The Dream Chaser test vehicle to fly again


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The competition heats up: Sierra Nevada has announced that its Dream Chaser engineering test vehicle has been refurbished and will complete a number of manned and unmanned flight tests in the fall, with their schedule on track for a November 2016 orbital test flight.

“We will do between two and five additional flights. A couple will be crewed. As a result of the vehicle being upgraded, we will be flying our orbital flight software, which will give us about a year’s worth of advancement on the vehicle.” Flights are expected to last over a six- to nine-month period, he adds.

Sierra Nevada has also continued to expand its partnerships, both in the aerospace industry as well as with other countries. The first action is likely part of a lobbying effort to help convince NASA to choose it when it down selects its commercial manned program from three manned spacecraft to two later this year. The second action indicates that even if Sierra Nevada is not chosen by NASA, they plan to proceed to construction anyway to serve other customers.

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52 comments

  • mpthompson

    …even if Sierra Nevada is not chosen by NASA, they plan to proceed to construction anyway to serve other customers.

    That is how commercial space is done. Good luck to Sierra Nevada, with or without a NASA contract.

  • Kelly Starks

    >…The first action [Expanding its partnerships, .. in the aerospace industry..] is likely part of a lobbying effort ..

    No, its part of their effort to hire expertise and infrastructure, as well as showing potential customers they are doing a professional job – rather then just egotistically assuming they know better then anyone else.

    It also develops relationships with other companies for other teaming arrangements as a subcontractor later.

  • Dick Eagleson

    rather then just egotistically assuming they know better then anyone else.

    I assume this is another swipe at SpaceX. Begging your pardon, Mr. Starks, but SpaceX’s “knowing better” is a matter of documented fact, not blowhard egotism. The arrogant egotists in the room are all the legacy aerospace types who think the way they’ve done things for 60 years is the only way to do things, period. It’s not. Simple as that. Your impacted mulishness will avail you naught in the end. There’s a new sheriff in town. He’s taking names and kicking ass.

  • Kelly Starks

    >…I assume this is another swipe at SpaceX. Begging your pardon, Mr. Starks, but SpaceX’s “knowing better” is a matter of documented fact, ..<

    Given their high failure rate, difficulty being certified due to slipshod processes, etc.. that's another fantasy.

  • Edward

    > Given their high failure rate, difficulty being certified due to slipshod processes, etc.. that’s another fantasy.

    Is the fantasy the high failure rate or the slipshod processes?

    The high failure rate is a fantasy, because there have been no Falcon 9 failures. Which is more than I can say for the new rockets of the 1990s. Ten of those eleven had failed first launches.

    As for the slipshod processes, well, I don’t know what you are talking about. But then, I don’t work at SpaceX, so I don’t get to see their processes, slipshod or otherwise. What do you know that the rest of us don’t?

  • Dick Eagleson

    You’ll have to forgive Kelly. He works in legacy aerospace where it’s considered scandalous if the paperwork accompanying every part doesn’t weigh more than the part.

    As for SpaceX’s alleged failures, Mr. Starks seems to lead a rich and full fantasy life.

  • Kelly Starks

    Actually I work for all sorts, and currently work for Serra Nevada on Dream Chaser. Their a difference between gov paperwork bloat for no reason (like the $99 of paperwork for $1 dollar tools), and doing the engineering equivalent of ballencing your books.

  • Kelly Starks

    > The high failure rate is a fantasy, because there have been no Falcon 9 failures. ..

    Ehgine blow outs, control drop outs, other “anomalies”, test cargo returned trashed…and that’s just on flights to the ISS.

    >…As for the slipshod processes, well, I don’t know what you are talking about. But then, I don’t
    > work at SpaceX, so I don’t get to see their processes, slipshod or otherwise. What do you know
    > that the rest of us don’t?

    A lot of the “book keeping” kind of stuff like requirements analysis, traceability and review of test procedures, to requirements that need verifications etc. As one NewSpace Exec I know who got a tour said “Yeah they got racks a racks of great expensive new test equipment – but no process and procedures guides. Traces etc. ” He was told pretty much the testers just took the systems and ran what tests they could think of.
    Rather then using certified tested systems and parts, they make their own, and don’t do the same kind of certification reviews. Its like building a plane or a house, but skiping using FAA/UL approved parts, or mixing up your own drugs rather then using ones that passed all those expensive FDA inspections.
    Rather then hiring in experts or consultants (with the market so bad you can contract with the best in the world – Dream Chaser has everyone from the Phantom Works to Draper labs teamed with the,) they brag about dot.com like staffing with lots of kids straight out of collage they work insane hours until they burn out and leave. But given they don’t have a lot of experienced folks who know what to look for, and how to do it efficiently they burn through hours.

    Think of it like the old battles between NewSpace fans and folks like Scaled composites. They were livid with Burt Rutan for pushing that the full certification rules be applied, say in his decades of developing cutting edge craft, he’s never had the FAA (or mill and NASA presumably) demand he do much of anything that he wouldn’t do himself anyway as good engineering practices. But the other newSpace folks were screaming that would all be industry crippling costs and they just had to get folks over their “safty hang up”.

  • Edward

    Kelly wrote:

    >> The high failure rate is a fantasy, because there have been no Falcon 9 failures. ..

    > Ehgine blow outs, control drop outs, other “anomalies”, test cargo returned trashed…and that’s just on flights to the ISS.

    Ah. I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that Falcon 9 had a higher failure rate than any other rocket, but you are actually saying that it is pretty much standard as for any rocket.

    >> I don’t get to see their processes, slipshod or otherwise. What do you know
    >> that the rest of us don’t?

    >A lot of the “book keeping” kind of stuff like requirements analysis, traceability and review of test procedures, to requirements that need verifications etc.

    Ah, and now you complain that they have figured out how to run an operation without spending a freaking fortune on unnecessary paperwork, bean counters, extraneous procedural steps, poorly conceived and implemented command media, software-that-was-supposed-to-help-but-only-hindered, and all the stuff that I have long complained about at the OldSpace companies that I have worked for. Or that they don’t want people who are trained and fixed-in-their-ways on the inefficient, ineffective, and expensive way of doing things.

    As for reviewing test procedures — Geez did you hit a nerve — writing and executing test procedures was my last job (and now I’m sick to death of OldSpace), and the list of required reviewers kept growing, to a minimum of 14 reviewers (and even more required signatories) when I left, not including the permission that I had to get from my bosses bosses bosses boss (a director) to make any change, no matter how minor. And they had to review all of every document, even if some idiot wanted a minor comma changed. Kee-riste! What a fiasco. Then they would need that comma changed from a run last weekend for the next use of that procedure next Saturday, and the process for releasing a procedure usually took 5 freaking weeks, and I had to rush the thing through in only one. I am not making this up.

    I hated Mondays, but not for the usual reasons. Monday was when I found out that I needed to perform such a bureaucratic miracle on some test procedure, and Monday was when command media changed, but I wouldn’t find out about the change for a few weeks, so I was often doing my d****d job wrong (as was everyone else).

    If it weren’t for the excitement of NewSpace, and the promise of finally making a world that looks a little like Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, I’d be ready to take my now-graying hair and retire.

    How I long to work at a company, such as SpaceX, that gives its engineers the proper tools for the job, rather than hand us a 20 pound sledge hammer to perform a 7 inch-ounce torque (and when we complain, they add another handle and tell us that it is better, because it takes more people to operate — oh, and they have a quality person watch to make sure nothing gets smashed, or more correctly, to document it when it does). (Unlike a couple of paragraphs above, I am exaggerating, but some of the tools, command media, and protocols that we got from management seemed like using a sledge hammer to perform a small torque.)

    When all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a bureaucrat.

  • Kelly Starks

    >>> The high failure rate is a fantasy, because there have been no Falcon 9 failures. ..

    >> Engine blow outs, control drop outs, other “anomalies”, test cargo returned trashed…and that’s just on flights to the ISS.

    > Ah. I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that Falcon 9 had a higher failure rate than any
    > other rocket, but you are actually saying that it is pretty much standard as for any rocket.

    Any other rocket? No. Most any one of their competitors – yes and its not standard.

    >>> I don’t get to see their processes, slipshod or otherwise. What do you know
    >>> that the rest of us don’t?

    >> A lot of the “book keeping” kind of stuff like requirements analysis, traceability and review
    >> of test procedures, to requirements that need verifications etc.

    > Ah, and now you complain that they have figured out how to run an operation without spending
    > a freaking fortune on unnecessary paperwork, bean counters, extraneous procedural steps, …

    No, they are doing it the way everyone else stopped doing it long ago. So if you want to echo the “Musk just knows how to do it better then everyone else in aerospace or other engineering, manufacturing, etc.” mantra, I really have heard it over and over and over.

    Sorry, no. There’s a reason why everyone else from Apple to Xerox (with all the successful aerospace firm in the middle) don’t do it that way anymore, and why I get hired in by firms who still are doing it, still having folks saying “we don’t need that useless paperwork” as they drive the companies into the ground that way, and the execs want me and associates to get them up to modern standards..

    > …If it weren’t for the excitement of NewSpace, and the promise of finally making a world that
    > looks a little like Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, I’d be ready to take my now-graying hair and retire.
    >
    > How I long to work at a company, such as SpaceX, that gives its engineers the proper tools for the job, …

    From what I’ve heard from folks who have worked there – its far worse then what you came from. Add the issues you listed, and add in a cold arrogance and expectation you’ll do any amount of hours without the tools etc to make it up.

    Everyone desperately wants to see SpaceX and the other NewSpace companies as the folks that will leed us to the promised land, mostly they aren’t getting anywhere and are just bumbling around burning investor or gov grant money. Pushing ideas decades out of date.

  • Edward

    > Pushing ideas decades out of date.

    Are you suggesting that reusable first stages are an out of date idea? Then why didn’t anyone try it before, and why are Arianespace and ULA pooping their pants? Those two companies do not think that SpaceX is on the verge of failure.

    > Any other rocket? No. Most any one of their competitors – yes and its not standard.

    Standard operating procedure is to blow up your first rocket of any new version? But Falcon 9 failed to do that (or is that what you mean by failure?).

    > No, they are doing it the way everyone else stopped doing it long ago.

    By “long ago” do you mean *before* the 1990s, when they started blowing up the first rockets of their new versions? I don’t consider that an improved process.

    > still having folks saying “we don’t need that useless paperwork” as they drive the companies into the ground that way.

    I agree that some paperwork is good. The engineer has to communicate the design to the machinists and assemblers somehow, but I have seen the “paperwork factory” go so far overboard that progress comes slowly and at incredible cost; I know I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. Someone in one of Robert’s other posts commented that the paperwork weighs more that the parts. That has been my experience, too, even with the increased use of electrons for paperwork. It has been bad for decades. When I first started working, there was the phrase “paper is our product,” meaning that we created more deliverable paperwork than deliverable hardware.

    >From what I’ve heard from folks who have worked there – its far worse then what you came from. Add the issues you listed, and add in a cold arrogance and expectation you’ll do any amount of hours without the tools etc to make it up.

    I disagree. I know from talking to their engineers that SpaceX does *not* require 30 signatures (when I left my last assignment, the minimum requirement was a minimum of 32 “touches” or electronic signatures, sometimes multiple touches from the same people, for instance, I needed to move the “paperwork” along at five different places in the process). How do these 30 or so signatures improve the process or the product? How is it improved when a 400 page thermal vacuum test has to be reviewed *in total* for uprev, rather than release a change notice (thus 14 people have to spend their time reviewing all 400 pages, because that is what they are signing)? And getting my regular job done while working a bureaucratic miracle takes an extra 30 or so hours per week. So, yes, I would love to work those 70 hour weeks if I am accomplishing *real* progress, not some bureaucrat’s idea of “proper documentation.”

    In case you were wondering, I tried to get that director to change the messed up system, but he didn’t think that even *he* had the power to do it. Maybe one of the companies that you were “helping” was that company, because they had the paperwork quagmire system worked out as an art form, and they knew how to expand it.

    And that is just *my* experience. My colleagues were saddled with similar bureaucratic uselessness from the bean counters to the assemblers. The bureaucracy may look like a quagmire, but the results look more like quicksand, especially for the money that gets poured into the terrain.

    And *that* is why you think that there is so much pork, because people like me had lingering, torturous jobs pushing “paper” through the d****d computer instead of running the test or building the hardware. Frankly, I could have done nicely without that kind of pork, and I would have preferred the excitement of NewSpace, with all its cubesats and smallsats, and the expansion of space exploration and exploitation. If only all that wasted money, effort, and talent had gone to cheaper, reusable rockets, more hardware, and actual productivity instead of checking off some silly bureaucrat’s progress box, we all would be better off right now. Maybe even enjoying nice vacations on the moon or in a commercial space station.

    It also explains why SLS and Orion cost so much and cannot be used more often than every four years. Too much BS in the NASA and military procurement system. How much more research, hardware, destinations in space for people, and space exploration could we have accomplished if we weren’t wasting it all on an expensive mess of a system?

    What you assume to be improvement does not work for the poor shlub engineer on the floor, and it seems to increase the very pork that you talk about. Stop being so removed from the actual process. Find out that it does not work as well as you think, and that it is driving the talent the hell out of the business (or toward SpaceX).

  • Dick Eagleson

    SpaceX had a single 1st-stage engine fail on a single mission, but, as their vehicle is designed to tolerate two failed 1st-stage engines on its way to orbit, the mission itself was a success.

    There have been no “control drop-outs.” One Dragon mission had some initial thruster problems related to valves SpaceX bought from one of your vaunted old-school aerospace suppliers. Seems these folks had changed their manufacturing process slightly without testing the result. How’d that happen?

    As for most of the rest, I can’t improve on Edward’s eloquent and horrifyingly detailed war stories. The fact is no amount of reviews, checklists and procedures can prevent a dumb organization from doing dumb things. Witness the Space Shuttle, designed and built by the cream of old-school aerospace contractors and subjected to more design reviews and paperwork shuffling than any previous project in history. And it still incorporated design flaws that killed 14 people on two separate catastrophically failed missions. You worship a Golden Calf, sir.

    As for the allegedly “trashed” return cargo from ISS there hasn’t been any. Some seawater got inside a couple Dragons after splashdown through a pressure equalization valve. That’s been fixed. The water didn’t damage anything inside. Peddle your fairy tales somewhere else.

  • Edward

    Thank you, Dick.

    After sleeping on my response, I wanted to say just what you did: that all the added bureaucracy has resulted in no improvement in quality. In my experience, the improved quality has resulted from more thorough training and especially from more attention to detail by the technicians and engineers. Many errors occur because someone isn’t sure and fails to ask questions, even at the design stage (because quality is designed into the product, not inspected into it; the inspector makes sure that it was built as designed). Maybe SpaceX has successes because its people are smart enough to ask supposedly “stupid” questions.

    The “space culture” must allow everyone to show their ignorance, especially when the instructions say to do it differently this time (because this time it *is* different).

    Bean counters and bureaucrats only add to the costs, not to the quality.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Pushing ideas decades out of date.

    > Are you suggesting that reusable first stages are an out of date idea?

    A ICBM style booster modified to be reusable? Not exactly a new idea,. It just doesn’t work that well since the design for that style expendable doesn’t adapt well to being reused (its like adapting a rail dragster to be a pick up truck) so its a very high cost concept everyone else skipped over. Instead you design a reusable configuration (which is generally cheaper to do in the first place).

    Similarly the Merlin engine design is a old config with limitations so its been droped. Capsules are hard to reuse and expensive due to their complexity compared to something more integrated like the orbiters. etc etc.

    >> No, they are doing it the way everyone else stopped doing it long ago.

    > By “long ago” do you mean *before* the 1990s, ….

    Before the ’60’s mostly, especially in aerospace. Mil and NASA pushed hard for the more analytical systems engineering approach (Von Braun really made that the major effort in the whole moon race program), because the high fatality rates of test pilots, and high initial failure rates in vehicles. Its one of the big reasons the industry went from losing so many test pilots it wasn’t even questioned until 1 out of 4 in the program were killed, to the Saturn V which though it had serious issues, delivered all of its cargos successfully. Or craft like the Atlas-V. Where customers were so confident of reliability, their were paying customers even on the first test flight, and every flight successfully delivered its cargo to orbit.

    >> still having folks saying “we don’t need that useless paperwork” as they drive the companies into the ground that way.

    > I agree that some paperwork is good. The engineer has to communicate the design to the machinists
    > and assemblers somehow,…

    And critically making sure everything it needs to do, the designers were informed about, the testers knew to test for, etc. And you cross check it all to make sure it was all done and all worked before you put a full systms together and launched it – metaphorically or literally ;)

    >… but I have seen the “paperwork factory” go so far overboard that progress comes slowly and at
    > incredible cost; I know I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.

    been there. Sandy McDonnel (then CEO of McDonnell Douglas comment that on two projects. One to stretch one of their airliners for a new customer. The other to make a new configuration of F-15 that was a two manned fighter bomb. The two projects required the same levels of engineering effort and complexity – but the Airliner customer demanded a 80 page contract worthy of paperwork. The F-15E program office demanded 18wheelers full of documentation.
    Or the $100 hammer story I recounted, that was a $1 tool, with $99 of legally demanded paperwork.

    If you do it right, it doesn’t drive your costs up — it actually saves a lot a money be eliminating rework and last minute problems. (I do consulting on this and in one case taught Sikorski how to cut the review, analysis, and change implementation cycle on the engineering specs and designs from 9 moths to 3 weeks on a attack helicopter program, and was credited as a major factor in why it got raves as the best managed such program the Army had ever had.)

    In general a commercial program (or program contracted under commercial rules) to do a identical craft or function, is 4 times cheaper then under NASA full FAR rules (every contractor from those doing the flight planning to mission control staffs, to servicing the craft keeps offering to do the same … always turned down by NASA). A elite team, I mean legends like Scaled under Rutan, or the Shunk works under Kelly Johnson, can cut most of a factor of ten off those costs, since they know the material so well they make a lot fewer mistakes, know all the tricks of the trade etc. Like Space Ship One which was estimated by contractors to have needed to cost over 30 times more if done normally under NASA rules by a standard team.

    ….then there Spac eX, who spend 1/100th as much. $300 million to develop each of the Falcons, vrs $30 billion for NASA boosters of similar types. $200m for Dragon (at least the old version) vers $20 billion for Apollo or Orion.

    >> From what I’ve heard from folks who have worked there – its far worse then what you came from.
    >> Add the issues you listed, and add in a cold arrogance and expectation you’ll do any amount of
    >> hours without the tools etc to make it up.

    > I disagree. I know from talking to their engineers that SpaceX does *not* require 30 signatures…

    True, but they also don’t have the reviews and analysis done the 30 signatures were swearing were done.

    >.. How do these 30 or so signatures improve the process or the product?..

    Those 30 people are certify by their signatures that they made sure all the reviews, analysis, test etc they were responsible for getting done, were done. It legally and contracturally states they accept they were responcible for it, and garrentee it was done. Its not the signatures that take the time. Its making sure they really did their jobs.

    >… How is it improved when a 400 page thermal vacuum test has to be reviewed *in total* for uprev,
    > rather than release a change notice (thus 14 people have to spend their time reviewing all 400 pages,
    > because that is what they are signing)? …

    That’s just a sloppy process. If you do it right you verify which sections were changed, which were impacted by the changes, and review those.

    On same attack helicopter project, my tricked helped get Sikorskies quarterly update and review cycle down to a day or two for the impacted people. Boeing, who pulled all the documents out in hardcopy, brough every leed and their assistents into a big room with all those hardcopies, and went through all the thousands of pages of cross referenced specifications for it together aloud over a couple weeks.
    You can well imagine their reaction when they found out how fast Sikorski was doing their sections of the craft.

    >…, I tried to get that director to change the messed up system, but he didn’t think that even *he* had
    > the power to do it. ..

    Arg.. I’ve been in companies with only a couple dozen folks where no one thinks they have the authority to change or criticize anything, and they paid me top dollar and ignored every word I said. I’ve been in other mega companies doing tens of billions a year, on programs worth potentially hundreds of billions and the top people in the project swung by my cube to talk about my ideas with interest and rapidly implemented even major program and company processes in response. I wrote engineering specs for parts of the life support and environmental systems for Orion, and again top folks (some of which were doing this since the Apollo program) listened to my ideas for engineering changes, and everything was done in a orderly and efficient manor.

    Now I’m on Dream Chaser, in a couple dozen person subsidiary of SNC (also writing specs for life support and environmental systems ) and its keystone cops time. Their remodel of the building was delayed 3 weeks because the execs couldn’t decide which shade of gray they want for the new carpet. No one gets informed of changes, and in our team the boss sneered at such a rediculas idea, and pretty much told me and the other system engineer, were just here as typists to enter in what he says. They don’t even do review meetings. No one “has time” to inform their staffs when design changes are made, so they waste weeks finish specs for already discontinued designs. At the moment they are reallocating functions to several different systems, but they haven’t decided which ones they will do – have no formal change review or approval process – and are having us going ahead to finish and deliver the engineering specs, design work, and even order parts – before they have made up their mind what the systems need to do… so they don’t fall behind schedule.

    ;/

    There’s a huge difference between doing it right, with companies where folks focus on getting results and not their egos that’s its almost impossible to believe. But small doesn’t force efficient. Big doesn’t force slow. On commercial crew its Boeing (known as the most glacial, methodical of the aerospace companies) is over a year ahead of Dream Chaser and SpaceX on finishing their milestones. NASA granted their 2 competitors 6 month deadly extensions, but will likely remember who didn’t need to take so long, and was driving themselves to cut utterly no corners in safty or quality of their work. CST-100 is still a dumb obsolete capsule, but it will be the Rolls-Royce of dumb obsolete capsules, and it will be delivered on time. So I got to give them props.

    > And *that* is why you think that there is so much pork,…

    Oh no… the pork is layers and layers and layers no top of all that. Demands you break up the teams into hundreds of separate team across the country – many doing all the crap you had to with utterly no experience, in the paperwork or engineering. Demands of bureaucratic paperwork in layers on top of all that.

    >… I would have preferred the excitement of NewSpace,…

    Be carefull what you wish for..

    >.. the expansion of space exploration and exploitation…

    Oh fricken hell no.

    >… If only all that wasted money, effort, and talent had gone to cheaper, reusable rockets, more hardware,…

    For the NASA pork avoiding those cheaper reusables etc is a major goal. For the mil, it just keeps getting shot down by congress. Commercials don’t fly enough to see any cost advantage, so don’t care one way or the other.

    >.. It also explains why SLS and Orion cost so much and cannot be used more often than every four years. ..

    Oh no. As I stated done commercially you could cut their costs by a factor of 4, but to get the fact of 100 cost cuts you see with SpaceX, you got to cut the guts out of the program. Which is why the Falcon/Dragons rae so ungodly expensive to operate on top of that.

    Beyond that – the public wants the waste more then the programs. SLS/Orion were designed to maximize costs. Every major aerospace company offered to replace shuttles with craft they garrenteed would be at least 10 times cheaper to operate, and they could develop for well under a tenth od SLS/Orion. NASA refused. So its not that the needed paperwork and management from the big companies drives the costs up to SLS/Orion – Constellation levels.

    >… What you assume to be improvement does not work for the poor shlub engineer on the floor, …

    It really does, and works for the customers – when actually want the products – and save billions on big programs.

  • Kelly Starks

    > SpaceX had a single 1st-stage engine fail on a single mission..

    I count 3, including the first flight to ISS. (the other two resulted in complete losses of ship and cargo.)

    >.. their vehicle is designed to tolerate two failed 1st-stage engines on its way to orbit..

    Interesting bit on that. They designed the Dragon with armored baffles to survive explosions of engines in flight. No one else ever has — because no one else has the kind of failure rates in engines SpaceX has. Suggesting they expected the engines to be well bellow average in quality, but choose not to fix it – but to armor the ship?

    >…There have been no “control drop-outs.” ..

    SpaceX reports and Musks public statements contradict that.

    >..The fact is no amount of reviews, checklists and procedures can prevent a dumb organization from
    > doing dumb things. Witness the Space Shuttle,===it still incorporated design flaws that killed 14 people
    > on two separate catastrophically failed missions.

    Yup. The design reviews etc, the paperwork, analysis, testing, etc you distained, found all those flaws and hundreds of others as dangerous. The companies developed and recommended fixes — and NASA refused the fixes, and ordered the craft to fly regardless of the risk and warnings.

    The procedures can’t save arrogant fools from themselves, but they do allow competent teams from wasting huge amounts of money, and getting a lot of folks killed and equipment turned to scrap.

  • Edward

    > If you do it right …

    That’s what I keep hearing about socialism, too.

    If you do it right, then you skip your 18 wheelers full of paperwork – all that paperwork is the post WWII method of federal procurement and often the Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. way of doing it (because they have to follow FAR regulations and satisfy DCMA). To do it right, make sure that your workers are well trained and conscientious. If you fix every problem by creating yet another rule or piece of paper to fill out, then when you discover that the problem was caused because somebody didn’t follow the rules, what are you going to do: set a rule that everyone will follow the rules? That sounds like gun control advocates, who think that those who break the laws will suddenly start to obey them.

    >>> From what I’ve heard from folks who have worked there – its far worse then what you came from.
    >>> Add the issues you listed, and add in a cold arrogance and expectation you’ll do any amount of
    >>> hours without the tools etc to make it up.
    >> I disagree. I know from talking to their engineers that SpaceX does *not* require 30 signatures…
    > True, but they also don’t have the reviews and analysis done the 30 signatures were swearing were done.

