genwilliamshelton-1365537685

CAPITOL HILL: The Pentagon’s top space officials told Congress today they have launched a study to ascertain if the United States can build its own rocket engines so expensive and large spy and GPS satellites don’t have to be launched using Russian rocket engines, as they are now.

Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, told the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee that a 45-day study is underway to determine how and if the US can build large rocket engines to loft the very large spy satellites and their GPS counterparts into geostationary orbit. Right now, the United Launch Alliance uses highly reliable and relatively cheap Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines for this crucial task.

“We are evaluating whether it is in the long-term US national security interest and significant elements of our US space industrial base to develop a next-generation US-designed and built engine,” Gil Klinger, a long-time senior space official now serving as deputy assistant secretary of Defense for space and intelligence, told the subcommittee.

The Russian “soft invasion” and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region has placed enormous strains on the fairly cozy relationship between the space enterprises of America and Russia. We are totally dependent on Russia to loft astronauts to the International Space Station. Although NASA broke off most relations with Russia yesterday, the space agency specifically exempted activities directly related to the station and those launches, which occur — conveniently — in Kazakhstan, not Russia.

A significant chunk of the hearing was occupied by members asking questions clearly suggested by either Elon Musk’s SpaceX, eager to get as many launches as possible as quickly as possible, or by the United Launch Alliance, eager to ensure its effective monopoly is not broken by SpaceX.

For example, Rep. Doug Lamborn asked the assembled space officials how many times the EELV program had launched and how many times it had launched successfully. The answer, as known by virtually everyone in the room, was that there have been 68 launches and 68 of them have been successful. Lamborn then helpfully asked what company had been responsible for those launches. “And United Launch Alliance was the provider,” Gen. Shelton said without losing his poker face for one moment.

Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama waved a sheet of paper being circulated by Elon Musk’s company purporting to show that EELV’s single launch costs have more than tripled. Was it accurate, he asked the head of Space Command?

“I would tell you that information is not being used correctly,” Shelton said. Glinger backed him up and noted that one of the reasons the EELV program has grown so expensive is that almost all of the assumptions underlying it were completely wrong (especially the number of commercial satellite launches) and that left the government holding the very expensive bag.

SpaceX supporters have slammed the government for its decision in the 2015 budget to slice the number of launches in half, reducing the chances SpaceX would have to compete against ULV. The launch manifest was cut for budgetary reasons and because American satellites are lasting longer than expected, reducing the need to use the EELV program. Shelton told the subcommittee that he expects SpaceX to become certified for EELV launches quite soon and to get at least one of the seven upcoming launches if it qualifies. He also said there may be an eighth launch, though that is not clear yet.

Comments

  • Gary Church

    We have the Delta and the RS-68; we do no need the RD-180. This is just General Dynamics fishing for a new engine gratis. Space X is just scamming for even more gratis tax dollars for their worthless hobby rocket.

    If the military wants to lift heavy payloads they need to fund the SLS. That can lift three or four satellites at once.

    • brightlight

      What if the satellites need to go into different orbits? Oh and the ‘hobby rocket’ is operational. SLS isn’t and won’t be. NASA might launch one or two but that’s it.

      • Gary Church

        Ariane does not seem to have any trouble piggybacking satellites. The SLS “won’t be” operational?
        You obviously hope not. I can understand why when a true Heavy Lift Vehicle like the SLS with hydrogen upper stages that can put over a 100 tons in orbit is compared to the completely inferior lift hobby rocket. The Delta IV, which IS operational, makes the 60′s technology kerosene fuel SpaceX Falcon look like chump change. Because it is. It is junk and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. Built using half a century old engine technology paid for by the taxpayer who is now getting charged for it again. SpaceX was founded on payback for political contributions and is years behind all the promises it made to transport astronauts to the space station.
        I doubt it will ever carry a single person. The escape system is not really an escape system to start with; it was designed for keeping inflatable tourist space stations in orbit, not as a true launch abort system (which the SLS has and has been tested).
        SpaceX has been very successful as portraying itself as the underdog but anyone that looks closely can see behind the facade and find the scam.

        • brightlight

          When Ariane does a double carry its because both satellites are going into geosync orbit. Low orbit satellites, especially military ones, have different altitude/inclination/etc requirements for each. You could build a ‘tug’ to put them in the correct orbits but that’s just extra mass to lift. And yes, the SLS might be able to carry the weight but the dimensions could be wrong.

          The RD-180 is outdated because it uses RP1/Lox? That is to laugh. Nothing wrong with a nice, dense fuel such as RP1 for a first stage. Only thing better might be chilled propane. Better ISP and more dense then H2. You do know that NASA is mulling an F-1B engine for a booster to the SLS.

          • Gary Church

            That shows what a rocket scientist you are not and that you are just regurgitating private space propaganda;
            Nothing has a higher ISP than H2.
            Your “coulds” and “mights” and “mulling” are just more false claims to distract the public from the truth.

            Your dimensions are all wrong. There is no substitute for a Heavy Lift Vehicle with hydrogen upper stages.

          • Horn

            You’re funny. When you get a degree in aerospace engineering with a concentration in astronautics and propulsion (like me), let me know so we can have an actual, intelligent conversation.

          • laser-agg

            and you’re pompous – take a step back and educate the rest of us. Is the Isp table wrong or not, and why?

          • Gary Church

            This is the famous SpaceX kerosene infomercial argument that has been going on for years. SpaceX uses Kerosene because it they want to pocket as many tax dollars as possible. A hydrogen turbopump has to be several times more powerful than a kerosene pump and is very difficult and expensive to engineer. But SpaceX is cheap and nasty and is not going there. Their solution is to spread this complete fabrication that kerosene is somehow a superior propellent. Uh-uh. The reason we made it to the Moon was the hydrogen upper stages on the Saturn V. Hydrogen is what puts large payloads in orbit and that is why the space shuttle used it. The need for massive thrust in a first stage is provided by SRB’s; millions of pounds of thrust without a single moving part. The solid rocket booster lower stage and hydrogen upper stage combination is the optimum mix but the hobby rocket is a hobby rocket and nowhere near as sophisticated. It is junk and it is a scam. You don’t need a degree to figure this out. Just read a couple books on rockets.

