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posted by martyb on Monday December 11 2017, @01:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the competition++ dept.

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
SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News


Original Submission

Related Stories

VP of Engineering at United Launch Alliance Resigns over Comments About the Space Launch Industry 21 comments

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

ULA Exec: SpaceX could be Grounded for 9-12 Months 12 comments

An executive from SpaceX's chief competitor, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), predicts that SpaceX won't conduct any more launches for the next 9 to 12 months, as it makes repairs and investigates the explosion of a Falcon 9 booster on Sept. 1:

"It typically takes nine to 12 months for people to return to flight. That's what the history is," Tory Bruno, chief executive of United Launch Alliance, told Reuters. [...] Bruno said the main issue after accidents involving space launches has "always been figuring out what went wrong on the rocket, being confident that you know ... how to fix it and then actually getting that fix in place." Repairing damage to the launch pad is usually not a significant issue, he said. "Historically, it had never been the pad that's taken the longest time," he said.

Bruno spoke with Reuters a few hours before ULA, a partnership of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, was preparing to launch its 111th rocket, so far all successfully. An Atlas 5 rocket, carrying a NASA asteroid sample-return spacecraft, was poised for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida about 1.2 miles (2 km) away from the SpaceX launch site.[*]

Bruno said he called SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shortly after the accident to extend sympathies and offer help. "It's a small community and issues especially around safety - but even mission success - kind of transcend the competitive piece of this," Bruno added.

ULA and SpaceX are rivals for private space missions and launches by U.S. government agencies. Musk's company in May broke ULA's monopoly on flying U.S. military and national security satellites, winning an $83 million Air Force contract to launch a Global Positioning System satellite in 2018. The two firms are expected to square off over a second satellite launch services bid, which closes on Sept. 19.

[*] See SoylentNews coverage: OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission - Launch Successful -Ed.


Original Submission

Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019 5 comments

The first launch of the SLS has slipped again:

NASA has decided it must delay the maiden flight of its Space Launch System rocket, presently scheduled for November 2018, until at least early 2019. This decision was widely expected due to several problems with the rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground launch systems. The delay was confirmed in a letter from a NASA official released Thursday by the US Government Accountability Office.

The Falcon Heavy will be able to deliver payloads that are similar to what SLS Block 1 can carry:

In its maiden flight configuration, named Block 1, the heavy-lifter will be able to haul up to 77 tons (70 metric tons) of cargo to low Earth orbit, more than double the capacity of the most powerful launcher flying today — United Launch Alliance's Delta 4-Heavy. The Block 1 version of SLS will fly with an upper stage propelled by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine, based on the Delta 4's second stage.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled to make its first flight later this year, will come in just shy of the SLS Block 1's capacity if the commercial space company gave up recovering its booster stages.

NASA plans to introduce a bigger four-engine second stage on the EM-2 launch, a configuration of the SLS named Block 1B.

GAO report.


Original Submission

Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan 56 comments

Elon Musk has published a plan to colonize Mars using as many as 1,000 Interplanetary Transport System spaceships to transport a million settlers at a cost of $200,000 per person:

Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free.

SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO just published the plan, which he unveiled at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. Musk's commentary, titled "Making Humanity a Multi-Planetary Species," is available for free [DOI: 10.1089/space.2017.29009.emu] [DX] on New Space's website through July 5.

"In my view, publishing this paper provides not only an opportunity for the spacefaring community to read the SpaceX vision in print with all the charts in context, but also serves as a valuable archival reference for future studies and planning," New Space editor-in-chief (and former NASA "Mars czar") Scott Hubbard wrote in a statement.

[...] ITS rockets will launch the spaceships to Earth orbit, then come back down for a pinpoint landing about 20 minutes later. And "pinpoint" is not hyperbole: "With the addition of maneuvering thrusters, we think we can actually put the booster right back on the launch stand," Musk wrote in his New Space paper, citing SpaceX's increasingly precise Falcon 9 first-stage landings.

Also at The Guardian.


Original Submission

Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA 9 comments

Commercial space companies want NASA to expand the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. SpaceX's senior vice president for global business and government affairs called for the COTS program to be extended to deep space activities:

Commercial space companies today (July 13) urged legislators to extend NASA's successful public-private partnerships for International Space Station transportation to future programs, including human missions to Mars.

NASA already is working with six firms to develop prototype habitats that would augment the agency's multibillion-dollar Orion capsule and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. NASA has said it intends to use the system to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.

[...] Technologies that SpaceX would be interested in developing in partnership with NASA include heavy-cargo missions to Mars, deep-space communications systems, and demonstrations of vertical takeoff and landing on the moon, Hughes said.

Getting spacecraft like the Interplanetary Spaceship to Mars will probably require SpaceX to dip into the NASA coffers yet again:

This proposal was foreshadowed last year in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the International Astronautical Congress there, Musk presented a sketch of the architecture needed to lower the cost of transit to Mars enough to make colonization feasible. His top-line cost of $10 billion, however, is likely out of reach for SpaceX in the near term—without the help of a big-pocketed government. "There's a lot of people in the private sector who are interested in helping fund a base on Mars, and perhaps there will be interest on the government sector side to do that," Musk said last fall.

Also at Ars Technica and LA Times (broader article about the economics of heavy launch capabilities).


Original Submission

SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans 2 comments

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

In recent weeks, there have been rumors that SpaceX is no longer planning to send an uncrewed version of its Dragon spacecraft to Mars in 2020, or later. Now those rumors about the Red Dragon concept have been largely confirmed.

The company had planned to use the propulsive landing capabilities on the Dragon 2 spacecraft—originally developed for the commercial crew variant to land on Earth—for Mars landings in 2018 or 2020. Previously, it had signed an agreement with NASA to use some of its expertise for such a mission and access its deep-space communications network.

