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(Business Insider)   Elon Musk Confirms Historic Soft-Landing. LGT: Live Feed   (businessinsider.com ) divider line
    More: Cool, Elon Musk  
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4470 clicks; posted to Geek » on 25 Apr 2014 at 4:11 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-25 04:16:40 PM  
It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.
 
2014-04-25 04:17:25 PM  
37.media.tumblr.com[\img]
 
2014-04-25 04:22:42 PM  
I'm totes bummed they didn't have a recoverable Go-Pro pod on the rocket to record the landing.

Still, this is teh awesome. I got a mothballed aircraft carrier sitting down the street from me. Elon should buy it, drive it down to Florida and use it as a landing pad for the next first stage landing....

/or rent a containership with a temporary landing pad installed...
 
2014-04-25 04:29:45 PM  
This is really huge.  Congrats to the team.
 
2014-04-25 04:34:08 PM  

Unoriginal_Username: It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.


No one's going to give them landing clearance till they prove the booster is not just going to smack into the tarmac, or worse. We are potentially talking about hurling a booster at a semi populated area.

First stage recovery is a big deal.   It was a holy grail of both Apollo and the Shuttle program.

/Apollo abandoned it as too expensive, risky, and complicated. Shuttle only recovered booster casings.
/SpaceX may soon achieve what hundred billion dollar programs gave up at.
/Which is something to be proud of.
 
2014-04-25 04:34:53 PM  
Elon Musk

That can't be a real name.
 
2014-04-25 04:37:16 PM  

Car_Ramrod: Elon Musk

That can't be a real name.


It's the name of the fan-fic love child of Picard and Kirk.
 
2014-04-25 04:39:58 PM  

way south: Unoriginal_Username: It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.

No one's going to give them landing clearance till they prove the booster is not just going to smack into the tarmac, or worse. We are potentially talking about hurling a booster at a semi populated area.

First stage recovery is a big deal.   It was a holy grail of both Apollo and the Shuttle program.

/Apollo abandoned it as too expensive, risky, and complicated. Shuttle only recovered booster casings.
/SpaceX may soon achieve what hundred billion dollar programs gave up at.
/Which is something to be proud of.


To be fair Apollo did start 50 years ago and they did manage to fly to the moon on less computing power than a smartphone. I would suspect computing power is the major advancement that will allow SpaceX to land and reuse their rockets.
 
2014-04-25 04:44:51 PM  

Cpl.D: [i.imgur.com image 850x531]


dl.dropboxusercontent.com

Egads man, give the thread a chance before hitting the KSP!.


/and I'm stuck at work when there's rockets to build...
 
2014-04-25 04:50:03 PM  
To be fair Apollo did start 50 years ago and they did manage to fly to the moon on less computing power than a smartphone. I would suspect computing power is the major advancement that will allow SpaceX to land and reuse their rockets.

THIS.

ya know, these wiz-bang computerized space machine thingys are getting so good it's getting easier to give up on manned systems and just do everything unmanned. There's really no need to send men to Mars when you can cheaply send lots of virtual presence devices to do the exploring for us. More rovers, and add some unmanned sample return vehicles to meet up with the rovers. Do the same for the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
 
2014-04-25 04:52:56 PM  

Tyrosine: way south: Unoriginal_Username: It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.

No one's going to give them landing clearance till they prove the booster is not just going to smack into the tarmac, or worse. We are potentially talking about hurling a booster at a semi populated area.

First stage recovery is a big deal.   It was a holy grail of both Apollo and the Shuttle program.

/Apollo abandoned it as too expensive, risky, and complicated. Shuttle only recovered booster casings.
/SpaceX may soon achieve what hundred billion dollar programs gave up at.
/Which is something to be proud of.

To be fair Apollo did start 50 years ago and they did manage to fly to the moon on less computing power than a smartphone. I would suspect computing power is the major advancement that will allow SpaceX to land and reuse their rockets.


I agree, computing capability is no small part of this. We've also learned alot about materials and engines in the mean time.
They had planned to recover the Saturn boosters by parachute and tugboat, but with so few launches it never materialized.
Apollo got cancelled before hitting its real stride.  With mass production and a few tweaks, it was on track to be cheaper than what we ended up paying for the shuttle.

/Depending on who's numbers you believe, anyway.
/By some estimates we paid over a billion per shuttle flight.
/Thirty years of Saturn V's would have been epic.
 
2014-04-25 05:11:43 PM  
They said the 2nd stage probably sank.

What are the odds the Russians had a supertanker in the area that was actually a carefully camouflaged submarine tender.

It's probably halfway to their secret island base by now.  One with a crater lake in the middle, that's actually a concealed launching pit...
 
2014-04-25 05:12:23 PM  

way south: Unoriginal_Username: It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.

No one's going to give them landing clearance till they prove the booster is not just going to smack into the tarmac, or worse. We are potentially talking about hurling a booster at a semi populated area.

First stage recovery is a big deal.   It was a holy grail of both Apollo and the Shuttle program.

/Apollo abandoned it as too expensive, risky, and complicated. Shuttle only recovered booster casings.
/SpaceX may soon achieve what hundred billion dollar programs gave up at.
/Which is something to be proud of.


Exactly.

This issue was one big reason for using Canaveral as our launch site, so that the boosters would fall into the Atlantic.

It's also a big reason why the planned Shuttle launches from Vandenberg AFB in California were scrapped (they built a full shuttle launch facility out on the west coast, and planned regular launches from there, but they were finally cancelled in the aftermath of Challenger), they had to many concerns about safety involving flight path over inhabited areas.
 
2014-04-25 05:19:14 PM  
In case anyone was curious who the United Launch Alliance was:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Launch_Alliance

ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. ULA was formed in December 2006 by combining the teams at these companies which provide spacecraft launch services to the government of the United States. U.S. government launch customers include both the Department of Defense and NASA, as well as other organizations.
 
2014-04-25 05:22:56 PM  
They're running cologne ads in the Geek section now?
 
2014-04-25 05:35:48 PM  
www.moviequotesandmore.com
Luckily Kowalski came along and saved the day. Elon Musk was just about to kill himself.
 
2014-04-25 05:40:02 PM  

way south: Apollo got cancelled before hitting its real stride. With mass production and a few tweaks, it was on track to be cheaper than what we ended up paying for the shuttle.


For perspective: adjusted for inflation, we could have paid for 50 Apollo launches to the Moon for what the Iraq War cost.
 