          • Horn

            First, I find it funny that you believe that everyone who argues against your “facts” is automatically a supporter of SpaceX.

            Secondly, you seriously need to read up on the different types of launch vehicles, engines, and fuels. (Try a rocket propulsion textbook from the 80s. They were probably written before your dreaded private space scam even existed.) Each one has its pros and cons. There is no all-mighty engine that is best for every launch. There are too many factors to list in detail that decide which engine to use in a given situation.

            Third, I noticed that you didn’t mention that the first stage of the Saturn V used RP-1/LOX.

            Fourth, (and this is out of my textbook) RP-1 is significantly more powerful than LH2 by volume.

            Fifth, your table is either propaganda or you neglected to include other supporting tables. Some of their mixture ratios are off, and limiting the test to a constant pressure for all fuel mixtures and a vacuum skews everything.

            Finally, and I want to make this perfectly clear, I am not arguing for SpaceX. I am arguing against your belief that the RD-180 or an American-made version is not needed, I am arguing against your use of the SLS for satellite launches, and I am arguing against your belief that LH2 and solid fuel are king. Your use of the words “scam,” “propaganda,” and “hobby rocket” clearly show that you are extremely biased in your arguments.

          • Gary Church

            “I am arguing against your belief that the RD-180 or an American-made
            version is not needed, I am arguing against your use of the SLS for
            satellite launches, and I am arguing against your belief that LH2 and
            solid fuel are king.”

            We do not need the RD-180 because LH2 and solid fuel ARE “king.”
            The F-1 engine for the Saturn was a marvel and tremendously expensive to make work. All the ones used are now on the bottom of the ocean except for one recently salvaged. The SRB for the shuttle which is actually more powerful was built to be reusable.

            The SLS will lift anything that needs lifting, along with the Delta family. The Atlas needs a lower stage engine and it seems that is what you want. If they want to copy the RD-180 then they can pay for it and not suck up a couple billion in tax dollars developing a new kerosene engine from scratch.

          • Terence Clark

            “We do not need the RD-180 because LH2 and solid fuel ARE “king.” ”

            He addressed that. You just restated your position, ignoring his entire post. Restating your opinion is not counterargument. Ignoring the points made against your arguments is not a counterargument. But it is good for propaganda, which you excel at.

          • Gary Church

            He addressed nothing really. The millions of pounds of thrust available from Solid Fuel Rocket Boosters replaced the kerosene fueled F-1 in the Saturn V for several reasons. The main one being the shuttle SRB is reusable. Hydrogen was used in the Saturn V upper stages, the Space Shuttle upper stage and the Atlas V upper stage- which the RD-180 Russian engine the article addresses is the LOWER stage for. As for kerosene being more powerful by volume……that is nearly meaningless- what counts for putting payloads in orbit is the Isp of the upper stage propellent and LH2 has by far the higher Isp.
            LH2 HAS A HIGHER ISP THAN KEROSENE! GET IT?
            As I stated, SpaceX uses kerosene engines because it is cheap but the lower performance severely limits what the Falcon can place in orbit. And the comparatively tiny thrust of the Merlin kerosene engine further limits payload. It is a hobby rocket.

          • Terence Clark

            “The main one being the shuttle SRB is reusable.”

            Barely. It cost quite a bit to refurbish them. So much so it was only marginally reusable in terms of cost with respect to just building a new one. Also, aside from F-1, how is that an argument over liquid, which is demonstrably reusable and with much less refurbishing? Also, given the lack of ability to throttle a solid they are much riskier, as we saw with Challenger (may they RIP).

            “what counts for putting payloads in orbit is the Isp of the upper stage propellent and LH2 has by far the higher Isp. ”

            Power isn’t the only reason a propellant is chosen. Boil off, stability for storage cost, and safety (to name a few) are important factors as well. If it were that easy every rocket we ever flew would be solid 1st stage, LOX/LH2 2nd stage. But they aren’t because fortunately our rocket engineers don’t have a grade school level “more power=better” approach to designing vehicles. If that were the case we’d all fuel our cars with jet fuel or LOX/LH2 and be done with it.

            “As I stated, SpaceX uses kerosene engines because it is cheap but the lower performance severely limits what the Falcon can place in orbit.”

            Their stats are publicly available. What matters is what they can put in orbit, not what they used to put it there. So you can shout to the rooftops about how kerosene isn’t as powerful as hydrogen, but we know what F9 can put into LEO and FHeavy appears to be entirely reasonable. Further, it’s on the path to reusability, it’s cheaper, it’s safer, there’s no boil-off issues, it can be stored longer and safer than hydrogen, and it can be shut off. And they still put quite a bit of cargo in orbit. So no, I don’t much think it matters what fuel it takes to get there. And even then, they are developing both methane and potentially H2 designs anyway, so even if you had a point, which you don’t, it’s about to be moot.

    • Horn

      The RD-180 uses uses LOX/RP-1 compared to the RD-68 which uses LOX/LH2. RP-1 is cheaper, safer in use, and more efficient (especially at lower altitudes) than liquid hydrogen. The RD-180 is a cheaper, lighter engine and produces more thrust than the RD-68. That means you can put heavier payloads into orbit.

      Don’t even get started on the SLS. It’s not ready yet, and won’t see it’s first test until the end of 2017, if memory serves. The SLS isn’t being designed to launch satellites. Basically, it would be overpowered and overpriced for this role. Not to mention it is being designed by NASA which was founded with a civilian orientation, not a military one. The AFSPC won’t go for giving up their funding to an organization they have no control over.

      • Gary Church

        Same old private space fabrications. Hydrogen is a superior propellent- far more efficient than kerosene- which is why you can put heavier payloads in orbit. The immense thrust of the solid fuel rocket is the most powerful first stage- which is why the space shuttle and the SLS use SRB’s.
        Don’t even get started? Unlike most of the forums spaceX fans contaminate, you cannot stop me. If memory serves the hobby rocket was supposed to be taking people to the space station by now. The cost of certifying the Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon space capsule
        for use by astronauts has risen from an initial estimate of about $300
        million in 2006 to a billion dollars today. It is far from from ready.

        The SLS will take us to the Moon- and will launch anything that is put on top of the stack- just like the Saturn V lifted Skylab.

        Like all the private space hype, look close enough at what is being presented and it is revealed as a scam.

        • Terence Clark

          “which is why the space shuttle and the SLS use SRB’s. ”

          You are aware than the next phase of SLS development is intended to use liquid boosters, aren’t you? THey’ve even farmed out for designs for making it happen.

          • Gary Church

            More propaganda. It is not “intended to use liquid boostes.” They have “farmed out” nothing.
            All B.S.
            You can post links to press releases and careful reading of said releases reveal it is just people talking. No money awarded, nothing except the private space lobby making noise because they want all the funding. Uh-huh.

          • Terence Clark

            You are terrible at debate. Like not annoying or successful in an irritating way. Just terrible at it.

          • Terence Clark

            I’m bowing out. I think the comments so far speak for themselves and I don’t think continuing to spend time giving thoughtful responses to your bumper sticker slogans is really going to change much. If someone really thinks our space program needs more people yelling “hobby rocket” and “SCAM” and complaining about private space conspiracies, then they can take your “arguments” and run with them. I think what I’ve said stands on its own.

      • Gary Church

        There is no such thing as an “overpowered” rocket. There is no cheap. The SLS is designed as a Heavy Lift Vehicle. It will lift military satellites as large as they want to build them. And NASA’s space shuttle lifted dozens of military payloads. Every single statement you made is wrong. SpaceX false advertising relying on an uninformed public. It’s a scam.

        • Horn

          I’d love to here your reasons as to why we’ve been using the RD-180 instead of nixing it in favor of other engines.

          • Gary Church

            Got’em cheap from the Russians. Is your love satisfied?

        • Terence Clark

          “It will lift military satellites as large as they want to build them.”

          Yes, but not as small as they want to build them. Not all payloads are huge. Which is the reason the smaller lift vehicles have a market. And the reason SLS is overpowered. It’s not inherently overpowered, it’s overpowered for most jobs, including ISS resupply.

    • Ctrot

      “worthless hobby rocket”

      Stupidest comment of the year award, congrats.

      • Gary Church

        The truth hurts, I know, but it is better to admit you have been scammed than to continue to support the scammer just so don’t look stupid. Sooner or later the whole SpaceX house of cards is going to fall and the fan club will sadly disband.

        • Terence Clark

          Using terms like “hobby rocket” and expecting them to pass as actual arguments is, indeed, pretty foolish. If you want to be taken seriously, learn to form an argument instead of the verbal diarrhea you’ve heavily relied on thus far. You’ve proven little other than your inability to debate a topic effectively.

        • Ctrot

          Keep digging that hole of stupid you’re standing in.

    • charliexmurphy

      Now Church is spreading his clueless posts over here. General Dynamics hasn’t dealt with Atlas for 20 years. The DOD wants nothing to do with SLS. That is a fool’s folly.

      ISP is not the only parameter that matters. LH2 rockets are expensive. And the solid rocket booster lower stage and hydrogen upper stage combination is only an optimum mix from the political realm and not engineering-wise.

      • Gary Church

        “During the early 1990s General Dynamics Space Systems Division (later purchased by Lockheed Martin) acquired the rights to use the RD-180″- the DOD wants whoever can launch their payloads. And using SpaceX would be the fools folly.

        It is the optimum mix or so many rockets would not use it. Both the Delta and Atlas family as well as the space shuttle and SLS use solids lower and hydrogen upper. You are either misinformed or lying. It is the optimum mix engineering-wise while not a politically good mix for SpaceX.

        Another private space lobby attempt at completely reversing the facts.

        • charliexmurphy

          More idiotic comments.
          1. Pro SpaceX does not equate to private space lobbying
          2. Delta and Atlas family do not use solids in the same way as the space shuttle and SLS. Space shuttle and SLS use solids a a primary stage; Delta and Atlas family use solids as thrust augmentation. Big difference, Delta and Atlas family don’t have to use them at all and still can fly. It is not an “optimum” mix, ULA would prefer not to use them. They only exist on the Delta and Atlas family because basic vehicle performance short falls, or spacecraft that grew in mass. The original Delta IV and Atlas V did not have solids.
          3. And your point about GD is meaningless, they still aren’t involved with Atlas.
          4. As for misinformed and clueless, look a the bulk of your posts. I have never seen so many that are bereft of facts.
          5. “LH2 and solid fuel ARE “king.”” There is not one bit of truth in this statement.
          6. STS SRB recovery and refurbishment cost more than having new boosters. And because of this, SLS is not recovering its boosters. NASA has already sold the SRB ships.

  • Elon Musk Fan

    Dear Gary,

    In the vast majority of blogs I like to exchange information, learn what others know and have to say about defense/aerospace programs and such. Sometimes there are gentlemanly disagreements, which is fine.

    But, I sincerely believe that, having read your comments, it’s appropriate to go straight to name calling because your comments are so absurd and indefensibly wrong, that it’s entirely appropriate to just label you as an ineffectual laughing stock, and be done with you.

    You have nothing to add.
    Please, leave.

    • Tholzel

      “Please, leave”? Is that because you don’t like reading opinions other than your own? Please grow up.

      • Gary Church

        This kind of reply is actually part of the private space game; they are so blatant because they know people will respond in protest but this fills up the page so anyone surfing will not see any information critical of SpaceX. All they see is an endless argument. And they win. So I would suggest you actually do some research on the private space scam and post your own comment that they cannot respond to except with their standard name calling. Then they do not win because their canned arguments have become so easy to disprove over the years. Then people reading see criticism of SpaceX and people lying to try and cover it up. Expose the scam.

        • Tholzel

          “Lack of clarity is a sign of confusion–or deception.”

        • Terence Clark

          “So I would suggest you actually do some research on the private space scam and post your own comment that they cannot respond to except with their standard name calling.”