    And yet, it was *because* those 30 signatures, and the rest of the process, cost so much that I was required to get permission from my bosses bosses bosses boss (the director) before I could make any changes, no matter how necessary it was or how required by company policy a change was. And as I said, the process no longer allowed for a change notice, only an entire upRev.

    Before that expensive process was implemented, I only needed six signatures, including my own. We still did reviews, but the financial and time costs were relatively small, and we weren’t required to include unnecessary reviewers. It was the bureaucratic computer tool and associated process that added all the extra expense and made the process take at least five times longer and cost I-have-no-idea-how-much more, but it was enough more that the director had to give permission to spend it.

    Yes, I agree. It was a sloppy freaking process, but that is what that part of Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. insisted upon, and that is what the director could not change (maybe he, his team, or his boss thought it was a good idea, but it was costing him a fortune), at least not while I was still there.

    > Beyond that – the public wants the waste

    The public doesn’t even know about the waste. The public complains about waste, such as $100 hammers and $600 toilets. It is the politicians who want the waste. They can’t help but spend other people’s money (read: yours and mine), as it gets them campaign contributions, which gets them reelected so that they can continue to spend other people’s money. Plus, when they need a little publicity, they can complain to the public about those expensive hammers and toilets (which is how we learned about them in the first place).

    > Instead you design a reusable configuration (which is generally cheaper to do in the first place).

    You have never started a company. I can tell. You can’t start up as a full-up stalwart company – it cannot be done. You have to start small, with a small launcher that uses proven technology, because to develop the new launch technologies that you dream of (e.g. (sc)ramjet launchers) and build all the facilities for the maximum production rate you anticipate will drive you into bankruptcy before you finish the development, much less the first production model. You just can’t start there, which is why no one has ever successfully done so. The closest anyone has ever gotten was Orbital Sciences’ Pegasus, with their technology improvement of an air-dropped booster, but they were in business for eight years and started small, with a contract with NASA for the Transfer Orbital Stage, not Pegasus.

    And a startup sure as hell can’t afford those truckloads of paperwork. They wouldn’t be able to make their first sale, especially since the new, untried launcher would cost as much as the tried and mostly true launcher. If you were a customer, which would you choose? The whole idea of being a NewSpace company is to do the job better than the OldSpace company. So far, SpaceX is doing it better.

    It is even too expensive and non-productive for Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. to design a reusable configuration. Hell, three companies couldn’t even do Single Stage to Orbit, despite their best efforts (and one, Rotory Rocket, went belly up trying).
    All the added bureaucracy over the past decades hasn’t solved the problems and failures. Flight units still fail incoming bench testing, and they still fail after integration onto the spacecraft/launcher/whatever. Flight units are still dropped, damaged during lifts, and even damaged during shake testing. Bureaucracy has not stopped these from happening; it has only added to the cost. We are long past the optimum level of paperwork, workrules, and bureaucracy, and deep into the dark side of these problem-causers. More rules only result in more broken rules.

    The idea behind any bureaucracy is to make sure that even an idiot can do it. Do you really want to fly in an airplane designed or built by idiots?

    >>… What you assume to be improvement does not work for the poor shlub engineer on the floor, …
    > It really does, and works for the customers – when actually want the products – and save billions on big programs.

    I’ve *been* the poor shlub engineer on the floor, burdened with additional bureaucracy and paperwork and more engineers added to the team in order to produce and fill out that bureaucratic paperwork, until the additional tables, chairs, and workers crowd the cleanroom. It does not improve the process; it just adds to the paper mound and adds yet another 18 wheeler to deliver it.

    I’m not talking about eliminating the procedures. They allow assembly teams to do it right the first time. The solutions include training of the workers, care taken by the workers, and workers asking questions when they are unsure. (By the way, your current problems fall under the “care taken by the workers” category; they, or rather the workers in management, are not communicating.) I agree that big doesn’t force slow or expensive; however, bureaucracy does force them. I have worked for bureaucratic departments and effective departments all within the same company, and sometimes even the same program. Give SpaceX credit for skipping the bureaucracy and being effective.

    Bureaucracy (which leads to a no-can-do culture) is driving the talent the hell out of the business. Robert even posted an article on just this problem.

    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/the-flight-of-gifted-engineers-from-nasa/

  • Edward

    > Yup. The design reviews etc, the paperwork, analysis, testing, etc you distained, found all those flaws and hundreds of others as dangerous.

    Thus, you prove the point that all that excessive paperwork is useless when the dumb organization ignores the findings. (You may be surprised that I — and probably Dick, too — consider design reviews, analysis, and testing to be part of good workmanship. The success of Falcon launches and Dragon flights shows that SpaceX believes in them, too, and avoids doing dumb things.)

    The major parts of the solution are not paperwork and bureaucracy but training, workmanship (e.g. attention to detail), and asking questions (speaking up) when something seems less than right.

    Roger Boisjoly spoke up in order to prevent Challenger from launching. Unfortunately, he lost his credibility by reporting, ten months earlier, the exact opposite of what he was warning about that night. He did not do careful workmanship on his earlier report, which said that it was OK to launch under those conditions; he lied, because he thought that they would never come across those conditions again.

    NewSpace does not like the way that OldSpace works; it makes everything expensive and slow. NewSpace needs to quickly adapt to new technologies, do it inexpensively (they are in competition, now), and and don’t need as much long-lived hardware as before (because the technologies are changing so quickly, today’s hardware may be obsolete in a few months rather than years). Even the OldSpace commercial communications satellites become obsolete half way through their lives (which is why no one has yet bothered to make one that lasts much longer than 15 years).

    This essay explains that space and commercial space are changing rapidly (although I hate what-ifs: if it had been this way 3 or 4 decades ago, Kubrick’s vision of 2001 may have come close to true):
    http://www.spacenews.com/article/opinion/41490exponential-technologies-taking-us-beyond-apollo
    “these companies are no longer waiting for the big, bureaucratic and slow-paced space agencies or traditional huge aerospace contractors to open up access to space.”

    And this article explains that NewSpace does not like the cost of OldSpace parts:
    http://www.spacenews.com/article/financial-report/41532small-satellite-entrepreneurs-suppliers-part-ways-on-pricing
    “‘The prices are way too high,’ said an entrepreneur attending the annual Small Satellite Conference Aug. 2-7 at Utah State University here. ‘We would be willing to buy parts but not at these prices.'”

    Well written, well thought out procedures and workrules (the bureaucracy) explain how to do the work, but allow for flexibility when alternatives are available, and they don’t mire the process but enhance it.

    I have fought many battles to avoid additional, expensive, miring paperwork to record out-of-position processes that should be allowed as alternates in the original procedures. Not only does the team not have to stop to “invent an alternate wheel” (because the alternate is provided), but it keeps them from making errors during a rushed wheel-invention process.

    Replace OldSpace bureaucracy with training, workmanship, and questions.

    Oh, and replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Pretty much ditto on everything Edward had to say.

    Now a few comments on selected bits of (mostly) balderdash:

    A ICBM style booster modified to be reusable?… It just doesn’t work that well… Instead you design a reusable configuration (which is generally cheaper to do in the first place).

    Nice summary of what SpaceX did and why they did it. Though describing expendable liquid-fueled boosters as “ICBM-style” may be stretching a point. All U.S. ICBM’s have been solid-fueled for over 50 years. The only American kero-LOX ICBM was Atlas. There has never been a LOX-LH2 ICBM. If by “ICBM-style” you mean a design based on a single, large 1st-stage engine, then you’re quite right. Such designs are essentially impossible to retrofit reusability into. SpaceX never even considered going that route.

    Similarly the Merlin engine design is a old config with limitations so its been droped.

    In the sense that the Merlin employs the very simple and reliable pintle injection system, it’s as old as the Apollo LEM descent engine. But I’m unaware of any other uses made of pintle injector technology in subsequent liquid-fueled engines, except for all of those designed by the guy who has been SpaceX’s propulsion chief since inception when he was at TRW. He left TRW because, while all of his engines performed performed well in testing, none of them were ever flown. He doesn’t have that problem at SpaceX. So, far from being dropped, the large, liquid-fueled, pintle injector engine was repeatedly trotted out, but legacy aerospace just never picked it up. Like many of their past decisions, this one is also not looking too good in retrospect.

    Capsules are hard to reuse and expensive due to their complexity compared to something more integrated like the orbiters. etc etc.

    The Shuttle orbiters were far more complex than any capsule design ever flown. Capsules are hard to reuse when they’ve been designed to be thrown away after use. The current cargo Dragon’s were designed to be reused and they probably will be, eventually. Just not by NASA as they have a problem with used hardware. The Dragon V2’s will certainly be reused – maybe even by NASA, but certainly by Bigelow.

    Or craft like the Atlas-V. Where customers were so confident of reliability, their were paying customers even on the first test flight, and every flight successfully delivered its cargo to orbit.

    The tenth Atlas V launched failed to deliver its cargo to the correct orbit. I really have no idea why you keep posting obvious whoppers like this which are trivially refutable with minimal research. It makes you appear either a fool or someone who imagines the other readers of this site to be fools.

    Oh no. As I stated done commercially you could cut their costs by a factor of 4, but to get the fact of 100 cost cuts you see with SpaceX, you got to cut the guts out of the program. Which is why the Falcon/Dragons rae so ungodly expensive to operate on top of that.

    Uh, let me see if I follow you here. SpaceX has “cut the guts out of” their program in order to reduce costs to 1% of traditional space programs, but that makes the Falcons and Dragons too expensive to fly. Nope. Still can’t figure that out.

    I count 3, including the first flight to ISS. (the other two resulted in complete losses of ship and cargo.)

    Then you ought to count four, as SpaceX had three failed Falcon 1 missions in a row before successfully orbiting payloads on flights four and five of this vehicle. When I said SpaceX had had only a single Merlin engine failure, I was referring to CRS-1 and the Falcon 9. If you want to drag in failures that occurred on every vehicle named “Falcon” perhaps I should include every failure of a vehicle named “Atlas” in the Atlas V’s won-and-lost record. That would make about as much sense. Even so, the three Falcon 1 failures were all due to causes other than the 1st-stage Merlin engine failing so they still don’t belong in the tally.

    Interesting bit on that. They designed the Dragon with armored baffles to survive explosions of engines in flight. No one else ever has — because no one else has the kind of failure rates in engines SpaceX has. Suggesting they expected the engines to be well below average in quality, but choose not to fix it – but to armor the ship?

    Ariane 5’s Vulcain 1st-stage engine has a higher failure rate than the Merlin 1-C & D. 112 of the latter have flown with one failure. 74 Vulcains have flown and two of them failed. In one case the mission was lost. In the other, the failure happened late enough in boost phase that the 2nd stage was still able to get the payload into orbit, just not the correct orbit.

    The RS-68 used on the Delta IV also has a higher failure rate than the Merlin 1-C & D. 41 RS-68’s have flown. On the first flight of the Delta IV Heavy, the RS-68’s on the two outboard common cores failed. One of the payloads was lost. Two others were delivered to incorrect orbits.

    The reason no one else has ever put “armored baffles” on their launch vehicles is that most other launch vehicles have only a single 1st-stage engine. If that one engine blows up, there are no other engines to protect from the shrapnel so what would be the point?

    You see the allowance for catastrophic engine failure in the Falcon 9 design as evidence of dereliction in deciding to use an inferior engine. But, as we have seen, the Merlin is a superior engine.

    I see SpaceX’s design, correctly, as an exercise in the sort of designed-in fault-tolerance that one finds many places in computer technology. Modern disk drives are pretty damned reliable. But they aren’t perfect and they aren’t invulnerable. RAID storage arrays compensate for the fallibility of individual drives by arranging storage so that individual drive failures don’t cause loss of any data.

    SpaceX simply applied this principle to rockets. SpaceX designed the best engine they could. And they did a good job. The Merlin engines have a better track record than do those of two of their major competitors. Not content to merely design and build a superior engine, SpaceX then designed their rocket to complete its mission even if one or two of its engines failed despite best efforts to make them perfect.

    It’s good old-fashioned belt-and-suspenders engineering. And it works. CRS-1 made it to ISS despite a 1st-stage engine-out. It’s also modest engineering. It doesn’t assume infallibility on the part of any component. the SpaceX Falcon 9 has a “Plan B” if an engine or two fail in flight – press on to orbit on the engines that still work. It’s competitors’ vehicles have no “Plan B.” If a main engine fails, the “plan” is the whole vehicle falls out of the sky and blows up.

    Why you regard this as a superior exercise in engineering compared to what SpaceX does is quite beyond my powers of comprehension.

    The design reviews etc, the paperwork, analysis, testing, etc you distained, found all those flaws and hundreds of others as dangerous. The companies developed and recommended fixes — and NASA refused the fixes, and ordered the craft to fly regardless of the risk and warnings.

    I don’t think this is correct. I seem to recall at the Challenger hearings it was disclosed that reviews had not identified the O-rings as a significant risk factor. Recommendations for change may have been made after some flight experience demonstrated that the original O-ring design was inadequate, but I don’t think the problem was caught in pre-operation design reviews. I recall the same being true of the external tank insulation foam shedding which doomed Columbia. I lack sufficient time this A.M. to dig, definitively, into these questions, but, given your track record of wild statements and out-and-out prevarications, I’m hardly going to grant you the benefit of any doubt here.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Yup. The design reviews etc, the paperwork, analysis, testing, etc you distained, found all those
    >> flaws and hundreds of others as dangerous.

    > Thus, you prove the point that all that excessive paperwork is useless when the dumb organization
    > ignores the findings….

    True, nothings fool proof, fools are to resourceful. But the processes did find them, which is why all half decent companies making anything from iPhones to 747’s mandate them. In the face of NASA insisting on ignoring issues, but quadrupling the costs with unnecessary redundant reports etc they have no intention to listen to either, but are politically critical. Whole other issue

    >… (You may be surprised that I — and probably Dick, too — consider design reviews, analysis, and
    > testing to be part of good workmanship. …

    Given you’ve been adamantly arguing against that, yes.

    >…The success of Falcon launches and Dragon flights shows that SpaceX believes in them, too, ..

    Guiven all the failures in the Falcons and Dragons, and the fact they reportedly don’t spend anything like a tenth what a competent company would on projects of that complexity (much less spend 1/100th as much as said competent companies would spend building the same craft under NASA rules …. no it adamantly proves they do not beleave in them, or even attepts to do them.

    Given your argument boils down to – SpaceX the start up with no great expertise, is able to do everything involved not just in space projects, but in engineering, purchasing, testing.. everything involved in doing any engineering development.. dozens of times cheaper then anyone else in history at the same quality. That they are orders of maginitude better then any engineering team of any type, ever in history… That the major critical processes all other engineering fields have turned themselves inside out to use due to the spectacular resulting improvements in cost, quality, reliability, are really just a waste of time “real engineers” like Musk and crew have no need of, and can do thing orders of magnitude cheaper without..

    I’ld say your belief in Musk and space’s magical powers, is reaching that of a religious cult.

    I on the other hand, take more seriously comments from the industrial association members, other new space etc managers, business analysts… and accident reports.

    >.. The major parts of the solution are not paperwork and bureaucracy but training, workmanship (e.g.
    > attention to detail), and asking questions (speaking up) when something seems less than right.

    Which are things that get you fired in spaceX.

    > Roger Boisjoly spoke up in order to prevent Challenger from launching. Unfortunately, he lost his credibility
    > by reporting, ten months earlier, the exact opposite of what he was warning about that night. ..

    To be fair, the Challenger accident had been predicted after the third flight, fix developed, and several other cat-1 launch criteria were violated by launching that day. So its not that Roger was the only one that saw the problem, or expected something like what happened to Challenger.

    > NewSpace does not like the way that OldSpace works; it makes everything expensive and slow….

    There you go again with your faith. Ive worked in old space and new space companies on the same projects to develop the same kinds of systems. Yet its the newspace guys who are slow, political, and inefficient.

    >.. NewSpace needs to quickly adapt to new technologies,…

    Actually none are really using new technologies, materials to any significant degree. Nor are the designs new. A spaceX capsule wouldn’t seem that different then designs of the ’50’s other then modern electronics. Same with the engines and boosters. Dream chasers aero hull looks like models from Air Force labs in the ’50’s. Doesn’t use exotic materials etc. Comparing that to say modern fighters with cutting edge materials etc.

    Compare the X-37B to dream chaser, Dragon etc. Then look at the real cutting edge stuff, like composites laminate hulls panels a third of a inch thick, that replace everything out from the frame (hull panels, heat shields, etc). Fiber reinforced ceramic composites that can resist heat so well rocket engines made out of them don’t need any cooling. Or even Orbiteks like Vortex rocket engine that swirls fuel and LOx in a way that rocket engines made out of Plexiglas don’t meant even though there is no cooling system. Designs like the BlackHorse that could go from runways to orbit in a single peace rocket plane, or Star-Raker, or libraries full of other better ideas ignored to rebuild the old crap — just in a crappier, less well built version..

    >.. do it inexpensively (they are in competition, now), and and don’t need as much long-lived hardware
    > as before (because the technologies are changing so quickly,

    And Boeing L/M, etc had no competition in their gov funded contracts, in comparison with the COTS and CC programs?

    No NewSpace has generally not done, or been receptive to cutting edge stuff, nor has the expertise needed to use them.
    >…: if it had been this way 3 or 4 decades ago, Kubrick’s vision of 2001 may have come close to true):

    The problem is that the lack of a market didn’t change since the ’60’s. No ones gotten past the gov and a few sat using markets.

    Its why the big companies were drooling over the potential if NewSpace like companies could find and prove, or nurture into existence, a new market. With that they could convince their stockholders to let them develop craft for those new markets. (Early innovators seldom make the big bucks in newmarkets, and a SpaceX, Pioneer, SNC, etc could never compete with a real effort by by the major firms in a market, once stockholders realize their is a market to compete for.)

    >… And this article explains that NewSpace does not like the cost of OldSpace parts:

    And yet that’s where they rae getting them from, since no one else will even try to supply them to that quality for less.

    Actually on Dream Chaser here the big whine is the vendors are dropping out of the market for the parts, and the few remaining credible suppliers even for basic things like valves, heat exchangers, etc .. have so downsized orders need to be placed a year or more in advance. We’re having to redesign systems around what types of parts still have a vendor who can supply them in time, even if they add higher risks and costs.

    > Oh, and replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.

    Agree.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> A ICBM style booster modified to be reusable?… It just doesn’t work that well… Instead you design a reusable configuration (which is generally cheaper to do in the first place).

    >.. describing expendable liquid-fueled boosters as “ICBM-style” may be stretching a point.
    > All U.S. ICBM’s have been solid-fueled for over 50 years. ..

    True, the whole booster on capsule config is a 1950’s configuration. Developed not because it was the best even by the standards of the ’50’s. But because they had production lines cranking out RedStone, Atlas, and Titan missles. So dropping a reentry pod on the nose was a quick and dirty way to put folk up for a couple hours or days to see if humans could take it. No one back then would have dreamed theiors 1950’s era Mercuries and Apollo designs would still be echoed by a would be commercial production vendor. They had already started on the more advanced designs like the current X-37B, or the various RlV designs of the last 60 years.

    >> Similarly the Merlin engine design is a old config with limitations so its been droped.

    > In the sense that the Merlin employs the very simple and reliable pintle injection system, it’s as
    > old as the Apollo LEM descent engine. But I’m unaware of any other uses made of pintle injector
    > technology in subsequent liquid-fueled engines,…

    They had stability problems for bigger engines, so designs seen as more expandable were focused on. Given said other designs have proven capable of being very economical and relyable and durable (something Merlins can’t do even on there scales) theirs no real good reason to reinvent the wheel, and duplicate a old pour wheel design.

    In general the whole idea of starting up your own rocket engine firm is nuts. Theres a lot of good stuff on the shelf, and good production companies you could just buy for less? Esp[ecial when the later would come with a turn key team/facility you could use to develop far better designs like combine cycles etc.

    >> Capsules are hard to reuse and expensive due to their complexity compared to something more
    >> integrated like the orbiters. etc etc.

    > The Shuttle orbiters were far more complex than any capsule design ever flown. —

    Actually no. They were much bigger, and included things like the cargo bay and wings, but as a system it was simpler and cheaper to design, and was built to higher standards of redundancy and reliability.. Costing about 20% less to develop (in same year dollars) then Apollo and Orion’s capsule/SM’s. (Problems we often discussed on Orion. often with black humor in design reviews.) And they also included the functions of one of the booster stages

    >..Capsules are hard to reuse when they’ve been designed to be thrown away after use. ..

    No they are more complicated, and take harder thermal and structural loads in flight. and you need to cram all that complexity and capability in a little light capsule. So its much harder to make a reusable capsule.

    >>..Or craft like the Atlas-V. Where customers were so confident of reliability, their were paying
    >> customers even on the first test flight, and every flight successfully delivered its cargo to orbit.

    > The tenth Atlas V launched failed to deliver its cargo to the correct orbit…

    The customer said that orbit was fine with them, so it was a successful delivery. In contrast the Falcons have delivered a few into the ocean, and a lot of their flights were demo etc flights with no one willing to pay to put their cargo on them. Not a minor difference.

    >> Oh no. As I stated done commercially you could cut their costs by a factor of 4, but to get the
    >> fact of 100 cost cuts you see with SpaceX, you got to cut the guts out of the program. Which
    >> why the Falcon/Dragons rae so ungodly expensive to operate on top of that.

    > Uh, let me see if I follow you here. SpaceX has “cut the guts out of” their program in order
    > to reduce costs to 1% of traditional space programs, but that makes the Falcons and Dragons too
    > expensive to fly. ..

    NO, I said the dev programs were done at 1% of the dev programs of similar normally contracted
    NASA programs. The operating costs (total program cost per flight) is over $400M a flight, which is damn high for a 4 tom transport under SAR contracting rules.

    > When I said SpaceX had had only a single Merlin engine failure, I was referring to CRS-1 and the Falcon 9.

    So the other Merlin failures on the other Falcon launches don’t count?

    > If you want to drag in failures that occurred on every vehicle named “Falcon” perhaps I should include
    > every failure of a vehicle named “Atlas” in the Atlas V’s won-and-lost record…

    Given all the Falcons used essentially the same systems (give or take significant config changes on virtually all flights – which is another big issue ) the multiple explosions of Merlin engines in flight, counts as multiple engine failures.. If you know comparable failure records for RD-180’s or RL-10s, or the D-4s engines etc – those would be a appropriate argument for the merlins.

    > That would make about as much sense. Even so, the three Falcon 1 failures were all due to causes
    > other than the 1st-stage Merlin engine failing..

    They use Merlins on both stages.

    > ….On the first flight of the Delta IV Heavy, the RS-68′s on the two outboard common cores failed. ..

    Actually what I read on that was not that the engines failed, but the tanks did “The leading cause of the anomaly remains a cavitation-type disturbance of the liquid oxygen flow that caused the liquid oxygen to change to gaseous oxygen.” to quote “http://www.spacedaily.com/news/rocketscience-05b.html” Do you have any more detail then that?

    > The reason no one else has ever put “armored baffles” on their launch vehicles is that most other
    > launch vehicles have only a single 1st-stage engine…

    Most is not all. Granted there is the other issue of better reliability with fewer engines, but the fact no other multi engine booster does this was my point. The Merlin fails more, and the Falcons have a unigue design feature to deal with major engine failures.

    >.. SpaceX designed the best engine they could…

    Why not spend less and get better engines others market? Or spend about as much and buy the company that makes the better engines?

    >> The design reviews etc, the paperwork, analysis, testing, etc you distained, found all those
    >> flaws and hundreds of others as dangerous. The companies developed and recommended
    >> fixes — and NASA refused the fixes, and ordered the craft to fly regardless of the risk and warnings.

    > I don’t think this is correct. I seem to recall at the Challenger hearings it was disclosed that reviews
    > had not identified the O-rings as a significant risk factor. Recommendations for change may have been
    > made after some flight experience demonstrated that the original O-ring design was inadequate, but
    > I don’t think the problem was caught in pre-operation design reviews….

    I can’t remember about the O-ring for sure. You could be right that they didn’t realize it until the 3 rd flight when they got a SRB back and saw the failure. I do remember the hearing found the improved design had be finalized years before, but NASA was trying to slide it in under some unrelated SRB upgrade program, rather then raise it as a issue that needed resolving.

    Foam strike was always a issue that the contractors warned about, but NASA insisted couldn’t seriously damage the craft. Admitting the rain of ice from older craft like the Saturn-Vs could have damaged them, and the shuttles did and would take “some damage” but they insisted even after losing Columbia that it couldn’t seriously damage the orbiters. (a Collage classmate was the flight director ordering the contractors on Columbia to drop it, since NASA experts had assured everyone it couldn’t happen, and no crew could be rescued if it did.)

  • Kelly Starks

    Oh as to the basic issue of fools trashing craft regardless of design reviews etc.