On Tuesday, however, during a House science subcommittee hearing concerning future NASA planetary science missions, Florida Representative Bill Posey asked what the agency was doing to support privately developed planetary science programs. Jim Green, who directs NASA's planetary science division, mentioned several plans about the Moon and asteroids, but he conspicuously did not mention Red Dragon.

After this hearing, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor didn't return a response to questions from Ars about the future of Red Dragon.

So the real question becomes how DO they plan to land it?

Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-appears-to-have-pulled-the-plug-on-its-red-dragon-plans/


Original Submission

SpaceX Putting Red Dragon on the Back Burner 14 comments

SpaceX informed NASA of slowdown in its commercial Mars program

Confirming rumors and suspicions that SpaceX is adjusting its plans to begin dispatching robotic landers to Mars, NASA officials said the commercial space company has informed the agency that it has put its Red Dragon program on the back burner.

Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement between NASA and SpaceX, the government agreed to provide navigation and communications services for the Red Dragon mission, which originally aimed to deliver an unpiloted lander to Mars in 2018. SpaceX confirmed earlier this year the launch of the experimental lander on a Falcon Heavy rocket had slipped to 2020. But Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, said last month that the company is redesigning its next-generation Dragon capsule, a craft designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, to do away with the capability for propulsive, precision helicopter-like landings as originally envisioned. Returning space crews will instead splash down in the ocean under parachutes.

[...] Musk wrote in a tweet that SpaceX has not abandoned supersonic retro-propulsion at Mars. "Plan is to do powered landings on Mars for sure, but with a vastly bigger ship," he tweeted last month after the announcement that SpaceX is omitting the propulsive landing capability on the Crew Dragon.

Musk said his team at SpaceX is refining how the company could send people to Mars, eventually to settle there. He revealed a Mars transportation architecture in a speech at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, last year, but the outline has since changed. A vision for gigantic interplanetary transporters Musk presented last year has been downsized, he said. Musk said he will unveil the changes during a presentation in September at this year's International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

Previously: NASA to Take a Supportive Role in SpaceX's Red Dragon Mars Mission
Elon Musk Publishes Mars Colonization Plan
SpaceX Appears to Have Pulled the Plug on its Red Dragon Plans


Original Submission

SpaceX: Making Human Life Multiplanetary 27 comments

This week at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk will provide an update to his 2016 presentation regarding the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars.

Making Life Multiplanetary


Original Submission

Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022 16 comments

In a move intended to align with the National Space Council's call for NASA to return to the Moon, the United Launch Alliance intends to launch a Bigelow Aerospace B330 inflatable module into low Earth orbit, and later boost it into lunar orbit using a rocket which can have propellant transferred to it from another rocket:

Bigelow Aerospace, a company devoted to manufacturing inflatable space habitats, says it's planning to put one of its modules into orbit around the Moon within the next five years. The module going to lunar space will be the B330, Bigelow's design concept for a standalone habitat that can function autonomously as a commercial space station. The plan is for the B330 to serve as something of a lunar depot, where private companies can test out new technologies, or where astronauts can stay to undergo training for deep space missions.

"Our lunar depot plan is a strong complement to other plans intended to eventually put people on Mars," Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a statement. "It will provide NASA and America with an exciting and financially practical success opportunity that can be accomplished in the short term."

To put the habitat in lunar orbit, Bigelow is looking to get a boost from the United Launch Alliance. The B330 is slated to launch on top of ULA's future rocket, the Vulcan, which is supposed to begin missions no earlier than 2019. The plan is for the Vulcan to loft the B330 into lower Earth orbit, where it will stay for one year to demonstrate that it works properly in space. During that time, Bigelow hopes to send supplies to the station and rotate crew members in and out every few months.

After that, it'll be time to send the module to the Moon. ULA will launch two more Vulcan rockets, leaving both of the vehicles' upper stages in orbit. Called ACES, for Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, these stages can remain in space, propelling other spacecraft to farther out destinations. ULA plans to transfer all of the propellant from one ACES to the other, using the fully fueled stage to propel the B330 the rest of the way to lunar orbit.

The B330 is the giant version of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module.

Previously: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS to Reach Mars
China to Send Potato Farming Test Probe to the Moon
Stephen Hawking Urges Nations to Pursue Lunar Base and Mars Landing
Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base (could they be joined together?)
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station


Original Submission

SpaceX Unlocks "Steamroller" Achievement as Company Eyes 19 Launches in 2017 8 comments

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1

Prior to this year, the most successful launches SpaceX had performed in any given year was eight. But in 2017 the company has been able to put together a more efficient production flow, a maturing Falcon 9 rocket, and an experienced workforce to put its launch capabilities into overdrive. On Monday, SpaceX will go for its 16th launch of the year, doubling its previous record.

This year has seen a number of firsts for the company—first reflight of a Falcon 9 booster, first reuse of a Dragon cargo spacecraft, first national security payload, and a remarkable dozen landings. But probably the biggest achievement has been finally delivering on the promise of a high flight rate.

"They have had a busy and perfect year in 2017, with launches, recovers, and reuses all executed well," said Greg Autry, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California. Moreover, the successes this year should set the stage for even greater achievements in years to come.

Autry said insurers no longer are charging a premium on SpaceX's reuse launches, which the company has performed three of in 2017. This suggests reuse is becoming more normal and accepted within the industry. "This should make the job of the SpaceX sales folks even easier," Autry said. "Barring any delays due to launch failures, I think we will see them grab an even bigger slice of the market and could actually approach a monopoly position in commercial launch."

Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/10/spacex-is-about-to-double-its-launch-output-for-any-previous-year/


Original Submission

Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset 52 comments

Trump space adviser: Blue Origin and SpaceX rockets aren't really commercial: Scott Pace likens heavy-lift rockets to aircraft carriers.

In recent months, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, Scott Pace, has worked assiduously behind the scenes to develop a formal space policy for the Trump administration. In a rare interview, published Monday in Scientific American, Pace elaborated on some of the policy decisions he has been helping to make.

In the interview, Pace explained why the Trump administration has chosen to focus on the Moon first for human exploration while relegating Mars to becoming a "horizon goal," effectively putting human missions to the Red Planet decades into the future. Mars was too ambitious, Pace said, and such a goal would have precluded meaningful involvement from the burgeoning US commercial sector as well as international partners. Specific plans for how NASA will return to the Moon should become more concrete within the next year, he added.

In response to a question about privately developed, heavy-lift boosters, the executive secretary also reiterated his skepticism that such "commercial" rockets developed by Blue Origin and SpaceX could compete with the government's Space Launch System rocket, which is likely to make its maiden flight in 2020. "Heavy-lift rockets are strategic national assets, like aircraft carriers," Pace said. "There are some people who have talked about buying heavy-lift as a service as opposed to owning and operating, in which case the government would, of course, have to continue to own the intellectual properties so it wasn't hostage to any one contractor. One could imagine this but, in general, building a heavy-lift rocket is no more 'commercial' than building an aircraft carrier with private contractors would be."

I thought flying non-reusable pork rockets was about the money, not strategy. SpaceX is set to launch Falcon Heavy for the first time no earlier than December 29. It will have over 90% of the low Earth orbit capacity as the initial version of the SLS (63.8 metric tons vs. 70).

Previously: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
First SLS Mission Will be Unmanned
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
U.S. Air Force Will Eventually Launch Using SpaceX's Reused Rockets


Original Submission

SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News 12 comments

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) believes that SpaceX will realize significant cost savings with reusable boosters (archive) without needing to launch them ten times each — as bitter SpaceX competitor United Launch Alliance asserts:

Gerd Gruppe, a member of DLR's executive board and responsible for DLR's space program, said the agency has concluded that SpaceX is on the verge of realizing the savings it has promised from reusing first stages. "With 20 launches a year the Falcon 9 uses around 200 engines, and while their cost of refurbishment is unknown, we think SpaceX is well on the way to establishing a competitive system based on the reusability" of the rocket's first stage, Gruppe said here Oct. 24 at the Space Tech Expo conference.

Not everyone is so sure. Leslie Kovacs, executive branch director at United Launch Alliance (ULA), said ULA has concluded that SpaceX needs to refly Falcon 9 first stages 10 times each to make reusability pay. "The question of reusability is not a technical problem. It boils down to an economic problem," Kovacs siad here Oct. 24. "Our internal analysis shows that if you are going to do that [reuse the first stage], the break-even point is about 10 times. You have to bring back that first stage 10 times for it to be economically beneficial for you."

Meanwhile, SpaceX has thrown the future of the European commercial launch provider Arianespace into doubt. Although Arianespace plans to launch its cheaper Ariane 6 rocket in 2020, it may not be able to compete with SpaceX's reusable rockets even with European subsidies (which Germany is reluctant to provide):

NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines 19 comments

NASA could use an engine developed by Blue Origin instead of the four RL-10 engines currently used by the Space Launch System (SLS):

[One] problem with legacy hardware, built by traditional contractors such as Orbital ATK and Aerojet Rocketdyne, is that it's expensive. And while NASA has not released per-flight estimates of the expendable SLS rocket's cost, conservative estimates peg it at $1.5 to $2.5 billion per launch. The cost is so high that it effectively precludes more than one to two SLS launches per year.

[...] [The RL-10] engines, manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne, are also costly. (Ars understands that NASA paid an average of $17 million for each RL-10 engine for the maiden Exploration Upper Stage vehicle). So in October, to power the EUS, the space agency issued a request for information to the aerospace community for "a low cost drop-in replacement engine to minimize program cost." According to the document, the initial set of four engines would be needed in mid-2023 to prepare for the third flight of the SLS rocket, known as Exploration Mission-3.

Then, after an extension of the deadline for responses beyond mid-November, NASA revised the RFI on December 1. The revised document no longer seeks a "drop-in replacement" for the RL-10 engine, rather it asks for a "low-cost replacement engine." Although this seems like a subtle change, sources within the aerospace industry indicated to Ars that it is significant. According to NASA, it was done to increase the number of responses.

[...] That would probably include Blue Origin's BE-3U engine, which the company plans to use for its upper stage on the New Glenn heavy lift rocket. This is a modified version of the BE-3 engine that powers the New Shepard rocket, which has now flown successfully seven times. Blue Origin has previously marketed the BE-3U to Orbital ATK for its Next Generation Launch System, which is looking for an upper stage engine. A single BE-3U provides about 120,000 pounds of thrust, which exceeds the 100,000 pounds of thrust provided by four RL-10 engines.

Just cancel SLS and give that money to SpaceX, Blue Origin, or anybody willing to launch competitively.

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
First SLS Mission Will be Unmanned
Commercial Space Companies Want More Money From NASA
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX
President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1


Original Submission

SpaceX BFR vs. ULA Vulcan Showdown in the 2020s 16 comments

The United Launch Alliance's CEO Tory Bruno has been making his case for the upcoming Vulcan rocket and Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage. The system could compete against SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and BFR in the mid-2020s:

The maiden flight of the Vulcan currently is targeted for the middle of 2020. Two successful commercial launches are required as part of the government certification process, followed by a required upper stage upgrade to improve performance, either moving from two to four Centaur RL10 engines or using a different set of engines altogether. If all goes well, ULA will introduce its new upper stage in 2024, the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES, that Bruno says will revolutionize spaceflight. "This is on the scale of inventing the airplane," Bruno told reporters during the media roundtable. "That's how revolutionary this upper stage is. It's 1900, and I'm inventing the airplane. People don't even know what they're going to do with it yet. But I'm confident it's going to create a large economy in space that doesn't exist today. No one is working on anything like this."

The Vulcan will stand 228 feet tall with a first stage powered by two engines provided by either Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, or Aerojet Rocketdyne. Blue Origin's BE-4 engine burns methane and liquid oxygen while Aerojet Rocketdyne's AR-1 powerplant burns a more traditional mixture of oxygen and highly refined kerosene.

[...] ULA plans to begin engine recovery operations after the Vulcan is routinely flying and after the ACES upper stage is implemented. Bruno said the engines represent two-thirds of the cost of the stage and getting them back every time, with no impact on mission performance, will pay big dividends. SpaceX, in contrast, must use propellant to fly its Falcon 9 stages back to touchdown. Heavy payloads bound for high orbits require most if not all of the rocket's propellant and in those cases, recovery may not be possible. As a result, SpaceX's ability to recover rocket stages depends on its manifest and the orbital demands of those payloads.

"Simplistically, if you recover the old booster propulsively then you can do that part of the time, you get all the value back some of the time," Bruno said. "Or, you can recover just the engine, which is our concept, and then you get only part of the value back, about two thirds ... but you get to do it every single time because there's no performance hit. So it really turns into math."

ULA expects to fly at least 7-8 more Delta IV Heavy rockets between now and the early 2020s, with some Atlas V launches happening concurrently with the beginning of Vulcan launches in the mid-2020s.

The U.S. Air Force has just awarded ULA a $355 million contract to launch two Air Force Space Command spacecraft, and SpaceX a $290 million contract to launch three GPS Block III satellites.

In addition to testing BFR with short hops starting in 2019, SpaceX plans to send BFR into orbit by 2020. The company is leasing land in Los Angeles, reportedly for the construction of BFR rockets.

Related: SpaceX's Reusable Rockets Could End EU's Arianespace, and Other News
Boeing CEO Says His Company Will Carry Humans to Mars Before SpaceX
Zuma Failure Emboldens SpaceX's ULA-Backed Critics; Gets Support from US Air Force [Updated]
SpaceX to Launch Five Times in April, Test BFR by 2019


Original Submission

NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft; SpaceX Poised to Fly Crew Before Boeing 17 comments

NASA Announces Astronauts for First Commercial Crew Missions

Today, NASA announced the astronaut selection for the first Commercial Crew flights, which will finally restore the ability to launch astronauts from American soil. Boeing's first test flight, which is scheduled for mid-2019, will have Eric Boe, social media-savvy astronaut Chris Ferguson and rookie Nicole Aunapu Mann on board. SpaceX's inaugural Crew Dragon voyage, targeting April 2019, will have Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins as crew.

NASA also announced the astronauts for the first missions, which will be long-duration and dock with the International Space Station. Suni Williams, who is best known for running the Boston Marathon on an ISS treadmill, will be joined by rookie astronaut Josh Cassada. And finally, the second SpaceX demo flight will be crewed by Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Source: Engadget

NASA Names First Astronauts to Fly on American Spacecraft; SpaceX Poised to Fly Crew Before Boeing

NASA has selected nine American astronauts who will fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner:

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 11 2017, @01:35PM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 11 2017, @01:35PM (#608263)

    Musk is all sizzle and no steak, hops from one headline grabbing project announcement to the next. But when it comes to delivering he falls pretty short. And that is when their idea is plausible.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday December 11 2017, @02:10PM

      by c0lo (156) on Monday December 11 2017, @02:10PM (#608266) Journal

      I would have my money on boeing.

      But... what? You don't have your money, thus the optative?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by pe1rxq on Monday December 11 2017, @02:19PM (1 child)

      by pe1rxq (844) on Monday December 11 2017, @02:19PM (#608267) Homepage

      Right now Musk is ahead. Dragon on Falcon-9 is real and has flown multiple times. Its not the human rated version, but pretty close. Falcon heavy is supposed to launch in a month or so...
      The track record for NASA and manned spaceflight is actually bad when it comes to plausability. The last plan that was actually (partially) executed was the space shuttle and that plan was from 1969.
      Every plan since then ended up in limbo.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday December 11 2017, @06:04PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Monday December 11 2017, @06:04PM (#608356)

        > The track record for NASA and manned spaceflight is actually bad when it comes to plausability. The last plan that was actually
        > (partially) executed was the space shuttle and that plan was from 1969. Every plan since then ended up in limbo.

        To be fair, they do what Congress tells them to, and Congress ran out of the space-fairing enemies they needed to stay focused.
        The rise of the Evil Commies II could bruise enough egos to help with that: A few Chinese staying on the Moon longer than all Americans combined could be a start (still not an existential crisis fueling ICBM research).

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by takyon on Monday December 11 2017, @02:55PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday December 11 2017, @02:55PM (#608276) Journal

      SpaceX ties ULA’s annual launch record with 16th launch this year [spacenews.com]

      They are doing well even before you consider the effects of reusable rockets.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by khallow on Monday December 11 2017, @03:54PM (2 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @03:54PM (#608291) Journal

      Musk is all sizzle and no steak

      Compared to Boeing? Let us keep in mind that SpaceX has already developed over the last 15 years two rockets, several rocket engines, a space capsule, reusable first stage, and is working on their own heavy lift vehicle, all for much less (like an order of magnitude less!) than Boeing would do with NASA money. Second, Boeing and NASA haven't developed new launch vehicles for a long time (as noted already, NASA hasn't successfully deployed a new launch vehicle since the Space Shuttle, Boeing since Delta IV Heavy in early 2000s).

