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posted by cmn32480 on Friday March 18 2016, @11:17AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the lets-play-the-feud! dept.

The now former vice president of engineering at the United Launch Alliance (ULA) was a little too candid when discussing the advantages of ULA's competitor SpaceX at a talk with engineering students at the University of Colorado. Brett Tobey has resigned from his position, and Senator John McCain has called for an investigation into his comments:

Brett Tobey, vice president of engineering at the United Launch Alliance, has resigned after he spilled the beans on ULA's feud with SpaceX. He made the remarks to students at his alma mater in a speech that was recorded and then put online.

ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that lofts US military satellites into orbit. The biz has been at loggerheads with SpaceX after the Elon Musk-led upstart was locked out of the bidding for government contracts. SpaceX sued Uncle Sam, and was eventually allowed to bid on a launch. ULA didn't put in a counter-bid because it said it couldn't meet the requirements of the contract.

However, Tobey told students at University of Colorado-Boulder this week that other factors were involved – chiefly that ULA couldn't match SpaceX on price. He explained that SpaceX was offering to do the entire launch for $60m, and ULA would have charged $125m. That figure rises to $200m when you factor in the $800m a year the US military pays ULA for a "capability contract" to provide short-notice launches in an emergency. "ULA opted to not bid that," Tobey said. "The government was not happy with us not bidding that contract because they felt that they had bent over backwards to lean the fill to our advantage. But we saw it as a cost shootout between us and SpaceX."

Tobey also ranted about SpaceX using Senator John McCain to block access to key technology for ULA. The consortium uses RD-180 rocket engines that are made in Russia, but after Putin started acting up, the ULA was barred from buying the rockets under conditions of embargo – at SpaceX's bidding, Tobey suggested. Luckily for ULA, the ban on Russian rockets was overturned by Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican who represents a district where ULA has a major manufacturing plant. Nevertheless, ULA has now hired two firms to develop a new rocket for its launches.

TFA has some more juicy details, and I would recommend reading the rest. More coverage at The Verge, Ars Technica, GovExec.


Original Submission

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Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX 43 comments

Who will make it to Mars first?

It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars. "I'm convinced that the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding on a Boeing rocket," he said during a Boeing-sponsored tech summit in Chicago in October 2016.

On Thursday, Muilenburg repeated that claim on CNBC. Moreover, he added this tidbit about the Space Launch System rocket—for which Boeing is the prime contractor of the core stage—"We're going to take a first test flight in 2019 and we're going to do a slingshot mission around the Moon."

Unlike last year, Muilenburg drew a response from SpaceX this time. The company's founder, Elon Musk, offered a pithy response on Twitter: "Do it."

The truth is that Boeing's rocket isn't going anywhere particularly fast. Although Muilenburg says it will launch in 2019, NASA has all but admitted that will not happen. The rocket's maiden launch has already slipped from late 2017 into "no earlier than" December 2019. However, NASA officials have said a 2019 launch is a "best case" scenario, and a slip to June 2020 is more likely.

#SLS2020

Also, the next SpaceX flight is an ISS resupply mission and is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (December 12, 2017) at 1646 GMT (11:46 a.m. EST) from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The plan is for the booster to return to landing at Landing Zone-1, also at Cape Canaveral.

Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans
SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner
SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary

Related: VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry
ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
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Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @11:33AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @11:33AM (#319940)

    Uh-huh, uh-huh. Your forgot the part about how he will enjoy his golden parachute.

    Meanwhile in the real world, American homeless engineers remain homeless.

    That's social justice.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @11:38AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @11:38AM (#319941)

    courtesy of mil-in complex.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Bot on Friday March 18 2016, @12:29PM

    by Bot (3902) on Friday March 18 2016, @12:29PM (#319956) Journal

    This one weird trick will put you in trouble with any establishment (did I say any? there is only one left, basically).
    The trick is called: telling the truth.

    --
    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 2) by bitstream on Friday March 18 2016, @12:52PM

      by bitstream (6144) on Friday March 18 2016, @12:52PM (#319961) Journal

      Rather telling anything that upset their interests. Regardless of the truth.

    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday March 18 2016, @02:51PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 18 2016, @02:51PM (#319993) Journal

      Watch what happened when the camera kept rolling on these cheerleaders who tried to resign!

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19 2016, @07:06PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19 2016, @07:06PM (#320518)

        What happened? What happened? Did they get naked? Can I watch? Did they re-sign?

