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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the can't-you-go-back-to-not-passing-legislation dept.

Space 393

An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports that a trio of U.S. Congressmen are asking NASA to investigate what they call "an epidemic of anomalies" at SpaceX. They sent a memo (PDF) demanding that SpaceX be held accountable to taxpayers for mission delays stemming from the development of new rockets. Plait notes, "[A]s a contractor, the rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets, just as the rules are for Boeing or any other contractor. In fact, as reported by Space News, NASA didn't actually pay for the development of the Falcon 9; Elon Musk did." He adds, "Another reason this is silly is that every rocket ever made has undergone problems; they are fiendishly complex machines and no design has ever gotten from the drafting board to the launch pad without issues. Sure, SpaceX has experienced launch delays and other problems, but the critical thing to remember is that those problems are noted, assessed, and fixed sometimes within hours or minutes." Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states.

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What? (5, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 months ago | (#47656859)

rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets

NASA does not build a damned thing. ULA (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) builds the EELV rockets. SLS is being build by ATK while Orion is built by Lockheed Martin.

This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

Re:What? (5, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#47656991)

It's always amused me when people are hypocrites. It also always saddens me when these hypocrites are in a position to do something terrible because of their hypocrisy.

It also strikes me as specious, at best, that they're complaining about a project that's arguably the most timely and successful-out-the-gate in the history of the American space program, if not humanity's combined space programs.

But I guess that when one can afford to buy a senator, one makes that senator bark whatever line one wants regardless of its veracity or even sense.

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#47657459)

I thought ULA convincing the government to advance purchase 2 years of launches (2billion dollars) a month before SpaceX qualified their rockets was an accurate picture of how Lockheed and Boeing intend to compete which is they intend to use government to prevent SpaceX from competing.

Re:What? (5, Interesting)

starless (60879) | about 4 months ago | (#47657151)

NASA does not build a damned thing.

NASA builds lots of things, including scientific instruments and spacecraft. (Even if spacecraft are typically outsourced).
Although indeed it doesn't build launch vehicles.

Re:What? (-1, Troll)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 months ago | (#47657447)

NASA builds almost nothing. They may assemble a few things, but there are precious few machine shops and fab plants that are manned by civil servants. It's contractors all the way down.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 4 months ago | (#47657305)

This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

Well duh! Wouldn't you do the same thing? I mean, it's not like the government creates jobs or anything.

For those not getting the sarcasm, one side of the political spectrum repeatedly trots out the mantra that the government does not create jobs, yet, using this situation, quite clearly the government does create jobs or these Congressman wouldn't be trying to prevent layoffs at these companies if they were to lose government business from the space program.

But but but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656869)

3D printers were supposed to solve everything, it's a game changer, it's a revolution? What am I supposed to do with my suitcase for Mars now??

You don't say.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656881)

Now, about that F-35 fighterplane - will we have a working/function version before it becomes obsolete? And how many more trillions of dollars do you need to complete it?

Re:You don't say.... (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 4 months ago | (#47657017)

If the F35 is obsolete, all other aircraft in the world are also. To make an aircraft which is not already obsolete requires trillions of dollars. No one has come up with a way to build a war winning aircraft which is not complicated and expensive.

Re:You don't say.... (4, Interesting)

torkus (1133985) | about 4 months ago | (#47657057)

If the SpaceX rocket is obsolete(or too trouble-prone), all other rockets in the world are also. To make a space rocket which is not already obsolete (or too trouble-prone) requires trillions of dollars*. No one has come up with a way to build a practical space rocket which is not complicated and expensive.

*actually if you build the thing on your own instead of doing things the "right" way per the US gov't you can drop that by a few orders of magnitude.

Re: You don't say.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657119)

The trouble is that we may have discovered a way to not build an aircraft that also extremely expensive.

Su-35 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657349)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su-35

Re:Su-35 (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47657431)

Funny how if the price tag is real, the US could buy thousands of those for the money thrown at F-35.

Re:You don't say.... (2)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#47657419)

If the F35 is obsolete, all other aircraft in the world are also.

No, just all other fighter aircraft.