      Sure, I could see the complaint having some validity. Musk makes a lot of claims and predictions, and these frequently don't work out. But Boeing is even worse at that.

      And the SLS is its own largest obstacle to doing anything with the SLS, including visiting Mars. NASA has had a pretty stable budget since the mid 1970s. It's not getting radically bigger. So an expensive launch vehicle like the SLS, which currently consumes [behindtheblack.com] $2 billion a year (not including Orion capsule which is another $1 billion a year), is going to drain the budget for manned space activities. In other words, NASA can pay for the SLS or it can do manned activities in space - not both.

      To elaborate on that, NASA estimated it would spend [nasa.gov] (see page 4) $3.4 billion in 2017 on "Space Exploration". Almost all of that (including "Exploration Ground Systems") is meant for SLS or Orion. NASA's total budget was almost exactly $18 billion. So almost 20% of NASA's budget is devoted to designing and building a rocket that they can't support and do any other manned activities with.

      In contrast, if they were to instead pay for launches on the Falcon 9, that would cost less than $3 million per metric ton ($61 million [spacenews.com] to launch up to 22.8 metric tons) to low Earth orbit (LEO). So an opportunity cost of SLS and Orion so far this year has been that NASA could have instead put up 1200-1300 metric tons of payload into LEO using the Falcon 9. That would, for example, be roughly the mass of propellant required for three 500 ton vehicles to travel to Mars or the mass of four International Space Stations in LEO. In other words, instead of working on a launch vehicle and associated capsule that might launch at the earliest in 2019, they could be launching as much payload this year as the SLS will launch in its first decade!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:21AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:21AM (#608621)

        That's our khallow! Rocket Scientist! Entreprenuer! Privatiser of the Torture Dungeons of Abu Ghraib! More for less, he says! (Wait, does khallow actually know anything about rocket science? Did he fire an Estes once? Is he blowing smoke up our arses and telling us it is raining, AGAIN?)

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:23AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:23AM (#608647) Journal
          You know, you could read my posts on the subject. That would give you a better idea of how knowledgeable I am on the subject than saying stupid shit on the internets would. What can I say of you, who can't say anything useful or intelligent, but has this burning need to say something anyway? Sad.

          Moving on, estimates of the price of SLS (and its component parts) and the Falcon 9 are public record. The former is expected to spend something like $40 billion just to get to the point where the big version of the SLS launches for the first time with whatever payload it ends up carrying. $40 billion buys a lot of Falcon 9 launches and a lot of smart space science and exploration missions, even of the manned sort. It turns out that the SLS will never be economical. They require a peculiar supply chain with no other use, an army of workers, and maintain a hideously low launch frequency. It will never be competitive with even the worst commercial launchers out there (Delta IV, currently).

          You don't have to wonder whether I'm "blowing smoke up your ass". You can figure it out on your own by doing your own research. It won't take long, if you're any good with numbers.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Snow on Monday December 11 2017, @04:15PM (2 children)

      by Snow (1601) on Monday December 11 2017, @04:15PM (#608299) Journal

      Remember when he started SpaceX? People (Including me) laughed. Then he made it into orbit. Then he accomplished the most amazing thing I have ever seen -- landing a 10 story rocket on it's ass. On a floating barge.

      SpaceX has already accomplished the impossible. They have made space exciting again.

      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Monday December 11 2017, @07:48PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Monday December 11 2017, @07:48PM (#608401) Journal

        And it appears they've motivated Boeing to get off it's lazy ass as well.

        Competition is good....

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by choose another one on Monday December 11 2017, @09:17PM

        by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @09:17PM (#608435)

        > SpaceX has already accomplished the impossible. They have made space exciting again.

        Actually, the real success is that they've made it boring (as he predicted).

        I no longer bother to look for SpaceX launches in the news, or watch the videos - oh look, another rocket landed on it's arse, again, whoop-de-doo. It isn't exciting anymore, it's routine.

        Now, Falcon Heavy is exciting, I'll watch that, because it's bigger but mostly because Musk is talking up the probability of spectacular failure (or talking down probability of success - but, same thing) - it's going to be exciting (newer bigger) if it works, exciting (big fireworks) if it doesn't, spectacular either way. But, when they've done a few of them, they'll be boring too.

    • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:29AM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:29AM (#608624)

      How's that 787 Dreamliner working out, Boeing shill?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:16AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:16AM (#608641)

        I fly internationally 50-100 times per year. Most flights that used to be on a 74x or a 3xx are on a dreamliner these days. People with lack of knowledge talking down to others, despite being wrong. Lemme guess - you're a millennial?

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by petecox on Monday December 11 2017, @01:57PM (3 children)

    by petecox (3228) on Monday December 11 2017, @01:57PM (#608264)

    If they slingshot around the sun they'll end up 300 years in the past and have plenty of time to surpass Elon!

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Monday December 11 2017, @02:25PM

      by c0lo (156) on Monday December 11 2017, @02:25PM (#608269) Journal

      Sling-shot around the Sun to reach Mars? Not gonna work, the grav assist manoeuvre requires the gravitation of a large body in motion.
      At the best, one can try an Oberth manoeuvre [wikipedia.org] and deliver crispy humans to Mars.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by turgid on Monday December 11 2017, @02:32PM

      by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @02:32PM (#608270) Journal

      Computer! Computer!

      How quaint...

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday December 11 2017, @05:19PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Monday December 11 2017, @05:19PM (#608334)

      So you're saying Boeing makes Klingon spaceships? I mean, that would explain a few things ...

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 11 2017, @02:49PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 11 2017, @02:49PM (#608272)

    Boeing might get to Mars with their spacecraft, but it will likely be put into Earth orbit on a SpaceX milk run.

    OTOH, Voyager just fired an engine after 37 years and it just worked.
    That is serious overkill for LEO, but might be nice to have far from home.

    Deep space may require two mindsets, that brings these two together.
    First, the ability to sit down, do it by the numbers and get it right. (Steely eyed space man.)
    Second, the ability to figure out a simpler way to just get it done. (The often forgotten right stuff.)

    Nasa engineering used to have both, but....

    The classic manned space industry does not lean towards simple and just get it done.
    (Both due to the Nasa/contractor thing and the Nasa/career risk thing.)

    It is a theory that SpaceX does not have a bead on making the serious overkill Voyager like stuff.
    They have never really tried.
    But also, it may be less important.
    Apollo 13 taught a deep space lesson that stuff happens and having 2 space craft was handy.
    From a mission architecture standpoint, this means instead of putting all your eggs in one gold plated basket, 2 stainless ones flying together might be wiser.
    Given this sort of thinking, X might have the upper hand.

    The thing is that it is still a horse race, but a more team effort might be useful.
    NASA certainly gets some credit for setting up a situation that got us to having 2 paths to this goal.

    So what next?
    Standing orders might be: Don't break X and try to what you can with the rest.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Monday December 11 2017, @03:16PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday December 11 2017, @03:16PM (#608281) Journal

      It is a theory that SpaceX does not have a bead on making the serious overkill Voyager like stuff.
      They have never really tried.
      But also, it may be less important.

      That's fluff, not analysis.

      SpaceX builds rockets. They need to be reliable enough to get into orbit. But they are going beyond that. SpaceX is already estimating how often they can reuse their launchers. This includes some minor checkups or refurbishing on the ground, but that will initially be for safety purposes and their turnaround time will probably drop to the point where they can refly a booster the next day. If these things were built with a disposability mindset, reusing them would be impossible. They are overengineered in order to be reused, and overengineering is a quality that can be applied to Voyager, Mars rovers, etc.

      SpaceX reusable launch system development program [wikipedia.org]

      According to Elon Musk, almost every piece of the Falcon should be reused over 100 times. Heat shields and a few other items should be reused over 10 times before replacement. In March 2017, SpaceX announced progress in their experiments to recover, and eventually reuse, the 6-million dollar payload fairing. On the SES-10 mission, one of the fairing halves performed a controlled atmospheric reentry and splashdown using thrusters and a steerable parachute; fairings are eventually slated to land on a floating "bouncy castle" structure.

      SpaceX began re-flight of previously-launched booster stages in 2017. The first re-flight was accomplished in March 2017, nearly a year after the booster's maiden flight; the second was in June 2017, only five months after its maiden flight. Both were successful, and both insurers and launch service customers are readily supporting the newly emerging market in launch services provided by multiple-use boosters.

      [...] Over the subsequent missions, landing of the first stage gradually became a routine procedure, and since January 2017 SpaceX ceased to refer to their landing attempts as "experimental". Low-energy missions to the ISS fly back to the launch site and land at LZ-1, whereas more demanding satellite missions land on drone ships a few hundred miles downrange. Occasional missions with heavy payloads, such as EchoStar 23, do not attempt to land, flying in expendable configuration without fins and legs.

      [...] During 2016 and 2017, SpaceX has recovered a number of first stages to both land and drone ships, helping them clarify the procedures needed to re-use the boosters rapidly. In January 2016 Elon Musk estimated the likelihood of success to 70 percent for all landing attempts in 2016, hopefully rising to 90 percent in 2017; he also cautioned that we should expect "a few more RUDs" (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly, Musk's euphemism to denote destruction of the vehicle on impact). As of 31 October 2017 Musk's prediction was not far off the mark, as five out of eight flown boosters (63%) were recovered in 2016, and thirteen out of thirteen (100%) so far in 2017. Three GTO missions for heavy payloads (EchoStar 23 in March 2017, Inmarsat-5 F4 in May 2017 and Intelsat 35e in July 2017) were flown in an expendable configuration, not equipped for landing. In late 2017, additional incremental testing with refinements to the fairing recovery design are planned. SpaceX has indicated that intact fairing recovery is hoped to be achieved in 2017, with reflight of a recovered fairing planned in 2018.

      [...] SpaceX spent four months refurbishing the first booster to be re-used, B1021, and launched it again after approximately one year. The second booster to be flown again, B1029, was refurbished in "only a couple of months" and re-launched after five months. Elon Musk has stated a goal to turn around a first stage within 24 hours before the end of 2017.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 11 2017, @03:57PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @03:57PM (#608292) Journal

      NASA certainly gets some credit for setting up a situation that got us to having 2 paths to this goal.

      What second path? SLS hasn't shown it will be viable and my take is that it is institutionally incapable of being viable. It consumes too much of the relatively fixed manned space budget to allow for the SLS and manned missions to Mars at the same time.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Monday December 11 2017, @03:11PM (6 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @03:11PM (#608280) Journal

    Did Boeing specify what condition the humans would be in when they arrived at mars?

    Or even if they would be alive when launched from Earth?

    Does Boeing understand the difference between innovation and sucking at the government teat while trying to come up with innovating new ways to suck even more money from the government?

    --
    I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday December 11 2017, @04:19PM (5 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday December 11 2017, @04:19PM (#608302)

      Well, one way they can get to Mars faster and easier is to eliminate the need for a landing craft, and also for any rocket propellant for slowing the ship to enter Mars orbit. Just aim the craft with humans at Mars and go full speed; at the end of the trip, there will be humans on Mars.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday December 11 2017, @05:59PM (4 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Monday December 11 2017, @05:59PM (#608352)

        And you will find volunteers for that.
        Which is no way, shape or form, a comment on what they would leave behind...

