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On @ The 90: NewSpace Fans Need to Stop Hating

Whenever a post that does not paint the NewSpace movement in glowing terms is posted, NewSpace fans issue a bitter and unending series of rants filled with cherry-picked "facts" and insults. Why is this? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

Whenever a post that does not paint the NewSpace movement in glowing terms is posted, NewSpace fans issue a bitter and unending series of rants filled with cherry-picked “facts” and insults. Why is this? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

Where did NewSpace come from? The philosophy, the people … where did they originate? Essentially, they came from NASA, but not in a good way. Many, many people who believe in the dream of space exploration have been shunned, insulted, and mocked by the space agency’s representatives throughout the years, to the point where they got fed up and decided to go it alone.

Some had their concepts derided and were shut out. Others were not impacted by the agency at all, but understood that any program stemming from the federal government would never bring the costs of access to orbit down enough to make space flight a more common event.

By and large these experiences created NewSpace and provided it with the bitter fuel the followers of the movement appear to run off of today.

Anyone that expresses support for NASA can expect to get an earful—even if they do not side exclusively with the space agency. Those that do not use the exact wording or paint the companies that fall under the NewSpace banner in glowing terms are attacked and demonized. Some elements of the media have caved, pandering to NewSpace whims.

At key events NASA makes certain that its commercial partners are present, proudly displaying their products. NASA isn't NewSpace's competitor - the space agency is the movement's benefactor and it is past time that NewSpace aficionados started acting like it. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

At key events NASA makes certain that its commercial partners are present, proudly displaying their products. NASA isn’t NewSpace’s competitor—the space agency is the movement’s benefactor, and it is past time that NewSpace aficionados started acting like it. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

When I last checked, the role of the media was to report the facts, no matter how ugly or inconvenient they might be. It is journalism 101; you are supposed to be unbiased. Sadly, space-related media is just as biased as larger outlets.

NASA has provided mankind with some of its greatest accomplishments, and to ignore that for the flavor of the week simply isn’t an option.

Belief NewSpace will open space to “the rest of us” allows NewSpace fans to ignore both their pet project’s failings as well as NASA’s successes.

So NASA has the COTS, CCDev, CCiCap, C3PO and numerous other efforts to promote NewSpace - how exactly is NASA in the way? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

So, NASA has formed the following efforts to encourage NewSpace: COTS, CCDev, CCiCap, and C3PO (as well as others). One has to ask: how exactly is NASA “in the way”? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

While touting Dragon and the Falcon 9, they are all too happy to state missions such as NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, Juno, and GRAIL are inconsequential, and that their launch vehicles and spacecraft are far more important. It is selfishness personified. Yes, the vehicles coming out of these companies are important, but so too are the missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

No NewSpace firm has launched a single astronaut into orbit. They have not landed anything on the surface of the Red Planet, or any other planet for that matter, and haven’t sent probes to orbit our nearest celestial neighbor. Check your egos at the door. What NewSpace has done is impressive, but they are stating statistics about things that might happen and rockets that might fly—in the past tense. Pride goeth before a fall, and when this toddler falls off its high chair, it is going to be a very far fall indeed.

The space shuttle was an incredibly versatile vehicle. It was also unwieldy, dangerous, expensive, and not designed to evolve. However, attempting to compare the Dragon capsule to the shuttle? That’s like trying to compare a tug boat with a cruise liner. Two Dragon spacecraft could have fit inside the shuttle’s payload bay. Yet NewSpacers will have you believe that Dragon is a worthy successor to the shuttle.

Cherry picking specific facts that paint their offerings in a favorable light, while deriding any and everything that NASA does, has become a hallmark of NewSpacers. This is despite the fact that the space agency has bent over backward to private space firms such as SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Orbital, and Bigelow Aerospace.

NASA has been stereotyped as an agency whose only role is to soak up money to fund a non-essential workforce. This is laughable, in that, by some estimates as much as 80 percent of the megabucks funding NewSpace come from NASA. Without NASA, many, many NewSpace firms would fold. Rather than be thankful, NewSpacers choose to bad mouth the agency whenever they get the opportunity.

The workforce is a prominent element that NewSpacers attack. They are all too happy to see the skilled workers who have designed, built, and maintained spacecraft for decades enter into unemployment—so long as the employees that serve them and their purposes get good jobs.

Those that believe that NewSpace will drive the cost down so low that it will be like purchasing a plane ticket aren’t living in a little thing the rest of us call “reality.”

There is another reason why NewSpace hasn’t had the public relations success it wishes. Contrary to their belief that NASA is “in their way” (anyone who views the commercial-crazy state NASA is currently in knows that argument is false), NASA is very supportive of NewSpace these days. The PR problem that NewSpace is running into stems from the attitude displayed by those within the NewSpace community.

So, how many NewSpace firms have benefitted from the "hindrance" that NASA represents? Image Credit: NASA.gov

So, how many NewSpace firms have benefitted from the “hindrance” that NASA represents? Image Credit: NASA.gov

When one has to resort to ad hominem attacks, it shows only one thing: that you realize your argument isn’t sound and you have to insult the person who highlights the facts you find inconvenient. Have a “discussion” with a NewSpacer and you will find they will happily avoid subjects that spotlight the holes in their belief structure. No matter how hard you press, they will simply not respond and will eventually resort to name-calling. These are the actions of petulant children—not the leaders of future.

Selfishness is a key trait of many fans of this movement. For them, it is all about “my ticket to space.” It seems to have less to do with the goal of becoming a spacefaring species, and more about their own personal gratification.

In the words of President Obama, “Let me be clear”: I want to be supportive of NewSpace. However, the bitter and nasty way that the followers of this movement conduct themselves makes this impossible for me. Their arrogance is as nauseating as it is familiar.

The “we can do no wrong” and “you are always wrong” mantra that is emanating from NewSpacers closely resembles the attitude of NASA. This attitude ended up being tossed in the space agency’s face after the Challenger and Columbia disasters. It’s sad that the movement, which was supposed to be so different from the status quo, now suffers from the same symptoms that the agency they so despise did and, possibly, still does. When one of these firms experiences its first crewed disaster, it is one that they will sorely regret.

In a recent opinion piece, I stated that we should support NewSpace, but that we should be careful when doing so, as these companies will be responsible for the lives of those that fly on their spacecraft. I stated that SpaceX had clearly proven me wrong in my initial assessment of its success. In short, the editorial was written to support NewSpace’s efforts, but given that the 10th anniversary of the Columbia disaster was right around the corner, I wanted to express that our optimism should be tempered with caution. It was my hope that the piece could serve as an olive branch to those within the NewSpace movement who visit our website.

When one of the newly-emerging aerospace firms experiences a disaster that costs lives, the behavior displayed by fans of NewSpace will come back to haunt them. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

When one of the newly-emerging aerospace firms experiences a disaster that costs lives—one on the scale of NASA’s Challenger and Columbia accidents—the behavior displayed by NewSpace fans will haunt them. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian / AmericaSpace

Instead, a NewSpacer ignored all of the elements of the article that expressed support for these private space firms, nitpicked the article for not mentioning a litany of other companies that he wanted promoted, and referred to my work as “sloppy” and “incompetent.” Not generally the response one would expect when trying to reach out to someone, but sadly, exactly the type of response one has learned to expect from the NewSpace community’s loudest proponents.

One could argue that this was an isolated case, except that it isn’t. Too many times to count, similar antics have been displayed. One even stooped so low as to speak ill of the dead. Rather than just ignore this poor behavior, I think we should shine a spotlight on it. Confront the NewSpacers who behave this way and ask them: “You’re getting most, if not all, of what you want. So why are you still so angry and nasty?”

With NASA's new directive to empower the firms that comprise the NewSpace movement, one has to ask fans of the movement - "Wy so bitter?" Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / NewSpace

With the space shuttle program a thing of the past, and NASA’s new directive to empower the firms that comprise the NewSpace movement, one has to ask fans of the movement, “Why so bitter?” Photo Credit: Mark Usciak / NewSpace

Even more disheartening is that those with a moderate bent, looking for a middle ground, will often find the NewSpace community unwilling to compromise. During the International Space Development Conference, held near Orlando, of which I was a member of the organizing committee, I was asked point blank, “New or old?” I stated firmly, “Now.” The person with the query smiled, assuming that I must mean NewSpace. I corrected him, stating that I wanted all of us, on both sides, to stop this asinine “all or nothing” mentality and come together as one—the experience of the established space groups fueled with the passion of emerging NewSpace groups. Typically, the response fell on deaf ears. They stated that NASA needed to “die,” rolled their eyes, and wandered off. It is with this sentiment that I wanted to close, because it sums up the response that I know this opinion-piece will engender. After everything that I have seen, I believe that NewSpacers will not compromise, will not work to come together to build a brighter future. They will merely attack and demand that they be given sole proprietorship of space. In the end, they will become as unyielding, as arrogant, and as distasteful as the agency they hate.