          Wow, hypocrisy in one comment. Nicely done. SpaceX isn’t perfect and neither are the other private space companies, but I’m curious as to how they are a scam. So far you haven’t actually criticized anything, you’ve just verbally dumped on SpaceX. So far I don’t actually see anything to suggest I should listen to what you have to say. Perhaps offer a counter argument and maybe we can get somewhere here. There are counter arguments. I’ve heard plenty. Just not from you.

          • Gary Church

            SpaceX was founded on payback for political contributions and is years
            behind all the promises it made to transport astronauts to the space
            station.
            The escape
            system is not really an escape system to start with; it was designed for
            keeping inflatable tourist space stations in orbit, not as a true
            launch abort system (which the SLS has and has been tested). SpaceX uses Kerosene because it they want to pocket as many tax dollars
            as possible. A hydrogen turbopump has to be several times more powerful
            than a kerosene pump and is very difficult and expensive to engineer.
            But SpaceX is cheap and nasty and is not going there. Their solution is
            to spread this complete fabrication that kerosene is somehow a superior
            propellent. The reason we made it to the Moon was the hydrogen
            upper stages on the Saturn V. Hydrogen is what puts large payloads in
            orbit and that is why the space shuttle used it. The need for massive
            thrust in a first stage is provided by SRB’s; millions of pounds of
            thrust without a single moving part. The solid rocket booster lower
            stage and hydrogen upper stage combination is the optimum mix but the
            hobby rocket is a hobby rocket and nowhere near as sophisticated. They are years behind schedule and have not transported any astronauts
            to the ISS- and are years away from it yet. From Forbes: The cost of
            certifying the Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon space capsule for use by
            astronauts has risen from an initial estimate of about $300 million in
            2006 to a billion dollars today.
            They have not done it cheaper; this
            is a game they play with the numbers. If you look at the cost of their
            “up mass” compared to other launchers it is extremely high. They add in
            the mass of their reusable capsule when that mass is a waste of money-
            none of it is being placed in orbit. SpaceX also receives free or nearly
            free support from NASA engineers and use of NASA research and
            facilities. All their essential hardware- from the heat shield of their
            capsule to their engines to the friction stir welding used in the
            construction of their stages were all paid for already with tax dollars
            and developed by NASA. They have done very little by themselves yet
            portray themselves as innovators and the best deal around. It is all a
            scam for an inferior vehicle only capable of reaching low earth orbit.
            It is a dead end and a waste of money.

          • Terence Clark

            I’ve already addressed most of these points elsewhere in this comment section, so I’ll just point you to that for a lot of this and address the points unique to this post.

            “SpaceX was founded on payback for political contributions”

            There is record of Musk contributing to both parties roughly equally in the past election cycles, and in smaller amounts that the existing companies. Commercial spaceflight has support and opposition from both sides of the aisl. Aside from a tour he gave to Obama, there’s not much to suggest a partisan bent here.

            “The escape system is not really an escape system to start with; it was designed for keeping inflatable tourist space stations in orbit, not as a true launch abort system (which the SLS has and has been tested). ”

            Again, no one else seems to think so but you including a lot of people who’ve made entire careers out of this. Also, kerosene is a fairly common rocket propellant in liquid rockets. Hydrogen doesn’t make a lot of sense for launches from the ground. Even so, SpaceX has shown interest in both LOX/LH2 for second stage as well as methane systems for 1st stage for some time. And there’s plenty of evidence for the methane system being under development.

            All of your talk about solids has been hashed out by numerous folks over time and both liquids and solids have their benefits. Which is why both are used including both a proposed liquid and solid variant of SLS. So your opinion may be that it’s better, but industry hasn’t come down on one side or the other. So the criticism isn’t particularly damning. Just an opinion.

          • PhillyJimi

            Gary the king of Red Herrings.

            Red Herring #1 – Kerosene – Who cares what kind of fuel SpaceX uses? They could bottle cow farts for all I care as long as it gets the job done. Kerosene was good enough for Apollo (1st stage) therefore it is good enough for anyone. Kerosene engines are well understood and at this point reliable COTS had no requirements to do anything new.

            Red herring #2 – the launch abort system. If it works again who cares how it was built. Exactly what is a “true” abort system? Are you the lone expert out of 7 billion people on this planet to define what a true abort system is?

            Of course the SLS abort system (Apollo style) requires a brand new launch abort rocket to be built for every launch. Are you one of those tax and spend types? Is spending more tax dollars your motivation, because the Dragon abort system doesn’t have to be replaced with every launch.

            Red Herring #3 – Hydrogen fuel – SpaceX is starting to develop a methane fuel engine. You know the type of fuel that can be made on Mars for a return trip. Why would they invest their limited resources into building a rocket engine with no market demand. When the Falcon 9 was built the market demand was to get to the ISS therefore they build a system to get to the ISS. Gary you don’t seem to understand this simple 4th grade logic. If you need to go 1 mile you don’t build a vehicle to go 1,000 miles until you need to go 1,000 miles.

            Red Herring #4 – Commercial Crew. SpaceX never stated that they were going to fly crew until they got the cargo part of it established. Therefore crying they can’t launch crew right now is just a joke. Crawl, walk, run is the progression. Don’t complain that a baby can’t run when they just learned how to crawl.

            Red Herring #5 – A waste of money? Garry, I think you mean something like the $500 million NASA spent for a mobile launch tower for the Constellation program. Don’t you think Elon Musk would of fired any idiot employee who suggested he spend that kind of money on a mobile launch tower?

            You cry about hundreds of millions invested into SpaceX when 10′s of billions were wasted on Constellation. Congress brought back Constellation ver 2.0 (minus the lunar lander and Ares I) and they’re still throwing billions at it. That is billion with a B.

            Sure SpaceX hasn’t done anything new except cut costs and actually flown and returned from orbit. As an American I am very happy with SpaceX and what they are doing. I only wish them well and hope a SpaceY and SpaceZ eventually come along to push competition and innovation.

            For some reason Gary you seem to be ashamed of SpaceX and America. I guess you can write you congress person and push for us to spend our tax dollars with the Russians and to continue to use Russian made rocket engines. Also ask your congress person to make sure no foreign companies/countries fly their satellites on American built rockets built by SpaceX to help with the trade deficit.

            DISCLAIMER – Gary if you’re not an American I understand your hatred for SpaceX. Maybe some SpaceX employee has taken your job.

          • PhillyJimi

            DISCLAIMER #2 Or Gary if you’re a congressperson from one of the old “Space States” I understand your hatred for SpaceX.

    • Jean-Ian Simard

      well said!

  • Gary Church

    Dear Musk Fan

    In the vast majority of blogs that post anything with SpaceX or Elon Musk being mentioned, the private space sycophants always play this game. They call any criticism absurd and indefensibly wrong and mock anyone criticizing their space god Elon as an ineffectual laughing stock. And they do not stop the dogpile until any critical comments have become the small print in page after page of drawn out praise for private space.

    This effectively turns any forum for discussing space issues into a SpaceX infomercial and I am sick of it. I am not leaving.

    P.S. You want to dispute anything I said with facts other than spin doctor propaganda?

    • charliexmurphy

      Your posts as a sycophant of the pork program SLS are actually worse.

      • Gary Church

        The SpaceX fan club wails and gnashes their teeth calling the SLS pork when their idol Musk would not have a company to suck up tax dollars with without NASA. The SLS can lift so much more than the hobby rocket that anyone who looks at the numbers realizes the Falcon is junk. A total waste of money; the very definition of pork. So it is you who is the sycophant pushing pork, not me.

        • Terence Clark

          Please stop acting like a street corner preacher and actually make an argument. No one’s buying the bumper sticker slogans.

          • Gary Church

            You are the preacher buddy, not me. Anyone looking at the way you clowns are freaking out over my comments understands that. You are all just waiting for me to run out of time so you can fill the page up and bury an criticism. It is what you always do.

          • Terence Clark

            Give me an example of where I’ve done that which compares with your “hobby rocket” talk. Saying “nuh uh, you are” isn’t a counterargument.

    • buzzlighting

      Both SLS 1 can lift 70 metric tons and SLS 1A lift 105 metric tons to Leo. While SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.0 lift 10.45 metric ton and Falcon 9 v1.1 lift 13.15 metric ton , Please check your fact correctly in the future. SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1

      not a hobby rocket, but workhorse rocket instead. Stop being so negative about SpaceX . This Article about Building all American rocket engines and stop using Russian rocket engines!

      • Gary Church

        “Stop being so negative about SpaceX .”

        No. SpaceX is stealing tax dollars to support their tourism scheme. It is a cheap and nasty hobby rocket built to take rich tourists into low earth orbit and good for nothing else. They are deceiving the public with their ridiculous claims of being able to do everything cheaper and better and sooner or later the company will either fold or require massive infusions of more tax dollars to keep it afloat. The funds should go to projects capable of leaving the dead end of low earth orbit behind and there is only one such project right now- SLS. A project constantly lobbied against and demonized by the SpaceX fan club because they want all the funding. SpaceX is a scam.

        • Terence Clark

          Proof please. So far there are no tourists flying, increasingly commercial space launches on their manifest and several flights to the ISS. And they have done it demonstrably cheaper. So where’s your argument?

          • Gary Church

            They are years behind schedule and have not transported any astronauts to the ISS- and are years away from it yet. From Forbes: The cost of certifying the Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon space capsule for use by astronauts has risen from an initial estimate of about $300 million in 2006 to a billion dollars today.
            They have not done it cheaper; this is a game they play with the numbers. If you look at the cost of their “up mass” compared to other launchers it is extremely high. They add in the mass of their reusable capsule when that mass is a waste of money- none of it is being placed in orbit. SpaceX also receives free or nearly free support from NASA engineers and use of NASA research and facilities. All their essential hardware- from the heat shield of their capsule to their engines to the friction stir welding used in the construction of their stages were all paid for already with tax dollars and developed by NASA. They have done very little by themselves yet portray themselves as innovators and the best deal around. It is all a scam for an inferior vehicle only capable of reaching low earth orbit. It is a dead end and a waste of money.

          • Terence Clark

            “They are years behind schedule and have not transported any astronauts to the ISS- and are years away from it yet.”

            They are behind schedule. Like every other rocket company in every country ever in the entire history of the industry. You know, like Constellation was and Shuttle before that. In fact Shuttle launched almost exactly as far behind as Dragon will be if it flies in 2017 (though it looks to be ready to fly crew next year). I don’t bring that up to dump on them. I liked shuttle and Constellation could have worked if it had ever been funded appropriately. But if you want to slam SpaceX for it, you can’t do it in a vacuum.

            “The cost of certifying the Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon space capsule for use by astronauts has risen from an initial estimate of about $300 million in 2006 to a billion dollars today.”

            Fair enough, but the cost of operating shuttle to do the same was $2billion per year in a good year, even if it only flew once in that time. Heck, we spent over $1 billion a year in the years it didn’t fly at all.

            ” If you look at the cost of their “up mass” compared to other launchers it is extremely high.”

            That’s pretty much industry standard as well. Shuttle was touted as one of the most powerful rocket systems that ever flew. And it was. But its capability included the shuttle itself while the actual crew and cargo capacity was fairly similar to the Falcon 9 v 1.1. SLS gives bare capacities in its estimates which wouldn’t include Orion and any trunk components if they were flown on the mission.

            “SpaceX also receives free or nearly free support from NASA engineers and use of NASA research and facilities.”

            Space Act agreements are decades old and have been offered to dozens of companies including the old guard rocket companies for numerous reasons. Bigelow and Sierra Nevada exist because of Space Act agreements. This isn’t new, unique, or even limited to crewed spaceflight. It’s not even limited to orbital projects.

            “All their essential hardware- from the heat shield of their capsule to their engines to the friction stir welding used in the construction of their stages were all paid for already with tax dollars and developed by NASA.”

            The PICA heat shield material was initially provided by NASA because they hadn’t used it since Apollo and weren’t doing anything with it. The PICA-X variant was developed in-house by SpaceX with their own funds based those initial designs. Their engines were developed entirely in-house and friction stir welding not only wasn’t invented at NASA or with government dollars, but Michoud only implemented it for SLS tanking AFTER SpaceX had put it in place at their facilities.

            “They have done very little by themselves yet portray themselves as innovators and the best deal around.”

            Again, like every single rocket company in aerospace history ever. The last time a new rocket was designed and built in the US was when Reagan was president and it leaned heavily on existing rocket and ICBM designs. This might be a decent argument if anyone else had done better in the last quarter century. Your criticisms are only valid if you also apply them to literally everyone else, domestically and internationally.

            “It is all a scam for an inferior vehicle only capable of reaching low earth orbit.”

            Except they’ve already launched to GEO with performance room to spare. And I’ve never heard anyone suggest they couldn’t do beyond LEO manned missions even among its critics so I’m going to have to call shenanigans on that one.

            “It is a dead end and a waste of money.”

            Europe was eating our commercial launch lunch with Russia coming in close behind. And China and Japan have been quickly edging into that market. SpaceX is the first American company in decades to produce a net gain in US launch sales when compared to international providers precisely because of ULA’s pointlessly high launch costs. Based on that alone it has been worth it. Now, with SLS looking to be far too expensive and overpowered for ISS delivery and Russia redrawing maps, commercial providers are the next best option we’ve got. Unless you have other suggestions. Politically viable ones, I should add.

          • buzzlighting

            I totally agree with you Terence best Summary i read. Definely clear up important issue today just about everything good job writing summary, something really positive for a change.

          • Terence Clark

            Thanks. I get a little negative at times, but I do try to curb that. Even so what I advocate for is reasoned debate, not slogan battles. I’ve been taken to task many times by opponents of commercial spaceflight. And while many of those arguments have fallen by the wayside as time has gone on (SpaceX booking more commercial flights and flying F1, F9, and Grasshopper, etc), there are still some good arguments out there. And I’d LOVE to have them. What bothers me is the shrill buzzword-laden screeds loaded with baseless claims that so often characterize both sides of the spaceflight debates. We learn nothing from those sorts of debates and no rocket will ever fly on slogans and snark, commercial or otherwise.

          • Gary Church

            “And I’ve never heard anyone suggest they couldn’t do beyond LEO manned
            missions even among its critics so I’m going to have to call shenanigans
            on that one.”

            And I am throwing the B.S. flag on you. The only way that hobby rocket can send people beyond LEO is by way of yet another scam; orbital fueling depots. The depot is the private space answer to the plain fact that there is no substitute for a Heavy Lift Vehicle with hydrogen upper stages. The problem is the depot concept requires an astronomical launch rate to work- literally hundreds of launches in a year to sustain any missions beyond earth orbit. But the public has been misinformed by infomercial marketing just like your comment and is being scammed. IT IS A SCAM!

          • Terence Clark

            “The only way that hobby rocket can send people beyond LEO is by way of yet another scam; orbital fueling depots.”

            Okay first, that’s assuming “hobby rocket” actually means something tangible, which it doesn’t. Second, no source I’ve ever read suggests that’s the case, which is why I ask for some kind of proof. The rest of your comment hinges on the necessity for depots, so I’ll wait for your reply as to who, exactly, aside from you, thinks that’s necessary.

            “there is no substitute for a Heavy Lift Vehicle with hydrogen upper stages.”

            They have an HLV set to fly this year. Hydrogen is NOT necessary for beyond earth orbit and SpaceX has suggested they are open to that as any option anyway. SLS isn’t set to fly until 2017 and no other existing vehicle comes close. Aaaaand SpaceX, while planning for BEO, isn’t even currently competing for that market. They’re competing for ISS resupply, which SLS is too expensive and overpowered to offer. All of the alternatives are commercial providers.

          • Gary Church

            It is NOT an HLV. That is a lie. You thought I left and you were going to get away with that whopper huh? Sleazy.

          • Terence Clark

            “You thought I left”

            Did I say that? I’m pretty sure you said that.

            “It is NOT an HLV.”

            It’s 50+ tons to LEO. That more than qualifies it as an HLV by most definitions.

          • Gary Church

            No. The Saturn V could lift over a hundred short tons and so could the shuttle (counting the orbiter as payload). The SLS will lift 130 metric tons (143 short tons). The Falcon heavy-that-is-not-heavy is “scheduled” to launch this year but SpaceX rockets always take several years longer for their first launch than advertised. And with 27(!) engines the Falcon not-heavy is an engineering nightmare resembling the old Soviet N-1 that blew up both times it was launched.

            These are the same games constantly replayed word for word for years by the SpaceX infomercial crew.

          • Terence Clark

            I’m using a fairly standard definition of heavy lift as defined by NASA (see citation at the bottom of the linked wiki page). SLS and Saturn V are classed as super heavy. In fact, FHeavy is technically classed as super heavy, but since it’s so close to the line, I don’t usually call it that.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_lift_launch_vehicle

            As to timeline, even if FHeavy is pushed out a year or two, it will still beat SLS Mark 1 (a 70 t vehicle), which won’t fly until 2017 (and not again until 2019 based on the current timeline). SLS Mark II, the variant your are talking about, isn’t slated to fly until the mid 2020′s at the earliest. I’ve already addressed the fact that nearly all rockets are delayed, usually by years, including some of the all time favorites.

            As to 27 engines, I haven’t heard any actual experts cite that as an issue, just laymen (and I consider myself a layman). Most assessments I’ve heard note that Falcon Heavy is multiple fault tolerant and can lose several engines before any loss of mission. This was a capability put to the test by SpaceX on at least one flight where one engine failed. And so again, I’ll need some sources other than your say so that this is an actual problem. And before you grab ahold of that and run with it, F9 has had fewer than average failures when compared to other rocket families in their first few launches. I’ve looked through a number of them including, but not limited to, Delta and Atlas.

            THanks, by the way, for actually writing something with meaningful content, albeit peppered with more of the same hysterics.

          • Terence Clark

            And frankly, this is why I suggest you be able to cite your sources. This business about me playing word games is just plain embarrassing for you when it turns out I’m using an industry standard definition. It gives everyone else, including those who might have believed you to that point, a reason to doubt you have the faintest idea what you’re talking about. Consider my insistence on sources and evidence a foot-in-mouth insurance policy.

