Orion first test flight scheduled


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NASA has set December 4 for the first test flight of Orion.

In related news, the Navy has successfully completed a splashdown recovery test of Orion.

I haven’t labeled these stories “The competition heats up” because I have serous doubts Orion or SLS will survive the next Presidential election, even if this test flight on a Delta 4 Heavy rocket is a complete success. And if you want to know why, just read the first article above. It lists the long troubled ten-year long history of this capsule, with the following punchline describing the schedule for further launches with the actual SLS rocket:

While the first SLS/Orion mission, known as EM-1, is still officially manifested for December 15, 2017 – internally that date has all-but been ruled out. Internal schedules shows EM-1 launch date as September 30, 2018, followed by the Ascent Abort (AA-2) test – required for crew launches – on December 15, 2019, followed by EM-2 on December 31, 2020.

I find also find it interesting that in describing the many problems Orion has had in development, the article fails to mention the cracks that appeared in the capsule that required a major structural fix. Nor does the article mention the ungodly cost of this program, which easily exceeds $10 billion and is at least four times what NASA is spending for its entire program to get three different privately built spaceships built in the commercial program.

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27 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    >..I have serous doubts Orion or SLS will survive the next Presidential election..

    Your dreaming. Theirs wide bipartisan support for it, and public support (if nothing else, its high cost brings in voter support), and no potential candidate has even suggested a alternative.

    As to Orion, it was a $20B program expected to exceed that – so did you just typo $10B?

  • fred k

    Quoting:
    if nothing else, its high cost brings in voter support

    Wow. You may be right about that, in which case America can only blame itself for being stupid.

    Do you believe that ramping up the costs of a program adds voter support? Why would that be? Isn’t overspending on something bad? I know that bureaucracies have perverse incentives, but that’s just insane.

  • If Orion is $20 billion alone that it is height of stupidity and wasted money to keep financing it.

    I think however that the $20 billion number you remember includes SLS. Orion is only part of that program.

  • Pzatchok

    One must keep those union members employed. They add so much to the voting block.

    The stupid thing is that some republican politico’s have this idea that if they use government money to keep union’s working then those very same unions will vote for them. The problem with that idea is that that unions will only vote for a republican if there are no democrats available.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I share Bob’s extreme skepticism about SLS ever flying. In its list of projected SLS missions the cited article left out an additional unmanned test NASA is now planning to shoehorn in between EM-1 and EM-2. It would probably follow both EM-1 and AA-2. So far as I know, it has yet to be given a two-letters-dash-number designation like the others. What it would do is provide an unmanned test of the so-called Exploration Upper Stage, a Centaur-on-steroids thingy to be powered by four of the RL-10 engines that power the existing Centaur singly. NASA wants EM-2 to use this Exploration Upper Stage, but NASA’s own rules prevent any crewed flight from using an untested stage – thus the extra test flight to qualify it.

    The date projected for EM-2 seems to be seriously out of date. EM-2 has long been projected for sometime in 2021 and has recently been widely seen as highly likely to slip into 2022. The AA-2 date cited might be closer to being reasonable, but if the 2019 date was the one that went along with the 2017 EM-1 date, it should be slipped into 2020 as SLS is not slated to fly oftener than every other year for fiscal reasons. That likely means the unnumbered test mission for the Exploration Upper Stage won’t happen before 2022 and EM-2 won’t go before 2024. Both could well be even later if the development of the Exploration Upper Stage suffers any schedule slippages of its own, as is hardly unlikely.

    Bottom line: SLS and Orion won’t fly before 9/30/2018 and, that date being four years away, recent SLS history suggests rich opportunities for additional slippages in the meantime. Even should no more slippage occur, however, 9/30/2018 is more than 20 months into the term of whomever President 45 turns out to be. By that time, Falcon Heavy will have been operational for three years, will be EELV-certified and carrying big, expensive NRO spooksats into orbit and will have launched Bob Bigelow’s first private LEO space station and perhaps even a second one. Dragon V2 will already be routinely ferrying crew to and from ISS and the Bigelow stations having made its first manned test flight over two years previously. Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser may be in the mix by then too, though probably riding up on a Falcon 9 rather than the, by then, late Atlas V. SpaceX and Bigelow will likely have already made a public announcement of plans to enhance Falcon Heavy with a Raptor-based upper stage capable of lofting one of Bigelow’s BA2100 hab modules into LEO.