In the end, we need to, in the words of this nation’s leader, “share the wealth.” Both established and new aerospace companies need to be treated equally. Excluding one side or the other is patently wrong, and the notion that stating this warrants an attack—that stating we need to be careful with the lives of the brave men and women who will fly on these machines is somehow impolitic—is disgusting. It has only been a decade since we lost Columbia, and if the fans of these new companies refuse to learn the painful lessons that NASA has had to learn, they are doomed to repeat them. Ad astra per aspera …

Do we expect this Op-Ed to have NewSpacers address these issues, to work toward a better future where we work together to expand the space frontier? No, we expect them to ignore the issues raised, and no matter how hard we press them to address the issues, they will merely bring up something else that they deem important. So why bother? Because, it’s nearing the end of January—a period when a great many people lost their lives in the pursuit of space exploration. If NewSpace is to light the fire of a new age of space flight, they have to be based on a foundation of maturity, and the actions highlighted above do not, in any fashion, represent this.

73 comments to On @ The 90: NewSpace Fans Need to Stop Hating

  • Ferris Valyn

    Jason,

    There is a lot I would comment in this piece, but I’ll keep it simple. The biggest problem is that there is a large swath of Americaspace that isn’t media, or its not balanced media. Its balanced like The National Review, or Dailykos.

    In short, Americaspace is about supporting your (and Jim’s Hillhouse) version of space activism

    • Aaron,
      Actually? It’s about telling both sides. I noted when we highlighted ULA’s failures you were silent. When SpaceX’s failures were mentioned? You went on a rant. Mr. Oesterle – please don’t point out a failing you yourself suffer from and try to transpose it on others.
      You also continue to fail to grasp what an “Op-Ed” is.
      Your view of “balanced media” is described perfectly above: “Anyone that expresses support for NASA can expect to get an earful—even if they do not side exclusively with the space agency. Those that do not use the exact wording or paint the companies that fall under the NewSpace banner in glowing terms are attacked and demonized.”
      This opinion piece was written for those out there who simply cannot handle any point of view other than their own and I wanted to thank you for once again proving me correct.
      Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Ferris Valyn

        Explain to me how an Op-Ed isn’t about space activism.

        • Aaron,
          As stated in the Opinion piece:

          Do we expect this Op-Ed to have NewSpacers address these issues, to work toward a better future where we work together to expand the space frontier? No, we expect them to ignore the issues raised, and no matter how hard we press them to address the issues, they will merely bring up something else that they deem important.

          Thanks again for proving me right. You truly are a master of “changing the subject.” But, no thanks. I’d rather see you address the points raised rather than allow you to divert attention from the real matter – the behavior of NewSpacers. Explain to ME how it makes sense to bite the hand that feeds you? Explain to ME how your snarky attacks are going to engender ANY sympathy when a crew perishes on a commercial spacecraft?
          This isn’t about OUR bias – it’s about yours.

          When a ULA barge slams into a bridge? we report it. When a Delta IV medium’s upper stage fails to work properly or an Atlas V encounters numerous delays? we report it. And yes, when something goes wrong with a NewSpace vehicle we report that too.

          The only time you come on here & complain is when we highlight NewSpace issues. As I said before we try to be unbiased & as I state above, that’s not good enough for you. Unlike you Aaron, we’re not willing to say one thing and do another. We’re unwilling to only highlight the good of NewSpace & ignore the good of others.

          So why not get to the heart of the matter? You want us to be NewSpace cheerleaders, for us to be hypocrites and only tell your side of the story & it bothers you tremendously that we won’t. That we actually do what a media outlet is supposed to do & that’s hold people accountable. Regardless of which side they’ve chosen.

          Contrary to what you’d like to believe. This piece was written in the hope that NewSpacers will let go of their bitterness, to work to build something better. However, I’m a realist & doubt this will happen. Your comments, yet again, highlight the very issues I raise & I cannot thank you enough for that.

          Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Joe

    “Do we expect this Op-Ed to have NewSpacers address these issues, to work toward a better future where we work together to expand the space frontier? No, we expect them to ignore the issues raised, and no matter how hard we press them to address the issues, they will merely bring up something else that they deem important.”

    First post makes the point.

    • Ferris Valyn

      Joe,

      Forgive me, but really? Americaspace isn’t a court of law, or the US Congress. It is a blog site. There isn’t anything forcing anyone involved (whether its me, Mr. Rhian, etc) to actually coming together on a compromise solution. The reality is that blog sites in particular, and the way the media is organized today, is much more about combative voices to determine policy.

      And for the record, don’t assume that AmericaSpace is the only “OldSpace” website, where NewSpacers engage. AmericaSpace has a special distinction, though.

      And there is history, here.

      • Aaron,
        You’re right. We’re not a court of law, we’re merely asking NewSpace’s loudest mouthpieces to show some class. Given that NASA is pushing so much cash into the coffers of the companies you support – it’s rather stupid of you to constantly attack them. Moreover, the rants, attacks & attitude I mentioned – are going to bite you when the first commercial vehicle with passengers has a bad day.
        I’m also more than a little disappointed (not surprised) that you would find the concept of reaching across the aisle, of meeting in the middle as something to be avoided (another thing I predicted in my opinion piece). It’s positively Stalin-esque.
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

        • Ferris Valyn

          Jason,

          1. You are mixing up criticism of NASA, criticism of OldSpace, and criticism of AmericaSpace (yes, there really is a difference here, and my loudest complaints, here, on AmericaSpace, are really about AmericaSpace, not NASA or OldSpace)

          2. I don’t have a problem “reaching across the isle.” But there is nothing that actually forces you and me to compromise, and come to any sort of agreement. (I have a thought experiment I like to pose people about which would be more successful – Jim Demint & Bernie Sanders working together, or Rush Limbaugh and Ed Schultz working together).

          In point of fact, I actually view the transition of media to total politization as a tragedy. But thats a much larger debate, having to do with media reform, discussions about Fairness doctrine, media conglomeration, etc (which, I suspect, you’ll agree this really isn’t the place for such a discussion). And I dont’ actually have an answer to how to solve it. So, I note it, and am aware of it during discussions

          • Aaron,
            You use NASA & OldSpace as interchangebly as I use NewSpace to refer to the philosophy & the firms. But to you, only your points are correct. Whereas I’m willing to allow you your distinctions.
            It’s about being an adult & not expecting everything be done your way. Sorry, but if you have this issue, as well as issues with this blog – then you might want to stop coming here.
            This isn’t “FerrisAaronValynOestler.com” it’s AmericaSpace.
            I too am less than pleased with the shabby state of the media and we do the best we can to be fair to everyone.
            I also should note that while you have been all-to-happy to mention Jim Hillhouse – I’ve not once (until now) mentioned Jim Muncy.
            The point is simple. The tactics, behavior & attitude you & other NewSpacers display will come back to haunt you when you have a “bad day.” That’s the one thing you refuse to understand. This isn’t about insulting you – it’s about helping you.

            Despite your hatred of “OldSpace” – the establishment has one thing you & yours desperately need – experience. They’ve experienced spectacular failures & they can tell you that when they treated folks with the level of arrogance & disrespect that NewSpacers are now showing? They sorely regretted their behavior because their was no sympathy, no compassion, no pity afforded them. They had abused the patience of others for far too long & were made to pay for it at the worst time possible. All I want is for you & yours to be spared this. In return? You simply attack, attack, attack.

            I was actually hoping you guys would disappoint me & take the high road. So much for that…

            As another commentor stated, NewSpacers live on “the last word” philosophy. Let me say this. When a Dragon, Lynx, Dream Chaser or some other commercial crewed spacecraft is lost – the people that you’ve attacked & insulted all of these years – will have the last word. That’s not me “threatening you” that’s someone who has seen this happen before & is trying to save you from that kind of experience.
            Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericSpace

  • Joe,
    Yes, you’re correct, Aaron’s comments prove the validity of this opinion piece out. BTW, I think it’s important to delineate the difference between an article or feature and on Opinion based piece (for some reason some appear unable to differentiate between the two):

    ed·i·to·ri·al (d-tôr-l, -tr-)n.
    1. An article in a publication expressing the opinion of its editors or publishers.

    Again, the key word is opinion. My opinion is based off of repeated experiences. NewSpace, as stated in the editorial above, has won – why aren’t they able to handle it with some class?
    Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Joe

      Hi Jason,

      I think Ferris quote in the post above is very illuminating

      “The reality is that blog sites in particular, and the way the media is organized today, is much more about combative voices to determine policy.”

      When I first started participating in these types of discussions I became very frustrated with not only the level of discourse you describe, but with the fact that no conversation ever seemed to end. The New Space advocates seemed determined to get the last word no matter how repetitive their posts became. I came to think of it as the “he who posts last wins” philosophy.

      Ferris seems to confirm that analysis. They actually believe that if they can essentially bore someone into leaving a debate, they have won.

      • Hi Joe,
        Exactly, another NewSpace has posted on here and (as usual) resorts to calling names (Senate Launch System) and then acts like crew safety was “dragged” into the debate. Sorry, safety was an essential part of the Op-Ed – One which they missed.
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Aaron,
    I’ve lost count of all the time I’ve wasted waiting for you to give even an inch. The part of my opinion-piece that Joe highlights – says it all. You will never see anyone’s point of view other than your own. I wrote this piece to highlight that. But don’t feel alone, many in your company suffer from this myopia. I really wrote this as a warning, to try and help Newspacers. When commercial space suffers a tragedy? When lives are lost? No one is going to show you & yours any sympathy – and it will be your own fault. The years of put-downs, attacks and insults – are all going to be remembered. If NewSpacers had any sense at all? They’d be working to build bridges – instead of burning them. I’m sorry that you find this concept so difficult to grasp.
    Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Simon Cooper

    This comment violates AmericaSpace commenting rules and has been removed.

