28 thoughts on “Failure To Launch”

  1. It would be great if some of our internet space bloggers grew up to be Eric Bergers.

  2. I remember a number of pundits complaining about Elon moving forward with Starship because “he needs to focus on the business promises to NASA”. I’m sure some can point to a late schedule or something from Elon, but I’d say he is meeting his promise at least as often as his best competitor. Bezos and Blue Origin? Not so much. Certainly that tweet didn’t age well: “Already more than 3 years into development our BE-4 will be ready for flight in 2017!

    Sadly Arstechnica reminds us they are progressive and uncomfortable that someone, other than themselves, has “extreme wealth”.

    1. Personally, I’m not uncomfortable with anyone with “extreme wealth”. What worries me and should worry everyone who prefers liberty to authoritarianism should be very uncomfortable with capital in the service of authoritarian government – something which Bezos and Zuckerberg and a number of other “tech” monopolists have both shown a proclivity for.

  3. I wouldn’t touch Ars at all, if not for Berger. Occasionally I find some news at nasawatch, but mainly it’s woke rants and the usual hobbyhorse of NASA PAO.

  4. “Some people even wished Bezos had launched and never come back.”

    Who said bipartisanship was dead?

    “Meanwhile, within the space community, people mostly celebrated Bezos’ flight as the dawn of the private spaceflight era”


    In both cases, it would have been nice for Berger to expand on the criticisms and reactions. He focused only on wacko Progressive Marxist criticisms. Maybe he isn’t exposed to differing viewpoints and doesn’t seek them out or maybe he is just a wacko himself as Progressive Marxists view all other viewpoints as illegitimate.

    It was an incredibly long piece and Berger didn’t get to the point until the bottom 3rd of it. Not many readers will stick it out. Then, he spent almost no time explaining what the point was. Why is BO in trouble and how does that affect ULA? What does that mean for NASA and the DoD? Is Bezos killing off a rival to take their spot without ever having launched his own rocket?

    Instead it is filled with trivial details about saving mother gaia and how moral that is along with tidbits about superyachts stealing attention. Does any of this matter? Does Bezos need to “focus” on BO? Berger hinted at the answer, personnel. Bezos’ focus need extend no farther than holding his employees accountable. Bezos micromanaging BO might not turn out very well because his talent stack might not lend itself to developing rockets and engines.

    Bezos should ignore the Bergers out there giving him bad advice to get personally involved and instead focus on being an effective leader and boss. He can do that from the yacht or his secret underwater volcano lair. But if he is trying to gut ULA, then carry on, doing great.

  5. And I’m sure that Tory Bruno is frustrated as hell.
    Has anybody at Aerojet/Rocketdyne started one of those counting up clocks? You know like the ‘National Debt’ clock in dollars? Only this one is in dollars it will cost ULA to restart the AJ rocket engine design for Vulcan….

      1. I wonder if some other company could come up with a liquid methane/LOX engine with about 500,000 lbs of thrust?

        1. Hmmm. Nothing comes to mind. Let me hop in my Tesla roadster and drive around a bit. Driving in the open air always helps clear the mind….

  6. Hrmmm. Has anyone definitively confirmed that BE-4 won’t be ready in time for that 2017 date?

    Really, it just depends on how you count. If you count backwards, then they’ve still got about 4 years to go until that 2017 deadline.

    This is every bit as accurate as the accounting used for SLS.

  7. I’d sum up the difference between Musk and Bezos in once sentence. Bezos is a billionaire who wants to run a space company-Musk is a billionaire who wants to go to space. And that has made the difference in how their companies are run.

      1. Hi Rand,
        Just listened to The Space Show podcast. I would have liked to call in and remind the listeners that the BO flight is like a Covered Wagon maker unveiling a new ox drawn wagon after the Union Pacific and Central Pacific completed the Transcontinental Railroad.

      2. I was paraphrasing and old quote I remember about the difference between the British and use computer development circa WWII. I suppose more accurately I’d say it seems Musk wants to send things to space, while Bezos wants a company that sends things into space.

  8. I’ve met Bezos (and his brother), and listened to him give an eloquent explanation of truly commercial space transportation. The only other people (aside from me) who “got it” to the extent Bezos does were Jeff Greason and the XCOR team – and they actually did it, on a small scale.

    The puzzling thing to me is his bringing on Bob Smith as CEO. Reading Smith’s CV sends chills down my spine, and not in a good way. Aside from some connections with NASA, there doesn’t seem to be a single qualification which would prompt anyone to hire him to lead the kind of organization Bezos needs to accomplish what he says he wants to accomplish. Smith is “big aerospace (literally, having worked for Aerospace Corp.)” on steroids, and no one from that culture will ever produce a commercial space transportation system. Elon will.

    1. I think that Jeff got “Elon-contract envy,” and he wanted some of that sweet, sweet government money, too. So he took the advice of, and hired people who had been traditionally good at getting it. He didn’t realize that in doing so, he was dooming his company.

      1. This sounds about right but add in that Bezos has been working on government capture across his businesses, so that could be why old space looked so attractive to him.

        It is a different business model but long term, being a government contractor will pay off for him as long as he can deliver a capable product and not be too outmatched by SpaceX and other competitors on the horizon.

      2. “…he wanted some of that sweet, sweet government money, too. So he took the advice of, and hired people who had been traditionally good at getting it. He didn’t realize that in doing so, he was dooming his company.”

        Boy, have I been there! Especially the dooming part!

    2. Bezos didn’t bring on Bob Smith as CEO. He brought his Rolodex on, and the man came with it.

      1. If I had never heard of him before (and I hadn’t), his Rolodex (such a quaint term) isn’t all that great. Unless it has blackmail information in it, and even then it would have to be more expansive than someone with his credentials could have amassed.

        I’ve seen people talk their way into jobs far, far above their capabilities. He seems like one of these people

  9. Yes, Berger is a progressive, all-in with catastrophic climate change in particular. He is also one of the best space reporters out there. People are complicated. 🙂

    1. Space cadets are attracted to idea of catastrophic climate change.
      A couple of things.
      They might be mostly attracted because it’s useful.
      But for people of all sorts, it’s useful for various reasons and it’s
      proven to not be helpful in terms the general welfare.
      Another thing is catastrophic climate change could have many causes
      and rising CO2 levels is not one of them.
      But if anything should have be useful to wrong idea that rising CO2 could cause catastrophic climate change, it’s nuclear energy.
      And it hasn’t been useful in that regard.
      One can have hope it might, but China is building nuclear power, mostly because it’s a energy solution.
      Or there a lot good reasons to use nuclear energy, but that nuclear energy doesn’t increase CO2 emission has not been sufficient to cause any increase the use of nuclear electrical power plants.
      It seems the most useful direct for space cadets has been not having a government build rockets and going in direction of a more robust launch market.

  10. What the really interesting question is what are Jeff Bezos plans for Blue Origin now that he has stepped down as CEO of Amazon. Hopefully he will start giving it his full attention given his life long passion for space settlement. He has repeatedly stated that the only purpose he saw in Amazon was giving him the money to pursue space settlement.

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