    In short, SLS and Orion will both be completely obsolete – rendered redundant long before first flight by more capable commercial equipment that is also resusable. What President, of either party, would continue throwing money at such a monstrosity given what will be these by-then-current facts on the ground? Cancelling SLS and Orion may not be the first thing President 45 does after taking the oath of office, but SLS-Orion aren’t going to last beyond 2017 and, thus, will never fly.

    Kelly, for what it’s worth, is correct about SLS having bi-partisan support, but it’s narrow, not wide. As to the risible notion that SLS’s high cost makes it popular with voters – only with the ones whose paychecks directly depend on it. The rest, not so much. If high cost was correlated with fan base, then SpaceX wouldn’t have one, but it does and it’s a lot bigger than SLS’s.

    As for any candidate suggesting an alternative, the alternative will be obvious by late 2016 when the next presidential election is held as both Falcon Heavy and Dragon V2 will have flown by then, Bigelow’s private station plans will be both widely known and eagerly anticipated and SLS-Orion’s first manned test flight will, in all likelihood, have slipped clear beyond President 45’s tenure even if he or she wins a second term.

  • Kelly Starks

    No the $20B was only for Orion. Ares-1/V or SLS were budgeted for $30B. Adjusted for inflation these are about the normal cost of boosters and capsules since the ’60’s and Apollo.

    Shuttle was about $17b for the orbiter, and about $40b in total.

  • Kelly Starks

    The vast bulk of voters (something like 90%) support NASA programs only for the pork raining on them from it. about 90% of the rest for national prestige. The missions generate little political support themselves.

    It got pounded into me when I was working at NASA HQ, and among other things wrote a program to extract the addresses of contractors funded in a budget bill, and cross refed it with congressional districts, to automatically put together letters addressed to Senators and congressmen, to show them who would get what from their vote.

    That’s why NASA fights so hard against contractors offers of cheaper launchers, cheaper processes, etc. And why they insist in bundling things into “Galactica” programs. As the old saying goes, its far easier to get approval for multi billion dollar programs, them multi million dollar programs.
    Costs mean nothing, only votes and public support maters to getting funding.

  • Kelly Starks

    >Dick Eagleson
    > I share Bob’s extreme skepticism about SLS ever flying. …
    >..By that time, Falcon Heavy will have been operational for three years, will be EELV-certified and
    > carrying big, expensive NRO spooksats into orbit and will have launched Bob Bigelow’s first private
    > LEO space station and perhaps even a second one. Dragon V2 will already be routinely ferrying crew
    > to and from ISS and the Bigelow stations having made its first manned test flight over two years
    > previously. Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser may be in the mix by then too, though probably riding
    > up on a Falcon 9 rather than the, by then, late Atlas V. …

    All that’s rather fanciful, and irrelevant. SLS has the highest support of any program in NASA. And baring a complete Tea Party take over of the political attitude, voters will sadly still demand pork for their support of NASA programs. NASA turned down flat offers from several major vendors fully reusables, with all shuttles on orbit abilities, but costs per flight guaranteed to be at least 10 fold less then shuttle. Instead they swore off reusables, and proposed the Constellation/SLS system specifically to raise costs per flight.

    >…In short, SLS and Orion will both be completely obsolete …

    They have been obsolete for decades. Even more so with the DOD flying reusable space planes for years, and working on fielding reusable first stages in a few years. Its not damping Congressional support.

    Lose SLS (unless its replaced by some other similar scale program) and NASA’s maned and likely unmanned programs likely end.

  • Kelly Starks

    That’s $30B for each booster, not for all three.

