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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX 393

An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports that a trio of U.S. Congressmen are asking NASA to investigate what they call "an epidemic of anomalies" at SpaceX. They sent a memo (PDF) demanding that SpaceX be held accountable to taxpayers for mission delays stemming from the development of new rockets. Plait notes, "[A]s a contractor, the rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets, just as the rules are for Boeing or any other contractor. In fact, as reported by Space News, NASA didn't actually pay for the development of the Falcon 9; Elon Musk did." He adds, "Another reason this is silly is that every rocket ever made has undergone problems; they are fiendishly complex machines and no design has ever gotten from the drafting board to the launch pad without issues. Sure, SpaceX has experienced launch delays and other problems, but the critical thing to remember is that those problems are noted, assessed, and fixed sometimes within hours or minutes." Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states.
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3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

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  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:28PM (#47656859)

    rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets

    NASA does not build a damned thing. ULA (Lockheed Martin, Boeing) builds the EELV rockets. SLS is being build by ATK while Orion is built by Lockheed Martin.

    This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:44PM (#47656991)
      It's always amused me when people are hypocrites. It also always saddens me when these hypocrites are in a position to do something terrible because of their hypocrisy.

      It also strikes me as specious, at best, that they're complaining about a project that's arguably the most timely and successful-out-the-gate in the history of the American space program, if not humanity's combined space programs.

      But I guess that when one can afford to buy a senator, one makes that senator bark whatever line one wants regardless of its veracity or even sense.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:39PM (#47657459)

        I thought ULA convincing the government to advance purchase 2 years of launches (2billion dollars) a month before SpaceX qualified their rockets was an accurate picture of how Lockheed and Boeing intend to compete which is they intend to use government to prevent SpaceX from competing.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @07:06PM (#47659005)

          You don't have to RTFA to know that this is just about Pork Barrel spending.

          The guy behind this is Sen. Richard Shelby from Alabama. Where does ULA have it's factory? That's right, Alabama [].

          So now, we have the Alabama congressman Mo Brooks jumping on the bandwagon. Where to those two Colorado guys come from? Oh, yeah they represent me, in Centennial Colorado, where ULA happens to have its headquarters.

          Fuck these guys. They're holding the whole country back for corporate welfare. Of course, when poor folks need a hand...

        • by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @09:45PM (#47659789) Homepage

          I have posted before [] that there is evidence that ULA has initiated a propaganda campaign against Space X. From what I have read, Shockey Scofield Solutions, which is a PR firm hired by ULA is tightly linked with congressional lobbyist culture...they know how to pull particular strings in Washington. This seems to have their fingerprints all over it.

          We should really be aware of the reason why ULA was formed in the first place. A few years ago the government decided to bring competition into launch procurement, by creating a bidding process. The dominant/only American players, Boeing and Lockheed responded by merging their launch products into the United Launch Alliance so that in almost all cases there would be only one bidder for American launches. This resulted in an increase in launch costs.

          Enter SpaceX, which looks to be a real competitor. ULA can't absorb Space X, so they seem to be doing everything they can to sabotage them instead. From proposing financial rules on bidding companies that are biased against smaller players, to focussing on trivial "anomolies" that put uncertainty in the (simple) minds of Congressional lawmakers, to floating fanciful speculative stories about future vaporware "Space Planes" that will leapfrog SpaceX's cheaper launch platforms, to calling Elon Musk a corporate welfare bum (as if ULA wasn't the queen of queens of welfare queens).

          The simple fact is that Space X has taken older proven technology and molded it into what promises to be a robust and reliable launch platform. ULA knows this, and the only thing they know how to do is to make this a gutter fight. They are despicable.

      • whatever their motivation, it might not be a bad idea to drive a spoke in Elon Musk's wheel. SpaceX Hit with Second Suit from Employees, Allege Unpaid Wages []
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by starless ( 60879 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:02PM (#47657151)

      NASA does not build a damned thing.

      NASA builds lots of things, including scientific instruments and spacecraft. (Even if spacecraft are typically outsourced).
      Although indeed it doesn't build launch vehicles.

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:22PM (#47657305) Journal
      This is just ULA being afraid they will lose their iron rice bowl.

      Well duh! Wouldn't you do the same thing? I mean, it's not like the government creates jobs or anything.

