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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: 5, Informative) by Grishnakh on Friday March 09 2018, @06:07PM (3 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday March 09 2018, @06:07PM (#650129)

    The organization can present all the plans they want, it doesn't matter. They'll be overridden when there's a new election and the makeup of Congress changes or there's a new Administration.

    There's nothing that can be done about it unless you either stop having elections so often (maybe every 20 years), or you somehow make it so NASA doesn't have to answer to Congress or the President, and can do whatever they want once they have some money. Obviously neither of those is going to happen, so NASA will never be able to have successful manned missions. It only barely managed to do as well as it did with the Apollo program because the political leadership was scared shitless about the Soviets and got into a "space race" when they were beaten by Sputnik, so they managed to stay politically focused long enough, and poured enough money into the project, to get it done. And even then they defunded it after they succeeded in landing on the Moon a few times and truncated the program.

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  • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday March 09 2018, @10:56PM

    by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday March 09 2018, @10:56PM (#650291) Journal

    ... And made it clear to the rest of the world that they could put way-more-than-necessary-of-mass nuclear payloads precisely anyplace they wanted to within 240,000 miles - one of the most major objectives of the space program.

    This sig for rent.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Friday March 09 2018, @11:14PM (1 child)

    by frojack (1554) on Friday March 09 2018, @11:14PM (#650296) Journal

    Pretty sure khollow wasn't serious about fixing NASA. He well knows that ship has sailed.

    With three (or is it four) companies competing for space launch capabilities, prices are coming down fast.
    The best use of NASA is being a standard's body. Sure, it will be regulatory-captured eventually. But you should be
    able to get a few decades of safety oriented standards review out of them.

    Maybe they could used be like the Highway Department, keep the facilities maintained, clean up the mess after an accident, etc.
    Set standards for vehicle minimum equipment.

    Its sad, but that's what government does. Happened to ESA. Happened to the Russians (who actually beat the US to quasi-privatized hardware development).

      I use to be NASA's biggest fan. They use to do crazy and cool shit like fly shuttles around the country on the backs of Airplanes ffs.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.