Author Topic: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission  (Read 24342 times)

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #40 on: 02/14/2019 02:26 am »
I was just told that SpaceX didn't bid with the Falcon 9, only with the Falcon Heavy. Can anyone verify that?

The Spacenews said it was a expendable Falcon 9 was bid.

I thought so. Bidding only Heavy seemed wrong when I heard it.

Offline docmordrid

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #41 on: 02/14/2019 03:22 am »
>
Also, SpaceX has only ever launched one thing interplanetary, and it was a Tesla.
>

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR). Didn't it do a heliocentric insertion on it's way to L1?
DM

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #42 on: 02/14/2019 03:49 am »
I was just told that SpaceX didn't bid with the Falcon 9, only with the Falcon Heavy. Can anyone verify that?

Also, SpaceX has only ever launched one thing interplanetary, and it was a Tesla. On a mission with an interplanetary flight path as complicated and intricate as this ones, it's not only understandable but wise to pick ULA's experience over SpaceX's first-try.

If they launch with SpaceX and something goes wrong, that's $550 million down the drain, along with a launch window that won't be back for decades. Given that, $50 million extra for peace of mind is worth it.

There's nothing complex about an interplanetary injection. It's a velocity vector much like a GTO or TLI. The spacecraft handles the flight after injection, that's not the LV's responsibility.

Offline envy887

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #43 on: 02/14/2019 03:51 am »
I was just told that SpaceX didn't bid with the Falcon 9, only with the Falcon Heavy. Can anyone verify that?

The Spacenews said it was a expendable Falcon 9 was bid.

I thought so. Bidding only Heavy seemed wrong when I heard it.

Heavy isn't certified for Class B. Does LSP even accept bids for uncertified vehicles?

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #44 on: 02/14/2019 05:19 am »
It's pretty clear that it was a bad decision.  NASA should be able to understand why SpaceX used to have schedule slips and why things have changed.  SpaceX is no longer making big changes in Falcon 9.  The idea that they're going to look at what happened when SpaceX was making big changes to Falcon 9 and somehow think that applies to a launch two years in the future is just absurd.

ULA is clearly the riskier option, as they don't launch as often as SpaceX does.

Offline freddo411

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #45 on: 02/14/2019 06:03 am »
I was just told that SpaceX didn't bid with the Falcon 9, only with the Falcon Heavy. Can anyone verify that?

Also, SpaceX has only ever launched one thing interplanetary, and it was a Tesla. On a mission with an interplanetary flight path as complicated and intricate as this ones, it's not only understandable but wise to pick ULA's experience over SpaceX's first-try.

If they launch with SpaceX and something goes wrong, that's $550 million down the drain, along with a launch window that won't be back for decades. Given that, $50 million extra for peace of mind is worth it.

Technically correct, but that seems like a weak argument.   I count 8 GTO flights, and a HEO flight , all just last year.   Clearly, the F9 is more than capable of lofting to high energy trajectories, and meeting the necessary launch windows.   Look at demonstrated success of CRS missions and their instantaneous launch windows.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #46 on: 02/14/2019 06:30 am »
For future reference here’s the GOA page for the bid protest:

https://www.gao.gov/docket/B-417304.1

This is all it says currently:

Quote
GAO Bid Protest Docket
Protestor: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
Solicitation Number: RLSP-35
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
File Number: B-417304.1  Outcome: Not Decided  Status: Case Currently Open
Filed Date:   Feb 11, 2019
Due Date:   May 22, 2019
Case Type:   Bid Protest
GAO Attorney:   Scott H. Riback

I’ve added the link to the OP on this thread too
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 06:33 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #47 on: 02/14/2019 07:47 am »
It's pretty clear that it was a bad decision.  NASA should be able to understand why SpaceX used to have schedule slips and why things have changed.  SpaceX is no longer making big changes in Falcon 9.  The idea that they're going to look at what happened when SpaceX was making big changes to Falcon 9 and somehow think that applies to a launch two years in the future is just absurd.

ULA is clearly the riskier option, as they don't launch as often as SpaceX does.

Ok, so let's look at where the numbers stand now

It has been a little over two years, and 40 successful launches since SpaceX last lost a payload.
ULA has over 120 launches under its belt now and hasn't lost a single payload. Not one (in fairness, there were two non-mission-critical failures)

When Lucy launches in 2021, as SpaceX is approaching a 100 successful launch streak, maybe we'll look back on this and go, "Yeah, Lucy should have gone to SpaceX." But the decision of who got to launch Lucy wasn't and couldn't be made two years from now, it was made now, which means we have to use the numbers we have now.

