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Utah vs. NASA On Heavy-Lift Rocket Design 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-money's-on-the-dudes-with-rockets dept.
FleaPlus writes "Utah congressmen Orrin Hatch, Bob Bennett, Rob Bishop, and Jim Matheson issued a statement claiming that NASA's design process for a new congressionally-mandated heavy-lift rocket system may be trying to circumvent the law. According to the congressmen and their advisors from solid rocket producer ATK, the heavy-lift legislation's requirements can only be met by rockets utilizing ATK's solid rocket boosters. They are alarmed that NASA is also considering other approaches, such as all-liquid designs based on the rockets operated by the United Launch Alliance and SpaceX. ATK's solid rockets were arguably responsible for many of the safety and cost problems which plagued NASA's canceled Ares rocket system."
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Utah vs. NASA On Heavy-Lift Rocket Design

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  • Shame (Score:5, Funny)

    by winnitude (1352731) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:32AM (#34315802)

    It's always a shame when the law gets in the way of science. If it didn't, I would probably have six testicles by now due to cloning.

  • You dont... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrQuacker (1938262) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:36AM (#34315810)
    You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out what lobbyist wrote that clause of the bill...
    • It's traditional to give the allegiance of senators and so on.

      That's R, R, R, and Blue Dog.

      (Not the Dem's are any less corrupt, but don't forget these idiots are claiming to want to bring budgets under control, not give all the cash to their buddies).

      • Re:You dont... (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:48AM (#34316134) Journal

        Really? I've heard tea partiers & Libertarians claim they want to bring the budget under control, but not Orrin Hatch or other Republi-crats. The party now is still the same out-of-control spending party under George Duh Bush. Very little has changed.

        In fact I just read the Republicans are pushing for yet *another* war, but this time against Iran.
        Congressman Ron Paul responded by calling them, "Sick" and "speeding us faster towards bankruptcy."

    • by PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:42AM (#34316114)

      Spider-Pork, Spider-Pork,
      does whatever the lobbyist says,
      Can he introduce
      useful laws?
      No he can't
      he's a pork
      LOOK OUT!
      He's a spider POOOOOOORK

    • Re:You dont... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:28AM (#34316344)

      Indeed. I had to read that summary again, as on first reading I thought I was reading it wrong. NASA breaking the law for investigating alternatives to a single supplier? It just doesn't read right. When I started reading I expected it to be the other way around, as in NASA going for a certain supplier, without properly investigating other options.

      If those solid boosters caused so many problems, then it only makes sense they will search other options. On top of that I'm not expecting anything less from a research institute like NASA. Isn't development of new technologies part of their mandate?

      • Re:You dont... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:54AM (#34317522) Journal
        In this case the law is effectively mandating that NASA use a particular supplier: ATK. As I understand it, the authorization bill for the new rocket system specifies that it must be a shuttle derived system; the idea being that it is cheaper to use what you've already developed than to start from scratch. The problem with this approach, now that the shuttle program is at an end, is that a number of the facilities that manufacture the shuttle systems have been shut down and dismantled. It may not be cheaper anymore.
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:36AM (#34315812)
    in the morning.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So... if I understand correctly, what's actually happening here is that a Utah company claims that NASA cannot meet the legal requirements by using the competition's designs, and the various Utah congressmen are joining in the chorus to support that Utah company.

    Company discredits competitors, congressmen support their state's industry. Surprising? Hardly.

    • by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:56AM (#34315888)

      So... if I understand correctly, what's actually happening here is that a Utah company claims that NASA cannot meet the legal requirements by using the competition's designs, and the various Utah congressmen are joining in the chorus to support that Utah company.

      Company discredits competitors, congressmen support their state's industry. Surprising? Hardly.

      That's only half of it - the astronauts have to wear magic underwear [guardian.co.uk] inside their space-suits to meet the clothing law

    • by goldaryn (834427) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:59AM (#34315900) Homepage

      So... if I understand correctly, what's actually happening here is that a Utah company claims that NASA cannot meet the legal requirements by using the competition's designs, and the various Utah congressmen are joining in the chorus to support that Utah company.

      Company discredits competitors, congressmen support their state's industry. Surprising? Hardly.

      The law itself is very fishy. Quoting TFA:

      The law states that NASA “shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.”

      To me, the intent there is "don't change it unless reasonable on safety or other grounds". But why the enforcement of staying with current contracts? It stinks of the lobbying parent describes. More from TFA:

      Phrases like “to the extent practicable”, “if necessary”, and “as appropriate” give NASA leeway to go in different directions if they determine something as specific as outlined in the legislation’s report language is not practicable, necessary, and/or appropriate.

      Or dangerous, as the summary suggests.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        But why the enforcement of staying with current contracts? It stinks of the lobbying parent describes. More from TFA:

        Very fishy indeed. No need to put that into the law: for starters, a contract is a contract and is supposed to be respected from both sides. Breaking contracts should only be done in special cases. No need to put that again in a law.

        NASA should go for a technology which is best for the job. Besides this is a new project, for new technology, so whether existing tech can be used right away well that's not so sure of course. Logically NASA should go with the tried and tested stuff, again no need to put this i

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Could it be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton_Thiokol [wikipedia.org] was based in Ogden, Utah, that is now http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alliant_Techsystems [wikipedia.org] ?
        • by robot256 (1635039)

          But why the enforcement of staying with current contracts? It stinks of the lobbying parent describes. More from TFA:

          Very fishy indeed. No need to put that into the law: for starters, a contract is a contract and is supposed to be respected from both sides. Breaking contracts should only be done in special cases. No need to put that again in a law.

          The law is telling them to extend current contracts beyond their original length, not merely honor their present obligations. And given the fuzzy language in the bill, NASA is under no obligation to do so if there are enough valid technical and safety reasons, which there are.

          NASA should go for a technology which is best for the job. Besides this is a new project, for new technology, so whether existing tech can be used right away well that's not so sure of course. Logically NASA should go with the tried and tested stuff, again no need to put this in the law.

          T

      • by Raenex (947668) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:38AM (#34316724)

        But why the enforcement of staying with current contracts? It stinks of the lobbying parent describes.

        Not only does it stink, it's a rotten fish in plain sight. Quoting directly from the statement [senate.gov] released by Hatch:

        "My purpose in calling this meeting was to explain in no uncertain terms the Utah congressional delegation's interest in ensuring that Utah's solid rocket motor industry is protected."

        "I will continue with other delegation members to ensure the agency abides by the law and protects this industry that is so vitally important to our national security and northern Utah's economy."

        "delegation members say the Utah experts they consulted say the legislation's requirements for the heavy-lift rocket can only be realistically met by using solid rocket motors"

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:56AM (#34315890) Journal

    The solid rocket boosters have always seemed to be the most dangerous piece of the "stack". The problem is, YOU CAN't SWITCH THEM OFF. Because of this, I believe there is literally no way out for the shuttle crew while they are firing. I think Wehrner Vom Braun refused to design man rated vehicles with a solid rocket stage (he mustn't have been responsible for the Redstone I guess). Even the Russians used liquid fueled strap-on boosters in their Buran.

    Of course if the shuttle had been properly funded it would've had a liquid first stage (maybe even winged so it could fly back). But that was in an alternate universe I guess. I know that Constellation would've had an escape tower that would be (hopefully) be able to pull it away from the main vehicle but still it would be much safer if the main vehicle's engines were OFF at that point.

    • by daid303 (843777)

      Costs should be a larger problem then safety.

      With a million kg of fuel strapped behind your back there simply is a chance of dieing. People are willing to take that risk. Having a safe mission is important for mission sake. Saving the crew when disaster happens... not so important.

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        Yes, but increasing safety decreases the chance of both having to train new astronauts, and of losing more valueable equipment than necessary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by oranGoo (961287)

      The problem is, YOU CAN't SWITCH THEM OFF.

      Could you provide some references? I found claims on wikipedia that

      "Once ignited, a simple solid rocket motor cannot be shut off, because it contains all the ingredients necessary for combustion within the chamber in which they are burned. More advanced solid rocket motors can not only be throttled but also be extinguished and then re-ignited by controlling the nozzle geometry or through the use of vent ports. Also, pulsed rocket motors that burn in segments and that can be ignited upon command are availabl

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:56AM (#34316170) Homepage Journal

      Mercury had solid rocket motors for the deorbit burn, but you would never want to stop that burn half way. The Shuttle can dump the SRBs during launch (taking a big risk of being fried as they fly away) but if one SRB fires more than 100ms after the other SRB on the pad its all over for the orbiter and the crew.

