Stossel on SpaceX vs. NASA

Thursday, July 30, 2020

For anyone who suspected NASA was a mess, John Stossel's recent report on America's first space launch in a decade will more than confirm that hunch:

[Aerospace engineer Robert] Zubrin once worked at [government contractor] Lockheed Martin, where he ... discovered a way for a rocket to carry twice as much weight. "We went to management, the engineers, and said, 'Look, we could double the payload capability for 10 percent extra cost.' They said, 'Look, if the Air Force wants us to improve the Titan, they'll pay us to do it!'" [link added]
This is awful, but it wasn't the only time Zubrin was rebuffed for the sin of offering a good idea:
Twenty years ago, at Lockheed Martin, Zubrin had proposed reusable boosters. His bosses told him: "Cute idea. But if we sell one of these, we're out of business."
Damn straight that the SpaceX "flight happened because government was not in charge."

More important than this, Stossel's story, which I highly recommend, also gives hope, in the form of illustrating the positive alternative of private enterprise:
Image by SpaceX, via Unsplash, license.
An Obama administration committee had concluded that launching such a vehicle would take 12 years and cost $36 billion.

But this rocket was finished in half that time -- for less than $1 billion (1/36th the predicted cost).

That's because it was built by Elon Musk's private company, Space X. He does things faster and cheaper because he spends his own money.
Lest that seem incredible, Stossel supplies relevant details, such as that Musk's company saves money ... by re-using rocket boosters.

There couldn't be a better time -- in the middle of a pandemic being aggravated by government meddling -- for such a story to hit the news. First, it confirms our hope that private enterprise will win against the corona virus, and probably sooner rather than later. Second, it should cause us to ask similar questions of other expensive, non-performing creatures of the government, especially the education sector.

-- CAV

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