  • Edward

    > The vast bulk of voters (something like 90%) support NASA programs only for the pork raining on them from it.

    Kelly, I really don’t see that. My friends and family ask me about the most recent exploration related news items and rarely ask me about SLS or Orion.

    I was recently able to send them links to pictures from Rosetta and Ranger 7, and they frequently ask about Curiosity, Dragon, Cygnus, Kepler, cubesats, 3D printing in space, and several other tidbits in the news (thank you, Robert, for helping to keep us up to date on all this). However, they hardly ever ask about SLS, and only on occasion about Orion.

    If you want to talk about pork, however, NASA is teensy, tinesy, small potatoes. Its entire $17 billion budget pales in comparison with the pork distributed by various “welfare” programs ($2,000 billion), Social Security ($850 billion), and Medicare ($500 billion).

    *That* is pork that everyone knows, talks, and votes about. Social Security is such a popular pork boondoggle that no politician dares be in the same room as anyone saying anything approaching negative (or mediocre) about it.

    So I really have little, if any, experience with voters or campaign-contributors thinking of NASA as a pork program, much less a successful pork program. Everyone I know thinks NASA is doing wonderful exploration — and maybe the only federal program worth its budget.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Surveys pretty consistently show the American public likes NASA and the government space program in a sort of abstract way, but they don’t want to spend more on it. The only voters much motivated by NASA pork are the tiny minority who actually get any. The rest of the public doesn’t much care for bloat and waste.

    SLS and Orion’s best defenses so far have been their relative anonymity. If SLS or Orion impinged much on the public consciousness, they wouldn’t be seen as “Apollo on steroids,” but as “$600 toilet seats on steroids.” Given that Orion is still grotesquely obese and that SLS’s lift capacity has been progressively auto-cannibalized to keep its sadly reduced remnant going, it would be more accurate to term it “Apollo on diuretics” as its always problematical future has been largely pissed away.

  • Dick Eagleson

    All that’s rather fanciful, and irrelevant.

    That’s what you’ve been saying about everything SpaceX has done – even after they’ve done it. I’m guessing that in four more years, when all that I have laid out here has come to pass, and perhaps more, you’ll still be bad-mouthing SpaceX. Everybody needs hobby, I guess. But you won’t be telling us all about how SLS is going to rule the universe because it’ll most likely be at least a year into its permanent dirt nap by then. Don’t despair. You can always be the SLS version of those guys who can’t seem to ever get over the deaths of their favored Shuttle-based BFR’s like Constellation or Direct in any of its various flavors. You can all get together for a convention, get drunk and sing ‘Danny Boy.’

  • Kelly Starks

    >> The vast bulk of voters (something like 90%) support NASA programs only for the pork raining
    >> on them from it.

    > Kelly, I really don’t see that. My friends and family ask me about the most recent exploration
    > related news items and rarely ask me about SLS or Orion.

    It has been by far the most overwhelming result from all poles on NASA. Yeah folk thing Hubble’s pic’s are cool and everything.. but the congressmen only get real push to support the pork programs in their districts. Same with the mil but not as extreme. That’s why things get broken down into tons of little peace’s distributed all over the country on Mil or NASA programs, even when it would cost several times less to have the big companies do them in house. When they shut shuttle down tones of little mom and pop machine shops shut down having no other jobs to do. Of course the question is why would the big company contract out trivial machining tasks to little mom and pops, with dramatically higher costs, rather then having the milling machine in the back room loaded with one more file?

    This is also why NASA fights so hard to avoid and discredit CATS, RLV’s etc. If their costs drop, they lose voter support, hence political support in congress.

    For a while with shuttle they though if they became the national space transport agency that would give them a secure relevant niche – but it didn’t happen.