      • but if one SRB fires more than 100ms after the other SRB on the pad its all over for the orbiter and the crew.

        i never considered this, but it is perfectly logical. It sounds like an insane failure mode though, if there is a single glitch in the ignition sequence/electronics, or even a faulty ignitor, they lose the shuttle in a big flaming ball of death. Obviously they have redundant systems to make the odds as slim as possible, but still, that is one big ass designflaw

        same goes for ditching the SRBs in flight, that sounds like a sure-fire way to ignite the fuel tank

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rufty_tufty (888596)

          Which is why - off the top of my head - there are 6 igniter circuits, 5 detonators per srb (only 1 is needed to do the job) and quadruple redundant control electronics.
          This is why man-rating a rocket is HARD and why these things take such a large workforce to run.

      • by EdZ (755139) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:39AM (#34316404)
        That's why the SRBs are literally bolted to the pad until after ignition. Ever wonder why 'main engine start' comes in the t- count? Liftoff (t=0) is when the clamps release and the frangible nuts blow, not when the engines are started.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Redstone was his, and it was liquid-fueled.

    • by goodmanj (234846)

      Agree. Solid rocket boosters are only suitable for applications where killing people is a design goal.

    • by Plekto (1018050)

      Beat me to it. Well, part of it at least.

      Essentially the other issues are that solid boosters are smaller and cheaper. But this comes with a huge problem as well in the forces that the thing transmits to the ship and cargo as well. A liquid fueled rocket will get up to speed much more slowly and in a smoother manner. One more minute to get to orbit isn't a big deal at all. In the end, the cost savings for the booster has to be designed into the rocket to withstand it and also to reinforce the payload

    • by bkmoore (1910118) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:38AM (#34316712)
      The Redstone I was a liquid fuel design based loosely on the V-2. It was fueled by ethanol and liquid oxygen. Dr. von Braun was the project leader and the Redstone I. The Redstone was intended to carry a small tactical nuclear warhead, much like the Russian Scud missiles which came along a few years later. It was adapted for the Mercury program because of its availability and good reliability compared to other rockets of the era.
    • I once read of a fictional solid rocket motor design that used small fuel pellets fed into a combustion chamber instead of a big ol' rubbery chunk of fueI to allow for restart capability, among other things. Not being a rocket scientist, I'm unable to perceive the technological and physical obstacles to building such a system, but I do wonder if such a system is possible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540)

      I think Wehrner Vom Braun refused to design man rated vehicles with a solid rocket stage (he mustn't have been responsible for the Redstone I guess).

      "Even a slave labour using Nazi SS-Major like Von Braun refused to strap someone on a solid rocket booster! But perhaps you think Hitler was too soft, Herr Hatch?"

      It's politics. Sling mud. Especially when it's well deserved.

  • I'm confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tancque (925227) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @06:57AM (#34315896) Journal

    A law to dictate which supplier to use? That sounds like something from soviet Russia.
    Every time I think I remotely understand the US something shows that doesn't make sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cwix (1671282)

      I believe it should be against the law not to consider competitors.

      Who's damn idea was this?

    • by necro81 (917438)
      Actually, what confuses me is the apparent contradiction in the summary: how is it that the requirements mandate a solid-rocket design, yet NASA is also considering all-liquid designs? I wouldn't put it past NASA to do contradictory things, but I would hope the summary-writer and editors could explain things better.

      I've got it! A solid liquid design! What will those guys think of next!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Actually, what confuses me is the apparent contradiction in the summary: how is it that the requirements mandate a solid-rocket design

        That's not what the summary says.

        The summary says:

        According to the congressmen and their advisors from solid rocket producer ATK, the heavy-lift legislation's requirements can only be met by rockets utilizing ATK's solid rocket boosters.

