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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: 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.

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  • (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?