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @12:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @12:59PM (#319962)

    Government contractors are not allowed to retaliate when employees report waste, fraud, and abuse.

    Even if nothing sticks, at least the remaining management can be made VERY uncomfortable. They can spend some time with investigators, spend some time on the witness stand, and generally know that they are being watched.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @02:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @02:57PM (#319994)

      He's not reporting waste, fraud, and abuse. He's saying ULA couldn't compete because they are 2X more expensive, largely out of pursuing 100% reliability at all costs.

      I thought his comments were very candid and correct. He's resigning because he embarrassed ULA by pointing out that they can't compete on price right now, and he was probably too blunt in talking about the involvement of the Senators.

      I read a lot of his reported statements and he sounds like the upper-management boss that you wish you had: pro-company but with a firm grasp on reality and willing to state it. They could very easily have taken the gist of his comments as a good rallying cry, the sort of "better, cheaper, faster" type of momentum going forward. Instead, it looks like they're pulling back into the "he doesn't represent our views" mode and you'll end up seeing just more of the same.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @05:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @05:57PM (#320077)

        He said that the Air Force had been trying to tweak to requirements to favor ULA. That's not OK, even if ULA opted out due to being overpriced.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday March 18 2016, @07:39PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 18 2016, @07:39PM (#320139) Journal

        Had he not pointed fingers at the Senators he would have gotten away with it. Even the bit about the government tilting the contract to their advantage.

        ULA isn't the only bunch prevented from buying Russian Rocket Motors. (Which the US is fully licensed to build [wikipedia.org] in-house.)

        The only investigation likely to occur here is the mention of McCain.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by linkdude64 on Friday March 18 2016, @01:15PM

    by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 18 2016, @01:15PM (#319965)

    I was thinking it was something more serious, like maybe he made a phallic joke about rockets and sexual-humor-assaulted some poor, helpless, strong, and independent college student.

    Guess I can put my torch and pitchfork away.

    ...for now.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday March 18 2016, @01:27PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday March 18 2016, @01:27PM (#319969) Journal

      Made ya look!

      "Compare it to having two fiancées, two possible brides. Blue Origin is a super-rich girl, and then there is this poor girl over here, Aerojet Rocketdyne," he said.

      That enough to constitute sexual-humor-assault?

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      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by linkdude64 on Friday March 18 2016, @03:42PM

        by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 18 2016, @03:42PM (#320012)

        Ugh. So ignorant!

        Bridges are not limited to the cishet socially enforced gender binary dynamic of "boy and girl." They have unique pronouns such as tri, dri, and uri. "I crossed over the tridge today" or, "London Uridge is beautiful and brave" for example. This is a stunning example of the bridgogynistic nad structuralist attitudes that are so present in corporate America.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday March 18 2016, @03:59PM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday March 18 2016, @03:59PM (#320016) Journal

          The quote says "brides". I think you've had enough to drink today, sir.

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          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Friday March 18 2016, @04:08PM

            by rts008 (3001) on Friday March 18 2016, @04:08PM (#320022)

            No, let him go on. Encourage him in fact.

            It had me giggling like I used to watching Monty Python.

            • (Score: 2) by arulatas on Friday March 18 2016, @04:57PM

              by arulatas (3600) on Friday March 18 2016, @04:57PM (#320039)

              Bloody splitters.

              --
              ----- 10 turns around
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Runaway1956 on Friday March 18 2016, @02:15PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 18 2016, @02:15PM (#319988) Homepage Journal

    Come on, people, say it isn't so! There's no corruption in the military industrial complex! Those people all serve because they are happy to serve us proles - they're not in it for the money. It's their duty and privilege to work long hours, to develop the best weapons and crap in the world. They do it because they want our soldiers and sailors to have the bestest of everything. Corruption? Hell, man, they're not motivated by filthy lucre!

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @07:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @07:25PM (#320133)

      can't tell if joking or stupid withouth the PS filled with sionist shit

  • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday March 18 2016, @03:59PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday March 18 2016, @03:59PM (#320017)

    ULA? More like U-mad-bro?

    --
    "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @05:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18 2016, @05:01PM (#320043)

    His guard was down due to certain legal-in-Colorado activities.

  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Saturday March 19 2016, @10:25AM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Saturday March 19 2016, @10:25AM (#320378) Journal

    so, maybe we need to start slipping truth serum in the guest-speaker's water; see if more "inconvenient" truths leak out..

    Also, isn't "military industrial complex" just synonymous for "corrupt to the core"?

    --
    "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex