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posted by martyb on Friday March 09 2018, @03:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the pork-is-expensive dept.

Trump on Falcon Heavy: "I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA"

During a cabinet meeting on Thursday inside the White House, President Donald Trump called attention to several model rockets on the table before him. They included an Atlas V, a Falcon 9, a Space Launch System, and more. The president seemed enthused to see the launch vehicles. "Before me are some rocket ships," the president said. "You haven't seen that for this country in a long time."

Then, in remarks probably best characterized as spur of the moment, the president proceeded to absolutely demolish the government's own effort to build rockets by noting the recent launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket. He cited the cost as $80 million. (The list price on SpaceX's website is $90 million.)

"I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $80 million," Trump said. "If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably 40 or 50 times that amount of money. I mean literally. When I heard $80 million, I'm so used to hearing different numbers with NASA.''

NASA has not, in fact, set a price for flying the SLS rocket. But Ars has previously estimated that, including the billions of dollars in development cost, the per-flight fees for the SLS rocket will probably be close to $3 billion. Indeed, the development costs of SLS and its ground systems between now and its first flight could purchase 86 launches of the privately developed Falcon Heavy rocket. So President Trump's estimate of NASA's costs compared to private industry does not appear to be wildly off the mark.

[*] SLS: Space Launch System

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
Safety Panel Raises Concerns Over SpaceX and Boeing Commercial Crew Plans
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST
Leaning Tower of NASA
NASA Moving to Scale Back the Space Technology Mission Directorate


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  • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday March 09 2018, @05:06PM (14 children)

    by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday March 09 2018, @05:06PM (#650062) Journal

    No we certainly [wikipedia.org] have not seen rocket launches [wikipedia.org] from the United States in such a very long time [wikipedia.org].

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Friday March 09 2018, @05:15PM (7 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 09 2018, @05:15PM (#650070) Journal
    He at least had a model of an Atlas V in front of him. So he wasn't just speaking of the Falcon Heavy or SpaceX. Looking at the actual video, it's very staged, but at least he's not using a teleprompter. That's how things are.

    And I have to agree with him. We've had launches back all the way to the late 1950s. But the game has changed. The US despite its economic drawbacks is the dominant power in space right now. And an enormous part of that are the US launch providers.
    • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday March 09 2018, @06:17PM (6 children)

      by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday March 09 2018, @06:17PM (#650134) Journal

      I can agree with you on that. I know he had a legitimate point to make. I assume it is that it has been awhile since we've had independent manned US capability - a little over 6 years, or had the class of lift capacity that Falcon Heavy will promise. But he is such a poor communicator that he is bumbling, and almost anything he says can be torn apart easily because he does not speak with precision. I'd rather have Obama fumbling with his teleprompter not working, because that at least implies there is indeed a plan at work instead of deciding things on the spur of the moment - a poor trait for someone who has authority to launch nukes and I hope he is stopped before he tries.

      Right now Russia is the only one that can put people in orbit. And China has its eyes on the moon. India is continuing to improve its capabilities. So why does it take a profit motive for us to attempt to be the dominant power in space? And no, I wouldn't say we're dominant there. Space science, quite probably - it's still pretty much us and ESA in distance probes. But selling out our space program for profit will turn out to be a short term gain at best.

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      • (Score: 1, Disagree) by khallow on Friday March 09 2018, @06:36PM (1 child)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 09 2018, @06:36PM (#650146) Journal

        So why does it take a profit motive for us to attempt to be the dominant power in space?

        You're asking the wrong question. You should be asking why should we go to space, if every bit of activity is a large cost to us on Earth? The answer to that is that we don't have a good reason in that case beyond rather trivial space activity.

        The profit motive means that we have space activity that is self-funding.

        But selling out our space program for profit will turn out to be a short term gain at best.

        The problem here is that we have a space program not a space civilization. Selling out for profit, as you put it, is the sure way to create that space civilization. Without genuine economic activity in space that returns more than it costs, space stuff will always be a hobby.

        Right now Russia is the only one that can put people in orbit.

        And China.

        • (Score: 2) by realDonaldTrump on Saturday March 10 2018, @06:01AM

          by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Saturday March 10 2018, @06:01AM (#650415) Homepage Journal

          People going around and around in circles is not America's proud destiny in space. I want NASA to lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars. Russia & China are doing a partnership about going to the Moon. Maybe we can join them. Why not?

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09 2018, @07:39PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09 2018, @07:39PM (#650182)

        But he is such a poor communicator that he is bumbling, and almost anything he says can be torn apart easily because he does not speak with precision. I'd rather have Obama fumbling with his teleprompter not working, because that at least implies there is indeed a plan at work instead of deciding things on the spur of the moment - a poor trait for someone who has authority to launch nukes and I hope he is stopped before he tries.

        You are blinded by your bias.

        Speech patterns of high-ranking powerful people tend to be vague and decisive. Giving detailed information and allowing for nuances is the speech of a powerless nerd. One projects power by deciding things on the spur of the moment, or at least appearing to do so. In other words, it's intentional. These behavior traits are both a symptom of existing power and a means to gain power.

        You claim he is a "poor communicator" without realizing what he is communicating. He isn't a powerless nerd supplying information to a superior. He doesn't need to communicate facts. He needs to communicate power. He is doing exactly as required.

        The ability to decide things on the spur of the moment is 100% exactly what you need for the authority to launch nukes. Remember, there is very little warning before an SLBM strikes. Quick decision-making is essential.

        Speaking of poor traits, Trump threatens North Korea and Hillary (as secretary of state and during her campaign) pisses off Russia. There is a difference. Threatening North Korea a bit has gotten good results, with Kim agreeing to meet Trump face-to-face to talk about ditching his nukes. Trump knew what he was doing. Hillary got Russia building advanced ICBMs, not that Russia couldn't nuke us pretty well already. I think the results speak for themselves; it is clear who understands international relations better and it isn't Hillary.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday March 09 2018, @11:01PM (1 child)

          by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday March 09 2018, @11:01PM (#650293) Journal

          The ability to decide things on the spur of the moment is 100% exactly what you need for the authority to launch nukes. Remember, there is very little warning before an SLBM strikes. Quick decision-making is essential.

          Please remember that when you are radioactive ash. Instability is the last thing the world stage needs, ever. And our President is not stable.

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          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday March 10 2018, @08:43AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday March 10 2018, @08:43AM (#650457) Journal

            Instability is the last thing the world stage needs

            I disagree. We don't want so much instability that nukes are flying. But we should want enough so that we can insure that our societies can handle it. Squashing instability altogether is a recipe for a fragile society.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10 2018, @11:33PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10 2018, @11:33PM (#650678)

          Ok then how to you explain this? classic!!

          Donald Trump Repeats The Same Sentence 9 Times In 43 Seconds ...
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXeCpalMCeM [youtube.com]

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bob_super on Friday March 09 2018, @05:22PM (5 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday March 09 2018, @05:22PM (#650081)

    A president doesn't have the time to learn everything about every topic that comes up. The solution is to get summaries from staff, and read a lot at every occasion. If you don't know much, don't get in front of the press, or keep it short.

    This president doesn't like to read, takes time to watch a lot of TV and golf, and is always in front of the camera, trying to keep talking, because he got richer that way.
    Obviously, he regularly runs out of material to fill in the blanks, and has not shame just saying whatever will make him look good, or he thinks people want to hear, regardless of facts.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday March 09 2018, @06:17PM (4 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 09 2018, @06:17PM (#650135) Journal

      Doesn't have time to learn every new topic? Nonsense. The old bastard under discussion has had a lot of time to learn every topic there is to learn. He was born in 1946? What the hell did he spend all his time on since then? I realize he did the wine, women, and song thing - but did he just waste all the rest of his time?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09 2018, @06:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 09 2018, @06:54PM (#650159)

        but did he just waste all the rest of his time?

        That's a known effect that Twitter has on time.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by khallow on Friday March 09 2018, @10:22PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 09 2018, @10:22PM (#650265) Journal

        but did he just waste all the rest of his time?

        Sounds like he spent a lot of time managing things, like construction projects.

        You argument is terribad for the simple reason that assumes he did something merely because he had the time to do something. I could argue the same about 8,000 meter peaks. Trump would have had plenty of time to hit all fourteen therefore he must have done them all. He had plenty of time to fly a human-powered aircraft around the world, therefore he must have done it. He had plenty of time to individually insult every person on the Earth whose name begins with "Reginald", therefore he must have done it.

        Opportunity != accomplishment.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10 2018, @05:25AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 10 2018, @05:25AM (#650404)

        I realize he did the wine, women, and song thing - but did he just waste all the rest of his time?

        Trump does not drink alcohol. Admittedly, he probably made up for it with more of the other two.