Gee, Jason Rhian seems to be trolling his own web site.
That’s quite the list of straw men.
Well there’s plenty of NewSpace trolls. The unbridled enthusiasm for SpaceX is nauseating. However, that’s not Jason’s problem.
Jason’s problem is that he really wants there to be two camps. He wants there to be an “enemy” which he can rally against but, more importantly, he wants a side that he can belong to. He wants to be on the “inside”. Jason wants to join the NASA fan club and fight all “those anti-NASA people”.
Unfortunately for Jason, almost everyone in the space community stopped thinking that way decades ago. NASA is a disappointment, even to people like Jason who somehow still feel the need to defend them.
Mostly agree Trent.
I think what clouds our views of NASA today is the SLS. That seems to be the large line in the sand with many people, and causes people like Jason to see things in a Us vs Them perspective.
Having worked for large corporations, and being a capitalist, I understand the need to make a buck. I don’t begrudge Boeing and Lockheed Martin for being good at what they do business-wise, and they are very capable of doing some very good stuff hardware-wise.
But the incentives for Boeing and Lockheed Martin to bring their most innovative “stuff” to the table is not there, because Congress short-circuited the process by specifying the requirements for the SLS without any definition of the need. An RFQ wasn’t issued, the best & brightest weren’t consulted – Congress mandated that Boeing and Lockheed Martin keep doing what they were doing on the Constellation program, but just building lesser versions of the same stuff.
So that’s really my beef, a lack of incentives to be innovative in the pursuit of space exploration. I’m not complaining about the amount of money, nor who is doing what (as long as it’s competitively bid) – but whether it is the best “value” for our exploration buck.
And for that Jason calls me a troll. Meh.
Large piles of cash clouds views? You must be joshing!
Years ago, the general in charge of Air Force Systems Command noted that the service had a perfect record when it came to IT procurement. Every single one was late and over budget. NASA’s record across the board is about the same. That’s what clouds my image of NASA. SLS is just the latest in a long line of programmatic failures. Even the ones that eventually became success stories like Hubble were years late and grossly over budget. When first launched, it had major technical issues that required an expensive Shuttle mission to repair as well.
NASA does some good things but their program management isn’t one of them.
The SpaceX fanboys (as opposed to SpaceX fans) are annoying. I cringe every time I hear someone say, “If Elon can’t do X, then no one can.”
But Rhian lives in a warped reality. He claims he wants US policy to support both NASA and commercial space, but refuses to acknowledge that is already happening. Congress is spending an order of magnitude more money on Ares and Orion than it is on “commercial” space (which is no longer commercial, because is insisting on FAR-based procurement — again, just as Rhian wants).
I’ve always been a skeptic about COTS and CCDev, and I still am, but I also believe in honesty. At last year’s Worldcon, Geoffrey Landis appeared on a panel about SpaceX where he stated, flat out, that Elon Musk had not invested a dollar of his own money in Falcon and 100% of the development money came from NASA. I’m not sure if he was deliberately lying or simply didn’t know the first thing about SpaceX, but he sounded very Rhian-like.
I *wish* that “new space” groups were as highly focused on commercial space as Rhian claims. But in fact, they have spent far more time lobbying for far more money for big government projects like Rhian wants. (Remember the Space Exploration Alliance?)
I don’t get this – Why is so wrong for commercial companies to pursue government contracts? Does this make them “dirty” somehow?
Aside from the contracting mechanism (which matters) – one needs to make sure that the customer (in this case, government) receives fair value for their investment.
NASA paid ~$400 million to SpaceX for COTS. This is not in dispute. With that, they got access to a new (domestic) launch vehicle, and a new (domestic) cargo spacecraft. A pretty solid investment – and great return – if you ask me.
No contrast this to the SLS and Orion – And many defence contracts. It’s not a pretty comparison.
Eventually SpaceX does need to wean itself off the large government contracts, because it over time has a poor influence – it would turn them into a more traditional contractor. But for now, I’m not going to blame them for taking available contracts until a more thriving commercial space industry takes hold.
As Robert Heinlein said, an elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.
For example: Many years ago, I worked on a project for a government highway toll system. One of the requirements was that the toll tag had to remain functional at a very high temperature — a temperature that would have killed the occupants of the car. It wasn’t sufficient that the tag merely survive those temperatures in a parked car — it had to operate at those temperatures, indefinitely.
There were thousands of requirements like that, for that one single project.
This has nothing to do “making sure the government gets fair value for their investment.” Governments don’t invest, they spend — and they don’t *want* fair value. Getting fair value would mean their budget goes down!
Every credible study shows that reducing launch costs is key to space development. If we are to open the space frontier, we need to develop space systems that are built to commercial specifications, not government specifications. G. Harry Stine explained that, 30 years ago.
The saving grace for COTS was that it was as a Space Act Agreement, not a government contract. All of the “new space” advocacy groups recognized that — or claimed — until last year, when Congress forced a “compromise” on NASA that would put “commercial crew and cargo” under Federal Acquisition Rules.
The idea that you can put “commercial” crew and cargo under the same rules as SLS and Orion and won’t get the same result is naive.
Nothing is more eye opening than working in a government office during the tail end of a budget period.
If you cannot quote me correctly, please do not quote me at all.
There are numbers after the designation “Falcon,” and in that statement you misquoted I referred only to the development cost of the Falcon-9.
So, let me state this again: NASA funded Space-X to develop Falcon-9.
Space-X has never disagreed with that fact that NASA funded the development of Falcon-9 vehicle; they’ve always very openly acknowledged the funding source, and in fact work with NASA very well. Musk has said that they “would have” developed it on their own, using profits from Falcon-1, if NASA had not funded the development costs… but they didn’t have to.
If you disagree with some part of that statement, please show me a quote from Space-X stating differently.
I was not referring to Falcon-1, which was not funded with NASA money. To the extent that Falcon-9 relies on the technologies pioneered on Falcon-1, these technologies were not done with NASA funding. It is the development costs of the Falcon 9, based on Falcon-1 heritage, that was funded by NASA.
Someone should get that guy a ladder so he can get off that high horse.
Ooh! Goodies and Baddies in space, just like Star Wars – only more dated!
His part two is up on the subject. It seems to be worse than the first. I wasted a bit of bandwidth replying. It will be interesting to see how it gets twisted.
I too tried to calmly and rationally discuss his points. He’s just getting a little too excited and taking everything a little too personally.
Wow, talk about projection… Coastal Ron doggedly and patiently discusses the issues, and Rhian repeats his “You’re a Troll” mantra. Kinda sad.
LOL, he just posted his final piece:
He now claims that Commerical Crew was shot down due to “NewSpace trolls”. I quote:
“(In a twist of fate, during the period that this op-ed was being produced, sequestration took place and the plug was pulled on Commercial Crew. It is unclear if this will be a long-term situation or not. However, one has to wonder if NewSpacers’ rampant lack of respect and lack of progress caused Congress to cut the program’s funding.)”
I sure hope ‘letting it all out’ was cathartic for him, because it certainly did not accomplish anything else. It was just three long posts that would have been labelled as “trollish” by any impartial observer.
The feeling of his readers may probably best be expressed by…
conrad March 12, 2013 at 8:51 am
Dear Jason, Do we really need to spend so much energy on this?
But he felt a passion for it. It would be good for him to get back to why his readers go to his site.
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