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Russian RD-180 Embargo Could Boost American Rocket Industry

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the all-hail-the-comeback-of-american-caviar-and-vaccum-tubes dept.

Businesses 179

MarkWhittington (1084047) writes According to a Saturday story in the Los Angeles Times, the recent revival of tensions between the United States and Russia, not seen since the end of the Cold War, may provide a shot in the arm for the American rocket engine industry. Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches. This has had American aerospace experts scrambling to find a replacement. The stakes for weaning American rockets off of dependency on Russian engines could not be starker, according to Space News. If the United States actually loses the RD-180, the Atlas V would be temporarily grounded, as many as 31 missions could be delayed, costing the United States as much as $5 billion. However SpaceX, whose Falcon family of launch vehicles has a made in the USA rocket engine, could benefit tremendously if the U.S. military switches its business from ULA while it refurbishes its own launch vehicles with new American made engines.

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thankX (4, Insightful)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 4 months ago | (#47241063)

SpaceX and the American people thank you, Mr Putin.

Re:thankX (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241143)

The stakes are stark, and Elon Musk is Iron Man.

Re:thankX (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241521)

SpaceX and the American people thank you, Mr Putin.

Sure, until the first American made rocket engine goes up in flames and the cargo along with it. Then the American people will blame those stupid assholes in Congress and in the White House. How's that expression "cutting off the nose to spite the face" ? It'll become very fashionable when talking about the US space program.

Re:thankX (4, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | about 4 months ago | (#47241555)

Name the mission that "goes up in flames" with the engine, then you can complain. Lockheed-Martin had engines made by American companies and even told Congress that even the Russian engines they purchased could be made in America (as recently as February when they made that pronouncement again under oath at a congressional hearing). This whole thing is a problem of their own making, and I hardly loose sleep or cry that they made themselves so vulnerable because of foreign outsourcing of their product line. All in the name of trying to make a buck or two extra.

Re:thankX (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241587)

Name the mission that "goes up in flames" with the engine, then you can complain. Lockheed-Martin had engines made by American companies and even told Congress that even the Russian engines they purchased could be made in America (as recently as February when they made that pronouncement again under oath at a congressional hearing). This whole thing is a problem of their own making, and I hardly loose sleep or cry that they made themselves so vulnerable because of foreign outsourcing of their product line. All in the name of trying to make a buck or two extra.

Russian engines are reliable. American made ones who knows ?
Copying is easy, making sure the copy is as reliable as the original is a whole other game.

Re: thankX (3, Informative)

beltsbear (2489652) | about 4 months ago | (#47241703)

Care to back that up with anything? The last engine test that blew up was a Russian one for a Antares rocket. The last rocket to fail with payload was a Russian proton.

Soyuz and space shuttle are almost identical for loss of crew rates. Russian rockets are not more reliable.

Re: thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241773)

Since the americans don't have rockets any more it's no wonder they never fail.

Re: thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242029)

FWIW, the engine that blew up had been sitting in storage for ~40 years and may have had age-related problems (like the failure in 2011) that were not caught during refurbishment.

The Proton-M failure wasn't due to the engines; it was a sensor that was installed backwards.

Re: thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242737)

The Proton-M failure wasn't due to the engines; it was a sensor that was installed backwards.

Snort, if the russians don't have the expertise to install their sensors correctly anymore what makes you think that any engines they produce recently will be any better? ULA had better start up domestic production if they want to use the RD once the stored engines run out.

Re:thankX (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 4 months ago | (#47242383)

Yeah, totally. America has never had much luck with its space program!

Re:thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242233)

What do you do with your sleep once you've let it loose?

Re:thankX (2)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47241673)

Sure, until the first American made rocket engine goes up in flames

If ULA's engines fail, SpaceX had better run and hide. Congress/NASA/Pentagon will find a way to force ownership of SpaceX into the hands of Boeing and Lockheed. Priority #1 is to keep profits flowing to those two. Not to actually launch stuff.

Re:thankX (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 months ago | (#47241655)

It is nice to see businesses in america not out sourcing, as much, to those that have nothing vested in the community that the product is made for.

Re:thankX (2, Funny)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about 4 months ago | (#47241815)

The US should know better than to rely on that KGB goon for anything, particularly military hardware.

He'll cut off gas to countries - you think he won't cut off rockets?

It's simply bad business to rely on a supplier who is going to jerk you around like that, and worse defense policy to rely on an unstable enemy.

Re:thankX (0)

amightywind (691887) | about 4 months ago | (#47242327)

Maybe you want take Elon Musk's cock out of your mouth. SpaceX sucks.

Re:thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242745)

Is it comfortable sitting with Putin's cock up your ass?

Re:thankX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242799)

It beats dealing with the airline companies...

Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 months ago | (#47241067)

Corporations — Less pissy than governments, since 1347.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | about 4 months ago | (#47241081)

What happened in 1347? :p

Re: Hooray for the private sector, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241127)

The black death. I sense a great sci fi movie plot...

Re: Hooray for the private sector, I guess (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 4 months ago | (#47241671)

Caused by merchants bringing infested vermin to a trusting customer?

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (4, Informative)

SQL Error (16383) | about 4 months ago | (#47241419)

The charter for Stora, a Swedish mining company, was granted in 1347. It's probably the oldest limited-liability corporation in the world. Yes, it's still around today.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (3, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 4 months ago | (#47242677)

Shame it's not in the US. Then it would hold the world record for oldest person in the world as well.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#47241103)

In the defense sector, corporations are more or less proxies of governments. American corporations won't go against U.S. government policy, of course, but other countries' corporations might. American defense corporations don't defy the American government, Russian ones don't defy the Russian government, Swedish ones don't defy the Swedish government, French ones don't defy the French government, etc.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47241129)

American corporations won't go against U.S. government policy

Corporations buy government policy, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47241173)

Hey - I'll have you know we have the best government money can buy!

Yes, I know - hackneyed and trite. Still true.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47241223)

Ah no. At best, they lease it. Of all people you should realize the impermanence of ownership.

As as aside, it should be pointed out that the Russia isn't the only country that makes rocket engines. Arianespace [arianespace.com] has some perfectly cromulent launch systems available for hire. Bulk discounts likely available. The advantage for them is that they are quite further along with the systems integration than SpaceX.

However, it may be even less politically palatable to be beholden to the .... French .... for space access.

'Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.'

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47241237)

However, it may be even less politically palatable to be beholden to the .... French .... for space access.

Oh yeah, one whiff of that in the press and the american space market is a sure thing. Not french rockets, freedom rockets! MURICA!

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (3, Funny)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#47241837)

Ha ha. How ribald! Your mockery of America is quite original and unexpected. Why, you must be quite the intelligent fellow with such novel wit.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242043)

You know why I'm sad that there isn't a god? Because if there was faggots like you would burn in hell for being faggots. I like the thought of faggots like you burning in hell... sucking the great satan's cock... forever.
 
Faggots need to die for once and for all.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242247)

The only reason Ariane exists is to subsidise France's SLBM arsenal.
The USA wouldn't give them the massive discount on Trident that the UK enjoyed, so they had to go it alone.

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241213)

In the defense sector, corporations are more or less proxies of governments. American corporations won't go against U.S. government policy, of course, but other countries' corporations might. American defense corporations don't defy the American government, Russian ones don't defy the Russian government, Swedish ones don't defy the Swedish government, French ones don't defy the French government, etc.

In America, the American government doesn't defy the corporations; they go along, generally speaking--what's good for GM is good for the country--MI complex notwithstanding. Kapeesh?!

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 4 months ago | (#47241699)

American corporations won't go against U.S. government policy

US Govt Policy is whatever the companies paying the campaign contributors want it to be.

Of course they wont go against it. They thought it was a good idea when they came up with it!

Re:Hooray for the private sector, I guess (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47242189)

Nah, they're just as pissy, they just have smaller bladders.

"Costing"? (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#47241141)

"Atlas V would be temporarily grounded, as many as 31 missions could be delayed"

It sounds like it should save the government money.

Re:"Costing"? (2)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47241187)

No, it's we taxpayers footing the bill. Any deviation from original plans will cost more. It's another opportunity for corporations to participate in the feeding frenzy.

Pretty lousy, eh chum?

Re:"Costing"? (2)

phayes (202222) | about 4 months ago | (#47242767)

No, it would cost ULA money as their contract states that the launches will be performed on Atlas or Delta but Atlas (with the outsourced russian engines) costs less.

ULA could launch on Delta (reserving the launches that NEED to be on Atlas for that launcher) but ULA would have to eat the difference. Very unpalatable for ULA that...

Yawn (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241209)

I love how the writer of the article tries to bend the story as if the russians were somehow bad for not selling military equipment to a country that turned on them.

I know it's standard american hipocrisy, but I still find it disgusting how always americans always pretend to be blind to the reasons for which they are hated, and only see the hate and point at it.

Come to think of it... I seem to remember there is a group of people who always did that... who were they?

Re:Yawn (1)

qpqp (1969898) | about 4 months ago | (#47241325)

Oh yeah...

Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in parallel to the NATO expansion to the Ukraine, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches.

FTFY, just so you kids get some context.

Re:Yawn (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241395)

Oh yeah...

Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in parallel to the NATO expansion to the Ukraine, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches.

FTFY, just so you kids get some context.

That is a quite contorted spin on events. You seem to hold an underlying premise that the Ukraine is a client state of Moscow and does not have the right to voluntarily establish economic relations with the EU nor military relations with NATO. And that Moscow is justified for invading and meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs when the Ukrainians decide Moscow is perhaps not their best option as a partner or friend.

And you take things further with an outright lie. Sanctions followed the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, no sanctions existed as the Ukraine was seeking to improve its relationship with the west, there was no "parallel to".

Re:Yawn (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47242129)

Just a note. People of Ukraine call it Ukraine. It is only Russians that call it The Ukraine.

Re:Yawn (-1, Troll)

qpqp (1969898) | about 4 months ago | (#47242135)

[...] the right to voluntarily establish [...]

To put it in your words:
You seem to hold an underlying premise that Ukraine's people will benefit from being a client state of the US and/or EU, where these blocs can dump their surplus products on, buy products for less than they're worth and tap into gas reserves by moving population centers and threatening the eco-system of the surrounding area (e.g. fracking).

I'm also unaware of any historical precedents about an invasion happening without the deaths of large amounts (i.e. measured at least in percent) of local (!!) population. Perhaps you would like to point one out?
Oh, and while we're at it, didn't you just mention "voluntarily" in your previous paragraph? On which grounds do you refuse the right of the residents to decide who they want to belong to again?

there was no "parallel to".

Perhaps you're right, perhaps all of this is a concerted effort.
Let's ask the people of the eastern provinces where they want to rather be? Oh, right, the people are fleeing towards Russia; that's quite a statement answering our question right there.

What I believe, is that people should have the right to decide. Peacefully, and at their own pace.
I also believe that borders are artificial.
I also believe that diversity is good (i.e. multipolar world).
I also believe that we should all work together to get rid of our dependence on Earth's resources and start mining and expanding to other planets.
I am an idealist, pacifist and opposed to any kind of violence and manipulation. From any side.

Re:Yawn (0)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47242319)

On which grounds do you refuse the right of the residents to decide who they want to belong to again?

I suspect GP realizes on some level that there are no conceivable moral grounds for such refusal, any more than there were grounds for the Union, headed by the tyrant Abraham Lincoln, engaging in murder and mayhem to prevent the self-determination of Virginia and the Confederacy.

But then again, Ukraine and Russia are both similarly at fault, although at least there has been very little bloodshed to date in the current affair, when compared for example to the War of Northern Aggression.

Re:Yawn (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 months ago | (#47241471)

Oh yeah...

        Due in part in retaliation for economic sanctions that were enacted in parallel to the NATO expansion to the Ukraine due to Russia invading Crimea under a flimsy legal pretense to secure their black sea port, Russia announced that it would no longer sell its own RD-180 rocket engines for American military launches.

Added just a little more context.

I'm sure we could do this all day-- the russian entanglement goes back to 1783 when Catherine the Great defeated the existing Khanate in power since 1449.

Re:Yawn (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47242057)

You colours are shining through. If you're going to be a long term about it, don't be an asshole and cherrypick - go all the way back to Kiovan Rus, and then to the history of said Khanate, which was basically about Tatar conquerors being dumped by retreating Mongols of Mongol-Tatar yoke and some of them saw Ottomans raping and slaving Slavic nations of the Northern Black Sea, so they moved there to help.

Defeat of Ottomans was a combined effort that galvanised Russian-Ukrainian alliance back then.

Re:Yawn (1)

qpqp (1969898) | about 4 months ago | (#47242185)

Even if that is true (though arguably wrong - you know, there was an election) at least it's not a "flimsy legal pretense" to secure oil reserves (and other geo-political/economical interests) in countries without any substantial population of the actor (like Iraq, Sudan, I'm sure we could do this all day and night...).

Re:Yawn (0)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 4 months ago | (#47241653)

If I wanted Russian propaganda, I'd watch RT.

Re:Yawn (3, Informative)

the gnat (153162) | about 4 months ago | (#47241959)

NATO expansion to the Ukraine

NATO never expanded to the Ukraine. Their government asked to join in 2008 but was turned down; it's never been seriously considered since then. Perhaps you're confusing NATO, a US-dominated military alliance, with the European Union, which has nothing to do with the US (militarily or otherwise). It's the kind of distinction I can imagine the Russia Today writers glossing over, but these things do actually matter in the real world.

Re:Yawn (1)

qpqp (1969898) | about 4 months ago | (#47242025)

NATO expanding means NATO troops/infrastructure there. You're thinking just the obvious, but that's what CNN/BBC writers like glossing over, yadda yadda yadda.

Re:Yawn (1)

the gnat (153162) | about 4 months ago | (#47242741)

NATO expanding means NATO troops/infrastructure there. You're thinking just the obvious, but that's what CNN/BBC writers like glossing over, yadda yadda yadda.

According to a Russian news agency, this is not happening either: "NATO has no plans to deploy troops on the territory of Ukraine" [itar-tass.com] . This was one of the first links that came up when I Googled for "nato troops ukraine".

Re:Yawn (1)

qpqp (1969898) | about 4 months ago | (#47242795)

"NATO has no plans to deploy troops on the territory of Ukraine"

And there are WMDs in Iraq and no one's planning an invasion there. Sure think, Chekov!

Are you actually telling me? (5, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#47241211)

That the official operating procedure for the biggest military on Earth, many times over, is to buy mission critical equipment from anywhere that will sell it the cheapest and to not have any redundancy in place to ensure continued supply or alternatives?

What is the point of even having a military if that military requires good relationships with all other powerful nations on Earth to continue to function.
I can only imagine the level of damage a Chinese embargo would do.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241239)

Well, yeah, imagine doing without Chinese made equipment. How would the American General staff function without their iPads and iPhones?

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47241467)

yep, back in my day it was PowerPoint. Made in America

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#47241821)

They would function by buying them, for a little more money, from American companies.

For all their manufacturing, most of these devices sold in the U.S. are still U.S. design. The manufacturing could be moved back here (in fact some companies are doing that already). Turns out the "savings" from outsourcing, in the long run, led to unintended consequences which at least partially offset those savings.

Returning the manufacturing to the U.S. is not as short-term profitable as many companies would like, but the long-term economic benefits are worth it.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47242341)

Laying waste to domestic industry is a whole hell of a lot cheaper and faster to do than [re-]building domestic industry.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

pefisher (774697) | about 4 months ago | (#47241333)

There is a redundant system. It's called Delta IV. That's why we have two booster systems; to assure US access to space. The news media seems to not understand this.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242161)

From what I've heard, due to the way USAF payloads are designed around the Atlas V, many payloads don't fit on the Delta IV Medium and would require the vastly more expensive Delta IV Heavy. The USAF would rather not fly than pay for a Delta IV Heavy every flight.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#47242353)

USA and USAF, welcome to the real world where you pay to play.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 4 months ago | (#47241345)

"Running the government like a business" has been a catchphrase used by both major parties for some years now. Outsourcing in order to save money is standard practice in business. Is it surprising that they did exactly that?

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 months ago | (#47241511)

I need to go to take a nap, I've just misread it as "ruining the government like a business". But then again, perhaps I needn't!

Re:Are you actually telling me? (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#47241851)

"Running the government like a business..."

Is a distortion of the old principle that the government should be run "more like" a business. But not "like" a business. Some people took that idea, interpreted it kind of sideways, and made the government run like a BAD business.

"Outsourcing" to your own competitors has never been good business.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (5, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47242441)

Actually, out sourcing like this made perfect sense.

It started at a time which we wanted to calm down a threat. You, lile many others in this thread think this was only about being cheep and saving money. It is or was not. When we started buying from the Russians, it was about funneling money to them in ways that didn't create resentment while dealing with their concerns about continued US military strength after the colapse of the USSR.

In short, this had more diplomatic reasoning than financial when it was implemented. It served those diplomatic purposes well until recently when the advantage has been turned around. But ignoring the diplomatic aspect originally involved does not explain the situation properly.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242339)

The funny thing about "running the govt. like a business" is cui podest. For a business, it's the owners. For the government, one would only have to ask who the owners are to realize this is already happening. Owners = the ones who invested capital in the business (or, occasionally easier, who bought it). So, who bought your government?

they do have redundancy (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | about 4 months ago | (#47241353)

One of the companies who makes the launch system was required to take out a license to produce the boosters themselves. This is the backup plan.

It's not a great backup plan, because just having the plans and license doesn't mean you necessarily can make them, especially with the reliability needed for defense launches.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (5, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | about 4 months ago | (#47241397)

"What is the point of even having a military if that military requires good relationships with all other powerful nations on Earth to continue to function."

To redistribute money from common taxpayers to military-industrial complex corporations.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

- Dwight Eisenhower

Civilians created this policy, not the military... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241427)

Are you actually telling me? That the official operating procedure for the biggest military on Earth, many times over, is to buy mission critical equipment from anywhere that will sell it the cheapest and to not have any redundancy in place to ensure continued supply or alternatives?

Well it is not the military that chose this policy, it was the civilian leadership that commands the military. The White House and Congress decided to kill existing programs that could have provided domestic launch capabilities, decided to use the Russians for launch until commercial ventures like SpaceX could become viable.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 months ago | (#47241647)

The military doesn't NEED rockets to put up new satellites right at this moment in order to defend the country.

If Russia cuts us off and then attacks us, the sattelites currently up there would work just fine. The missiles would work. The airplanes and boats would work. The guns would work. It would take, what, several years before the satellites for weather and spying shut down and would need to be replaced.

It would just be a waste of money given the plans we had based on the rockets. Plans which, again, are not necessary for defense of the country. Actual war would undoubtedly be vastly more expensive too. And realize that the $5 billion lost was an estimate put forward by people who have an interest in the rocket industry: it's advertising.

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 4 months ago | (#47241843)

Except apparently the loss of those imports are already shutting down programs and canceling missions...

Re:Are you actually telling me? (1, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47242073)

US military does not exist to defend US. It exists to attack foreign entities for US agenda. As a result, it needs a good number of spy and other military satellites in orbit to ensure it's intelligence gathering and other military purposes across the globe are as efficient as possible.

stupid posters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242607)

Yeah, except that people smarter than you have already thought about that, and have plans and rights to build the RD-180's in the US. It will take a few years, yes, to get them into production, but this is not the disaster that you think it is.

Reusable rockets (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47241227)

If Musk successfully executes his reusable rockets plan, every US government launch will produce a 0 cost rocket for up to 20 more commercial missions.

Re:Reusable rockets (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#47241321)

Well, technically the fuels (~200k) and the rechecking/recertifying (unknown, hopefully not much) will prevent it from being actually zero-cost, but it'll be a pittance compared to current prices.

