ULA Friendly Representatives Want to Know More About SpaceX Failure

falcon9_debris

When the SpaceX Falcon 9 boosting the NASA CRS-7 payload exploded in the air over Cape Canaveral on June 28th, one of the first sympathetic tweets came from United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno. It seemed sincere enough, and a refreshing moment of class in what has otherwise been a bitter battle between ULA and SpaceX. Given the risks which accompany every rocket launch, and haunt those responsible for its outcome, one can only assume that the gesture was indeed heartfelt and genuine.

At the same time however, given that background, one would have to be woefully naive to believe that ULA, as well as its parent companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin, would not seek to gain from the SpaceX mishap. For what it is worth, had the roles been reversed, the same would no doubt apply. That would be true in any competitive situation, no matter how nobly individuals might respond in the moment.

What has made the SpaceX/ULA battle so noteworthy however, is the fact that it is one which has been waged more often in Washington D.C. than in the boardrooms of commercial satellite companies as has been the case for the equally intense struggle between SpaceX and Arianespace for commercial contracts. In that light, it was only a matter of time before the political long knives would come out for the former in the halls of Congress. As the Denver Post reports, a group of 14 Representatives, 9 of whom come from ULA districts in Colorado and Alabama, have sent a letter to the Air Force and NASA wanting to know “if the Falcon 9 launch system will be decertified for military launches. If it is not, they want details about the process that will be required to return it to service.”

The letter is here, and tellingly, even though it begins by referencing recent launch failures by both SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, the questions only concern SpaceX.

 

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5 Comments on "ULA Friendly Representatives Want to Know More About SpaceX Failure"

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  1. Space X declared ‘All Out War’ when they sued over the Air Force contracts to the ULA and its utilization of the Russian RD-180 engine.

    Marcel

    • Wayne says:

      All out war? Come On Now! Boeing and Locked Martin have on going lawsuits with the Air Force right now…

      “All Out War” in this instance is a phrasiology used when the ignorant and or the entrenched can’t see their own nose despite themselves or a Monopoly that is about to come to an end!

      My tax dollars are being wasted and that was put into the sunlight for all to see by SpaceX!

      • Nestos says:

        Nicely said Wayne.

      • The RD-180 is not only used by the ULA for most of its military launches but is also the only engines currently being man-rated by the ULA to launch Commercial Crew launches.

        So banning the import of the RD-180 could have given Space X a Commercial Crew launch monopoly.

        And your tax dollars are already being wasted by Space X:

        1. Space X is currently charging the tax payers $133 million dollars to send just 3.4 tonnes of payload to the ISS (~$39 million per tonne).

        A typical Shuttle Flight cost about $600 million to deliver at least $22 tonnes of payload to the ISS. But that same flight could also deliver 8 astronauts. NASA recently awarded Space X, $2.6 billion for up to six crewed missions to the ISS. NASA believes that such flights could cost them as little as $57 million per passenger. Since the Space Shuttle could deliver 8 astronauts to the ISS, subtract $456 million from a cargo run for the 8 passengers delivered and returned to Earth. That leaves only $144 million in cost for the payload (less than $7 million per tonne).

        So Space Shuttle cargo cost were more than five times cheaper than they would be from Space X.

        Marcel

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