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SpaceX Launch Fails To Reach Space

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.

Space 263

azuredrake and many other readers have written to tell us: "The New York Times reports that the third SpaceX launch has failed following the second-stage ignition of the Falcon 1 rocket. The SpaceX launch had three satellites on board, all of which were presumably destroyed in the incident. This marks the third failed launch for SpaceX — twice they failed to reach orbit, and once the Falcon 1 rocket was lost five minutes after launch. While the company vows to carry on, this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry." Reader Nano2Sol points out a video of the launch from a camera on Falcon 1, and notes a small oscillation just prior to the footage being cut off. Spaceflight Now ran a mission update blog leading up to the failure, and they also have more coverage on the loss of the rocket.

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One company doesn't succeed at once (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455493)

...and a whole industry is pronounced dead. Can you be more dramatic?

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (4, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455511)

Considering this is the only company building a serious launcher without government involvement, then yes this is an industry wide failure because they are the industry.

I saw this coming. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455565)

Considering they've been using toilet paper tubes and chewing gum as primary components of their "rockets", can this be a surprise?

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (5, Insightful)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456713)

Or you could consider them to be the most successful in their industry.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (5, Informative)

dstates (629350) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455543)

Actually, the private space industry is as active today as it has ever been despite decades of failed companies. But the Wall Street Journal reports that SpaceX has received several hundred million dollars of taxpayer investment [wsj.com] that is now being reconsidered. Military planners had anticipated using the company's Falcon family of launchers to boost smaller, less-expensive satellites. NASA has a partnership with SpaceX to develop a rocket to resupply the International Space Station.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455627)

Perhaps you can clue me in as to what the specific need is for this rocket to begin with.
I guess NASA doesn't have a suitable one, but have they checked that there isn't an Ariane or Soyouz vehicle they could manufacture on license or something?

It just seems to me that the "problem" of good rockets has already been solved many times.

(Also, it seems, that was solved by the last generation of engineers, and this generation does not seem capable of replicating the feat.)

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (4, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456239)

Perhaps you can clue me in as to what the specific need is for this rocket to begin with. I guess NASA doesn't have a suitable one

You guess wrong. NASA has plenty of "suitability" with the Delta rocket. This program is an attempt to get the job done cheaper.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456745)

Ariane and Soyuz suffer from two major issues: 1) they are foreign launchers and 2) their launch costs are "typical" -- which means too high.

Bottom line: no one has really solved the problem of "good rockets" if you include 1) liberty and 2) economics.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (5, Informative)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455551)

"While the company vows to carry on, this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry."

---

*yawn*

If Fiat fails, will we call into question the entire automobile industry? There are many companies working on private space flight. Elon Musk's company is only one of them. And given that Musk seems to be VERY well capitalized, I don't see them taking their ball and going home any time soon. Burt Rutan had a pretty spectacular explosion in their engine development process last year that resulted in a few fatalities, but I don't expect them to roll over and play dead either. I'm sure there will be even more failures peppering the process as time goes on...just like in every other industry.

Too bad about the lost satellites.

Cheers,

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (2, Informative)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455639)

given that Musk seems to be VERY well capitalized, I don't see them taking their ball and going home any time soon.

Elon musk had previously said that they would pack it in if they had three launch failures. He now says that "I consider DemoFlight 2 to be enough of a success, given that it provides us the data to go operational, to put my "three strikes" rule to bed. I'm in this to make SpaceX the world's leading launch provider and then some."
So while they aren't giving up, it isn't inconceivable that they would.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (-1, Flamebait)

m0i (192134) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455739)

Burt Rutan had a pretty spectacular explosion in their engine development process last year that resulted in a few fatalities

Too bad about the lost satellites.

Cheers,

I see you are more concerned by the lost satellites than the fatalities.. probably because the former is more expensive?

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456027)

Yes well the entire space industry is built on the vaporized remains of a lot of poor bastards. So as cold and callous as it may seem, a few more man shaped shadows on the wall aren't terribly significant.

Re:One company doesn't succeed at once (1)

CPNABEND (742114) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455969)

Has anyone given any thought to the fact that it really isn't easy to do this? That's why it is called "Rocket Surgery"!

More ambition than sense (5, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455497)

Musk's Giant Firework Company seriously believe they can have Falcon 9 up and running in a few months, and have people inside it 'soon' afterwards [bbc.co.uk] .

I've said it before and this seems to confirm it - entrepreneurs aren't good at rocket science. They look at government funded space programs, and see the redundancy as waste and the precision as bureaucracy. Then when they try and do space cheaper without these things, there are predictably explosions.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455559)

A large portion of NASA's overhead does not come from axillary systems, it comes from managers and politicians.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455573)

Shit NASA sends up doesn't blow up with this frequency. What you see as pork is probably necessary to the proper running of a space programme, but because everyone is so indoctrinated with the idea of the supremacy of the market you assume it can do things better.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455719)

That's the thing that I wonder about... when you see SpaceX's facilities, they are clearly brare-bones, right down to the launch pad. Obviously they are trying to make their launches cheaper by not "wasting" money.

Since the three launches have all failed for different reasons, and seemingly reasons not indicating design flaws but rather mundane problems and errors that weren't caught (a rusty bolt, separation failure of the stages, etc.,) it makes me wonder if this is not rather an exposure of a flaw in the business model. Essentially they are all quality-control issues. Could it be that you simply need to have a largish organization to provide the checks and redundancy to catch the flaws that are always going to crop up in a complex system?

Is this a failure not of the booster, but of a barebones, "cheaper" organizational structure that's just not up to the task?

Re:More ambition than sense (5, Interesting)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456111)

You know it is quality control. Where I work I have to be NASA certified in ESD(Electro-Static Discharge) and let me tell you, they are crazy about all the little things. For instance when a bit of equipment is in the high bay you have to go through the clean room, you have to be grounded not only on your hands but your feet as well. Before you every plug anything in to a socket you have to run it over a fan that blows ions at it to negate any electrical charge. They have the craziest quality control that you have ever seen and they still have shit go wrong sometimes.

Re:More ambition than sense (3, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456889)

After enough failures, they will figure out where it's really cheaper to do things, well, cheaper and where it's actually *more expensive* to do things cheaper. How many payloads do you have to lose before it becomes cheaper to add some of the redundancy back in?

Anyway, it is called rocket science for a reason? Hypothesize, test, analyze results, repeat as required, right?

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455759)

It took several years to the NASA in order to achieve their current success ratio. It probably is the same for a private organization. Knowledge and know-how don't come cheap in the rocket business.

Of course it is a shame (and probably a liable thing) that satellites are destroyed during this phase

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456299)

Knowledge and know-how don't come cheap in the rocket business.

Which raises the question of whether or not a private organization can afford the learning curve.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455783)

That is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. The Apollo program failed quite a number of times before Apollo 11 was able to reach the moon safely and back. NASA has decades of experience in making spacecrafts, and they're still not completely safe. SpaceX doesn't have the same amount of experience, nor do they have the same generous government funding and public support back in the '60s.

With other factors being entirely different, it does not follow logically that you can just isolate one factor (funds being paid to politicians and managers vs. no such funds) and conclude that is the cause of SpaceX's troubles.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Informative)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456101)

There was one failure in the Apollo program before XI: Appolo I with an electrical fire on board during a test, that killed all 3 astronauts. After that VII, VIII, IX and X were incident free, as well as XI and XII. XIII had a major problem but made it back home. Until XVII and the cancellation of the program there was no more incident.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456547)

Actually, there were multiple serious incidents... For example: Apollo 14 couldn't dock with the LM while extracting it from the S-IVB stage - so they (literally) rammed the CSM into the LM, exceeding the allowed force to force docking. During the landing, the LM lost the landing radar, rather than aborting the pilot continued the landing. While Apollo 16 was in orbit around the moon, and prior to separating the LM, it was discovered the wiring harness for the CSM propulsion system was seriously damaged. Mission rules required an abort of the landing and a return to Earth (so that the LM propulsion would be available as a backup) - but they waived that rule and proceeded with the mission anyhow. (Not to mention that the accident on 13 wouldn't have happened if they had investigated the faulty LOX tank rather than improvising an emptying procedure and using the equipment outside of it's design specs.)

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456833)

Wonder how many failed test launches the programs that led up to the Titan, Atlas and Apollo rockets had though, before the products was "finalized".

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457099)

NASA happens to have a larger budget and 50 years of experience. If SpaceX lives that long, you can be sure they'll be more reliable than NASA is now. They'll have to be to stay in business.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455571)

I've said it before and this seems to confirm it - entrepreneurs aren't good at rocket science. They look at government funded space programs, and see the redundancy as waste and the precision as bureaucracy.

Fortunately the invisible hand of physics won't let them get away with it! Today won't be the last time these guys get an invisible punch in the face if they don't learn their lesson.

Re:More ambition than sense (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455729)

Physics? Color me conspirationist, but it's all clear to me:
- Aliens exist but there's a cover up.
- The U.S. gov and/or aliens are shooting down/sabotaging private ships because unlike other government agencies, they don't have a cover up department.
Result: private spaceships will continue to fail until the failures become suspicious. If one day they succeed, check on Google Maps and you'll a black car on their parking lot. This means they are now part of the cover up and allowed to launch things into space.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455649)

I've said it before and this seems to confirm it - entrepreneurs aren't good at rocket science. They look at government funded space programs, and see the redundancy as waste and the precision as bureaucracy. Then when they try and do space cheaper without these things, there are predictably explosions.

Exactly right, private citizens have no right or business being in space.

If it weren't for this "bureaucracy" (NASA's incredible precision, redundancy, and lack of explosions), where would Roger Chaffee, Virgil Grissom, Edward White, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon be today?

Luckily, the former Soviet Union also has a perfect record that started at Nedelin where only 126 people died when a rocket exploded.

China and Bill Clinton also had a problem with an Intelsat 708 where it crashed into a village, but we should just stick with the facts and blame entrepreneurs.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

SlashV (1069110) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455871)

Your analogies are completely senseless. They concern other types of craft in other times.
3 failures out of 3 tries is just an extremely bad track record, period.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456813)

Not for a from-scratch rocket, it isn't. Atlas, which was to become our workhorse, had an atrocious start. 3 MX-774 failures, then two XSM-65A failure. The third flew to its desired range, but that was only a mere 1,100km. 5 out of the 8 XSM-65s were failures. Then they had 10 launches of Atlas B with 3 failures, 6 launches of XSM-65C with 2 failures, The Atlas D had 135 launches with 32 failures. The Atlas E had 48 launches with 15 failures. Atlas Able had 4 launches, 4 failures. The Atlas F had 70 launches and 17 failures. I could keep on going. The overwhelming majority of these failures were early on in the program, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yes, SpaceX has the benefit of looking back at what worked and what didn't. But they don't have the benefit of adopting already-tested technology, for the most part. And, to make it worse, they have to pull everything off in what's almost a mass-production environment.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456959)

No, his analogies are not completely senseless. Putting a payload into orbit is an extremely difficult task. NASA, ESA, the Russian space program and the Chinese space program have all spent a very, very long time getting to the point they are at today. Each of them has had numerous failures along the way -- some of those failures were more catastrophic than others, but even NASA has lost spacecraft in recent history. I won't dispute that three out of three catastrophic failures is indeed "an extremely bad track record" but keep in mind that SpaceX is using commercial launches as their R&D. The companies buying space on SpaceX's launch vehicles knows the risks and are buying anyway. In a sense, they are investing in SpaceX's future.

Re:More ambition than sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455893)

I've said it before and this seems to confirm it - entrepreneurs aren't good at rocket science. They look at government funded space programs, and see the redundancy as waste and the precision as bureaucracy. Then when they try and do space cheaper without these things, there are predictably explosions.

Exactly right, private citizens have no right or business being in space.

If it weren't for this "bureaucracy" (NASA's incredible precision, redundancy, and lack of explosions), where would Roger Chaffee, Virgil Grissom, Edward White, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon be today?

Luckily, the former Soviet Union also has a perfect record that started at Nedelin where only 126 people died when a rocket exploded.

China and Bill Clinton also had a problem with an Intelsat 708 where it crashed into a village, but we should just stick with the facts and blame entrepreneurs.

All of Brazil's rocket scientist went to have a close look at that very pretty rocket and there they were standing around when it blew up all it redunces.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456345)

Exactly right, private citizens have no right or business being in space.

You're reacting to a point the parent never made. He simply pointed out the hubris that has been so characteristic of the space privatization movement of late. Space flight is hard and requires a huge investment of money, time and talent, whether done by governments or private entities. The "free market" - whatever that is - does nothing to obviate the need for extensive testing, exhaustive engineering, and redundancy that is necessary to achieve consistent success.

I hear people on this forum and elsewhere talking about space hotels and the like in just a few years through private enterprise, and they seem like naive children to me.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457081)

No, the original poster made the claim that entrepreneurs "aren't good" at "rocket science". As if that is relevant to the SpaceX discussion. He then claims that waste in government programs is "redundancy" and bureaucracy is "precision". The overhyped nature of current private space fantasies didn't enter into his post at all.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

scottfk (125751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456403)

Don't forget Christa McAuliffe and Greg Jarvis from Challenger.

NASA's failures have happened when bureaucracy... (1, Redundant)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456751)

and outside pressures were allowed to override sound engineering decisions.

Apollo 1 happened because of a combination of "Go Fever" (the pressure to beat the Soviets to the moon) and poor workmanship by a PRIVATE INDUSTRY contractor (North American Aviation).

Challenger happened because Reagan wanted to use the "Teacher in Space" as a talking point at the next night's State of the Union address, and political pressure caused NASA to override the recommendations of the booster engineers who knew about the behavior of the SRB joint O-rings in cold weather, and launch despite their objections.

While Columbia was damaged because of lingering unresolved problems with ET foam shedding, her crew could possibly have been saved if NASA listened to their own engineers, and took high-resolution images of the shuttle while on-orbit. The extent of the damage would have been made clear long before reentry was attempted, and a rescue mission could have been launched.

Re:NASA's failures have happened when bureaucracy. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457009)

NASA's failures have happened when bureaucracy and outside pressures were allowed to override sound engineering decisions.

And? This just underlines the grandparent's point. Entrepreneurs might cut corners to save money. Governments cut corners for other reasons. Nothing inherently superior about the government approach though it is more expensive.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

takane (1277990) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455677)

The early government run space program had its gair share of explosion too.

True, but that was 50 years ago... (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456819)

, when the technologies behind rocket propulsion were still in their infancy.

Nowadays, there is a half-century of experience with which types of designs work and which don't, freely available to the private industry groups. Despite all this, a private group has yet to even equal the abilities of the X-15 rocketplane, much less reach orbit or land on the moon.

Re:More ambition than sense (1, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455701)

What a load of BS.

Quite a lot of rockets blew up in the early years of NASA, even rockets carrying humans - that's how you figured out how to make the best height to width ratio for instance. While the programming going on at NASA is schoolbook examples of how it should be done, quite a lot of other things they do are downright insane - like strapping a person to a solid booster rocket.

Re:More ambition than sense (5, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455821)

Quite a lot of rockets blew up in the early years of NASA, even rockets carrying humans

Only one NASA rocket carrying humans ever blew up, and that was in 1986, killing seven. They lost three to a fire on the pad in 1967, and in 2003 seven more were lost when their vehicle broke apart on re-entry.

The Soviets have had rockets explode on the pad killing many ground crew, but they've only ever lost four cosmonauts - IIRC, all to re-entry problems.

Re:More ambition than sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24457123)

One of the capsules had a leak and they died of asphyxiation. The craft landed just fine as if nothing ever happened, but the crew was lost.

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455881)

like strapping a person to a solid booster rocket.

I never considered it that way, but now that I hear it in these terms, I want to be strapped to a solid booster rocket!

Re:More ambition than sense (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455737)

I personally am as sceptical about the "private enterprise spaceflight" for anything other than satellite launches (for which there is a large well-established market) as the next, er, troll, but to be fair to the SpaceX people: launching into orbit is very, very difficult. It would be really amazing if they'd had no failures at all.

The good news is that each time a total-loss-of-vehicle accident happens, they get to fix it. Eventually most of such failure modes are identified and fixed. SpaceX are infinitely more likely to reach orbit than Scaled Composites.

I have to agree that the "manned flights in 2009" milestone looks, well, a little optimistic; you don't really want to be sitting on a booster that's had less than half a dozen flawless launches, at least. At least, I don't, and I really don't want to be seeing footage of "heroic" idiots incinerating themselves in the name of progress, either. If people want to commit suicide that badly, please don't show me video. I have an over-active imagination and don't enjoy it one little bit.

Re:More ambition than sense (4, Interesting)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456989)

SpaceX are infinitely more likely to reach orbit than Scaled Composites.

HEY!!! You are dissing one of my heroes!

In all seriousness, I would be very curious to find out why you think so. I would expect the opposite, in fact. Burt Rutan is very definitely an engineer with decades of aerospace experience under his belt. Elon Musk is neither an engineer nor experienced, at least in aerospace. Reading a recent article on the development of the Tesla Roadster, I found myself shaking my head at some of the design constraints Musk demanded. If he runs SpaceX the same way the article alleged Musk ran Tesla, I am not surprised they are having difficulties.

Re:More ambition than sense (3, Insightful)

Greenmoon (656273) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455775)

Nonsense.

I respect your right to your view, but that's kind of a crazy position to take. There's nothing intrinsically good at rocket science that government has to offer, and there is nothing to support saying that entrepreneurs as a group are all not good at it. "Good at rocket science" comes from the individual experts doing the work. The organization supporting them, be it government, private industry, or druid commune will be successful or not based on the ability to learn from failures and move forward.

The failures we've seen are similar to the failures experience when the government space programs were taking off. Private groups will experience challenges that the government didn't but that cuts both ways. They will move past this and we'll see a successful launch. I also believe that the privatization of a large part of the space industry is inevitable. Maybe time for a Long Bet (There probably already is one; better check...)?

Re:More ambition than sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455789)

A roman FUCKING candle! Everyone talks about how "bloated" with unnecessary redundancy and bureaucracy NASA and the "big" defense contractors are, but I guess that's not really true, eh?

Ambition... and experience [Re:More ambition t...] (2, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456329)

I've said it before and this seems to confirm it - entrepreneurs aren't good at rocket science. They look at government funded space programs, and see the redundancy as waste and the precision as bureaucracy. Then when they try and do space cheaper without these things, there are predictably explosions.

You learn by doing, and that includes learning by failing. Space-X is learning a lot.

Basically, when you try to revolutionize an industry, you have to accept some risk, and that means risk of failures along the way.

I'm still cheering them on. Space-X has changed from a group of charmingly enthusiastic but naive innocents into a team of battle-scarred rocket veterans, and done it the hard way. The space entrepreneuring field has far too many naive innocents that promote paper spaceships, and far too few steely-eyed rocket veterans. While I'm saddened and even horrified that they lost their third rocket, nevertheless, if they can hold their team together and stay focussed despite the stumbles along the way, I'll say, keep at it, Space-X; keep at it!

everything made by man fails (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455501)

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dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Scotty's final trip (5, Informative)

dstates (629350) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455509)

The New York Time reports that the rocket was also carrying the ashes of 208 people [nytimes.com] who had paid to have their remains shot into space, including the astronaut Gordon Cooper and the actor James Doohan, who played Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, the wily engineer on the original "Star Trek" television series.

Re:Scotty's final trip (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455541)

Well, they did get scattered I am sure. However, I hope the families of those people are to be compensated for the cockup with their loved ones remains.

Re:Scotty's final trip (5, Funny)

pizzutz (1175903) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455661)

From James Doohan's wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] :

"This article contains information regarding a deceased person who has recently been involved in a launch failure."

That's a new one....

Re:Scotty's final trip (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455629)

For some strange reason that is sadder than the failure itself that Scotty's ashes rode on a failure.

Re:Scotty's final trip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455657)

They're being shot into space again? I recall last year they were already shot into space, but they returned back to Earth (this was intentional) and recovered in some mountains. Guess they're going out for good this time.

Question likelihood of privatization? (5, Insightful)

BoldlyGo (1288070) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455545)

this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry.

The government failed quite a few times before they got anything up. Let's not write off private space travel because of three failures.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1, Interesting)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455555)

Musk and his employees have 50 years of other peoples failure to draw on, computing power for modeling that would've been unimaginable when the first space programmes started, and far superior materials and construction techniques.

So I am sorry, but this excuse simply doesn't wash with me.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (2, Informative)

BoldlyGo (1288070) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455617)

Musk and his employees have 50 years of other peoples failure to draw on

Because we all know how willing the government is to share technological information.

They also don't have near the financing or manpower.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456859)

Because we all know how willing the government is to share technological information.
.

These aren't engineering documents - but they do give you some sense of the resources available through NASA:

NASA History Series [nasa.gov]

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457029)

I am glad you never taught any of my college courses.

Launching a payload into orbit is not an easy task. Yes, SpaceX has a lot of other peoples' experience to draw upon, but that still leaves a lot of R&D to be done.

Also keep in mind that the technology used to launch a payload to orbit is remarkably similar to the technology used to lob a nuclear warhead from one continent to another. I would not be surprised if a lot of the "other peoples' failures" is still classified.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456573)

this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry.

The government failed quite a few times before they got anything up. Let's not write off private space travel because of three failures.

That's kinda like saying "well, early air travel was dangerous so if the first five Boeing 777 Dreamliners crash, they should get a pass". IOW, Bullshit.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1)

LowSNR (1138511) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456821)

this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry.

The government failed quite a few times before they got anything up. Let's not write off private space travel because of three failures.

That's kinda like saying "well, early air travel was dangerous so if the first five Boeing 777 Dreamliners crash, they should get a pass". IOW, Bullshit.

That's kinda like saying "well, early air travel was dangerous so if the first five Boeing 777 Dreamliners crash, they should get a pass". IOW, Bullshit.

No, it's not. Comparing Boeing to SpaceX is more than a little apples-to-oranges. The Dreamliner (which is the 787 btw), has a fairly long heritage that it's building on (707, 717, 727, etc). SpaceX does not have any similar heritage to rely upon. Since Boeing and Lockheed probably aren't going to release a reference design of the Delta class, SpaceX is pretty much starting from scratch.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456905)

Starting from scratch? Right. There's not tons of basic engineering information available. There's not decades worth of papers and studies available. Etc... Etc...
 
Oh, wait. There is.
 
IOW, bullshit. 0 for 3 in their first three flights is an indication that there is a problem somewhere.

Re:Question likelihood of privatization? (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456975)

Starting from scratch?

Yes. Starting from scratch. There's a big difference between "papers and studies" and bending metal. The Dreamliner comparison is spurious since it is a highly developed airplane by a very experienced builder of commercial airplanes. I do agree that three launch failures probably means there are serious problems somewhere. But as noted in this thread, SpaceX is trying a new design that has yet to successfully launch. Failure is likely under those circumstances.

Absolutely. How hard can it be? (1)

WombatDeath (681651) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456755)

I mean, it's not rocket scien...

Oh.

Yea, right. (1)

pilsner.urquell (734632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455589)

"While the company vows to carry on, this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry."

Yea, right. That is what they told Thomas Edison.

Carbon footprint (0, Troll)

Sunnan (466558) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455597)

What's the global warming footprint on these things?

Re:Carbon footprint (2, Interesting)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455733)

I'd put it next to the carbon footprint of MRIs and medical treatments, and scientific investigation (LHC).
As in, "I don't care"

Well! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455605)

That's fucked their average!

dying (0, Troll)

einer (459199) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455607)

this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry."

It's official. Netcraft now confirms...

ah fuckit

It Happens (5, Insightful)

abarrow (117740) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455685)

Hey, I'm a child of the 60s. I watched every launch, and attempted launch, that I could. I can't tell you the number of times that NASA blew things up in those early days. Had they quit after only three failures, the world would be a very, very different place today.

Keep launching SpaceX! You'll succeed and the world will change again...

Re:It Happens (2, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456089)

I guess I'm a "child" of the 50s, and, yes, I can vaguely remember that sputnik was a real concern because there was failure after failure on the American side. If everything government does these days is evil by definition (and often practice) so we can't continue space exploration collectively, then private enterprise hopefully has a few people with a vague sense of history who will remind them that there are going to be some really deep-pocket expenses up front on space exploitation.

Still, the launch was an awesome surprise. (4, Interesting)

My Iron Lung (834019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455715)

I watched this launch last night as it was happening and it was quite a thrilling experience. Better than any NASA launch I have ever seen. They aborted the launch a few times but still went for it. The camera they had on the rocket as it lifted off gave a breathtaking view of the Earth very slowly ascending from it's island launchpad location. Then it just crapped out before it looked like it was anywhere near orbit. I wasn't sure if the mission had been a success or not until the webcast updated that it had been a failure. This is totally awesome. We've been hearing about Space-X on Slashdot for years but this is the first time I've ever given them any real attention. They have 2 more of these Falcon-1 rockets ready, and another launch window near the end of this month. Musk seems absolutely determined to succeed, and I would suspect in 10-15 years these Space-X guys will be the next Lockheed Martin or Boeing.