      For those not getting the sarcasm, one side of the political spectrum repeatedly trots out the mantra that the government does not create jobs, yet, using this situation, quite clearly the government does create jobs or these Congressman wouldn't be trying to prevent layoffs at these companies if they were to lose government business from the space program.
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:58PM (#47657591)

        Well duh! Wouldn't you do the same thing? I mean, it's not like the government creates jobs or anything.

        For those not getting the sarcasm, one side of the political spectrum repeatedly trots out the mantra that the government does not create jobs, yet, using this situation, quite clearly the government does create jobs or these Congressman wouldn't be trying to prevent layoffs at these companies if they were to lose government business from the space program.

        The argument is that the government doesn't create wealth. While you can look at defense contractors as the government creating jobs it is at best intellectually dishonest. The government doesn't create wealth, it acquires from other parties and redistributes it to further parties. Those first parties, from which the taxes are collected, would have been otherwise able to use those tax monies which would have stimulated other businesses and created the need and opportunities for jobs. Now these specific jobs probably wouldn't exist and the jobs that would be here may not be as well paying but in a climate where we consider part time jobs replacing full time positions to be job creation, I hardly think that matters.

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Funny)

          by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @06:21PM (#47658725)

          Remember, the instant the government spends money, it vanishes down a black hole, disappearing entirely without any positive effect on the economy. The government paying companies to make things for them in no way creates any value whatsoever, nope. Better to just cut taxes because, as everyone knows, demand follows supply and not the other way around!

  • You don't say.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:31PM (#47656881)

    Now, about that F-35 fighterplane - will we have a working/function version before it becomes obsolete? And how many more trillions of dollars do you need to complete it?

    • If the F35 is obsolete, all other aircraft in the world are also. To make an aircraft which is not already obsolete requires trillions of dollars. No one has come up with a way to build a war winning aircraft which is not complicated and expensive.
      • Re:You don't say.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:51PM (#47657057)

        If the SpaceX rocket is obsolete(or too trouble-prone), all other rockets in the world are also. To make a space rocket which is not already obsolete (or too trouble-prone) requires trillions of dollars*. No one has come up with a way to build a practical space rocket which is not complicated and expensive.

        *actually if you build the thing on your own instead of doing things the "right" way per the US gov't you can drop that by a few orders of magnitude.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        If the F35 is obsolete, all other aircraft in the world are also.

        No, just all other fighter aircraft.

        The F35 is a cold-war relic. A world war two P47 could do just a good a job at bouncing the rubble in a village in Afghanistan.


  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:32PM (#47656887) Homepage
    All three are Republicans that claim to want "small government", yet they insist that private contractors abide by the same rules that government agencies do - even when the contractors are cheaper and safer than than the government agencies last attempt.

    Does the (R) after name stand for "Reprobate"?

  • I wrote to my Congressman, Vern Buchanan, earlier today and told him to kick these guys in the ass for me.

  • by Sox2 ( 785958 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:34PM (#47656909)

    Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states

    This seems highly unlikely - I can't think of a single example of congressmen doing something like this before.

    • Re:Implausible. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:54PM (#47657079)

      ...especially not to another of Elon's companies.

      Sometimes the best measure of success is how hard other people try to hold you back or stop you.

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      " in order to protect established industries in their own states"
      That is what Congress people do. Nobody wants to see nice high paying jobs to go bye bye.
      Heck my Democratic congress person fought long and hard to make the Navy keep the USS Forrestal when the Navy wanted to scrape it to save money. The reason was simple jobs in Jacksonville.
      A congress person doing this is not evil but a part of the give and take of government. That is why mission control was moved to Houston from Florida. It is expected tha

  • I will give credence to these Congressmen's words when I see them come out against HB Gary (or whatever it's called now) in a similar way.

  • Alabama (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:40PM (#47656951) Journal

    Alabama, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center, which is NASAs rocketry and spacecraft research center. Nah, no way this is a political move to protect their investment.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would destroy their credibility and undermine the slave system they have us all trapped under keeping their controlled economy and slave labor force in check and locked into planetary resources.

    • Obviously these people have read something besides 1984 and are trying to stop the logic next steps.

      When a place gets crowded enough to require ID's, social collapse is not far away. It is time to go elsewhere. The best thing about space travel is that it made it possible to go elsewhere. -- Lazarus Long

  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:43PM (#47656985)
    "...ranging from “multiple” helium leaks..."
    It's not a balloon, it's a rocket. I'm not aware of them using Helium, though they are know to use huge quantities of Liquid Hydrogen.