        All that means is that they claim ATK's rockets are the only ones that can meet the design requirements. The summary does *not* mention what

    • Re:I'm confused (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FridayBob (619244) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:51AM (#34316452) Homepage
      Like most businesses, ATK will hate paying taxes (and likely bend over backwards to avoid doing that), but obviously love receiving tax money in the form of government contracts. It also looks like they've worked hard at oiling a number of prominent state politicians to make sure they keep those contracts regardless of whether their technology is outdated or not.
      • by hitmark (640295)

        Also, it is likely that the area where the factory is located for these boosters have basically hinged all their other activities on the factory running forever. This is something that happens everywhere in the world tho, sadly. I live close to a wharf that have been operating for generations. If it was to close down, it would result in the region loosing a whole lot of income and take on a whole lot of expenses related to the unemployed.

        The only way these things can keep on ticking is if they provide peris

  • Just to be clear... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dtmos (447842) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:13AM (#34315968)

    Hatch [senate.gov] and Bennett [senate.gov] are the two US Senators from Utah, while Bishop [house.gov] represents Utah's 1st District (most of northern Utah) and Matheson [house.gov] represents Utah's 2nd District (most of Southern and Southeastern Utah), the latter two in the US House of Representatives. (The western portion of Utah forms the 3rd House District, represented by Jason Chaffetz [house.gov]. No word on why he didn't sign on with everyone else.)

  • Read this as.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eggplant62 (120514) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:20AM (#34316004)

    We got bought by this rocket manufacturer right here and we promised them that, with our legislation, they'd get all the business from NASA. Now, NASA is tossing a monkey wrench into the whole works because they want to consider other rocket manufacturers, and our feet are being held to the fire to deliver on what we promised. We can't let NASA just select any old rocket manufacturer or we'll end up in cement shoes at the bottom of the ocean.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MacGyver2210 (1053110)

      As long as it's for Hatch and his corrupt idiots, I welcome the concrete booties.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      No need to be bought, the production of the rockets are likely to have become a corner stone of the regional economy. As such, anyone wanting to be (re)elected would need to make sure it keeps on going.

  • by airfoobar (1853132) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:21AM (#34316014)
    ATK lobbied for the laws, and now NASA is trying to circumvent the laws (read: circumvent ATK's monopoly), so ATK's bought congressmen are crying foul to preserve ATK's profits. All is well in capitalist America.
  • Regulation and red tape is seriously hampering the space program. We need to cut back on that. Unfortunately that won't happen until pigs fly.

    • It'll have to happen when China's pigs start flying.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by earlymon (1116185)

      Regulation and red tape is seriously hampering the space program. We need to cut back on that.

      "Unfortunately that won't happen until pigs fly with solid rocket booster assistance," according to an ATK spokesman.

      Fixed that for ya.

  • Dumb laws and dumb servants block progress towards new ideas.

  • by Rollgunner (630808) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @07:59AM (#34316182)
    From the Release:

    The language Hatch was successful in getting inserted in the NASA Authorization Act does not require the new heavy-lift rocket to use solid rocket motors. But delegation members say the Utah experts they consulted say the legislation’s requirements for the heavy-lift rocket can only be realistically met by using solid rocket motors.

    If NASA said "We're going with liquid fuel boosters." they would not be violating the law.
    Even if NASA told ATK "Go to hell... We'll buy our rocket motors from someone else", they would not be violating the law.

    The only way they'll be breaking the law is if they fail to come up with *some* method of making it work within their budget.

    And gee, what a surprise that the stonecutters are telling everyone that stone bridges are the only feasible way to get a ton of lentils across the creek.
  • And with those designs come terra-based launch assistance, which can (not so easily) be accommodated by hydroelectric, tidal, or nuclear power.

    Our atmosphere is the big problem, here. Maybe we can design something to disrupt and push the atmosphere out of the way to make friction less of an issue towards launching in the future.

    Still gotta fight gravity, though.

    • Well you could set off an atomic bomb and follow up behind the shockwave as it pushes the air out of the way, ride the wave of air created by the rising fireball, or you could just let the atomic bomb push you into orbit. Wait, I've read that somewhere before...
  • Let's use this motto from now on, please NASA?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FleaPlus (6935)

      Let's use this motto from now on, please NASA?

