Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Air Force Wants Commercial Spacecraft

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-want-a-hug dept.

Space 70

coondoggie writes "The US Air Force is preparing to take a long look at how commercial space technology can help it better operate in the cosmos. The Air Force today said it will host a space test program meeting next week ahead of expected contract offerings, or Broad Agency Announcements looking to recruit commercial space providers."

cancel ×

70 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Satellites are spacecraft too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36015496)

There's lots of satellites around.
What we need is cheaper commercial payload delivery.

Not The Air Farce (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36015882)

What we need is a Space Force, we do NOT need Air Farce hotshots up in space. The Air Force aren't real soldiers, they have no honor nor discipline.

the SGC has airmen and Marines (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016254)

the SGC has airmen and Marines

Re:Not The Air Farce (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016274)

+1 Funny. Anonymous Coward making statements about honor and discipline.

Is this really any different? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015544)

NASA and the military have always relied on commercial companies to design and build their spacecraft/aircraft. All this really does is add launch and maintenance to the mix.

Of course, on the downside, this leaves them more dependent than ever on private contractors--which will only strengthen a military/industrial complex that is already draining U.S. coffers dry. But hey, a credit card is just as good as cash as long as they keep giving you credit, right?

Re:Is this really any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36015770)

If they want to haul something around do they build their own 18 wheel rig? No they contract it out to some company that owns a truck...

Re:Is this really any different? (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015816)

There is nothing wrong with contracting something out--just as long as you don't become so dependent on the contractors that you're completely at their mercy.

When I was a kid, MP's used to guard the gates at our military bases. Care to guess who does it now?

Re:Is this really any different? (2)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016034)

I don't know what bases you have visited, but I still see MPs or solders, along with police guarding from outside the entrances.

Re:Is this really any different? (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016124)

All the ones I've visited in the last few years (Army anyway) have had rent-a-cops. Look closely at their uniforms and you'll see they're not actual military personnel. Many of the ones I saw weren't even carrying sidearms, much less the M-16's that they used to carry when I was a kid. The sad thing is that there is way more need for military security today than when I was a kid. It's kind of bizarre.

Re:Is this really any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016680)

I worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH, and when I started in 2003, there were these massively muscled dudes in camo and berets with M-16s slung over their backs. A year or so later, the gates were guarded by chubby and/or old guys in plain dark blue uniforms.

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016704)

Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Naval Station Everett and Pensacola NAS all have real military guarding them, or have had within the last year.

JB-ER has them right now.

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36023928)

I know Ft Meade is guarded by real military, but that could be for other reasons...

Re:Is this really any different? (2)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020346)

Professional soldiers cost a lot to train, and are overqualified for simple guard duty. It's fine if there's a draft or you've got plenty of soldiers sitting around otherwise idle, but there are a couple of wars on: all those expensively trained soldiers have more important duties than guarding a gate, which can be done by (less expensive, when all costs are factored in) rent-a-cops.

(Nothing against rent-a-cops -- I used to be one.)

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36024070)

All the ones I've visited in the last few years (Army anyway) have had rent-a-cops. Look closely at their uniforms and you'll see they're not actual military personnel. Many of the ones I saw weren't even carrying sidearms, much less the M-16's that they used to carry when I was a kid. The sad thing is that there is way more need for military security today than when I was a kid. It's kind of bizarre.

Yes, but guards like that are primarily for show, your heavily armed suicidally fiendish terrorist is hardly going to abandon his plan just because there's one guy with a machine gun instead of a stick at the gate.
I'm taking a wild guess, but there are probably a few other people with guns hanging around ready for action on most military bases.

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027596)

The vast majority of soldiers aren't allowed to carry weapons while on a U.S. base (outside of designation training areas and ranges). The assumption is that MP's will handle security (or at least it used to be). But, now with rent-a-cops, they don't even have that assurance. The Ft. Hood shooter [wikipedia.org] was able to fire for half an hour, wounding or killing 43 people, in the middle of a major U.S. Army base--before being stopped by CIVILIAN police (Ft. Hood doesn't even have MP's guarding the base anymore).

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

r_batty_00 (233422) | more than 3 years ago | (#36022594)

When I was a kid, MP's used to guard the gates at our military bases. Care to guess who does it now?

I suspect this is a result of our military being overtaxed- most soldiers are either overseas or stationed in sensitive positions. This will probably change as we bring them home from Afghanistan.

Re:Is this really any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016422)

Funny, here I thought 'Defense Spending' only accounted for 20% of the budget, whereas welfare and social programs were around 60%.

That's misleading... (5, Informative)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016648)

Anonymous Cowards is almost correct. That's from the PROPOSED budget for 2012 [whitehouse.gov] . What Anonymous coward forgot was that Social Security and Medicare is only 44% of the next proposed budget. The final 35% is discretionary, down from around 38% in 2008.

