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Elon Musk's rocket engine feud with US gov, his competitors

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 23 May 2014, 04:20:02

Musk has lawsuits going on against the air force and federal govt, to break the monopoly on military launches and get spacex into that business. His main point has been that his competitors use Russian rocket engines, and Musk has said it's not a good idea to send money to the Kremlin when his company builds its own rocket engines in America:

In March, Musk, who’s also the CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), told members of Congress that military satellite launches may be at risk because a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) and Boeing Co. (BA), the top two federal contractors, relies on Russian rocket engines.

Musk criticized both the venture, United Launch Alliance LLC, and the Air Force. “In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin,” he told reporters April 25 at the National Press Club.


The Air Force says that it's been working hard to get SpaceX certified to launch their stuff:

The Air Force’s top uniformed acquisition official said the service is spending about $60 million and using as many as 100 people to certify SpaceX for the launches. “We’ve got folks busting their butt to get SpaceX certified despite what everything in the media seems to say,” Lieutenant General Charles Davis said in a May 8 interview.


Musk's competitors shot back, accusing Musk of antagonizing Russia and jeopardizing the space station, and I guess they blame Musk for Russia not selling us rocket engines anymore. I imagine they're just sore because their companies have no engines without Russian engines, while SpaceX makes its own:

“If recent news reports are accurate, it affirms that SpaceX’s irresponsible actions have created unnecessary distractions, threatened U.S. military satellite operations, and undermined our future relationship with the International Space Station,” its spokeswoman, Jessica Rye, said in an e-mail last week.


Musk also getting aggressive with his space station cargo competitors:

Musk has suggested that Orbital Sciences Corp. (ORB) deserves fewer missions to supply the space station. Unlike SpaceX, Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital delivers cargo to the station using a one-way spacecraft that burns up on its return.

“They take up less than we do and they take nothing down, and they get paid twice as much per mission as we do,” Musk said in an April presentation at the U.S. Export-Import Bank’s annual conference in Washington.


I would say the space station does need more than one contractor, as a failsafe and backup, though it doesn't sound fair that ORB gets paid twice as much as SpaceX, for an inferior product. (SpaceX operates on published fixed prices, lowest cost launches in the world)

Overall Musk is great for space, and he'll save taxpayers a lot of money, if you can get the pork sweetheart deals away from Congress and their pet contractors.

He's finding some allies in Washignton:

In his fight for the military launches, Musk has found allies among U.S. lawmakers who want to open the military launch market.

Arizona Senator John McCain said in an interview that it’s clear the Air Force made a commitment to increase competition and then “reversed itself.”

“It just doesn’t seem right to me,” said McCain, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee.

Asked whether Air Force officials might retaliate against Musk following SpaceX’s lawsuit, McCain said that one of his jobs is “to make sure they don’t.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-22/the-musk-show-in-washington-roils-rivals-as-fans-applaud.html
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Re: Elon Musk's rocket engine feud with US gov, his competit

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 23 May 2014, 04:40:59

Hm, it gets deeper..

Musk tweeted accusations that his competitor bribed a US Air Force official with the promise of a VP jobs:

V likely AF official Correll was told by ULA/Rocketdyne that a rich VP job was his if he gave them a sole source contract
8:45 PM - 22 May 2014


Reason I believe this is likely is that Correll first tried to work at SpaceX, but we turned him down. Our competitor, it seems, did not.
8:52 PM - 22 May 2014


:lol:

He’s referring to a story on the National Legal and Policy Center website about Roger “Scott” Correll, an Air Force official at the Pentagon responsible for procuring launch services from private companies. Before retiring, Correll reached a massive deal for 36 future launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of defense heavyweights Boeing BA and Lockheed Martin LMT .

But Correll didn’t really retire. In fact, he ended up as vice president of government acquisition and policy at Aerojet Rocketdyne, which supplies rocket engines to ULA.

Musk, who has skin in the game as the boss at SpaceX, smells something foul, especially considering what the NLPC describes as “the monopolistic nature of the contract, locking up three-dozen launches for several years to come.”
http://blogs.marketwatch.com/themargin/2014/05/22/elon-musk-calls-corruption-on-rival/

Wow Musk is making a lot of enemies. This guy's a Hank Reardan right out of Atlas Shrugged, he's great.

Hopefully somebody in Washington likes him, because even if he's stepping on everyone's toes, his company is very important to the future of cheap space flight and rocket reusability.

(to be fair, "bribe" may be a strong word -- unfortunately this happens with every part of our federal govt, every day, it's a total revolving door with a payback at the end at some corp that a pol or military official helped, or for congress it's a lucrative lobbying gig. I guess it's legal, but what's the difference between this and bribery, it's a kickback.