The F35 is a cold-war relic. A world war two P47 could do just a good a job at bouncing the rubble in a village in Afghanistan.

-jcr

Re:You don't say.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657479)

if the F35 is obsolete, all other aircraft in the world are also.

But but if we don't build the F35, bin laden's airforce will overpower us all!!1!eleventy

Repukes Hate America (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656885)

Why do republicants hate America?

Re:Repukes Hate America (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47657077)

Perhaps they are replicants?

Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#47656887)

All three are Republicans that claim to want "small government", yet they insist that private contractors abide by the same rules that government agencies do - even when the contractors are cheaper and safer than than the government agencies last attempt.

Does the (R) after name stand for "Reprobate"?

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47656957)

Amazing how often what they say contradicts what they actually do.

Republicans are as much about red tape and regulation as anybody else -- the only difference is what they think they should be free from regulation, and what they feel they should be able to impose on others through regulation.

They want to ensure business and (their) religion is protected, and everybody else is on their own.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657009)

And apparently Democrats think that sweeping generalizations are appropriate. Oh no, looks like its contagious!

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (4, Informative)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47657059)

I assure ypu, Democrats do not want to open the can of worms of "who grants the most rent-seeking" laws and red tape to protect interests.

That's why they seek power in both parties. To get in the way to benefit someone, or extort someone.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657311)

It's called profiling.

please get your terms of demographic generalization and prejudice correct.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (5, Insightful)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 4 months ago | (#47657053)

Which is why we have the Tea Party now. People were fed up with the Republicans... even other Republicans.

That said, the media have done a great job painting every extremist as the face of the Tea Party (even when that extremist isn't even part of the Tea Party.)

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 4 months ago | (#47657137)

There is nothing wrong with being an extremist. Most problems in America are caused by the centrists, not the extremists.
Extreme right: Cut spending to equal revenue.
Extreme left: Raise revenue to equal spending.
Center: Continue to give everyone whatever they want, and borrow money from China to pay for it.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657273)

Wow. I think that's the first time I've ever seen someone attempt to demonize the non-extremists.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657353)

No Shit.

I had to read it twice to make sure.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (4, Interesting)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47657367)

I am pretty sure the centralist argument is raise revenue and cut spending, not borrow money from china, that is pretty extreme.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657147)

Which is why we have the Tea Party now. People were fed up with the Republicans...

Because as everyone knows, the solution to excessive self-serving hypocrisy is EVEN MORE self-serving hypocrisy! With an added dose of bat-shit-crazy added in for spice.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657187)

The tea-party needs to be their own party, not a group trying to change the republican party.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657225)

The tea-party needs to be their own party, not a group trying to change the republican party.

I believe you mis-spelled "hijack".

Are they (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656967)

Does the (R) after name stand for "Reprobate"?

I think is stands for Retarded.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656981)

Just because they are republicans doesn't mean their for small government these days..

In fact, there are many that are no better than their big government wanna-be democratic counterparts. Just one big happy family.

In most cases the (D) after anything stands for dipstick.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (4, Informative)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 4 months ago | (#47657007)

It stands for RINO - these clowns are being bought off by ULA (http://www.ulalaunch.com/) just like the bought and paid for dems (http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000057934) . SpaceX is threat for those that suckle at the big government teat...

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47657399)

RINO

Why in name only? This is the very essence the party, both sides. An unsold politician has no influence whatsoever. It's a shame to see the voters reward this behavior. Nothing will change until they do.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657205)

No, retard.

Re:Are they "small government" republicans ? he he (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47657475)

All three are Republicans that claim to want "small government"

At least, we know of their party-affiliation from the article. Had the gentlemen been Democrats, the affiliation would've been omitted [nationalreview.com] .

insist that private contractors abide by the same rules that government agencies do

This is not, in itself outrageous or even stupid. Should an orbit-bound rocket lose control, for example, the results may well be far more disastrous than 9/11...

even when the contractors are cheaper and safer than than the government agencies last attempt.

Perhaps, they borrowed the illogic from the Labor Unions? You know, the guys, who insist, foreign manufacturing be following the same procedures and workers be paid the same as in here?