    "...release all anomalies and mishap information, un-redacted, so that Congress can gain a better understanding of what has occurred and ensure full transparency..."
    Do you mean like you have all other PRIVATE CONTRACTORS do? Oh wait, you don't. Of course, as stated, no huge system is ever without issues. The real question is are they fixed, and in a timely manner. In the case of SpaceX, yes. And by the way, SpaceX hasn't had 3 different crews killed in accidents, unlike NASA.

    "Again, because the vehicles in question were funded by American taxpayer dollars, there should be no issue in making this report publicly available,"
    Wrong again douchebag, they were funded by Elon Musk, not the government.

    As to the question I posed in the subject line, I don't actually know the answer, but I suspect it's "all of the above".
    • it's a rocket. I'm not aware of them using Helium

      Rockets often use compressed helium to maintain pressure in the fuel tanks as they empty

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      You can thank how easily and readily the news are manipulated for this type of nonsense.

      "NASA buys rocket launches from SpaceX with tax dollars. Therefore tax dollars fund SpaceX. Therefore SpaceX should be subject to the same scrutiny as any government-funded project"


      Apply the same logic to the other option - buying launches from Russia - and see how hard they laugh. Oh wait...didn't they stop or curtail launches for the US already because we're being assholes?

    • And by the way, SpaceX hasn't had 3 different crews killed in accidents, unlike NASA.

      SpaceX hasn't flown crew yet. They also have not fired off as many rockets as NASA.

    • I'm not aware of them using Helium, though they are know to use huge quantities of Liquid Hydrogen.

      Actually, I think you're off.

      They use Helium at launch to prime the turbo-pumps that pump the fuel. I don't think they use Liquid Hydrogen for fuel--they use a special mixture of kerosene.

      The Shuttle Main Engines (and the basis of the SLS) use liquid hydrogen for fuel.

  • by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:45PM (#47657003)

    "an epidemic of anomalies" ha ha, good one. Falcon 9 had 11/11 primary mission successes on the first 11 flights. That sort of a track record is very, very rare. Space Shuttle did it. What other launcher had the same record? Never mind the overall cost of achieving it. If one adjusts for successes per dollar of development costs, Falcon 9 will have everyone beat for a long, long time, if they keep at it.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:03PM (#47657171)

      I'm pretty sure at this rate the Falcon 9 beats every other space delivery system in cost by far (both development and recurring) and reliability (so far at least).

      Granted they've had the entire history of space exploration as a guide towards their design...but then again any other company in the space game has access to at least the same information. I'm pretty sure the contractors and companies that built the shuttle and other rockets actually have significantly MORE information than is publicly available on top of it.

      Yet who do we see actually DOING this? Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. It amazes me that the 'leadership' in the US can't understand that basic axiom.

    • 11 out of 11 (Score:5, Informative)

      by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:50PM (#47657541)

      Let's see...
      Ariane 1 - second and fifth launches failed
      Ariane 2 - only 6 launches, first failed
      Ariane 3 - fifth launch failed
      Ariane 4 - eighth launch failed
      Ariane 5 - first launch failed, two partial failures in first 11
      Atlas A - only 8 launches, 5 failed
      Atlas B - only 10 launches, 3 failed
      Atlas C - only 6 launches, 2 failed
      Delta - first launch failed
      Delta II - first eleven successful
      Falcon 1 - only five launches, first three failed
      Falcon 9 - first eleven launches successful, although a secondary payload on the fourth launch was aborted as a precaution
      Long March 1 - only 2 launches, both successful
      Long March 2 - first launch failed
      Long March 3 - no complete failures in first 11, but 1 and 8 were partial failures
      N-1 - only four launches, all failed horribly
      Proton - third launch failed
      Proton-K - second, third, fourth and sixth launches failed
      Proton-M - eleventh launch failed
      Saturn I - only ten launches, all successful
      Saturn IB - only nine launches, all successful (unless you count Apollo 1 - it didn't launch but still killed three astronauts)
      Saturn V - second launch (Apollo 6) failed, Apollo 13 doesn't count because it was a payload, not launcher, failure
      Soyuz - third launch failed, with fatalities
      Soyuz-U - seventh launch failed
      Soyuz-FG - first eleven launches successful
      Space Shuttle - first eleven successful (19th was first partial failure (ATO), 25th was first full failure)
      Titan I - fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth launches failed
      Titan II - ninth and eleventh launches failed
      Titan III - first and sixth launches failed
      Titan IV - seventh launch failed
      Zenit-2 - first and second launches failed

      Yep, getting zero failures in your first eleven launches is pretty damn rare.