Also, you can launch more without being more reliable. Did you know the Shuttle was planned to launch 24 times in 1986, which would've beat SpaceX's current launch rate? The launch rate is unrelated to reliability, and NASA is acutely aware of that.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 08:32 am by JEF_300 »

Online ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #48 on: 02/14/2019 08:27 am »
It's pretty clear that it was a bad decision.  NASA should be able to understand why SpaceX used to have schedule slips and why things have changed.  SpaceX is no longer making big changes in Falcon 9.  The idea that they're going to look at what happened when SpaceX was making big changes to Falcon 9 and somehow think that applies to a launch two years in the future is just absurd.

ULA is clearly the riskier option, as they don't launch as often as SpaceX does.

Ok, so let's look at where the numbers stand now

It has been a little over two years, and 40 successful launches since SpaceX last lost a payload.
ULA has over 120 launches under its belt now and hasn't lost a single payload. Not one (in fairness, there were two non-mission-critical failures)

It is worth pointing out how nearly perfect ULA's record is. One of those failures was simply the first stage shutting off a few seconds early and the second stage picking up the slack. The other one was more serious, with the payloads put into a sub-par orbit, but close enough to eventually reach the correct orbit and enter service. And that was well over a decade ago.This bid protest would be a lot more likely to succeed if NASA weren't simply able to say we are willing to pay ~$45 million more(or whatever the number is - SpaceX's bid amount isn't public) to put it on a rocket family that hasn't destroyed 2 payloads in its recent history. They simply have to say that they want to give this mission its best chance of success they can and a more expensive vehicle is the vehicle with the best track record they have access to. The situation is the same as Dreamchaser was in for its bid protest, with similar arguments that they bid lower than Boeing, and the result will likely be the same.

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #49 on: 02/14/2019 08:30 am »
The thing that really concerns me about this is the potential of it.

Say SpaceX wins; the GAO agrees that SpaceX should’ve got the contract since they can do it cheaper.

Well, SpaceX will always be able to do it cheaper; at least for the next several years.

So anytime SpaceX loses a government contract over the next several years, they point at this decision and say “we can do it cheaper”, and the GAO follows precedent and gives SpaceX the contract.

So now all government launches for the next several years are SpaceX launches.

A SpaceX government launch monopoly.

And considering SpaceX are the ones who, rightfully, defeated the ULA launch monopoly back in 2015, surely we can all see why that would be bad?

I know it sounds a bit like I'm saying the sky is falling, and maybe I'm crazy, but I really think that this has the potential to set a precedent that could decide the fate of the American launch market.

That’s why this whole thing bothers me. Luckily for me, I don't think SpaceX has any chance of winning.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 08:40 am by JEF_300 »

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #50 on: 02/14/2019 08:38 am »
A SpaceX government launch monopoly.

100% market share is not the same thing as a monopoly.

A monopoly is about having no effective competitive pressure.  The reason it's bad is the lack of competitive pressure, not the 100% market share.

If you have two providers and the contracts are always split between them, there's still no competitive pressure.  It's no better than a monopoly.

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #51 on: 02/14/2019 08:46 am »
Exactly: saying it would be a monopoly is just a twisted view, when the only anti competitive behavior here is granting assured contracts to a provider just to preserve it.

If SpaceX is always the lowest price option than competitors should answer accordingly. If they don't, they don't deserve contracts.

If you say that it's important for the government to have two providers no matter what that's another story, but you can't say that granting contracts to the best offer is 'monopolistic behavior'.
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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #52 on: 02/14/2019 09:06 am »
But is it wrong that the prospect of a company, even a historically well-meaning one, having 100% control of the launch market scares me? If Elon was somehow outed, or suddenly decided to go full on Bond villain, they would be able to turn into a monopoly overnight.

And if they naturally gained 100% of the market because everyone chose them and their lower prices that would be one thing, but that's not what's happening. SpaceX is actively attempting to force a customer (NASA), who wouldn't of otherwise, into valuing price over all other factors, and thus them over any competitor. That's why I would argue that this is monopolistic behavior.

Anyway, I'm not an economic or legal expert, it's just an aspect of this that was bothering me and wasn't being discussed.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 09:15 am by JEF_300 »

Online ncb1397

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #53 on: 02/14/2019 09:16 am »
A SpaceX government launch monopoly.

100% market share is not the same thing as a monopoly.

A monopoly is about having no effective competitive pressure.  The reason it's bad is the lack of competitive pressure, not the 100% market share.