Kick their asses! (1)

Roblimo (357) | about 4 months ago | (#47656897)

I wrote to my Congressman, Vern Buchanan, earlier today and told him to kick these guys in the ass for me.

Re:Kick their asses! (0)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 months ago | (#47657489)

LOL
He will not. He is as much a part of this as the other Rs.

Implausible. (5, Funny)

Sox2 (785958) | about 4 months ago | (#47656909)

Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states

This seems highly unlikely - I can't think of a single example of congressmen doing something like this before.

Re:Implausible. (4, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | about 4 months ago | (#47657079)

...especially not to another of Elon's companies.

Sometimes the best measure of success is how hard other people try to hold you back or stop you.

The rules are different for contractors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656913)

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/27/military.electrocutions/

I'd love to see how these congressmen responded to the well-noted failures of KBR and other military contractors...

seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656921)

who are these do nothing congressmen and why are they getting involved? more importantly why is anyone listening to people from a division of government with a 16%!!!!! approval rating, can they really find nothing better to do or are they just being paid under the table too much to bring up these pointless issues and waste even more time/money

gg congress gg

Re:seriously? (1)

esampson (223745) | about 4 months ago | (#47657281)

. . .more importantly why is anyone listening to people from a division of government with a 16%!!!!! approval rating. . .

Because crappy approval rating or not they are still the legislative branch of our government. That means that they are the ones who actually make the laws. The President only has the power to execute laws and other decisions of Congress* and the Supreme Court only has the power to interpret those laws (part of that power, however, means they could decide a law violates the Constitution and is unenforcable, but in such a case they are still interpreting law).

Congress actually has much more power than the President. The thing is that the power is divided up between 535 people so the office of the President is still more powerful than any one of them.

*The President does also hold a few other powers such as Veto but pretty much all of these powers can be overridden by Congress.

Re:seriously? (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47657391)

Actually the president has lots of power outside the laws congress makes. He can veto as you stated. He can pardon people of crimes against those laws. He can direct how money is spent at the micro level below what congress states. He can appoint people who will make decisions on how the law is implemented.

Re:seriously? (1)

esampson (223745) | about 4 months ago | (#47657483)

Yeah. Like I said, he's not completely powerless. It is simply that the office has less power than Congress' (though again, it isn't divided up). I didn't really mean to turn this into a major discussion of Presidential power. It was more an answer to 'why do people listen to Congress?'. Because we have to.

HB Gary (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | about 4 months ago | (#47656923)

I will give credence to these Congressmen's words when I see them come out against HB Gary (or whatever it's called now) in a similar way.

3 Republicans against (1, Insightful)

MarkWegman (2553338) | about 4 months ago | (#47656949)

I think it's not a coincidence that these are 3 Republicans who probably hate the Space X is owned by Elon Musk who is promoting an electric car.

Re:3 Republicans against (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657085)

Congratulations on making it a partisan issue. You deserve a pat on the back.

Re:3 Republicans against (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | about 4 months ago | (#47657103)

Yeah - I'm sure that is the reason behind this. That's why the Republicans target Apple so much... oh wait, they don't.

But way to stretch to find a link. You're way of thinking really explains how the terror watch list is so big ("that person knows someone who's brother's friend once went to a "terrorist" website!")

Alabama (5, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 4 months ago | (#47656951)

Alabama, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center, which is NASAs rocketry and spacecraft research center. Nah, no way this is a political move to protect their investment.

Re:Alabama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657055)

We have a winner!

Government Elites do not want SPACE frontiers. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656953)

It would destroy their credibility and undermine the slave system they have us all trapped under keeping their controlled economy and slave labor force in check and locked into planetary resources.

Re:Government Elites do not want SPACE frontiers. (1)

powerlord (28156) | about 4 months ago | (#47657393)

Obviously these people have read something besides 1984 and are trying to stop the logic next steps.

When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere. -- Lazarus Long

Re:Government Elites do not want SPACE frontiers. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47657451)

Um, we hardly need to go into space for more resources. We're still only scratching the surface here, literally. We go to space for the view.

