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Elon Musk  (Source:
Lockheed said SpaceX is inexperienced and is cutting corners by cutting costs

SpaceX is the underdog that proved a private company can rise to the occasion and send a rocket into space, but can it step up and transform the Air Force as well?

Lockheed Martin and Boeing have had a strong hold on the Air Force's launch missions for the last six years. But last month, the Defense Department instructed the Air Force to find a new contractor to break the launch monopoly in an attempt to cut costs. In early December, it was announced that SpaceX was selected for trial missions.

SpaceX scored a $900 million contract with the Air Force for two launch missions in 2014 and 2015. The trial missions will test to see if SpaceX can successfully carry military and spy satellites.

As expected, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are partnered in a venture called the United Launch Alliance (ULA), are not too happy about it. They took a few jabs at SpaceX's inexperience in both space launches and in the military.

"I'm hugely pleased with 66 [successful missions] in a row from ULA, and I don't know the record of SpaceX yet," said Robert Stevens, chairman and chief executive at Lockheed Martin. "Two in a row?"

Lockheed Martin also took a stab at the Department of Defense's search for cheaper alternatives to ULA, saying that cutting corners will have poor results.

“Cost doesn’t matter at all if you don’t put the ball into orbit,’’ said Stevens. “You can thrift on cost. You can take cost out of a rocket. But I will guarantee you, in my experience, when you start pulling a lot of costs out of a rocket, your quality and your probability of success in delivering a payload to orbit diminishes.’’

SpaceX Elon Musk fired back, saying that "All of SpaceX's Falcon 9 missions have reached orbit and completed all primary mission objectives." As far as costs go, Musk said that SpaceX's equipment is cheaper because it contains better technology.

“The fundamental reason SpaceX’s rockets are lower cost and more powerful is that our technology is significantly more advanced than that of the Lockheed-Boeing rockets, which were designed last century," said Musk.

The ULA’s Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets cost about $464 million per launch, more than double a previous estimate of $230 million.

SpaceX stepped in with its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket as a means to send supplies (and eventually astronauts) to the International Space Station (ISS) after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in 2011. This left American astronauts with no way to the ISS except aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, but these seats became very costly.

SpaceX launched its Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS for the first time back in May for a test supply run. After that successful trip, SpaceX and NASA signed a $1.6 billion contract that allows SpaceX to complete 12 supply trips to the ISS and back.

On October 7, SpaceX made its first official supply run as part of that contract. It arrived October 10, making the trip a success.

Dragon is due to make its second run in January 2013. SpaceX is also looking to send the first manned Dragon capsule to the ISS somewhere between 2015 and 2017.

SpaceX is also making huge strides in the use of reusable rockets with its new Grasshopper Project. The Grasshopper Project is a Falcon first stage with a landing gear that's capable of taking off and landing vertically.

Source: The Washington Post

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RE: The Sin
By StevoLincolnite on 12/26/2012 11:14:37 PM , Rating: 4
Profits aren't capped.

If you can make your product cheaper and still sell the same amount, you get more profit.

Besides it's been proven all through history that companies can innovate more and produce items that are cheaper than government controlled bureaucratic wasteful companies.

Plus who says that they will only profit from the government? Internet providers and other companies could *invest* and get Satellites into space, which means they would improve on their technology and hopefully ends up being ultimately cheaper. - Which means less taxpayer dollars spent in the end.

I say bring on the competition! We might end up setting foot on Mars one day because of it.

RE: The Sin
By 3minence on 12/27/2012 9:25:25 AM , Rating: 2
Incredible the lack of understanding some of you display. Its either one way or another, it's black or white, never grey. Yet the real world is full of grey. SpaceX doesn't have a lot of experience and maturity in what it does. Its new, with cool ideas and a desire to experiment. It will make mistakes, it will loose rockets and payloads. It will learn and mature and get better.

Lockheed and Boeing have lots of experience. Their rockets are proven, and they take few risks. What they do they do very well. Because they are risk averse they stopped improving. They've become stagnant, and top heavy with expensive ex generals/admirals. They play the contractor game and do quite well for themselves.

Who's right and who's wrong? SpaceX will be cheaper and more innovative, but they will loose rockets and payloads. ULA will be more reliable, but they won't get much better or cheaper. Such is life.

RE: The Sin
By Cheesew1z69 on 12/27/2012 12:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
SpaceX will be cheaper and more innovative, but they will loose rockets and payloads.
As the others can as well....

RE: The Sin
By Samus on 12/30/2012 10:43:27 AM , Rating: 2
and nobody wants a rocket on the loose!

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