2014-04-25 06:12:34 PM  

theorellior: way south: Apollo got cancelled before hitting its real stride. With mass production and a few tweaks, it was on track to be cheaper than what we ended up paying for the shuttle.

For perspective: adjusted for inflation, we could have paid for 50 Apollo launches to the Moon for what the Iraq War cost.


Moon doesn't have oil.... well, not that we know of yet.....

but when it happens.....

3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-04-25 06:13:48 PM  

way south: /Thirty years of Saturn V's would have been epic.


Being able to loft Skylab-sized modules into orbit would have likely dramatically reduced the cost to build the space station because fewer launches and spacewalks would have been necessary to assemble a station of a useful size. We also could also have done a HUGE space telescope with a much larger mirror than the Hubble (assuming we ha the facilities to build a mirror that large).
 
2014-04-25 06:35:08 PM  

Cpl.D: [i.imgur.com image 850x478]


That looks like a hard splashdown...
 
2014-04-25 06:50:37 PM  

way south: Unoriginal_Username: It landed softly in the ocean, but it's a nice start. The progress of this company is fun to watch.

No one's going to give them landing clearance till they prove the booster is not just going to smack into the tarmac, or worse. We are potentially talking about hurling a booster at a semi populated area.

First stage recovery is a big deal.   It was a holy grail of both Apollo and the Shuttle program.

/Apollo abandoned it as too expensive, risky, and complicated. Shuttle only recovered booster casings.
/SpaceX may soon achieve what hundred billion dollar programs gave up at.
/Which is something to be proud of.


I read an article earlier, I thought it mentioned that it landed a few miles away from where they had planned. Of course, I can't find the same story now, so I may have imagined it.
Either way, you're right. This is something to be proud of. It's an incredible achievement, and once they get it perfected, well things can only get better.
 
VTC
2014-04-25 06:57:49 PM  

Cubicle Jockey: In case anyone was curious who the United Launch Alliance was:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Launch_Alliance

ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. ULA was formed in December 2006 by combining the teams at these companies which provide spacecraft launch services to the government of the United States. U.S. government launch customers include both the Department of Defense and NASA, as well as other organizations.


Yeah, this article did a terrible job with facts on this point....I've read a few articles related to this recently and none of them seem to be accepting any facts other than those coming from Musk. He seems to be playing some weird info/legal/lobbying game in order to get around the traditional bid/competition process. Plus, what does Elon expect to launch for the government without heavy lift capability? SpaceX only has one type of engine operational and it's not a very big one. There is no way he could launch any of the bigger DOD payloads.
 
2014-04-25 07:08:06 PM  
Cpl.D:

It begins...
 
2014-04-25 07:19:15 PM  
mark 12A:

"ya know, these wiz-bang computerized space machine thingys are getting so good it's getting easier to give up on manned systems and just do everything unmanned. There's really no need to send men to Mars when you can cheaply send lots of virtual presence devices to do the exploring for us. More rovers, and add some unmanned sample return vehicles to meet up with the rovers. Do the same for the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. "


Let me know how well the oversight and control works on those remote probes with the 20 to 90-minute lag time due to distance.
 
2014-04-25 07:19:35 PM  

theorellior: way south: Apollo got cancelled before hitting its real stride. With mass production and a few tweaks, it was on track to be cheaper than what we ended up paying for the shuttle.

For perspective: adjusted for inflation, we could have paid for 50 Apollo launches to the Moon for what the Iraq War cost.


How many launches could have been paid for by 6 years of quantitative easing at 85 billion per month (money printing) ?
12 years of Afghanistan War? X years of ethanol subsidies? 60 years of Agricultural Subsidies?  The tens of billions doled out to the UAW (aka, General Motors) ?
 
VTC
2014-04-25 07:20:03 PM  

Cpl.D: [i.imgur.com image 850x531]
MOAR STRUTS I SAID


Dude, that thing....I'm afraid it's going to need a few more struts.
 
2014-04-25 07:21:22 PM  

Outlander Engine: What are the odds the Russians had a supertanker in the area that was actually a carefully camouflaged submarine tender.


A supertanker no.. but Russia DID have a tug/salvage boat parked in the area.
 
2014-04-25 07:28:07 PM  
Is there any video of the landing/splashdown?
 
2014-04-25 07:28:28 PM  

Any Pie Left: Let me know how well the oversight and control works on those remote probes with the 20 to 90-minute lag time due to distance.


d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net

It works pretty darn well now, and it will only get better as the rovers and probes get more powerful computers with smarter AI.
 
2014-04-25 07:46:34 PM  

Unoriginal_Username: The progress of this company is fun to watch.


I'm personally nauseated by the fact that we were putting live humans on the moon in 1969 and now we're hailing something this basic in 2014 like it was an achievement worthy of note, or even footnote.
 
2014-04-25 07:48:34 PM  
I hate it when people use his name, I just can't get past thinking about:

static.ddmcdn.com
/musk melon
 
2014-04-25 07:49:18 PM  

Cpl.D: VTC: Dude, that thing....I'm afraid it's going to need a few more struts.


MOAR STRUTS HE SAID


Are.... Are you a wizard?
 
2014-04-25 07:50:54 PM  
Don't get me wrong, reusable chemical rockets is a nice idea, but it's so blazingly obvious that it should have been well done already by the early 80's.
 
2014-04-25 08:31:03 PM  

Watching_Epoxy_Cure: How many launches could have been paid for by 6 years of quantitative easing at 85 billion per month (money printing) ?


Quantitative easing doesn't waste material, blood and treasure like blowing up a lot of bombs in the desert does. Ethanol subsidies don't fill beds at Walter M. Reed. Agricultural subsidies don't trigger PTSD flashbacks. Neither GM nor the UAW are in the habit of making improvised explosive devices to kill and maim US servicemen. Why do you feel the need to defend an ill-advised foreign adventure prosecuted on trumped-up evidence?
 
2014-04-25 08:39:08 PM  

doglover: Unoriginal_Username: The progress of this company is fun to watch.

I'm personally nauseated by the fact that we were putting live humans on the moon in 1969 and now we're hailing something this basic in 2014 like it was an achievement worthy of note, or even footnote.


They're claiming their rocket could be recovered and refurbished for another launch the same day. That would be very noteworthy. It's such an incredible idea it unfortunately makes me think of some of the later-proven-very-false claims that 1970s NASA made about how quickly and cheaply the space shuttle could be turned around for another launch.
 