        • (Score: 2) by turgid on Monday December 11 2017, @09:23PM (3 children)

          by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @09:23PM (#608441) Journal

          Perhaps some loony billionaires would pay to be buried on Mars, or at least be dropped upon it in their coffins having already died?

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Monday December 11 2017, @10:29PM (2 children)

            by MostCynical (2589) on Monday December 11 2017, @10:29PM (#608487) Journal

            "Here is the launch container - you lie in this moulded foam"
            "Where are the breathing apparatus and controls?"
            "There is enough air for the mission"
            "..and the controls?"
            "You will not need any controls, the computer will ensure you arrive."

            --
            "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
            • (Score: 3, Funny) by bob_super on Monday December 11 2017, @10:41PM (1 child)

              by bob_super (1357) on Monday December 11 2017, @10:41PM (#608501)

              It is utterly unacceptable that Russia has been leading with a score of 3. I demand that we find 4 Proud Americans ready to die in space !

              • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Monday December 11 2017, @10:54PM

                by MostCynical (2589) on Monday December 11 2017, @10:54PM (#608514) Journal

                Have we just scripted "Weekend at Bernie's 3"?

                --
                "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Monday December 11 2017, @03:49PM (9 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @03:49PM (#608290) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I don't see Boeing beating SpaceX. But, I have zero inside information. I can only base my presumption on the fact that SpaceX has come out of nowhere, and accomplished as much as they have, in just a decade. Boeing has been at their business of bilking the government out of big bucks for a hell of a lot longer. I'd say that Boeing could and should have put real spacecraft into space a long time ago. At the least, why didn't they make a better space shuttle, after we lost a couple of them?

    Boeing isn't really serious about going to Mars. SpaceX is.

    Not only will Musk do it before Boeing, he'll do it cheaper.

    Again, that is only opinion. I WISH I had inside information though!!

    But, don't anyone be terribly surprised if the damned Chinese do it before any of ours do. That country is determined to dominate us in every field, and they move closer to that goal every day. Space exploration? It's on their list of things to do!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJSAvzEPf5w [youtube.com] (The intro is kinda disjointed, but the facts do come through)

    --
    "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Monday December 11 2017, @04:16PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday December 11 2017, @04:16PM (#608300) Journal

      I've looked into that. China is ramping up their space program, but their big spend in the near term is going to be on their own space station [wikipedia.org] (originally called Tiangong-3). It may come with a better-than-Hubble space telescope [popsci.com]. Which should be considered a good thing for the world (probably should have been done with the ISS). But it's still Low Earth orbit, nowhere near Mars, "ground" that has already been tread.

      They (CNSA) plan to send a rover [wikipedia.org] to Mars around the same time as NASA's Mars 2020 [wikipedia.org] rover and ESA's ExoMars 2020 [wikipedia.org].

      But none of the national space agencies have announced a plan to land on Mars. That's right, there is no plan to land on Mars. You hear about 2035 being the target date. Current NASA plans [wikipedia.org] would involve a lunar space station in the 2020s followed by a Mars space station around 2033. No manned landing. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are already working [popularmechanics.com] on the Deep Space Gateway lunar space station. Russia and other current ISS partners may join in [popsci.com]. Lockheed Martin's plan [wikipedia.org] would have (NASA) astronauts orbiting Mars around 2028, a bit more ambitious than NASA's current estimate. I think we all know that will slip into the 2030s.

      By comparison, SpaceX plans to land humans on Mars by 2024 [wikipedia.org]. I think that date is likely to slip, but it's the most aggressive plan of them all.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday December 11 2017, @04:23PM (7 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday December 11 2017, @04:23PM (#608304)

      At the least, why didn't they make a better space shuttle, after we lost a couple of them?
      Boeing isn't really serious about going to Mars. SpaceX is.

      To be fair, they surely didn't make a better space shuttle because the government wasn't willing to pay them to do so. They'd have been happy to build anything the government wanted I'm sure, it's just a question of the government providing the funding.

      But the big problem really seems to be the completely broken and dysfunctional relationship between contractors and the government, where the government pays tons of money to favored contractors and projects just stretch on, sometimes without ever getting done, with massive cost overruns. The way government acquisition works seems to encourage this.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Monday December 11 2017, @05:43PM (6 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Monday December 11 2017, @05:43PM (#608342)

        Let's say you're a boss at an entrenched government contractor, one that has substantial relation$hips with all of the relevant politicians and bureaucrats.

        Now, a contract job comes in, and you have two options:
        A. Work all-out to complete the job as quickly and efficiently as possible.
        B. Make it look like your working, but only kind of do the job, and send a small percentage of the money earned back to the politicians and bureaucrats as kickbacks to ensure they renew next year.

        Yeah, almost everyone picks B, because it's a lot more profitable.

        This happens at all levels of government, whether you're talking about local road repair jobs or big bucks federal defense contracts. It's more common when the politicians are in "safe" seats and don't have to worry about a serious election challenge, and have reached what they know will be the pinnacle of what they can accomplish in their careers (i.e. a city councilman who knows they will never ever become mayor).