The 44% is nearly non-negotiable mandated spending. You can't really cut mandated spending except to streamline the programs. You can't just cut parts out you don't like. Not in the budgetary process, at least (or they're not supposed to, anyways).

The defense budget is entirely different. It is not mandatory, but it is not discretionary either. You CAN cut parts out you don't like with the wave of a budgetary wand... you just piss representatives off who lose military and defense contractor jobs in their districts. On the whole, military spending has no real "net gain". There is no financial return on $1 million Tomahawk missiles, whether fired or sitting in storage. It's therefore harder to justify investments in technology.

This doesn't mean such investments aren't needed. What liberals rail at is that we spend more than all of NATO combined on our military, and more than any single country. Our military spending is so large that it makes even China look minuscule. Conservatives point out that the reason our allies don't spend as much is that they rely on us for their security for the most part. Nobody is invading France, Britain, or Germany without having to deal with us.

However, as history tells us, spending too much on your military and not enough on your economy will lead to your downfall. While Sparta eventually defeated Athens, it was unable to take on the economic burden left by the spoils of war which lead to its downfall.

We could be the next Spartans, and China the next Athens. Sure, we can whip their ass, but in 30 years if we're paying $5 a gallon because we didn't go all electirc, and China did... who cares?

Nukes were supposed to level the field. It's not like we're going to have a ground war with any other nuclear power. We'll all glow in the dark long before then.

One correction... (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016688)

...and by $5, I meant $50.

Re:That's misleading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36017972)

mod insightful please. This is really true.

Re:That's misleading... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36020994)

The other part to keep in mind is that behavior changes when you shift the underlying assumptions. Take the US Navy which is bigger than the next 10 navies combined (and most of those are firm allies) and so is pretty much untouchable from a conventional warfare perspective. If you slashed it down, other nations would have the potential to reach parity, at least locally and might consider expanding their navies accordingly, which could lead to a new naval arms race. Is it worth the cost to prevent such? I don't know, but it is something that is often overlooked. Also keep in mind that in any war, the major surface combatants we start with are all we are going to have - we don't have the ability to rapidly build an aircraft carrier any more for instance.

Another area where this principle is more commonly demonstrated is with nuclear arms - lots of people want reductions, but these reductions actually make war more likely as they make nuclear war potentially winnable or allow relative nuclear strength to be shifted by a relatively small secret program - 100 warheads won't shift things between the US an Russia, but if we cut down enough, it could.

Re:That's misleading... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021730)

The 44% is nearly non-negotiable mandated spending. You can't really cut mandated spending except to streamline the programs

Either that or change the mandate. That spending was created by law, the law can be changed by the Congress.

On the whole, military spending has no real "net gain". There is no financial return on $1 million Tomahawk missiles, whether fired or sitting in storage. It's therefore harder to justify investments in technology.

If a Tomahawk missile cost $1 million, that's $1 million paid to the people who built it, that money didn't simply disappear. Compare that to $1 million spent on health care, that money was paid to the people who work for health care.

From a financial point of view, spending on the military or health care is more or less the same thing. Both of those expenses involve big payrolls, so in the end it will be money paid to working people anyhow.

as history tells us, spending too much on your military and not enough on your economy will lead to your downfall

No country can survive indefinitely if the *government* spends too much, no matter if it's the military, health care, pensions, or whatever is the reason for that spending.

Every dollar the government spends is taken from a citizen somewhere who cannot decide where that dollar should go. When the government spends too much the common people (and corporations, too) lose control of their personal budgets. Money that would be spent on repair and maintenance, invested in new developments, or simply spared for the future, will be taken away.

It's not like we're going to have a ground war with any other nuclear power.

No, but would you be happy to live in a world ruled by petty warlords, like those Saddams, Gaddafis, Milosevics everywhere? Would you be happy to have Bin Laden enthroned in his cave in Afghanistan sponsored by the Taliban government? How would you like a world where those despots could threaten you with events like the Lockerbie bombing or 9/11 and you had no way to threaten them?

If anything, the western world is simply not spending enough on defense, a thug like Gaddafi should have been brought down as soon as firm evidence of his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing appeared.

The last time the world was ruled by petty warlords was known as the "dark ages", let's not go back to that era.

Re:That's misleading... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36024268)

If anything, the western world is simply not spending enough on defense, a thug like Gaddafi should have been brought down as soon as firm evidence of his involvement in the Lockerbie bombing appeared.

Yes, because there would have been no repercussions from invading Libya at all, everyone in the region would just have clapped politely as the US took away Gaddafi's head on a stick.

Re:That's misleading... (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36024382)

Agree with most of what you say, but I do have to query one thing.

What do you mean by 'spend more on your economy'? I'm assuming you mean either directly finance (government spending) or indirectly finance (reduced government spending/taxes --> more private spending). I can agree with that, but I would also point out that in the past we have been extremely successful and still spent a ridiculous amount on defense. Perhaps 'too much' is very much a relative thing, dependent upon the strength of the economy at the time? Maybe defense spending is better if set as a percentage of GDP, not taxed income?

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36017226)

The thing is... you're doing it (welfare and social programs) wrong!

Re:Is this really any different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016790)

Depends on in what currency they give you credit.
If it's in Dollars, and the US Mint continues printing to "pay" its debt, then you could as well get Monopoly money, as you'll be able to pay just as much with it.

Better hope they don't give you credit in imaginary money, as all that is backed with, is the debt of your fellow citizens. And you know how well they can pay that back, right? ;)

Ok, gotta go, get me some new, bigger Gold man-Sacks.

Re:Is this really any different? (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36022178)

Of course, on the downside, this leaves them more dependent than ever on private contractors

Not really. Big private companies that were contracted worked on infinite budgets, including cost over runs etc., designing space craft and modules for them. The private for profit companies like Virgin, or Space X are working on budgets to make a profit. This I think this will give NASA more bang for the buck.

What is this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36015590)

What is this? "We've finished with our 'war on terror' now. Now it's time to invade space as we are bored"?

Re:What is this? (3, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015744)

No, it's time time to invade space because look at all that black stuff, it's probably oil.

Re:What is this? (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015858)

that would be totally Ursa major!

Terrorists... in space? (3, Insightful)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015684)

Is this really where tax dollars need to be spent? I'm all for space, but I'd rather that budget go to NASA to get some exploring done, not to hire a private contractor to put an F-16 in orbit to defend against... what exactly?

Re:Terrorists... in space? (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016098)

Here's how it currently works: Air Force wants a satellite that does...whatever. So they pay money to Northrop/Boeing/whoever to build said satellite. Then the Air Force buys a Titan IV or whatever and Air Force personnel launch the rocket from an Air Force base (eg, Vandenberg).

How it would work: Air Force wants a satellite that does...whatever. So they pay money to Northrop/Boeing/whoever to build said satellite. Then the Air Force buys "a launch" from SpaceX, Orbital Sciences Corporation, or whoever and they launch the rocket.

The idea is that rather than the Air Force spending your tax dollars to maintain a launch site, buy rockets, etc., the Air Force just pays for launches as they need them. SpaceX worries about maintaining the launch site, building the rockets, etc.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021030)

Just to provide a little more emphasis to your point, here's how it currently works:

Then the Air Force goes to ULA and buys an Atlas 5 or a Delta 4, since those are the only rockets they have still in service.

I think someone in the DoD is a little concerned about having painted themselves into a corner

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021296)

I suppose that's a lot more benign then my first reaction.

But I can't help but wonder if they use it as an excuse for a lot of bad things later on down the line.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016130)

"get some exploring done"

It's a vacuum. The end.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016352)

It's vacuum apart from all the stars, planets, moons, asteroids, comets, dust, gas, solar wind, light...

Re:Terrorists... in space? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020048)

* It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36021872)

Your reasoning can be applied to prove many things.

Substituting the subject of your proof leads to this: "It is known that there are an infinite number of countable numbers, simply because there is an infinite number line for them to be in. However, not every one of them is even. Therefore, there must be a finite number of even numbers. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average number of even numbers can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the sum of all even numbers is also zero, and that any even number you see from time to time is merely the product of a deranged imagination."

The bold part is the non sequitur that led to your specious conclusion.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36023100)

* It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in.

Infinite amount of space for worlds sure, but only a finite amount of matter to constitute them.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36024342)

There are an infinite number of worlds, therefore there must be an infinite number of potentially inhabited worlds. Infinity divided by infinity is one, therefore there is exactly one inhabited planet in the universe, i.e. Earth.

The largest space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016168)

Is this really where tax dollars need to be spent? I'm all for space, but I'd rather that budget go to NASA to get some exploring done, not to hire a private contractor to put an F-16 in orbit to defend against... what exactly?

This is nothing new; the military already spends much more on space than NASA does. You have to keep in mind that NASA is America's second largest space program. Except in some years, when the spy agencies kick off a new satellite launch campaign, when it is America's third largest space program.

Re:The largest space program (1)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 3 years ago | (#36017014)

Like now. NRO is launching like crazy including the "world's biggest satellite" on Nov 22. Of course it's not bigger than ISS or shuttle but you know what they mean.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36017192)

If actual "exploration" were a priority we'd put the manned program on hiatus for a hundred years and refine our present crude remote-manned systems.

Humans are mere sensor operators who can do that from a distance.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020098)

No, they can't. There's to much of a time lag once you get past the moon. Consider Mars. It's a twenty minute round trip at light speed. By the time you see a chasm and brake to prevent the remote-manned buggy from falling into it, the buggy would have been lying at the bottom of the chasm for ten minutes, and it will be another ten minutes before the brakes engage.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027134)

Semi-autonomous systems could be designed to take care of their own survival.