  • Kelly Starks

    >… The only voters much motivated by NASA pork are the tiny minority who actually get any. …

    Or get some in their communities (they can connect that if the folks down the street get some, it will spread around.). But the critical point is, that’s pretty much the only support NASA gets period. The public does realize NASA really doesn’t do anything practical. They do PR stuff for national prestige or diplomatic posturing like ISS. But mostly its as one congressmen put it “a self licking ice cream cone”. They build things to support their missions, and develop missions to use and justify the things they develop. They aren’t funding cities in space developing major industries, mines, etc. Aren’t researching cool useful new technology (look at Constellation/SLS, other then the electronics its state of the art design from the 1950’s.) despite what fans and PR folks like to claim.

    In a way space advocates unwittingly pushed this attitude. The old saw of “:Why are we throwing money away in space when there are problems down here?!” was answered with “Were not throwing money into space were spending it down here paying scientists and engineers to develop craft and build centers to research and open space and expand our scientific understanding….” Which in English really translated to “bla bla bla ….paying scientists and engineers and building stuff to .. yawn yawn yawn….”

  • Kelly Starks

    >> All that’s rather fanciful, and irrelevant.

    > That’s what you’ve been saying about everything SpaceX has done – even after they’ve done it. …

    The point is THEY DIDN’T DO IT!! They have not commercially built a competitive, capable low cost ship and booster set. They did a text book crappy slip shod job, on gov money – resulting in craft with extradanarily poor safety records and high costs papered over with big gov grants and political support. People I know in the industry have shuddered over what they’ve seen behind the curtain at SpaceX. Corners they cut. Which Musk’s public statements echo. Which would trigger the kind of issues they keep having. The budget numbers from NASA over what the Falcon/Dragon flights cost (which most fans consistently ignore and misquote).

    SpaceX is the Solyndra of space launch. All the fans and political supporters talk about how cool and revolutionary they are – and the auditors and people in the know shake their heads and steer clear.

    Yes I know, they rae NewSpace, and as I’m being continuously reminded here at Serra Nevada, NewSpace can’t more and do things as fast and efficiently as old big space could and did (I’ve worked at both so don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about) but there’s a difference between stubling and taking longer with inexperience, and just screwing up and being bullheaded.

  • “The point is THEY DIDN’T DO IT!! They have not commercially built a competitive, capable low cost ship and booster set.”

    The trouble with this claim, Kelly, is it flies in the face of the basic facts. I have posted innumerable stories about how every single old space company is desperately scrambling to remake themselves in order to compete with SpaceX. They might hate SpaceX and express contempt for it, but they are nonetheless finding themselves forced to innovate and lower their prices to compete.

    Meanwhile, SpaceX had a contract with NASA to supply cargo to ISS. They did it. SpaceX also had approximately half a billion dollars in contracts with commercial satellite companies. They are now launching those satellites, one by one, successfully.

    To say SpaceX has not done what it set out to do is to be blind to the most basic facts right before your eyes, and discredits everything else you say. No wonder Dick Eagleson has taken to gently ridiculing you.

  • Edward

    > It has been by far the most overwhelming result from all poles on NASA. Yeah folk thing Hubble’s pic’s are cool and everything.. but the congressmen only get real push to support the pork programs in their districts.

    A mere hour ago, I was talking to a friend of my mother’s, and she didn’t think of NASA as a pork barrel, but she *did* wonder why NASA didn’t test anything, thus resulting in “all those space disasters.” (Maybe attitudes like that are why people think NASA doesn’t do anything practical.) She did, however, know about our Mars Rovers, though could not name Curiosity, Opportunity, or Spirit.

    Although she works in the high tech world, she does not pay much attention to NASA. She knows little about the OldSpace companies in the area and nothing about all the upstart start-up NewSpace companies here. She, like many or most other Americans, just hasn’t been excited about NASA or any pork that comes from its programs, at least not since Apollo.

    I don’t know about any polls about NASA and pork, but I’m sure that their numbers about pork are low compared with the real pork programs (I didn’t mention the military before, as you did, but their pork budget would be larger than NASA’s entire budget).