Looking into Aerojet Rocketdyne, it's Boeing and Lockheed, so if they're making engines then what's up with all the Russian engines? Anyhow, SpaceX should be let in on this market, these guys need the competition not a monopoly we've had enough of that all these years with space costing such a fortune.)
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Re: Elon Musk's rocket engine feud with US gov, his competit

Unread postby Beery1 » Fri 23 May 2014, 06:15:22

Yawn!

The whole story is irrelevant. I mean, who cares who's going into space and who's selling rockets to who? Space exploration is humankind's biggest boondoggle. It's a complete waste of time and energy. We should be plowing all that money into programs that reduce inequality and enhance living standards here on Earth, rather than wasting it on useless space adventures.

As for Musk being a Hank Rearden, hardly, unless Hank Rearden also wastes billions of dollars on the space age equivalent of a 19th Century architectural folly. It wouldn't surprise me, since Atlas Shrugged came out of the mind of a complete raving loony. I've acquired more philosophical and practical insight in 10 minutes watching an episode of Curious George with my daughter than I ever got out of any of the garbage posing as literature written by Ayn Rand. In my view, the fact that there are still folks who think her written ravings are the bee's knees shows how monumentally stupid people can be.
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Re: Elon Musk's rocket engine feud with US gov, his competit

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 23 May 2014, 19:44:45

Beery1 wrote:Yawn!


Without satellites, you do realize don't you, that we wouldn't have our cell phones and we wouldn't have the internet and we wouldn't have GPS and we we'd still just have 3 antenna channels on the TV.

Without satellites, we wouldn't be able to study the earth and climate change. We wouldn't even be able to warn people of approaching hurricanes.

We couldn't do most of global climate science, without satellites.

I'm not sure what your view is -- are you against all technology? Do you think there never should have been a Sputnik in the first place?

Are you not at all interested / excited about developments in quantum physics, and just understanding the universe and the big questions of what's out there and why we are here? And, sending probes to those exciting moons around Jupiter and Saturn?

You wouldn't think that's cool? Some video coming back showing the ocean under Europa's ice? Or, finally finding life elsewhere in our solar system?

And another thing, climate scientists are actually learning a lot from Cassini and studying weather on Saturn's moons. That's useful information to help us understand the earth more, and our climate.

Satellites are not a boondoggle, obviously, they are integral to your daily life.

SpaceX can launch those satellites cheaper than anyone else in the world. They've got clients lined up, years in advance. That's business that would otherwise have gone to Russia, or the Euro space agency, or China, or others.

Stephen Hawking has said before that humanity must colonize out into space or we will go extinct, probably within 1,000 years. Or it could be a few years from now -- earth is overdue for one of those extinction level asteroid impacts.

This is a doomer forum, well asteroid doom is real it's not sci fi or a joke and the government knows it and spends a lot of money tracking them (with the hope that maybe something could be done, if we are faced with that extinction impact, 5 or 20 or 50 or 70 years from now).

If you think space is just all boondoggle, then you should be glad there is a SpaceX that is *trying to cut all these costs by 1/3 and more*. The federal gov has already wasted billions on Mars missions that never happen. SpaceX's Falcon 9 heavy can do it, right now. Though the way the government works, they'll just fund Boeing or Lockheed to waste a billion dollars for ten years and then Congress will cancel it anyway.

What Musk is doing is very exciting. He's the rare big dreamer that can put his dreams into fruition. That's like another Thomas Edison. We need people like that. That's part of what "Atlas Shrugged" was about -- don't flood out the dreamers in a sea of mediocrity and bureaucracy and government contractor kickbacks and corruption.

(and no I'm not buying into the Repub makers and takers thing, but I also recognize that there are exceptional people in this world, and it's a tragedy for all society when they get squashed by people who can't understand it.

But anyhow, I know you guys aren't interested in space, this is news with Musk because of the issue about Russian rocket engines right now. And if a new cold war is brewing, then this is the kind of American we need. Can do. Innovative. Another Wernher von Braun, Musk is a guy that started a company to get mankind to Mars and I just think that's cool.

And he wants to see Americans making their own rocket engines again, not buying Russian. He wanted to see Americans able to get themselves to space again, without Russian help. And he went out and did it, and his company developed the 7 seater Dragon capsule and they designed new engines from scratch and they build them themselves.

His competitors buy Russian engines and we're sort of screwed now that Putin doesn't want to sell the Air Force or NASA contractors rocket engines, anymore. So there's Musk -- he had the vision to make something better than Soyuz, he had the vision to make his own engines. He was right.)
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Re: Elon Musk's rocket engine feud with US gov, his competit

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 23 May 2014, 20:17:19

I don't know, if you guys aren't interested you're just not interested.

Lot of things here, though. Corruption in our government, for one:

Elon Musk says he lost a multi-billion-dollar contract when SpaceX didn’t hire a public official
http://qz.com/212876/elon-musk-says-he-lost-a-multi-billion-dollar-contract-when-spacex-didnt-hire-a-public-official/
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Spacex reusable rocket test failure

Unread postby Sixstrings » Sat 17 Jan 2015, 19:27:10

Rocket stage's control fins lost power, it crashed into the ship it was supposed to land on. Vine video:

https://vine.co/v/OjqeYWWpVWK

Caught On Tape: Elon Musk's SpaceX Rocket's "Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly" Event

It's not been a great week for Elon Musk. First he admits that Tesla sales in China were disappointing (which further tanked the stock down 15% in the last 3 weeks and over 36% off its record highs from last September) and then his SpaceX project suffered a significant setback in what Musk comedically called a "Full RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly) event."

As The Telegraph reports,

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has released the first images from last week's failed landing of its Falcon 9 rocket.

The booster was supposed to have landed on a barge floating off the coast of north-eastern Florida in what would have been a revolutionary first for the space company. The ability to land rockets for reuse is central to Musk's plan to cut the costs of flying into space.

The entrepreneur today gave a more vivid account of what happened, tweeting four dramatic pictures taken by cameras on board the platform. The images, which can be seen below, show the 223-foot-high rocket smashing into the deck of the ship at a 45-degree angle as its stabilising fins lose power.

Elon Musk ✔ @elonmusk
Follow
@ID_AA_Carmack Tks. Turns out we recovered some impact video frames from drone ship. It's kinda begging to be released…

Before impact, fins lose power and go hardover. Engines fights to restore, but …

Rocket hits hard at ~45 deg angle, smashing legs and engine section

Image

Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event. Ship is fine minor repairs. Exciting day!
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-17/caught-tape-elon-musks-spacex-rockets-rapid-unscheduled-disassembly-event


I'll have to dig into this later, to get more detail.

I'm curious how high of an altitude the stage managed to descend from. If it was very high, this being a first stage booster, then I don't see the huge failure here. Just coming back down on target is success. Now they have to iron out the control fins and see if they really can *land* a first stage booster after such a long descent.

I don't know if they had anyone on that ship or not, but it's good there were no injuries in this test.

They do need to be careful with that. They're doing some big things here, groundbreaking stuff, that others have failed at before. You don't want a rocket stage crashing down into anybody, safety has to be #1.

edit: correction, the tweets say it was a drone ship in the atlantic ocean so nobody was in danger then.

Incidentally, here's a video about the dragon 1 and dragon v2 spacecrafts:

SpaceX Dragon V2 | Unveil Event
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEQrmDoIRO8


I like what he says about the dragon 2, that a "modern spacecraft should be able to land anywhere on earth with the accuracy of a helicopter."

They definitely have to get this right though, there can't ever be 7 astronauts crashing into the ground like a meteor because retro rockets failed or something.

Musk should be given the freedom to be so innovative and do it his way, but, I think gov should be chipping in a lot of money to be sure they have the resources to make all this happen. Not just money but nasa expertise as well, and so far nasa has done well working with spacex -- a good combo of hands off / giving them the advice they need.

Actually watching this video now, Musk says the dragon v2 still has parachutes on it. And what it will do is test the landing rockets and if there's anomaly then it will deploy the chutes. The rocket landing idea for these capsules is cool as all get out -- but to be honest, I don't really see the utility of it. Sometimes it's better to keep things simple. What can go wrong, will go wrong.. why use rockets when a parachute will work?

For that matter, why has nobody ever landed stage boosters with parachutes, and re-use them that way? The old shuttle reused its boosters if I recall, chute landing into the sea, and I think the main orange tank was waste. Then the shuttle itself cost a fortune just to refit between flights and inspect every tile etc. etc.

Musk is the first to do resusable booster stages, and what he's doing is going for two leaps at once -- landing these stages, AND not using parachutes, but trying to land all his things on a dime with buck rogers retro rockets. Extremely cool, I hope it works out.