2014-04-25 08:59:14 PM  

VTC: Yeah, this article did a terrible job with facts on this point....I've read a few articles related to this recently and none of them seem to be accepting any facts other than those coming from Musk. He seems to be playing some weird info/legal/lobbying game in order to get around the traditional bid/competition process. Plus, what does Elon expect to launch for the government without heavy lift capability? SpaceX only has one type of engine operational and it's not a very big one. There is no way he could launch any of the bigger DOD payloads.


I-is this satire? Are you kidding with us? Or are you a ULA employee?

SpaceX got screwed out of designing and building a launch vehicle for the Air Force. Not a lift contract - an R&D and engineering project.

And here are a few little "facts" for you, you might be unfamiliar with. ULA is a consortium of big name defense contractors - the weapons oligopoly. As such, ULA receives heavy government subsidies in order to keep it afloat as a going economic concern, because the US government wants to preserve their domestic launch capabilities and there are no other competitors.

ULA's Atlas V rocket is rated at 9,800-18,810kg to LEO. It costs around $220m per launch. It relies Russian built RD-180 engines to fly. These launches are not commercially competitive, and the sole customer for the 54 Atlas V has been the US government. ULA also manufactures the Delta IV, which uses US built engines and costs about $170m per launch. While the Delta IV is a heavier lift platform and even has it's own "heavy" variant for even more power, the cost per kg to launch is still not commercially competitive; all but one of of the 25 Delta launches have been paid for by the US government.

And then there is SpaceX. SpaceX receives no government subsidies of the sort ULA is constantly suckling from the government teat. The current version of the Falcon 9 is rated at 13,500kg, so it directly competes with the Atlas V, and the Falcon 9 Heavy is in development to compete with the Delta IV.

The Falcon 9 costs about $54m per launch - 25% of what ULA's rockets cost to lift. And the engine to the Falcon 9 is built in the United States, not Russia. $54 million is commercially competitive with Europe and Russia, who dominate the launch market (the US typically has zero commercial launches in any given year). If SpaceX gets the reusable, laudable first stage working - and it very much looks like they will - Musk has said that the cost per launch for the Falcon 9 could drop as low as $10m a launch. Which is INSANE - that puts LEO payloads in the price range that private companies and universities are willing to pay.

What I'm getting at is this: FARK ULA. They are single handedly responsible for promoting the stagnation of the US launch industry, due to their preference for siphoning off that sweet sweet government money rather developing US space capabilities to be competitive with the rest of the world. They sit on their collective asses and outsource their major components to Russia because it's cheaper and easier that way, all the while charging the US tax payers insane prices per launch because they just don't give a shiat about innovation or cost controls - why change when you're making money hand over fist and you are literally the only game on town?

I hope Elon Musk gouges out the collective eyeballs of ULA and skullfarks the lot of them.
 
2014-04-25 09:16:11 PM  

Nem Wan: doglover: Unoriginal_Username: The progress of this company is fun to watch.

I'm personally nauseated by the fact that we were putting live humans on the moon in 1969 and now we're hailing something this basic in 2014 like it was an achievement worthy of note, or even footnote.

They're claiming their rocket could be recovered and refurbished for another launch the same day. That would be very noteworthy. It's such an incredible idea it unfortunately makes me think of some of the later-proven-very-false claims that 1970s NASA made about how quickly and cheaply the space shuttle could be turned around for another launch.


A minor nuance in a world where, gods willing, we'll have fusion rockets at some point.

The ramscoop probably won't work, but Helium 3? We can go to Europa.
 
2014-04-25 09:21:08 PM  
Whoops, forgot to mention the Delta II. It's ULA's workhorse and is being phased out (the USAF will no longer be using them) but it's still in service: 154 launches, $52m a launch, 6,100kg max to LEO. So the same price as a Falcon 9 with less than half the payload capabilities. Also puts a lie to "Space X needs heavy lift capability if it is going to serve the USAF" given how many USAF satellites have gone up on a Delta II.
 
2014-04-25 09:26:39 PM  

doglover: Unoriginal_Username: The progress of this company is fun to watch.

I'm personally nauseated by the fact that we were putting live humans on the moon in 1969 and now we're hailing something this basic in 2014 like it was an achievement worthy of note, or even footnote.


There's a pretty big goddamn difference between a country sending payloads/people to space, and a private company. Surely you understand this...
 
2014-04-25 09:32:15 PM  

Elegy: VTC: Yeah, this article did a terrible job with facts on this point....I've read a few articles related to this recently and none of them seem to be accepting any facts other than those coming from Musk. He seems to be playing some weird info/legal/lobbying game in order to get around the traditional bid/competition process. Plus, what does Elon expect to launch for the government without heavy lift capability? SpaceX only has one type of engine operational and it's not a very big one. There is no way he could launch any of the bigger DOD payloads.

I-is this satire? Are you kidding with us? Or are you a ULA employee?

SpaceX got screwed out of designing and building a launch vehicle for the Air Force. Not a lift contract - an R&D and engineering project.

And here are a few little "facts" for you, you might be unfamiliar with. ULA is a consortium of big name defense contractors - the weapons oligopoly. As such, ULA receives heavy government subsidies in order to keep it afloat as a going economic concern, because the US government wants to preserve their domestic launch capabilities and there are no other competitors.

ULA's Atlas V rocket is rated at 9,800-18,810kg to LEO. It costs around $220m per launch. It relies Russian built RD-180 engines to fly. These launches are not commercially competitive, and the sole customer for the 54 Atlas V has been the US government. ULA also manufactures the Delta IV, which uses US built engines and costs about $170m per launch. While the Delta IV is a heavier lift platform and even has it's own "heavy" variant for even more power, the cost per kg to launch is still not commercially competitive; all but one of of the 25 Delta launches have been paid for by the US government.

And then there is SpaceX. SpaceX receives no government subsidies of the sort ULA is constantly suckling from the government teat. The current version of the Falcon 9 is rated at 13,500kg, so it directly competes with the Atlas V, and the Falcon 9 Heavy is in development to compete with the Delta IV.

The Falcon 9 costs about $54m per launch - 25% of what ULA's rockets cost to lift. And the engine to the Falcon 9 is built in the United States, not Russia. $54 million is commercially competitive with Europe and Russia, who dominate the launch market (the US typically has zero commercial launches in any given year). If SpaceX gets the reusable, laudable first stage working - and it very much looks like they will - Musk has said that the cost per launch for the Falcon 9 could drop as low as $10m a launch. Which is INSANE - that puts LEO payloads in the price range that private companies and universities are willing to pay.

What I'm getting at is this: FARK ULA. They are single handedly responsible for promoting the stagnation of the US launch industry, due to their preference for siphoning off that sweet sweet government money rather developing US space capabilities to be competitive with the rest of the world. They sit on their collective asses and outsource their major components to Russia because it's cheaper and easier that way, all the while charging the US tax payers insane prices per launch because they just don't give a shiat about innovation or cost controls - why change when you're making money hand over fist and you are literally the only game on town?

I hope Elon Musk gouges out the collective eyeballs of ULA and skullfarks the lot of them.


The last sentence raised this post's score from a 9.I'm pregnant to a 9.5/10.


/-0.5 pts for not using proper ad hominem
 
2014-04-25 09:42:42 PM  

Johnsnownw: doglover: Unoriginal_Username: The progress of this company is fun to watch.

I'm personally nauseated by the fact that we were putting live humans on the moon in 1969 and now we're hailing something this basic in 2014 like it was an achievement worthy of note, or even footnote.

There's a pretty big goddamn difference between a country sending payloads/people to space, and a private company. Surely you understand this...


Logistically. In absolute terms, it's just the same old, same old with a spit shine.

Don't get me wrong, I'm hoping Elon does this shiat well and we're all in space this time next year for $30 and inflight movie is wonderful and no one has peanut allergies so we can get some decent snacks.

But the last time humans were on another celestial body, I wasn't even born, and all NASA seems to want to do with their ever dwindling budget is masturbate to RC Tonka trucks.

Panspermia isn't just a theory, it should be our goal. Let's find life on other planets, even if it's us.
 
2014-04-25 09:55:54 PM  
"If they had been able to recover the stage from the ocean, it would have taken about a couple months to refurbish it for flight, "

And this sentence is what happens when you hire a self professed blogger instead of an actual journalist.

As for the tech announcement, this is VERY cool and way overdue.
 
VTC
2014-04-25 10:31:04 PM  

Elegy: VTC: Yeah, this article did a terrible job with facts on this point....I've read a few articles related to this recently and none of them seem to be accepting any facts other than those coming from Musk. He seems to be playing some weird info/legal/lobbying game in order to get around the traditional bid/competition process. Plus, what does Elon expect to launch for the government without heavy lift capability? SpaceX only has one type of engine operational and it's not a very big one. There is no way he could launch any of the bigger DOD payloads.

I-is this satire? Are you kidding with us? Or are you a ULA employee?

SpaceX got screwed out of designing and building a launch vehicle for the Air Force. Not a lift contract - an R&D and engineering project.

And here are a few little "facts" for you, you might be unfamiliar with. ULA is a consortium of big name defense contractors - the weapons oligopoly. As such, ULA receives heavy government subsidies in order to keep it afloat as a going economic concern, because the US government wants to preserve their domestic launch capabilities and there are no other competitors.

ULA's Atlas V rocket is rated at 9,800-18,810kg to LEO. It costs around $220m per launch. It relies Russian built RD-180 engines to fly. These launches are not commercially competitive, and the sole customer for the 54 Atlas V has been the US government. ULA also manufactures the Delta IV, which uses US built engines and costs about $170m per launch. While the Delta IV is a heavier lift platform and even has it's own "heavy" variant for even more power, the cost per kg to launch is still not commercially competitive; all but one of of the 25 Delta launches have been paid for by the US government.

And then there is SpaceX. SpaceX receives no government subsidies of the sort ULA is constantly suckling from the government teat. The current version of the Falcon 9 is rated at 13,500kg, so it directly competes with the Atlas V, and the Falcon 9 Heavy is ...



Dude...vast amounts of this diatribe are categorically wrong. It's truly sad that no one is fact checking Elon's statements. I'd also like to point out that I am huge fan of SpaceX and their big picture mission...but this sort of behavior from Musk is not endearing.

I'm not a ULA employee, btw.

"ULA receives heavy government subsidies in order to keep it afloat as a going economic concern, because the US government wants to preserve their domestic launch capabilities and there are no other competitors."

False. ULA receives direct funding for competed contracts, not subsidies. There is a distinct difference.

"It costs around $220m per launch. It relies Russian built RD-180 engines to fly. These launches are not commercially competitive, and the sole customer for the 54 Atlas V has been the US government. ULA also manufactures the Delta IV, which uses US built engines and costs about $170m per launch."

False. You can't pull numbers out your arse and call them facts.

And the engine to the Falcon 9 is built in the United States, not Russia. $54 million is commercially competitive with Europe and Russia, who dominate the launch market (the US typically has zero commercial launches in any given year).

False. So far Russia is the only group to successfully build an engine of this type. No one else has. It will be cool if Elon succeeds.

"If SpaceX gets the reusable, laudable first stage working - and it very much looks like they will - "

If is a mighty big word son. If Elon would go through the proper competition process, then none of this would be an issue. Military acquisitions has a very set, very rigorous, unbiased competition process, be it guns, planes, missiles or rockets. "If" is not a very popular word in the competition process.

"They are single handedly responsible for promoting the stagnation of the US launch industry, due to their preference for siphoning off that sweet sweet government money rather developing US space capabilities to be competitive with the rest of the world."

Lots of derp here... ULA doesn't get paid for R&D. They get paid to build rockets that they have proven successful at building. Elon can strap all the ISS cargo onto the Falcon that he wants, he'll still be a glorified truck driver. Strapping extremely advanced, secret payloads to an under powered rocket system is not something the US government is very keen on doing. I'm willing to bet though, as soon as Elon gets all of his "ifs" figured out and produces a rocket capable of heavy lift, the government will be all over that shiat.

"
I hope Elon Musk gouges out the collective eyeballs of ULA and skullfarks the lot of them. "

Might not be a good idea to skull fark the people who know the most about putting sensitive payloads into space.


Now, I'll say again, I don't work for ULA, I'm just a super space nerd, but it is pretty clear who the SpaceX employee in this thread is.

Get your facts straight son and maybe you can go play with the big boys one day.
 
2014-04-25 10:52:02 PM  

VTC: False. ULA receives direct funding for competed contracts, not subsidies. There is a distinct difference.


ULA gets about a $1B/yr for "maintenance" on the EELV process independent of individual mission contracts. That could be regarded as a subsidy.
 