If you have two providers and the contracts are always split between them, there's still no competitive pressure.  It's no better than a monopoly.

The competitive pressure is who gets more launches purchased. Right now, for 2019, that is SpaceX. NASA is paying for CRS-17, CRS-18, CRS-19, DM-1, DM-2, inflight abort test and USCV-1. On the ULA side, they are only buying 3 Commercial Crew launches. They are also buying 3 flights from Northrop Grumman(two Antares and one Pegasus). It is worth pointing out that SpaceX's haul is greater than their two competitors combined.
« Last Edit: 02/15/2019 06:28 am by ncb1397 »

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #54 on: 02/14/2019 09:21 am »
But is it wrong that the prospect of a company, even a historically well-meaning one, having 100% control of the launch market scares me? If Elon was somehow outed, or suddenly decided to go full on Bond villain, they would be able to turn into a monopoly overnight.

And if they naturally gained 100% of the market because everyone chose them and their lower prices that would be one thing, but that's not what's happening. They are actively attempting to force a customer (NASA), who wouldn't of otherwise, into valuing price over all other factors, and thus them over any competitor. That's why I would argue that this is monopolistic behavior.

Anyway, I'm not an economic or legal expert, it's just an aspect of this that was bothering me and wasn't being discussed.
That's when your other competitors weigh in: there's Blue Origin approaching, there are Boeing and LM that could be finally prompted to give ULA the possibility to develop a cheap RV.

People in the Space industry seem to be afraid of competition and see it as a negative it seems...

Also SpaceX isn't trying to have NASA value price over other things: they're saying their offer is better overall. And let's speak frankly: F9 is being certified for Crew as AV is, Block 5 already has a bigger fight history than some Atlas V variant as well, so it's not like you can say that F9 lacks demonstrated reliability. That point is becoming moot.

Also about schedule certainty: SpaceX is launching more than anyone in the US and intends to launch more and more with Starlink. If a mission has high priority there's no provider that can offer better flexibility than SpaceX.

Failure is not only an option, it's the only way to learn.
"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the custody of fire" - Gustav Mahler

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #55 on: 02/14/2019 09:44 am »
Also SpaceX isn't trying to have NASA value price over other things: they're saying their offer is better overall.

This depends entirely on how you view NASA and the government.

If you think of the US Federal Government as a single homogenous entity that was awarding this contract, then yes, SpaceX protesting to the GAO is just them asking the government to reconsider its decision.

However, if you think of NASA as the single independent entity that was awarding this contract, then SpaceX protesting to the GAO is running to a third party that has authority over NASA in the hope that they will force NASA to choose SpaceX.

I suppose the reality is somewhere in between.
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 09:45 am by JEF_300 »

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #56 on: 02/14/2019 09:47 am »
I think it would be helpful to understand the sorts of things GAO will, or will not, do when judging the bid protest. Especially as I'm not familiar with the details of what constraints, if any, the GAO works to.

I assume it will look at things such as whether the assessment criteria, including weightings, were clearly explained to bidders (so bidders could tailor their response accordingly) and if the criteria were consistently applied.

Can GAO also comment on whether the criteria themselves are appropriate? Even if they can, do they typically defer to the expert organisation (NASA in this case) as to what the requirements should be for a given procurement? For example, in this case would the GAO assess whether the weightings NASA has put on reliability and price are appropriate, or purely look at the scores assigned given the weightings?
« Last Edit: 02/14/2019 09:48 am by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline as58

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #57 on: 02/14/2019 10:34 am »
How long is the review expected to take? Hopefully not long, because otherwise the bid protest itself is going to cause schedule risk. With launch in about two and a half years there's not that much time to waste.

Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #58 on: 02/14/2019 10:46 am »
How long is the review expected to take? Hopefully not long, because otherwise the bid protest itself is going to cause schedule risk. With launch in about two and a half years there's not that much time to waste.

My understanding is that the GOA has 100 days to address the matter.

Offline jpo234

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Re: SpaceX bid protest for NASA Lucy mission
« Reply #59 on: 02/14/2019 11:08 am »
How long is the review expected to take? Hopefully not long, because otherwise the bid protest itself is going to cause schedule risk. With launch in about two and a half years there's not that much time to waste.

Quote
GAO Bid Protest Docket
Protestor: Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
Solicitation Number: RLSP-35
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
File Number: B-417304.1  Outcome: Not Decided  Status: Case Currently Open
Filed Date:   Feb 11, 2019
Due Date:   May 22, 2019
Case Type:   Bid Protest
GAO Attorney:   Scott H. Riback
You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. That's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and believing the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than being out there among the stars.

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