That said, planetary protection is a very complicated subject that even the experts struggle to understand. But one of the things that the community has considered is different levels of protection. If you are going to land in a dry, flat area that never had any water, you probably need a lower level of protection than if you are digging up sedimentary rocks that may still have water in or near them. So the evolving planetary protection concept is as VSECOTSPE characterized it--land the dirty stuff far away from the areas that require the most protection.
Why are you claiming the samples would be contaminated?
I think the presumption is that any part of the lander that was exposed to non-cleanroom atmosphere on Earth is a potential source of contamination. This would include the entire outer surface of a Starship and all of the interior. The argument is that any possibility of contamination, however small, is unacceptable, because is would call into question any tiny indication of life that was found by the science instruments.
The sterilizing effects of vacuum, launch, solar radiation in space, and entry into the Martian atmosphere are not to be trusted.
That's because nobody has spent the time and money to qualify it, doesn't mean it can't be ever trusted, in fact PPIRB recommended NASA to look into this:
Supporting Recommendation: For both forward and backward contamination requirements, NASA should continue to allow novel approaches, such as crediting for time spent in the harsh space environment or on harsh planetary surfaces (e.g., UV, radiation, temperature extremes, lack of liquid water). To enable this, NASA should support quantitative laboratory studies of such approaches to demonstrate quantitative PP credits.
And there're ways you can sterilize the inside of Starship after it's launched, using UV for example.
Note all these are to satisfy the planetary protection requirements for Starship landing and operation on Mars surface, it has nothing to do with sample contamination. As Negan said, the sample tubes are sealed so they can't be contaminated.
And even if you worry about sample tube seal is broken somehow, and can't sterilize Starship, that is no obstacle. You just need to sterilize the sample retrieval vehicle and put the samples inside a sterilized container before putting the container inside Starship. Like, this is not rocket science, just common sense.
It might make sense to try to shift the later CCP missions from Atlas V to Vulcan in order to retire Atlas and its infrastructure early, but I don't see how Starliner can be profitable for BO/ULA.
Why? How is that going to help?
It only helps to the extent that ongoing support for Atlas is a loss instead of a profit. If Atlas V Starliner missions will remain profitable for the next seven years, then this is not particularly helpful. The idea would be to fly those last Atlas V as Kuiper missions immediately after Vulcan is certified to fly Starliner, thus making a bit of money and getting them off the books. If this could be done before (say) the 2027 Starliner mission, then Atlas V last flight would be in (say) December 2027, saving about three years of Atlas infrastructure maintenance. You no longer need the Atlas pad hardware and you no longer need to keep the Atlas launch expertise up to date.
See Delta II flyout after 2011.
Not applicable. That was when ULA had an effective monopoly on US government launches and can command monopolistic pricing, e.g. they sold 3 Delta IIs to NASA for $412M. That era is long gone.
You forget. This rocket was intended to out-compete Falcon. It is many years late for that, and now it has to go up against Starship, or against a 150/yr Falcon.
I'm happy that the flight rocket is coming soon. I'll count my chickens when it flies though. Or even is on a real countdown towards a launch.
You are always so negative and mentioning SpaceX rockets when talking about Blue.
It is not a negative statement. It's simply a statement of fact. All he did was define the competitive environment that New Glenn was designed for, and what it now has to compete with instead because it is so late coming online. In fact, it could be understood as a positive statement, in that the first step of wisdom is to clearly define the reality one needs to address, which is exactly what meekGee did.