Re:Reusable rockets (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 4 months ago | (#47241669)

It is no wonder Musk wants a new spaceport. After he has a dozen or so reusable surplus rockets he will be able to launch almost every day.

Re:Reusable rockets (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#47242083)

I suspect that safety inspections alone will run you far more than 200k. Then there's the fact that some parts cannot be reused and will be single-fire only, unless they want to build a rocket that keeps its entire structure throughout the flight, which sounds extremely wasteful. There's a reason why most modern rockets have several stages, all designed for specific part of the flight.

Re:Reusable rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242123)

Yeaaaaah... the shuttle was going to be cheap too. Turned out that those "rechecks" involved enough work and technician time investigating every last everything for weeks on end that it would unquestionably have been cheaper to fire off all 130-odd STS missions on 130 disposable boosters instead.

Re:Reusable rockets (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 months ago | (#47241437)

I hope so but I remember that was the way the shuttle was sold and it turned out to cost about a billion per flight in the end.

Re:Reusable rockets (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 4 months ago | (#47241737)

Yeah.. but the shuttle had the gummint butting in.. all of CONgress making sure their home turf got a piece of the shuttle "pie".... In the case of SpaceX, its Musk and his stockholders.. and I'm not even sure how many "stockholders" SpaceX has, as I'm pretty sure its not a publicly traded company.... If ANYbody can do what he claims to be planning, I bet Musk can...

'

Re:Reusable rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241765)

A reusable rocket doesn't generate pork for districts... the billion per flight was a feature.

Move 10% of the military budget (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241243)

On top of the current research budget:

Move 10% of the US military budget to space R&D.
50% of that goes into general (civillian) research, the other 50% can stay in rocket/missile/sattelite research connected to to military.
Of the the 50% that go into the civillian branch, give out (total) 10% to private companies, fund universities and NASA with the rest.

We'd roughly see 65 billion put to new uses, of that go like 30 to the civilian sector, of those like 6 to private companies/general funding of companies. Annually.
I think we'd be seeing a Golden Age of Space pretty soon where there's simply no question how to get stuff into space - without losing any capability of finding new way to being able to blow up foreign people on all scales.

Re:Move 10% of the military budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241849)

They'd just find clever ways to waste it or tack on ancillary costs.

Re:Move 10% of the military budget (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 4 months ago | (#47242363)

In case you are not up on not so current events, the last attack on the US was executed by a few guys with box cutters and multitools.

Congress (3, Insightful)

jeff13 (255285) | about 4 months ago | (#47241251)

Wait... does anyone seriously think that Congress will pass funding for anything related to NASA and the space programs? The current, Tea Party locked, science committee that recently called Climate Science "not science at all", Congress???

Good luck with that.

Unless it's a back-scratch back-room subsidy for their ilk and/or a state they wanna buy votes outta, forget it. Not ... going... to... happen.

Re:Congress (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47241277)

You don't give it to NASA. You give it to 'protecting the American way of life'. The contract goes to YoYoDyne^HBoeing. NASA then 'needs' a heavy lift booster that YoYoDyne just happens to have tested recently.....

With the exception of the Saturn boosters (the 1B and V), every US space launch has been done with a booster that is to a greater or lesser extent, military.

Re:Congress (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#47241335)

I can only assume you're using some convoluted definition of "US space launch" that excludes all the ones that SpaceX has flown, whether for the government or not. Because I can't even imagine how you'd manage to call the Falcon/Dragon stack "military".

Re:Congress (1)

lgw (121541) | about 4 months ago | (#47241863)

The Tea Party loves folks like SpaceX. NASA is all politics and earmarks anyway. (And climate "science" is more politics and earmarks than science right now, but that a different topic).

Re:Congress (3, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | about 4 months ago | (#47241993)

does anyone seriously think that Congress will pass funding for anything related to NASA and the space programs

If it's sold as a matter of national security and economic competitiveness, and especially if it's sold as an uplifted middle finger to the Russians, I can imagine this happening. Rocket launches are used for lots of other things besides climate science, most of which aren't terribly controversial. And right now the US rocket industry couldn't possibly hire a better lobbyist for its cause than Vladimir Putin.