          • DocMordrid

            Falcon 9 is not intended for BLEO missions, so again ypu are selling red herrings as red beef. The Falcon Heavy (flies later this year r early next) is meant for heavy payloads (up to 53 tonnes) to LEO or up to 12 tonnes to Mars.

          • Terence Clark

            I want to expand a little on Space Act, since that was one of your straw men. The designs that SpaceX, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, and Bigelow have taken up were all designs NASA had abandoned mostly for reasons related to legislation and not engineering. Not only am I not bothered by the fact that these projects are getting some attention from NASA and very minor funding from taxpayer dollars, I’m thrilled to see viable projects back in development that had previously been poster children for ineffective bureaucracy and decades of wasted time on new US tech. Every ounce of evidence suggests these projects would continue to be mothballed indefinitely if it weren’t for these agreements. By arguing against spending resources toward bringing these technologies to fruition, you are quite literally arguing for ensuring those programs were entirely a waste of government resources with nothing to show for it.

          • Gary Church

            “-very minor funding from taxpayer dollars-”

            180 million from private funds, 1.6 billion from NASA.
            The rest of your comment is fluff. More of the same infomercial.

          • Terence Clark

            I was referring to the Space Act portions. The 1.6 billion is for services rendered on actual cargo delivery. No cargo, no paycheck. Now the COTS funds, which you didn’t actually bring up, ARE a valid point. But you didn’t make it, I did. That said, the same Forbes article you reference elsewhere also put SpaceX’ valuation based on existing contracts (which are over 50% commercial, and nearly all pay for services rendered) at in the neighborhood of $6 billion. In other words the initial investment was more public than private funding, but they are running mostly on money from sales at this point.

          • Gary Church

            That’s alot of double talk that really means nothing. You are banking on people just not being interested enough to try and figure out your confusing narrative- while you fill up this page and hide any criticism of SpaceX.

          • Terence Clark

            Calling it double talk isn’t a counterargument. I made a reasonable counter. You used more buzzwords.

          • Rob

            “If you look at the cost of their “up mass” compared to other launchers it is extremely high. They add in the mass of their reusable capsule when that mass is a waste of money- none of it is being placed in orbit.”

            I don’t believe this to be an accurate assessment. It can be hard to compare as some entities withhold pricing information. However, here is one analysis that shows this to be inaccurate:

            http://exrocketman.blogspot.ca/2012/05/revised-expanded-launch-cost-data.html

        • buzzlighting

          I talk most about compare factual information from sls and SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket wikipedia encyclopedia website leo lift capacity. Also trying get back Main subject is Building all American Rockets Engines and dropping Russian RD-180 Rocket Engines. Instead You Attack all commentators on breaking defense.com by the word SpaceX . All you do is just hear SpaceX Propaganda from you , it time for take augment to another website to listen your venonius hate!

          • Gary Church

            No….I think it is time for you to take yourself to another website since I post here all the time and you are the one who has never been here and just came to post SpaceX propaganda.

          • http://www.breakingdefense.com/ Colin Clark

            Gary

            Right on the edge. You don’t own this site. We do. Facts. Rational argument.

    • Terence Clark

      Flying on Russian equipment and using defense monopolies on the industry is not really a good thing. I don’t care who breaks the monopoly and brings the business on shore. We need to quite buying everything from Russia and paying any price tag the defense giants throw at us. There’s plenty of proof, even without SpaceX, that ULA’s prices are unnecessarily high.

      • Gary Church

        Unfortunately, that’s business. SpaceX is not going to do any better no matter how cleverly they juggle their little numbers. They are pushing this idea that space can be cheap but it is not really true. There is no cheap when it comes to rockets. The Falcon is really an inferior vehicle and only seems “cheap” because most of it has been acquired for free via tax dollars. The Delta IV heavy is expensive but….there is no cheap. Private space has a nasty habit of dropping hundred million+ dollar satellites in the ocean and SpaceX has avoided this so far by extreme pre-flight measures and frequent delays in their few launches. They neglect to report how much that excruciating attention to detail has cost and is going to cost. In fact, they hide most of their numbers as well twisting what little data they report to the public.
        Trying to play the hype is all part of the game for SpaceX; if they can scream loud enough about the use of surplus Russian rocket engines to get an advantage they will. And obviously are.

        • Terence Clark

          It’s funny, the DoD, the Air Force, several countries and several commercial providers disagree with that assessment. But I’m sure you know way more than they do about it.

          YOu make a lot of accusations here. Instead of playing BS whack-a-mole I’m just going to ask for some evidence.

          • Gary Church

            It’s funny; I have given the evidence. You just keep asking for it over and over again which is the standard private space tactic to fill up page after page on a forum and hide any criticism.

          • Terence Clark

            I replied to your evidence in the one and only one post in which you offered it. You never responded.

          • Gary Church

            Which one was that? There are so so many to choose from. All filled with very long and very empty prose. I do not have the time to respond anymore- as usual, the SpaceX fan club wins.

          • Terence Clark

            You see, that would make sense if you had responded to ANY of them, even in part. But you haven’t.

          • Terence Clark

            “I do not have the time to respond anymore- as usual, the SpaceX fan club wins.”

            What you are referencing is argumentum ad nauseum. And it IS a logical fallacy. But, it isn’t validly applied here as so far you’ve at best refuted very little of my arguments, which would be required in an ad nauseum scenario. You’re just giving up and using that cheap ploy as a smoke screen to try to show that by losing you’ve actually won.

            Also, I have no interest in “winning”. I couldn’t care less. I want a reasoned debate on the topic and a robust American spaceflight program. You’ve offered very little in the way of debate (but a lot of creative name calling, I should note). If I’ve won anything I’ve offered some reasonable commentary on the current state of US spaceflight with a partner that refused to participate meaningfully. I would have loved to have, instead of “winning,” actually had a discussion on the topic.

          • Terence Clark

            Further I asked for evidence because your claims demanded it given they are claims not made by anyone else I read and make no reference to any kind of source. My info is easily sourced from data sheets, independent news articles, and SpaceX’ publicly available manifest. Or are reliable news sources just “standard private spaceflight tactics”.

