A mere $5000 is what it takes to send very little of a loved one, whether human or pet, to orbit. Depending on your state, this may actually be cheaper than normal terrestrial means of memorializing your loved ones.
Well, this was no surprise, right?
Shelby in particular is probably worried not just about the challenges ULA is facing, but NASA’s hints for dropping certain parts of the Space Launch System. So there’s definitely an interest to keep things moving along for his constituents’ sakes. But, what is the rush for this?
Why does the United States Air Force (USAF) feel the need to “develop” the other options for launch vehicles this quickly? Is it because the service doesn’t like being beholden to a company (SpaceX, to be clear) which doesn’t need them as much as the service needs that company’s products? Is it to get so far along in the process that the new Space Development Agency has no choice but to allow it to continue?
The USAF would have never developed an inexpensive and reusable launch vehicle like the Falcon 9. The capabilities the Falcon Heavy brings to the nation weren’t even on the service’s radar. Yet both exist, without “development” from the USAF, and the nation is better, commercially and for government activities, with the capabilities those rockets bring. Those two launch vehicles alone have forced competitors around the world to seriously contemplate major changes in business models and launch vehicle capabilities, which is something the USAF and other government agencies failed to do before SpaceX’s rise.
The USAF had all the taxpayer money that none of us can imagine, so things like reusability and expenses weren’t considerations. See ULA’s history with the service to understand that. In short, since ULA was deemed by the Department of Defense as critical to launching national security satellites, the DoD accepted the monopoly at the time, and paid the price. And paid more. And more.
That would have continued if SpaceX hadn’t come along. For the USAF to suddenly become the conscientious custodian of taxpayer money now with the rationale it’s using, runs against the service’s history and DNA with programs like this. This is why the SDA may be critical to get not only spending under control, but also to move development on at a pace quicker than the USAF can.
The SDA is likely the reason the USAF is moving the selection process along so quickly, which may be reason enough to stall the process altogether.
This is surprising how?
Let’s just note that China launched nearly 20 of its version of GPS satellites in 2018, and that it considers its constellation, BeiDou, as globally operational since December 2018.
But, I’m sure the money on new GPS satellites is well spent, right?
To be sure, 2033 is probably very fast for NASA. I’m sure Elon and Jeff will be there (maybe even someone from the United Arab Emirates) on Mars to welcome our wonderful, if slow, civil servants.
Um, isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?
As the “Up Goer Five” XKCD cartoon once noted, if the end where the fire comes out “…starts pointing toward space, you are having a bad problem and you will not go to space today.” Maybe not ever.