Manned exploration of Earth was practical because ships and men were EXPENDABLE.

We need expendable exploration systems which can be deployed in quantity, can be improved rapidly without delays caused by fretting about meat crew safety, and because we also need to replace humans in dangerous tasks on Earth such programs will have a much quicker payoff.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020400)

Remote sensing is not exploration, even if the remote sensors also have manipulators. It's close, but you're still left at the mercy of what you designed the system to do before it left Earth.

Humans on Mars, for example, could likely have fairly quickly settled the ambiguous answers that Viking returned -- 35 years ago and still not resolved -- to the question "is there life there?". Humans are more than mere sensor operators -- they're designers and improvisers.

Re:Terrorists... in space? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36027086)

"It's close, but you're still left at the mercy of what you designed the system to do before it left Earth."

Which is why we should develop superbly capable ADAPTIVE systems, and take advantage of rapid design cycles made practical by not having meat in the cockpit.

We could throw more modern equipment at the problem and do it in droves compared to sending meat.

No problem (2)

ItsJustAPseudonym (1259172) | more than 3 years ago | (#36015844)

These guys [youtube.com] have it totally handled. Give them a contract, already!

An oxymoron (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016620)

A government agency wants a 'commercial' product that does not really exist? So what makes that product 'commercial'?

If there is a commercial product and a government agency decides to buy from the manufacturer - well, that's one thing. Good for the manufacturer if he lands the tender. However if the product does not exist because the market hasn't found the reason/money/customers for it yet and the government then comes and says: here is a bunch of money, go build us a 'commercial' solution - well then, there will be a solution. But it will have NOTHING to do with market. The government money comes in, creates the demand, but except that government demand there is no private demand, so the solution will be totally inefficient, unusable under normal market conditions (without government subsidies).

What I am saying is this: government wants to prop up yet another bunch of companies and call it 'commercial', well, don't be fooled. Sure, they'll subsidize something there with fake money, like they always do, but it won't help the economy in any way, as the demand is artificial, as the money is not coming out of savings but instead creates more inflation, because it's printed and as the economy goes into worse trouble, because debts are increased and not repaid.

Don't call it 'commercial' if government pays for all the demand, it ain't no such thing.

Re:An oxymoron (3, Interesting)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36017336)

What if the government is paying for part of the demand? It's not hard to imagine situations in which some demand exists, but not quite enough to justify any particular company making an existential wager on it. An additional demand from a government customer might tip the balance.

How much purely commercial demand was there for small, portable computers before the Air Force wanted them on-board ICBM s? We went from "the world needs maybe six mainframes" to our current state pretty quickly, once some of the R & D was picked up by the Feds.

There aren't very many things for which there is absolutely no demand, but there are many things for which the price is as yet too high.

Besides, I like my interstate highways, even if they were just an Eisenhower-era military-industrial conspiracy. They have turned out toi be useful for a good many things besides rapid mobilization of troops.

Re:An oxymoron (2, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36017902)

Your argument is this: people like things for free, so let's get government to do those things.

When I say 'demand', I do mean money. Demand is cash. If government supplies the cash, then it supplies the demand, surely. It does not matter if it subsidizes this for 5 people or for 500 people who would want this but can't pay for it themselves. It's not market that created that demand, there was not enough demand from enough people to allocate enough resources for the project, this means this is mis-allocation of resources for the majority of the market - pure and simple.

As to interstate highways - here is a clue by 4. Those are destructive to the market. They were built by taxing airlines and by destroying profitable private rail, which was much more efficient at moving huge loads across huge distances. The interstate highways subsidized the auto-manufacturers as well as the unsustainable life style (and it is unsustainable without subsidies, and subsidies will end.)

The highway system caused huge suburban sprawl, huge inefficiencies in transportation, created huge amounts of pollution, crazy amount of deaths due to increased reliance on cars (for health reasons as well as due to traffic accidents), caused demise of any usable private offering in viable (and I mean profitable when I say viable, because anything that is viable must be profitable) mass transit solutions.

All this while also providing government with more new ways to control your behavior and life, because the interstate highways are the pressure points that the federal gov't applies to localities when it wants something from them.

Anyway, enjoy your subsidized life style while it lasts.

Re:An oxymoron (3, Insightful)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36018180)

Profitable private rail? The private rail that was built on massive amounts of federal land, and supported through government strike-breaking? That private rail?

And no, my argument is not that "people like things for free, so let's get government to do those things." My argument is that, on certain occasions, government can prime a pump. Do you honestly think that there is no demand for air travel? There wasn't nearly enough back in the twenties, so the Post Office came up with "airmail." Who really cared if a letter got there a day sooner, especially since a good many ended up strewn across fields amidst smoking wreckage--the point was to provide some of that demand until the airlines could get a market going. I know it's hard to picture Charles Lindbergh and Eddie Rickenbacker sucking up to the socialist trough, but without airmail contracts, speed and distance prizes, and other such interventionist folderol the US air transport industry might well have stopped with the Curtis Jenny (you know, that plane that the Feds pretty much gave to anybody who asked after World War I

Re:An oxymoron (2, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36018448)

Profitable private rail? The private rail that was built on massive amounts of federal land, and supported through government strike-breaking? That private rail?