Re:Government Elites do not want SPACE frontiers. (0)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 months ago | (#47657455)

slave system

Spot the Randroid.

Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (5, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | about 4 months ago | (#47656985)

"...ranging from “multiple” helium leaks..."
It's not a balloon, it's a rocket. I'm not aware of them using Helium, though they are know to use huge quantities of Liquid Hydrogen.

"...release all anomalies and mishap information, un-redacted, so that Congress can gain a better understanding of what has occurred and ensure full transparency..."
Do you mean like you have all other PRIVATE CONTRACTORS do? Oh wait, you don't. Of course, as stated, no huge system is ever without issues. The real question is are they fixed, and in a timely manner. In the case of SpaceX, yes. And by the way, SpaceX hasn't had 3 different crews killed in accidents, unlike NASA.

"Again, because the vehicles in question were funded by American taxpayer dollars, there should be no issue in making this report publicly available,"
Wrong again douchebag, they were funded by Elon Musk, not the government.

As to the question I posed in the subject line, I don't actually know the answer, but I suspect it's "all of the above".

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657035)

On February 25, 2010, SpaceX's first flight stack was set vertical at Space Launch Complex 40, Cape Canaveral,[18] and on March 9, SpaceX performed a static fire test, where the first stage was to be fired without taking off. The test aborted at T-2 seconds due to a failure in the system designed to pump high-pressure helium from the launch pad into the first stage turbopumps

What were you saying about ignorance?

Ever hear the saying about fools running their mouths?

Re: Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657061)

Actually you're the wrong douchebag In this case. SpaceX got lots of FREE research given to them from the government (this is intentional and part of NASA's mission). Since they've basically used modern materials and computers to do what we did in the 1960s this shouldn't be shocking, and anything is cheaper when you don't have to start with basic research. They also get government contract money and just maybe should be accountable for that.

I realize I'm attacking the myth that Our Hero Elon Musk personally invented space travel as we know it, but I'm tired of all the CEO worship around here.

Re: Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47657159)

When the problem relates to what they get the money for you will have a point. But as long as the company is spending its own money on the product the government should have no say so in it as long as it is not breaking the law.

Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

close_wait (697035) | about 4 months ago | (#47657091)

it's a rocket. I'm not aware of them using Helium

Rockets often use compressed helium to maintain pressure in the fuel tanks as they empty

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

torkus (1133985) | about 4 months ago | (#47657109)

You can thank how easily and readily the news are manipulated for this type of nonsense.

"NASA buys rocket launches from SpaceX with tax dollars. Therefore tax dollars fund SpaceX. Therefore SpaceX should be subject to the same scrutiny as any government-funded project"

Derp.

Apply the same logic to the other option - buying launches from Russia - and see how hard they laugh. Oh wait...didn't they stop or curtail launches for the US already because we're being assholes?

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657249)

http://science.howstuffworks.com/helium-info.htm

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47657259)

And by the way, SpaceX hasn't had 3 different crews killed in accidents, unlike NASA.

SpaceX hasn't flown crew yet. They also have not fired off as many rockets as NASA.

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 4 months ago | (#47657297)

I'm not aware of them using Helium, though they are know to use huge quantities of Liquid Hydrogen.

Actually, I think you're off.

They use Helium at launch to prime the turbo-pumps that pump the fuel. I don't think they use Liquid Hydrogen for fuel--they use a special mixture of kerosene.

The Shuttle Main Engines (and the basis of the SLS) use liquid hydrogen for fuel.

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47657427)

I think the shuttle uses Hydrazine (internal) and Aluminum with PBAN or HTPB (SRB)

Re:Politicians - Ignorant, Stupid, or Conmen? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47657465)

Ignorant and stupid they are not. I wish I could say the same for the people that elect them.

Lost on Logic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47656995)

3 Congress men want to hold SpaceX accountable to the taxpayers for delays? So did they forget when Congress shutdown? Its ok for Congress to delay, but not advances in science? PFFFFFTTTTTTTT. Lets hold those 3 accountable for their actions.

Come on guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657001)

Come on, this isn't rocket sci- ...nevermind.