Military applications could be one utility for landing this way, where "on a dime" like a helicopter is important. Or, one day, if space travel is more common then it's more efficient to just have spaceports and these capsules landing on their landing pads rather than chuting down and fished out of the water. Or smacking down into a yak farm in Siberia.
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Re: Spacex reusable rocket test failure

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Sat 13 Jun 2015, 13:30:44

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Re: Spacex reusable rocket test failure

Unread postby Tanada » Sat 13 Jun 2015, 15:32:27

Airbus knows if SpaceX pulls off reusabillity they will be able to undercut all other launch companies on a cost to orbit basis. Clearly they think the technology now exists to make resusability possible. If they were sure SpaceX will continue to fail they would not spend money trying to develop their own system to compete with SpaceX.
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Re: Spacex reusable rocket test failure

Unread postby Sixstrings » Sat 13 Jun 2015, 19:33:00

The airbus system is "partial reusability." Upper stage only, fixed with wings and propellers on, to stabilize / guide the upper stage and engine down. Other stages and engines would go to waste.

Spacex will be total reusability, all stages and engines, no wings or propellers just landing on a dime with rocket power and retractable landing gear on each stage.

Airbus says an advantage to their system is their rocket could be a smaller, whereas spacex will need to carry more fuel to land all stages.

So maybe the math works out to a wash, or close to a wash I'm not sure.

I wouldn't think the extra fuel costs that much. Generally fuel cost is nothing, the cost to a launch is a (the payload) then b (the stages and engines). The fuel is pennies, in comparison.

Spacex is better overall, no wings and propellors, just rocket stages landing vertically with rocket power just how Buck Rogers intended rockets to land. :lol:

Image

The last spacex test was actually successful, descending from space all the way to the target, on a dime, on that barge. There was a fault with the hydraulics at the end. Minor issue, they're gettin' close, they'll get it worked out long before airbus builds a rocket with wings and propellers.

(something to notice about spacex competitors, they always come up with half-competitive ideas. Like how with orbital sciences, how it could take cargo up to the station but not bring anything down. And now airbus, making a reusable rocket with the only the upper stage and engine saved. Only Musk seems to go for the whole thing, all the way.)
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Re: Spacex reusable rocket test failure

Unread postby Keith_McClary » Tue 16 Jun 2015, 02:08:12

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SpaceX

Unread postby Scrub Puller » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 03:19:39

Yair . . .

What is it two days now and no thread? . . . sheesh

A bloody shame . . . and it just highlights the crap that some folks go on with about space community's and such like.

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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby Peak_Yeast » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 05:14:39

???
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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby dinopello » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 07:37:39

It was mentioned in the rocket explosion thread. Musk may have to lower his proposed ticket price for a trip to Mars from $500 to something lower to entice people to get on one of his roman candle rides.
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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby SeaGypsy » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 08:04:37

Or maybe coach up some borderline depressives with suicidal tendencies & convince them the tickets (which will need to be free of course) are a win win either way. Remake a New World in Our Image, or Going' Down in a Blaze of Glory.

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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby Sixstrings » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 09:47:12

One thing to say for him, he's thorough and very open, for a CEO with so much on the line -- usually you wouldn't be hearing peep from a CEO in this situation, but he started tweeting out updates right after it happened.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 23h23 hours ago
Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 22h22 hours ago
There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 22h22 hours ago
That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis.

Elon Musk ‏@elonmusk 6h6 hours ago
Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review. Now parsing data with a hex editor to recover final milliseconds.
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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby StarvingLion » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 12:28:20

His cars explode
His rockets explode

Won't be long until...

"Explosion at the Gigafactory...."

Elon Musk Crematorium Corp
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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby radon1 » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 16:01:16

The man looks like a typical patrioid.
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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby ennui2 » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 16:03:19

StarvingLion wrote:His cars explode
His rockets explode

Won't be long until...

"Explosion at the Gigafactory...."

Elon Musk Crematorium Corp


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Re: SpaceX

Unread postby AgentR11 » Mon 29 Jun 2015, 16:15:22

Well, to be honest, I was giving Six the benefit of the doubt; I thought for sure he'd come on here and complain loudly that US space technology is failing horribly and we're all doomed to join the ludites or something. Russia blew up a rocket and you would have thought they'd lost the ability to continue space exploration.

So I guess that proves his rant on the previous Russian ISS resupply was simply anti-Russian trolling as opposed to anything rational.

Thus, I'll say again. Spaceflight is the hardest things humans try to do, bar none. Getting a bucket of water into LEO is an incredibly difficult, risky, and dangerous exercise; it takes the combined efforts of thousands of people, working without error, to make it happen. Every time you launch a rocket, build a rocket, fuel a rocket, climb the scaffolding of a rocket, move parts of a rocket, you have the potential to kill any number of people, poison large chunks of land, destroy buildings, burn fields... Seriously, spaceflight is hard.

Rockets will fail.
Payloads will be lost.
And people will die trying to make it happen.

And that will never stop being true.
Yes we are, as we are,
And so shall we remain,
Until the end.
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