Alleged technology entrepreneur vanguard Elon Musk – has spent the vast majority of his career cashing massive government checks.
Except that massive amount – was tallied in 2015. So Musk is WAY over that amount now.
Musk’s fake energy electric car company Tesla – can not exist without massive government handouts.
Musk’s fake energy solar panel company SolarCity – can not exist without massive government handouts.
Musk’s space travel company Space X – does have to actually bid against other companies to win government contracts.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is increasingly outsourcing its space exploration – putting the work out for private sector hire.
Bidding wars Space X wins – a whole lot more than it should.
Which brings us to NASA’s Lucy mission:
“Jupiter’s swarms of Trojan asteroids may be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, and serve as time capsules from the birth of our Solar System more than 4 billion years ago. The Trojans orbit in two loose groups that orbit the Sun, with one group always ahead of Jupiter in its path, the other always behind….
“Lucy will be the first space mission to study the Trojans.”
Lucy is a very complicated, very intricate mission:
“Getting the spacecraft where it needs to go is a massive challenge. The solar system is in constant motion, and gravitational forces will pull on Lucy at all times, especially from the targets it aims to visit. Previous missions have flown by and even orbited multiple targets, but none so many as will Lucy….
“No other space mission in history has been launched to as many different destinations in independent orbits around our sun.”
Lucy is a mission that must be timed exquisitely and precisely:
“Lucy is programmed to throw itself out into a celestial alignment that will not occur for decades….”
After a contractual bidding process, NASA chose for the gig…not Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
ULA – is United Launch Alliance. A company with a pretty successful history.
“After a United Launch Alliance rocket blasted off in a fiery arc from Florida last week, Tory Bruno shook hands with everybody in the control room. Then he headed home.
“It’s his low-key routine for celebrating each spaceflight by the largest U.S. rocket company after 106 uneventful missions. ‘I have a nice glass of single-malt whisky and then we move on to the next launch,’ Bruno, chief executive officer of the Boeing Co.-Lockheed Martin Corp. venture, said….”
Sounds like Bruno believes in what is said of some football players’ ridiculous touchdown over-celebrations: “Act like you’ve scored before.”
Bruno and ULA have scored – over and over again. With perfect precision. So they calmly toss the ball to the referee – and begin to prepare for the next play.
The Lucy mission requires hitting multiple moving targets. In multiple independent orbits. In and through very tight windows. In programmed sequence.
And for Lucy, NASA passed over the riddled-with-failure SpaceX – and went with picture-perfect ULA. Which is almost hard to believe.
I kid. I’m a kidder. It is quite easy for any reasonable person to grasp why NASA chose ULA.
Elon Musk – ain’t so reasonable. He can not seem to fathom how even one government contract – wouldn’t go to him.
So Musk is throwing a tantrum – that threatens the entire mission.
“In a statement, a SpaceX company spokesperson told the Washington Post…’SpaceX offered a solution with extraordinarily high confidence of mission success at a price dramatically lower than the award amount, so we believe the decision to pay vastly more to Boeing and Lockheed for the same mission was therefore not in the best interest of the agency or the American taxpayers….’”
SpaceX’s “extraordinarily high confidence of mission success” – is extraordinarily unwarranted, given SpaceX’s long history of failure.
ULA – is perfect. When you’re perfect – you can charge more for your services than a company wracked with failures.
Paying more up front to do it right – actually saves you tons of coin. When contrasted with paying less up front to do it wrong. And thereby being forced to pay to do it again. And again. And….
Except with the Lucy mission – we only have this one chance to get it right. If we miss this exquisitely timed shot – we won’t have another shot for decades.
So NASA wisely chose ULA over SpaceX.
And Musk is threatening the entire mission.
Because Musk can not stand even one government contract – not going to him.
This first appeared in Red State.