no one from SpaceX ever
    >> suggested much less showd) or you screw up and do a really really
    >> crappie job of, adn cut a huge number of quality corners.

    > Simplest way is higher launch frequency.==

    That would certainly lower per flight costs, not upfrount design and development costs.

    >==The only explanation I have for why the entire world would operate all their
    > launch vehicles at such a low launch frequency (keep in mind that the major
    > customers have a great deal of control over the size of their payloads and how
    > many of them there were), is that cost per launch was never a serious concern.

    Often true. Compared to the cost of the sat being launched, the launch costs aren’t a big fraction of the program cost. So higher reliability records, vibration and G load issues, etc., are a bigger concern then cost.

    Also of course there are very few things being launched. Globally only 40 launches a year I believe. Many are military or gov prestige projects, so international commercial launch providers can be locked out completely. Also the payloads need to be tailored to a specific launcher which can radically alter designs. (A system designed to launch from a shuttle for example would be about 30% lighter then the same sat launching from a EELV due to vehicle support abilities and other characteristics.)

    So at current costs, theirs damn little market – and no market will develop for low cost launch until there’s a active lower cost launch capability – which itself can’t happen without dramatically higher flight rates.

    >. I just don’t see the point of exaggerating their problems and downplaying their accomplishments.

    I don’t see that I’m in any way exaggerating their problems, or reasons to be highly suspicious of their ability to deliver on their increasingly outlandish claims. Especially when they are not delivering no their more modest promises (their fauilure to deliver actual cost savings in COTS for example, or raise the investor funds to develp their craft.)

    Musk has done a very impressive job at rapidly acquiring over a billion in investor money and gov grants, and assembling the company – but Solyndra did as well, with seemingly similar results.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Because the Capsule on ICBM design has all the disadvantages – its
    >> more expensive, more complicated, more failure modes, harder test
    >> and debug, more limited, etc. Thats been known 60 years. Plenty of
    >> newer more advanced designs out there you could build from the same
    >> systems – fewer in some cases.

    > Compared to what? Lifting or winged bodies?

    Yes. The Shuttle orbiters for example cost 20% less to develop then the Apollo or Orion Capsule & Service modules, even though it also eliminates a booster stage and is far bigger, and lower recovery costs, etc. If designed properly it could have easily eliminate the need for any booster/other stages and launch parts.

    Or the Star Clipper concept with everything but a huge drop tank, integrated into the recoverable delta shaped shuttle.

    > Capsule is a very efficient lifting body too ==

    Yeah that’s why they drop like rocks and subject crew and cargo to high G loads, and their hulls to such high temp heat loads, from plunging like a rock into the deep atmosphere.

    >==and the engineering is a lot simpler.==

    Actually its harder. That’s why the capsules cost so much more. The Capsule and service modules are more complicated, need to be much tougher – and need to be much more compact, and are more weight constrained. (I’ve been a senior systems engineer on Orion, and my first job was ni shuttle flight ops.)

    > == you don’t have a lot of extra mass stuck in wings or whatever.
    The weight doesn’t drive up the costs. Actually it can lower the total weight of the launcher.

    > Airbreathing rocket engines? SpaceX doesn’t have the resources to
    > throw at an untested project like that. ==

    Then hire someone who knows how, or lose some ego and order them from builders who have built such things. Boeing doesn’t develop their engines, and they seem successful as a commercial..

    > Reusable launch vehicles? They don’t have enough market to support a
    > reusable vehicle at this time.

    Actually historically they’ve always been cheaper to develop and test. [One of many historic facts NewSpace groups adamantly ignore. Which I really find stunning?]

    >> They exist equally for both (though its harder for capsules systems –
    >> been there), but given SpaceX didn’t buy off the shelf but tried to
    >> do everything on their own – its a moot point.

    > And it’s worth thinking about why SpaceX didn’t do that. They
    > found that their contractors couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver what they needed. ==

    That’s not what Musk said then. He just wanted everything in-house, rather then rely on anyone. Which was puzzling given he’d then need to spend huge amounts of money to reproduce available commercial capabilities. Costs that would be far higher than the cost of buying off the shelf, or made to order. Or if he preferred, hire others to design systems for him for his people (or others) to build.

    NASA for example is looking into adapting commercial submarine life support systems for ships and spacesuits. The former seemed to be to limited in duration (not designed to go 6 months without servicing etc. But the suits looks promising.

    >==. It’s also an innovation in their manufacture process that I think isn’t well known.

    What do you mean?

    >>> what budget would you use top develop the RocketRamjet engnies?
    >> The same one they used to develop their falcons engines – or they
    >>could just order them from Pratt whose more experenced in such things.

    > Those Falcon engines were developed for a lot less than your rocket
    > ramjet would consume.

    Not according to Pratt and Rolls Royce when the topic came up recently.

    >== And the development risks associated with the rocket ramjet are
    > a bit absurd for a company making its first vehicle.

    Its not really riskier then a rocket (which is really the hard part of the system). Its just a design choice. But again, if you’ve decided to do all the expense cost and risk of developing your own custom engine – why do one no better than what you could get off the shelf?

    As I’ve said, since Hobbiests launch rocket ramjet craft, so saying the engines are vastly harder and more expensive to develop is a bit dubious.

  • Kelly Starks

    Intersting looking at http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/03/29/in-the-senate-more-criticism-of-commercial-crew/
    With Senators calling COTS and CCDev the administationusing taxpayer money, as venture capital to fund “the future Solyndras of the space industry.”
    The supporters of CCDev weer pushing to down select …“Members of Congress are already coalescing around NASA choosing no more than two companies, providing competition as well as funding realities that we see in our budget and not stealing from the long-term future, which is Orion and the launch vehicle.”

  • Kelly Starks

    Oh, just for fairness – what I’ld do to commercialize space.

    If you really wanted to do commercial. Do Bush’s VSE thing, but just state:
    1- NASA will specify the moon base, what it needs to be able to support (power people, labs, tras, etc. Which it is to determine from its projects, and what it can find of collage, NSF, ESA, Virgin, etc that folks want to do (under their dime) at a moon base. All transport around the moon or else wise NOT related to the construction or operation of the base – or transport to and from it. NASA will not direct design choices, though NASA will make its expertise and research facilities avalible to support these projects as requested by the team.

    2- commercial teams (pretty much means Boeing and L/M, their all that’s left.) will bid proposals for the base, its construction, maintenance, and suply for 20(?) years of operation. And all necessary transport to and from.

    3- they are strongly encouraged to make the base expandable to all other reasonably anticipateable needs or other customers. Said other customers must be supportable with no unreasonable interference with the above core base mission.

    4- NASA will supply all necessary launch facilities, but not vehicle unigue equipment., at no cost to the bidder (spaceport KSC).

    4 – transport systems must be fully reusable, and certified by the FAA as commercial cargo it not passenger aircraft (Boeing and McDac offered that for RLVs in the ’90’s). Levels of safety projected atleast 100 fold better then shuttles demonstrated.

    5- All facilities and transport systems base development can be bid as part of the bid, as well as all baseline overhead – however any use per year of the base vehicle set for other customers (including fractions of default labor hours per year, adn depreciation of vehicles service lives) must be reimbursed. Vehicles or personnel supplied only for other customers shall not be part of the yearly “baseline” budget for the program. However NASA will suply launch facilities free to these services.

    6-wining team is strongly encouraged to develop other markets.

    I.E. NASA and the Moonbase is the ultimate anchor tenant eating the overhead to field and support the minimal fleet needed to support the moon base; and the anchor tenant at a commercially supplied moonbase. Supplier who have all that upfrount overhead off their back, can supply launch services at something over margin cost per flight. For shuttle that was at last count $1,100 a pound to LEO. Newer RLV systems offered to NASA in the ’90’s weer parented to drop that from 10-100 fold. (if a retail price to LEO down around a $100 a pound to LEO doesn’t get the space market developing – it aint going to.

    KSC becomes the national space port.

    The Moonbase becomes the central research, commercial, transit hub adn realeste development project.

    You could probably do this all for1/5th Griffins $250 billion return to the moon program. Even if you hae to drop $5-$10 b upfrount to burn down the up frount costs – your still way ahead — oh and as a side effect you open up commercial space on a mega scale!!

    If all this gets up and running, have NASA do R&D on converting the Navy’s polywell fusion reactors into a extremely high ISP drive for Earth/moon to outer planet Maned trips.

    Personally I have a idea for a biamese derivative of the shuttle orbiter I think would be a great low cost launcher – but thats just me.
    ;)

  • near miss issues proves their competance?

    Yes. Apollo 11 with Neil and Buzz was a near miss. Most people consider that a real example of competence.

  • Kelly Starks

    No, they consider that their skill, overcoming and surviving NASA and Grummans incompetence.

  • C Bolden

    Kelly

    You’re an ignorant ignoramus. I suggest you shut your trap before you look even more stupid.

    Charlie

  • C Bolden

    Kelly said:
    >>Because the Capsule on ICBM design has all the disadvantages – its more expensive, more complicated, more failure modes, harder test and debug, more limited, etc. Thats been known 60 years. Plenty of newer more advanced designs out there you could build from the same systesm – fewer in some cases.

    So apart from the space shuttle/X-37 please tell me what non capsule form has the same huge design heritage and success in space. Biconics? Hermes?? Sea Dragon??? Or, like many of your proposals, shall we just jump to proposals with some basis in real physics like Niven’s ‘neutronium compressed ramjet’ or shall we just go with Roddenberry’s ‘warp drive’ as your alternative?

    All the best
    Charlie

  • C Bolden

    Joe2

    Hear hear. The comment from Kelly about ‘Still not listening’ tells it all. I for one (while not always in agreement about some of your minor points) appreciate your example of fact based arguments and willingness to respond fairly and frankly to other commentators.

    Charlie

  • C Bolden

    OMG. Finally worked it out that Kelly is a ‘close personal friend’ of a ULA VP…

  • You are now warned. I like people of all opinions disagreeing on Behind the Black. What I don’t tolerate are insults such as this. If you disagree with Kelly, and can even show he is wrong using facts (as you have done elsewhere today), all power to you. If you can’t and thus resort to insulting attacks, I will ban you from the site.

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