      • Great list, thanks for doing the research, but I don't think you can pin Apollo 1 on the Saturn 1B at all -- that fire was 100% due to faults in the payload, the Apollo Command Module. In your list I would say the most impressive run is the Saturn 1 -- ten out of ten successes back in the old days, first launch in 1961, and they were using a very early model liquid hydrogen upper stage in the last six flights. If you count the Saturn 1B as just an upgraded Saturn 1, then it was 19 straight successes -- 19

  • Outsource to Russia (Score:4, Informative)

    by Major Byte ( 669826 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:47PM (#47657023) Journal
    Perhaps these representatives imagine American taxpayers prefer US space exploration remain outsourced to Russia? The reps in question are: Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The reps in question...

      I think you mean the traitors to the american people.

  • Follow the money (Score:5, Informative)

    by director_mr ( 1144369 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:49PM (#47657047)
    I think you will find that those Republicans have industries that compete with Space X in their districts. This means Space X is doing so well they feel the industries in their own districts will lose money. Perhaps you could appeal to Republicans who don't have competing space industries in their district. But complaining about this as if its just republicans doing this is disingenuous. Politicians do this to give industries in their state and edge all the time.

    Phil Plait:
    "That’s why this whole thing looks to me to be a transparent attempt from members of our Congress to hinder a privately owned company that threatens their own interests. I’ll note that Boeing (the major SLS contractor) has a big plant in Alabama, Brooks’ (and Shelby’s) home state, and United Launch Alliance has its HQ in Colorado, home to Gardner and Coffman (it’s even in Coffman’s district). This sounds more like they’re trying to protect their own turf more than honestly wanting transparency from SpaceX."

    You can read that here: []
    • by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <Xaedalys@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:00PM (#47657617)
      Those senators are doing exactly what they should be doing: protecting the interests of their constituents. If SpaceX continues to be effective and successful, then Boeing and ULA will start losing money, and that means they'll start cutting back on employment at those factories, which are in the jurisdiction of those senators. Which means unemployed voters, and large amounts of unemployed voters trump any economic benefit that cheaper spaceflight may bring. Especially when we're talking working class people who are unable to migrate to new jobs/locations. Before that happens, a lot of the potentially affected voters (and their employers) are hiring lobbyists to advocate on their behalf to stop SpaceX by any means necessary. This is exactly how democracy functions, and those senators are doing their jobs--as much as we may dislike it.
  • It's high time we started calling out these "representatives of the people" who are really nothing of the sort. Republican or Democrat, nobody in Washington seems to be concerned for the welfare of the American PEOPLE. They only seem interested in doing whatever the lobbyists who line their pockets tell them to do.

    • They only seem interested in doing whatever the lobbyists who line their pockets tell them to do.

      Hey, if corporations are people, and money is speech, they're only listening to their constituents.

      If you want to be listened to, you will need more money.

      You expect what you want to matter any if you don't have any cash to back it up? Sorry, no money, no speech -- it's the American way now, SCOTUS said so.

      Why are you against free(*) speech? Democracy doesn't grow on trees you know.

      (*) Free as in "go ahead if

    • At the risk of defending them (because really, I don't like these guys any more than you do), the are representatives of the people -who elected them-. That means the people in their district, so protecting businesses that bring money to those districts (and thus to the people they represent) isn't -completely- without merit.

      Please note that I'm not advocating that they protect those businesses at the expense of their people by loosening regulations or anything like that. I'm just saying that in -this insta

      • Gotta second this--there is no such thing as The American People. There is no singular voice of authority and righteousness that has coalesced from a totalitarian and enlightened gestalt of minds. Rather, there are the American Peoples, many of whom bear conflicting interests and actively fight their disagreements out using the political theater. Those Senators are representing people who will be directly harmed by SpaceX's success. Those people and their employers have hired lobbyists to advocate on their
  • Compare Space-X's launch manifest from a year ago [] with their current launch manifest. [] They're six months to a year behind their launch schedule. There were supposed to be three Space-X ISS resupply flights this year, #4, #5, and #6. Flight #4 is currently scheduled for September. There are five commercial customers waiting for their scheduled 2014 launches.