  • ycplum

    As a matter of policy, we should have a launch vehicle to do the job that needs to be done — AS A BACKUP — even if it isn’t the most cost effective.

    • buzzlighting

      I am glad Terence and ycplum got the last word in over Gary Church guy idot. We never did get serious talk about Pentagon mulls building all American rocket engines dropping Russian RD-180 rocket engines. Find could have cum up with several ideas to solve this crisis.

  • buzzlighting

    I not going to leave Gary Church it is you writing all this SpaceX Propaganda on this website attacking everyone don’t agree with your arguments causing big problem! Try writing constructive factual statement that we can agree with in the future comment.

    • Gary Church

      I have written all the constructive factual statements and am now just cut and pasting them into these comments. Because that is the only way to keep the SpaceX fan club from filling up page after page and hiding any criticism.

      • Terence Clark

        You’ve so far had two posts with easily refutable “facts”. One if you consider they were primarily repetition. The rest has been accusations, name calling and slogans. You ride an awfully high horse for someone who has offered mostly personal attacks.

        • Gary Church

          You have refuted nothing. The name calling and high horse riding is all on the “commercial space” side. You are doing what is always done when someone criticizes SpaceX; drowning it out with endless flood of meaningless comments. I will eventually have to stop and you and your pals will get the last word and fill this page up- and make it just another SpaceX infomercial.

          • Terence Clark

            It’s funny because you didn’t actually address any of my responses. I might take your criticisms seriously if you had. I haven’t drowned anything. I replied directly to your points and you ignored those replies.

          • Gary Church

            No…..I responded to all every point you made and exposed them and I am sure you would be more than happy to go through all of them again. But I am out of time. And you knew I could not keep this up forever. Congrats.

          • Terence Clark

            “I responded to all every point you made and exposed them ”

            Where? All I see is a lot of “hobby rocket” comments and name calling. Again, those aren’t counterarguments.

  • Gary Church

    SpaceX is stealing tax dollars to support their tourism scheme. It is a
    cheap and nasty hobby rocket built to take rich tourists into low earth
    orbit and good for nothing else. They are deceiving the public with
    their ridiculous claims of being able to do everything cheaper and
    better and sooner or later the company will either fold or require
    massive infusions of more tax dollars to keep it afloat.
    SpaceX uses kerosene engines because it is cheap but the lower
    performance severely limits what the Falcon can place in orbit. And the
    comparatively tiny thrust of the Merlin kerosene engine further limits
    payload. It is a hobby rocket sucking up tax dollars and is worthless dead end. Funds should go to projects capable of leaving the dead end of low earth
    orbit behind and there is only one such project right now- SLS. A
    program constantly lobbied against and demonized by the SpaceX fan club
    because SpaceX wants all the funding.
    SpaceX uses Kerosene because they want to pocket as many tax dollars
    as possible. A hydrogen turbopump has to be several times more powerful
    than a kerosene pump and is very difficult and expensive to engineer.
    But SpaceX is cheap and nasty and is not going there. Their solution is
    to spread this complete fabrication that kerosene is somehow a superior
    propellent. The reason we made it to the Moon was the hydrogen
    upper stages on the Saturn V. Hydrogen is what puts large payloads in
    orbit and that is why the space shuttle used it. The need for massive
    thrust in a first stage is provided by SRB’s; millions of pounds of
    thrust without a single moving part. The solid rocket booster lower
    stage and hydrogen upper stage combination is the optimum mix but the
    SpaceX Falcon has nowhere near the same performance; vehicles that use solid rockets in the lower stage and hydrogen in the upper stage all lift far greater payloads.
    SpaceX is years behind schedule and have not transported any astronauts to the
    ISS- and are years away from it yet. From Forbes: The cost of certifying
    the Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon space capsule for use by astronauts
    has risen from an initial estimate of about $300 million in 2006 to a
    billion dollars today.
    They have not done it cheaper; this is a game
    they play with the numbers. If you look at the cost of their “up mass”
    compared to other launchers it is extremely high. They add in the mass
    of their reusable capsule when that mass is a waste of money- none of it
    is being placed in orbit. SpaceX also receives free or nearly free
    support from NASA engineers and use of NASA research and facilities. All
    their essential hardware- from the heat shield of their capsule to
    their engines to the friction stir welding used in the construction of
    their stages were all paid for already with tax dollars and developed by
    NASA. They have done very little by themselves yet portray themselves
    as innovators.
    SpaceX was founded on payback for political contributions and is years
    behind all the promises it made to transport astronauts to the space
    station.
    I doubt it will ever carry a single person. The escape system is not really an escape system to start with; it was designed for keeping inflatable tourist space stations in orbit, not as a true launch abort system (which the SLS has and has been tested).
    SpaceX has been very successful as portraying itself as the underdog but anyone
    that looks closely can see behind the facade and find the scam.

  • charliexmurphy
    • Gary Church

      That is the SpaceX hitlist of those who have dared to blaspheme the private space god Elon. Proves my point. Thanks for posting that. You just validated all my comments.

      • charliexmurphy

        No, it has nothing to do with SpaceX, it is just a list of those who are clueless wrt spaceflight and make idiotic posts.

        SLS will die much like Ares I did. I can see it happening from the inside of NASA.

        • Gary Church

          No. It is the SpaceX hitlist of those who have dared to blaspheme the private space god Elon and your reply and demonizing of SLS -and intimating “inside” knowledge- (eye roll) is pretty much proof of that…..thanks again.

  • shloime

    leaving aside all the acrimony and ad hominem attacks, it IS interesting to note that the united states NEEDS an alternative to russian rockets. whether it’s because of the crimea crisis, or whichever area of friction chooses to erupt after it, it isn’t wise to be utterly dependent on russian (or anyone else’s) good will.

    space is vital to american interests (both civilian and military), and america needs to spend money to guarantee, at the very least, a second source for space launches. an american source would be a reasonable choice.

    to admit that america is unable to build launch vehicles at a price that it can afford, is very troubling.

    • Gary Church

      They cost what they cost and there is no cheap, and we don’t need an alternative; we already have them.
      This is all fishing for a new engine gratis. It’s a scam.