    Shuttle was never designed to launch at all under those weather conditions on the day Challenger was lost. Flight control systems in shuttles weren’t design to operate when that cold. The pads were never designed to do a launch under weather those conditions that bad (they had had freezing rain, and all the pad systems, and walkways – including the escape routes, were covered in melting ice. High altitude wind sheers, and sea states were beyond the design limits of the shuttles and recovery vessels. Had they followed those basic weather limitations – Challenger would have flown successfully.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    You ignored my point that excessive paperwork does not find errors. Excessive paperwork just adds 18 wheelers to the delivery process.

    I have not been arguing against design reviews, analysis, or testing, and I have absolutely no idea where you ever got that idea. Supporting SpaceX in its use of reduced bureaucracy is not evidence of stupidity. It is evidence of knowledge that OldSpace, FAR, and DCMA have added so much bureaucracy to the process that it is unnecessarily mired during production, yet still making the same errors. Indeed, SpaceX’s series of successes suggests that the distractions from productivity may be a factor in such errors. If SpaceX didn’t believe in reviews, analysis, or testing, then they would have started launching humans a couple of years ago, just stick an O2 tank in a Dragon, and off they go (since reviews, analysis, and testing would have demonstrated what a bad idea that is). Grasshopper and the recent tests to return Falcon 9 rockets to soft landings on water demonstrate that SpaceX actually *does* believe in testing, so just how slipshod can they be? The point is that they are taking the necessary time to do it right.

    I enjoy your iPhone example. My brother works on one of the iPhone development teams, and he is not nearly as mired as I have been. I would have to conclude that SpaceX uses similar design, development, and production philosophies as Apple, rather than the bogged down, bureaucratic, expensive, schedule-slipping OldSpace companies. (BTW, even the iPhone is not problem free. They had a bad introduction to their maps and directions app during release, as several people pointed out anomalies in the first week or so. Thus you accidentally made Dick Eagleson’s point that reviews, checklists, and procedures cannot save every product every time.)

    There is no convincing you, however, that even the companies that you believe to be perfectly run, though as you say at 100 times the cost, are not as perfect as you believe. They, too, have anomalies during flight, but you conveniently ignore those while pointing out any (and then some – read: make up some) that occur for SpaceX. You also single out SpaceX for this treatment, ignoring that all the NewSpace companies are not over-bureaucratized (and should be able to continue to avoid it, as long as they don’t succumb to government’s FAR regulations and DCMA oversight).

    If you think that SpaceX has no great expertise, then you must think that rocket science is pretty easy stuff, considering that they reliably deliver customer payloads and test Grasshoppers and other hardware intended to develop reusable first stages.

    Returning a first stage to Earth for reuse is also cutting edge technology. No one has done it before, and the technology to do so needs to be worked out.

    Cubesats are new technology, especially by your definition, since you consider composites (a 50-year old technology) to be cutting edge. You see, you consider using composites in new ways to be cutting edge, thus the use of existing materials to make cubesats is cutting edge by your definition. These cubesats and other smallsats are filling what you consider a lack of a market. There really is a market, which is why there are so many NewSpace companies.

    Because there is a market, just no transportation or alternate space stations, several countries and companies are drooling for NewSpace habitats and manned launch services to begin so that they can do their own things without NASA getting in their way (e.g. requiring that data collected on ISS become public in five years) or without the excessive expense of OldSpace launch rockets.

    It’s interesting that you should choose Boeing and Lockheed Martin as your example of competition, considering that they teamed up to form ULA in order to be the sole-source (for those readers who don’t know: this means competition-free) supplier of launch services for the Air Force.

    > So its not that Roger was the only one that saw the problem, or expected something like what happened to Challenger.

    Actually, it was Roger who was in charge of that effort. He was the one who analyzed the O-ring burnthroughs, recommended the fix, and gave NASA a bogus report – expecting similar conditions to never occur again. Thanks to his attention to the matter, many people knew of the problem, which is why his recommended fix was six months underway when Challenger happened.

    > Actually on Dream Chaser here the big whine is the vendors are dropping out of the market for the parts.

    Yeah, I have run into that problem, too.

  • Dick Eagleson

    like the current X-37B

    The X-37B is a nice piece of work, but it’s not a manned vehicle. And it has to be launched with a payload shroud which Dream Chaser, its most directly comparable manned vehicle, does not.

    They had stability problems for bigger engines, so designs seen as more expandable were focused on.

    A TRW document published by AIAA in 2000 says otherwise. No combustion instabilities in designs ranging from 5 lbf to 650,000 lbf.

    Given said other designs have proven capable of being very economical and relyable and durable (something Merlins can’t do

    Merlins have proven very reliable in service and have been tested to ten times the firing duration needed to reach orbit. You have refuted none of the comparative reliability data I cited. You can write anything you like, but that doesn’t make it factual.

    In general the whole idea of starting up your own rocket engine firm is nuts. Theres a lot of good stuff on the shelf, and good production companies you could just buy for less?

    Elon has told the story many times of how he went to all the legacy rocket companies, even the Russians, to see what he could buy. Every one of them wanted insane amounts of money for engines and every other part in their catalogs. Elon didn’t start out to found a rocket company, but he had to because the incumbents were incapable of building anything as economical as he needed. The Merlin is an excellent engine and probably costs SpaceX well under a million bucks each to produce. Tell me what comparable “off the shelf” engine can be had for that little?

    Esp[ecial when the later would come with a turn key team/facility you could use to develop far better designs like combine cycles etc.

    My understanding of the term “combined cycle” is that it refers to things like the turbo-ramjets that powered the SR-71 or to ramjet-scramjet combos that exist, thus far, strictly as test articles that have flown for, at most, a few seconds at a time. What has any of this got to do with rocket engines?

    Actually no. They were much bigger, and included things like the cargo bay and wings, but as a system it was simpler and cheaper to design, and was built to higher standards of redundancy and reliability.

    This is counterfactual nonsense. NASA, itself, used to describe Shuttle orbiters as the most complex machines ever to fly in space – like that was a good thing. Shuttle orbiters had many systems not shared with capsules, like aerodynamic control surfaces. Even the systems they had in common with capsules, such as a thermal protection system, were vastly more complex. Apollo heat shields were one-piece units. The Shuttle famously had thousands of labor-intensive tiles, no two exactly alike, plus thermal blankets. The Shuttle also had propulsion systems several times more complex than those on capsules or even on service modules. What it didn’t ever have, even though capsules did, was a launch abort system to save the crew. Too much additional complexity I guess. Have to draw the line somewhere.

    No they are more complicated, and take harder thermal and structural loads in flight. and you need to cram all that complexity and capability in a little light capsule. So its much harder to make a reusable capsule.

    Those thermal and structural loads are spread over a much smaller and sturdier vehicle. The Dragon and Dragon V2 are resusable. QED. What possesses you to spout this sort of bilge? Who do you imagine you are snowing with it?

    The customer said that orbit was fine with them, so it was a successful delivery.

    The customer was NRO. The payloads were a pair of ocean surveillance satellites. Lower orbits meant shorter service life. The NRO had no choice but to make do, but I doubt anyone at NRO thought the booby prize orbit was “fine.” The Atlas V screwed up. It was not a successful mission, it just wasn’t a total loss.

    In contrast the Falcons have delivered a few into the ocean,

    The first Falcon 1 fell into the ocean. That’s not a “few” unless you mean the Dragon capsules coming back from ISS. Those are supposed to be “delivered” into the ocean.

    and a lot of their flights were demo etc flights with no one willing to pay to put their cargo on them. Not a minor difference.

    I believe the fourth Falcon 1 flight and the first Falcon 9 flight went up with dummy payloads. That’s two out of 16 flights to-date. I wouldn’t characterize that as “a lot,” but your mileage apparently varies.

    NO, I said the dev programs were done at 1% of the dev programs of similar normally contracted
    NASA programs. The operating costs (total program cost per flight) is over $400M a flight, which is damn high for a 4 tom transport under SAR contracting rules.

    The development program was done at 10% of the usual NASA costs. The operational flights are $133.3 million each – $1.6 billion divided by 12 missions. We’ve been over this before over on Space Politics. I demolished your goofy notion that SpaceX missions cost three times what they actually do over there. I’m not going to rehash that here. Anyone interested can go to Space Politics and look it up.

    So the other Merlin failures on the other Falcon launches don’t count?
    the multiple explosions of Merlin engines in flight, counts as multiple engine failures.

    There has been exactly one in-flight failure of a Merlin engine. It wasn’t an explosion. There aren’t any others to count.

    They use Merlins on both stages.

    Of the Falcon 9, yes. On the Falcon 1, no. The Falcon 1 2nd-stage engine was a small pressure fed unit called a Kestrel. No second stage Merlin on any Falcon 9 flight has ever blown up. No Kestrel ever blew up on a Falcon 1 mission either.

    “The leading cause of the anomaly remains a cavitation-type disturbance of the liquid oxygen flow that caused the liquid oxygen to change to gaseous oxygen.”

    Okay, so the RS-68 engines didn’t fail on their own, they just shut off when they started sucking gas instead of liquid oxidizer. The mission still failed. Funny how all those sacred design reviews wind up not catching stuff like this, eh?

    Most is not all.

    True. But I don’t know of any other multi-engine launch vehicle in service except Antares. Do you? Antares only has two engines. If one of them blows up, the other engine doesn’t have enough thrust to prevent loss of mission so there’s no point in adding the weight of a useless “armored baffle” in this case; lose one engine and you’re toast. For SpaceX-style engine containment shields to make sense, there have to be enough engines to make saving the mission possible if one of them spontaneously disassembles as the saying goes. Generally, it’s rocket engines with highly stressed turbomachinery that are at risk of actual blowups so some of the smaller launchers that have debuted recently with Falcon 9-like design features, though in miniature, probably don’t employ engine containment shields because they use pressure fed engines.

    Granted there is the other issue of better reliability with fewer engines

    You seem entirely uneducable on this rather simple point. Fewer engines do not offer better inherent reliability for a launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 can – and has – lost an engine and completed its mission. A single engine failure on the 1st-stage of an Ariane 5, a Delta IV or an Atlas V is a guaranteed loss of mission. QED.

    but the fact no other multi engine booster does this was my point. The Merlin fails more, and the Falcons have a unigue design feature to deal with major engine failures.

    As I’ve pointed out, it takes a certain minimum number of engines to make adding shrapnel shields worthwhile. The Merlins, as I believe I have demonstrated, do not fail more. Especially when you mistake Kestrels for Merlins. About the “unique design feature,” yup, sure does. And it works too!

    Why not spend less and get better engines others market? Or spend about as much and buy the company that makes the better engines?

    As noted previously, there are no better engines and certainly not for less. If you know of another engine in the Merlin 1-D thrust class that goes for less than a million a pop, don’t hesitate to let us all know. I like to do my Xmas shopping early.

    Oh yeah. As there are no engines with the characteristics you suggest – except the Merlin 1-D, of course – the notion of buying the producer of less capable, more expensive engines is kind of a pointless non-starter.

    but they insisted even after losing Columbia that it couldn’t seriously damage the orbiters

    So NASA had people on its payroll who couldn’t accept obvious facts even after they were plainly and flagrantly apparent even to laymen. That’s called delusion and denial. Where have we seen that around here?

  • Edward42

    > Shuttle was never designed to launch at all under those weather conditions on the day Challenger was lost.

    Actually, yes it was supposed to have been. That was the design requirement and the specification, and that is why Roger Boisjoly gave a report to NASA saying that the SRBs were suitable to use at 29 degrees. The discrepancy between that report and Boisjoly’s concern ten months later is why there was so much contention and questioning during the Thiokol/Marshall conference call.

    There were no rules broken, because they did not have rules requiring that they let the pad or spacecraft soak in warmer air to allow for ice to melt. The launch rules only specified the temperature below which they were not allowed to launch, not how to recover from such low temperatures. That is why they launched under those conditions.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> If you do it right …

    > That’s what I keep hearing about socialism, too.
    >
    > If you do it right, then you skip your 18 wheelers full of paperwork – all that paperwork is the post WWII method
    > of federal procurement and often the Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. way of doing it (because they have to follow FAR
    > regulations and satisfy DCMA)….

    NO!!!!!! As I’ve said were not talking about that paperwork. Were talking about the normal systems engineering requirements validation, design, and testing documentation and configuration control that’s been moving into all commercial (or gov) development programs SINCE IT DRAMATICLY LOWERS COSTS AND INCREASES QUALITY. In other words the standard professional way to do any significant systems development process in aerospace, pharmaceuticals, automotive, telecommunication, etc.

    And yes in all those places I get hired in to bring them up to speed and implement you get some old timers insisting real engineers don’t need documents telling how to design and build things – they just know! And testers arguing they don’t need to know what exactly its supposed to do to make sure its doing it. Some admit they were wrong afterwards when they see how much faster and easier it all goes with it, some don’t — some companies back out of implanting things due to internal resistance..and general have huge collapses pretty quickly after that.

    So yes when you have a group like SpaceX where “no one wastes time with all that, just do it” I’m not at all surprised SpaceX (and Teesla, and Solar city) reports a lot of quality problems and has “incidents”.

    >>>> From what I’ve heard from folks who have worked there – its far worse then what you came from.
    >>>> Add the issues you listed, and add in a cold arrogance and expectation you’ll do any amount of
    >>>> hours without the tools etc to make it up.

    >>> I disagree. I know from talking to their engineers that SpaceX does *not* require 30 signatures…

    >> True, but they also don’t have the reviews and analysis done the 30 signatures were swearing were done.

    > And yet, it was *because* those 30 signatures, and the rest of the process, cost so much…

    Yeah it really is prohibitively expensive to get folks to sign that they actually reviewed things for issues. Perhaps its the actually doing their jobs and making sure that worked they were signing acceptance of cost money?

    >> Beyond that – the public wants the waste

    > The public doesn’t even know about the waste. ..

    That’s pretty much all they know about NASA. All they call in to defend and support.

    >… It is the politicians who want the waste. .. as it gets them campaign contributions, which gets them reelected …

    Exactly. Bring home the bacon and the big and little people reward you with donations and votes. Voters demand pork, though they want it called something else. Like to see it as getting the fair share of the pie, but its still pork.

    >> you design a reusable configuration (which is generally cheaper to do in the first place).

    >… You have to start small, with a small launcher that uses proven technology, because to develop the new launch
    > technologies that you dream of…

    Actually I’m talking off the shelf 40-50 year old technology available on order from the vendor. Like Mach 6 turbo ramrets that P&W and RR both insisted were cheep off the shelf products. Or long duration rocket engines (the company I was trying to start with a RLV would need a different size then off the shelf – but spaceX wouldn’t have). Hull panels that could take years of flights with such temps that have decades of operational history on mil craft (though moving on to newer composites rated for up to $5400 F looked more reasonable).

    And also when you start up a company – you don’t start by doing it all yourself, when you can just buy off the shelf.

    Like I said, The Falcons and dragons are a HIGHER COST way to get your company its first flights to orbit, which are HIGHER COST per flight afterwards.

    >…. They wouldn’t be able to make their first sale, especially since the new, untried launcher would cost as
    > much as the tried and mostly true launcher. …

    In a sence true, the Falcons and Dragons developed professionally should cost about what all the other ELVs should, which cost more then RLV’s would.. The fact he did it the most expensive way – but spent dozens of times less then any other similar commercial dev program, and a 100 times cheaper then a similar NASA raises obvious suspicions about the amazing cost savings.

    > It is even too expensive and non-productive for Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. to design a reusable configuration. ..

    Its not, and they have all stated that on multiple occasions

    ..

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    >> NewSpace does not like the way that OldSpace works; it makes everything expensive and slow….
    > There you go again with your faith.

    Except that engineering does not work on faith. As with science, there are analyses, reviews, and even tests to make sure things work as expected. In fact, both of the destroyed Shuttles happened after the engineers saw that something was not working as expected. Fixes were not high enough on the priority list, so they didn’t occur soon enough to prevent tragedy.

    >>.. It also explains why SLS and Orion cost so much and cannot be used more often than every four years. ..
    > Oh no. As I stated done commercially you could cut their costs by a factor of 4, but to get the fact of 100 cost cuts you see with SpaceX, you got to cut the guts out of the program. Which is why the Falcon/Dragons rae so ungodly expensive to operate on top of that.

    That goes toward my point that you have never started your own company. In order to be competitive, you have to beat the competition in one or more of three things: cost, technology, or service. Generally, in the launch business, the customer does not care whether you get his payload uphill using combine cycles; RD-180s, RL-10s, or D-4s; liquid engines or solid rockets; scramjet stages; single stage to orbit; or space elevators. He is concerned about price. Launch services are a commodity, and lowest price on a reliable system wins. (A restaurant, however, may do well with better-tasting food (tech) or service with a smile.)

    In starting a company, you may have to go with a cheap facility and spend too little in development to afford the lowest operating cost, you may have to go with old technologies that get the job done, and you may have to lose money for a while in order to attract customers (e.g. Apple Computer started in a garage and encased their Apple I in a wood enclosure). But once you are started, you can spend the R&D to do better in operational costs (e.g. the Apple II was zoomier and built on an assembly line in rented space). SpaceX is no different, except that their first CRS contract performs to the lowest price available per pound delivered. Compared with the ATV’s $5 billion price tag for 55,000 lbs of delivered supplies, SpaceX can deliver around 80,000 lbs to the ISS for a price tag of less than $2 billion.

    (I anticipate that you will again reiterate your claim of a large number of failed deliveries, but so far, nothing has been lost – all has been delivered.)

    I know that you would have preferred that SpaceX use a winged spacecraft that lands on a runway, but the capsule design is tried and true technology and was inexpensive to implement. Their manned craft is designed to return on land, so they are getting closer to an ideal quick-turnaround system. I’m sure that they will continue to be the innovation leader – the Apple Computer of the space industry.

    SpaceX may not do things exactly as you would, but then Apple Computer probably doesn’t do things as you would, either. Both companies are doing well enough with the methods that they each use.

    > In general the whole idea of starting up your own rocket engine firm is nuts. Theres a lot of good stuff on the shelf, and good production companies you could just buy for less? Esp[ecial when the later would come with a turn key team/facility you could use to develop far better designs like combine cycles etc.
    (From another Kelly comment) > Why not spend less and get better engines others market? Or spend about as much and buy the company that makes the better engines?

    Musk may have thought that he could do better or wanted to make sure that his engine vendor does not change or discontinue the line. I know someone who worked 18 months on a product, based upon a specific IC chip, and just as he was about to go into production, the chip manufacturer sent a note that he was taking last orders because the line was going to be shut down.

    Was there a company that Musk could have bought for the same price as his cost to develop the Merlin?

    To both Kelly and Dick,
    > I can’t remember about the O-ring for sure. You could be right that they didn’t realize it until the 3 rd flight when they got a SRB back and saw the failure.

    Sociologist Diane Vaughn wrote about this in “The Challenger Launch Decision.” She called it “normalization of deviance,” because the engineers saw that the O-rings did not perform as designed (the deviance) but they decided that it was OK anyway (the normalization). It wasn’t until the January 1985 launch that Boisjoly decided that the damage was potentially catastrophic under temperature conditions that the Shuttle was required to be able to launch.

  • Kelly Starks

    >You ignored my point that excessive paperwork does not find errors. Excessive paperwork just adds 18
    > wheelers to the delivery process.
    >
    > I have not been arguing against design reviews, analysis, or testing, and I have absolutely no idea where you
    > ever got that idea.

    Because that IS what you’ve been arguing since you keep labeling all paperwork, review cycles etc etc that I’m talking about as “excessive paperwork” regardless of how many times I try to explicitly explain the difference between the 18 wheelers full of gov overhead waste, from say the van full of paperwork for the hundreds of thousands to millions of requirements for aircraft or space craft, each checked of as reviewed and approved as correct, and correctly designed to meet, and successfully tested.

    You keep assuming the big commercial firms don’t know how to effectly do something quickly and cheaply, even though its the NewSpace companies that take Forever to get something working, and the big old firms that can turn out huge leaps ahead in a fraction of the time WHEN THE GOV ISN’T DEMANDING THEY SLOW DOWN AND DO THE DEMANDED WASTE. Compare the DC-X program, or SR-71’s all the other mil or cutting edge commercial stuff compared to SpaceX, or Blue, or Dream Chaser or the long list dead New spacers.

    >…I would have to conclude that SpaceX uses similar design, development, and production philosophies as Apple, …

    Oh hell no. Not according to any one I know whove worked or visited there. Nor do Musks statements, or the results, suggest so.

    >…though as you say at 100 times the cost, ….

    No Gov contracts run 100 times are much, big aero firms doing this commercially would normally run about 25 times SpaceX.

    >.. are not as perfect as you believe. They, too, have anomalies during flight, —

    Yeah, just far far fewer and less serious — as I’ve said repeatedly despite your protests to the counter..

    >…You also single out SpaceX for this treatment, ignoring that all the NewSpace companies are not
    > ver-bureaucratized..

    Actually the other NewSpace companies cost are more inline with industry norms. SNC spewnt significantly more just doing Dreamchaser then Musk spent developing both Falcons and dragon combined. I think theyll be spending enough just on the life support and cooling systems to pay for more then half of what SpaceX spent getting the Dragons to production.

    You have to remember, it takes 10 times as much to develop and get into production a new model car or small aircraft then SpaceX says they spent on Dragon. So this assumption that SpaceX can do it all orders of maginitude cheaper then anyone else in any even roughly similar engineering project …. that’s a level of faith that’s really unjustified.

    >.. If you think that SpaceX has no great expertise, then you must think that rocket science is pretty easy stuff,
    > considering that they reliably deliver customer payloads and test Grasshoppers and other..

    They don’t deliver them that relyable, and Grasshoper was hardly a difficult project.

    >… you consider composites (a 50-year old technology) to be cutting edge. ..

    Composites that can take 5400 degrees F temps, are not that old.

    >… These cubesats and other smallsats are filling what you consider a lack of a market. ..

    No that really isn’t a significant market.

    > Because there is a market, just no transportation or alternate space stations, several countries and companies
    > are drooling for NewSpace habitats and manned launch services to begin so that they can do their own
    > things without NASA getting in their way (e.g. requiring that data collected on ISS become public in five years)
    > or without the excessive expense of OldSpace launch rockets.

    There is some interest from a lot of companies — but no ones signing big orders. Hence when investors would give a thumbs up to develop things for it.

    > It’s interesting that you should choose Boeing and Lockheed Martin as your example of competition, considering
    > that they teamed up to form ULA in order to be the sole-source– supplier of launch services for the Air Force.

    Specificly to lower costs to the customer. There just wasn’t enough market globally to warrant both the Delta-IV and Atlas-V, and the overhead for two companies supporting only a handful of flights a year was getting rediculas.

    > > So its not that Roger was the only one that saw the problem, or expected something like what happened to Challenger.

    > Actually, it was Roger who was in charge of that effort. …

    But he wasn’t the only one who saw it.

    >…He was the one who analyzed the O-ring burnthroughs, recommended the fix, and gave NASA a bogus
    > report – expecting similar conditions to never occur again. …

    But the recovery crews were seeing the burn throughs on every SRB recovered.

    >… his recommended fix was six months underway when Challenger happened.

    Actually I remember reports that it had been finished years earlier?

    >> Actually on Dream Chaser here the big whine is the vendors are dropping out of the market for the parts.

    > Yeah, I have run into that problem, too.

    Aerospace is a dieing business in the UZS — accelerated by Musk.

  • Kelly Starks

    Hell the orbiter hydrolics etc weren’t even rated for freezing temperatures, much less covered in ice, or high altitude wind sheers. These were all listed as CAT-1 no go criteria. They had 5 that day. NASA dismissed that and ordered the contractors to launch anyway.

  • Kelly Starks

    >>> NewSpace does not like the way that OldSpace works; it makes everything expensive and slow….

    >> There you go again with your faith.

    > Except that engineering does not work on faith.

    But your statement that the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast to NewSpace who you suggest can do as well at lower cost is more faith then fact or history.

    >…As with science, there are analyses, reviews, and even tests to make sure things work as expected. In fact,
    > both of the destroyed Shuttles happened after the engineers saw that something was not working as expected.
    > Fixes were not high enough on the priority list, so they didn’t occur soon enough to prevent tragedy.

    It was worse then that. Fixes were rejected by the agency when they would significantly lower operating costs. They’ld rather risk losing lives then voter support from the waste.

    >>>.. It also explains why SLS and Orion cost so much and cannot be used more often than every four years. ..

    >> Oh no. As I stated done commercially you could cut their costs by a factor of 4, but to get the fact of 100 cost
    >> cuts you see with SpaceX, you got to cut the guts out of the program. Which is why the Falcon/Dragons are so
    >> ungodly expensive to operate on top of that.

    > That goes toward my point that you have never started your own company. In order to be competitive, you have
    > to beat the competition in one or more of three things: cost, technology, or service. …

    Again your ignoring what I’m saying. Commercial dev rules would normally cut dev costs by a factor of 4, SpaceX did the same work for less then 100th the cost. Yes new guys work to cut costs, yes extrordanary teams can cut costs significantly – but even ledgends in the field like Rutan and Kelly Johson could never do a 100 fold cost reduct on a ship.

    > In starting a company, you may have to go with a cheap facility and spend too little in development …

    Which Musk didn’t do. He took high cost paths (develop your own when you could buy off the shelf for a tenth as much. Develop your own team and infrastructure rather then getting a good low cost deal from existing suppliers who are hungry for any business. Develop designs that cut out a lot of waste and expense and complexity over established traditionals.). Musk did the opposite of of the cost saving methods for a start up, or for a major player.