      The problem is that "best" has many components, often conflicting:

      * Best design for launching heavy payloads once or twice a yaer
      * Best design for launching light payloads many times a year and attaching them together in space
      * Best design to push technological boundaries
      * Best design to minimize development cost
      * Best design to minimize operation costs
      * Best design to ensure astronaut safety
      * Best design to promote the US space industry as a whole
      * Best design

  • by Just Brew It! (636086) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:35AM (#34316380)
    ...because the engineers are trying to figure out a way around one of his pet earmarks!
  • by dr2chase (653338) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:36AM (#34316394) Homepage
    I recall, from reading Aviation Week as a wee lad (my dad was a guidance systems engineer), that the then-senators from Utah managed to get the SRBs for the Space Shuttle (mostly) built in Utah. The preferred design was a one-piece booster, built in Alabama, barged around to Florida, but because it was built in Utah and could not travel by barge, it was instead built in segments, with O-rings between the segments. O-rings, that get hard in the cold weather, and leak gasses.

    I've been trying to confirm this for years, because hey, I could have remembered it wrong, but decades-old back issues of Aviation Week are still not online in searchable form.
    • by Alan R Light (1277886) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:28AM (#34316630)

      After the disaster in 1986, everyone knew about the role of Utah's senators in the disaster - but as you say, it's hard to find now. Between the fact that much data from that era was never put online, and possibly some gaming of search results to steer searchers elsewhere, I don't see anything now. I imagine that certain rocket companies in Utah would prefer that no one knew about that.

      Anyway, it was common knowledge at the time.

      • Having watched that happen and send my career plans into the toilet (I was about to enter college in 1986)... You'd think that after the 1986 Challenger disaster everyone would know SSRBs are NOT the safest way to go. And yet, here we are.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185)
          To be fair, the engineers knew that the idiot PR flacks at NASA were trying to launch the Shuttle under conditions explicitly noted as being out of spec.

          Said idiots forced the launch anyway. There are probably more conditions that disallow the Shuttle to launch than allow it - temperature is just one of many variables. That's why there is a countdown sequence. But you can't fault ATK / Thiokol for NASA's dramatic blunders. And yes, the did redesign the O-Rings (and pretty much everything else on the S
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by inviolet (797804)

        After the disaster in 1986, everyone knew about the role of Utah's senators in the disaster - but as you say, it's hard to find now. Between the fact that much data from that era was never put online, and possibly some gaming of search results to steer searchers elsewhere, I don't see anything now. I imagine that certain rocket companies in Utah would prefer that no one knew about that.

        Apocryphal. Here's the lowdown: Chapter VI: An Accident Rooted in History [nasa.gov] from the Report of the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION o [nasa.gov]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by careysub (976506)

      I I've been trying to confirm this for years, because hey, I could have remembered it wrong, but decades-old back issues of Aviation Week are still not online in searchable form.

      Even if you had a Lexis-Nexis subscription you would not be able to find this information - their database of AWST only goes back to 1975, and the contract was awarded before this. You'll have to go to an actual library and look at the indexes and news pages. If you can pinpoint the contract year then you'll only 50 issues or so to look at.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mahler3 (577336)

      Not quite, but you're on the right track. The three leading contenders (Lockheed, Thiokol, and United Technologies) all proposed segmented booster designs. Lockheed's were to be shipped by barge, in a vertical position, as opposed to the horizontal rail shipping used by Thiokol. (Not sure about UT.)

      A fourth contender, Aerojet, proposed a single, monolithic booster, to be built at a new facility in South Florida and shipped up the intracoastal waterway by barge. But the additional cost of the new facilit

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @08:44AM (#34316422)
    Just add amendments to the laws of gravity, aerodynamics and celestial mechanics and the whole rocket design process will become much easier. Surely the utah legislature can manage that, can't they? (and while they're at it, sort out Pi, too?)
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:09AM (#34316532)

    Oh, NASA, NASA, when will you learn? You keep trying to make spacecraft, when as we all know your job is to build precision pork delivery vehicles.

  • Deja boom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paiute (550198) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @09:25AM (#34316606)

    As I recall, the reason the boosters were not a safer one-piece design was because Hatch had to have Morton Thiokol in Utah get the contract. MT could only build them in segments using the questionable O-ring joints because a whole booster could not be shipped from Utah to Florida.