- yes, that private profitable rail, and I absolutely agree with you, the government acted criminally by supporting anybody, including the rail tycoons. But by the time we are talking about the rail was private and profitable and it was efficient, roads were not.

Do you honestly think that there is no demand for air travel?

- first, the successful airplanes were created privately. Those, who had government funding (I am thinking about the Aerodrome fiasco) failed. Those who got the planes to fly successfully, did it on their own.

Any government money was not needed to have commercial air travel. Commercial air travel was going to happen. The same may be true of space, but it's not the time yet.

And yes, your argument is that people like things for free. Do you know why? Because there is demand, which is willingness to put the money where the mouth is, which really means WORK, because money is expression of work. Money that is printed by government is not about work, it's about taxing the existing money supply by inflating it.

Then there is other type of 'demand', which is really just a wish. Do I wish I had Enterprise like space ship at my disposal? Sure. Do I wish somebody gave me one for free? Sure.

Do I want to spend my own time and money building one? No. The reason is that I don't actually have a purpose for it, rather than to amuse myself. I also do not expect to live 10000000 years that it would take me to build one (probably). By spending my time and money that way I would deny myself any other wants and desires I may have for things other than the Enterprise space ship. I would put myself through huge amounts of hardship, I would have to deny myself all sorts of nicer things in life. So if I am unwilling to do this to myself, what right do I have to ask others to do this for me?

No, I do not subscribe to Keynesian ideas at all - the ideas that government must generate demand by printing money - I see these as destructive to the economy, these are the ideas that destroyed this economy anyway. Government can only print and tax, it cannot generate actual real demand, as in, it cannot make people want to spend their own work for something if the people don't get a real benefit from it.

You are saying that government should do this, because you think it is a nice idea. But if there is no market for it it means people are not in mass going to spend their own work to achieve your 'nice' idea. You want government to force the people to spend any amount of their work (that's what money is after all) on this, isn't it selfish of you? Just because you think something maybe a great idea does not make it so.

You want something? Sell it to others but not through force of government, but as a viable business opportunity and a good product that's worth the investment.

Government does not need to be there for any work. Government is not there for work in the first place - it's a spending item for minimum military protection and justice system. I would be a huge success if government could just do those two things and not screw up the economy and society in the process.

You know, all those SS checks people expect to keep receiving? They'll be receiving them but the money is buying less and less, that's because government is constantly spending and borrowing and printing.

Realize that in 50s/60s the minimum legal wage was around 1.50USD/hour, which was 1.5 ounces of silver. Today that would be 60USD/hour (minimum wage) and people didn't pay taxes on that wage, so that's even more. The government has printed so much money, that silver is over 40bucks/ounce today. That's why the prices are so high and are going much higher for everything and you want government to keep printing and spending?

Well, prepare to be able to buy absolutely nothing with all that money, especially once the rest of the world stops the supplies coming (and I expect the Chinese to wake up soon and to stop keeping their currency down, rigidly linked to the 'reserve currency', subsidizing US consumer and importing US inflation to themselves.)

Only real demand comes from work, not from government.

Re:An oxymoron (2)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020122)

You figure silver is the index of all things? Why, pray tell, except for some sort of magical thinking? It was worth more in 1980 then it is now--are we on the right track?

Personally I go for days at a time without touching any silver at all. On the other hand, the medications that are currently keeping me alive didn't exist, at any weight of silver, gold, or unobtanium, in the fifties and sixties.I had a smallpox shot back in those halcyon days of economic splendor, a shot that my children didn't need.

If I need to examine the state of a nation, the price of some particular mineral enshrined solely by tradition wouldn't be the first place I'd look, any more than I'd glom onto the relative worth of cowrie shells or beanie babies. Do you really believe that people command 1/26 of the spending power their parents did, just because the price of silver has changed by that much? Do you claim that Americans are 26 times hungrier, colder, and sicker than they were in 1950, or are the Hunt brothers a lot wealthier for their manipulations of the price of a sometimes-useful metal (although, with film gone from cameras, I suspect you'll be able to watch the dollar grow stronger, or at least silver get cheaper.)

Re:An oxymoron (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021618)

You figure silver is the index of all things?

- silver, gold, cotton, wheat, pork bellies, concentrated orange juice, copper, land for agriculture, oil, gas, uranium, etc. - those things are real.

Dollars are not real.

Yes, I consider silver to be real money, I consider gold to be real money, etc. I also do not consider dollars to be real money (or ANY fiat currency for that matter, though relative to each other some do better and some do worse, but they are all fiat and all are printed at the whim of a politician, none of them are money.)