    >… SpaceX is no different, except that their first CRS contract performs to the lowest price available per pound
    > delivered. Compared with the ATV’s $5 billion price tag for 55,000 lbs of delivered supplies, SpaceX
    > can deliver around 80,000 lbs to the ISS for a price tag of less than $2 billion.

    Actually they are about $4-$5B for 80,000 according to the CBO etc.

    >…the capsule design is tried and true technology and was inexpensive to implement. …

    Actually its a expensive design to implement Apollo and Orion for example cost 20% more to develop then the shuttle orbiters. Even though the orbiters were much more capable and designed to higher safty standards..

    >> In general the whole idea of starting up your own rocket engine firm is nuts. Theres a lot of good stuff
    >> on the shelf, and good production companies you could just buy for less? Especial when the later would
    >>come with a turn key team/facility you could use to develop far better designs like combine cycles etc.

    >…
    > > Why not spend less and get better engines others market? Or spend about as much and buy the
    >>company that makes the better engines?

    > Musk may have thought that he could do better or wanted to make sure that his engine vendor does not
    > change or discontinue the line…

    If you buy the producer, theres not much chance of that. Though yes I’ll agree he might have feared the supliers would go under or something, but its a common issues that doesn’t drive all start ups to start their own industries from scratch! Write a contract with nasty non comply clauses, stock pile ahead of time. Get a vendor who really needs your business or is trying to develop themselves.

    I know someone who worked 18 months on a product, based upon a specific IC chip, and just as he was about to go into production, the chip manufacturer sent a note that he was taking last orders because the line was going to be shut down.

    > Was there a company that Musk could have bought for the same price as his cost to develop the Merlin?

    Yup. I think he could have bough the Russian company that builds the RD-180s for that. Probably export them for texas and raise their saleries significantly for that.
    Orbitec must have been buyable for that (or enslavable for that) and their votex engines a lot more advanced and scalable.

    >…Diane Vaughn wrote about this in “The Challenger Launch Decision.” She called it “normalization of deviance,”
    > because the engineers saw that the O-rings did not perform as designed (the deviance) but they decided that it was OK ..

    Yeah, though it was the NASA folks, not the engineers or operating staffs I remember pushing the “its fine” song.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> like the current X-37B

    > The X-37B is a nice piece of work, but it’s not a manned vehicle. ….

    Neath is the Dragons yet developed. But modifying it for manned carry seems a lot less complicated then the Dragons.

    >..And it has to be launched with a payload shroud which Dream Chaser, its most directly comparable manned vehicle, does not.

    Actually their Maned design didn’t. So I’m assuming its just a effocency effort for the B?

    >> They had stability problems for bigger engines, so designs seen as more expandable were focused on.

    > A TRW document published by AIAA in 2000 says otherwise. No combustion instabilities in designs ranging
    > from 5 lbf to 650,000 lbf.

    Interesting, I read the Pintel design had real scaling issues?

    >> Given said other designs have proven capable of being very economical and relyable and durable
    >> (something Merlins can’t do

    > Merlins have proven very reliable in service …

    Ignoring the inflight explosions and failures you like skiping over.. SpaceX official anoncements of inflight explosions or other failures counts for me.

    >> In general the whole idea of starting up your own rocket engine firm is nuts. Theres a lot of good stuff on the
    >> shelf, and good production companies you could just buy for less?

    > Elon has told the story many times of how he went to all the legacy rocket companies, even the Russians,
    > to see what he could buy. Every one of them wanted insane amounts of money for engines and every other part…

    Yet everyone else I see buying them pays a lot less. You can’t buy a jet engine in comparable thrust ranges for what the RD-180’2 were on the market for. What the hell does he consider outrageous cost?

    >… The Merlin is an excellent engine and probably costs SpaceX well under a million bucks each to produce. Tell
    > me what comparable “off the shelf” engine can be had for that little?

    RD-180’s were selling for less then that on a cost per lb thrust (ok they are ten times the power of a Merlin, so their could be economies of scale) and that was retail price.

    >> Especial when the later would come with a turn key team/facility you could use to develop far better designs
    >> like combine cycles etc.

    > My understanding of the term “combined cycle” is that it refers to things like the turbo-ramjets that powered the
    > SR-71 or to ramjet-scramjet combos that exist, thus far, strictly as test articles that have flown for, at most,
    > a few seconds at a time. What has any of this got to do with rocket engines?

    Specifically Rocket/Ramjet hybrids. Which have been tested in flight, and built and operated by hobbyists in one example I saw. (obviously the SR-71’s turbo-ramjets have decades of flight service.) Basically you put the rocket engine nozzle in a ramjet (modified afterburner) about twice the diameter. It doubles your ave ISP from ground to orbit.

    >> Actually no. They were much bigger, and included things like the cargo bay and wings, but as a system it was
    >> simpler and cheaper to design, and was built to higher standards of redundancy and reliability.

    > This is counterfactual nonsense. NASA, itself, used to describe Shuttle orbiters as the most complex machines
    > ever to fly in space – like that was a good thing. …

    They thought it made great PR statement. It was complete BS though. They were pretty dated junk. Biz jets of the day had more advanced and capable avionics. Fighters were flying with gear decade more advanced in their fly by wire gear etc.

    > Shuttle orbiters had many systems not shared with capsules, like aerodynamic control surfaces. Even the
    > systems they had in common with capsules, such as a thermal protection system, were vastly more complex. …

    Actually not. Since the ships didn’t disassemble into pieces, nor needed to be fitted into as tight spaces, they were simpler and more rugged then those on Capsules. Working on converting old shuttle systems designs for Orion drove that home. Thats why the orbiters were so much cheaper to develop.

    > Apollo heat shields were one-piece units.

    Made out of a huge aluminum honeycomb filled in cell by cell by hand, and worked with dental tools, with the ablative.

    The tiles were rediculas. Some NASA folks demaned it figuring the riveted aluminum hull underneath would be so much cheaper then a high temp reusable metal skin, it would save money. ;/. Yup epic dumb idea.

    >… The Shuttle also had propulsion systems several times more complex than those on capsules or even on
    > service modules. ….

    It did carry the engines that replaced a booster stage a capsule would have needed in addition to the OMS like engines a capsule had. Otherwise about the same.

    >> No they are more complicated, and take harder thermal and structural loads in flight. and you need to cram
    >> all that complexity and capability in a little light capsule. So its much harder to make a reusable capsule.

    > Those thermal and structural loads are spread over a much smaller and sturdier vehicle.

    Still much higher loads, which take high efforts and materials to take.

    If it makes you feel better, compared to a airliners systems they are both trivial in complexity. 8O

    >…What possesses you to spout this sort of bilge? …

    Years of experience in the industry working on operations and development of such systems, and looking up the relative dev costs. and systems complexity diagrams.

    >> In contrast the Falcons have delivered a few into the ocean,

    > The first Falcon 1 fell into the ocean. ..

    And the second, the first Falcon going to the station that couldn’t deploy its Orbicomm(?) cargo, etc.

    >>.. and a lot of their flights were demo etc flights with no one willing to pay to put their cargo on them.
    >> Not a minor difference.

    > I believe the fourth Falcon 1 flight and the first Falcon 9 flight went up with dummy payloads. That’s two out
    > of 16 flights to-date…

    That’s more then two by your count, and the service record lists other flights with dumy or no payloads, which is different then all flights having customer payloads.

    >> NO, I said the dev programs were done at 1% of the dev programs of similar normally contracted
    >> NASA programs. The operating costs (total program cost per flight) is over $400M a flight, which is
    >> damn high for a 4 tom transport under SAR contracting rules.

    > The development program was done at 10% of the usual NASA costs.

    $200M for the dragon is not 10% of $20B for orion/Apollo etc.
    $300M for each falcon is not 10% of $30B for each of the Ares, SLS, etc for the other NASA boosters.

    > The operational flights are $133.3 million each – $1.6 billion divided by 12 missions. We’ve been over
    > this before over —

    Yes we’ve been over this before there and here where I showed the CDBV, NASA budget and other numbers showing the cost per flight is over $400M a flight. $122M doesn’t include the overhead and SpaceX development costs NASA covers. It only is the launch specific (or margin costs) of each spaceX flight for NASA. If you want to compare marging cost per flight for SpaceX and Shuttle, shuttle was about $50M a flight. If you want total program cost per flight, shuttle was $1.2B, and SpaceX $400m+

    >>So the other Merlin failures on the other Falcon launches don’t count?
    >> the multiple explosions of Merlin engines in flight, counts as multiple engine failures.

    > There has been exactly one in-flight failure of a Merlin engine.

    SpaceX disagrees with you.

    >> They use Merlins on both stages.

    > Of the Falcon 9, yes. On the Falcon 1, no…
    Oh your right.

    > No second stage Merlin on any Falcon 9 flight has ever blown up. No Kestrel ever blew up on a Falcon 1 mission either.

    Again SpaceX disagrees reporting the second Falcon 1 had a second stage engine blow.

    >> “The leading cause of the anomaly remains a cavitation-type disturbance of the liquid oxygen flow that
    >> caused the liquid oxygen to change to gaseous oxygen.”

    > Okay, so the RS-68 engines didn’t fail on their own, …. The mission still failed.

    True, but we were talking about the engines quality/reliability. If you don’t get fuel to them, you can’t blame the engine. ;)

    >> Most is not all.

    > True. But I don’t know of any other multi-engine launch vehicle in service except Antares. ..

    In service now? Soyuz and progress boosters, and the chineese knock . Delta – IV heavy I gues given the side stacks… granted they are less common now a days. Their were others in the past, including the all the saturns. The N-1 monster “”shudder””

    >… Generally, it’s rocket engines with highly stressed turbomachinery that are at risk of actual blowups …

    ??
    Really its the solids and hybrids with the bad failure history. Turbo pumb feed ones seem much better. I can’t think of real failure of one. Even the P.O>S rocketdyns knock offs in the early shuttle program never blew… they tried – but never quite.
    8{

    >> Granted there is the other issue of better reliability with fewer engines

    > You seem entirely uneducable on this rather simple point. Fewer engines do not offer better inherent reliability
    > for a launch vehicle. …

    Which no aircraft of launch vehicle maker has ever agreed to. Hence why they all, from boosters to airliners have worked to lower the engine counts to up reliability.

    >>…but they insisted even after losing Columbia that it couldn’t seriously damage the orbiters

    > So NASA had people on its payroll who couldn’t accept obvious facts even after they were plainly and
    > flagrantly apparent even to laymen. That’s called delusion and denial. ..

    Yup. NOt questioning authorities in the agency and “planning for success” were big in NASA.

    Anyway, I need to spend more time on actually engineering space craftr, then arguing with you about my knowledge of engineering them, so unless you really have a question I’ll call it about now.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    > Were talking about the normal systems engineering requirements validation, design, and testing documentation and configuration control that’s been moving into all commercial (or gov) development programs SINCE IT DRAMATICLY LOWERS COSTS AND INCREASES QUALITY.

    So what you are saying is that SpaceX slapped together a Merlin engine, a couple of rockets, and a spacecraft without systems engineering, design, testing, or configuration management and has just been lucky that they worked?

    1) Either you are misinformed about their processes, or
    2) Rocket science is not nearly as tricky as experience has shown.

    > So yes when you have a group like SpaceX where “no one wastes time with all that, just do it” I’m not at all surprised SpaceX (and Teesla, and Solar city) reports a lot of quality problems and has “incidents”.

    Hmm. You seem to have missed the “60 Minutes” episode that featured Elon Musk, a few months back. After the founders of Tesla were tragically killed in an airplane crash, Musk had to take over and discovered that their first car had been poorly engineered, at least for production. Musk, having already run a very successful software-based company, already knew that quality (which included internet security) is heavily required for a successful company in today’s competitive world, and *he* was the one to instill quality into Tesla.

    Once again, you seem to be assuming that rumors that you heard are facts, despite all evidence to the contrary. I keep wondering why it is that you suspect SpaceX instead of all those other companies that you straightened out.

    And if SpaceX can do even better with your methods, perhaps you should offer your services. Musk is looking for a way to double the production rate of his Falcon line.

    > Yeah it really is prohibitively expensive to get folks to sign that they actually reviewed things for issues.

    Six of them are reviews for actual issues, most are just “touches” that move the overly complex process along (which I have to spend time tracking so that I can ask the next unnecessary “touch” to expedite something that should not be wasting their time), and others were included into the process no matter what the document was. So I had to get the mass properties engineer to sign off on documents that had no effect on the mass properties of the flight item. Is that the best use of his time? And if not, what other hardware (other than mine) has also been delayed, resulting in an army of engineers, technicians, managers, and bean counters sitting on the payroll for that much longer? You may think that a few hours or a day delay may be meaningless, but when these unnecessary reviewers have to sign off that they reviewed every document, then what seemed like a minor inconvenience start to result in delivery slippage and cost overruns. This is how we get $100 hammers and $600 toilets.

    You keep telling us that the public appreciates these well publicized overpriced items, because you think that they like pork, but the reason that these items were publicized is to generate outrage among those that you think like pork.

    Take a lesson, the public does not appreciate the pork; the congressmen like the pork, because it results in campaign donations that get them reelected. Repeat after me: The Public Does Not Appreciate $100 Hammers.

    > And also when you start up a company – you don’t start by doing it all yourself, when you can just buy off the shelf.

    You do when you want a vertically integrated company, especially if it gives you control over the quality, performance, and availability of parts. You keep telling us about all those companies with poor documentation and quality control methods. Maybe Musk doesn’t trust those companies. Would you blame him?

    If he spent a few years developing the Falcon 9, then just as he was ready for production the engine supplier were to say “last orders, please,” Musk would be out of business that afternoon. You have made it sound as though Dream Chaser is undergoing similar problems; fortunately Sierra Nevada has another product line to keep them in business. Musk may have looked around and discovered this problem early on when developing his business plan.

    Maybe, like your company, he needed a different size engine than off the shelf, and he couldn’t convince anyone to develop it for him, and if he had to develop it, he might as well make the money off of it.

    Ooh, I like all this speculation!

    >> It is even too expensive and non-productive for Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. to design a reusable configuration. ..
    > Its not, and they have all stated that on multiple occasions

    It sounds like Mark Twain’s claim that he could quit smoking at any time, because he has quit thousands of times.

    >> Actually, it was Roger who was in charge of that effort. …
    > But he wasn’t the only one who saw it.

    Which proves the point that all the excessive paperwork in the world is no substitute for workmanship.

    > But the recovery crews were seeing the burn throughs on every SRB recovered.

    No, just some flights launched at cold temperatures. Below a certain temperature they were always present, and at lower temperatures the burn throughs got worse and worse.

    >>… his recommended fix was six months underway when Challenger happened.
    > Actually I remember reports that it had been finished years earlier?

    No. The 18-month fix only started to happen after Boisjoly was frightened by the January 1985 launch and fibbed to NASA that it was OK anyway.

    > Aerospace is a dieing business in the UZS — accelerated by Musk.

    You have to explain that one.

    When I look around, what I see is the government spending less on Aerospace, aircraft manufacturers quitting the commercial business for the past half century or so in favor of military contracts, and a growing list of NewSpace companies that are finding new ways to do business in space. It looks like military and civil space are ramping down but commercial space is ramping up. And Musk has no part in the ramp-down but a lot of folks are eager for the cheaper access to encourage the ramp-up.

  • Edward

    > But your statement that the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast to NewSpace who you suggest can do as well at lower cost is more faith then fact or history.

    Now I’m calling BS. I have already established that OldSpace is not doing any better *with* the excessive bureaucracy than it did *before* the excessive bureaucracy, so don’t try to pull that one on me, especially after your claim that the purpose of the excessive bureaucracy is to provide pork.

    > Fixes were rejected by the agency when they would significantly lower operating costs. They’ld rather risk losing lives then voter support from the waste.

    The agency does not get voter support, it gets Congressional support. Congress gets campaign contributions by spreading the pork around. The campaign contributions go toward ads that suggest that the current Congress is doing good things with taxpayer money. So no, the voter does not support the waste; he is told the opposite.

    So now you are accusing NASA of risking its astronauts lives for money?

    > Again your ignoring what I’m saying. Commercial dev rules would normally cut dev costs by a factor of 4, SpaceX did the same work for less then 100th the cost. Yes new guys work to cut costs, yes extrordanary teams can cut costs significantly – but even ledgends in the field like Rutan and Kelly Johson could never do a 100 fold cost reduct on a ship.

    No, I am not ignoring what you are saying, I am disagreeing with what you are saying.

    Rutan and Johnson couldn’t cut costs 100 fold from their previous work. Johnson was working on secret projects, so his limitations would have caused his projects to cost much more than if they were not done in isolation. However, just as Musk has done, Rutan did pretty well compared with the defense contractors. Thank you for the Rutan example of success at significantly lower cost. Many of Rutan’s designs were so inexpensive that he was able to sell them commercially to consumer pilots.

    And if starting up your own rocket firm is nuts, then why have so many NewSpace companies started making their own engines (e.g. Orbitek’s Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system and Sierra Nevada’s propulsion systems) when there are plenty of off the shelf engines available?

    From an earlier comment of yours, Kelly:
    > You have to remember, it takes 10 times as much to develop and get into production a new model car or small aircraft then SpaceX says they spent on Dragon.

    Again, I’m calling BS.

    > You keep assuming the big commercial firms don’t know how to effectly do something quickly and cheaply,

    Well, considering that I am arguing that SpaceX is doing just that, no, I have assumed no such thing. Unless you mean all these defense contractors, who continually have delivery dates slip and cost overruns, then – oh – no even then I am not assuming that they don’t know.

    You still seem to redefine your arguments in the middle of our discussion. Every time I come out ahead, you redefine your statement. First it is composites that are cutting edge tech, then when I point out how old composites are, you redefine it to only those composites that can take 5400 degrees.

    You discuss technologies that have never been implemented as old or even off the shelf. No one had ever returned a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft landing in the Ocean. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.

    You consider SpaceX’s successful deliveries as failures, but when various companies fail to build (much less launch) reusable rockets, you consider these to be successes. What a strange turn of definition of the word “success” (or is it “failure”?).

    Sometimes you say that excessive bureaucracy is necessary for efficiency (excessive is unnecessary by the very definition of the word “excessive”), and other times it is there to provide pork for, as you claim, voter satisfaction.

    > and Grasshoper was hardly a difficult project.

    Yet in half a century, no one else bothered to try.

    Your continual complaint with SpaceX is that they have figured out how to be successful without spending as much money as you think they should. I include the unnecessary bureaucracy that you insist everyone should employ for pork barrel purposes.

    It looks for all the world that they have figured out a way to do things even better than you would have advised. You keep arguing with success, especially by calling it failure.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> But your statement that the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast
    >> to NewSpace who you suggest can do as well at lower cost is more faith then fact or history.

    > Now I’m calling BS. I have already established that OldSpace is not doing any better *with* the excessive
    > bureaucracy than it did *before* the excessive bureaucracy, so don’t try to pull that one on me, especially
    > after your claim that the purpose of the excessive bureaucracy is to provide pork.

    #1 – I didn’t say the NASA way with “excessive bureaucracy”, I said the old space way – which (when allowed by the customer) does vastly more organization, analysis (paperwork to you) then A group like Musk’s – though similar to most NewSpace.

    #2 – I said your assumption that “.. the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast to NewSpace ..” was a fantasy, since NewSpace does generally do the same processes – though not as efficiently or effectly in many cases. And their costs are often higher. For example Boeing, Dream Chaser, and SpaceX. Boeing was done with their design work over a year earlier then Dream Chaser, and SpaceX expect to be, Boeing and Dream Chaser use the same teams of companies and consulting staff and roughly similar processes (SNC is having trouble coming up to speed on that). None are using the heavy NASA FAR procedures.

    >> Fixes were rejected by the agency when they would significantly lower operating costs. They’ld
    >> rather risk losing lives then voter support from the waste.

    > The agency does not get voter support, it gets Congressional support. Congress gets campaign contributions
    > by spreading the pork around. …

    The Congress get contributions and votes by spreading the money around, and 90% of voter support comes for the pork.

    > So now you are accusing NASA of risking its astronauts lives for money?

    No, for the votes from spending the money. And yes that’s what they testified as to why safety improvements, or newer safer systems, had been skipped. Orion for example is not expected to be anywhere near as safe as shuttle since quality and reliability levels were cut. But the Orions with the big boosters will be much more expensive and its hoped more exciting to voters

    >> Again your ignoring what I’m saying. Commercial dev rules would normally cut dev costs by a factor of 4,
    >> SpaceX did the same work for less then 100th the cost. Yes new guys work to cut costs, yes extrordanary teams
    >> can cut costs significantly – but even ledgends in the field like Rutan and Kelly Johson could never do a 100
    >> fold cost reduct on a ship.

    > No, I am not ignoring what you are saying, I am disagreeing with what you are saying.

    > Rutan and Johnson couldn’t cut costs 100 fold from their previous work. …

    I said cut costs compared to doing the SAME project under commercial rules, vrs NASA rules.

    Eiather way your arguing against factual history so….

    > And if starting up your own rocket firm is nuts, then why have so many NewSpace companies started
    > making their own engines (e.g. Orbitek’s Dual-Mode Water Rocket Propulsion system and Sierra Nevada’s
    > propulsion systems) when there are plenty of off the shelf engines available?

    Actually neither of those did. Orbitec and SpaceDev started out as engine developers. Orbitec specifically because of their Vortex engine design — which they still hope can make it big soon. Space Dev with Hybrids like those for SS1 SS2 and Dream Chaser. Sierra Nevada bought them both. Space Devs hybrids rae becoming a real problem for them and Virgin. SNC is widly rumored to be about to swap out the Hybrides for the Orbitec liquids.

    From an earlier comment of yours, Kelly:
    >> You have to remember, it takes 10 times as much to develop and get into production a new model car or
    >> small aircraft then SpaceX says they spent on Dragon.

    > Again, I’m calling BS.

    Again your wrong.

    >… Every time I come out ahead, you redefine your statement. First it is composites that are cutting
    > edge tech, then when I point out how old composites are, you redefine it to only those composites that
    > can take 5400 degrees.

    Ain’t my fault you didn’t understand that when I wrote it.

    >You discuss technologies that have never been implemented as old or even off the shelf. No one had ever returned
    > a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft
    > landing in the Ocean. …

    Folks have developed and flown vertical landing rocket powered craft a few times over the last 50 years – so no that’s not new.

    >…. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.

    But they have the parts on the shelf to make them when asked, have made them, etc. So its on the shelf, even if not currently being used.

    > You consider SpaceX’s successful deliveries as failures, …

    When you have explosions, systems failures, etc etc on the flights — cargo dumped in the ocean, damaged — no that’s not my def os successful.

    >…but when various companies fail to build (much less launch) reusable rockets, you consider these to be successes.

    They work, deliver cargo very reliable, hence successful. Obviously a ELV would be better, but that’s not what the customer demanded.

    >.. Sometimes you say that excessive bureaucracy is necessary for efficiency (excessive is unnecessary by the very
    > definition of the word “excessive”), and other times it is there to provide pork for, as you claim, voter satisfaction.

    Nope. Never said that, corrected you several times on that.

    >> and Grasshoper was hardly a difficult project.

    > Yet in half a century, no one else bothered to try.

    Actually several folks have made and similar test or production craft over the past 50-60 years.

    >….
    >….It looks for all the world that they have figured out a way to do things even better than you would have advised…

    Excluding the high costs, pour reliability, financial problems of the company….little things like that.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    >>> But your statement that the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast
    >>> to NewSpace who you suggest can do as well at lower cost is more faith then fact or history.
    >> Now I’m calling BS. I have already established that OldSpace is not doing any better *with* the excessive
    >> bureaucracy than it did *before* the excessive bureaucracy, so don’t try to pull that one on me, especially
    >> after your claim that the purpose of the excessive bureaucracy is to provide pork.
    > #1 – I didn’t say the NASA way with “excessive bureaucracy”, I said the old space way

    Who mentioned NASA?

    > #2

    How does this counter the BS call?

    > 90% of voter support comes for the pork.

    No, it comes from the campaign spending. The voters are *still* pissed off about $100 hammers and $600 toilets.

    >> So now you are accusing NASA of risking its astronauts lives for money?
    > No, for the votes from spending the money.

    How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?

    > I said cut costs compared to doing the SAME project under commercial rules, vrs NASA rules.
    > Eiather way your arguing against factual history so….

    And I said that I disagree with you. I still do. Your “factual history” examples didn’t prove your point, but did prove mine. You need better examples of “factual history.”

    > Actually neither of those did. Orbitec and SpaceDev started out as engine developers.

    Which was my point. You must be considering them nuts, then.

    >>… Every time I come out ahead, you redefine your statement. First it is composites that are cutting
    >> edge tech, then when I point out how old composites are, you redefine it to only those composites that
    >> can take 5400 degrees.
    > Ain’t my fault you didn’t understand that when I wrote it.

    And once again, you redefine it as *me* not understanding it. (You are still frustrating to discuss anything with.)

    BTW, it is the *communicator’s* responsibility to make sure that he is understood. The communicatee can only realize that he misunderstood when the statement does not make sense. Which might mean that you have poorly communicated your entire set of arguments, because they don’t make sense, largely go against factual history, and occasionally make my point instead of yours.