    Seven people would still be alive today if Hatch had kept his sanctimonious oinky nose out of NASA's engineering process.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by advocate_one (662832)

      there was nothing wrong with the O-ring joints PROVIDED that the booster was used within it's environmental limitations... It was a serious case of press-on-itis from senior management who overrode the misgivings of their own engineers. They were under severe pressure to launch and there had already been several delays.

      A one piece design is not necessarily safer either as it would have been extremely difficult to get a single pour without any voids in such a large volume of propellant. It was far easier to

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mahler3 (577336)
      Hatch didn't join the U.S. Senate until 1977, well after the booster contract was awarded. It was his predecessor, Frank Moss, whose cozy relationship with then-NASA administrator James Fletcher (another well-connected Utah man) was widely suspected as a factor contributing to Thiokol's win.
  • C'mon guys, (Score:2, Funny)

    by lavaboy (21282)
    it's not like this is rocket science or anything...

    oh, wait a minute... what?
  • “Today’s meeting confirms that we are in a long-term fight over the future of NASA’s manned space flight program,” Bishop said. “While I appreciate Administrator Charlie Bolden and Assistant Administrator Lori Garver’s willingness to meet with us, I remain very concerned that NASA continues to delay the transition from Constellation systems toward the new heavy-lift program while they needlessly explore private start-up technologies that remain unproven, require more mone

  • by Legion303 (97901) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:08AM (#34316974) Homepage

    "According to the congressmen and their advisors from solid rocket producer ATK, the heavy-lift legislation's requirements can only be met by rockets utilizing ATK's solid rocket boosters. They are alarmed that NASA is also considering other approaches, such as all-liquid designs based on the rockets operated by the United Launch Alliance and SpaceX."

    No, they're alarmed that the corporation that fluffed Orrin won't be getting the kickbacks he promised them. Fuck Orrin Hatch. Fuck him right in his mouth. Repeatedly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Legion303 (97901)

      In this age of federally-mandated TSA molesting and DHS stupidity, I should point out that the preceding post was humor. I hereby declare that I am not going to make my way to Utah and force my penis into Orrin Hatch's mouth repeatedly, no matter how used to it he is by now from campaign contributors.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @10:38AM (#34317328)

    Back when Wernher Von Braun created the Saturn 5, he was given the freedom to design the BEST rocket for the job. And that rocket put 12 men on the surface of the moon.

    When they built the space shuttle, they made compromises in its design in order to ensure companies located in key congressional districts got contracts and as a result, the Shuttle Challenger blew up and killed 7 people. (I have no clue if the aforementioned design compromises were responsible for Columbia)

    The politicians need to leave NASA alone and let NASA buy and fly the BEST rocket for the job. Regardless of whether that rocket is made by ATK, Boeing, SpaceX, the Russians or some guys on a sheep station in the Australian Outback. And they need to get out of the way of the private space industry and let it thrive, only getting involved in so far as ensuring that 3rd parties and their property are not harmed/damaged and that the work done by these space companies is not turned into nuclear missiles aimed at downtown DC.

  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @01:04PM (#34319576) Journal

    Tax Breaks for companies keeping permanaent stations in orbit and lunar bases.

    Just say that any company that can man a permanent lunar base with an increasing number of astronauts ever year has to pay no taxes on earth.

    Lockheed and Boeing and maybe even SpaceX would have permanent lunar bases on the moon so fast it would make your head spin.

    The taxes you wouldn't collect would probably even be less than the extra money we throw at NASA every year, win-win.

    Make the moon a tax shelter and watch the human race expand into the solar system.

  • Advisers? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mercano (826132) <mercano@COLAgmail.com minus caffeine> on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @01:24PM (#34319916)

    According to the congressmen and their advisors from solid rocket producer ATK...

    Wow, I've never seen lobbyist spelled that way before.

  • Ah yes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @02:37PM (#34320998) Homepage
    the heavy-lift legislation's requirements can only be met by rockets utilizing ATK's solid rocket boosters

    The military-industrial-congressional complex in all its glory. The point is to transfer money to specific highly influential businesses. The rest is pure bullshit.

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