    Even when NASA finds its way into popular culture, it isn’t the pork that anyone talks about, but it is the exploration. The closest to pork that I ever saw in a popular television show was when Raj, in “The Big Bang Theory,” decided that he needed to find a new science project to work on before NASA realized that the work he was currently doing wasn’t going to result in anything useful. Frankly, I don’t consider following a bad lead to be pork, unless you continue following the lead after figuring out it is bad, so that was not a real pork-barrel project, just the closest to it that I have seen demonstrated in our culture.

    To sum up, I don’t trust your polls, and I don’t think that the public sees NASA as such a source of government pork, but they do see that there are problems at the agency. I suspect that it is the Congressmen and Senators who like the pork, rather than their constituents, and they use overall numbers in their “see what I did for you” newsletters, not the specific projects that went to Joe’s Tool and Die Shop.

    Even so, the local Democrat Congressman let the big Mil/NASA contractor in the area shrink by about 75%, losing more than 20,000 jobs over the past quarter century. Apparently, NASA pork is not so important to her, either.

  • Kelly Starks

    >..To sum up, I don’t trust your polls, and I don’t think that the public sees NASA as such a source
    > of government pork, ….

    You slightly misstated. I didn’t say most of the public sees NASA as nothing but pork, but that the bulk of the public that see NASA as worth advocating, that call their congressmen and senators to advocate it etc, say they do it for the pork it brings.

    As to not believing it – few of us that believe in space want to. Its inconceivable to us. But it is the reality that drives NASA and its budgets.

  • Kelly Starks

    >… I have posted innumerable stories about how every single old space company is desperately
    > scrambling to remake themselves in order to compete with SpaceX. …

    No Bob, you’ve interpreted ever action of the old space companies as their “..scrambling to remake themselves in order to compete with SpaceX..” and will listen to no other explanation. NO even the ones stated by the company folks being interviewed.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    You were very clear that you believe NASA to be a *source* of pork, and I did *not* say that it was “nothing but pork.” One of us misstated, and it wasn’t me.

    “Its inconceivable to us.”

    Hardly. I am using personal experience, which weighs far more than referenced (and probably misinterpreted) polls. As with all polls, determining what they mean requires knowing the questions and the answers — and even then the interpretations are suspect. One would expect that if NASA pork were so important to people, that is what I would be hearing.

    It isn’t as though my friends are being easy on me, because they know I like space. The younger crowd truly question that we went to the moon. After all, if we really went there, why haven’t we gone back? Their answer: we couldn’t get there then, just as we can’t get there now. (With that attitude, in a few years they will deny that the shuttle flew or that the US ever went into space. So much for NASA pork.)

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    Arianespace just cancelled 18 months of work on their next rocket because it can’t compete with SpaceX, and now they are reorganizing and trying to figure out how to make a competitive new rocket. ULA just fired their CEO because he wasn’t figuring out how to compete with SpaceX. If you don’t think that those are examples of “scrambling to remake themselves,” then what would you consider to be scrambling?

  • Dick Eagleson

    Oh, please! Go to Space News and pull up every article about Arianespace published in the past six months. Set the ‘Find’ function of your browser to search for instances of “SpaceX” in the texts. You’ll get plenty of hits. Do the same for AW&ST. More hits. The legacy launch vehicle and launch services companies are scared shitless of SpaceX. As well they ought to be. Elon will be sticking forks in all of them shortly.

    As for SpaceX’s allegedly sloppy, slapdash procedures I’m reminded of this bit of dialogue from Casablanca:

    Maj. Strasser to Rick: “We thought you were just another blundering American.”

    Capt. Renault to Maj. Strasser: “I wouldn’t underestimate American blundering if I were you, Major. I was with them in 1918 when they blundered into Berlin.”

    Then there is the inconvenient – for you – matter of track records. SpaceX has had 11 straight mission successes with Falcon 9. Falcon 9 is the second rocket SpaceX ever built and much bigger and more complex than Falcon 1, its first design. Ariane V is, as its name implies, neither the second rocket Arianespace ever built nor the first large rocket. Yet it had outright failures or partial failures on its 1st, 2nd, 10th and 14th missions. Atlas V, again, neither the second rocket nor first large rocket built by LockMart or its ancestors. Atlas V had a partial failure on its 10th mission. Delta IV, once again, not the second rocket, period, or first large rocket built by Boeing or its ancestors. Delta IV had a partial failure on its 4th mission. I don’t think we even need to consider here the wretchedly spotty records of most of the Russian launchers, especially Zenit and Proton.