    I am fairly certain, however, that your argument is trying to say that, of all the NewSpace and OldSpace companies, only SpaceX is a poorly run company company.

    >>You discuss technologies that have never been implemented as old or even off the shelf. No one had ever returned
    >> a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft
    >> landing in the Ocean. …
    > Folks have developed and flown vertical landing rocket powered craft a few times over the last 50 years – so no that’s not new.

    Please read what I write. “No one had ever returned a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft landing in the Ocean.” Tell me who has *ever* done *that* before. Or since. And to make sure that I am clear on this issue, I am not trying to say that SpaceX intended to reuse it’s Falcon 9 boosters that it used only for testing the concept and learning how to do it. These were only tests, not intended for booster reuse. (You are still frustrating to discuss anything with.)

    >>…. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.
    > But they have the parts on the shelf to make them when asked, have made them, etc. So its on the shelf, even if not currently being used.

    Wonderful. Glad to hear it. I won’t be starting a company based upon the availability of one-time use hardware. What is the availability of further production runs? People are still only testing this concept. LM’s Falcon failed a few times, the X-51 had a bunch of failures before its only successful flight, so I don’t think that this is a mature technology. No one is using it.

    >> You consider SpaceX’s successful deliveries as failures, …
    > When you have explosions, systems failures, etc etc on the flights — cargo dumped in the ocean, damaged — no that’s not my def os successful.
    Dick already responded to this argument. I think that I also responded by suggesting that by your definition of successful, few launches have had zero problems. The “glitch” that does not impair the successful delivery of the payload is very common. When the customer gets what he wants, his payload in the proper orbit, then that is *my* definition of success. By your definition, I doubt that your car is successful at any time that you drive it. All it takes is for one small imperfection, and *poof* there goes success.

    You hold SpaceX to a much higher standard than you do any other company. I could easily conclude that you have an axe to grind against them.

    >>…but when various companies fail to build (much less launch) reusable rockets, you consider these to be successes.
    > They work, deliver cargo very reliable, hence successful. Obviously a ELV would be better, but that’s not what the customer demanded.

    I have already explained that Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, and Roton all failed to build reusable SSTOs, so what do you mean by “they?” There is not a single reusable rocket in use. And I must hold you to your own definition of success, so none of these reusable rockets that constitute “they” can have ever had a failure of the type that you say SpaceX has had, otherwise you will have to admit that Falcon 9 “works” and stop crabbing about it.

    >>.. Sometimes you say that excessive bureaucracy is necessary for efficiency (excessive is unnecessary by the very
    >> definition of the word “excessive”), and other times it is there to provide pork for, as you claim, voter satisfaction.
    > Nope. Never said that, corrected you several times on that.

    Not successfully. Apparently you will have to correct me again, because you have failed to communicate whatever your point was and is. Is it necessary, pork, or both?

    >>> and Grasshoper was hardly a difficult project.
    >> Yet in half a century, no one else bothered to try.
    > Actually several folks have made and similar test or production craft over the past 50-60 years.

    Yet you can’t name one.

    >> Your continual complaint with SpaceX is that they have figured out how to be successful without spending as much money as you think they should. I include the unnecessary bureaucracy that you insist everyone should employ for pork barrel purposes.
    >> It looks for all the world that they have figured out a way to do things even better than you would have advised. You keep arguing with success, especially by calling it failure.
    > Excluding the high costs, pour reliability, financial problems of the company….little things like that.

    Once again, you are wrong about high costs and poor reliability. You have even been nostalgic for the Space Shuttle, which you have explained was also low reliability. And as for financial problems of “the company,” what company are you talking about, and what financial problems is it having?

    You are demonstrating your lack of experience running a company. Most do not have hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, as Apple Computer famously did a quarter century ago.

    (Indeed, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy a couple of decades ago, when Steve Jobs returned and saved it, so even companies that are well run get into trouble on occasion – why do you think that there are mass layoffs every once in a while? Oh, and don’t try to suggest that SpaceX’s recent layoffs are something other than their way of making sure that they don’t accumulate “dead wood,” because that is the consensus of observers and journalists.)

  • Kelly Starks

    >>>> But your statement that the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast
    >>>> to NewSpace who you suggest can do as well at lower cost is more faith then fact or history.

    >>> Now I’m calling BS. I have already established that OldSpace is not doing any better *with* the excessive
    >>> bureaucracy than it did *before* the excessive bureaucracy, so don’t try to pull that one on me, especially
    >>> after your claim that the purpose of the excessive bureaucracy is to provide pork.

    >> #1 – I didn’t say the NASA way with “excessive bureaucracy”, I said the old space way

    > Who mentioned NASA?

    Its been the point of the conversation.

    >> #2

    > How does this counter the BS call?

    its the “..your assumption that “.. the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast to NewSpace ..” was a fantasy,” part.

    >> 90% of voter support comes for the pork.

    > No, it comes from the campaign spending…

    NASA doesn’t do campaigns – unless your considering the pork money “campaign spending”

    >>> So now you are accusing NASA of risking its astronauts lives for money?

    >> No, for the votes from spending the money.

    > How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?

    They don’t care about the money, they care about the voter support. The voters return such support because of NASA spending the money near them. So they risk the lives for the votes or PR, not for the money.

    >> I said cut costs compared to doing the SAME project under commercial rules, vrs NASA rules.
    >> Eiather way your arguing against factual history so….

    >…Your “factual history” examples didn’t prove your point, ..

    Right it actually happening so often its a rule of thumb in the industry doesn’t prove it ever happens..

    ;/

    >> Actually neither of those did. Orbitec and SpaceDev started out as engine developers.

    > Which was my point. You must be considering them nuts, then.

    No, but I don’t consider then vehicle developers. Nor successful.

    Obviously if your goal is to become a engine company – you need to develop new engines and build them. Generally its as hard to do a good engine as a good vehicle. So if you want to be a company that builds launch vehicles, you realy should avoid the extra issues of developing engines if you can.

    > I am fairly certain, however, that your argument is trying to say that, of all the NewSpace and OldSpace companies,
    > only SpaceX is a poorly run company company.

    There are other poorly run NewSpace companies (obviously given the high failure rate) SpaceX is just more corrupt and incompetent. Relying to a FAR higher degree then anyone else in the bus, on political conections and grants – and a massive PR spin effort that has folks thinking abject failures a success.

    >>> You discuss technologies that have never been implemented as old or even off the shelf. No one had ever returned
    >>> a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft
    >>> landing in the Ocean. …

    >> Folks have developed and flown vertical landing rocket powered craft a few times over the last 50 years – so no that’s not new.

    > Please read what I write. “No one had ever returned a rocket for reuse, which is why no one anticipated the problem
    > that SpaceX had when they tried their first soft landing in the Ocean.” Tell me who has *ever* done *that* before.
    > Or since.

    NASA obviously returned a lot of rockets for reuse over the last serveral years. Tons of groups have operated VTOL rockets over the years, (I suppose landing one on the Ocean is new since everyone else I can think of) so you comment that SpaceX doing a water landing of a booster on water is a first is correct. The idea thats “… why no one anticipated the problem that SpaceX had when they tried ..” is specious.

    I.E. what unanticipatable problem did SpaceX have when landing the Falcon 1st stage on the water?

    >>>…. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.

    >> But they have the parts on the shelf to make them when asked, have made them, etc. So its on the shelf,
    >> even if not currently being used.

    > Wonderful. Glad to hear it. I won’t be starting a company based upon the availability of one-time use hardware.
    >What is the availability of further production runs?…

    They have been and are in production for decades. No orders for those parts, assembled into that configuration, for a production vehicle, have been made for decades. On receipt of such a order the companys say they can deliver the engines, from instock parts, rapidly.

    >>> You consider SpaceX’s successful deliveries as failures, …

    >> When you have explosions, systems failures, etc etc on the flights — cargo dumped in the ocean,
    >> damaged — no that’s not my def os successful.

    > Dick already responded to this argument. I think that I also responded by suggesting that by your definition
    > of successful, few launches have had zero problems. The “glitch” that does not impair the successful delivery
    > of the payload is very common. …

    Few have no delivery failures, but they are their compotators. Most have nothing like the scale and breath of failures, and routine insidents.

    > When the customer gets what he wants, his payload in the proper orbit, then that is *my* definition of success. ..

    Then SpaceX by your definition has frequently failed.

    >.. You hold SpaceX to a much higher standard than you do any other company. ..

    Such as?

    >>…but when various companies fail to build (much less launch) reusable rockets, you consider these to be successes.

    > They work, deliver cargo very reliable, hence successful. Obviously a ELV would be better, but that’s not what
    >the customer demanded.

    Opps sorry, I missed the build reusable rockets part, and thought I read you asking about success of others rockets.

    Your right no one (excluding the Shuttles) has ever built and operated a reusable launch vehicle, and shuttles only partially so.

    ……

    >>>.. Sometimes you say that excessive bureaucracy is necessary for efficiency (excessive is unnecessary by the very
    >>> definition of the word “excessive”), and other times it is there to provide pork for, as you claim, voter satisfaction.

    >> Nope. Never said that, corrected you several times on that.

    > Not successfully. Apparently you will have to correct me again, because you have failed to communicate
    > whatever your point was and is. Is it necessary, pork, or both?

    I have never said excessive bureaucracy (in this context the NASA FAR bureaucracy is necessary. You keep confusing my statements about the need to do normal commercial dev processes, overhead, etc (not NASA project type, commercial type) which raises costs to tens of times that of SpaceX (rather then the hundred fold increases of NASA projects). Failure to do that results in low quality, low safty, high failure rates, etc. Which SpaceX demonstrates repeatedly.

    >>>> and Grasshoper was hardly a difficult project.

    >>> Yet in half a century, no one else bothered to try.

    >> Actually several folks have made and similar test or production craft over the past 50-60 years.

    > Yet you can’t name one.

    ??
    DC-X, whatever the marsden one was, are both test craft. Lem obviously was a production one that actually saw service. Hell hobbiests have built VTOL rockets.

    >> Your continual complaint with SpaceX is that they have figured out how to be successful without spending as
    >> much money as you think they should.
    >> I include the unnecessary bureaucracy that you insist everyone should employ for pork barrel purposes.

    Again for emphasis. I was not saying companies need to do NASA pork filled buracray for commercial programs. I repeatedly contrasted NASA FAR bloat with the normal overhead and processes it takes to build things that complicated.

    >> It looks for all the world that they have figured out a way to do things even better than you would have advised. You keep arguing with success, especially by calling it failure.
    > Excluding the high costs, pour reliability, financial problems of the company….little things like that.

    Once again, you are wrong about high costs and poor reliability.

    > You have even been nostalgic for the Space Shuttle, which you have explained was also low reliability.

    Far higher then SpaceX

    > And as for financial problems of “the company,” what company are you talking about, and what financial problems is it having?

    SpaceX has been spending much faster then its taking in. Reports are cash flow issues were why they had sudden 10% lay-off recently.

    >..Oh, and don’t try to suggest that SpaceX’s recent layoffs are something other than their way of making sure
    > that they don’t accumulate “dead wood,” because that is the consensus of observers and journalists.)

    1/10th of the company needed to get abrupt pink slips without notice because they were all deadwood?!

    Please.

  • Edward

    Kelly,of the seven billion people on this planet, you seem to be the only one complaining about SpaceX’s quality and safety records, and you are the only one I ever hear saying that SpaceX has a high failure rate. Frankly, I have to agree with Dick Eagleson’s original thoughts on this topic.

    >> Who mentioned NASA?
    > Its been the point of the conversation.

    No, I went back and looked, the topic is OldSpace vs. NewSpace – and explicitly the SpaceX part of NewSpace. NASA is only a subset, not the point. This seems to have been another attempt on your part to steer the topic toward something that you might (maybe) be able to find a point that you can finally win.

    >>> #2
    >> How does this counter the BS call?
    > its the “..your assumption that “.. the way oldspace does things makes everything expensive and slow .. in contrast to NewSpace ..” was a fantasy,” part.

    Except that OldSpace is historically expensive and historically slow, and NewSpace is performing faster and less expensively. It is factual history. You just don’t want to believe what is in front of your eyes, because, as Dick Eagleson said at the very beginning of this whole thread (read: Dick Eagleson’s original thoughts), “The arrogant egotists in the room are all the legacy aerospace types who think the way they’ve done things for 60 years is the only way to do things, period. It’s not. Simple as that.”

    >>> 90% of voter support comes for the pork.
    >> No, it comes from the campaign spending…
    > NASA doesn’t do campaigns – unless your considering the pork money “campaign spending”

    Who said that NASA does political campaigns in order to get Senators and Congressmen reelected? Once again, this seems to be another attempt on your part to steer the topic toward something that you might (maybe) be able to find a point that you can finally win.

    >> How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?
    > They don’t care about the money, they care about the voter support. The voters return such support because of NASA spending the money near them. So they risk the lives for the votes or PR, not for the money.

    1) That does not answer the question
    2) They only care about Congressional support, because it is Congress, not the voters, who determine the budgets.
    3) The voters get really upset when NASA astronauts get killed, so why do you think that NASA would risk astronauts when the factual history is that both Apollo and the Shuttle were cancelled after Congress thought that they were too risky – for the astronauts – to continue.
    4) I keep telling you, but you won’t listen, that the voters get really angry about pork. Indeed, the Alaskan “bridge to nowhere” was cancelled when it was exposed. If you want to cancel a pork program, expose it as pork to the public.
    5) And this still supports, not denies, the accusation that you think NASA is risking its astronaut’s lives for money (specifically: budget).

    > Right it actually happening so often its a rule of thumb in the industry doesn’t prove it ever happens..

    I don’t understand what you are saying, here. Remember, it is the *communicator’s* responsibility to make sure that he is understood.

    > No, but I don’t consider then vehicle developers. Nor successful.

    Yet another strange definition of success.
    1) How are these companies *not* successful? Orbitec is so unsuccessful that Sierra Nevada (SN) bought them for their (unsuccessful?) engine, and it seems that Sierra Nevada did the same with SpaceDev (SD), too. SN disagrees with you. SD’s engine was used to win the Ansari X-Prize, so where is SD’s failure? Surely, you don’t mean that SD is a failure because SN thought that their engine would scale up? That would be SN’s failure.
    2) The point was about building a new engine rather than buying a company that already has one, and SD and Orbitec built new engines rather than buying companies that already had them. So where did vehicle development come into the point being made here? Once again, this seems to be another attempt on your part to steer the topic toward something that you might (maybe) be able to find a point that you can finally win.

    > So if you want to be a company that builds launch vehicles, you realy should avoid the extra issues of developing engines if you can.

    That statement is bogus. As I have already explained (and you obviously have rejected), a launch vehicle company may want to be vertically integrated, making and controlling as much as it is able. It is reasonable for this to include engines and even launch pads. You are sounding like OldSpace legacy-aerospace thinking, again.

    > > I am fairly certain, however, that your argument is trying to say that, of all the NewSpace and OldSpace companies,
    >> only SpaceX is a poorly run company company.
    > There are other poorly run NewSpace companies (obviously given the high failure rate) SpaceX is just more corrupt and incompetent. Relying to a FAR higher degree then anyone else in the bus, on political conections and grants – and a massive PR spin effort that has folks thinking abject failures a success.

    Yeah. All those delivered satellites and ISS cargos (both up AND down) are such abject failures. Indeed, who else is currently successful at bringing cargo back from the ISS? Now you have a strange definition of “abject failure.” (Maybe you should review the definition of “abject” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/abject?s=t as well as “failure.”)

    > I.E. what unanticipatable problem did SpaceX have when landing the Falcon 1st stage on the water?

    Such a short memory. You honestly don’t remember their first attempt went wrong when the vehicle spun-up on its way back down through the atmosphere and the engine was starved for fuel too early? Name one other rocket that has tried to descend that far through the atmosphere for a controlled landing. Just because a couple rockets have been able to do what Grasshopper has done does not mean that they were ready for prime time usage. Now who is ignoring requirements, reviews, and testing? (That would be you, Kelly.)

    >>>>…. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.

    It’s more than just a problem of off the shelf or no production line; hypersonic flight is not yet ready for primetime. They are still testing and trying to learn how to control such flight.

    Aviation Week has an article, this week, on this topic on page 39. “…the longer-term aim is to develop air-breathing hypersonic vehicles for wider military and commercial roles, including access to space. To expand into these roles, designers will need far greater knowledge of how boundary layer transitions and unsteadiness in the interaction between the boundary layer and the aerodynamic shock will affect the propulsion system.”

    “Longer-term questions lie ahead for hypersonic researchers as they plot a course beyond Hifire for larger scale vehicles capable of transporting people, surveillance systems or other military payloads, or even heading to space.”

    >> When the customer gets what he wants, his payload in the proper orbit, then that is *my* definition of success. ..
    > Then SpaceX by your definition has frequently failed.

    No, only one customer lost his payload on a SpaceX launch. How many of SpaceX’s competitors have only lost one payload? Now you have a new definition of “frequently,” and like the definitions of “success,” “failure,” and “abject” it only applies to SpaceX.

    >>.. You hold SpaceX to a much higher standard than you do any other company. ..
    > Such as?

    As with my last response, immediately above, you have many different definitions that apply only to SpaceX. Small failures for SpaceX are “abject failures” but complete losses for their competitors are successes. Duh. Are you even paying attention to this thread?

    > You keep confusing my statements…

    Yeah, I’ll say. That goes to the point of making sure your communicatee understands what you are trying to communicate.

    > You keep confusing my statements about the need to do normal commercial dev processes, overhead, etc (not NASA project type, commercial type) which raises costs to tens of times that of SpaceX (rather then the hundred fold increases of NASA projects). Failure to do that results in low quality, low safty, high failure rates, etc. Which SpaceX demonstrates repeatedly.

    No. I understand those statements, but (for the umpteenth time) I disagree. SpaceX repeatedly demonstrates success (not by your warped definition, though). Indeed, you have to go to great, convoluted lengths to redefine various measures for SpaceX in order to try to prove your point. You completely ignore factual history and declare failure for every SpaceX success and declare success for their competitor’s failures. Apparently, success is when taxpayer money is unnecessarily spent (pork) and failure is when customer money is efficiently and effectively spent.

    Of the seven billion people on this planet, you seem to be the only one complaining about SpaceX’s quality and safety records, and you are the only one I ever hear saying that SpaceX has a high failure rate. Frankly, I have to agree with Dick Eagleson’s original thoughts on this topic.

    > SpaceX has been spending much faster then its taking in. Reports are cash flow issues were why they had sudden 10% lay-off recently.

    The reports were that less than 5% of the company got pink slips, not 10%, and that this is a little larger than the usual annual 3% of the company purging itself of the lowest performers. Please link to the other report that shows SpaceX’s expenses are outpacing its revenues.
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/12/spacex-faces-lawsuit-pay-working-conditions/
    “There was an annual review cycle completed recently, along with some rebalancing of resources,” a company spokesman said in a July 25 statement. “Our resulting headcount reduction was less than 5%.”

    It is a company that is trying to double its rocket production; they don’t seem to have much trouble getting business to come their way.

    BTW: please be careful about financial reports. The company I once co-owned and co-ran had a reviewer come in who noticed that for that one month we had more accounts payable than accounts receivable and told us that we were going out of business. However, we already knew that the condition was coming up and were prepared to cover those expenses. (The company now keeps *two* months expenses in reserve, just in case.)

  • Kelly Starks

    Opps, never responded to this one from the 21st
    In case any ones still interested.

    >>Kelly,
    >>
    >> Were talking about the normal systems engineering requirements validation, design, and testing documentation
    >> and configuration control that’s been moving into all commercial (or gov) development programs SINCE IT
    >> DRAMATICLY LOWERS COSTS AND INCREASES QUALITY.

    > So what you are saying is that SpaceX slapped together a Merlin engine, a couple of rockets, and a spacecraft
    > without systems engineering, design, testing, or configuration management and has just been lucky that they worked?

    With big peaces of it missing. Hence the design errors and oversights accidents reported, due to reported over sight. And why the tracability fails, and DOD problems trying to certify them without having the “book keeping” to audit.

    >1) Either you are misinformed about their processes, or
    >2) Rocket science is not nearly as tricky as experience has shown.

    Even hobiests can build a working rocket, just like your local garage can throw together a running car from scrap – its making a professional, reliable, usable, safe system that takes the work.

    >> So yes when you have a group like SpaceX where “no one wastes time with all that, just do it” I’m not at all
    >> surprised SpaceX (and Teesla, and Solar city) reports a lot of quality problems and has “incidents”.

    > Hmm. You seem to have missed the “60 Minutes” episode that featured Elon Musk, a few months back. After
    > the founders of Tesla were tragically killed in an airplane crash, Musk had to take over and discovered that their
    > first car had been poorly engineered, at least for production. Musk, having already run a very successful
    > software-based company, already knew that quality (which included internet security) is heavily required
    > for a successful company in today’s competitive world, and *he* was the one to instill quality into Tesla.

    Musk talks great, he just doesn’t do the walk. Note Teslas still have several chronic safety issues, including having the batter packs burst into flames, and Musk has made grand claims about dramatically lowered future costs of replacement battery packs that the manufacturers of the batteries says is complete nonsence.

    Once again, you seem to be assuming that rumors and things Musk says are facts, ignoring actual results, statements by experts in the fields, industry groups working with them, etc.

    >> Yeah it really is prohibitively expensive to get folks to sign that they actually reviewed things for issues.

    > Six of them are reviews for actual issues, most are just “touches” that move the overly complex process along..

    Actually they are legal certification. I.E. the exec signing it is then legally responsible for the quality of the contents. Assuming reasonable process efficiency (granted not universal) it doesn’t take more then a day or two by that point.

    >You keep telling us that the public appreciates these well publicized overpriced items, because you think that they
    > like pork, but the reason that these items were publicized is to generate outrage among those that you think like pork.

    Yes the public is outraged over “pork”, but when identical waste and inefficiency etc it identified coming into their community they are vastly more vocal in defending it, then in attacking other communities “pork”.

    Double standard you say?

    Think of it as rebranding. If the money goes to someone else – its pork. If it coes to them and their neighbors, its “getting their fair share” or “investment in their community” or “supporting local jobs”.

    >> And also when you start up a company – you don’t start by doing it all yourself, when you can just buy off the shelf.

    >You do when you want a vertically integrated company, especially if it gives you control over the quality, performance,
    > and availability of parts. You keep telling us about all those companies with poor documentation and quality control
    >methods.

    No I keep telling you about SpaceX’s poor documentation and quality control methods, and the high cost Musk spent because he can’t work with other companies even though they have far higher documentation and quality control methods, and would be cheaper and faster for him to use..

    >. You have made it sound as though Dream Chaser is undergoing similar problems..

    ?? No, they picked a bad engine concept (hybrids) and its biting them, so they will likely need to switch to a all liquid propulsion systems. Both weer provided by outside companies – though they both merged with SNC for unrelated reasons.

    > Maybe, like your company, he needed a different size engine than off the shelf, and he couldn’t convince anyone
    > to develop it for him, and if he had to develop it,..

    Funny how no one else was having those problems?

    >.. he might as well make the money off of it.

    Which he hasn’t been able to do, exactly the opposite.

    >>> It is even too expensive and non-productive for Big Deal Aerospace, Inc. to design a reusable configuration. ..
    >> Its not, and they have all stated that on multiple occasions

    > It sounds like Mark Twain’s claim that he could quit smoking at any time, because he has quit thousands of times.

    Hardly. the big areo firms have pushed the idea for decades, even offering to do it out of pock with no dev costs to DOD/NASA/other if they would sign up to use them if the resulting craft were at most ten times cheaper in cost per flight. no customers got on board.

    >> But the recovery crews were seeing the burn throughs on every SRB recovered.

    > No, just some flights launched at cold temperatures. ..

    No, al of them, as was clearly documented during the Challenger investigation.

    ====
    >> Aerospace is a dieing business in the US — accelerated by Musk.

    > You have to explain that one.

    With aerospace in general in the decline, and the space side especially launch and manned space having seen massive recent cutbacks, the firms and their stockholders see no profit potential to keep the facilities and staffs to do such work. Cost saving and safty improvements are rejected by the customers. Newer systems cant find sign up customers etc. Then you have Musk pushing that none of that is necessary. We don’t need skilled teams, experienced folks, etc etc — I can do it all for dozens of times cheaper then industry and a hundred times cheaper then NASA so fire all of them etc… And the public, especially space supporters are buying it. Sure after a while reality sets in, and he’ll gop under -0 but in the mean time all those others get pushed off a cliff and were left with nothing.

    Musk has proven he can’t really deliver – but he can do great PR and snow folks.

    > When I look around, what I see is the government spending less on Aerospace, aircraft manufacturers quitting
    > the commercial business for the past half century or so in favor of military contracts,—-

    Actually the military contracts have declined as fast as the commercial ones. The aircraft manufacturers aren’t quitting commercial for military. They are just quitting the aerospace industry completely.

    >– and a growing list of NewSpace companies that are finding new ways to do business in space. ..

    Really you see waves of newspace companies rise up and starve out. A couple less flashy ones play conservative, and build up slowly and carefully – but mostly they just die. The few survivors stay going largely on getting some gov contracts for small projects. Not the wave of commercial space dev long forecast or hoped for.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Kelly,of the seven billion people on this planet, you seem to be the only one complaining about SpaceX’s quality
    > and safety records, and you are the only one I ever hear saying that SpaceX has a high failure rate. ..