Silver, gold, etc. - they are stores of value, they can be easily used as units of account and means of trade. They are valuable because of their various properties. Gold is money because it is rare enough, it can't be printed, it does not change over time, it can be reclaimed from any industrial use, it can be easily tested to be real or not, it is accepted as money and has been accepted as money (means of trade) for thousands of years nearly universally.

Gold does not need to be made 'legal tender', it is money on its own, without any government stating it to be so. Of-course people can use all sorts of things for barter, it doesn't have to be gold. But as long as government cannot print the stuff that you use as money, it's already better than fiat paper.

It was worth more in 1980 then it is now--are we on the right track?

- relative to what?

Do you realize that today oil is the CHEAPEST it has EVER been?

If you have a silver dime minted prior to 1965 that is, then oil is the cheapest. In US dollars the silver coin is not the most expensive as you are pointing out, but in oil it is the most expensive and oil is the cheapest. You can buy a gallon of gas for a silver dime minted prior to 1965. With US dollars you have to spend how much? 4 dollars, soon to be 5?

On the other hand, the medications that are currently keeping me alive didn't exist, at any weight of silver, gold, or unobtanium, in the fifties and sixties.I had a smallpox shot back in those halcyon days of economic splendor, a shot that my children didn't need.

- good for you. The reason for the increased innovation is capitalism and industrialization and not fiat money though. It is reliance on under-utilization, savings and real money that made it possible in the 19th century to build the economy, that allowed such concentration of wealth that pushed innovation forward. It was not fiat money that caused your medication to appear, it's the real capitalism - based on savings and re-investment. And real capitalism that is based on savings exists despite the fiat money, not because of it.

Capitalism is based on savings and investment and fiat punishes anybody who is trying to save (in fiat currency). The only way to save is to have real assets that appreciate in currency that is being debased by the government. The only real investment comes out of the savings (capital) and the only way to save is not to be in fiat, which is printed every day by politicians, who want to buy your vote for giving you 'free stuff'.

Do you really believe that people command 1/26 of the spending power their parents did, just because the price of silver has changed by that much?

- yes.

Yes.

How else do you think it was possible for a man to support a family - a house wife and a bunch of kids, to own a house and maybe a boat and maybe another property and a couple of cars and be debt free before 1971? It was because the purchasing power was that much bigger. Was it precisely 26 times greater than? Nothing is exactly precisely 100%, but today people own mortgages, not houses, they don't have a bunch of kids and the wife is working too (and maybe there is a second job, who knows) and they still can't afford all that stuff they want and they don't see their kids enough to be able to raise them properly.

Do you claim that Americans are 26 times hungrier, colder, and sicker than they were in 1950

- quite likely they are.

The government pushed forward the subsidies to enough industries to make the people sicker and hungrier, fructose alone (due to the corn subsidies) is probably causing the biggest disaster in public health and FDA would have nothing to do with it, because it's not an 'acute toxin'.

or are the Hunt brothers a lot wealthier for their manipulations of the price of a sometimes-useful metal

- there will always be market manipulators, but realize, that in that time it took a government decree, which started controlling exchanges that destroyed silver prices at the time, and the reason government is so concerned about silver and gold (and they are) is because they want a monopoly on money, but it is the end now, it's pretty much the end.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36031190)

Government can only print and tax, it cannot generate actual real demand, as in, it cannot make people want to spend their own work for something if the people don't get a real benefit from it.

That government spending (on infrastructure in particular) increases the GDP by about double the amount they spent, isn't something you can choose to "subscribe" to. It's pretty much just a simple, extensivley confirmed, undeniable fact.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36033604)

that's actually nonsense. How much wealth is destroyed via all that government intervention? When the highways were built, all that rail track that was removed, how much GDP did that cost? All that oil that then needed to be bought and refined and just burned to run the inefficient vehicles, how much real GDP did that cost?

GDP is meaningless if all you do is burn rubber.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044862)

How much wealth is destroyed via all that government intervention?

It's not rhetorical. The answer is: About half as much as was created via all that government intervention. Which is precisely the point. The's no mystery. It's a real and verifiable figure. If you want to dispute it, you need facts.

GDP is meaningless if all you do is burn rubber.

You've done nothing to refute the value of GDP. Asserting your dogma is right, and bthe facts and figures are wrong, is not compelling. Try some evidence to back up your claims, and someone might listen to you. Otherewise, suck it up and admit you can't argue with those facts, even if you don't like them.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045322)

About half as much as was created via all that government intervention.

- this is called inflation, son. When government does something and GDP grows, that's because they have printed so much money, that prices doubled.

You can call it growth, I call it destruction of the economy.

GDP growing in nominal terms means just the number is going up. The actual value of money falling, that's the real fact. Since 1913 the Fed printed so much money, that the value of dollar fell by 99% since then.

Even just since 2003, the dollar lost 3/4 of value, so when the Fed prints money and prices rise and GDP 'increases' because of that, while people are using credit to buy things that are rising in price due to the inflation of the money supply, this does nothing good for the economy.

Real good would be to let the economy operate on its own (like it mostly did in USA in 19 century) and let the prices fall.

Yes, falling prices are much better for quality of life, when they are brought upon by competition and increased business activity. That's what USA had and that's what was destroyed by the government starting from 1913 (Fed/IRS) and then further, once the minimum wage and SS and FDIC and Medicare/Medicaid and the military industrial complex were introduced. The subsidies to businesses, subsidies to voters, all the business regulations, price controls, exchange controls, getting off of the gold standard and printing printing printing.

You can call it GDP growth that everything is going up in price. I call it inflation and it's bad for economy and it's destroying US economy and economies of other Western nations.

The Asian economies are producing, so at least while they are following the footsteps of the US (sure, it still has the reserve currency), they are actually increasing their manufacturing and agriculture and mining sectors, while the unproductive economies of the West only grow government and financial and service sectors. Those are not productive, those do not actually increase GDP, but hey, all that money that went into bailing out the banks - that increased GDP.

Yeah, bailing out the banks increased GDP. What good did it do to the economy? It just brought the ultimate collapse closer, as the economy was not let restructure and the debts became bigger and the resources and credit are still mis-allocated.

Yeah, the GDP grew with all that nonsense of government printing and spending. Too bad GDP means nothing good for the economy when it's grown by the government.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36054142)

When government does something and GDP grows, that's because they have printed so much money, that prices doubled.

Inflation is well known and well understood, and every idiot knows how to adjust for it, and does so, yet these 2X benefits remain. Furthermore, inflation stays around 3%, so it would take several decades for inflation to undermine any increases in GDP, and that's simply far longer time scales than we're talking about.

So, you're utterly wrong, and pretty stupid to try to pose such a lame excuse.

Since 1913 the Fed printed so much money, that the value of dollar fell by 99% since then.

There are many other reasons than "printing money". You might notice oil prices skyrocket and fall, even while US currency remains stable. They don't double the amount of currency in circulation, then pull 75% of it out again. High energy prices causes food prices to perhaps double in a few short years, through no fault of the treasury. The same is true of any naturally limited commodity, where demand has grown. The sky rocketing real estate prices didn't have anything to do with "printing money" either.

they are actually increasing their manufacturing and agriculture and mining sectors, while the unproductive economies of the West only grow government and financial and service sectors.

It's not true that the only thing of value is something you can hold in your hand. That's just crazy survivalist mentality speaking.

IT revolutionized businesses, all around the world, including manufacturing, mining, and anything else you can name. While it has drastically reduced operating costs, it's a "service", and you're dismissing growth in that area completely, for no good reason. Then you should consider that these services growing means US companies are providing services to other countries, including the likes of China... I know this, because I get called at 3am on a routine bases, because some server or network issue in our data center is holding up the work of hundreds of people in China, and costing them money...

More than that, it's important to look towards the future. I'm sure you'd have been attacking the growth of industrial manufacturing, during the turn of the industrial age, because it's not real growth, like good old agriculture and skilled apprenticeships are...

Anyhow, the future of manufacturing isn't all the bright. It's a bad time to be a spot-welder, as machines pretty much exclusively do that work, now. As those worthless "service sector" IT technologies improve, expect even more people to be replaced. And what's more, it looks like truly disruptive change is just out on the horizon. 3D printers can make a lot of the same cheap crap China is making for us, and can do so in a value-added, personalized, and immensely more convenient way. Computerization of previously simple mechanical parts means less and less labor, and more high tech jobs. Major improvements in solar PV panels could put a lot of people out of work, too. And all it takes is for one company to come up with a humanoid robot with the same senses and dexterity of a human, that only costs a few million dollars, and you'd immediately see ALL simple repetitive jobs fully automated, leaving just those "service" jobs.

And it's not just IT. Those wiley scientists are pretty damn important, too. Even if China had all the manufacturing jobs in the world, but outsourced the product designs to western scientists, we'd still be in good shape.

And while I'm not a big fan of financial services, they do provide a valuable service, and can make a lot of money even without exploiting or cheating anyone. It's considered a good indicator of the health of the economy when money is getting most efficiently invested. Just think, there would be no manufacturing without the finance people to give loans, or invest in the fledgling company. You simply can't boot-strap a major industrial project by slowly earning money on smaller projects. Financial services are pretty damn important fundamentally, though I'd love to eliminate many of the non-essential ones who are just leeching off the carcass.