VTC
2014-04-25 11:09:31 PM  

The Bestest: VTC: False. ULA receives direct funding for competed contracts, not subsidies. There is a distinct difference.

ULA gets about a $1B/yr for "maintenance" on the EELV process independent of individual mission contracts. That could be regarded as a subsidy.


That's a misnomer at best. But if you are interested in getting your facts straight, you can refer to the official GAO briefing.

http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661333.txt

Our SpaceX friend can refer to this as well, so he can get his numbers and facts straight.


This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-14-377R entitled 'The Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Competitive Procurement' which was released on March 4, 2014. This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this document to Webm­aster[nospam-﹫-backwards]oa­g­*gov. This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material separately. GAO-14-377R: United States Government Accountability Office: GAO: 441 G St. N.W. Washington, DC 20548: March 4, 2014: The Honorable Carl Levin: Chairman: The Honorable John McCain: Ranking Member: Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: United States Senate: The Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Competitive Procurement: This report formally transmits the briefing slides we provided on January 28, 2014, in response to your request to examine issues related to the Department of Defense's (DOD) efforts to introduce competition into Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) acquisitions. The EELV program is the primary provider of launch vehicles and services for U.S. military and intelligence satellites. EELVs are also used to launch civilian and commercial satellites. The most recent independent cost estimate projects the program will cost about $70 billion through 2030.[Footnote 1] From 2006 to 2013, the program acquired launch services from a single provider--the United Launch Alliance (ULA)--using a two-contract structure, but had little insight into EELV launch costs. In December 2013, DOD signed a contract modification with ULA, committing the government to buy 35 launch vehicle booster cores over a five-year period, and the associated capability to launch them.[Footnote 2] The contract modification also covers all activities previously funded by the two- contract structure, and represents significant effort on the part of DOD to negotiate better launch prices through its improved knowledge of contractor costs. In addition to the 35 cores DOD is committed to buy from ULA between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, DOD has set aside up to 14 launches for competition among all certified launch vehicle providers.[Footnote 3] DOD is currently developing a methodology for comparing launch proposals for the competition, which is expected to begin in fiscal year 2015. This report addresses the following: (1) What insight did DOD have into launch costs under past EELV contracts? (2) How do recent changes to EELV contracts affect accounting for costs? (3) How is DOD compensated for costs when ULA sells launches to other customers? and (4) What are the implications if DOD requires competitors to submit offers using the same structure it currently uses with ULA or a commercial approach? To determine the insight DOD had into launch costs under past EELV contracts, we reviewed the two most recent EELV Launch Services (ELS) and EELV Launch Capability (ELC) contracts and examined the contract structure and breakdown of costs included in the contracts. We received an in-depth verbal and written briefing on the ELC contract from DOD, and discussed with senior officials the history, context, and makeup of the EELV contracts. We interviewed DOD and ULA contractor officials regarding direct launch vehicle and other supporting activities performed under the contracts, and reviewed Defense Contract Audit Agency audit reports of EELV launch contracts, with report dates ranging from 2005 to 2012. We also reviewed past GAO reports and identified previous recommendations and their implementation to determine DOD insight into contracts. To determine how recent changes to EELV contracts affect accounting for costs, we reviewed sections of the new EELV contract with DOD and ULA contracting officials, received an in-depth DOD briefing on the structure of the new contract, and compared the contents and dollar values of the previous and current EELV contracts. To determine how DOD is reimbursed for costs when the incumbent provider sells launches to other customers, we examined ELC contracts from fiscal years 2012- 2014 to identify reimbursements, we interviewed DOD and ULA officials to identify how amounts were calculated and the extent to which ELC costs were included, and we analyzed the reimbursement amounts and calculated the percentages of total ELC costs that the reimbursements represented annually from fiscal years 2009-2013. To determine the implications of possible DOD approaches to comparing launch proposals between the ULA and new launch providers, we reviewed draft DOD performance work statements related to the proposed EELV competition, and discussed the implications of DOD's plan with DOD officials, ULA and new entrant launch service providers. We also reviewed the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements for various types of contracts, including fixed-price and cost-type contracts. We conducted this performance audit from July 2013 through March 2014 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. In summary, while the previous two-contract structure met DOD's needs for unprecedented mission success and an at-the-ready launch capability, the scope of its cost-reimbursement contract limited DOD's ability to identify the cost of an individual launch, as, according to DOD, direct launch costs were not separated from other costs.[Footnote 4] For example, DOD paid for hardware through a firm-fixed-price contract (ELS), but funded infrastructure and engineering support through a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (ELC).[Footnote 5] The ELC cost-reimbursement contract was not transparent according to DOD officials, who had limited understanding of the activities funded under this contract. Additionally, minimal insight into contractor cost or pricing data meant DOD may have lacked sufficient knowledge to negotiate fair and reasonable launch prices. Coupled with uncertainties and possible instability in the launch vehicle industrial base, EELV program costs were predicted to rise at an unsustainable rate. Through DOD's development of a new acquisition strategy in 2011, and in preparation for contract negotiations with ULA, DOD undertook significant efforts to obtain better contractor and subcontractor cost or pricing data. For example, DOD officials and the National Reconnaissance Office cost analysis group collected detailed data on engine prices and subcontractor costs. DOD also scrutinized launch processes to identify and eliminate potentially redundant activities. As a result, DOD contracting officials had a stronger bargaining position to lower overall contract costs than in previous negotiations, and they expect the new contract to realize significant savings primarily through stable unit pricing for all launch vehicles. In June of 2013, they entered into a letter contract with ULA, definitizing the final terms and conditions of the contract in December of 2013. The new contract includes line items for both the fixed-price and cost-reimbursement portions funded under the previous two-contract structure, and DOD officials say the administrative burden of renegotiating every year will be substantially lessened due to the new contract's simplified structure. The new contract is also expected to provide DOD with a better understanding of individual launch costs than it had under previous contracts, as some costs are now directly attributable to specific launches, such as propellants, transportation, and costs associated with launch mission integration. However, according to DOD, about 75 percent of the costs for cost- reimbursement contract items are combined and not broken out by individual launch costs, which may limit DOD's ability to identify the cost of any given launch. ULA periodically sells launch services to customers outside of the EELV program, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and to commercial customers. Because DOD pays for ULA's fixed costs, DOD receives compensation for the use of ULA launch services on a per-launch basis for launches ULA sells to non-DOD customers. Prior to the December 2013 contract modification, compensation amounts were loosely based on an average of 30 days of launch pad use, and not based on actual costs. DOD and ULA negotiated the compensation amounts annually, and DOD was reimbursed through price reductions on ULA invoices submitted to DOD at the end of the fiscal year. Under the new contract, compensation is based on some actual costs, including factory support and direct labor hours, and is approximately three times the dollar amount per-launch of reimbursements under previous contracts. Additionally, DOD and ULA plan to adjust the contract value at the outset of each fiscal year, commensurately reducing the overall value by the number of non-DOD launches ULA expects to sell in the upcoming fiscal year. DOD plans to competitively award contracts for up to 14 launches beginning in fiscal year 2015. Any certified launch provider can compete for the individual missions, including ULA. DOD officials told us they intend to use a best value approach in evaluating proposals from all competitors, meaning factors in addition to price will be considered. For example, DOD may also consider mission risk, taking past performance into account, and satellite vehicle integration risks, including the complexity of integrating the intended satellite or sensor onto each company's launch vehicle. DOD is currently developing its methodology for comparing launch proposals, including establishing how proposals are to be structured, and what the specific evaluation criteria will be. DOD is considering several ways to structure the proposals. If DOD requires all offers to contain both fixed-price and cost-reimbursement features for launch services and capability, respectively, similar to the way it currently contracts with ULA, there could be benefits to DOD and ULA, but potential burdens to new entrants. Alternatively, if DOD implements a fixed- price commercial approach to launch proposals, DOD could lose insight into contractor cost or pricing. DOD could also require a combination of elements from each of these approaches, or develop new contract requirements for this competition. We examined key benefits and challenges of the first two approaches, as they relate to DOD, ULA, and launch companies that would be new