    Certainly the trades, gov publications, busness articles — and simple safty statististic disagree with you.

    >>> Who mentioned NASA?

    >> Its been the point of the conversation.

    > No, I went back and looked, the topic is OldSpace vs. NewSpace – ..

    No its the super high cost NASA FAR contracts, vrs commercial contracts vrs SpaceX. That’s been the whole point. SpaceX does not work like other NewSpace firms, who mostly work like Oldspace firms… though often not as well. Hence why, as I mentioned, when engineering managers execs from other NewSpace firms who got tours of SpaceX and how they operated — when they discussed what they saw with me they cringed. Not old space execs, NewSpace.

    >…and explicitly the SpaceX part of NewSpace. NASA is only a subset, not the point…

    Except – NASA the market. They are about the only market with the money in hand, and a big enough demand, on the scale these companies need. It varies. SpaceX is completely dependent on NASA DOD contracts and admits now they would have gone under in ’07 had they not won COTS. Serra Nevada on the other hand is fully self funding Dream Chaser from internal profits. They have no investors or debt, so really are likely to continue regardless of a win or loss – but they could well find themselves with a ship but no customers.

    > Except that OldSpace is historically expensive and historically slow, and NewSpace is performing faster and
    > less expensively. It is factual history. ..

    Quite the opposite. From the 36 month $60m DC-X project by McDonnell Douglas in the 90’s to Blues efforts to repeat it over the last nearly decade. Scaled Composites project to do SS1 (ok SS2 hasn’t gone well, vrs their xprize competitors. Or Boeings progress on CCDev vrs Dream Chaser and SpaceX.

    >…You just don’t want to believe what is in front of your eyes, because, as Dick Eagleson said at the very beginning
    > of this whole thread (read: Dick Eagleson’s original thoughts), “The arrogant egotists in the room are all the legacy
    > aerospace types who think the way they’ve done things for 60 years is the only way to do things, period. It’s not.
    > Simple as that.”

    Except, I work for both oldspace and newspace. I teach both how to do it better cheaper faster. Dick might not like that little fact. He might not like the reality of who does rapidly adapt and do things quicker and cheaper rather then just cut corners and argue the quality isn’t worth the cost, etc.

    When I say old space does it faster and cheaper, remember I’ve done identical manned space projects for both, and saw oldSpace do far more, in far less time. Be faster to accept new ideas and methods. Do higher quality. I’ve had my observations reinforced by newspace execs, AIAA reps who work across the spectrum of companies, and by analysts for the trades, etc.

    >>>> 90% of voter support comes for the pork.

    >>> No, it comes from the campaign spending…

    >> NASA doesn’t do campaigns – unless your considering the pork money “campaign spending”

    > Who said that NASA does political campaigns in order to get Senators and Congressmen reelected? ..

    We were talking about why NASA feels pressured to do things as inefficiently as they can to maximize port to get the voter support. Specifically my statement that about 90% of the support Washington congressmen and senators see for NASA from voters is for the pork, I.E. unnecessary expenditures near the voters homes.

    >>> How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?

    >> They don’t care about the money, they care about the voter support. The voters return such support
    >> because of NASA spending the money near them. So they risk the lives for the votes or PR, not for the money.

    >1) That does not answer the question

    ?

    > 2) They only care about Congressional support, because it is Congress, not the voters, who determine the budgets.

    But congress mostly only cares about what gets them voter support. So when 90% of the NASA support from voters comes from the pork, you make sure NASA gives the voters lots of pork. If they don’t, theirs no voter support for the projects – and damn little support from congress.

    > 3) The voters get really upset when NASA astronauts get killed, so why do you think that NASA would risk astronauts
    > when the factual history is that both Apollo and the Shuttle were cancelled after Congress thought that they were
    > too risky – for the astronauts – to continue.

    Apollo was another issue, but yes NASA did admit that was a concern for NAA, but the impact from the cost cuts that the safty improvements would have driven were a immediate problem – they accidents they figured wouldn’t happen for years, or maybe never. Only a statistical likelihood – not a immediate certainty.

    > 4) I keep telling you, but you won’t listen, that the voters get really angry about pork…

    And I keep telling you voters scream about OTHER PEOPLE GETTING PORK but strongly defend THEIR getting it. Most voter pressure is for various pork programs (investment in their communities). most especially for NASA that really does nothing the voters see as of any benefit.

    > 5) And this still supports, not denies, the accusation that you think NASA is risking its astronaut’s lives for money
    > (specifically: budget).

    An accusation supported by testimony under oath by senior NASA execs who stated actually made policy and risked lives, for that reason.

    >> Right it actually happening so often its a rule of thumb in the industry doesn’t prove it ever happens..

    > I don’t understand what you are saying, here. ..

    It is common rule of thumb, from historic proms, that going from FAR contracts, to commercial style contracts lowers cost a factor of 4. Companies running the shuttles etc frequently offered a 4 fold savings if they weer allowed to operate under non FAR more commercial rules. Cost numbers for similar programs done commercially vrs done under NASA verify the cost growth factors. Ergo: it so commonly happened in real life in the past – its taken as a rule of thumb expectation.

    > 1) How are these companies *not* successful? Orbitec is so unsuccessful that Sierra Nevada (SN) bought them
    > for their (unsuccessful?) engine, and it seems that Sierra Nevada did the same with SpaceDev (SD), too. SN
    > disagrees with you…

    No SN agrees, and that was why they DIDN’T spend the money to develop engines, or engineering services, like those offered by SpaceDev and Orbitec. They bought spaceDev and Orbitec when they thought by the introduction of their capital and size as a multi billion dollar a year company; they could help SD and Orbitec expand into bigger new markets that were opening up that they couldn’t attempt as millions of dollars a year companies.

    > SD’s engine was used to win the Ansari X-Prize, so where is SD’s failure? ..

    Well given their engines didn’t work well in most cases, and they couldn’t make any real money in the engine busness (other then a couple engines for SS1 and maybe for SS2, how many have they actually sold?) no that really didn’t work for them and was arguable a mistake

    > 2) The point was about building a new engine rather than buying a company that already has one, and SD and
    > Orbitec built new engines rather than buying companies that already had them. So where did vehicle
    > development come into the point being made here? ..

    Because a NewSpace company trying to get into the engine business has no choice by to develop engines. So its logically not a choice for them. (They also haven’t done very well in the engine business, so arguable that was a bad business decision regardless.) Most newspace companies are in the vehicle business, and the extra expense and issues of building your own engines is a extra expense they can and do avoid.

    >…a launch vehicle company may want to be vertically integrated, making and controlling as much as it is able. ..

    True, every busness would like to be completely autonomous and control everything, but you lose your shirt that way, so most surviving busness don’t do that. Certainly all vehicle busness avoid that.

    >>> I am fairly certain, however, that your argument is trying to say that, of all the NewSpace and OldSpace companies,
    >>> only SpaceX is a poorly run company company.

    >> There are other poorly run NewSpace companies (obviously given the high failure rate) SpaceX is just more
    >> corrupt and incompetent. Relying to a FAR higher degree then anyone else in the bus, on political conections
    >> and grants – and a massive PR spin effort that has folks thinking abject failures a success.

    > Yeah. All those delivered satellites and ISS cargos (both up AND down) are such abject failures…

    They ones they delivered into the ocean certainly were. The failures and incidents on the ones that did deliver to the station were. Their brittle financial position, certainly isn’t a success.

    > Indeed, who else is currently successful at bringing cargo back from the ISS? ..

    The Russians now, USA (thew company that operated the shuttle program for NASA) did for decades at lower cost per ton under FAR rules!

    >> I.E. what unanticipatable problem did SpaceX have when landing the Falcon 1st stage on the water?

    > Such a short memory. You honestly don’t remember their first attempt went wrong when the vehicle spun-up on
    > its way back down through the atmosphere and the engine was starved for fuel too early?…

    No I remember that, I asked what UNANTICIPATABLE problem did SpaceX have, not what problem they had. Again VTOl rockets, even ones doing flips in mid air have been built and flown successfully for decades. Isues of fuel sloshing away from intakes and staring engines has been a problem of aircraft doing manuvers for about a hundred years now. So why couldn’t SpaceX have reasonably expected that to be a issue of concern for them? The same way they should have realized salt ait near the ocean is corrosive, and designed the merlins to deal with it – hence not having the one on the first Falcon launch come apart in mid air. These were obvious predictable routine issues, SpaceX didn’t expect or deal with.

    >>>>…. You tell me that mach 6 technology is off the shelf, but no one is using it – there is no production line.

    > It’s more than just a problem of off the shelf or no production line; hypersonic flight is not yet ready for primetime. ..

    We have been fling hundreds of flights both test and operational at hypersonic speeds, so yes its real and has been primetime.

    > Aviation Week has an article, this week, on this topic on page 39. “…the longer-term aim is to develop
    > air-breathing hypersonic vehicles for wider military and commercial roles, including access to space. To
    > expand into these roles, designers will need far greater knowledge of how boundary layer transitions and
    > unsteadiness in the interaction between the boundary layer and the aerodynamic shock will affect the
    > propulsion system.”

    That’s not what the engine manufacturers said when asked. It can be a issue for airframe designers, and past Mach 7 flight things get to be a problem, but for launch vehicles that isn’t a issue.

    >>> When the customer gets what he wants, his payload in the proper orbit, then that is *my* definition of success. ..

    > > Then SpaceX by your definition has frequently failed.

    > No, only one customer lost his payload on a SpaceX launch. ..

    Actually several have. In contrast their prime competitor for gov launches, the Atlas-V and Delta-IV have never lost any, and always flew paying customers on all their flights.

    ==

    >> SpaceX has been spending much faster then its taking in. Reports are cash flow issues were why they had sudden
    >> 10% lay-off recently.

    > The reports were that less than 5% of the company got pink slips, not 10%, —

    SpaceX has a staff of 3800, and 300 got laid off? Sounds like 10% to me unless I heard a wrong report?

    >.. http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/12/spacex-faces-lawsuit-pay-working-conditions/

    This article you referenced also states reports of 200-40 laid off, and that concerns that cash flow issues my be a facter were reasonable concerns.

    As to SpaceX’s stteament .. (“There was an annual review cycle completed recently, along with some rebalancing of resources,” a company spokesman said in a July 25 statement. “Our resulting headcount reduction was less than 5%.”) companies say a lot of things when they suddenly drop a bi chunk of their staffs. They go to great extent to not ever say its due to sudden cash flow issues, and SpaceX has admitted to lieing before about being in financial hot water.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    > Certainly the trades, gov publications, busness articles — and simple safty statististic disagree with you.

    Maybe the ones that you read, but Aviation Week, Space News, Space.com, NASASpaceFlight.com, SpaceFlightNow.com, and FloridaToday.com agree with me. SpaceX’s customers agree with me. Even the safety statistics agree with me. You continually state that the statistics are bad, but you have yet to provide evidence to support those statements.

    >> No, I went back and looked, the topic is OldSpace vs. NewSpace – ..
    > No its the super high cost NASA FAR contracts, vrs commercial contracts vrs SpaceX. That’s been the whole point.

    This is yet another example of you changing the topic in mid discussion.

    SpaceX (NewSpace) was the original topic on August 8th through the 14th. You did not bring up FAR until August 15th, and I didn’t mention it until August 17th, when I said, “Oh, and replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.”

    Notice that it was a *different*, though related, topic. Definitely not *the* topic.

    >>…and explicitly the SpaceX part of NewSpace. NASA is only a subset, not the point…
    > Except – NASA the market. They are about the only market with the money in hand, and a big enough demand, on the scale these companies need.

    The point of NewSpace is to stop depending upon Congress’s NASA. Congress is squandering that asset, going so far as to set requirements for SLS (e.g. kerosene LOX first stage, uses STS hardware, and the lifting capacity) instead of letting the smart, experienced NASA engineers figure out how to accomplish the (unspecified) goal. Without any other goal, NASA’s end-all is the space station (unless Orion miraculously gets a mission), but Bigelow and Planetary Resources missions go beyond NASA.

    There are plenty of commercial-space satellites being launched (or do you consider that only NASA contracts count as being part of the market?). And what happens to your argument when SpaceX gets military launches? (BTW, with the Air Force considering SpaceX’s application to launch military satellites, it seems that safety is not so obviously bad that they would outright reject the application, so even the Air Force disagrees with you.)

    >> Except that OldSpace is historically expensive and historically slow, and NewSpace is performing faster and
    >> less expensively. It is factual history. ..
    > Quite the opposite. From the 36 month $60m DC-X project by McDonnell Douglas in the 90′s to Blues efforts to repeat it over the last nearly decade. Scaled Composites project to do SS1 (ok SS2 hasn’t gone well, vrs their xprize competitors. Or Boeings progress on CCDev vrs Dream Chaser and SpaceX.

    DC-X proves my point (a spending rate 1/150 of SLS) and Boeing’s CST-100 is not as slow (and not *nearly* as expensive) as Orion, although they are an OldSpace company, so that would explain any slowness or expensiveness that you may be seeing on their part – they probably have to conform to decades of accumulated bureaucracy. So that leaves you with only Scaled Composites example out of the myriad of NewSpace projects, and that is not spending money nearly as fast as most other rockets in development; it is only taking longer than expected, because the rocket engine didn’t scale up as expected. I’ll concede the single example of Scaled Composites for timeliness, but I’m claiming the victory point on this one.

    > Except, I work for both oldspace and newspace. I teach both how to do it better cheaper faster. Dick might not like that little fact.

    That just proves the point that you think that there is only one right way to do things.

    > When I say old space does it faster and cheaper, remember I’ve done identical manned space projects for both, and saw oldSpace do far more, in far less time. Be faster to accept new ideas and methods. Do higher quality. I’ve had my observations reinforced by newspace execs, AIAA reps who work across the spectrum of companies, and by analysts for the trades, etc.

    This also proves the point that you think that there is only one right way to do things. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects, because *I* have seen NewSpace projects go faster and cheaper than OldSpace projects (e.g. CCDev vs. Orion/SLS/Constellation).

    >>> NASA doesn’t do campaigns – unless your considering the pork money “campaign spending”
    >> Who said that NASA does political campaigns in order to get Senators and Congressmen reelected? ..
    > We were talking about why NASA feels pressured to do things as inefficiently as they can to maximize port to get the voter support.

    So … who said that NASA does political campaigns? I know what we were talking about, but you brought up NASA not doing campaigns as though I had said it does, but I didn’t say any such thing.

    >>>> How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?
    >>> They don’t care about the money, they care about the voter support. The voters return such support
    >>> because of NASA spending the money near them. So they risk the lives for the votes or PR, not for the money.
    >>1) That does not answer the question
    >?
    The question is: “How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?”

    >> 4) I keep telling you, but you won’t listen, that the voters get really angry about pork…
    > And I keep telling you voters scream about OTHER PEOPLE GETTING PORK but strongly defend THEIR getting it. Most voter pressure is for various pork programs (investment in their communities). most especially for NASA that really does nothing the voters see as of any benefit.

    The only voters who get pork are those who work for government’s useless projects. That is most definitely *not* 90% of voters.

    Indeed, most pork necessarily goes to “other people” because there are so many “other people” to whom the pork can and does go. That is why voters aren’t interested in pork projects; most or all of the pork money goes to those “other people.”

    >> 5) And this still supports, not denies, the accusation that you think NASA is risking its astronaut’s lives for money
    >> (specifically: budget).
    > An accusation supported by testimony under oath by senior NASA execs who stated actually made policy and risked lives, for that reason.

    So that means that, despite all your denials otherwise, you *are* accusing NASA of risking its astronaut’s lives for money. Why did you not admit this in the first place instead of spending so much time and space arguing otherwise? Are you arguing just for the sake of argument? Are we wasting time and blog-space here?

    You really, truly are difficult to discuss or argue with. Here we are, spending paragraph after paragraph in violent agreement. Do you actually agree with all my other points but are likewise arguing just for the sake of argument? This explains why you give so few examples to support your stated views and why the examples that you *do* give are so poor.

    >> SD’s engine was used to win the Ansari X-Prize, so where is SD’s failure? ..
    Well given their engines didn’t work well in most cases, and they couldn’t make any real money in the engine busness (other then a couple engines for SS1 and maybe for SS2, how many have they actually sold?) no that really didn’t work for them and was arguable a mistake

    Point taken. But realize that this means that the F-1 and J-2 engines likewise are failures, by your definition, having only been used on Saturn rockets.

    >>…a launch vehicle company may want to be vertically integrated, making and controlling as much as it is able. ..
    > True, every busness would like to be completely autonomous and control everything, but you lose your shirt that way, so most surviving busness don’t do that. Certainly all vehicle busness avoid that.

    Certainly all vehicle businesses that *you* consider to be vehicle businesses. SpaceX being an example of one you don’t. Not only did they succeed in making their own engine (well, more than one), but they failed to lose their shirt.

    >> Yeah. All those delivered satellites and ISS cargos (both up AND down) are such abject failures…
    > They ones they delivered into the ocean certainly were. The failures and incidents on the ones that did deliver to the station were. Their brittle financial position, certainly isn’t a success.

    Name all the satellites that was SpaceX delivered into the ocean.

    Once again, you have declared something sans evidence. What “brittle financial position?” And since when was staying in business considered not a success?

    > The Russians now, USA (thew company that operated the shuttle program for NASA) did for decades at lower cost per ton under FAR rules!

    The Shuttle is not current. The Russians are a classic example of how poor non-COTS returns are. The Russians can only return a small amount and only by stuffing what little they can in whatever available cranny that they can find. Wow. I am so impressed with their (lack of) capacity.

    > No I remember that, I asked what UNANTICIPATABLE problem did SpaceX have, not what problem they had.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that you had anticipated that problem, warned them, and they ignored your warning.

    > Again VTOl rockets, even ones doing flips in mid air have been built and flown successfully for decades.

    Again, you change the topic to avoid being wrong. Which of these acrobatic rockets went up the miles and miles needed for a first stage to deliver the remaining stages into a trajectory for space, rather than going up a little way, doing a couple of tricks, then coming back down? SpaceX did something new that those others couldn’t have come close to trying.

    > We have been fling hundreds of flights both test and operational at hypersonic speeds, so yes its real and has been primetime.

    Hypersonic is mach 5 and above. Except for rockets and reentry vehicles passing through the range, there are no routine flights, only a few test flights. So your mach 5 dreams are either already achieved or they are still only in test, not yet ready for prime time. If you mean launch and reentry, then this part of the discussion is over. If you insist that flight is prime time, then Aviation Week has shown otherwise.

    BTW, did you notice that when these flights *do* start to take place, they will have been subsidized (by your definition) because all the testing is being done by government agencies? But this is a different, though tangentially related, topic.

    I don’t know if you know about Reaction Engines’ Skylon project. They intend to be in flight as they pass through mach 5, and switch their engine from air breathing to rocket.
    http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon_tech.html

    > the Atlas-V and Delta-IV have never lost any, and always flew paying customers on all their flights.

    OK, since we are considering delivering payloads into lower than planned orbits (Atlas V: 15 June 2007; Delta IV: 21 December 2004) to be successes, then SpaceX’s one “failed” payload launch – delivered to a lower than planned orbit – moves into the success category. Once again, you have two sets of standards; one for your favored companies, and a second for those out of favor.

    Let me add that bastion of reliability (SARCASM ALERT!), Wikipedia, to the list of publications that disagree with you. Look at the successes v. failures on the right side of the page. Note: the one partial failure is the one that gets redefined as a success in the paragraph above.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9#Development_and_production

    And speaking of not believing in testing, Since Atlas V and Delta IV were all launched with paying customers, then it is LM and Boeing (or maybe ULA) that launched payloads on new rockets (Atlas V and Delta IV) without first testing the rockets – not SpaceX. So that makes SpaceX more safety conscious, not less, than ULA. Another victory point to me.

    > SpaceX has a staff of 3800, and 300 got laid off? Sounds like 10% to me unless I heard a wrong report?

    Not only are you now making up numbers, but you can’t do the math. SpaceX’s staff is not known, so people are using estimates. Where did you get the number 3,800? The linked article says that the layoff is This article you referenced also states reports of 200-40 laid off, and that concerns that cash flow issues my be a facter were reasonable concerns.

    The article said, “I have heard speculation about a cash crunch within SpaceX as being one of the reasons for the firings.” Suddenly, for you, speculation becomes “reasonable concerns?” Speculation is something that does not come from firm facts. It is speculation.

    > They go to great extent to not ever say its due to sudden cash flow issues, and SpaceX has admitted to lieing before about being in financial hot water.

    Well, that sounds just like a typical, paranoid, conspiracy theory. “The theory *must* be true because the company denies it.”

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Kelly,
    >>
    >> Certainly the trades, gov publications, busness articles — and simple safty statististic disagree with you.

    > Maybe the ones that you read, but Aviation Week, Space News, Space.com, NASASpaceFlight.com,
    > SpaceFlightNow.com, and FloridaToday.com agree with me. ..

    Av week I’ld debate, the others aren’t trades – but have also noted the high accident rate, and reported the “issues” with flights?

    >..SpaceX’s customers agree with me. Even the safety statistics agree with me. …

    Given the high failure rates even reported by SpaceX??

    >…You continually state that the statistics are bad, but you have yet to provide evidence to support those statements.

    ??
    The news does cover the failures?

    >..replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.”

    Ok, sorry I wasn’t clear what I was talking abiout. For example.
    Orion, Apollo, etc Capsule under NASA Far with pork…= $20B dev program

    Commercial capsule with standards engineering
    processes, requirements/trace/test docs …………………. = about $4B dev program. (A bit less for Dream Chaser and CST)

    Space X dragon V1 – with out standard processes …….. = $200M dev program

    >>>…and explicitly the SpaceX part of NewSpace. NASA is only a subset, not the point…

    >> Except – NASA the market. They are about the only market with the money in hand, and a big
    >> enough demand, on the scale these companies need.

    > The point of NewSpace is to stop depending upon Congress’s NASA. …

    The whole point of new or old spaces commercialized space efforts is that, is to find/develop a bigger commercial market to sell to. No ones having any luck though – so NASA and DOD are the 800 pound gorillas in the marketplace. We don’t like it, they don’t like it (ok NASA loves it), but they buy the vast bulk of the services. However with their purchases, since they are gov funded, come the huge political demands from voters for support, legacy procurement rules (many done for what seemed like good ideas at the time), etc. That sucks, but its play the gov rules and sell to them, or just market to the little guys scurrying around them.

    >….Congress is squandering that asset, going so far as to set requirements for SLS (e.g. kerosene LOX first stage,
    > uses STS hardware, and the lifting capacity) instead of letting the smart, experienced NASA engineers figure out
    > how to accomplish the (unspecified) goal. …

    Well politically the goals are not to be discussed in this admin — ;/ — so you build first, and state goals later. ::arg::
    You give way tomuch credit to NASA managers who are generally just more civil servants defending their turf.

    Strip that off and you have a couple different companies building rockets and capsules under contract to the gov. Lots of new space folks like to get all biased that Boeing L/M are spawn of the devil ripping folks off and doing crude stupid things, vrs NewSpace who are cool, data super models, and do it just as well better faster cheaper — but the reality just doesn’t live there. SLS is done under NASA FAR so that will bloat the costs by a factor of 4. Constellation/SlS was designed by Griffen to be expensive and it is. Can’t blame the big guys for any of that. They were all offering to develp really cool RLVs vastly beyond all this crap out of pocket and market it to NASA. They turned them down flat. The USA group that operated shuttle offered to continue to operate them for 1/4th the previous cost if they could get the SAR contract rules like commercial crews getting to do – which would make shuttle flights cheaper per flight them Falcon/Dragons, etc. NASA wouldn’t even acknowledge receaving the proposal.

    > Without any other goal, NASA’s end-all is the space station (unless Orion miraculously gets a mission),..

    Pretty much agree. NASAs primary job is spending the money and justifying the expenditures.

    >.. but Bigelow and Planetary Resources missions go beyond NASA.

    They may some day. They may go under for lack of a market real soon.

    >.. There are plenty of commercial-space satellites being launched

    >….with the Air Force considering SpaceX’s application to launch military satellites, it seems that safety
    > is not so obviously bad that they would outright reject the application, so even the Air Force disagrees with you

    Actually they did disregard them for important launches – then got pushed to consider them, though getting them certified (I.E. audited to determine likely reliability – but the documentation isn’t there. Hence the long delays SpaceX fans are screaming about in certification.

    >>> Except that OldSpace is historically expensive and historically slow, and NewSpace is performing faster and
    >>> less expensively. It is factual history. ..

    >> Quite the opposite. From the 36 month $60m DC-X project by McDonnell Douglas in the 90′s
    >> to Blues efforts to repeat it over the last nearly decade. Scaled Composites project to do SS1 (ok
    >> SS2 hasn’t gone well, vrs their xprize competitors. Or Boeings progress on CCDev vrs Dream Chaser and SpaceX.

    > DC-X proves my point (a spending rate 1/150 of SLS) and Boeing’s CST-100 is not as slow (and not *nearly* as
    > expensive) as Orion, although they are an OldSpace company, so that would explain any slowness or
    > expensiveness that you may be seeing on their part – they probably have to conform to decades of accumulated
    > bureaucracy. …….

    Ok you lost me here.

