Author Topic: Worst decision made in US space history?  (Read 54329 times)

Offline Afrocle

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #240 on: 03/04/2013 01:31 pm »
Imagine NASA transfering to Boeing the ownership of a commercialized Apollo spacecraft that could launch 5 Astronauts to a commercialized SkyLab space station on top of a commercialized Saturn 1B rocket with a reusable 1st stage.


There is no economic reason for those to be commercial.  There is nothing for a commercial Skylab to produce.

Heck as Jim has witnessed in the 1990s, even "commercial experiments" in LEO are not exactly worth the money of all but a few big companies (look up SpaceHAB). Back then there were grandiose visions of future space factories making semi-conductors in microgravity, and these were seen as the first steps to it. It took just a few years to shoot the whole concept down. Today it seems the market has turned to short hops to 100 km (and yet none of the rides are ready yet  ::))

SpaceHab made money for most of its investors when it had its IPO in 1995. SpaceHab then lost money for investors 5 to 15 years later, but made money for short sellers in this time frame.

In a decentralized capitalist economy you have winners and losers and good financial investors know how to time when to buy into an investment opportunity, like SpaceHab, and when to sell out.

SpaceHab risked $200 million in its commercialization and was a key capability that NASA had to have to meet its international obligations when Shuttle-Mir started in 1994.

SpaceX has already created many paper millionaires and Elon Musk is a billionaire from his SpaceX investment according to Forbes magazine.

Offline Afrocle

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #241 on: 03/04/2013 01:44 pm »

1.  It could be argued that the Saturn 1B rocket, if commercialized, would have been better than the Titan rockets that the Air Force relied on and that a reusable (at least of the 8 engine 1st stage) version of the Saturn 1B rocket would have better served NASA and commercial users in the 1970s and beyond than the Space Shuttle and other rockets.

2. The White House and Congress should have set up NASA and DoD to fight in the 1970s the battles that SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing, Aerojet, ULA, and others are fighting today in 2013 for spaceflight commercialization.


1.  it would be a losing argument.  The IB would not have made a cheap reusable vehicle. The DDTE costs would be large.   And it was too big for commercial users.  The Titan was perfect for the DOD at the time.  It flew on both coasts and had many different versions. 

2.  The DOD has no role in that. 


1. The Saturn 1B would have been better than the Titan IV for DoD and NRO space launches with a larger payload fairing and more capable upper stage. The Saturn 1B would have been the perfect human rated launch vehicle to launch a commercial Apollo human spaceship in the 1970s. Because NASA had already paid for the 1B DDTE costs in the 1960s and 1970s it would have been attractive for a commercial operator to take ownership without having to pay for these past DDTE costs. The Saturn 1B would have been a fantastic commercial launcher in the 1970s to rival the 6-ton to GEO performance that Ariane V and Proton deliver today. US commercial operators could have planned larger 6-ton GEO satellites in the 1970s versus having to wait until the late 1990s when Russian, Ukrainian, and European vehicles were available.

2. DoD has a role in restructuring how DoD launches are procured. DoD had influence over the Saturn 1B debate with Titan in the 1960s and 1970s, and DoD has a role today in the debate over how SpaceX, OSC, and others can commercially compete with ULA for DoD launches.

Offline Afrocle

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #242 on: 03/04/2013 01:54 pm »
It is unknown if restructuring the NASA Soviet-like bureaucracy to support US commercial space jobs would have been more difficult in the 1970s or today in 2013. Would the Mike Griffin's and Senator Shelbys of the world have fought the same battles in the 1970s that they are fighting in 2013 to maintain NASA's Soviet-like system?

Everybody's so sensitive these days, so you're bound to get some complaints about this further shallow analysis, even if technically, it's true that it's "unknown" if such a restructuring as you propose would have had any utility whatsoever.

Also, under the "many worlds" hypothesis, there might be such an alternate universe for Mr. Griffin to participate in, if alternate universes were as easy to create as internets postings.

True. There are a lot more unknowns in a decentralized capitalist economic system with commercial competition than in a centralized Soviet-like bureaucracy. The failure of a commercial company or a commercial market is a possibility.

Mike Griffin created NASA COTS and NASA CRS so it could be argued that he has done the most so far to successfully transition NASA to a commercial market approach to spaceflight services. In an alternative universe, Mike Griffin might have done even more good work for the US commercial space industry in his career going back to the 1970s.