Choice of vendor (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 4 months ago | (#47241265)

I actually had no idea we were buying Russian rockets.
Oh well, at least they are better than North Korean models.

So, what is the Arianes launch record and failure determinations?

I wonder if SpaceX has a design for a heavy lifter yet...

Re:Choice of vendor (1)

GNious (953874) | about 4 months ago | (#47241339)

you're not - you're buying the engines.

Re:Choice of vendor (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 4 months ago | (#47241751)

Falcon9Heavy.... http://www.spacex.com/falcon-h... [spacex.com]
Hasn't flown yet, but if it does redundancy and has as many fail-safes as the current Falcon9, I bet it will do well...

Re:Choice of vendor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241927)

I'm sure that if we decide to economize on sources, and give North Korea and Pakistan any remaining technical information they haven't gotten already, they can start manufacturing just the kind of rocket engines that we deserve to have come our way.

For that which we are about to receive, we must be truly grateful.

Documentary on the engines (5, Informative)

Krashed (264119) | about 4 months ago | (#47241331)

There is a great documentary on YouTube on the subject of the engines and United Launce Alliance's work on buying them from Russia to be fitted to launch vehicles. The Russians were doing things with their engines which Americans thought impossible until they were demonstrated first-hand. This video has those initial tests towards the end of the file.

The Engines That Came in From The Cold
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Arming US Domestic Drones (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241535)

I would rather be taken out with a US made rocket armed domestic drone shouting my hometown USA alma mater hoorahs than with a russian made rocket purchased with our US taxpayer money. Just trying to be a good patriot here.

Soon to be spied on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241577)

Soon to be spied on by satellites launched by wholesome American made rocket engines!

God bless America!

Russians have better engines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241943)

This is a case where the Russians clearly had, and have, superior technology. The thrust to weight ratio of the RD-180 is, to my knowledge, unmatched by anything in the western inventory.

However let's be real, western payloads can get into orbit. It may cost more but there are numerous alternatives. JAXA, ESA, ULA (with different engines), Space-X, Bigelow. Heck we could arrange a launch or two with the Indians or Chinese in a pinch. Don't bother telling me how "the west is stranded on the ground." That is most certainly hype and not true.

NASA got in to orbit before the RD-180 (literally hundreds of times) and they will do it again. In fact the RD-180 is very likely to come back in to widespread western use again, once this business with the Ukraine is sorted out.

Re:Russians have better engines (1)

gatkinso (15975) | about 4 months ago | (#47242373)

Proven technology - not necessarily superior.

that said military thinking prized proven above all else... so your point is valid until proven otherwise.

Dependent on Russia, China.... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 4 months ago | (#47241991)

No more shuttle so we could save a trivial amount of tax money. We've shipped our manufacturing to China to make more money for CEOs and upper management who can live anywhere and could give a rat's ass about the USA.

Gee, I wonder where that could all end? Any ideas?

Sorry but no. LA Times fell for a PR scam (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47241999)

In the GHW Bush(41) and Clinton(42) Presidential administrations BOTH parties saw banefits from chanting "The Cold War is OVER!" and the bi-partisan dysfunctiona and corruption of those years is STILL harming the American taxpayers and workers. The elder Mr Bush wanted to say the cold war was over both so HE could take credit for its smooth ending and so his international business associates could be freed from cold war trade restrictions. Mr Clinton wanted to say the cold war was over so he could please his base by cutting defense and shifting money to social programs. The net result of this political short-sightedness was that [1] huge portions of America's best tech manufacturing were shipped to asia [2] the Russians (who still have ICBMS aimed at the US, just as we still have them aimed at Russia) were given easier access to western tech [3] China was enabled to rise in military, economic and international stature, [4] huge waves of American tech and aerospace workers were laid-off and [5] American defense contractors contracted and were permitted to merge at an alarming rate without anti-monopoly restrictions. Each defense contractor merger was justified by the claim that the new environment would not support multiple vendors of a particular prduct.

