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Re: Recent launch failures



Andy,

    I've been following those cuts.  Believe it or not, a lot of people
in the "private rocket" field are GLAD of this.  They seem to somehow
believe that the money cut out of NASA's budget is going to wind up in
theirs.
    Wouldn't it be nice if NASA was given that billion back and required
to use it purchase 10 Reusable Single Stage To Orbit prototypes at $100
million each?  Put out some general specs - heft a certain mass of a
certain size to a certain altitude and then turn the spacecraft around
for another launch in a certain short length of time, for instance. 
Then have everybody interested submit their proposals, choose the most
likely ten and have them go to work.  Surely, we'd wind up with two or
three useful spacecraft out of the ten and that would be pretty good for
a "mere" billion dollars.  We'd probably also end up with a couple of
new spacecraft manufacturers, each with a proven design.  Heck, they
could put a clause in the contract saying the first satellites delivered
into orbit had to be scientific and/or ham sats.
    But what's really sad is that several of the struggling new
companies would refuse to submit proposals!  The myth of "private good,
government bad" is so deep and pervasive in some circles that it would
cause a lot of organizations to refuse government contracts, even as
they see their fellow manufacturers biting the dust while they struggle
in vain to find private money to make their own designs reality.
    I don't think any of them remember how aircraft got developed from
the Wright Brothers flyer to our present day machines.  Practically all
the present aerospace companies and first airlines survived and grew
with government contracts to build military aircraft or deliver mail. 
Boeing got into jet airliners by building a series of military aircraft,
culminating in the C-135 which got converted to the civilian 707
airliner.  I've been trying to find out what is supposed to have changed
since those days, but I get no coherent answers, just slogans and
lectures on "free enterprise".
    I think that in the next year a lot of unemployed NASA engineers
(probably the best and highest paid) will join a lot of unemployed
"private rocket engineers" on the unemployment line.  It doesn't look
too good for the American future in space.

Dave

P.S. When the Final History of Folly is written, several of the juicier
chapters will cover the last thirty years.

Andrew Reynolds wrote:
> 
> Dave,
>  If you think things are bad re NASA now, wait a few months. Congress
> has recently started the final work on approving money for NASA, and
> they've decided that NASA, which has taken a cut every year for the
> last six, can take a hit of nearly $1 billion. Most of the money is
> to come out of the space science programs (where else?), so a lot of
> very smart people are going to be seeing projects they've been working
> very hard on for a long time go up in smoke. Not a good way to encourage
> people to hang around......
> 
> Later,
> Andy.
> 
> On Sun, 1 Aug 1999, Dave Mullenix wrote:
> 
> > I received this from a mailing list dedicated to amateur built rockets.
> > Since we launch our satellites on rockets which have shown a tendency to
> > blow up of late, this may be of interest to AMSAT-BB readers.
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