    • Simon,
      It wasn’t “dragged” into anything it’s part of the Op-Ed. Did you even read it? The point is simple. By bashing the key source of NewSpace funding (NASA) & acting like children (Senate Launch System – Really? What are we five?) you’re alienating the people who are filling your companies coffers. Do you think they’re going to forget all of the snarky juvenile attacks when the first crew riding a commercial launch vehicle loses their lives?
      If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you were that person I mention that I met at ISDC 2009.
      You should probably read what I wrote about the: “We’re always right and your always wrong” attitude you’re displaying. The group that suffered from that complex for the longest – was NASA and it appears to have infected the NewSpace movement just as much if not worst.
      Again, comments like yours are MOST welcome as they clearly highlight all the issues I mention in my article.
      Sincerely and with much thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Simon Cooper

        This comment violates AmericaSpace commenting rules and has been removed.

        • Hi Simon,
          Actually no, you completely miss the point of this Op-Ed I never, in any shape form or fashion, penned it to detail how space would be “opened up” by the ISS. You totally ignore what the Op-Ed is about &, as I said NewSpacers would, change the subject to something (anything) else.
          This article is not an opportunity for NewSpacers to present real or perceived slights for me to address. It’s an opportunity to explain your compatriots horrid behavior. To tell those of us on neither side (read the Op-Ed, I clearly state I’m not with the establishment) why you’re biting the hand that funds you? Do you honestly think your terrible behavior will gain you sympathy or compassion when the first crew flying on a Dragon, Dream Chaser or Lynx is lost?
          It’d have been nice if YOU’D addressed any of these points. But no, typically, you merely attempt to change the subject. Simon I don’t know you either – but when someone changes the subject? It means they know they cannot excuse their actions. Thanks (again) for proving the points raised in the Op-Ed as correct.
          Oh, and just to show that I can play nice. I’ve never stated that the ISS will open anything – those are the words you jammed into my mouth (another NewSpace tactic). While I think the ISS is an amazing feat – it’s only real use is as a place to conduct limited experiments. As for “some” funds that NewSpace runs off of coming from NASA? I’ve heard estimates that place that number as high as 80 percent. Sorry Simon, that’s not “some” that’s “most.”
          You attempt (but fail) to exclude one very special, special interest – NewSpace. When Obama took over the White House the funds went from going to OldSpace and some NewSpace to the other way around. So, since NewSpace is doing so well under Bolden & Garver why don’t you explain why you all are still so bitter?
          You try to paint me into the OldSpace corner – despite the fact that I’ve said numerous times I’m on neither side.
          The problem NewSpacers have with me is that I’m tired of their childish behavior. Now, shock me and actually address the questions that you have repeatedly ignored.
          Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

        • Joe

          Hi Simon,

          You said:

          “Sorry Jason, I’ve never met you, and from your comments no doubt the pleasure will be indefinitely postponed. It would have been nice if you’d addressed any of my substantive points.”

          Just out of curiosity what substantive points were those:

          – Referring to the SLS as “The Senate Launch System”? Someone of a different viewpoint (given SpaceX problems with Merlin engine reliability) could refer to the Falcon 9 as the Falcon (9-1=8). It might give them a sense of sanctimonious moral superiority but would be just as counterproductive to any real achievement. That I believe was the point of the editorial.

          – Saying that the SLS “wasn’t wanted by NASA”. Certainly it was not originally wanted by the NASA politically appointed leadership (it is of course their job to support what the administration wants – you might note that now that the Administration has signed off on the congressional mandate “NASA” as you choose to define it seem to like the SLS just fine).

          – Saying that “Orion – the most overpriced space hardware evuh.” Ignoring the (perhaps intentional) misspelling if you have a “substantive point” to make perhaps you would be willing to support that assertion with some facts.

          Could go on, but what is the point?

          • Joe,
            “Sanctimonious Moral Authority” – why didn’t I think of that? That sums up NewSpace to a “t!”
            Also, dead on about the Bolden-Garver leadership. NewSpace is always happy to cherry pick. I posted a comment that says the same thing, why don’t NewSpacers ever highlight all the commercial programs “rammed” down NASA’s throat(in fairness COTS was started under Bush)? Highlighting anothers “ramming” while ignoring your own? Hypocrite-much?
            Thanks for actually reading the Op-Ed. I get the distinct feeling that the NewSpacers posting didn’t bother before they went on their collective tirades.
            Also, did you notice how Simon attempted to change the subject to SLS, Orion, ISS rather than address the issues with NewSpace that the Op-Ed mentions? I love it, if any of these brave folks had bothered to actually read what I was saying – they might have avoided doing what I predicted they would do! But nope, insult, change the subject, all part-and-parcel of the NewSpacer play book.
            Sincerely and with much thanks, Jason Rhian -Editor, AmericaSpace

    • porkfight

      Simon, I understand your sentiments, but your facts are incorrect.

      You said: “The Senate Launch System wasn’t wanted by NASA”

      The NASA Administrator himself (Charlie Bolden) has said many times and testified before congressional committees that: “If I don’t build a heavy-lift launch vehicle, we don’t have an exploration program”. And “The nation needs a heavy-lift launch vehicle capability”. Most of NASA’s workforce knows that a heavy-lift vehicle is necessary for missions beyond earth orbit. SpaceX is also aware of the need for a heavy-lift vehicle with better efficiency than Falcon heavy. That is why they toy around with concepts like Raptor and larger first stage engines.

      You said: “Orion – the most overpriced space hardware evuh.”

      Quite the opposite. The Exploration Mission Systems administrator Douglas Cooke has said “The Orion government and industry team has shown exceptional creativity in finding ways to keep costs down through management techniques, technical solutions and innovation.”

      A NASA study team looked at using a commercial crew vehicle and a space-only vehicle instead of Orion, but found that modifying a commercial vehicle to meet their basic set of requirements would be designing Orion again, and it would cost even more.

      None of the CCDEV vehicles are capable of leaving low earth orbit. Big differences between Orion and any other spacecraft in development include sufficient radiation shielding to protect crews from X-class solar particle events, advanced radiation hardened avionics & sensors, long mission durations over extended temperatures & high radiation, and emergency survival capabilities.

      I’m a big fan of SpaceX and their design approach, but it would be foolish to use their claims for planning our space program. Consider the following:

      1. Remember when we were told that Falcon 9 would cost $50M, then $70M, then $90M, and now it’s a $100M rocket. There’s no sign this trend won’t continue.
      2. SpaceX says that Dragon is “reusable”, but NASA has no plans to reuse one yet they are planning to reuse Orion. Note, on previous missions Dragon has suffered salt water ingress and radiation damage.
      3. Remember when we were told that Falcon 9 would be recoverable because it has parachutes and cork insulation?
      4. Bigelow licensed NASA’s inflatable technology and started his company in 1998, 17 years later his company will be sending a structural test model to the ISS in 2015.
      5. The lowest commercial crew cost per person claim is $25M, and more realistic estimates are $50-$60M per person. Add the $25M cost for a stay at a Bigelow space station and you are nearly double the cost of a stay at ISS using existing services.

      I could list many more examples to make my point these companies tend to exhibit naive optimism and grossly exaggerate their abilities.

      • Joe

        “4. Bigelow licensed NASA’s inflatable technology and started his company in 1998, 17 years later his company will be sending a structural test model to the ISS in 2015.”

        Just an interesting point Bigelow (unlike most internet New Space supporters) has worked very cooperatively with NASA. The Structures Engineers that worked on TranHab continued coppreation with Bigelow. They reviewed their designs and attended their design reviews (pretty much on their own time).

        While Constellation Systems was still in effect they worked together on designs for inflatable Lunar Surface Habitats. As a result NASA (and I mean the technical people) has confidence in Bigelow’s work. That has led to this collaborative agreement (as far as I know the first significant agreement between the two parties). And this agreement is unequivocally based on merit, no politics involved.

  • john hare

    Jason,
    When you address somebody named Aaron in an apparent reply to Ferris Valyn, I question your attention to detail. Your valid points seem to be diluted by distortion. I agree that NASA bashing is counterproductive. I don’t see NASA centric as the way forward.

    • Hi John,
      That’s because people need to be honest. “Ferris Valyn” – is a fake name. His real name is Aaron Oesteler. So my attention to detail, is 100 percent accurate, in fact I’m actually taking Aaron’s distortion out of the equation. So, no need for you to question my attention to detail.
      Yet again, read the Op-Ed – I state that the way forward is a mixture of old & new. I never state space exploration should be NASA Centric & do not appreciate it when someone rewrites what I posted. Here’s the portion of the article that says so:

      In the end, we need to, in the words of this nation’s leader, “share the wealth.” Both established and new aerospace companies need to be treated equally. Excluding one side or the other is patently wrong, and the notion that stating this warrants an attack—that stating we need to be careful with the lives of the brave men and women who will fly on these machines is somehow impolitic—is disgusting.

      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Hi all,
    I have to admit, I was worried about posting this Op-Ed. However, given the antics of a majority of the commentors above? I’m so glad I did. Ad hominem attacks, changing the subject, name calling, calling into question my “attention to detail” on & on. I really appreciate the NewSpacers post as they have verified virtually everything I mention in my Op-Ed.
    Most importantly, not one commentor directly faced the primary issues I mentioned. Why are you biting the hand that feeds you? Do you think your behavior will be appreciated when NewSpace faces its first crewed tragedy? So far, not a peep, yet again NewSpacers show that they are incapable of answering these questions and prefer to bring up some other (any other)topic.
    NewSpace has a lot of promise and it is proving that is has what it takes to get the job done. However, it’s clear that followers of this movement have a lot of growing up to do. The intent of this editorial was to get folks to face this fact.
    Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • john hare

    Jason,
    I stand corrected. The vast majority of the time when someone criticizes newspace, it is to glorify the NASA centric or more often the NASA only view. I apologize for insinuating bias.

    I am most definitely a newspace supporter.

  • Hi John,
    Thanks. I apologize for coming across too coarse. After years of numerous, annoying attacks I tend to be snippy. I just don’t understand why we can’t drop the “New” & “Old” and be “NowSpacers” (read the above Op-Ed, I mention this)? Why can’t we have the experience of OldSpace merge with the passion of NewSpace?
    Make no bones about it, there were those at AmericaSpace that were NASA-centric. Now? We believe more moderately that all space companies should be treated with equal respect.
    Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • All,
    Before you type – you might want to actually READ what you’re complaining about. When I highlight a person that I met at ISDC? It’s in the Op-Ed. Also, actually taking the time to read the article would clear up the fact that I’m on neither side & help you to prevent embarrassment by doing exactly what I predicted you would.
    Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • All,

    To pull a “NewSpacer” allow me to talk about something unrelated in an attempt to distract you from the shenanigans above. Why is it NewSpacers claim Orion & SLS were “shoved down NASA’s throat” by the Senate? You will never hear how the conga-line of commercial programs NASA is currently undertaking were “shoved down NASA’s throat” by Obama-Holdren-Bolden-Garver? There’s been a fair amount of “shoving” done by BOTH sides. To highlight the opposing side’s antics while ignoring your own makes you a hypocrite.

    If one didn’t know any better & you just listened to NewSpacers you’d think NASA existed solely to support NewSpace ambitions. Sorry, NASA’s job is to open new frontiers – not empower only certain companies.

    If NewSpace had any sense they’d support NASA’s beyond LEO initiatives. After NASA has opened the door? They (NewSpace) could come in & build the foundations of a space-based infrastructure starting at the Moon & progressing ever outward. Wait, that would require one not to be selfish, to work for the greater good. Oh well, silly me.

    Now, if there is any response to this at all it will be to attempt to divert attention to something unrelated, to ignore the inconvenient issues raised above (or just to insult). Why? Because that’s how NewSpace works! Sorry, but as I’ve said a million times, I want to like NewSpace & I’m deeply inspired by their accomplishments. Almost as much as I’m nauseated by their fans’ attitude & behavior.

    I’ve attended all four Falcon 9 launches & each of them was exciting. They’ve managed to prove that you don’t need insane dollars amounts to launch vehicles into LEO. No sooner do I think that maybe things will get better than a NewSpace will post twenty snarky comments or demand I redefine what the definition of “is” is.

    I’ve been biting my tongue for a looong time. However, I spent six years in the army & another six as a law enforcement officer. My tolerance for the type of attitudes highlighted today – has officially evaporated. Today – I decided enough was enough & to call it exactly as it is. I’m not trying to tick you off. I’m trying to get you to take an honest look at yourselves, realize that your better than this & be better than the people within NASA that made you this way.

    I’m on neither side, I CAN’T be – not in this business. So if it seems like I’m harping on NewSpace – it’s because virtually every snarky, troll-worthy comment I can recall has come from their camp. Enough. You guys are doing great, your launching rockets & paving the way for the future. However, your attitudes – stink.

    For those on the opposite side & for us with no side – we won’t forget how nasty you’ve been & it’d behoove you to start building some bridges now that you’re in NASA’s good graces. Administrations come & go & rest assured your time in the Sun won’t last forever. Does it REALLY make sense to honk off & insult any & everyone who fails to completely agree with you?

    Every mode of transportation has experienced tragedies & rest assured these terrible moments will happen for NewSpace as well. How much sympathy do you think snarky comments will buy you? How much compassion will be shown to those who have insulted so many – for so long?

    The point of today’s “Rhian tirade” was not what some NewSpacers have attempted to paint it as (one stated perfectly “sorry I’m on NewSpace’s side – as if I were demanding they choose the ‘opposite’ team). It’s about showing some class, of letting go of the hate and, as so many of the comments above appear to suggest, it’s a point that they appear to have universally – missed.

    With kindest regards, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Neil Shipley

    Gidday Jason. Interesting piece. Apologies for the length of my response however it’s a topic of considerable interest to me. :)

    As a non- American, I don’t really have a say since my tax dollars aren’t supporting the U.S. government however as an avid space follower, let me say that I think that I’m a bit in the middle here however I do have serious issues with the NASA of today. But let me start with this statement: Do I feel let down by NASA? Yes! Why? Well perhaps I can answer that through the following points:
    NASA:

    Human Space Flight

    Shuttle
    Sold as providing safe, reliable, cost effective transport to leo. Result: very expensive, unsafe to the extent that commercial and DoD missions moved to conventional launchers and loss of 40% of the fleet along with 14 lives. These were preventable due to the known nature of the problems but NASA continued to fly without resolving the root causes.

    Replacement Shuttle:
    The X-33 was Lockheed Martin’s attempt to develop a reusable space plane however it was really a research vehicle when you look at the number of new technologies that were being incorporated such as the aerospike engine, the hydrogen tank, and so on.
    Result: No flight hardware, project cancellation.
    Cause: a failure on NASA’s part to control both the selection and the requirements of the project.

    Constellation Program: Begun under Sean O’Keefe’s administration and supposed to provide a human spaceflight capability using Orion and 2 launch vehicles the Ares1 and AresV, the Altair (Lunar Surface Access Module), and the Earth Departure Stage.
    Result: No flight hardware, project cancellation. (Ares1X doesn’t count since virtually nothing used would have been part of the final Ares1 vehicle.)
    Cause: a failure on NASA’s part to control both the selection and the requirements of the project resulting in insupportable budget requirements and schedule slippage.

    NASA safety record:
    Apollo program lost 3 in the very early days but they could easily have lost more during both the Mercury and Gemini Programs. Luck favours the brave.

    Shuttle lost 40% of their vehicles and all crew due to known problems not addressed and no LAS. NASA safety culture criticised during the investigations.
    NASA had no real incentive to improve safety since there are no real impacts on their program or people other than schedule.

    NASA HSF Cost and Schedule:
    So far, all major projects undertaken in HSF have gone well over budget to the tune of billions of dollars and delivered – nothing since they’ve all been cancelled.

    NASA HSF current projects:
    SLS – Space (Senate) Launch System : currently expected to consume upwards of $18 billion through to 2017 which is split as $10 billion for Block 1 launch vehicle, $6 billion for Orion, $2 billion for various support.
    Results: schedule slippage already; Orion cost blowouts; 1st Service Module to ESAS with no budget for others.
    Criticisms: Existing commercial vehicles can do the job with upgrades already planned. System is spending budget that could be used for other important research/hardware.

    ISS – money spent so far is effectively sunk cost so ignore. This facility is supposed to be operational but limited research being undertaken.
    Causes: Lack of shuttle replacement to relying on Russian Soyuz at 3 seats maximum @ $63 million per seat.
    Research: Lack of increased research on the facility.
    Causes: Lack of human transportation restricting on-board numbers. CASIS failing to engage the research community.
    Results: $3 billion per year to operate but little to show for it as yet.

    Robotic Missions:
    Generally these have been, and continue to be impressive from a technological viewpoint however recently these have simply escalated in price such that flagship missions are now pretty much unaffordable.
    JWST has not flown yet and is basically decimating the science budgets.
    Curiosity, whilst making it to Mars, also went significantly over-budget and although NASA is talking up another one, this seems highly unlikely given forthcoming budget restrictions.

    Future robotic missions are in disarray due to NASA’s inability to control cost and schedule so very like HSF in this regard.

    Facilities:
    NASA has a large number of research and operational facilities. Most organisations have been reducing and combining facilities in order to control costs and provide greater efficiencies.
    A recent report – sorry can’t remember exactly where this was – indicated that many of NASA’s research facilities were rundown and needed substantial monies spent on them to bring them up to modern standards.
    NASA is showing some belated efforts to do so however it’s been very late to the table in this area.

    Labour:
    Facilities contribute to costs not simply by virture of ownership but also through having the resultant workforce. Labour is often the primary component of budgets and consequently keeping this under control is paramount to efficient cost control.
    NASA hasn’t done very well in this regard since Shuttle ended with labour costs remaining about the same with the exception of contractors.

    Commerical (so-called Newspace):

    Could include various small to large organisations including but not limited to: Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space, Orbital Sciences, SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Paragon Space Corp, SNC, ULA, ATK, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow Aerospace, Scaled Composites, etc.

    DoD – SpaceX Falcon 1 approx $2 million
    NASA – COTS: $716 million
    Outcome: 2 launch vehicles, 2 cargo resupply vehicles, 1 now operating.

    – CCDev1: $50 million to 5 companies(was supposed to be $150million but $100 diverted to SLS courtesy of Shelby (R-AL)
    – CCDev2: $270 million to 4 companies
    – CCiCap: $1.112 billion to 3 companies
    – CPC: $29.5 million

    Note that all the above contracts and agreements with the exception of CPC required the commercial companies to invest their own funds and meet milestones agreed with NASA prior to receiving payment.
    The amount of investment has not been disclosed however rumours suggest up to $1 for $1 in some cases but more likely $1 for $2.

    Safety:
    Commercial has a very strong incentive to provide safe systems since if either vehicles or ultimately people are lost then this will directly affect them through licencing, adverse publicity, potential lawsuits, loss of business, etc. Bit like airlines. It’s a fine line between cost and safety and a matter of judgement which airlines handle as part of their day to day business. No reason why commercial space is going to be different.

    Ok so what am I saying with respect to the above. To summarise:
    1. For the money spent on launch vehicles and systems, supporting commercial with the right contracting strategy is far more cost efficient and effective. Ie. Development use Space Act milestone-based agreements even if no commercial dollar inputs involved. Routine service delivery contracts use FAR fixed price with specific cost increase clauses eg. Inflation.
    2. I believe that NASA is now incapable of delivering a program or project using its traditional cost-plus FAR contracting anywhere near budget and schedule and I point to the above failures both past and current projects/programs as evidence.
    3. NASAs budgets have been essentially flat over the past several years indicating a lack of general support for expansion of any NASA programs.
    4. NASAs budgets going forward are likely to be reduced due to the U.S. debt crisis.
    5. NASA cannot do the same amount of work due to the above points.
    6. NASA must find another way and that is to become more efficient and effective by:
    a. Reducing costs: facilities, labour, program and project control
    b. Utilising more commercial practices such as the COTS program which has demonstrated that this sort of contracting can succeed in delivering hardware as well as cost control. Schedule isn’t so important since commercial picks up the increased cost of delays, not NASA.
    c. Utilising fair tendering processes for projects, programs a la COTS, CCiCap.

    So, I could call myself a NewSpacer since my learning is commercial in nature. However, I don’t see commercial doing it by themselves. In that I agree with you that collaborative is a better way.

    In addition, I don’t see the rampant anti-NASA behaviour that you do. Admittedly I’m not on the ground however the press releases, discussions, and cooperation between the commercials and NASA appears to be quite collaborative if robust. Perhaps their supporters aren’t quite so unbiased but let’s face it, both media and supporters all have their own ideas about what should be done.
    Only time will tell.

    Cheers,
    Neil
    Perth, Western Australia.

  • Neil Shipley

    PS: As a primary school student, I watched the late Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon and Australia’s supporting involvement hence my abiding interest in NASA.
    Cheers,
    Neil

  • Hi Neil,
    Yes, you’re correct it is a lengthy response, & while you provided a great deal of facts and figures, you only touch on the key issues raised at the very end of your post.
    As with most of my editorials, I pick two primary issues. In this case they are: Why are NewSpace fans biting the hand that funds them? Do they think that their attitudes won’t be remembered when the first NewSpace crewed disaster happens?
    As I stated the problem lies mostly with the movement’s fan base. The companies involved know which side their bread is buttered.
    While you might have only addressed the primary points I raised in passing – it is quite a bit more than other NewSpacers have been willing to do & it’s very, very much appreciated.
    Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Joe2

    Hi Jason

    I think you are spot-on in your op-ed and appreciate you calling out what a lot of us have witnessed in the last couple of years. I would also like to add that it wasn’t too long ago that NewSpacers were touting “commercial” markets that drove the business plans for “commercial” vehicles that would carry crew and keep costs down. Now that appears to be mostly absent from a lot of these discussions justifying”commercial space. To me I don’t see a “NewSpace” and a “OldSpace” – I just see another set of contractors bellying up to the trough with different terms in their contracts.

    From my perspective, NASA has NOT let us down. They must contend with the politics that goes with being a government agency and their workforce has down a pretty good job given the circumstances. Their accomplishments are second to none. Is their record perfect? No. Can things be done better? Of course.

    Finally I do want to point out to an earlier post that the “Old Space” companies do invest part of their profits to support programs whether its developing a needed technology, updating an outdate technology (HW obsolescence) or investing in facilities and equipment.

    • Neil Shipley

      Hi Joe2.

      I think you’re mistaken wrt the newer NewSpace companies. They haven’t been simply looking for handouts, but been willing to put skin in the game. The COTS and CCD programs are evidence of that. And the OldSpace companies involved in these programs have also put their skin in as well. Boeing, Orbital Sciences Corp.
      It is also true that the ULA partners put money into the EELV program however I think they’ve become complacent and at the end of the day, there’s been no incentive for ULA to contain costs – until very recently with the arrival of SpaceX.
      I agree that NASA has done wonderful things in the past however there were some dismal efforts as well which should be acknowledged.
      That’s the past however and that model isn’t currently working. As I pointed out, they’ve got to do their business differently to have some chance at successfully delivering a BEO program to the U.S. taxpayers (whom they are beholden to) as well as those ‘foreigners’ with an interest in space. LEO is, I believe, well on the way to moving to a fully commercially supplied market of both launch vehicles and space vehicles.

      Finally, I think SpaceX is a bit of a special case. Most commercial firms aren’t driven by ideology but by the profit motive. Elon Musk has a dream, to get to Mars. Now that was originally laughed at, not without cause, however today, not so much since he’s proven to do where others before have failed. What he can do in future is anyone’s guess but he has a plan and is moving along that with sufficient resources to move the odds perhaps not entirely to his favour, but perhaps enough.
      The other example is Bigelow who, if you add in SpaceX to the mix, and NASA may just provide the wherewithall to be able to achieve the impossible, move to a BEO HSF environment.
      Now if we can just solve the U.S. fiscal crisis, space’ll be alright.
      :)
      Cheers,
      Neil

      • Neil,
        ULA has put “skin in the game” too – do you include them as part of NewSpace? I’ve heard varying figures, but Jerry Ross, the astronaut that was the head of the astronaut office for a while (he left in 2012) has stated that it’s a myth that NewSpace companies pay most of their own way, that, in fact, as much as 80 percent of what the companies operating in COTS and the other, various “CCs” – is funded by NASA, which is funded by the U.S. taxpayer.
        He isn’t the only one to go on record as saying something like this and given that NASA is currently managed by Bolden & Garver? I tend to believe that it is true. Judging from Garver’s Blue Origin antics and how they did(n’t) benefit NASA? I would be surprised if the facts aren’t skewed to make these conmpanies seem more golden than they actually are.
        During the announcement of CciCap? AmericaSpace’s Julian Leek pressed Bolden about Blue Origin and whether the millions spent on them were a good investment. He cut Julian off and essentially placed the onus of answering the question on Ed Mango. Later we discovered that our question had been removed from the transcripts of the press conference.
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Thanks Joe2,
      Those are some great points.
      Sincerely Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Michael,

      Thanks for the free publicity shout-out on your site. I hope linking back to your post is good publicity for you as well. I’m posting this on both sites at the same time.

      If I’m reluctant to jump on the New Space 2.0 bandwagon, it’s because it’s important to remember that this is the first time that the U.S. gov’t has paid companies to build hardware and software that the government will not own or operate. In the past, the U.S. government would pay for a service, say Air Mail, give a right-of-way, tax-credit, loan guarantee, government-backed loan that had to be repaid, or purchase something that it would then operate. But no more.

      Now the Federal government is well over the majority of the cost for SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada to build systems that they, not taxpayers, will own and profit from. Can the American taxpayers look forward to payday if these companies hit pay-dirt? Do the American taxpayers benefit from a SpaceX IPO? Having put in the vast majority of funds needed to develop “commercial” cargo and crew, why doesn’t the Federal Government get a discount off the commercial price of services equal to the percentage contributed?

      COTS and CCDev go against everything I believe about how government and business should work together. Priming the pump is one thing, supplying the pump, water, and pretty much everything else is quite another. And apparently unnecessary.

      Richard Branson and Paul Allen built what will become the first commercial crewed, suborbital space company and they did it without the government, rather with investors, paying the vast majority of the money needed to make that happen. Why can’t SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada do the same? And why doesn’t it bother supposed free-market conservatives that they can’t? Where does this end?

      Tepid support for New Space 2.0? Yes. Because I’m protecting NASA? No! Rather because the Federal Government should only pay for with tax dollars things it will use on behalf of taxpayers, not for things that will be owned and from which profits will flow to investors who did not foot the bill. New Space 2.0 is really just a New Statism.

    • Michael,
      Calling names, biting the hand that funds you and thinking that these & all the other antics we’ve seen come out of NewSpacers “works?” I wonder if you will be saying the same thing when the first Dragon, SS2 or Dream Chaser is lost with its crew. The juvenile behavior which NewSpacers think is so cool today? Will be all the things they wish they could take back – because it’s earned them zero sympathy/respect.

      While governments might as you so maturely state it “suck” at exploration in your eyes, handing everything over to commercial space firms will only see many exploration efforts disappear & others delayed as NewSpace works to catch up to the accomplishments of nations. You suffer from the same sickness that appears to affect so many on both sides, the “all or nothing” disease. Sadly, I highlighted this attitude deficiency when I wrote the following in the Op-Ed: “In the end, we need to, in the words of this nation’s leader, “share the wealth.” Both established and new aerospace companies need to be treated equally. Excluding one side or the other is patently wrong, and the notion that stating this warrants an attack—that stating we need to be careful with the lives of the brave men and women who will fly on these machines is somehow impolitic—is disgusting.”

      A rational person would take a step back, look at the bigger picture & realize that the best model is one that is comprised of a diverse array, a mixture of these various groups & interests so as to provide the best chance of success. This isn’t about space exploration, it’s not about building a better future – it’s about getting back at those who NewSpacers feel anger toward. Their projects didn’t get approved, they weren’t able to get a job at NASA they wanted any real or perceived slight is what appears to fuel NewSpace’s bitterness & the language you & others use prove this. That was the whole point of the Op-Ed & the fact that rather than explain these actions you use a word like “suck” bears this out better than six paragraphs of what I wrote. It’s childish, immature & counter-productive. The government that “sucks” so much – is the way that’s paying for all the commercial efforts your endeared to.

      Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Joe2

    “Governments suck at exploration and development.”

    If you would have said government can, at times, be inefficient at space exploration and development I might have agreed. But without government, there would be no human spaceflight program (and all the knowledge that comes from it), no planetary exploration programs and so on. How do I know this? Cause the return on investment is not there and the capital needed is enormous. But, if you want to leverage the things the government (through its contractors) has already developed for exploration (you know – the ones that “suck” at it), that might help.

    • Joe2,
      Yet again, where there is bitterness, there isn’t logic or clear thinking. NewSpacers don’t respond that well to having the problems in their plans highlighted. They just insult or deride & avoid the point. As stated many, many times earlier the point of the Op-Ed was – “Why are you biting the hand that funds you?” & “Do you think your poor behavior is winning you any friends? Friends you will need when NewSpace encounters its first disaster?” So far, not a peep. Here’s what to expect. They will try to change the subject, pointing out how inefficient NASA is or how wonderful they are. They WILL not address the questions raised. The only person (so far) to come close is Neil Shipley who briefly touched on the subjects raised.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Today’s “New Space” is actually New Space 2.0. The first New Space was in the 1990’s. And it ended very badly with every single company involved in that era’s efforts to forge a new path into space launch either going into bankruptcy or going out of business.

    The complacency of ULA to the Siren song of New Space might be due to the huge losses that both Boeing and Lockheed suffered after their first bout with New Space. In fact, their losses were so bad that the Department of Defense was forced to work with the Federal Trade Commission to bring both Boeing’s and Lockheed’s EELV programs under one roof, today’s ULA. Otherwise, both companies were threatening to end their booster programs due to a lack of business. Don’t take my word for it. ULA’s Director of Business Development Andrew Aldrin in a 2010 Space News interview,

    “Not surprisingly, we are a little reluctant to commit [to become a commercial crew launcher]. But this wasn’t always the case. Just remember, it was about 10 years ago that we invested billions in EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) systems for a [satellite launch] market that frankly looked much more solid than the [human spaceflight] market we are looking at today.”

    ULA CEO, during a March 18, 2010 hearing before the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, made a similar case that ULA would be glad to build a rocket for NASA but wasn’t interested in putting its own money into another program that looked to have even less of a consistent funding commitment than did EELV.

    The reason these executives, both of whom have a long history in the space industry, were not in 2010 excited about spending hundreds of millions of their own money is that there is no alternative funding other than NASA, no business justification, to LEO and beyond. And when ISS is decommissioned in 2020, NASA’s justification for LEO ends. And then what?

    • Neil Shipley

      I’ll just take up your final point re: “Not surprisingly, we are a little reluctant to commit [to become a commercial crew launcher]. But this wasn’t always the case. Just remember, it was about 10 years ago that we invested billions in EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) systems for a [satellite launch] market that frankly looked much more solid than the [human spaceflight] market we are looking at today.” Well the EELV program was underwritten by DoD. So stop with the whinging already.

      History shows that what was really lacking was a willingness to compete. These firms have lost the commercial launcher market for the U.S. basically due to their uncompetitive cost structures, and they seem unwilling to change, instead lobbying DoD to ‘block buy’ as a means of attempting to keep SpaceX from their markets. And they are also unwilling to invest in upgrading their vehicles to boot. Basically they just want handouts and subsidies.

      Boeing continues to suggest that unless they get a contract for HSF services, they don’t see the business case.

      Well, in normal business environments, firms compete. If they don’t want to, then fine, they let others take their place. Space should be no different. DoD is gradually changing, forced to by shrinking budgets and huge cost escalations. ULA has no one to blame but themselves.

      Incidentally, ESA’s in much the same boat. They’ve chosen an expensive method (but politically savy) to move to their next generation launcher.

      • I have 23 years in the energy industry and, having also an undergraduate and graduate aerospace engineering degrees. I can’t find one single business justification for going into space, though I sure wish I could. I am, after all, a space fanatic, otaku, and a romantic about its potential. If you can find a business reason, and we should all be looking, one that will illicit from investors the money needed to pay for CCDev, you could be the next Richard Branson or Paul Allen.

        How is it that Allen and Branson, not the Federal Government, paid for their planes and rockets that will take customers to space and none of the so-called “commercial” space companies seem able to do that? I have confidence in those individuals because they have built great companies that have shown real staying power and an ability to consistently make it into the black year-in-and-year-out.

      • Hi Neil,
        While I appreciate Jim’s historical perspective – I wish that he hadn’t provided you NewSpacers with something else to talk about. I guess, per NewSpace’s usual methods none of you are capable of owning how you behaved or addressing the points raised.
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Neil Shipley

    Well SpaceX has a manifest of about 50:50 NASA, commercial so I guess they have a business case to invest in the launch business. Not only that but Bigelow also seems to believe that he has a case for investing in space habitats supported by a half dozen MOUs to start with.
    Gee, didn’t look too hard did we? Guess some degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
    I could quote mine but I’d only bore other posters and whose to say anyone couldn’t simply fabricate some anyway!

    • Neil,

      Neil, Neil, Neil – please don’t mention manifests. If memory serves the 2012 Falcon 9 manifest had almost (if not more than) a launch a month. Why don’t you answer this – were there 12 F9 launches in 2012, How about five? Nope – there were two & one of those had more than a few problems. Manifests mean nothing, MOUs mean nothing – until you do what you say you’re going to do – you can write or type anything. I guess your degree isn’t worth an MOU. Thanks for resorting to NewSpace insults &, yet again, proving us correct.
      Let me help you out, all the PowerPoints, the predictions & fancy illustrations that you see can really be boiled down to four. For all intents & purposes NewSpace can tout FOUR major launches, all on the F9 & not all total successes. You’re suggesting that we not be careful, not be concerned that companies with limited experience will be sending crews to orbit & then you insult those that highlight these issues. Congratualtions! No real experience – but don’t dare question us about our facts – that is the mentality of a NewSpacer! You don’t get your way so you insult those who you deem to be against you.
      Also thanks for insinuating we faked our degrees & for showing the rampant immaturity with NewSpace.
      Maybe you should review the Op-Ed before you post again, it might help you to avoid proving all the things we’ve been saying.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Ferris Valyn

        Sorry Jason, but I disagree

        As I see it NewSpace can tout roughly 57 successful orbital flights, and 3 suborbital flights.

        I’ve said it before, ULA is NewSpace.

        • Aaron,

          I’m sure that Boeing & Lock-Mart (those firms comprising ULA) are most relieved to have you clarify their role in aerospace matters.

          I find it disappointing you remained mum about the key issues raised in the Op-Ed – but did decide to pipe up now. Wait, I’m not disappointed, in fact, I’m not even remotely surprised. As I’ve stated numerous times, that’s what NewSpacers do isn’t it? Ignore the inconvenient facts, & ONLY discuss other subjects whose topics they think they can control. It’s tired Aaron, all of the behavior I’ve spent the last day highlighting & have been blessed by you, Simon, Neil & Michael by proving me right. Michael used the perfect word to sum up this behavior – it “sucks.”

          Why not address the issues. Do you, Aaron Ferris Oesteler Valyn think that biting the hand that funds you is a good way of behaving?

          Secondly, when NewSpace experiences its first crewed disaster, do you think all of the snarky comments, distortions, putting NASA down while elevating NewSpace – will be rewarded? Will NewSpace be shown sympathy, compassion or pity? Or (more likely) will all those that had to tolerate NewSpacers teenage antics choose this most inopportune time to lash out, to return your poor behavior in kind? I think they will.

          As much as you’re trying to paint me as a strict OldSpacer – the Op-Ed & all the responses which you have (conveniently) ignored are not an attack. They’re well-intended advice. NewSpacers will regret how they have behaved when as, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright put it – “Your chickens come home to roost.” I’m trying to get you guys to show some class, build some bridges. This way? When the companies you support do have a bad day – you will receive the response you deserve. As it stands today? The response NewSpace deserves for its behavior – would be terrible.

          If experience tells me anything, it tells me this. You won’t address these concerns or modify your behavior. As I’ve said a few times over the past couple days, Spacers New & Old are an arrogant lot & they only seem to learn anything through the most painful means possible. My advice fell on deaf ears, I’m not surprised & I’m also not looking forward to when you will be forced to listen. So far? Your lack of response has been deafening.

          Someone mentioned that NewSpacers feel that if they get the “last word” they think they’ve won some sort of victory. I believe this to be true. Why not win a real victory & explain how the behavior that is part & parcel of NewSpace is going to be helpful when NewSpace experiences its Apollo 1, its Challenger, its Columbia? I hope you will surprise me, but I doubt it, I expect your response to be to hone onto something (anything) other than the points I’ve made & demand that I explain. As I had to correct Simon, this isn’t an opportunity for you to demand we explain something to you – it’s an opportunity for you to explain what you think your behavior is going to gain you to all those that NewSpacers have insulted over the years. Michael Mealing is wrong it doesn’t “work” & when the first crewed commercial vehicle is lost he & you are going to realize & regret it.

          Sincerely and with warmest regards, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Neil,

      Well, I guess you put it well, about not looking too hard that is.

      In 2011, Bigelow Aerospace laid-off half of its staff because of delays developing space taxis needed to fly people to the outposts. Real big endorsement of CCDev, that was.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/19/us-space-business-bigelow-idUSTRE79I8AW20111019

      SpaceX commercial clients have signed contracts. But signing a contract is not the same is delivering on a contract. Some SpaceX customers have seen their launch dates slip or payloads prematurely re-enter. For example, look this story about Orbcomm,

      http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/12/29/spacex-orbcomm-rejigger-launch-schedule/


      “In transitioning the launch of the first OG2 prototype spacecraft to the first CRS mission in lieu of the upcoming Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) mission, and adding the launch of two spacecraft toward the second half of 2012, ORBCOMM is able to field additional spacecraft in 2012 resulting in increased coverage, while spreading the deployment across multiple launches thereby reducing risk.”

      Now, how many Orbcomm payloads did SpaceX successfully launch in 2012? Several? A few? One? None?

      There’s a saying in business, “It ain’t in ’til it’s in”; something to keep in mind.

      Now, what was it you wrote about not looking too hard?

      • Jim,
        We both know this is classic NewSpace behavior, they ONLY mention the good while ignoring the bad. They are all too happy to slam someone’s failings, while ignoring the simple fact that they too have those exact same failings. It’s called being a hypocrite & it’s one of the issues NewSpacers suffer from & refuse to acknowledge. Allow me to make a prediction, Neil will attempt to switch the subject to something else that NASA or its family of contractors has not done well. You showed how he was pointing out problems his preferred companies suffer from & won’t address it – at all.
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Joe

    Hi Jason,
    “He isn’t the only one to go on record as saying something like this and given that NASA is currently managed by Bolden & Garver? I tend to believe that it is true. Judging from Garver’s Blue Origin antics and how they did(n’t) benefit NASA? I would be surprised if the facts aren’t skewed to make these conmpanies seem more golden than they actually are.

    During the announcement of CciCap? AmericaSpace’s Julian Leek pressed Bolden about Blue Origin and whether the millions spent on them were a good investment. He cut Julian off and essentially placed the onus of answering the question on Ed Mango. Later we discovered that our question had been removed from the transcripts of the press conference.”

    Very interesting. I was aware (or at least I thought I was) that Blue Origin has dropped out of CciCap of their own volition. If there is more to the story, where could I go to learn about it?

    • Joe,
      As far as the public announcement? You can view the announcement here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ysol1Fjr2s

      Scroll to about 7 minutes 18 seconds in & listen to Julian ask Bolden the question – & then BOOM Bolden cuts him off as fast as possible! It’s funny to watch Bolden freak.

      To the best of our knowledge a certain NASA official met with the folks at Blue Origin to encouarge them to enter into CCDev2. Which Blue Origin did, they were awarded an amount of about $27-$28 million – & then didn’t even enter CCiCap. Julian’s question (which he didn’t get to finish) – “Since NASA has invested $20+ million into Blue Origin for CCDev2 & since they didn’t even submit a proposal for CCiCap – does NASA feel that the funds NASA invested were spent wisely?”

      Later? we got the transcripts of this announcement and Julian’s question was “converted” into something else. So much for transparency & honesty. While commentors will TRY to blame us for our distrust of NewSpace & it’s supporters – the fact is that it is actions such as these that makes us question NewSpace.

      Let me know if this helps.

      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Joe

        Jason,

        Thanks for the link.

        Wow, Bolden really did not want to talk about that subject did he?

        Is there any potential follow up to this?

        • Joe,
          Nope, not only did he shut Julian down as fast as possible, someone within NASA doctored the transcript as well. If this is what NewSpace has to offer, if this is the transparency of “Hope & Change” – we’re in trouble.
          The sad thing is the establishment is only marginally better. Spaceflight appears to have devolved into the lesser – of two lessers. NewSpace is rapidly becoming no different than OldSpace, a fact I find hysterical.
          We tried, by neither Mango nor Bolden were all to willing to discuss the matter.
          Sincerely & with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Neil Shipley

    Ok, this is my last post on the subject. (Thank god you say :)) The current crop of NewSpace companies are in the process of opening up:
    1. Sub-orbital research
    2. Sub-orbital tourism
    3. Lower cost to orbit launchers
    4. Research into: modern launcher manufacturer and design, vtvl technology, hybrid rocket engine design and manufacture, etc.
    5. Lower cost in orbit space vehicles.
    6. Enabling the U.S. to compete again in the commercial satellite business.
    7. Providing high skilled jobs which wouldn’t otherwise be there.

    I’m not saying they’ll all be successful, but the fact that these companies are prepared to give it a go has got to count for something.
    And I’m not saying that NASA hasn’t been beneficial and assisted both with funds and technology, they have.

    The point I’m making is that the spaceflight environment is changing and NewSpace companies are enabling that change and it is individuals that are driving them.
    Without those companies, U.S. spaceflight would continue to be in the doldrums and fighting to survive.

    Let’s face it, NASA hasn’t been great in the publicity department while these companies have injected some new life into the business.

    My second to last comment: SpaceX will be flying more often and will deliver on their manifest contracts. My opinion but time will tell.

    My last comment is in regards to two points and unfortunately is commercially confidential. Take it or leave it.
    SpaceX has invested to the tune of around 40% of the funding compared to NASA’s contribution. Don’t know for the others.
    Bigelow’s MOU at least with Australia is quite serious.

    I’ll leave you with that. Believe what you like.
    Cheers,
    Neil

    • Neil,
      And, yet again, your post has totally, COMPLETELY, nothing to do with the points raised. Through the Op-Ed & my replies to all the NewSpacers who have never addressed the points raised, they’ve only attempted to change the subject. I’ve tried repeatedly to get you & yours answer two questions:

      1. Why are you biting the hand that funds you?
      2. After years of insulting, ad hominem attacks, cherry-picking, downplaying NASA’s efforts while lauding NewSpace’s accomplishments – what do you think is going to happen when a Dragon, Dream Chaser, Lynx or some other commercial crewed craft is lost? I can tell you what is going to happen – all of the people you’ve attacked & insulted are going to choose this most inopportune time to hold you accountable.

      I’ll leave you to not try & change the subject (yeah right, you’re incapable of addressing the subject as you’ve proven numerous times). You do know that when someone asks you repeatedly to address something & you repeatedly avoid the subject how that makes you look – don’t you?

      Sincerely thankful for your predictability – Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Neil Shipley

    Thanks for the site.
    Cheers.
    Neil

    • Joe

      Neil Shipley January 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm • Reply

      “Ok, this is my last post on the subject. (Thank god you say ) The current crop of NewSpace companies are in the process of opening up:”

      Note that the list of “accomplishments” then is “in the process of opening up”. Translation they have not been accomplished, but Neil had faith they will be. Unfortunately Neil’s credulity is extended only to New Space.

      “I’ll leave you with that. Believe what you like.”

      Yes the usual condescending put down to the unenlightened. No facts need be presented only assertions provided with a close that shows you have no respect what so ever for those to which you have been talking.

      Neil Shipley January 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm • Reply

      “Thanks for the site. Cheers.”

      Note the style, if you cannot win the argument on merit use Snark. Snark is cool and shows how uncool your opposition is.

      Everybody got the New Space style down? Please use this unstoppable power wisely.

      • Hi Joe,
        Even better? He (again) tried to switch the subject & still refuses to address the points raised – all the while speaking down from on high. Sorry Neil, your moral authority evaporates when you refuse to address the subject at hand. Although, to be honest, I didn’t find the second post offensive.
        Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

        • Joe

          The second post was a judgment call. I took it to be a snarky follow up to Neil’s previous post. They were posted only one minute apart. Still I can see thinking it was a sincere thanks for the website, though I have a hard time believing that it was.

          In any case I thank you for the website and especially for taking on the New Space acolytes tactics. I know of at least one website (run by a national institution) where the comments section was closed because of their antics. Somebody with a forum taking them on was long overdue.

          • Joe,
            I’m a former law enforcement officer – no one is more of a pessimist/skeptic than I. Having said that, the point (now long lost) of this piece was getting Old & New to meet in the middle. To do that, you have to not take slight with everything either side does. I have had numerous negative experiences with both NewSpace & NASA – neither side is clean & as much as they’d like to believe otherwise, they’re more alike – than different.
            Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Hi all,
    Well this has been MOST illuminating. We asked NewSpacers to address their behavior (I’ve detailed it several times both in the Op-Ed itself as well as in my replies). So, how did they reply? They didn’t.

    They did exactly as I said they would. Although there was the usual round of name-calling (Michael Mealing & Simon) as well as weak attempts to change the subject (Aaron, Simon, Neil, Michael)they never answered the two points (repeatedly) raised: Why are you biting the hand that funds you? & When NewSpace experiences a crewed tragedy – how do you think your behavior will be rewarded? Will you be shown sympathy? Troll-behavior doesn’t engender a lot of pity.

    I’d have been happy if they at least tried to explain themselves, but they never did – not once. They (again weakly) attempted to divert the conversation to something they thought they could win. One even went so far as to state that I had said something – that I never did (Simon’s comments about how the ISS was going to “open” space).

    I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. NewSpacers – you’re behavior “sucks” (thanks to Michael Mealing for this). Acting like a child throwing a tantrum has never won any friends “evuh” (thanks to Simon for this). Trying to compare the handful of accomplishments achieved by NewSpace while deriding NASA’s efforts at every turn (Senate Launch System – thanks again Simon) all the while skewing the facts and in some cases completely misrepresenting them? It’s going to come back to haunt you.

    The problem with Op-Eds is that they are based on ones personal perceptions. In the case of the “Hating” Op-Ed, those whose behavior I have called into question – have totally, completely, validated virtually everything I wrote.

    Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Leonidas

    Dear Jason and Jim,

    I didn’t participate in the discussion here, cause from what I saw, most of the comments prove Jason’s point. And that really saddenned me.

    I was reading an article on The Space Review, called ‘Cargo cult exploration’, regarding the pros and cons of human spaceflight from its writer’s perspective. You can read the article here:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2223/1

    I decided to comment on the article, not because of its subject matter, but because a commentator’s post seem to prove yet once again Jason’s points. But from what I can see, it’s a lost cause. There is a deep hatred and frustration about NASA and the role (real or imagined) it played on the advancement (or not) of human spaceflight. It’s really sad and disheartening to see the space community divided like this, to the point that I find it really disgusting. No matter how much you make a call for a balanced approach to human spaceflight, one that includes both the governemnt and private firms, people will attack you fiercely and you’ll be called all sorts of things.

    I’m very disappointed. I thought we knew better…

    • Hi Leonidas,
      Yes, NewSpacers have proven to be completely incapable of accepting any responsibility for their actions. I’ve lost count of how many times I asked them to address the issues raised & they never, not once, did so. They only tried to switch the subject away from their poor behavior. Some of us do know better & we’re trying to force NewSpace to grow up & take responsibility for their actions.
      I still, probably foolishly, dream of a time when the established space community joins forces with NewSpace. I can only imagine what we’d be capable of if the asinine attitude that only one set of contractors or the other should be awarded contracts is given what it truly needs – a dirt nap.
      Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

      • Leonidas

        Jason,

        One never knows when he’ll experience a ‘satori’! But with your comment above you made it all clear. The whole debate isn’t much about the advancement of spaceflight, rather it’s about who will get what. What set of contractors will be awarded contracts over whom. Will it be the NewSpace contractors or the Old?

        In this day and age, I may sound naive for still believing in humanity’s outward growth and expansion into space. But after realising that the whole OldSpace/NewSpace debate ultimately comes down to money and who gets how much, I’m so happy that I’m retaining my romance and idealism about space, over cynicism and depravity of ideas.

  • Joe2

    “The whole debate isn’t much about the advancement of spaceflight, rather it’s about who will get what. What set of contractors will be awarded contracts over whom. Will it be the NewSpace contractors or the Old?”

    Leonidas – you’ve hit the nail on the head. With 1 or 2 exceptions, that is exactly what it is all about – who gets what. When I read posts that have within their arguments “NASA needs to get out the way”, I ask how are they in your way? If you have a good idea that will make money (which is what a business is supposed to do if they want to stay in business, right?), go get financing and pursue the idea. What some (not all) NewSpacers are really saying is, direct the money our way cause we can do it cheaper. In fairness, they might know how to do something cheaper – but that doesn’t make it the right way

    • Leonidas

      Joe,

      You’re so correct!

      You can’t believe the types of comments I have been reading on other space-related blogs as well. And I have to ask, If NASA is such a bad thing for NewSpace efforts, then why so many NewSpace firms are doing or competing for doing business with NASA? Are they doing themselves a favor? Do they want to get out of business dealing with such an ‘incompetent and wasteful’ space agency? Some are also saying that NASA intended for COTS to fail right from the start,because it had Constellation going, that’s why it chose Kistler and Alliant. But why did NASA later chose SpaceX and Orbital? If you want to chose a company to kill your program, you can’t make a worse choice than SpaceX I guess…

      I never get an answer and probably never will…

      Is this attitude representative of the supposed leaders of the future in space? If it is, then I don’t think that it will be a bright future.

      • Leonidas,
        Their arguments aren’t based on reality – but on emotion. They had their pet projects rejected & now that they think they have the opportunity to rub NASA’s nose in it. They never think about “what if” – what if Dragon or Dream Chaser is lost with all hands? I’ve received some emails from NASA employees thanking me for bringing this issue to light. They (naturally) can’t say anything, but they’re sick to death of the behavior of NewSpacers.
        As I’ve said repeatedly, NewSpace fails to grasp that they’re recent successes has been in large part due to the successes of SpaceX as well as assistance by the current administration & its appointed officials. Administrations & those they appoint to represent them come & go. NASA has learned the hard way that political winds – are hurricane strength. Allow me to elaborate:
        Since 2004 NASA was directed to return to the Moon, Mars & beyond, then all that was cancelled including the Orion spacecraft. Then Orion was to be a stripped down lifeboat, and this changed again as Orion & arguably the Ares V (take a close look at SLS & Ares V) were resurrected & NASA was directed to support any & all NewSpace firms (COTS, CCDev, CCiCap & so on). NewSpace has, apparently, failed to pay attention to how rapid things can change & think that their new place in the firmament is assured. It isn’t. If we think they’re bitter now? Wait until the political winds take them out of favor…
        Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

    • Joe2,
      Stay tuned to AmericaSpace tomorrow for an article that details yet another effort on NASA’s part that is benefitting NewSpace firms (Masten, Zero-G, TSC & others). How exactly is NASA “in their way” anymore? The agency isn’t, what it really boils down to is the simple fact that they are bitter over past slights, either real or perceived. They, as mentioned in one of my previous replies states it perfectly, they want complete & total control of access to space.
      However, NASA is their key to space, whether they want to acknowledge that or not. NASA experienced a very unpleasant backlash from its indifference after Challenger & Columbia – but that’s going to be nothing compared to what NewSpace is going to experience when something goes off-nominal on one of their craft. They’re going to be skewered. So let them try to switch the subjects & compound their error by further insulting those who they deem as being against them. In the end? They’ll wish they spent a lot more time building bridges & a bit less burning them. Right now? I’m not seeing any construction work – but I’m smelling a lot of smoke…
      Sincerely and with thanks, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Joe2

    Jason

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s article. There is one thing I do want add (and then I’ll stop posting :) . I am clearly in the “Established Space” camp (as anyone can tell from my posts) but…..I really do want to see all firms succeed, new and established if it results in expanding the space industry. That would be a very good thing – more opportunity for folks, more ideas seeing the light of day, more sustained competition – which from my perspective is always a good thing. I find Blue Origins really interesting as I always liked the Delta Clipper concept that McDonnell Douglas was working on in the 90’s. Hope those guys keep going (maybe you can wrangle an interview out of them…)

    Having said all this, I am doubtful it will happen as the market is not really there to sustain all these companies in HSF. Thus the fight for (limited) NASA funding. Claims have been made that “commercial markets for HSF” are within grasp only to have questions asking for real details to support such an assertion go unanswered. So I see this as a food fight with a lot of bad behavior and axes to grind as you have pointed out.

    I hope I am wrong about the market – I think someone at IBM once said there is maybe a market for 5 computers…

  • Jeff Wright

    Thank you, Jason, for this much needed article.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have fought against NASA bashers in general and shrill SLS bashers in specific. So help me, but I am very glad the blogosphere was not around in the Apollo days or the kids would think they knew more than von Braun and would have bashed the Saturns with equal zeal.

    Some things I want to clear up
    Referring to the SLS as “The Senate Launch System”?

    And which Senator is at the drafting table autoCAD desk designing this. Name one.

    – Saying that the SLS “wasn’t wanted by NASA”.

    That is an out and out falsehood.

    Shuttle derived heavy lift advocates in NASA have been calling for this for DECADES: ALS/NLS, Magnum, CaLV, Ares V SLS, etc.

    It was VentureStar and SLI that sucked all the money an interest up.

    I’d fed up with the heavy lift bashing.

    • Jeff,
      Thanks, I too am tired of the heavy-lift bashing. If we want to send crews to other worlds – far distant worlds – we need heavy-lift. The reason why NewSpace misrepresent the facts is simple – they want the whole funding “pie” for themselves. This way, fans believe, they will get to put on a blue suit, barely leave the grasp of Earth’s gravity & gain bragging rights.
      That is no reason to damage our capabilities – it’s reason for those of us who know better to call the trolls out. For those of us who believe in humanity becoming a space-faring generation – our responsibility is to keep the selfish amongst us accountable, to show to others that these people do not have everyone’s best interests in heart – just their own personal interests.
      Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, AmericaSpace

  • Illya

    Jason,

    As someone who has worked Atlas, Delta, Shuttle, Station, Thaads, Taurus, Peacekeeper, Falcon, Dragon…. we really should talk, but not here.

    You have hit things really quite accurately.