    Somehow SpaceX – dimwitted, arrogant, slovenly SpaceX – has managed to beat all these supposedly tried-and-true space launch providers at the game of which they were the alleged masters. At some point, you’ve got to quit crediting their success to dumb luck and start looking at what they actually do and why it’s demonstrably superior to what the aerospace dinosaurs do. I’m not optimistic that you’ll ever get to that point, but here’s hoping. Being a public laughingstock can’t be much fun.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Arianespace just cancelled 18 months of work on their next rocket because it can’t compete with SpaceX,
    > and now they are reorganizing and trying to figure out how to make a competitive new rocket.

    No, they had a political shift and the old design went with the old power block. Arianespace costs are driven by gov edict. Its effectively a semi private company pushed to pork out its staffing levels to keep employment up. The gov paying them enough subsidize to compensate and keep their costs competitive. Like shuttle, they’ll lower costs to whatever is needed to look competitive regardless of how much its below their costs.

    > ULA just fired their CEO because he wasn’t figuring out how to compete with SpaceX.

    Firing might be a exaggeration – that they couldn’t compete with SpaceX is simply a assumption. Scandels over possible strong arming to keep Orbital Sciences from getting any RD-180-s (in fairness the Atlas uses all the Russians make, and theirs some doubt they can produce more then the 2-3 a year they have been doing, so L/M [really Martin who took over Lockheed and is using the more reputable Lockheed name] might well fear they won’t get enough). Assuming they can’t compete against SpaceX, when spaceX has no product they can even biid against L/M with is a bit of a jump.

    Actually though that illustrates what I was talking about. Anything happens to any other provider, and its interpreted as their reacting to SpaceX competition. Even if it has nothing to do with them, or even no obvious relation to sales at all..

  • Kelly Starks

    > … SpaceX has had 11 straight mission successes with Falcon 9.===

    I don’t call them mission successes when you blow engines, dump cargo in the Ocean, trash test cargo, and the other “anomalies” reported. They used to be more upfrount about reporting all these issues, but since its virtually all their flights, and the problems certifying them, they are getting more closed mouthed.

    >… Falcon 9 is the second rocket SpaceX ever built and much bigger and more complex than Falcon 1,…

    Actually they use about the same systems so its not that much more complex — though given they keep changing the vehicle design virtually every flighth (mentioned as a issue with trying to certify it) You could argue they’ve had something like several times that many designs.

    >.. Somehow SpaceX – dimwitted, arrogant, slovenly SpaceX – has managed to beat all these supposedly
    > tried-and-true space launch providers at the game of which they were the alleged masters. At some
    > point, you’ve got to quit crediting their success to dumb luck ..

    Success? A costly dated design, with a abnormally pour reliability record, developed in a slipshod and substandard method no significant engineering project from any competent modern day firm of any kind would allow. All costing significantly higher then competitors..until they started getting carried with gov grants and political support?

    Don’t hold your breath for me to get impressed. like I said, they rae text book for incompetitant companies that can’t do the work, but either mussel or con their way through. And everyone of them getting folks talking about how great they are right up to, and really even after, they collapse.

    PS
    I REALLY hate “reCAPTCHA”

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    It is absolutely amazing how far you will go to assume that SpaceX is not a global player in the launch business.

    The articles I’ve read say that Ariane and ULA are concerned about competing with SpaceX. SpaceX *is* launching for lower prices. SpaceX *is* the low-cost competitor. And SpaceX *is* getting its customers into space.

    Europe is not happy that they are subsidizing Ariane, but they have done it in order to be in the business. Now they are faced with even more subsidies in order to cover lower launch prices to compete with SpaceX.