Re:Still, the launch was an awesome surprise. (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455761)

That whole "don't worry, we have two more ready to go" line really puzzles me. Aren't they going to do a full accident investigation, find out what's wrong with the design or QA that enabled it to happen, and fix it, before scheduling future launches? Hmmm, there's a saying about a fool and his money...

Re:Still, the launch was an awesome surprise. (2, Funny)

CanadianRealist (1258974) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456095)

"The camera they had on the rocket as it lifted off gave a breathtaking view of the Earth very slowly ascending from it's island launchpad location."

I think I see one big problem right here, if the earth was "ascending", then they were definitely doing something wrong.

looking for actual followup coverage (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455735)

Spaceflight Now ran a mission update blog leading up to the failure, and they also have more coverage on the loss of the rocket.

Both of these links tell us nothing we didn't already know. Nothing like following a link labeled "more coverage" to get an almost word-for-word repeat of the blog.

You'd think they would have a camera filming the launch from the ground somewhere. You can't rely on the camera onboard the vehicle to provide you with any helpful information in the moments of and after an "anomaly". (why do they always call it that? why can't they just say "it blew up"?)

Re:looking for actual followup coverage (1)

My Iron Lung (834019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455949)

From http://www.universetoday.com/2008/08/03/elon-musk-i-will-never-give-up-after-falcon-1-loss/ [universetoday.com] :

"The anomaly, according to Musk, was with the stage separation not occurring when it should. The Merlin 1C engine in the first stage (which was completely designed from scratch by SpaceX) performed "picture perfect," but the second stage rocket wasn't able to prove itself as the launch had to be aborted. At this time, I am uncertain whether Falcon 1 was remotely destroyed or whether it was allowed to plunge into the ocean (although the latter option seems unlikely). We'll know at a later date as to the details of this anomaly."

Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455747)

The US Apollo Program [wikipedia.org] suffered only two major setbacks: Apollo 1 killed 3 astronauts, and Apollo 13, already in space, nearly killed its 3 astronauts, but didn't. That programme went from nearly nothing to the Moon in 7 years. With no precedents, with a much lower technology level than today, feeding on a much smaller pool of scientists and engineers, managing a vastly more complex project from scratch.

Not bad for government work.

Today, we watch as several parallel teams take decades just to reach orbit. With much higher base technology, and also knowing it can be done, because the Apollo Program (and other government programmes) proved it before.

Government might be better at some kinds of undertakings. At the very least, government is at least as good as private enterprise in some undertakings. And some undertakings that government has achieved are the greatest accomplishments humans have ever achieved.

Re:Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455957)

You're mistaking one mission named "Apollo" for the entire space program. Apollo's mission was the moon - before that many other attempts were made for human, primate and no organism spaceflight. (Gemini, Mercury, etc)

Once you factor in the accidents, cost, and time for everything, and not just the most successful leg I believe you will find that your conclusions need to be reconsidered.

Re:Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (1)

HuguesT (84078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456141)

The first death were the three for Apollo I and the three near misses for Apollo XIII. There is a case to be made for Apollo to be the worst NASA program until the Shuttle. Mercury and Gemini were both incident free with plenty of people sent to orbit.

Re:Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456715)

Mercury and Gemini were both incident free with plenty of people sent to orbit.

Project Mercury: six manned launches, all successful. total men in orbit: four. (that's fewer than the Shuttle carries on one flight, by the by.

Project Gemini: ten manned launches, all successful. total men in orbit: sixteen different men - four went up twice.

Shuttle: 123 flights so far, two unsuccesful. total men in orbit: about 800 (I don't feel like checking each flight for actual crew count, so it's only "about")

For the Soyuz fans out there: 99 flights, four unsuccessful (defining unsuccessful as either not reaching orbit or crew dying on reentry) OR ten unsuccessful (defining unsuccessful as ay of the above or failing to complete design mission (usually a failure to dock with Salyut when that was intended mission)), total men in orbit: about 245 (some were launched on one flight, landed on another - I may have miscounted some in sorting those out).

Note that Shuttle had 14 dead in its 123 flights (about 1.6%), Soyuz had four dead on its 99 flights (about 0.8%), but on a per flight basis, Shuttle had a failure rate of about 1.6%, Soyuz about 4% (or 10%), depending on definition of "failure". Neither Gemini nor Mercury suffered any failures (by either definition) but between them they put about 2% of the men into orbit that Soyuz and Shuttle combined did.

Note further that Shuttle put into orbit more men than all other space programs combined. By a factor of three.

Gemini VIII? (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456885)

There were 2 "near misses" on Gemini VIII, when an attitude thruster stuck on and sent the spacecraft into a violent roil, while the spacecraft was out of radio contact between tracking stations. It is only because of the skill of the command pilot (a rookie named Neil Armstrong) that he and his crewmate Dave Scott weren't thrown off into deep space never to return.