    Some of this isn't Space-X's fault, and some of it is. All these are Falcon-9 launches, some with the Dragon capsule. No major new hardware is involve

    • LOL.
      I hate to point this out to you, but it took Boeing/L-Mart/ULA well over a decade to get their launches for Atlas V/Delta IV going on schedule.
      And SpaceX being even 12 months behind is actually pretty darn good.
      SpaceX is moving at a rate of 1-2 launches / month, which is better than what ULA does.
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:57PM (#47657107)

    In the letter, they keep going on about anomalies. They don't understand what those are.

    Anomalies are not (necessarily) defects, or errors, or problems. Anomalies are deviations from the norm - something that isn't perfect.

    I tried to find an example Space Shuttle mission that I could use to compare, but I can't even find a comprehensive list of "anomalies". I can find rollbacks, where the problem required bringing the vehicle back to the assembly building, but I can't find a list even of countdown stops.

    Rockets are expensive. When you see a potential problem, you fix it even if there's a 90% chance of it being fine anyways. You don't take risks. For SpaceX, their caution has paid off in a near-100% success rate (one secondary payload was lost after an engine failed on CRS-1. NASA forbade the second burn to insert the secondary payload because the engine failure had reduced the odds of success to 95%).

    Further, these are civilian launch vehicles, not missiles. A missile, you expect to be high-reliability, low-maintenance and weather-tolerant. You can't cancel a battle just because a hurricane is coming and you're not sure it can stand up to the wind. But these are civilian rockets - the increased payload and decreased cost you get from not having to battle-harden everything is worth the cost of having to delay the launch if something looks a bit iffy and they want to make sure it's not going to break and wreck your multi-million-dollar payload.

    Oh, and then they somehow argue that having several billion dollars worth of flights sold is a bad thing. They frame it as "SpaceX is too slow to keep up with demand", when really it's "the demand is too high for SpaceX to keep up". They have missions sold out to 2019, and on many of them the payload isn't even ready yet. Replace SpaceX with even a perfect ideal, with an infinite supply of ready-to-launch rockets, and those seven Iridium-NEXT launches won't be happening until the actual payloads are done, the next five ISS resupply missions won't happen until the ISS needs the supplies, and the Falcon 9 Heavy test launch won't happen until that rocket is ready.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      I tried to find an example Space Shuttle mission that I could use to compare, but I can't even find a comprehensive list of "anomalies".

      NASA has all the shuttle anomaly reports available. Some of them are pretty long.

      Just to take the first mission as an example, the body flap went outside design limits during launch, and the commander later said that, if he'd known that at the time, he would have bailed out rather than go to orbit and risk re-entry. The toilet didn't work. Tiles fell off various parts of the exterior. The re-entry software had an incorrect aerodynamic model, requiring them to fly it manually through part of the re-entry. Th

  • Follow the funding (Score:5, Informative)

    by pr0t0 ( 216378 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:10PM (#47657235)

    Thanks to the awesome new browser plug-in called Greenhouse (how has this not been on slashdot?), here's a little context.

    Congressman Mo Brooks gets his biggest financial contributions from the aerospace industry. Among his top-10 contributors are Lockheed Martin (1), Northrup Grumman (2), Boeing (6), and Raytheon(10).

    Both congressmen Coffman and Gardner have Koch Industries in their top-10 at 7 and 5 respectively. At first, this didn't mean much to me, but I found the coincidence intriguing so I dug deeper. Koch Industries purchased Molex, Inc. in December for $7.2 billion. Among other things, Molex makes wiring and connectors for defense and aerospace. Is that enough to push a couple of congress critters to voice concerns about Space X? I don't know, but following the money is usually a good first step in determining motive.

  • The congressmen in question are Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

    SpaceX is "competing" (or rather beating the pants off of) a Lockheed Martin / Boeing joint operation called United Launch Alliance (ULA). From their webpage []:

    ULA program management, engineering, test, and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and...

    This is essentially congressmen performing constituent services for their district, albeit in the most cynical way possible.