This gave me a chuckle (5, Informative)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 months ago | (#47657003)

"an epidemic of anomalies" ha ha, good one. Falcon 9 had 11/11 primary mission successes on the first 11 flights. That sort of a track record is very, very rare. Space Shuttle did it. What other launcher had the same record? Never mind the overall cost of achieving it. If one adjusts for successes per dollar of development costs, Falcon 9 will have everyone beat for a long, long time, if they keep at it.

Re:This gave me a chuckle (5, Insightful)

torkus (1133985) | about 4 months ago | (#47657171)

I'm pretty sure at this rate the Falcon 9 beats every other space delivery system in cost by far (both development and recurring) and reliability (so far at least).

Granted they've had the entire history of space exploration as a guide towards their design...but then again any other company in the space game has access to at least the same information. I'm pretty sure the contractors and companies that built the shuttle and other rockets actually have significantly MORE information than is publicly available on top of it.

Yet who do we see actually DOING this? Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. It amazes me that the 'leadership' in the US can't understand that basic axiom.

Re:This gave me a chuckle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657233)

Falcon 9 will have everyone beat for a long, long time, if they keep at it.

I'm pretty sure that's what has the Congressmen worried.

Outsource to Russia (4, Informative)

Major Byte (669826) | about 4 months ago | (#47657023)

Perhaps these representatives imagine American taxpayers prefer US space exploration remain outsourced to Russia? The reps in question are: Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Re:Outsource to Russia (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657129)

The reps in question...

I think you mean the traitors to the american people.

Re:Outsource to Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657183)

I don't know if the old Lockheed-Martin (nee Martin-Marietta) facility at Deer Creek south of Denver still manufactures launch vehicles (they built Titan II's back in the day, and some old-timers around here remember back when they'd test rocket engines), but United Launch Alliance still has a pretty big presence in Colorado.

I'm sure it's entirely coincidental that two of those reps are Coloradan.

Re:Outsource to Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657245)

So we know AT LEAST two of those congressmen were high...

Not So Fast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657027)

The problem is that SpaceX is given a free pass for standards that the other major DoD contractors are not being given. That's the real issue. Musk, et al, is gaming the system by trying to not be held to the same safety and reliability standards because he used private money, while at the same time complaining that he's not got a level playing field because there are safety standards. So, taxpayers take it in the ass three times, once to pay for ULA launches, once to pay for Musk's protest, and ULA's counter protest, and then the third time to pay for satellites the SpaceX blows up.

We understand that new rockets tend to blow up regularly. However, the taxpayer shouldn't have to pay twice for rocket development when we've already developed rockets that no longer blow up regularly. The taxpayers got stuck with the first bill (to boeing, loral, Lockheed, Grumman et al), and we've got a reliable set of launch vehicles. There's no goodness in paying again for SpaceX to learn the same lessons and re-accomplish the same development. Let private customers roll the dice on their satellites getting blown up, and when SpaceX develops mature launch vehicles, then compete on a level playing field, instead of Musk's political stunts. ... that or let Musk pay for the public satellites he blows up with his "lower cost" less reliable satellite.

Re:Not So Fast... (4, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | about 4 months ago | (#47657111)

I keep hearing this nonsense, and I can't help but imagine that it's coming straight from the ULA puppets. Nobody is given any free passes. They are contracted to deliver stuff to orbit, not to build rockets for the government. The safety and reliability standards are of not much use if you're being paid (or not) for service. The only ones hurting if a Falcon blows up are SpaceX and cargo insurers: the former won't get paid, the latter will have to pay up. That's all there's to it.

So far, Falcon 9 hasn't blown up once. You're just repeating the stupid ULA nonsense. Stop it.

Re:Not So Fast... (2)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 4 months ago | (#47657131)

Um, what satellite has Spacex blown up? They had 3 test failures of the Falcon 1, which is retired. The Falcon 9 has yet to fail. That's a better record than anyone else.

Re:Not So Fast... (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47657195)

What satellite blew up on spaceX. And if spaceX is using private money to develop the rocket where is that kicking taxpayers? also thanks to the stupidity of the patent system not everything developed and paid for by the taxpayers can be used without paying other private companies.