Scott Carpenter's Mercury flight could easily have gone horribly wrong, as well. Due to a malfunctioning autopilot, he depleted his maneuvering fuel, and had to line up for re-entry manually, nearly missing the narrow entry corridor and burning up.

Re:Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (3, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456339)

Do you know how many dead monkeys there are in space?

A lot. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why We Shouldn't Run Government Like a Business (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456527)

... feeding on a much smaller pool of scientists and engineers ...

Not quite; at its height before the Apollo 11 launch, number of people working directly on the Apollo program was over 400,000 (from Watkins, 2007).

NASA uses private companies and proven designs! (1)

blahbooboo (839709) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455763)

The argument that space exploration moved to the private sector won't work has flaws.

NASA and it's CONTRACTORS that actually build the ships for NASA have lots of experience gained during the many many failures throughout the 1950s and 1960s. I also would be surprised if these private companies are sharing their knowledge with these start-ups. And lastly, almost all NASA designs are derivatives of the same tried and tested designs, these new small companies are trying out different concepts and ideas which have to go through their trial and failure test cycles.

RocketCam cutoff? (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455787)

Well, that sucks. Still, this is rocket science. Never mind, there's always next time.

Incidentally: why does the RocketCam footage always cut off the instant anything goes wrong? That's happened on all the Falcon 1 flights so far. Even if the vehicle gets destroyed by Range Safety, you'd expect at least a few seconds between something going wrong and the decision to terminate being made. Instead, every time we apparently transition from flying (relatively) normally to no data. Given that RocketCams typically have their own downlink connection and, I assume, power, I'd have thought that we should see something --- indeed, on termination there's a chance that we could see some views of the debris before everything goes silent.

Anyone know anything about this?

Re:RocketCam cutoff? (2, Informative)

rocketman768 (838734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455877)

I have no clue. Other than the slight roll oscillation someone else pointed out, I can't figure out what might have caused them to pull the video feed. I mean, the video cuts out at T+00:02:11 when just about nothing is supposed to be happening. Here is the timeline from the press kit available on www.spacex.com

T+00:01:09 - Max Q
T+00:02:20 - Switch to inertial guidance
T+00:02:38 - MECO


So, nothing interesting is going on at the time the video feed is cut, and stage separation doesn't even occur until T+00:02:39 which is about 28 seconds after the feed was cut.

Re:RocketCam cutoff? (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456419)

Re:RocketCam cutoff? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456651)

Beautiful video, but that's the Falcon second launch video, not the one currently being discussed.

Re:RocketCam cutoff? (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457053)

At a guess, their "live video" is on a 30 second delay, and the feed was killed by a technician whose sole responsibility during launch is to watch the true live video and push a big red button if he sees anything unusual.

This seems like a reasonable precaution for any business or agency to take. An "anomoly" could possibly reveal proprietary information about the rocket's construction or programming. Stuff that SpaceX wouldn't want to show to its competitors. And of course any business needs to take precautions against inadvertent bad press coverage. The last thing SpaceX needs is for a Hindenburg type of shot going out to the whole world, and an inane "Oh, the humanity" comment echoing through history for 60 years or more.

Looking at the video of their second (?) launch (the successful one), there has obviously been some editing done in the cut-over between the exterior view of the launch and the first view of the rear-facing camera. The audio says "we have cleared the launch tower" while video is showing passage through cloud, at 2,000 feet or higher. I mention this only as an indicator that SpaceX obviously has at least some minimal skills in editing videos (in case anyone had doubts about that).

IT raises questions about SpaceX alone... (4, Insightful)

Protonk (599901) | more than 6 years ago | (#24455847)

...this certainly raises some questions about the likelihood of successful privatization of the Space industry.

No, it doesn't. It raises questions about SpaceX and their ability to produce a launch vehicle with an acceptable flight record. It raises questions about private willingness to accept failure on a design they think is fundamentally sound. It doesn't raise any more questions about the "future" of private spaceflight than when an Pegasus blows up or when SeaLaunch has a failure. The ENTIRE spaceflight communit owes a debt to and exists on a continuum of government influence. That doesn't make government the only entity that can test those waters. It just means that in the 20th century spaceflight was subsidized heavily, by and large. Since the entire industry was basically created by government action and most products either had only a government use or were dual use, even corporations who were ostensibly private relied on these pioneering steps made by governments. Even with that in mind, plenty of companies out there operate without government subsidy--and if you consider a government contract earned (and not a subsidy....but I don't), many do so. There are THOUSANDS of companies supporting private aerospace and private spaceflight, just not exclusively.

We need to get out of the mindset of "only government can do X". Sometimes that is true. Sometimes governments are the only ones who can provide certain services (or more accurately, they are the only ones willing to). But in the case of spaceflight, this is not always true. In the 1960's, only government was willing to go to space because the cost was large and the payoff in dollar terms was small (and highly uncertain). By the 1970's cable companies and phone companies were paying to go into space. IF the space race had never happened, we would probably have built launch vehicles to enter low earth orbit anyway. It would have come later (maybe much later), but it would have happened.