The likes of China are doing all the crap work, low-rent manufacturing, while they go and buy Boeing jets, with GE/Pratt-Whitney/Rolls Royce turbines powering them. Companies like Caterpillar are also doing very well in the US, even with the competition from China. So the question isn't whether we have manufacturing... The question is whether we have the jobs most worth having, in every sector, and by and large, we very much do.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 3 years ago | (#36020202)

There may be examples where the government taxed some successful, free market, standing-on-its-own business to support an unrelated item but the airlines and air travel ain't one of them. Two totally disparate examples -- 1) the history of the Boeing 707, which was successful only because of government purchases of its sister ship, the KC-135 and 2) more recently, after the 9/11 attacks the Feds wrote the airlines a check for $20 billion with no questions asked or else all of them would have folded up within a couple of months. For example 1) you may say that the market would have eventually built a jet airliner -- maybe, maybe not but certainly military contracts and technology have advanced passenger air travel since 1903. And for 2), I've heard the argument that 'the gov't closed the airspace', -- for a day or so, but it wasn't closed $20 billion worth and besides without a government guarantee of well regulated airspace how much air travel do you think there would be after the first couple of hundred mid-airs?

Re:An oxymoron (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021638)

but the airlines and air travel ain't one of them

- what are you trying to say? The airlines were taxed severely by FDR while he was also busy taking down rail road tracks to lay his highway system.

He basically destroyed the profitability of both systems of transportation (as well as the public transportation within city limits) to create this unsustainable system of roads, which also gave the government leverage against local governments.

When you say that government 'saved' the air travel, you are forgetting who was the real cause of the rise of terrorism in the world - all of the foreign policy stuff, that USA was/is conducting is to attempt and control the oil reserves, which would not even be necessary if there was no huge subsidy to the auto-industry with all that interstate highway system.

Also do not forget, that the government (FAA), destroys efficiencies in the system - for example regulating air routes, not letting foreign carriers to operate within US borders for local travel, so a plane that lands comes from abroad and lands in New York and then lands in LA cannot take on domestic passengers from New York and bring them to LA, etc.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#36019980)

You forgot the classic example used by the commercial space community: airmail.

In the early 20th century, we had seen that aviation was technically possible, but not that it was much good for anything but military and stunts. It was hard to justify the capital costs to develop a reliable airline service. So the US government (in the form of the USPS) steps in and says that they'll guarantee a market for airmail. Those contracts made the uncertainties of the rest of the market seem worth the risk, and we see the modern airline industry start.

The sometimes-poorly named 'commercial' prospects for space technology are like this. They are supported and subsidized by the government right now, but the structures for the contracts are set up so that other customers are possible and indeed expected and supported. Plus that nice gem about purchasing from multiple vendors that will force price control through competition. Investment in a high-risk, high-capital industry is a chicken and egg problem, and initial government-assured contracts can help get things started.

Re:An oxymoron (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36021820)

Are you saying it is a good thing that government stepped in with government money then? I do not consider it to be a good thing, you see? It was not a good thing - there must be legitimate demand for an industry to appear, because industry must become profitable and thus viable without taxation. It must be profitable all on its own.

You do realize that the air travel was very expensive for a very long time even in USA and it became affordable only with massive amounts of competition that came about due to massive lobbying of the government?

There is a very legitimate reason to have uncertainty and risk - government cannot remove risk. Any such idea that government actually removes risk is just another step to a disaster of the magnitude of the housing and banking crisis (and now the currency crisis and the upcoming hyper inflationary depression that will be combined with ridiculously low employment opportunities) because government does not actually assess risk and it does not INVEST money, it does not hedge. It does not invest money to have a fund.

For example SS or Medicare/Medicaid, those are welfare programs, because there was never a fund (even though it was sold to the US public as if there was a fund) but the fund consisted of a check written by government to itself (that's what yields and bonds and notes are), and the money was spent immediately.

It is as if I wrote myself a check for a million dollars and put it into a bank and said I was a millionaire. It did not change my financial situation, but it did use an accounting trick to pretend there was something there, which wasn't actually there.

Any government involvement is destructive to the market, because government involvement equates to inflation and inflation destroys savings, which means it pushes savings and investment out, to other economies, and this in turn destroys the productivity and jobs, which means that the circle closes, since the fewer jobs there are, the more money is printed (and borrowed) by the government, which promises people bread and circuses to continue.

They're from the government (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016644)

and they are here help to help us...

Sounds familiar (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016906)

I'll be curious to know if the officer in charge of issuing this report has any contacts with private industry or ends up in a 7-figure job at Boeing or Lockheed.

It's No F-302 (1)

murphyje (965004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016944)

There's no way they'll ever be able to compete commercially with Asgard technology.

Re:It's No F-302 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36018220)

Please leave your geek card on the desk at the front as you leave.

I am pretty sure that the F-302 was built with Goa'uld technology. The Prometheus and Daedelus were later upgraded with Asgard engines I believe.

Use an F-15 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36017262)

Why not just strap a rocket motor to the centerline of a modified F-15?

spacex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36020484)

boeing and lockheed already supply a lot of the launch systems for the air force. its probably more that the air force wants some actual competition to go along with those commercial spacecraft. well hello there spacex.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>