    ULA may have a problem with the RD-180, but that is a political fight that takes place in Congress as to whether they will fund a replacement. ULA is not going to develop a replacement engine with their own money, because they know that if Congress wants to continue with the Atlas V then Congress will pay for a replacement.

    Congress has complained about the high cost of the ULA launches, so we know that they are, in some way, cost conscious. And it is no wonder that these cost so much; an article that Robert linked to says that the company that ‘distributes’ the RD-180 “charges a 200% profit over what it pays the actual manufacturer.” (Gee, tell Congress that I am willing to start up a company that will charge only 150%.)

    This is definitely about the competition coming from SpaceX.

    Several companies are scrambling to sign on for this “incompetent company that can’t do the work” to launch their payloads. NASA has enough confidence in SpaceX that they hired them for COTS and for various phases of their commercial crew development program.

    And if they are changing their design with each launch, then I have to give them credit for being competent enough to keep launching “first launches” without blowing up their rockets, unlike the OldSpace companies, who often blow up theirs.

    That “dated design” is putting payloads into space, which is the object of the exercise, and for a lower price, which is a bonus. I only hope that SpaceX drives the cost of access to space low enough that traffic increases. The more we use and explore space, the better off we are. Eventually we will return to the moon and go to Mars. Someday, space will be a vacation spot. I can hardly wait.

    Don’t worry, none of us are holding our breaths for you to get impressed. Just as you are not changing our minds, none of us really thinks that we can change your mind (although that would be a bonus), but we are practicing our skills at arguing the important points. Before Behind the Black, I didn’t participate in comment sections. I hope that I am getting better at this.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I don’t call them mission successes when you blow engines, dump cargo in the Ocean, trash test cargo, and the other “anomalies” reported.

    Except the only one of those things that ever actually happened was the engine failing. The Falcon 9 is designed to shrug off an engine failure or two. It did. Dragon got to ISS. I said successful missions, not perfect missions. Your alleged “failures” are all dimwitted rumors started by various trolls who vie to top one another with ever-bigger whoppers about SpaceX.

    A costly dated design

    The Falcon 9 design is newer than Ariane 5, Delta IV and Atlas V. The v1.1 design now in use is less than a year old. And a few lines above your accusation of a dated design, you complained that SpaceX makes so many changes with each flight that every one of their missions is practically a new vehicle. Both of these things cannot be true. In point of fact, neither of them are true.

    abnormally pour reliability record

    Try abnormally good. Falcon 9 has 11 straight successes. Atlas V has one failure out of 47 missions. Delta IV has one failure out of 27 missions. Ariane 5 has four failures out of 74 missions. Except for an Ariane 5 failure on mission 14, all of these failures occurred before the 11th missions of these three competing vehicles. Facts are stubborn things.

    developed in a slipshod and substandard method no significant engineering project from any competent modern day firm of any kind would allow

    So you say. The evidence says otherwise.

    All costing significantly higher then competitors..until they started getting carried with gov grants and political support

    This is, frankly, nuts. Competitor vehicles cost three to five times what SpaceX charges. SpaceX gets no government “grants.” SpaceX gets milestone development payments. The Falcon 9 was not, in any case, developed on government money. The Dragons, yes, but not Falcon 9.

    As to “political support” if you define that term as having a gang of Senators and Congressmen who want to hang you, then I guess SpaceX has “political support.” The number of senior politicos with knives out for SpaceX vastly exceeds the number who back them.

  • I don’t interpret. For these “innumerable stories of old space companies scrambling to compete with SpaceX”, I merely quote the story itself, which without my assistance or aid always makes it a point to note how it was competition from SpaceX that is forcing the changes at these old space companies.

    For example, see today’s story about ULA from Defense News, posted here by me. It wasn’t I that brought SpaceX up here in the article. They did, concluding that SpaceX’s competition was almost certainly the central reason ULA’s CEO stepped down.

    If you want, I can post a link in this thread to every new story I find in which SpaceX is cited as the cause for making these old space companies rethink their business. The list should get quite long, as these stories appear almost weekly.

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