Failures don't represent a fundamental flaw in an industry. SpaceX had insurance, so this failure is not financially fatal for them--insurance is a good counter to the argument of "too much risk" in private spaceflight. If they fail, someone else will take up the mantle.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24455867)

As the Onion News put it after the Columbia Tragedy

In the wake of the Columbia tragedy, many are questioning the wisdom and necessity of NASA's manned-space-flight program. What do you think?
Bill Kuntz,
Auto Mechanic
"The space program should be scrapped. Fourteen deaths in 20 years? Imagine seeing those kinds of statistics in, say, the trucking industry."

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

mike111111111111 (615817) | more than 6 years ago | (#24457015)

love for argument is difficult to counter with rationale. Here is a quiz for you: a. in terms of truckers what percentile of operators died in year 2003. Compare to year 2003 in space travel and you will find near 50% fatality of operators. b. how many of the deaths occur due to lack of oversight on behalf of management responsible for engineering and manning of the vehicle. c. how many of the enterprises have billion dollar budget And gradually, slow and coldly one comes to realization that a manned space travel IS in jeopardy That the rate of fatalities in this business, in spite of heroic effort on the part of the people actually executing flights, well above and beyond of what sane people can afford, unless they HAVE to save the world. That the way the execution of the management of this programme judged is corrupt. That when the management HAS to make a judgment call they base it on expedience in terms of legal risks and pay grade, then respect and regard to lives and well being of people risking their lives in flight. And none of fatalities will ever change it with current crew at the helm because the people engaged in management are covered with granite strong paperwork designed by the most expensive layer of engineers in US - lawyers. Any comparison is a limping dog. None as demeaning when you denigrate people who gave lives.

I watched the launch. (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456099)

It seemed like it was a technical success to me. The rocket may have failed in the end, but it didn't explode on the launch pad and it got to a substantial height. They are being pretty careful. They stopped the first launch at T-00:00, the rocket had already started its engine! The failure had to do with the stages not separating, which sounds to me like a fairly easy fix for next time.

what goes up...... (0)

acomj (20611) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456127)

Good thing they launched from kwaj, so they're not raining space junk down on the continental US.

Liability and insurance rates will probably put and end to private space rockets

The sad state of American Education (0, Redundant)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456597)

Come on people. It's not like this is rocket sci----OH. Nevermind, carry-on.

I support continued PRIVATE INVESTMENT in SpaceX (1)

Ilyon (1150115) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456603)

Many fans of SpaceX encourage the company to carry on, pointing out that NASA's current success rose out of numerous early failures.

That's fine and dandy, but if SpaceX truly is a PRIVATE space launch company, let the failures be paid for by PRIVATE INVESTMENT and NOT BY PUBLIC FUNDING.

There are going to be problems.. that get fixed (1)

jvin248 (1147821) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456627)

How many cars and car parts do you think get tested, smashed, and redesigned before sold to people? It's called development. How many computers are stress-tested before being sold at a local Big Box store? Don't want those things burning down the house. It's called development. Development (and thus failures) are a natural step in the evolution of good things. Build something. Test it until it breaks. Go back to the lab and improve the design. Repeat. The problem that SpaceX has is the test models are very expensive - so where a regular business would test 100 door latches produced for homes to see if they can open/shut 100k times each without breaking, they have one or two parts that cost more than an entire subdivision of homes and you get to experiment once. Meanwhile everyone is watching every "test" - not like finding out if a batch of turn-signal light bulbs fail after three blinks in the bulb-makers development lab resulting in a decision to test with larger filaments - no shocking news story but real situations that go on with everything people use. When you have a rocket problem then the news feeds pick it up. SpaceX issue here still seems like progress.

Since we are on the topic of spectacular failures (1)

ancient_kings (1000970) | more than 6 years ago | (#24456645)

What ever happened to John Carmack's rocket company?

NASA vs. private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24457127)

Why do so many people think there is a "chinese wall" between NASA and private?

As far as I know, NASA provides management and taxpayer funds to private industry. And private industry has a history of successfully building NASA projects.

The difference appears to be in the money and the management.

Can private industry "manage" things better than the government? And are taxpayer funds necessary?

A management scheme is a management scheme. However consider the profit motive. There is pressure on private industry to maximize shareholder income.

When NASA funds industry, it is typically a fixed price or "cost plus" contract...usually government accountants go through the books occasionally and check that minimal Fraud/Waste/Abuse is occurring.

There are a lot of government haters posting here. But ground breaking research, like that NASA funds, is way too expensive for privateers.

SpaceX and Scaled Composites ("Sir" Richard Branson and Burt Rutan) can brag about private industry all they want, and denigrate NASA and the taxpayers, but the reality is they use a lot of science and materials that most likely would not exist unless the taxpayers had funded it decades ago. You're welcome, guys.

I'm glad the government does checking on industry that receives taxpayer dollars. The last thing we need is Enron (or that type of management/executive staff) stealing taxpayer's dollars any more than they already do.

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