    DC-X $60m, and the projected $5B in current dollars for the complete program to field the DC-X based shuttles the DC-3’s. I don’t see that as 1/150’th of SLS?

    As to DC-X and CST being as slow and expensive as they were due to old bureaucracy? But they are faster then the “NewSpace Companies like Dragon, Dream Chaser, Blues Shepards etc? I think your mixing something up here?

    >…..So that leaves you with only Scaled Composites example out of the myriad of NewSpace projects, and
    > that is not spending money nearly as fast as most other rockets in development;….

    ??
    Ok, Scaled isn’t NewSpace by any def I know of. Certainly new space teams weer cursing them for fighting the kind of rules wavers, “bureaucracy” wavers they were screaming were critical for their industry. They are a division or Northrup Grumman, and their cost structures were the burn rates I listed (up to most of 10 times cheeper then standard aerospace teams due to their being extremely experienced and skilled teams, like the old skunk works). Its NOT that they do things differently. Again, NewSpace groups were often livid of Rutan’s frequent support for having NewSpace projects handled under the standard licensing and certification rules (all that bureaucracy , inspections, laws) as commercial aircraft etc. Directly opposite what NewSpace and you are arguing. Hes as old space as the Lockheed/Martin’s Skunk works, or Boeings Phanton works.

    ===
    >> Except, I work for both oldspace and newspace. I teach both how to do it better cheaper faster.

    > That just proves the point that you think that there is only one right way to do things.

    No, I get paid to develop new right ways, but I know what all the old wrong ways are.

    >> When I say old space does it faster and cheaper, remember I’ve done identical manned space projects
    >> for both, and saw oldSpace do far more, in far less time. Be faster to accept new ideas and methods. Do
    >> higher quality. I’ve had my observations reinforced by newspace execs, AIAA reps who work across the
    >> spectrum of companies, and by analysts for the trades, etc.

    >.. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects,..

    DC-X vrs Blue Origion. CST vrs Dream Chaser and Dragon in certainly speed – (CST propably more then DC in cost, but its built to far higher quality standards, with about the same teams.) The ECLSS and TCS for Orion progressed much faster then the same here on dream chaser (I was a systems engineer on both)

    >… because *I* have seen NewSpace projects go faster and cheaper than OldSpace projects (e.g. CCDev vs.
    > Orion/SLS/Constellation).

    CCDev, Orion/SLS/Constellation are all NASA projects, and CCDev has both new and old space teams/companies (hell both CST and DC use most of the same teams) so you can’t use it as a old space vrs newspace comparison. You might use that to contrast NASA FAR vrs NASA SAR contracting programs,

    >>>> NASA doesn’t do campaigns – unless your considering the pork money “campaign spending”

    >>> Who said that NASA does political campaigns in order to get Senators and Congressmen reelected? ..

    >> We were talking about why NASA feels pressured to do things as inefficiently as they can to maximize port to get the voter support.

    > o … who said that NASA does political campaigns? I know what we were talking about, but you brought
    > up NASA not doing campaigns as though I had said it does, but I didn’t say any such thing.

    Yes you did under the “why NASA feeds so pressured to bloat out and do pork to get public support thread…

    Which is getting to be a boring thread.

    >>>>> How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?

    >>>> They don’t care about the money, they care about the voter support. The voters return such support
    >>>> because of NASA spending the money near them. So they risk the lives for the votes or PR, not for the money.

    > The question is: “How is that *not* risking its astronaut’s lives for money?”

    Its not for the money. Its for the public support/votes. Money is irrelevant to a gov agency, since its irrelivent – votes mater. Public support maters. Spending money is a means to that end.

    I suppose you could say its voters risking lives for money?

    Think of it like a old school politician handing out money to people who say they will vote for him in return. Its not far to say he paid out the money for the money.

    > he only voters who get pork are those who work for government’s useless projects….

    Factually false. The money gets spent in the communities – the communities prsper by the extra economic activity. The whole community benefits and supports these “investments in their community”.

    That’s the whole political point of pork. Getting public support to get reelected.

    >… That is most definitely *not* 90% of voters.

    it 90% of voters making a effort to support a space project – not 90% of all voters.

    =====
    >>> SD’s engine was used to win the Ansari X-Prize, so where is SD’s failure? ..

    >>Well given their engines didn’t work well in most cases, and they couldn’t make any real money in the
    >> engine busness (other then a couple engines for SS1 and maybe for SS2, how many have they actually
    >>sold?) no that really didn’t work for them and was arguable a mistake

    > Point taken. But realize that this means that the F-1 and J-2 engines likewise are failures, by your definition,
    > having only been used on Saturn rockets.

    But the company that built them wasn’t since they sold them and lots of other engines to this day.

    >>>…a launch vehicle company may want to be vertically integrated, making and controlling as much as it is able. ..

    >> True, every busness would like to be completely autonomous and control everything, but you lose your
    >>shirt that way, so most surviving busness don’t do that. Certainly all vehicle busness avoid that.

    > Certainly all vehicle businesses that *you* consider to be vehicle businesses….

    How many successful vehical manufacturers in aerospace, or most others short of the car busness, make their own engines?

    >…SpaceX being an example of one you don’t. ….they failed to lose their shirt.

    Actually they did, but got rescued by the gov.

    >> Yeah. All those delivered satellites and ISS cargos (both up AND down) are such abject failures…

    >> They ones they delivered into the ocean certainly were. The failures and incidents on the ones
    >>that did deliver to the station were. Their brittle financial position, certainly isn’t a success.

    > Name all the satellites that was SpaceX delivered into the ocean.

    All on the flights to the ISS would be the orbitcom sat, and Dragon failed to return cargo from orbit success fully on one flight. Other then the space burial one I can’t remember the other names, nor feell like looking them up.

    > Once again, you have declared something sans evidence.

    No more then you. Were not doing dualing research papers here.

    >What “brittle financial position?”…

    Reports I can’t go into that they are running out of money, busness journals etc shall we sell recommending a sell, and obviously their sales income doesn’t cover the expenses for a organization as large as SpaceX.

    >.. And since when was staying in business considered not a success?

    When you need a gov bail out to do it, and your not succeeding at your objectives (presumably more then just not going under)

    >> The Russians now, USA (the company that operated the shuttle program for NASA) did for decades at
    >> lower cost per ton under FAR rules!

    > The Shuttle is not current.

    Its not been out of operation that long. Next you’ll disavow SS1 as not worth counting since it was over a decade ago.
    ;)

    >.. The Russians are a classic example of how poor non-COTS returns are….

    ??
    Hardly a non-COTS thing. Basing transport on ’60’s era soviet designs is insane though!!!

    >> No I remember that, I asked what UNANTICIPATABLE problem did SpaceX have, not what problem they had.

    > Im sorry. I didn’t realize that you had anticipated that problem, warned them, and they ignored your warning.

    I didn’t, but given it wasn’t doing anything unusual or particularly difficult, a reasonably competent team would anticipate the issue.

    >> Again VTOl rockets, even ones doing flips in mid air have been built and flown successfully for decades.

    > Again, you change the topic to avoid being wrong. …..

    No you try to nit pick trivia to make this unigue

    >…Which of these acrobatic rockets went up the miles and miles needed for a first stage to deliver the
    > remaining stages into a trajectory for space, rather than going up a little way, doing a couple of tricks,
    > then coming back down?…

    Trival distinction unrelated to the issues they had. Its like braging your the first person from Dayton to climb Everest. It doesn’t make your climb something new and innovative that no ones else could/did do.

    Though running cargo on your experimental craft, when your doing something you consider innovative – is irresponcible. but off the topic.

    ===
    >> We have been fling hundreds of flights both test and operational at hypersonic speeds, so yes its real
    >>and has been primetime.

    > Hypersonic is mach 5 and above. Except for rockets and reentry vehicles passing through the range,
    > there are no routine flights,…

    That still leaves over a hundred shuttle flights. Still flying, gliding, but flying at hypersonic speeds.
    The X-37B fleet … not that they come down very often?!!

    So craft have routinely flown at such speeds.
    Ordering jet engines to fly at those speeds and integrate them into a flying craft was not considered difficult by the companies involved, or requiring anything not on the shelf.

    >I don’t know if you know about Reaction Engines’ Skylon project. They intend to be in flight as they pass
    > through mach 5, and switch their engine from air breathing to rocket.
    > http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/space_skylon_tech.html

    Yeah been following it for years. Overly complicated design, but hey if they can get it built its a at least a worthy project for this day and age.

    >> the Atlas-V and Delta-IV have never lost any, and always flew paying customers on all their flights.

    > OK, since we are considering delivering payloads into lower than planned orbits (Atlas V: 15 June 2007; Delta IV: 21
    > December 2004) to be successes,…

    The customer did.

    >… then SpaceX’s one “failed” payload launch – delivered to a lower than planned orbit – moves into the success category. ..

    I always considered THAT ONE successful. Even SpaceX didn’t claim the ones they dumped into the ocean success’

    >.. Let me add that bastion of reliability (SARCASM ALERT!), Wikipedia, …..

    :) Do you really want to debase yourself that far…. ;)

    > And speaking of not believing in testing, Since Atlas V and Delta IV were all launched with paying customers,
    > then it is LM and Boeing (or maybe ULA) that launched payloads on new rockets (Atlas V and Delta IV) without
    > first testing the rockets – not SpaceX….

    They had actually tested them far more then SpaceX ever had — though yes getting customers to fly on your first flights is rather unusual. It either shows great market confidence in their abilities, or that they offered a really great rate to a customer whose cargo was relacable. ;)

    >> SpaceX has a staff of 3800, and 300 got laid off? Sounds like 10% to me unless I heard a wrong report?

    > Not only are you now making up numbers, but you can’t do the math. SpaceX’s staff is not known, ….

    3,800 was the number I remember them saying? Musk I believe? Certainly one folks calculating their yearly costs vrs their profits were using. Course if no numbers for staffing levels or number laid off is known this argument get futiule.

    > The article said, “I have heard speculation about a cash crunch within SpaceX as being one of the reasons for
    > the firings.” Suddenly, for you, speculation becomes “reasonable concerns?” ..

    Given that also is following other reports, even by them of yearly sales, vrs the expenses of a company of that size that suggest they aren’t covering expences. Combined with a abrupt layoff, one sufficiently unusually as to trigger employee lawsuits. Yeah it seemed a reasonable idea when other folks in the bus, or busness journals, proposed it.

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    > Av week I’ld debate, the others aren’t trades – but have also noted the high accident rate, and reported the “issues” with flights?

    Well, you specified more than just the trades. This is another example of you changing definitions/topics/whatever to try to win a point. It didn’t work. I supplied examples and you still think that you can claim to be right merely by saying so.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > Given the high failure rates even reported by SpaceX??

    I demonstrated that based upon your own definition of failure, SpaceX has as good a record as the others.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >>…You continually state that the statistics are bad, but you have yet to provide evidence to support those statements.
    > ??
    > The news does cover the failures?

    Once again, you couldn’t find one news article to support your argument.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >>..replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.”
    > Ok, sorry I wasn’t clear what I was talking abiout. For example.
    > Orion, Apollo, etc Capsule under NASA Far with pork…= $20B dev program
    > Commercial capsule with standards engineering
    > processes, requirements/trace/test docs …………………. = about $4B dev program. (A bit > less for Dream Chaser and CST)
    > Space X dragon V1 – with out standard processes …….. = $200M dev program

    Once again, you make my point that SpaceX can do just as well while expending far fewer resources, such as money.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > The whole point of new or old spaces commercialized space efforts is that, is to find/develop a bigger commercial market to sell to. No ones having any luck though

    Really? Are you denying the rapidly growing smallsat business? I consider the immense interest in Bigelow space habitats to be a huge potential future market, so lucrative that Sierra Nevada is already partnering with at least two countries. That sounds like a nice market, to me.

    For both the smallsats and the space habitats, the market is there, but the transportation to space is not. Therefore sales are limited. Fortunately, two or three companies have announced that they want to cover the smallsat launch market, and the CCDev program encouraged at least four companies to build crew transport spacecraft. (I only hope that if Boeing is not selected for the next phase that they continue to develop CST-100 – otherwise it would suggest that they had only considered it to be pork, rather than a business opportunity.)

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > You give way tomuch credit to NASA managers

    Considering that I give zero credit to NASA management, I have to agree that I have given them way to much credit. Those managers seem to be worse than useless — harmful.

    Victory point to Kelly.

    > Hence the long delays SpaceX fans are screaming about in certification.

    Actually, SpaceX and its fans are not so concerned that the process takes time but that the decision for the next contract is scheduled to occur before certification is scheduled to be made. And the problem that you mentioned is really that at one time the Air Force chose to consider different configurations of the Falcon 9 to be different launch vehicles. The requirement for SpaceX is that there must be three successful flights with each configuration. That treats SpaceX differently than Atlas V (e.g. the 421 configuration flew a military satellite on its first flight) and Delta IV (e.g. 2nd and 3rd flights of the first version/configuration flew military satellites, certification – if it occurred – came before the 3rd flight)

    > Ok you lost me here.
    > DC-X $60m, and the projected $5B in current dollars for the complete program to field the DC-X based shuttles the DC-3′s. I don’t see that as 1/150′th of SLS?

    The $60 million was your figure, which I could verify elsewhere (although that site noted that $60 million was equivalent to $100 million today).

    I can’t find the $5 billion figure for finished development. So I am keeping the victory point that I already claimed, here.

    >>…..So that leaves you with only Scaled Composites example out of the myriad of NewSpace projects, and
    >> that is not spending money nearly as fast as most other rockets in development;….
    > ??
    > Ok, Scaled isn’t NewSpace by any def I know of.

    Well, it was *your* example of a NewSpace company. So I am keeping the victory point that I already claimed, here.

    >>.. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects,..
    > DC-X vrs Blue Origion. CST vrs Dream Chaser and Dragon in certainly speed – (CST propably more then DC in cost, but its built to far higher quality standards, with about the same teams.) The ECLSS and TCS for Orion progressed much faster then the same here on dream chaser (I was a systems engineer on both)

    Do you mean the same DC-X that you said would have cost $5 billion? CST, Dream Chaser, and Dragon are all on the same schedule. Even if I take your word for the ECLSS and TCS systems developments between Orion and Dream Chaser, these are mere sub-systems to the whole project. And Orion uses an ablative TCS, which is well understood and heavily used on many reentry bodies over the decades going into several atmospheres around the solar system. Unless Dream Chaser is using tiles similar to the Space Shuttle’s, then SN had some development to do that was beyond Orion’s development. No surprise there.

    > CCDev, Orion/SLS/Constellation are all NASA projects, and CCDev has both new and old space teams/companies (hell both CST and DC use most of the same teams) so you can’t use it as a old space vrs newspace comparison.

    I see. So the only Newspace company is SpaceX. And they are always wrong.

    >> o … who said that NASA does political campaigns? I know what we were talking about, but you brought up NASA not doing campaigns as though I had said it does, but I didn’t say any such thing.
    > Yes you did under the “why NASA feeds so pressured to bloat out and do pork to get public support thread…

    I searched and found no such reference come from me. You brought up that NASA does not do political campaigns as though I had said it does, but I didn’t say any such thing. If you think so, find it and quote it so that I can do a search. And it was boring the first time you did.

    Speaking of boring, discussing all this with you, and your strange and constantly changing definitions, has been tedious. Today everything means one thing, tomorrow it means something else. Oh, and yesterday it had yet another meaning. Sheesh.

    > Its not for the money.

    Except that you said that the testimony was that it *was* for the money: I wrote, “5) And this still supports, not denies, the accusation that you think NASA is risking its astronaut’s lives for money (specifically: budget).” and you wrote, “An accusation supported by testimony under oath by senior NASA execs who stated actually made policy and risked lives, for that reason.”

    Question was about money, not votes or support. Once again, you change it all around. Stick to the topics and questions, and stop making up things and claim that I said them. Otherwise we will continue to go back and forth, even if we agree on something. Talk about tedious! [Exasperation Alert]

    >> he only voters who get pork are those who work for government’s useless projects….
    > Factually false. The money gets spent in the communities – the communities prsper by the extra economic activity. That’s the whole political point of pork. Getting public support to get reelected.

    Once again, new definition. Suddenly pork isn’t just the pork, it is all the money that flows through the economy. Frankly, the voters like it better when they get to keep their own money so that they can spend it themselves, not the dregs left over from the over-taxation – that was a complaint of both the TEA Party and the Occupy movement. If you doubt that taxpayers like to keep their own money, document a taxpayer who intentionally paid extra, and I will admit that not all – but virtually all – like to keep their own money. If you have to keep changing definitions, then you have something wrong with your argument but won’t admit it.

    So I claim the victory point on this one, too.

    > How many successful vehical manufacturers in aerospace, or most others short of the car busness, make their own engines?

    This is irrelevant. Just because many or most companies buy from other manufacturers, it does not negate the desire for the rest to make their own. If this point is what you are reduced to, then you have run out of arguments on this.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > >…SpaceX being an example of one you don’t. ….they failed to lose their shirt.
    > Actually they did, but got rescued by the gov.

    If making a sale is considered being rescued, then every company is rescued by every sale. Once again, you change definitions or use words in bizarre ways.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > Dragon failed to return cargo from orbit success fully on one flight.

    Now you are resorting to lies. You know better than that.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >> Once again, you have declared something sans evidence.
    > No more then you. Were not doing dualing research papers here.

    Yes. much, much more than me. I reference books and articles and even link to articles. You have this dueling-papers attitude because you lack the evidence. You sound like a bureaucrat. They get to declare new rules just “because I said so.” Engineers have to provide *evidence* that they are right that something is going to work.

    >>What “brittle financial position?”…
    > Reports I can’t go into that they are running out of money, busness journals etc shall we sell recommending a sell, and obviously their sales income doesn’t cover the expenses for a organization as large as SpaceX.

    Once again, you fail to provide even the names of the business journals, much less the reports. If they exist in these journals, why can’t you go into them? Are you depending upon rumor and speculation? And no, it is not obvious that their sales income doesn’t cover their expenses. You presume to know their expenses, yet another assumption on your part.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >>.. And since when was staying in business considered not a success?
    > When you need a gov bail out to do it

    See the part about redefinition of “sale” above, except replace “rescued” with “bailed out”.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >> The Shuttle is not current.
    > Its not been out of operation that long. Next you’ll disavow SS1 as not worth counting since it was over a decade ago.

    Out of operation is out of operation, and SS1 does not count for returning cargo to Earth, since it neither took cargo up nor went into orbit to retrieve cargo.

    >>.. The Russians are a classic example of how poor non-COTS returns are….
    > ??

    Read the context. This is about return of materiel. Pretending to misunderstand is another example of running out of arguments.

    Victory point to Edward for this one and the previous one (“The Shuttle is not current…”).

    >> Im sorry. I didn’t realize that you had anticipated that problem, warned them, and they ignored your warning.
    > I didn’t, but given it wasn’t doing anything unusual or particularly difficult, a reasonably competent team would anticipate the issue.

    It *was* unusual. Nobody had ever done that before. Tell me who has ever returned a first stage booster after a launch (test or otherwise), or I claim the victory point on this one, too.

    >>> Again VTOl rockets, even ones doing flips in mid air have been built and flown successfully for decades.
    >> Again, you change the topic to avoid being wrong. …..
    > No you try to nit pick trivia to make this unigue
    And:
    > Trival distinction unrelated to the issues they had.

    Untrue, and you know it. Coming down from a couple of thousand feet does not involve the speeds that the vehicle reaches as it falls into rapidly increasing air densities. By claiming “nit pick” and “trivial distinctions” shows that you have run out of arguments on this one, too.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > Though running cargo on your experimental craft, when your doing something you consider innovative – is irresponcible.

    So, that makes ULA, LM, and Boeing irresponsible for launching Atlas V and Delta IV with payloads (as you admitted earlier). You are showing desperation, because you have no arguments left on this one, too.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >> Hypersonic is mach 5 and above. Except for rockets and reentry vehicles passing through the range,
    >> there are no routine flights,…
    > That still leaves over a hundred shuttle flights. Still flying, gliding, but flying at hypersonic speeds.
    > The X-37B fleet … not that they come down very often?!!

    Finally, you admit that it is just the launches and reentries that you consider to be hypersonic. That makes this issue moot. End of this issue.

    >>… then SpaceX’s one “failed” payload launch – delivered to a lower than planned orbit – moves into the success category. ..
    > I always considered THAT ONE successful. Even SpaceX didn’t claim the ones they dumped into the ocean success’

    You have been unable to give examples of any of these payloads dumped into the ocean.

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    >> And speaking of not believing in testing, Since Atlas V and Delta IV were all launched with paying customers,
    >> then it is LM and Boeing (or maybe ULA) that launched payloads on new rockets (Atlas V and Delta IV) without
    >> first testing the rockets – not SpaceX….
    >They had actually tested them far more then SpaceX ever had

    Flight test? Falcon-9 had a boilerplate payload for its test flight — first flight. Atlas V and Delta IV had paying customer payloads for their “test flights.” You can’t test a flight without a flight, because too much of reality happens during an actual flight. Reality is why Ariane V’s first flight failed spectacularly.

    You keep making this statement without evidence. Just because you declare it to be true does not make it true. Since you can’t present the evidence:

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    > 3,800 was the number I remember them saying? Musk I believe?

    At the time of that article, since that article, or before that article? Is this before or after the reductions? You do realize that they are hiring in an attempt to ramp up rocket production, so their staff numbers are in flux. I’m going to have to go with the article, here, because it was better researched than your guesses and dependence upon speculation and rumor.

    > Given that also is following other reports, even by them of yearly sales, vrs the expenses of a company of that size that suggest they aren’t covering expences.

    More speculation, based upon the presumption of expenses for “a company of that size” rather than real numbers. Since they don’t have to buy expensive hardware from outside companies and they have reduced bureaucracy, they almost certainly have lower expenses than other aerospace companies “of that size.”

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    OK, I have wrapped up a bunch of topics, today, so now we will only continue the remaining open issues, if you want.

  • Kelly Starks

    >> Given the high failure rates even reported by SpaceX??

    > I demonstrated that based upon your own definition of failure, SpaceX has as good a record as the others.

    Not that I read.

    =====
    >>>..replace FAR regulations with Space Act regulations, but that is a different, though related, topic.”

    >> Ok, sorry I wasn’t clear what I was talking abiout. For example.
    >> Orion, Apollo, etc Capsule under NASA Far with pork…= $20B dev program
    >> Commercial capsule with standards engineering
    >> processes, requirements/trace/test docs …………………. = about $4B dev program. (A bit > less for Dream Chaser and CST)
    >> Space X dragon V1 – with out standard processes …….. = $200M dev program

    > Once again, you make my point that SpaceX can do just as well while expending far fewer resources, such as money.

    Ludicrus stament, based on your assumption that Musk cando what others have done across al; industries (not just aerospace) 20 times cheaper then even legendary masters of efficency and speed, while frequently displaying and admiting failure to understand basic processes etc.

    Your faith, not reason is dominating.

    >> The whole point of new or old spaces commercialized space efforts is that, is to find/develop a bigger commercial market to sell to. No ones having any luck though

    > Really? Are you denying the rapidly growing smallsat business?….

    To trivial to impact the market as a whole.

    > I consider the immense interest in Bigelow space habitats to be a huge potential future market,…

    Bigelow themself have disagreed adn scaled their future plans down dozens of fold. As of yet they have not gotten a sale/contract with anyone yet?

    >… so lucrative that Sierra Nevada is already partnering with at least two countries…

    I’m on that project, the countries are offering to give ot sell them some parts, not buy anything.

    Potential assumed markets have dominated NewSpace for decades. Only the US gov has been a real profit center.

    >> You give way tomuch credit to NASA managers

    > Considering that I give zero credit to NASA management, I have to agree that I have given
    >them way to much credit. Those managers seem to be worse than useless — harmful.

    Agree

    >> Hence the long delays SpaceX fans are screaming about in certification.

    > Actually, SpaceX and its fans are not so concerned that the process takes time but that
    > the decision for the next contract is scheduled to occur before certification is scheduled
    > to be made. ====

    Given the AF needs to buy before SpaceX has anything to sell them (regardless of the certification), isn’t the AFs fault.

    >=== And the problem that you mentioned is really that at one time the Air Force chose to consider
    > different configurations of the Falcon 9 to be different launch vehicles. ….

    Which is normal. Worse they could find clear evidence which configuration which tests were run on – so there was no way to even use them to certify any configuration.

    >… That treats SpaceX differently than Atlas V (e.g. the 421 configuration flew a military satellite
    > on its first flight) and Delta IV (e.g. 2nd and 3rd flights of the first version/configuration flew
    > military satellites, certification – if it occurred – came before the 3rd flight)

    Given they couldn’t certify any of their craft, you expect the AF to let them fly without that? Atlas gets dif treatment, because they do the work SpaceX insuists is unnessisray.

    SpaceX is getting special treatment. Anyone else woul;d just be disqualified as a bidder by now.

    ====

    >>>.. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects,..

    >> DC-X vrs Blue Origion. CST vrs Dream Chaser and Dragon in certainly speed – (CST propably more then DC in cost, but its built to far higher quality standards, with about the same teams.) The ECLSS and TCS for Orion progressed much faster then the same here on dream chaser (I was a systems engineer on both)

    > Do you mean the same DC-X that you said would have cost $5 billion?