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday December 11 2017, @06:29PM (5 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday December 11 2017, @06:29PM (#608369)

          What I wonder is why it's like this, because in decades past it wasn't (or at least not nearly as bad). The US used to get projects done quickly, and for not that much money (inflation-adjusted). Look at all the bridges and highways that were built from 100 to 50 years ago, using the technology of the day. If things were as dysfunctional then as now, we wouldn't have them. And look at how fast military projects were completed: fighter planes were developed and put into production within 4 years. Compare that with the F-35.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday December 11 2017, @08:32PM (3 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 11 2017, @08:32PM (#608417) Journal
            My take is that the US went through a phase change in the early decades of the Cold War that created a fertile environment for such corruption: 1) huge increase in federal spending, 2) huge increase in complexity and opacity of federal government, and 3) a resulting huge disconnect between spending badly and any negative consequences for doing wrong. It's gotten to the point where they don't even try to do things right - defaulting to cost plus contracts and creation of programs that are likely to fail from the start.
            • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Monday December 11 2017, @10:48PM (2 children)

              by MostCynical (2589) on Monday December 11 2017, @10:48PM (#608506) Journal

              Don't forget "out sourcing", as opposed to the 40s/50s/even 60s style "partnering". It usedto be private companies and government worked together, with private and public money mixed, so a government project would have government and private employees working along side each other, possibly in a government building, possibly even with government oversight.

              Now, with profits and IP and insurance/risk issues, no company would allow government employees into their buildings where any work is done,nor would any government have private company employees around in a government bulding (unless appropriate rent/contracts/costs had been sorted, and certainly NOT where government work was being done!)

              Collaboration now means "at meetings, dividing up the funding".

              --
              "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:22AM (1 child)

                by Grishnakh (2831) on Tuesday December 12 2017, @05:22AM (#608646)

                nor would any government have private company employees around in a government bulding (unless appropriate rent/contracts/costs had been sorted, and certainly NOT where government work was being done!)

                That's not true. There's a LOT of government contractors working on-site in government facilities, frequently alongside government employees. Basically, it seems to be much like the reason private corporations hire contractors: it's a way for the government to more easily hire qualified people, and if they don't work out, get rid of them easily, even though it costs more on an hourly basis.

                • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Tuesday December 12 2017, @08:15AM

                  by MostCynical (2589) on Tuesday December 12 2017, @08:15AM (#608674) Journal

                  As replacement employees, not as employees of a private company working in partnership with the government.

                  Worse, they may be technically employees of ServiceCompanyXYZ Ltd, adding its 30% to the hourly rate of te supplied contractor.

                  The key word was partnership (with private company, as, well, equals)

                  --
                  "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Monday December 11 2017, @11:04PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Monday December 11 2017, @11:04PM (#608519)

            Three reasons I can think of:
            1.They received substantially more funding, so even if a substantial portion was swallowed up in corruption there's still more work actually being done. It also means more effort could be put into oversight and administration.

            2. Decades ago, the major works projects were believed to be necessary for keeping America safe. For instance, part of the reason the interstates were built was that there was a real fear that the Commies would invade the US, and President Eisenhower being the smart general he was wanted to make sure that he could, for instance, easily move an army formation from California to New York in a reasonably timely fashion without airlifting it. So the people involved were more likely to actually care about the project being done because there were real problems if they didn't. By contrast, nobody really believes their survival depends on the F-35, for instance.

            3. The Republican Party in the early 20th century was based on an ideal of "good governance", with the goal of making the government as efficient as possible at what it's doing, which meant that people like Eisenhower were constantly on the lookout for money going places it shouldn't. The Republican Party after 1980, by contrast, believes that government is always hopelessly corrupt and inefficient, so their focus is not on eliminating the corruption so much as making sure as much of the graft as possible goes into their own pockets. The Democrats by all appearances followed suit after 1992, although they still try to pretend otherwise sometimes.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday December 11 2017, @05:42PM (1 child)

    by looorg (578) on Monday December 11 2017, @05:42PM (#608341)

    Great! NASA, SpaceX, all the various nation-projects (european, india, japan, russia, china etc) etc can use all the competition they can find. The more that wants to build colonies on X, travel to Y etc the better. It might be a prestige thing about whom gets there first and such but then it's not much of win if there isn't a contest or a competition. Nobody gets nods for kicking down open doors.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday December 11 2017, @06:02PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday December 11 2017, @06:02PM (#608355) Journal

      Read my comment above. NASA is not currently planning to land on Mars in the mid-2030s. Instead they want to do an orbital station. Russia and China have no plans yet. SpaceX wants to do it by 2024.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by dwilson on Monday December 11 2017, @07:16PM (2 children)

    by dwilson (2599) on Monday December 11 2017, @07:16PM (#608389)

    It was about a year ago that Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg first began saying his company would beat SpaceX to Mars.

    Well, there are really only two ways to do that.

    One: get there first through superior engineering, innovation, etc and so forth.

    Two: throw enough roadblocks in front of SpaceX via their existing relationships with government to ensure SpaceX doesn't get there at all.

    Just because he said they will beat SpaceX to Mars, doesn't mean they're going to try to get to Mars.

    --
    - D
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Monday December 11 2017, @10:52PM (1 child)

      by MostCynical (2589) on Monday December 11 2017, @10:52PM (#608512) Journal

      Congress passes a funding regulation that says Boeing will provide the legs of the lander and SpaceX will do the other 99.8%

      Muilenberg wins

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday December 11 2017, @11:15PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Monday December 11 2017, @11:15PM (#608525)

        Elon's team engineers space-rated spaceX stickers to put under the lander's feet and explorers' shoes at the last second. They leave a logo imprint when the first-step-on-Mars picture is taken.

  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:41AM

    by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday December 12 2017, @04:41AM (#608628)

    What is the ratio of engineers to total staff at both companies?
    So, which is an actual engineering company and which is a company that employes "documentation officers" and government program managers?

    What components are built in-house and what components are outsourced at each company?
    By this I mean, which company is building the manufacturing and process engineering bedrock that is absolutely required to do this, and which is outsourcing this to the lowest bidder?

    Any organization as big as Boeing simply cannot compete with a competent, motivated competitor. SpaceX has proven they are both. The only counter-move now is distraction through PR and erecting roadblocks through paid-off judges and congressmen.

(1)