Re:Not So Fast... (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 months ago | (#47657239)

| So, taxpayers take it in the ass three times, once to pay for ULA launches, once to pay for Musk's protest, and ULA's counter protest, and then the third time to pay for satellites the SpaceX blows up.

And save so so so so so so so so so much more when SpaceX's rockets cost so much less, and when there's a competitive market instead of a monopoly for the next 40 years.

Follow the money (5, Informative)

director_mr (1144369) | about 4 months ago | (#47657047)

I think you will find that those Republicans have industries that compete with Space X in their districts. This means Space X is doing so well they feel the industries in their own districts will lose money. Perhaps you could appeal to Republicans who don't have competing space industries in their district. But complaining about this as if its just republicans doing this is disingenuous. Politicians do this to give industries in their state and edge all the time.

Phil Plait:
"That’s why this whole thing looks to me to be a transparent attempt from members of our Congress to hinder a privately owned company that threatens their own interests. I’ll note that Boeing (the major SLS contractor) has a big plant in Alabama, Brooks’ (and Shelby’s) home state, and United Launch Alliance has its HQ in Colorado, home to Gardner and Coffman (it’s even in Coffman’s district). This sounds more like they’re trying to protect their own turf more than honestly wanting transparency from SpaceX."

You can read that here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad... [slate.com]

Traitors to the American Dream (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 4 months ago | (#47657089)

It's high time we started calling out these "representatives of the people" who are really nothing of the sort. Republican or Democrat, nobody in Washington seems to be concerned for the welfare of the American PEOPLE. They only seem interested in doing whatever the lobbyists who line their pockets tell them to do.

Re:Traitors to the American Dream (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47657175)

They only seem interested in doing whatever the lobbyists who line their pockets tell them to do.

Hey, if corporations are people, and money is speech, they're only listening to their constituents.

If you want to be listened to, you will need more money.

You expect what you want to matter any if you don't have any cash to back it up? Sorry, no money, no speech -- it's the American way now, SCOTUS said so.

Why are you against free(*) speech? Democracy doesn't grow on trees you know.

(*) Free as in "go ahead if you have the resources to afford it".

Re:Traitors to the American Dream (1)

esampson (223745) | about 4 months ago | (#47657423)

At the risk of defending them (because really, I don't like these guys any more than you do), the are representatives of the people -who elected them-. That means the people in their district, so protecting businesses that bring money to those districts (and thus to the people they represent) isn't -completely- without merit.

Please note that I'm not advocating that they protect those businesses at the expense of their people by loosening regulations or anything like that. I'm just saying that in -this instance- some argument can be made that they are protecting and representing their people, at least in the short run, and it is almost impossible for anyone to get elected appealing to people on the grounds of 'yes, this is going to cost you money, but in fifty years from now you children will really benefit'.

This kind of action is more a symptom of what needs to be fixed than an illness in and of itself. Unfortunately going the other way and creating a system where representatives only look at the big picture instead of their smaller constituent group causes its own problems.

Space-X is running behind on launches (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47657099)

Compare Space-X's launch manifest from a year ago [archive.org] with their current launch manifest. [spacex.com] They're six months to a year behind their launch schedule. There were supposed to be three Space-X ISS resupply flights this year, #4, #5, and #6. Flight #4 is currently scheduled for September. There are five commercial customers waiting for their scheduled 2014 launches.

Some of this isn't Space-X's fault, and some of it is. All these are Falcon-9 launches, some with the Dragon capsule. No major new hardware is involved. It's not clear where the holdup is coming from. There have been problems with scheduling at Canaveral. 2014 was supposed to be the year that Space-X caught up on their launch manifest, but that's not happening. Unclear why.

Re:Space-X is running behind on launches (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657415)

The problem is that the only way you can make space flight cheap is by cutting corners to do a bunch of launches. They tried it with the space shuttle and Challenger happened. Right now Space X has a bunch of former NASA people working for them that forced the company to quit cutting corners. Hence the delays. It also means that Space X is no longer profitable.