  • Mike Coffman R-CO 6th District, Mo Brooks R-AL 5th District, and Cory Gardner R-CO 4th District. Like to talk about the evil big govt until they start to sing the praises for big govt to build their own rockets. Yet Govt has always used contractors to build rockets. What a bunch of pathetic hypocrites. And the great unwashed keep voting these clowns back in.
  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:04PM (#47657649)

    Don't complain about it here. Don't argue about Republicans vs. Democrats on a forum. That's useless. Reach out. Make yourself heard. If you're a constituent of these guys, ruin their names a little bit.... Talk to your neighbors about them, and then TELL THEM YOU'RE DOING IT. Representative democracy only works if you make the representatives listen to you.

    Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) : [] Phone: 202.225.7882

    Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) : [] Phone: 202.225.4801 Snicker. That's the War on Whites guy. :D

    Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) : [] Phone: (202) 225-4676

    I listed the DC phone numbers, but you can go to the bottom of their web pages and call their home offices too. Ask them why they're trying to bury one of America's leading space companies in red tape. Ask them why they appear to be using big government against a private company. Ask them how they justify that as Republicans. Ask them if they were paid to do so by large companies. :D

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:10PM (#47657691) Journal
    Right now, there is a major contest going on with NASA. Basically, SpaceX, Boeing, and SNC are battling to win a contract to provide human launches for NASA. Interestingly, this was to go to all 3 companies, but it was the GOP that insisted that it be narrowed down to 1 company. Now, they are nervous that the obvious winner is SpaceX and are going to great lengths to block this.
    Hopefully, SpaceX will win this contest, because I have no doubt that the house GOP will change their minds and suddenly fund all 3 companies.
    Sadly, the corruption and treason runs very deep in the GOP.
  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) * on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:42PM (#47657973) Homepage Journal

    As a person credited with launch service privatizing legislation by Congressman (Ron Packard, R-Ca), in his introduction of my congressional testimony on private space development [], the Congressman who sponsored that legislation, let me weigh in:

    If your own money is at stake, you approach risk management in a very different way than when someone else's money is at stake.

    Public funds for development results in a very different sort of risk management than private funds for risk management.

    The typical argument for public funding of development is that the risk management under private funding is to, basically, not bother taking the risk at all -- and that therefore the public must.

    Well... this has as its unspoken assumption that the downstream benefit is so great that it is clearly justifiable to take the risk. OK, let's go with that assumption and then let us further ask: Why is it that the capital markets are failing in their primary reason for existence: To manage investment risk?

    The folks arguing for public funding of development need to provide answers for that question taking the form either of, a renunciation of the primary principle of capitalism -- since the public becomes more competent at investment the less risk there is -- or, proposals to correct the statutory regime under which investment is made so that the capital markets function properly.

    In my role promoting private over public investment in launch services development, I was aware that there was, indeed, a capital market failure that needed to be fixed through statutory changes in the tax system. Yet I proceeded to promote private over public investment. Why? Because in the foregoing discussion of trade offs between private vs public risk management there goes unspoken the risk that a positive feedback system can easily develop where political action is funded by tax dollars, however indirect. This positive feedback system results in a body politic that excludes from political influence those who are not receiving tax dollars -- such as inventors in the garages who are trying to bring even incremental improvements to the market. Moreover, this lack of political influence is compounded by the fact that such inventors are seen as business risks by those whose political action is predicated on the technical ignorance of politicians -- hence government funds not only fund political action, but actively suppress improvement.

    There is simply no way out of this mess but to, first, turn off the funding sources if at all possible, so that it is possible to then address the real underlying capital market failure that results in lack of investment in viable technologies of great value.

    The role guys like Musk should be taking on here is to point out the capital market failure and recommend appropriate fixes in the statutory environment so that there is no place for the public sector rent-seeking of government funded political agencies, posing as technology companies, to hide.

    One year after I gave my testimony before Congress, I did make a proposal for just such a reform in the tax and regulatory code in the form of a white paper [] which I sent to various think-tanks in the beltway. The problem is those think-tanks are, themselves, now funded by the same positive feedback loop that actively supports existing cash flows and their expansion -- which includes avoiding any reforms that would correct the capital market failures to which technosocialist political agencies point to justify their receipt of taxpayer money.

    Here's what Musk needs to promote:

    Replace all taxes on economic activity with a single tax on net liquidation value of assets. This is rational in that those assets enjoy government protection in a manner similar to the protection provided by property insurance corporations. In other words, taxes become a service fee equivalent to the i

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus