Author Topic: Lawmakers: Air Force launch procurement strategy undermines SpaceX  (Read 3728 times)

Online Lar

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No they aren't, IMHO. They are playing for a different outcome. Not just a seat at the gravy train buffet, but a fairer process. OldSpacers fundamentally don't get Elon.

The only reason they want a fairer process is so that they can get a seat at the same gravy train. Do you really think that SpaceX/Elon care if the Air Force gets a good deal? Or if their positions were switched SpaceX would be advocating for their competitors in the name of fairness? Come on, when it comes to this stuff SpaceX is playing the same game as everyone else: win as many lucrative government contracts as possible. Now, they may have very different plans for all that money than Boeing/LM (funding BFR vs increasing shareholder value) but that’s a different story altogether.
No.

As long as there is a gravy train, we won't have millions living and working in space, and we won't become an interplanetary species. You're wrong. Call me naiive if you like, but no.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-12/spacex-launch-certification-to-face-review-by-pentagon-watchdog
SpaceX opponents show their claws.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2019 04:30 am by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Rabidpanda

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No they aren't, IMHO. They are playing for a different outcome. Not just a seat at the gravy train buffet, but a fairer process. OldSpacers fundamentally don't get Elon.

The only reason they want a fairer process is so that they can get a seat at the same gravy train. Do you really think that SpaceX/Elon care if the Air Force gets a good deal? Or if their positions were switched SpaceX would be advocating for their competitors in the name of fairness? Come on, when it comes to this stuff SpaceX is playing the same game as everyone else: win as many lucrative government contracts as possible. Now, they may have very different plans for all that money than Boeing/LM (funding BFR vs increasing shareholder value) but that’s a different story altogether.
No.

As long as there is a gravy train, we won't have millions living and working in space, and we won't become an interplanetary species. You're wrong. Call me naiive if you like, but no.


And why is that? Many of these same companies compete for military aircraft contracts in a similar manner. Yet there is also a thriving commercial air transportation industry that ferries millions of people around every day.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Believe it or not the government may not want to put all of their eggs in the baskets of a company that hasn't attempted an orbital flight yet and a company that has publicly announced they want to get rid of their currently certified vehicles as soon as possible. 

I think when you wrote that dig against SpaceX ("want to get rid of their currently certified vehicles as soon as possible") you forgot that it applies equally to ULA.  Moreso to ULA in fact, since their planned retirement of their currently-certified vehicles is sooner than SpaceX's planned retirement of theirs.

Anyway, the dig against SpaceX doesn't make any sense anyway, since everyone knows they'll keep flying Falcon 9 until the Air Force is satisfied the follow-on can do the job as well.  In fact, it's kind of sad to try to make it a negative that a company has the ambition to create something better for the future while continuing to serve the market with their current product until the replacement is ready.


Online Lar

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As long as there is a gravy train, we won't have millions living and working in space, and we won't become an interplanetary species. You're wrong. Call me naiive if you like, but no.


And why is that? Many of these same companies compete for military aircraft contracts in a similar manner. Yet there is also a thriving commercial air transportation industry that ferries millions of people around every day.
There are basically two commercial aircraft suppliers, both at least defacto propped up by governments. That's not exactly thriving. Further, it didn't take 50 years of wandering around aimlessly before the bulk of money (for aircraft users) was being made by non governmental entities doing non governmental work.

The airmail contract that arguably sparked commercial aviation to take off didn't specify what kind of planes, it didn't impose onerous standards on the providers, and it didn't have several giant bureaucracies vying to make things more difficult. It also didn't have incumbent providers protecting turf.

Your analogy is completely baseless. No, in fact, it proves the opposite of what you think it does. 
« Last Edit: 02/12/2019 02:01 pm by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline rcoppola

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Ok, so:

-SpaceX launches GPSIII in December. The first of many.
-Block 5 FH getting ready to be put into service. With possible demonstration of rapid turn-around and reuse. (All ref orbits...check)
-DM-1 closing in on March. No word on exactly how far behind Starliner actually is or isn't.
-ULA is seeing little commercial interest for Vulcan along with a reduced Gov. manifest.
-SLS/Orion is delayed...again, with further financial and schedule overages likely.
-Blue Origin is building an engine factory in Alabama. But also further taking away any hope of Vulcan commercial market penetration.
-Blue is providing the engine to ULA but DOD can't have 2 providers with the same engines. A devils bargain?

Meanwhile:

-Rumblings of FH tasked with Europa mission.
-Raptor roars to life.
-Starship Hopper and TX test facilities being developed at pace.

And then:

-Myriad of scurrilous SpaceX editorials continued...
-LSA OTA awards announced and rebuffed as unfair from Sen. Feinstein. et. al. USAF asked to review, justify.
-A review of Falcon certification has been initiated but we don't know specifically why and under who's actual directive.

I'm stepping back and looking at the big picture and seeing SpaceX directly impacting Billions of $$ worth of current and future contracts of the two largest Gov. contractors on the planet, with more connections than a 7nm A-Series CPU.

Yes, sometimes a review is just a review. And sometimes not.

Update: According to updated information, the latest Review of the Certification process maybe part of larger oversight effort and not directly linked to SpaceX. So yes. Sometimes a Review is just a Review. We'll see how it plays out.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/12/18221880/spacex-dod-inspector-general-falcon-9-air-force-certification-audit
« Last Edit: 02/12/2019 09:33 pm by rcoppola »
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Offline docmordrid

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"doesn’t know what prompted it."

IMO follow the money; acting SecDef Patrick  Shanahan is a former top Boeing exec, and the rest starts with an S and ends with  y. That and a brushback pitch at Sen. Feinstein for complaining about SpaceX being shut out of the EELV 2 funding.
DM

Offline Star One

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This article appears initially at least to be pointing the finger at Space X, make of that what you will.

This is the paragraph I am referring to.

Quote
It’s still unclear how the Air Force will respond. This is a tough one because SpaceX has powerful friends on Capitol Hill that could complicate things for the Air Force going forward. But it’s also hard to see how the Air Force goes back and redoes the LSA decision. According to one industry insider, SpaceX did this to itself by submitting a bid — presumably centered around the Raptor engine, the Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicles — that did not satisfy the Air Force. This could have huge consequences for SpaceX in the long run as it will not get government funding and assistance to upgrade its rockets to meet Air Force launch requirements. “So it’s not surprising they are trying to make an end run around the contracting process by going directly to Congress,” the insider said.

https://spacenews.com/air-force-launch-procurement-under-scrutiny/

Offline butters

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This article appears initially at least to be pointing the finger at Space X, make of that what you will.

This is the paragraph I am referring to.

Quote
It’s still unclear how the Air Force will respond. This is a tough one because SpaceX has powerful friends on Capitol Hill that could complicate things for the Air Force going forward. But it’s also hard to see how the Air Force goes back and redoes the LSA decision. According to one industry insider, SpaceX did this to itself by submitting a bid — presumably centered around the Raptor engine, the Starship and Super Heavy launch vehicles — that did not satisfy the Air Force. This could have huge consequences for SpaceX in the long run as it will not get government funding and assistance to upgrade its rockets to meet Air Force launch requirements. “So it’s not surprising they are trying to make an end run around the contracting process by going directly to Congress,” the insider said.

https://spacenews.com/air-force-launch-procurement-under-scrutiny/

Doesn't Falcon Heavy already meet Air Force launch requirements (pending investigation into certification)?

If the Air Force doesn't want to fund development of Starship or Raptor, that's their prerogative. But if F9/FH can fly all their missions, then SpaceX doesn't need to make upgrades, and they wouldn't want to undertake them anyway given the pivot to Starship.

The problem is if this decision about development funding somehow has the consequence of SpaceX not being able to bid F9/FH for LSA launch contracts down the line. If that happens, we'll all cry foul.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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Or SpaceX had other reasons for not protesting that you haven't deduced correctly....

Wow, Some mythical “unknown”.  Not worth debating as it is fundamentally flawed on its own (ie no one can debate a negative)

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- Maybe they knew they could win but didn't want to actually have USAF exerting control over SS/SH development

Which means they chose not to optimize their design for the AF competition requirements. Either way, the award wouldn’t have been improper as SpaceX was in the driver’s seat.

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Maybe they knew they could win but didn't want the optics of yet again bloodying USAF's nose over this.

Than they are in for many loses, because protests happen all the time in the defense and government suppliers.

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Maybe they ARE protesting but because it's an OTA, you aren't seeing it since it doesn't follow normal channels.

There would have been some information about a protest. Maybe not formally, but would have been some form of stop order.

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SpaceX is playing politics just like everyone else.
No they aren't, IMHO. They are playing for a different outcome. Not just a seat at the gravy train buffet, but a fairer process. OldSpacers fundamentally don't get Elon.

Again, they are. Shotwell came from the Aerospace Corp, and knows the industry well. If you replaced SpaceX with any random name, they would look like any other defense contractor in this situation.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2019 08:56 pm by Ronsmytheiii »

Offline Jim

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No they aren't, IMHO. They are playing for a different outcome. Not just a seat at the gravy train buffet, but a fairer process. OldSpacers fundamentally don't get Elon.

No, only SpaceX biased people think that.  Spacex is now oldspace too.

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Offline gongora

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In a particular market (such as government contracting), SpaceX will pretty much need to play the same game as everyone else.  What sets SpaceX apart to me is that they have a corporate mission very different from that of most of their competition, which leads to very different uses of the money they make from the contracts.

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