    That was %5b for a full production shuttle DC-3 shuttle, the DC-C test vehicle was much faster adn cheaper then the various new Sheppard attempts to replictae it.

    > CST, Dream Chaser, and Dragon are all on the same schedule…..

    No, CST is far ahead. DC adn Dragon/Falcon got 6 month extensions since they couldn’t finish on time. …which can’t be helping them in the award reviews finishing now.

    >… Even if I take your word for the ECLSS and TCS systems developments between Orion and Dream Chaser,
    > these are mere sub-systems to the whole project. And Orion uses an ablative TCS, ==

    TCS was the thermal control system (cooling system), not the reentry heat shields.

    And they are major systems. If you can’t do them as well – you cant do the rest as well.

    >> CCDev, Orion/SLS/Constellation are all NASA projects, and CCDev has both new and
    >> old space teams/companies (hell both CST and DC use most of the same teams) so
    >> you can’t use it as a old space vrs newspace comparison.

    > I see. So the only Newspace company is SpaceX. And they are always wrong.

    NewSpace is a amazingly slipery term. As far as teams for CCDev go, you may of may not consider DC?

    >> o … who said that NASA does political campaigns? I know what we were talking about, but you brought up NASA not doing campaigns as though I had said it does, but I didn’t say any such thing.
    > Yes you did under the “why NASA feeds so pressured to bloat out and do pork to get public support thread…

    > Except that you said that the testimony was that it *was* for the money:

    No I didn’t, I’ve clarified it over and over.

    >> >…SpaceX being an example of one you don’t. ….they failed to lose their shirt.

    >> Actually they did, but got rescued by the gov.

    > If making a sale is considered being rescued,..

    They didn’t make a sale

    >> Dragon failed to return cargo from orbit success fully on one flight.

    > Now you are resorting to lies.

    Nope its true..

    I am claiming the victory point on this.

    ===

    > It *was* unusual. Nobody had ever done that before. Tell me who has ever returned a first
    >stage booster after a launch (test or otherwise), or I claim the victory point on this one, too.

    The shuttles?

    In any even its still a trivial distiction

    ==
    >> Though running cargo on your experimental craft, when your doing something you consider innovative – is irresponcible.

    >So, that makes ULA, LM, and Boeing irresponsible for launching Atlas V and Delta IV with payloads…

    Or high risk — or just good enough for folks not to worry

    ==
    > 3,800 was the number I remember them saying? Musk I believe?

    ..
    >> Given that also is following other reports, even by them of yearly sales,
    >> vrs the expenses of a company of that size that suggest they aren’t covering expences.

    > More speculation, based upon the presumption of expenses for “a company of that size” ..

    More of your assumption that nothing normal to any industry applies to Musk.

    In general this is increasing taking on a religious faith article. Nothing in comparison to the history of anything else maters here, not staments etc. So this is getting pointless

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    You have unsuccessfully tried to restart issues that are now closed. You failed to present evidence of your cases and even went so far as to suggest that observed factual history is “faith.” These issues remain closed. Nice try.

    >>=== And the problem that you mentioned is really that at one time the Air Force chose to consider
    >> different configurations of the Falcon 9 to be different launch vehicles. ….
    > Which is normal. Worse they could find clear evidence which configuration which tests were run on – so there was no way to even use them to certify any configuration.

    Which makes my point that different rules were applied to Atlas V and Delta IV. Those two rockets were allowed to fly military payloads before achieving the 3-flight requirement that is placed on SpaceX.

    I claim the victory point on this issue.

    >>>… That treats SpaceX differently than Atlas V (e.g. the 421 configuration flew a military satellite
    >> on its first flight) and Delta IV (e.g. 2nd and 3rd flights of the first version/configuration flew
    >> military satellites, certification – if it occurred – came before the 3rd flight)
    > Given they couldn’t certify any of their craft, you expect the AF to let them fly without that? Atlas gets dif treatment, because they do the work SpaceX insuists is unnessisray.
    > SpaceX is getting special treatment. Anyone else woul;d just be disqualified as a bidder by now.

    A statement based upon your own faith, not documented factual history. Also, reference the above-mentioned double standard placed on SpaceX.

    I claim the victory point on this issue.

    >>>>.. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects,..
    >>> DC-X vrs Blue Origion. CST vrs Dream Chaser and Dragon in certainly speed – (CST propably more then DC in cost, but its built to far higher quality standards, with about the same teams.) The ECLSS and TCS for Orion progressed much faster then the same here on dream chaser (I was a systems engineer on both)
    >> Do you mean the same DC-X that you said would have cost $5 billion?
    > That was %5b for a full production shuttle DC-3 shuttle, the DC-C test vehicle was much faster adn cheaper then the various new Sheppard attempts to replictae it.

    I still can’t find any references to the $5 billion that you insist it would have cost. However, you may be confusing the 1990s DC-X with a 1960s proposal:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-X
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_DC-3#Description
    “Lockheed estimated that development and initial production would cost $5.912 billion over a period from 1970 to 1975.”

    >> CST, Dream Chaser, and Dragon are all on the same schedule…..
    > No, CST is far ahead.

    One might be ahead of schedule or the others behind schedule, but the schedule for flying astronauts is still to develop these taxis in six years, not in decades. This isn’t some decade-long drawn-out multi-tens of billions of dollars project. The NewSpace guys are serious about getting their hardware into space. (And I still hope that Boeing continues to work on CST instead of dropping it, should they not be chosen for the next contract.)

    >>… Even if I take your word for the ECLSS and TCS systems developments between Orion and Dream Chaser,
    >> these are mere sub-systems to the whole project. And Orion uses an ablative TCS, ==
    > TCS was the thermal control system (cooling system), not the reentry heat shields.
    > And they are major systems. If you can’t do them as well – you cant do the rest as well.

    It’s still a mere subsystem to the whole system.

    I claim the victory point on this issue.

    > NewSpace is a amazingly slipery term. As far as teams for CCDev go, you may of may not consider DC?

    OK. Since we don’t have definition here, let’s just close all NewSpace/OldSpace arguments.

    >> Except that you said that the testimony was that it *was* for the money:
    > No I didn’t, I’ve clarified it over and over.

    That came from what you said. I even included your quote, once. We aren’t going to get anywhere on this issue, either. This boring issue is now dropped.

    >>> Dragon failed to return cargo from orbit success fully on one flight.
    >> Now you are resorting to lies.
    > Nope its true..
    > I am claiming the victory point on this.

    You still have failed to provide evidence, much less proof, of your point. Saying that it is true does not make it true. Most of the issues we are arguing about are based upon your extraordinary statements that you continually declare without evidence. You cannot claim victory based upon your fanciful faith-based statements. Victory requires that you provide the evidence.

    I’m keeping the victory point.

    > It *was* unusual. Nobody had ever done that before. Tell me who has ever returned a first
    >stage booster after a launch (test or otherwise), or I claim the victory point on this one, too.
    The shuttles?
    In any even its still a trivial distiction

    If you mean the Orbiter, that is the payload, not the first stage. If you mean the SRBs, then they neither tried controlled landings nor did they have the anticipatalble problems you are worried about.

    I claim the victory point on this issue.

    >>> Though running cargo on your experimental craft, when your doing something you consider innovative – is irresponcible.
    >>So, that makes ULA, LM, and Boeing irresponsible for launching Atlas V and Delta IV with payloads…
    > Or high risk — or just good enough for folks not to worry

    Once again, you have one standard for ULA and another for SpaceX.

    I’m keeping the victory point.

    >>> Given that also is following other reports, even by them of yearly sales,
    >>> vrs the expenses of a company of that size that suggest they aren’t covering expences.
    >> More speculation, based upon the presumption of expenses for “a company of that size” ..
    > More of your assumption that nothing normal to any industry applies to Musk.
    > In general this is increasing taking on a religious faith article. Nothing in comparison to the history of anything else maters here, not staments etc. So this is getting pointless

    Here’s the point: I didn’t make any statement that they were in good financial shape. It is your claim, based upon speculation from an article and possibly upon rumor that you heard, that I am arguing. You made it without evidence.

    SpaceX could be out of business by the end of the week, for all I know. Businesses can go from apparent excellent financial positions to bankruptcy in an amazingly short period of time.

    Barings Bank was a quarter-millennium old company. On 22 February 1995 it was a stalwart of British banking. On 26 February 1995 it was declared insolvent and quickly sold for one British pound. Enron also collapsed fairly quickly, but Barings is my usual example for rapid demise of even the greatest and most trusted of companies.

    You, on the other hand, have not pointed to one article that shows a problem with SpaceX financials, just speculation and rumor. I need not defend any position of financial strength or acuity on Musk’s part, or anything of the sort, because I made no such declaration; you are the one with the unsupported claim.

    You are the one arguing with *demonstrated* success, declaring successes as failures and applying double standards on SpaceX, not me. The world has learned over and over that economic rules apply to all situations, whether or not we understand those rules. Examples include, but are not limited to, tulip mania in Holland, communism, and the “dot-com bubble” of the 1990s.

    I’m keeping the victory point.

    Since the only two issues that remain open are NewSpace v. OldSpace issues, and we have dropped that class of issue, that makes further discussion here obsolete.

    This was a good disagreement, even though neither of us changed our minds by much, if at all. I learned a lot. Thank you for the argument. I look forward to our next one.

    Robert, thank you for setting up (fixing?) your site to allow us to add comments for longer than three weeks.

  • “Robert, thank you for setting up (fixing?) your site to allow us to add comments for longer than three weeks.”

    My pleasure. I have enjoyed reading your vain effort to get Kelly to come up with one actual reference to substantiate his positions re SpaceX. He never did. (I know this especially because of this fact: if any commenter includes more than one link in their comment, I must approve it manually. I needed to do this with many of your comments as you frequently referenced outside sources. Kelly, however, never did.)

  • Kelly Starks

    Arg last pass

    >>>=== And the problem that you mentioned is really that at one time the Air Force chose to consider
    >>> different configurations of the Falcon 9 to be different launch vehicles. ….

    >> Which is normal. Worse they could find clear evidence which configuration which tests were run
    >> on – so there was no way to even use them to certify any configuration.

    > Which makes my point that different rules were applied to Atlas V and Delta IV. Those two rockets were allowed
    > to fly military payloads before achieving the 3-flight requirement that is placed on SpaceX.
    ….
    > Which makes my point that different rules were applied to Atlas V and Delta IV…

    Same rules, SpaceX simply wasn’t in as good a position to deal with it.

    >…”the Air Force chose to consider different configurations of the Falcon 9 to be different launch vehicles.”

    Yes, thats pretty normal. If you can show what specifically changed, and how everything impacted by that was validated and verified, its not a big deal. SpaceX couldn’t, so it was a bigger deal for them then others. Hence the advantage to doing that commercial overhead you keep dismissing as me thinking all the NASA overhead is necessary.

    >>>>>.. You need to provide examples of projects that were cheaper and faster than equivalent NewSpace projects,..

    >>>> DC-X vrs Blue Origion. CST vrs Dream Chaser and Dragon in certainly speed – (CST propably more then DC
    >>>> in cost, but its built to far higher quality standards, with about the same teams.) The ECLSS and TCS for
    >>>> Orion progressed much faster then the same here on dream chaser (I was a systems engineer on both)

    >>> Do you mean the same DC-X that you said would have cost $5 billion?

    >> That was $5b for a full production shuttle DC-3 shuttle, the DC-X test vehicle was much faster and
    >> cheaper then the various new Sheppard attempts to replicate it.

    > I still can’t find any references to the $5 billion that you insist it would have cost. ..

    Well it was stated as $3B in ’90’s money, which I figure would be about $5B now. Its been 20 years… it is sad its not on the web mush. It should be – the program made some huge strides showing how to make affordable RLV operations. But you hardly hear anyone refer to it anymore.

    Its like the Star-Raker that in the ’70’s completely contradicted the L5 (and other space colonization groups) assumption that cost to orbit with the tech of the day had to cost hundreds of dollars a pound (over a $1000 in current dollars), and instead showed it could be done for $10-$15 per pound, in 1978 dollars – ($36 to $55 a pound in 2014 dollars ). But now folks are completely unaware of it, even assuming RLVs have been proven impossible. I was writing up a entry for a web site on such site and other then the AIAA site they were published on (and most folks can’t get copies out of) their were only a couple (somewhat weird) sites that even mentioned it. The best ref page was on alternatewars.com “Wars that Never Were From Antiquity to Present Day”, which has little to do with space. You’d think every space advocacy group would reference it! The son of the leed designer said he couldn’t get any of the space advocates interested in supporting developing it. Keith Henson (L5 co-founder) still dismisses the idea in correspondence with me.

    :(

    Pet sore point.
    if your interested in reading about star-raker
    http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/Star_Raker/Star_Raker.htm

    >>> CST, Dream Chaser, and Dragon are all on the same schedule…..

    >> No, CST is far ahead.

    > One might be ahead of schedule or the others behind schedule, but the schedule for flying astronauts
    > is still to develop these taxis in six years, not in decades. …

    Ah, you were refering to NASA’s schedule, not their schedules. Ok

    >… This isn’t some decade-long drawn-out multi-tens of billions of dollars project.
    > The NewSpace guys are serious about getting their hardware into space. (And I still
    > hope that Boeing continues to work on CST instead of dropping it, should they not be chosen for the next contract.)

    Normally these things take about most of a decade (Shuttle from go ahead to first flights was about 8-10 years.) and not doing it as FAR rules cuts cost and time a lot.
    – though the last couple decades Congress has been pushing things to drag out.

    More interesting is how long they can afford to keep doing these projects without a big sales win?

    SNC has been working on Dragon for several years, and been building toward project on this scale since the early 90’s. They want to get up to a-list, but these get pricy and they don’t like raising money via stock sales or loans. So they could run out of money.

    Boeing been doing this for generations, but stockholders aren’t happy with low profit margin, low profit potential, limited market. projects. If they push CST without a customer signing a significant order – execs would likely be handed their heads. My fear is they could be pushed to close out of manned space completely – maybe space completely. That could leave a big hole in the industrial capacity. If CST and Dream Chaser are shut out they are the supplier chain, labs, etc, could start exiting. Or rather accelerate the exiting. SpaceX doesn’t have as good a financial footing as the others, and is unlikely to keep going as fast, or potentially at all, without a big win.

    >>… Even if I take your word for the ECLSS and TCS systems developments between Orion and Dream Chaser,
    >>> these are mere sub-systems to the whole project. And Orion uses an ablative TCS, ==

    >> TCS was the thermal control system (cooling system), not the reentry heat shields.
    >> And they are major systems. If you can’t do them as well – you cant do the rest as well.

    > It’s still a mere subsystem to the whole system.

    So your assuming all the major systems can take longer for them develop, but the integrated craft take less time??!

    >> NewSpace is a amazingly slippery term. As far as teams for CCDev go, you may of may not consider DC?

    > OK. Since we don’t have definition here, let’s just close all NewSpace/OldSpace arguments.

    Ok.

    ====

    >>> It *was* unusual. Nobody had ever done that before. Tell me who has ever returned a first
    >>>stage booster after a launch (test or otherwise), or I claim the victory point on this one, too.

    >> The shuttles?
    >>In any even its still a trivial distinction

    > f you mean the Orbiter, that is the payload, not the first stage.

    The orbiter actually is the first stage. It was a stage and a half system, rather then a 2 stage like Falcon. I.E the orbiter boosts from ground to orbit, with the “half stag(s)” boosting also from take Off, but dropping off part way. So the orbiter is the first stage/service modulebus/capsule. It certainly lands in a controlled manor and is reused.

    > If you mean the SRBs, then they neither tried controlled landings nor did they have the anticipatable problems you are worried about.

    They do a controlled landing with parachutes. not a powered landing, if that was the distinction you meant. However the issues SpaceX weren’t related to that.

    You said “..who has ever returned a first stage booster after a launch (test or otherwise)..”, and both stages of the shuttle do qualify.

    >>>> Though running cargo on your experimental craft, when your doing something you consider innovative – is irresponsible.

    >>>So, that makes ULA, LM, and Boeing irresponsible for launching Atlas V and Delta IV with payloads…

    >> Or high risk — or just good enough for folks not to worry

    > Once again, you have one standard for ULA and another for SpaceX.

    Or rather customers have a different standard of confidence in them. Or the vendor has done the work ahead of time to lower the probability of failure.

    >>> Given that also is following other reports, even by them of yearly sales,
    >>> vrs the expenses of a company of that size that suggest they aren’t covering expenses.
    >> More speculation, based upon the presumption of expenses for “a company of that size” ..

    > More of your assumption that nothing normal to any industry applies to Musk.
    > In general this is increasing taking on a religious faith article. Nothing in comparison to the
    > history of anything else maters here, not statements etc. So this is getting pointless

    >Here’s the point: I didn’t make any statement that they were in good financial shape.
    >it is your claim, based upon speculation from an article and possibly upon rumor that
    >you heard, that I am arguing. You made it without evidence.

    Well SpaceX having about 3,800 folks (and planning them to hire another 600) was been reported by them about a year ago (Shotwell specifically) and reported by the NewSpace blogs etc around then, so that’s hardly a point to debate.

    Costs for engineering companies (of most any type) runing about $300,000 a head is just a historic record, rule of thumb. Given SpaceX’s rapid purchases of capital equipment and facilities you’ld expect it to be a bit higher now, but it should average out to that. So given their web sites projected sales over the next and last few years, and stated sale proces (if you believe their web pages listing — which really is arguable) they havent a lot of black ink in their ballence sheet.

    As to the rumors/ speculation from execs, that just seems like a extrapolation from the above.

    So unless you think costs for equipment, realestate etc, is wildly different for SpaceX rather then every other engineering industry, (like you were arguing they could develop equipment/craft tens of times cheaper then any other engineering organization to similar quality etc) they are running on narrow real profit margins.

    >===

    > You are the one arguing with *demonstrated* success, declaring successes as failures and applying double
    > standards on SpaceX, not me. The world has learned over and over that economic rules apply to all situations,
    > whether or not we understand those rules. ..

    Your concept of success, with their high failure rate, incident rates, etc is different then mine. I’m not applying different standards to different groups – I’m applying different standards then you.

    > Since the only two issues that remain open are NewSpace v. OldSpace issues, …

    Agreed, without clearly defining what you consider new vrs old space, saying one work better then the other becomes unarguable. So the general “NewSpace companies are faster, more efficient, don’t have the political and communication slowdowns, of OldSpace companies..” assumptions often stated, certainly don’t show true for any project I can think of, much less have worked on. This is especially true of my experience working in the same parts of the Orion program even under NASA FAR! vrs Dream Chaser. The later just can’t sort things out and get them done as fast. Obviously NASA has spent years dithering with Orion, renaming it, re-scoping etc, causing rework; but the companies were much faster, much less bureaucratic and unwilling to listen, etc.

    As to other projects DC-X vrs NewSheperd, obviously DC-X was much faster and presumably lower cost. So beyond that…?

    the CST or Orion systems dev vrs DREAM Chaser or Dragon. The later two are taking longer

    >==

    >this was a good disagreement, even though neither of us changed our minds by much, if at all.
    > I learned a lot. Thank you for the argument. I look forward to our next one.

    ;)
    Until the next flame!

  • Edward

    Gee, if you want to keep this going … I am disappointed at the quality of the response about the Shuttle being a first stage, as you described something closer to single stage to orbit than a first stage rocket. And the Shuttle Orbiter is not SSTO, either.

    Since this has degraded into the ridiculous, as noted in the previous paragraph, I will add one last note: even if we assume that you are right that SpaceX eliminated a whole 10% (or even the reported less-than-5%) of its workforce *because* it is in financial trouble, Wall Street and other financial watchers consider such an adjustment to be good for a company, as it brings it back closer to or into financial solvency. So SpaceX *might* have been in trouble before, but it is less likely to be now.

    Finally, I don’t consider that this discussion and argument was a flame.

  • Kelly Starks

    As to shuttle. As a stage and a half design rather then a single or two stage to orbit – it gets a bit confusing.

    For example if they had gone Kerosene lox and put all the engines on the orbiter, with a similar sized drop tank, that’s still not fully a SSTO to orbit, since it has the big drop tank.

    >..SpaceX eliminated a whole 10% (or even the reported less-than-5%

    Can’t see how 300 out of about 4,000 comes out to less then 5%?

  • Edward

    >>..SpaceX eliminated a whole 10% (or even the reported less-than-5%

    > Can’t see how 300 out of about 4,000 comes out to less then 5%?

    Whether or not you can, that is what was reported in the article, referenced some long time back up the thread.

    > And the Shuttle Orbiter is not SSTO, either.
    > that’s still not fully a SSTO to orbit

    We are in agreement, there.

    I forgot to mention, earlier, that the Star Raker idea that you linked to is one of the types of ideas that I hope is pursued in the coming years. The closest that I have seen to such an idea is the Skylon, but its engine is very different, not using a ramjet at all.

    I have never seen the variable plug nozzle that is described in the engine cutaway diagram. The patent ( http://www.google.com/patents/US3237864 ) mentions that it is intended for ” turbo-ramjet, pure ramjet, and turbo-rocket-ramjet engines” as well as for afterburning in a turbine jet (though it seems to me that the variable nozzle was chosen for the same purpose). Do you know much about it or if it has been used anywhere?

  • Kelly Starks

    >>>..SpaceX eliminated a whole 10% (or even the reported less-than-5%

    >> Can’t see how 300 out of about 4,000 comes out to less then 5%?

    > Whether or not you can, that is what was reported in the article, referenced some long time back up the thread.

    Well SpaceX reported having about 4,000 + employees, and news reports rae still saying 300-400 laid off…

    >===
    > I forgot to mention, earlier, that the Star Raker idea that you linked to is one of the types of ideas
    > that I hope is pursued in the coming years. The closest that I have seen to such an idea is the Skylon,
    > but its engine is very different, not using a ramjet at all.

    Agree big time. Rather then 2 Capsules for CCDev on top of Orion, I’ld like to trim $2B-$3B pulled off to contract for Star-Raker like demos. I was part of a attempt to start up a company to make bizjet sized craft, with Jetfuel Mach 6+ turboRamjets and LOX/Jet fuel rockets, for 10,000 mile range suborbital, or orbital, craft. Had some big named engineers etc lined up and enthusiastic. RR & P&W said the engines were doable cheaply and quickly with off the shelf parts. New Materials were going to save a lot of weight and servicing issues (the later I wanted more info on). Looked like $15 per pound to orbit would be doable once they went mass market for the suborbital market. And we were thinking you could develop it for not much more then what SpaceX’s getting. (Pity our money guy got nowhere.) THATS WHAT A NASA SHOULD BE DOING!!!

    >. I have never seen the variable plug nozzle that is described in the engine cutaway diagram. The
    > patent ( http://www.google.com/patents/US3237864 ) mentions that it is intended for
    > ” turbo-ramjet, pure ramjet, and turbo-rocket-ramjet engines” as well as for afterburning
    > in a turbine jet (though it seems to me that the variable nozzle was chosen for the same purpose).
    > Do you know much about it or if it has been used anywhere?

    That’s the only time I’ve ever seen that particular turbo-ramjet layout. I think someone told me it was a unique design they did, which was never developed. Probable the son of the Star-Raker leed designer I corresponded with about 15+ years ago. (he wanted to develop a 25 ton lift Star-Raker – couldn’t get newspace etc investor interest either.)

  • Kelly Starks

    As for other papers on the Star-Raker FYI.

    AIAA 1978-975 ”Overview of the Satellite Power System Transportation System” — Hanley & Bergeron.

    AIAA 79-0895/SSD 79-0082 “Star-Raker: An Airbreather/Rocket-Powered, Horizontal Takeoff Tridelta Flying Wing, Single-Stage-to-Orbit Transportation System” – 1979 by David A. Reed, Jr. Hideo Ikawa, Jonas A. Sadunas
    (http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/Star_Raker/Star-Raker_SSD_79-0082.pdf
    http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.1979-895 )

    Earth-to-LEO Transportation System for SPS – Rockwell Impendent Research and Development Data Sheet – project number 243 – 1979 (http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/Star_Raker/Star-Raker_IRD_243.pdf )

    NASA CR 3321: Satellite Power Systems (SPS) Concept Definition Study – Volume IV: Transportation Analysis Excerpt – 1980 (http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/Star_Raker/NASA-CR-3321_Excerpt.pdf )

    NASA TM 58238: Satellite Power System: Concept Development and Evaluation Program – Volume VII: Space Transportation Excerpt – Nov 1981 (http://www.alternatewars.com/SpaceRace/Star_Raker/NASA-TM-58238_Excerpt.pdf )

    THE FINAL REPORT OF THE SPS SPACE TRANSPORTATION WORKSHOP, January 29-31, 1980 Sheraton Inn -Huntsville Huntsville, Alabama – October 1980

    Prepared for the Advanced Systems Office Program Development Directorate Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, Alabama. Prepared by the Johnson Environmental and Energy Center The University of Alabama in Huntsville

  • Edward

    Kelly,

    Thank you for the links. That will make for some good reading this weekend, but it looks like that is one of the ideas I wish we, the US, had followed decades ago.

  • Kelly Starks

    Yeah, this is high on my list of great missed opportunities in space.

    Imagine if this had been funded rather then Constellation/SLS? It would have utterly destroyed NASA, but opened up space in a big way. Disney could have opened a them park in high orbit for what they spent on Euro Disney.

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