You keep using that word (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#47657107)

In the letter, they keep going on about anomalies. They don't understand what those are.

Anomalies are not (necessarily) defects, or errors, or problems. Anomalies are deviations from the norm - something that isn't perfect.

I tried to find an example Space Shuttle mission that I could use to compare, but I can't even find a comprehensive list of "anomalies". I can find rollbacks, where the problem required bringing the vehicle back to the assembly building, but I can't find a list even of countdown stops.

Rockets are expensive. When you see a potential problem, you fix it even if there's a 90% chance of it being fine anyways. You don't take risks. For SpaceX, their caution has paid off in a near-100% success rate (one secondary payload was lost after an engine failed on CRS-1. NASA forbade the second burn to insert the secondary payload because the engine failure had reduced the odds of success to 95%).

Further, these are civilian launch vehicles, not missiles. A missile, you expect to be high-reliability, low-maintenance and weather-tolerant. You can't cancel a battle just because a hurricane is coming and you're not sure it can stand up to the wind. But these are civilian rockets - the increased payload and decreased cost you get from not having to battle-harden everything is worth the cost of having to delay the launch if something looks a bit iffy and they want to make sure it's not going to break and wreck your multi-million-dollar payload.

Oh, and then they somehow argue that having several billion dollars worth of flights sold is a bad thing. They frame it as "SpaceX is too slow to keep up with demand", when really it's "the demand is too high for SpaceX to keep up". They have missions sold out to 2019, and on many of them the payload isn't even ready yet. Replace SpaceX with even a perfect ideal, with an infinite supply of ready-to-launch rockets, and those seven Iridium-NEXT launches won't be happening until the actual payloads are done, the next five ISS resupply missions won't happen until the ISS needs the supplies, and the Falcon 9 Heavy test launch won't happen until that rocket is ready.

Republicans Congress want dead Astronauts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657121)

Brooks, Coffman, and Gardner want less delays, and their impatience will cost the lives of astronauts.

Want to bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657143)

that all these criticisms would evaporate if Musk announced he will buy rocket parts from contractors in these congressmen's states ?

Say it isn't so!!!! (0)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 4 months ago | (#47657201)

"Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states."

Ya, think?

Re:Say it isn't so!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657461)

I wouldn't be at all surprised!

Follow the funding (5, Informative)

pr0t0 (216378) | about 4 months ago | (#47657235)

Thanks to the awesome new browser plug-in called Greenhouse (how has this not been on slashdot?), here's a little context.

Congressman Mo Brooks gets his biggest financial contributions from the aerospace industry. Among his top-10 contributors are Lockheed Martin (1), Northrup Grumman (2), Boeing (6), and Raytheon(10).

Both congressmen Coffman and Gardner have Koch Industries in their top-10 at 7 and 5 respectively. At first, this didn't mean much to me, but I found the coincidence intriguing so I dug deeper. Koch Industries purchased Molex, Inc. in December for $7.2 billion. Among other things, Molex makes wiring and connectors for defense and aerospace. Is that enough to push a couple of congress critters to voice concerns about Space X? I don't know, but following the money is usually a good first step in determining motive.

Re:Follow the funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657403)

I bet a Jew is involved somehow too!

Re:Follow the funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657413)

I bet more Christians are involved than Jews. Suck on that, anti-semite!

Re:Follow the funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657463)

I really don't understand how this kind of bullshit is allowed to happen.

Mericans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657295)

If you can't fight them, sue them.

Term Limits for Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47657343)

NOW can we have term limits for congress? Pretty please? Jesus, these entrenched motherfuckers are pissing me off.

Re:Term Limits for Congress (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 4 months ago | (#47657487)

Don't be ridiculous. New representatives and senators can be bought just as easily as those who've been there for 20 years.

All you need to know about this story. (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 months ago | (#47657471)

The congressmen in question are Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

SpaceX is "competing" (or rather beating the pants off of) a Lockheed Martin / Boeing joint operation called United Launch Alliance (ULA). From their webpage [ulalaunch.com] :

ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and...

This is essentially congressmen performing constituent services for their district, albeit in the most cynical way possible.

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