Where we used to have lots of significant aerospace firmes like North American Aviation, Rockwell, Convair, Douglass, McDonell, Martin, Grumman, Lockheed, and many many more (SOME of which had merged during the Cold War) we ended-up going down to essentially three big guys: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, and Northrop-Grumman and a bunch of small vendors who made sub-assemblies (this is the category rocket engines fall into).

In this environment, America HAD three significant rocket engine vendors: liquid-fuelled engine maker Rocketdyne (of the Saturn V F-1 and Space Shuttle SSME fame) AerojeGeneral (maker of the liquid-fueled engines on the Gemini-Titan, and also many, primarily unsegmented, solid rockets) and ATK (maker of the large segmented solids used to boost the Space Shuttle). The Obama administration recently approved of the merger of Rocketdyne and Aerojet (the two vendors who made liquid-fueled engines). Unfortunately Aerojet has in recent years been using its liquid-fueled engine capabilities to import Russian Engines stockpiled from the old Soviet moon rocket program (40 year old NK-33 engines) and turn them into at supposedly American AJ-26 engine (used on Orbital's new rocket that is coimpeting againsts SpaceX to haul cargo to the ISS). The merger of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin rocket launch businesses into a single vendor called ULA (United Launch Alliance) flys the Atlas V rocket which depends on Russian RD-180 engines. NONE of these vendors has had any interest in employing Americans designing and building American engines if they could import cheaper Russian stuff, Amercian nationa security be-damned... it's all about executive bonuses and stock valuations. Now that the Russian Engines are a problem, are any of these vendors starting on their own liquid engines? NOPE. The congress, however, always eager to do a little crony capitalism and bail-out their friends in the corporate board rooms are preparing to trow a pile of cash at ULA/Aerojet/Rocketdyne to build a replacement engine for the Atlas. Here are the problems:

1. America's traditional big aerospace firms were paid many hundreds of Billions of dollars over the decades to design and build a wide-range of launch vehicles and rocket engines. Every single one of these massive defense contractors was effectively fully-subsidised in the creation of these things in the first place. These contractors had some of the world's best engineers, technicians, manufacturing capabilities, and designs. They made the calculated choice to throw that all away and hire cheaper workers in Russia and buy cheaper engines from Russia in order to maximize profits at the risk to American national security. The American taxpayer should not now be made to back-fill the costs of re-establishing the domestic capabilities UNLESS we get to claw-back the profits from the corporate executives who benefitted from dumping the capabilities in the first place

2. Elon Musk at SpaceX was not given a billion dollars to design and build his Merlin engines - so this is unfair market manipulation (like all crony capitalism). Musk's productiion of the Merlin engine proves that Americans can design and build and fly liquid rocket engines at competative prices, and all his much-richer competitors have been doing is pocketing massive piles of taxpayer cash. The Altas rocket should be banned from hauling US Government payloads as long as it has Russian engines; Each launch is an unfair competition to the fully-American SpaceX vehicles.

3. Every year, the American taxpayer is charged approx $1 Billion by ULA (whether they launch anything or not) for "assured access" to space. We pay for each rocket and the support to launch it ON TOP OF that base-line subsidy which most Americans are never made aware of. Now it's time to say "time to put up!" The taxpayers need to demand that Lockheed-Martin re-engine the Atlas at their own expense. We've been paying them for "assured access" while they've been shipping engineering jobs out of the US for years.... time to pay-the-piper. If they cannot do it, all their intellectual property rights should be stripped-away and given to their remaining competitors, like SpaceX...there needs to be a VERY SERIOUS PENALTY to a defense contractor for this level of duplicity (taking money for "assured access" while making the nation vulnerable by farming-out vital work to the very "enemy" they pretend to be defending against).

"Tough Love" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242699)

We all know Russia wants the US to succeed as a World Super Power. Sometimes a Big brother just has to show a little Tough Love.

Increase security at SpaceX facilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47242743)

Increase security at SpaceX facilities, protect their cyber assets and put the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade on speed dial. Oh, and protect the employees.
We don't need mysterious failures of SpaceX launches.

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