entrants. Table 1 summarizes the benefits and challenges to each entity of these two approaches. Table 1: Potential Procurement Approaches DOD is Considering for Competitive Launch Contract Awards: DOD: Combined Fixed-price Launch Services/Cost-Reimbursement Launch Capability: Benefits: * DOD is familiar with this approach, has experience negotiating under these terms; * DOD retains some insight into contractor cost or pricing data which could lend itself to a better bargaining position in future contract negotiations; * By requiring all companies to bid using this structure, DOD would have a straightforward basis on which to compare proposals; Challenges: * DOD use of a cost type contract may negate efficient contractor business practices and cost savings due to government data requirements under this approach; * DOD could end up paying for launch capability at more than one launch provider; Fixed-price Commercial: Benefits: * Cost of contract is identified at the time of award; * Full and open competition could help to decrease launch prices and increase efficiencies; * Could facilitate a uniform comparison of launch vehicle prices between companies; Challenges: * DOD access to contractor cost or pricing data would be very limited; * DOD may lose some flexibility in rescheduling launches if satellites or sensor deliveries slip; rearranging launch manifest could add cost; * Demand for EELV-class launches may diminish after 2018; launch market may not sustain more than one provider. United Launch Alliance (ULA): Combined Fixed-price Launch Services/Cost-Reimbursement Launch Capability: Benefits: * DOD funds ULA launch capability to 8 launches; ULA could offer only the additional cost to launch any vehicle above the 8 launches DOD has paid for, giving ULA a price advantage over new entrants; * ULA would likely get the benefit of a long history of launch successes; * ULA is familiar with DOD satellite integration requirements, given its role as the EELV program's sole launch provider; Challenges: * None identified; Fixed-price Commercial: Benefits: * ULA could phase out business systems fulfilling government cost or pricing data requirements, potentially reducing expenses; Challenges: * ULA's price offer could be higher than new entrant offers, as: - ULA previously stood up business systems to fulfill government cost or pricing data requirements, which would not be required of new entrants under this approach; - ULA developed, demonstrated and continues to launch heavy launch vehicles, the most expensive vehicles to build and launch; new entrants are not required to develop and build heavy launch vehicles for this competition. New Entrants: Combined Fixed-price Launch Services/Cost-Reimbursement Launch Capability: Benefits: * New entrants are not required to develop and demonstrate heavy vehicles to compete for the 14 launches; this could give them a price advantage over ULA; * Federal Acquisition Regulation prohibits a lack of past performance from being counted against new entrants; Challenges: * DOD does not fund launch capability for new entrants; this could give ULA a price advantage over new entrants; * Including a cost-reimbursement portion in new entrant launch proposals would require new entrants to develop and install new business systems to fulfill government data requirements; Fixed-price Commercial: Benefits: * New entrant price offers could be lower than ULA's, as: - No added government cost or pricing data requirements would allow companies to keep current business practices; - Focusing the competition on price considerations without accounting for launch capability costs could help prevent new entrant price offers from rising; Challenges: Fixed-price Commercial: None identified. Source: GAO Summary. [End of table] For additional information on the results of our work, see enclosure I: Briefing on the Space Launch Vehicle Competition. We are not making recommendations in this report. Agency Comments: We provided a draft of this report to DOD and NRO for comment. DOD provided technical comments that were incorporated as appropriate in the final report. DOD's comments are reproduced in enclosure II: Comments from the Department of Defense. We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional committees; the Secretary of Defense; and Director of the NRO. This report will also be available at no charge on our website at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report were Art Gallegos, Assistant Director; Peter Anderson, Claire Buck, Raj Chitikila, Desiree Cunningham, Laura Hook, John Krump, and Roxanna Sun. Should you or your staff have questions concerning this report, contact Cristina T. Chaplain at (202) 512-4841 or at chapl­ainc­[nospam-﹫-backwards]oa­g*g­ov. Signed by: Cristina T. Chaplain: Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management: Enclosure(s) - 2: cc: cc list. Footnotes: [1] The Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation conducted an independent cost estimate based on the EELV programmatic forecast dated June 2012. [2] The booster core is the main body of a launch vehicle. In the EELV program, common booster cores are used to build all of the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles. Medium and intermediate launch vehicles use one core each, while the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle requires three. [3] Launch providers can become certified by following the steps outlined in the 2011 Air Force Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide. [4] In July 2011, the EELV program awarded a Launch Capability contract as a cost-plus incentive fee contract; the prior Launch Capability contract was a cost-plus award fee contract. A cost-plus incentive fee contract is a type of cost reimbursement contact that pays the contractor for allowable costs to the extent prescribed in the contract, and allows for the initially negotiated fee to be adjusted later, based on a formula in the contract. The fee is based on the relationship of total allowable costs to total target cost. [5] A firm-fixed-price contract provides for a price that is not subject to any adjustment on the basis of the contractor's cost experience in performing the contract. FAR § 16.202-1. [End of section] Enclosure I: Space Launch Vehicle Competition: Briefing to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee: Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations: January 28, 2014: Contents: * Introduction; * Objectives; * Background; * Findings; * Scope and Methodology. Introduction: The Department of Defense's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program is the primary provider of launch vehicles and services for U.S. military and intelligence satellites. The launch vehicles used by the EELV program are also used to launch civilian and commercial satellites. GAO was asked to examine issues related to DOD's effort to introduce competition into EELV acquisitions. Doing so is a significant challenge given the way contracts are currently structured, the fact that new providers are not yet certified to carry sensitive national security satellites and sensors--or payloads--into space, and other complications. The issues GAO was asked to examine include the way that DOD determines costs for launch services with its current contractor and how DOD will compare future bids from different launch services contractors. Introduction: Program Description and History: The EELV program started in 1995 when DOD awarded contracts to four companies for preliminary launch vehicle system designs; at that time, DOD's acquisition strategy was to select the one company with the most cost-effective design. Given commercial forecasts that predicted sufficient demand to support two launch vehicle providers, in 1997 the Secretary of Defense approved maintaining competition between the two top companies: Lockheed Martin, and what would become Boeing. In 2006, following years of projected commercial demand for launch vehicles that did not materialize and increasing launch costs, the two EELV contractors formed a separate company as a joint venture--the United Launch Alliance (ULA). From 2006-2013, DOD had two types of contracts with ULA, the sole- source provider, to support the EELV program: * a cost-plus-incentive-fee EELV launch capability contract (ELC); [Footnote 1] and; * a firm-fixed-price EELV launch services contract (ELS).[Footnote 2] Since 2006, ULA has launched 50 government missions on EELVs, with an extremely high rate of success, and DOD highly values this reliability. However, in 2010, program cost estimates indicated launch prices were expected to increase at an unsustainable rate, and DOD began an effort to develop a new EELV acquisition strategy. The November 2011 strategy was designed to maintain mission success and incentivize price reductions through steady production rates, long- term commitments, opportunities for competition and reductions in workforce redundancy. In December 2013, DOD and ULA signed a contract modification, committing DOD to buy 35 launch vehicle booster cores from ULA over a five-year period, and to pay ULA for the associated capability to launch them.[Footnote 3] According to DOD, two primary goals of this long-term sole-source commitment were to increase production stability for ULA and its suppliers, and to reduce the price per launch vehicle. The most recent independent cost estimate projects the program will cost close to $70 billion through 2030.[Footnote 4] Figure 1: EELV Program Timeline: [Refer to PDF for image: multiple line graph] Year: 1995; Program start; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $30 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 1996; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $111 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 1997; Acquisition strategy revised; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $63 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 1998; 2 contract awards; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $92 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 1999; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $242 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 2000; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $390 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 2001; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $901 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 2002; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $328 million. Number of launches: 0. Year: 2003; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $256 million. Number of launches: 2. Year: 2004; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $1.102 billion. Number of launches: 0. Year: 2005; Acquisition strategy revised; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $692 million. Number of launches: 2. Year: 2006; United Launch Alliance created; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $741 million. Number of launches: 3. Year: 2007; Transition to sustainment; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $1.043 billion. Number of launches: 3. Year: 2008; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $1.604 billion. Number of launches: 4. Year: 2009; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $2.247 billion. Number of launches: 5. Year: 2010; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $1.602 billion. Number of launches: 8. Year: 2011; Acquisition strategy revised; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $2.152 billion. Number of launches: 8. Year: 2012; Transition out of sustainment; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $3.131 billion. Number of launches: 9. Year: 2013; Contract awarded for fiscal year 2013-2017; Annual Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EEVL) funding: $2.247 billion. Number of launches: 11. Source: GAO analysis of Air Force data. [End of figure] Introduction: Reimbursement to DOD for Use of ULA Facilities by Other Customers: DOD previously paid all fixed costs for ULA. Prior to the December 2013 contract modification, when ULA sold a launch to another customer, and not through the EELV program office, ULA provided a small reimbursement to DOD for the other customer's use of ULA facilities and infrastructure. There have been concerns that the reimbursement was too small. Introduction: New Entrants to the Launch Market: In recent years, companies other than ULA have begun developing new launch vehicles to compete with ULA for EELV-class payloads, and DOD made up to 14 launch vehicle booster cores from fiscal years 2015 to 2017 available for competition.[Footnote 5] This competition is expected to begin in fiscal year 2015. In order to compete for any of the 14 launches these cores represent, new entrant companies have to follow the process outlined by DOD in its Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide, to certify a new vehicle to launch national security missions. At this point, none of the likely competitors are able to launch the full range of EELV-class payloads, though some plan to meet the full requirements through further launch vehicle development. Given the use of different contract types and launch vehicle cost allocation practices among contractors, DOD is currently developing a methodology for comparing proposals from all competitors. DOD officials may include this methodology as part of their first request for proposal from launch companies in the competition. [End of section] Objectives: This briefing addresses the following questions: (1)What insight did DOD have into launch costs under past EELV contracts? (2) How do recent changes to EELV contracts affect accounting for costs? (3) How is DOD compensated for costs when ULA sells launches to other customers? (4)What are the implications if DOD requires competitors to submit offers using the same structure it currently uses with ULA or a commercial approach? [End of section] Summary of Findings: GAO analysis shows: (1) The previous two-contract structure paid ULA for continuing launch capability to enable the U.S. to readily gain access to space, but one unintended consequence of the structure was that DOD had difficulty determining the cost of an individual launch, as direct launch costs were not separated from other costs. (2) In the December 2013 EELV contract modification with ULA, DOD leveraged better insight into contractor costs to negotiate lower prices, and incentivized ULA to increase efficiencies, but DOD may have difficulty identifying the total cost of an individual launch. (3) The December 2013 contract modification stipulates that when ULA sells a launch to customers outside the EELV program office, ULA will adjust the value of the EELV contract by a pre-negotiated amount for each outside launch it sells. Historically the reimbursements have been small compared to the overall launch capability paid for, but DOD recently negotiated larger reimbursements with some direct costs tied to individual launches. (4) Even with greater insight into contractor costs, DOD may not be immediately poised to take full advantage of competition in the launch market, because it cannot determine an accurate price for an individual ULA launch. [End of section] Background: Background: Past GAO Findings on EELV: In 2008, we reported that the EELV program faced numerous oversight challenges, including uncertain launch vehicle reliability, disruption from consolidation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin manufacturing and operations under the ULA joint venture, and limited programmatic insight due to the elimination of various reporting requirements resulting from the designation of the program as in sustainment. We also reported that DOD was adjusting the EELV budget using premature savings estimates, and made three recommendations to improve DOD oversight. DOD reinstated reporting requirements and completed a new life-cycle cost estimate, but did not assess the EELV program's staffing needs to confirm whether shortages exist [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1039]. In 2011, we found that DOD was using insufficient data, particularly data on costs and on the launch industrial base, and relying on contractor-supplied information to inform the development of a new EELV acquisition strategy. We recommended seven actions that would help address critical knowledge gaps. In response, DOD reassessed the block buy contract, examined broader launch issues, incentivized the contractor to implement efficiencies without affecting mission success, does not intend to waive future data requirements, is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on heavy launch decisions and conducting an independent assessment of the launch industrial base, but has not developed a science and technology plan for evolving launch technologies [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-641]. In 2012, we reported that DOD had numerous efforts in progress to address the knowledge gaps and data deficiencies identified in our 2011 report, and that these improvements would allow DOD to make more informed decisions on how to proceed with the EELV program [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-822]. Additionally, in 2013, we reported that DOD's implementation of its New Entrant Certification Guide, while generally satisfactory to the new entrants, posed some challenges to launch vehicle certification [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-317R]. [End of section] Objective 1: Accounting for Costs Under Past EELV Contracts: Objective 1: Accounting for Costs under Past EELV Contracts Reasons for the Two-contract Structure" In 2005, DOD modified the way it contracted for EELV launches. * The need for flexibility in launch schedules encouraged DOD to pay for launch capability (primarily labor) separately from the launch hardware, as DOD wanted to avoid additional costs associated with the frequent launch delays they were experiencing as new satellites were being developed and produced.[Footnote 6] By paying for a capability to launch, or "standing army" of personnel (particularly engineers), separately from the launch hardware, DOD believed it was ensuring itself access to space in a timely manner, regardless of payload delays. Objective 1: Accounting for Costs under Past EELV Contracts Basic Contract Structure of Past EELV Contracts: From 2006-2013, ULA had two types of contracts with DOD through which it provided launch services for national security space launches: * EELV launch capability (ELC): a series of cost-reimbursement contracts which funded items that, according to DOD officials, were not easily acquired under a fixed-price contract, such as overhead on launch pads and engineering support.[Footnote 7] * EELV launch services (ELS): a series of firm-fixed-price contracts that paid for launch vehicle hardware and labor directly associated with building and assembling launch vehicles. Objective 1: Accounting for Costs under Past EELV Contracts: Table 1: Details of the EELV Two-contract Structure: EELV Launch Capability (ELC): Contract type: Cost-plus incentive fee Purpose: To acquire launch capability - the "standing army" required to maintain assured access to space for 8 launches per year; Items covered by the contract: Includes items not included in ELS such as: mission integration, systems engineering, production management, propellants, transportation, labor to conduct launches, etc. Number of active contracts: Only one contract active at any time; Length of contract term: The contract covers one year of launch capability. EELV Launch Services (ELS): Contract type: Firm-fixed-price; Purpose: To acquire launch hardware; Items covered by the contract: Launch vehicle hardware, production, and directly associated touch labor; Number of active contracts: Multiple contracts with ULA active at any time; Length of contract term: Varies; ELS contracts can be for one launch or multiple launches, and some can last for many years as the launches included in the contract are launched. Source: GAO analysis of DOD contracts and related documents. [End of table] Objective 1: Accounting for Costs under Past EELV Contracts Obscured Costs under the Two-contract Structure: ELC contracts did not require the contractor to break out costs associated with each launch, therefore, DOD was unable to calculate specific costs for individual EELV launch missions. For example, while each of the following costs could have been tied directly to an individual launch, DOD contracting officials included these items in the scope of the ELC--a cost-type contract--but did not require the contractor to separate them by individual launch: * Propellants - fuel expenses for each launch. * Transportation - the cost of transporting a completed launch vehicle from the factory to the launch site. * Mission integration - the work involved in mating the satellite to the launch vehicle could be tied to the overall costs of a specific launch. Objective 1: Accounting for Costs under Past EELV Contracts Challenges Encountered under the ELC/ELS Structure: The EELV program under the ELC/ELS structure had some significant outcomes, but presented challenges to the program: * Through the ULA joint venture and subsequent consolidation of operations, the government realized some significant savings. However, given the lack of incentive to identify efficiencies in the program's prior cost-reimbursement contract structure, and in an environment where no viable competition existed, program cost estimates showed launch prices were expected to rise. * The program earned a record of consistent launch successes and unprecedented reliability, but according to DOD, the focus of the program became primarily mission success, and not efficiencies or cost savings. * According to DOD officials, the E

(blah blah blah)
 
2014-04-25 11:26:59 PM  

VTC: (blah blah blah)



Dave.. My mind is going... I can feel it.
 
VTC
2014-04-25 11:43:13 PM  

Cpl.D: [i.imgur.com image 480x640]

Whackjob frowns on apparent shenanigans!  So moar Kerbal.


That beard....that beard is going to need moar struts!
 
2014-04-25 11:49:07 PM  

VTC:

Military acquisitions has a very set, very rigorous, unbiased competition process, be it guns, planes, missiles or rockets.



www.aero-news.net
What the unbiased competition process may look like.
 
2014-04-26 12:07:39 AM  

Cpl.D: The Bestest: Outlander Engine: What are the odds the Russians had a supertanker in the area that was actually a carefully camouflaged submarine tender.

A supertanker no.. but Russia DID have a tug/salvage boat parked in the area.

Aquatic international theft has been going on a long time.  I've no doubt we've yanked more than one of their suborbital projectiles from the drink.


Go on...

www.gateworld.net
 
VTC
2014-04-26 12:19:21 AM  

Mad_Radhu: VTC:Military acquisitions has a very set, very rigorous, unbiased competition process, be it guns, planes, missiles or rockets.

[www.aero-news.net image 360x450]
What the unbiased competition process may look like.


Touche.
 
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