Offline Afrocle

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #243 on: 03/04/2013 02:34 pm »
It is unknown if restructuring the NASA Soviet-like bureaucracy to support US commercial space jobs would have been more difficult in the 1970s or today in 2013. Would the Mike Griffin's and Senator Shelbys of the world have fought the same battles in the 1970s that they are fighting in 2013 to maintain NASA's Soviet-like system?

I find comparisons of NASA as "Soviet-like" to be rather offensive. You don't understand the differences in the political systems at all. The Soviet Union starved millions of people to death and executed millions in the gulags. Why do you consider it acceptable to toss such a term around?

The Soviet-style rocket bureaucracy that was competing with NASA in the 1960s came well after the execution of millions by Stalin (primarily) in the 1930s.

The US and NASA human spaceflight program currently depend on use of Soyuz space ships and rockets developed by this Soviet bureaucracy in the 1960s, so I guess I do not see what you see to be "offensive" in my comments. The US commercial space industry has partially depended on Ukrainian (Zenit) and Russian (Proton and Soyuz) commercial launchers since the 1990s, and these were also developed by the Soviet bureaucracy. Is that "offensive" to you, or is it "offensive" to mention the fact that the US commercial, DoD, and NASA space programs all partially rely on technologies developed in Soviet-style bureaucracies?

Saying that NASA has a Soviet-style bureaucracy helps to highlight that both successes (like Apollo) and failings (like SLS/Shuttle or Energia/Buran) from NASA and other US space programs are connnected to the comparisons and competition between the Soviet-Russian space industry and the US space industry.

Some people look at the competition beween SpaceX Falcon-9/Dragon versus NASA Ares-1/Orion as the relevant debate of commercial versus government, but they could also ask why the Russians are still using the 1960s Soyuz to compete with Falcon-9/Dragon. The answer is probably that the Russians, like NASA, do not see commercial potential in many of these potential markets, so they are satified with just maintaining the technology that built and maintained their original Soviet-style bureaucracies.

The Russians and their companies and government agencies are having some of the same debate that the US is having over dismantling Soviet-style bureaucracies, and the Russians have been cancelling and commercializing their infrastructure as well.

This is some of the most muddled thinking that I've seen here so far. You just wander all over the place.

So you must be one of those bloggers who likes to throw around insults while at the same time being easily "offended" when you read others posts (even when they are not directed towards you).

The debate over transitioning Soviet-style space bureaucracies to US commercial industry should have started in the 1970s versus today.

I replied in detail to your post so stop being childish and reply with something relevant to your original thought and post.

Offline R7

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #244 on: 03/04/2013 02:49 pm »
If an office buys a printer made in China does that mean the office has Chinese-like bureaucracy?
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Jim

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Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #245 on: 03/04/2013 02:50 pm »


1. The Saturn 1B would have been better than the Titan IV for DoD and NRO space launches with a larger payload fairing and more capable upper stage. The Saturn 1B would have been the perfect human rated launch vehicle to launch a commercial Apollo human spaceship in the 1970s. Because NASA had already paid for the 1B DDTE costs in the 1960s and 1970s it would have been attractive for a commercial operator to take ownership without having to pay for these past DDTE costs. The Saturn 1B would have been a fantastic commercial launcher in the 1970s to rival the 6-ton to GEO performance that Ariane V and Proton deliver today. US commercial operators could have planned larger 6-ton GEO satellites in the 1970s versus having to wait until the late 1990s when Russian, Ukrainian, and European vehicles were available.

2. DoD has a role in restructuring how DoD launches are procured. DoD had influence over the Saturn 1B debate with Titan in the 1960s and 1970s, and DoD has a role today in the debate over how with ULA for DoD launches.

wrong again.  I don't know where you come up with this stuff.

1.  The IB was only LEO capable. It would need another upperstage for GTO or planetary mission.  The IB was too expensive in 70's for the capabilities that the DOD needed at the time.  It is not to be compared to Titan IV since the Titan IV did not emerge 15-20 years later.
IB would not have be a commercial launcher much less a "fantastic" one since it was poorly suited for such a role since it was too expensive and too large.

2.  And commercialization is not one of the roles. And no, DOD does not have role in how SpaceX, OSC, and others can commercially compete.  It only has a role in SpaceX, OSC, and others can  compete for DOD launches.  Not the same thing. 
« Last Edit: 03/04/2013 02:54 pm by Jim »

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