Author Topic: How could winning the HLS second contract change the Blue company?  (Read 20072 times)

Online yg1968

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I think the bigger impact on the company was the entire concept of a HLS contract rather than anything now; we're set in the ways we go. This extract from Amazon Unbound has stuck with me because of how blatant it is.
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Blue Origin was now nakedly opportunistic. After Donald Trump won the presidency and announced the goal of returning Americans to the moon by 2024, Blue executives quickly put together a seven-page proposal outlining a lunar service to the Shackleton crater on the moon’s south pole, paving the way for human colonies there. “It is time for America to return to the Moon—this time to stay,” Bezos emailed the Washington Post, after it obtained a copy of the proposal. The idea would evolve into another massive undertaking, called Blue Moon.

You (and Blue Origin execs) look at SpaceX and a big takeaway in their success is that they were able to scale rapidly off the COTS and CRS contracts into the blossoming firm that they were in 2016. Blue on the other hand... so Bezos and co decides 'right that's it, we're going deep on the next big government contract we see.' Trump goes moon, so they open up a lander department and all that. Which is why they were so upset when they lost. Option A was their ideological method to scaling as a firm; to have SpaceX come in with supposed mars launch vehicle with a new paintjob and win was a slap in the face.

If they win, it's not really changing much about the company. Had they won with the design space I thought they might go with that could've shifted it up but probably not to be (given that we received a contractor list for the announcement). I think the large part of the reason they historically talked about their lander on SLS was because it would be more politically popular. So it's not like the current path is a new thing.

On a side note, you can actually hear some of these thoughts of using gov money to subsidize development of vehicles in their complaints. "NASA is providing SpaceX a $3 billion subsidy to convert a heavy-lift launch vehicle into a sustainable lunar lander"
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Nevertheless, the story ULA execs eventually heard from employees at Blue, Sowers said, was that Bezos was frustrated that the government was funding Elon Musk’s space dreams and wanted to get in on the action. To compete for those lucrative contracts and to “get paid to practice,” as Bezos put it to colleagues

Which is also hinted at in the supposed National team post option A selection meeting. Not everything here turned out, but there's enough that rings a bell.



It's surprising that Blue didn't anticipate that SpaceX's Option A bid would end up being much lower than their bid. The prices of the base period bid were public information (see the post below), so they should have know that SpaceX's price would be around $2.25B (the base period price) or slightly more (it ended up being $2.9B for Option A):

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46645.msg2103598#msg2103598
« Last Edit: 01/30/2023 11:38 pm by yg1968 »

Offline trimeta

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It's surprising that Blue didn't anticipate that SpaceX's Option A bid would end up being much lower than their bid. The prices of the base period bid were public information (see the post below), so they should have know that SpaceX's price would be around $2.25B (the base period price) or slightly more (it ended up being $2.9B for Option A):

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46645.msg2103598#msg2103598
I don't think they were surprised by SpaceX being cheaper. They were surprised by NASA not having enough money to back two bids. They figured "with two winning bids, we only need to beat Dynetics and we're good, so we can basically ignore SpaceX and not worry about how much better they are than us." Which arguably is exactly the type of thinking NASA explicitly encouraged with the new split-bid process for landings past the first (e.g. having SpaceX submit a sole-source bid, and separately have everyone else bid against each other).

Offline eric z

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  I am not "clued-in" like many people here are, but I see nothing in what BO has achieved so far to warrant serious consideration for such an important contract; i actually think the money would be better spent shoring-up the existing
work being done, and ISS follow-on. Let BO get something actually done with orbital Reef, for instance. IMHO, of course!

Online DanClemmensen

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  I am not "clued-in" like many people here are, but I see nothing in what BO has achieved so far to warrant serious consideration for such an important contract; i actually think the money would be better spent shoring-up the existing
work being done, and ISS follow-on. Let BO get something actually done with orbital Reef, for instance. IMHO, of course!
Appendix P is money that congress directed NASA to spend on an HLS from an alternate provider. Congress did not  (quite) explicitly require that the money must go to BO, but it smells like that to a lot of observers.  It is a stupid waste of time and money, IF Starship succeeds. If Starship fails it may suddenly end up looking like a brilliant piece of insurance that saves Artemis.  Reminder: in 2016, Boeing was obviously the best choice for CCP and SpaceX was a long-shot backup alternative in most people's minds.

I think Starship is very nearly certain to succeed, and I think NASA should find a way to cancel Appendix P if Artemis 3 succeeds, but "prediction is difficult, especially the future".


Offline meekGee

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I think that situation was and will be unique to spaceX. Before that point, the contracts were a ULA monopoly. SpaceX had to sue to break the monopoly. The hard work has now been done, and ULA doesn't solely own gov launch.

And this is great - more competition is ALWAYS better for the space force and for all tax payers.
While I wish Blue Origin the best of luck in being able to win some of those contracts, they really need to get something up into orbit.  Even if they have to do it on their own dime (something they have no lack of).  The company has existed for over twenty years now.  They have an expensive joy ride that works most of the time, and they have a really nice Methalox engine which will hopefully be flight tested in a few months.  And some big buildings.  But their silence on all else is not a good thing, considering that they have tended to trumpet their successes quite loudly in the past.

Yet another comment with the same, old, worn-out lines in it. It's like you are copy and pasting.

Please come up with new material.
Maybe when there's something new of worth to write about...

There's a routine here.  BO posts a video with basically nothing new, the thread comes alive with the same back and forth, eventually dies down, repeat.

As long as you keep getting excited over the non developments, you can't blame people from repeatedly putting them in perspective...

ABCD - Always Be Counting Down

Offline JCRM

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As long as you keep getting excited over the non developments, you can't blame people from repeatedly putting them in perspective...

Perhaps you could work on "putting things in perspective" in an objective and non-antagonistic manner?

Offline deadman1204

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I think that situation was and will be unique to spaceX. Before that point, the contracts were a ULA monopoly. SpaceX had to sue to break the monopoly. The hard work has now been done, and ULA doesn't solely own gov launch.

And this is great - more competition is ALWAYS better for the space force and for all tax payers.
While I wish Blue Origin the best of luck in being able to win some of those contracts, they really need to get something up into orbit.  Even if they have to do it on their own dime (something they have no lack of).  The company has existed for over twenty years now.  They have an expensive joy ride that works most of the time, and they have a really nice Methalox engine which will hopefully be flight tested in a few months.  And some big buildings.  But their silence on all else is not a good thing, considering that they have tended to trumpet their successes quite loudly in the past.

Yet another comment with the same, old, worn-out lines in it. It's like you are copy and pasting.

Please come up with new material.
People also say that water is wet. It never stops being true.
Blue takes on project after project but never finished them.  Believe it or not, no one here wants Blue to suck and fail. We're all space fans, the more the better.
We are just disillusioned because they keep promising and not delivering. There is also the legal behavior of the company.
When NG launches, that will be something we will all be happy for.

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« Last Edit: 01/31/2023 06:11 pm by zubenelgenubi »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Moderator:
The thread has passed the point of insightful discussion, and the same veteran members are trotting out their same pro/anti arguments, yet again. 

Thread locked.
Support your local planetarium! (COVID-panic and forward: Now more than ever.) My current avatar is saying "i wants to go uppies!" Yes, there are God-given rights. Do you wish to gainsay the Declaration of Independence?

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