Will Elon Musk Launch for Mars off the Backs of Taxpayers?

Musk is no stranger to cozy relations with federal and state governments.

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Elon Musk
ULISES RUIZ BASURTO/EPA/Newscom

Elon Musk delivered a much-anticipated speech Tuesday at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he laid out his vision for colonizing Mars. There's no doubt that taming our celestial neighbor would be a testament to human innovation and determination. Today, however, it might be more impressive if Musk could provide a vision for how his companies can succeed here on Earth first, especially without heavy reliance on taxpayer support.

SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, has never hid its ambition to one day enable people to live on other planets. In the meantime, the company has relied on income from the more mundane business of launching payloads into space with its Falcon 9 rockets. Earlier this year, SpaceX won an $82.7 million Air Force contract by promising to save taxpayers millions of dollars. (The bid was 40 percent less than what the government had estimated the mission would cost.) Cost savings are great, but only if they materialize. It's too soon to tell, but as of now, the probability isn't zero that SpaceX's super-cheap launch cost will be illusory, especially if its rockets—and their expensive cargoes—keep blowing up.

Last month, a Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launchpad, taking with it a $200 million communications satellite commissioned for Facebook. American taxpayers should be thankful it wasn't one of the Air Force launches. But now, with two major Falcon 9 explosions—the first occurring last year and costing NASA (i.e., taxpayers) $110 million—it's worth at least considering whether Musk sold the military a lemon.

Having won government support with the promise of cheaper launches—and with some backroom help from Sen. John McCain, who has a soft spot for his favorite liberal donor's American-made rockets—SpaceX hoped to continue gobbling up military contracts and add to the billions it's already making off NASA. But that plan is now in doubt, or at least it should be. Contractor competition is desirable, but with such expensive cargo on the line, any competent cost-benefit calculation has to compare the odds of catastrophic failure and not simply rely on the upfront bid price.

For instance, United Launch Alliance, the maker of the Atlas V, offered launch capacity for roughly $120 million, which is much more than SpaceX's $60 million. That said, ULA also has a sterling record of more than 100 launches with a perfect success rate. The cost of an explosion goes beyond the cost of another launch because it requires a time delay and the replacement of the cargo (some of which will be paid for by insurance). That means that consecutive explosions could very quickly add to the expense.

In other words, on the issue of cost, the jury is still out. Though the pressure put on the competition by Musk is a good thing and though ULA has definitely been challenged to look at its cost, taxpayers must still ask what would happen if the promised cost savings were not to materialize. Government isn't known to correct its mistakes when cost overruns occur. Of course, lawmakers can always hide behind the McCain argument that ULA's Atlas V is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine, which he believes creates a security risk. But many others, including those in the military, disagree that the switch is without cost and consequences.

Musk is no stranger to cozy relations with federal and state governments. All three of his companies have benefited heavily from taxpayers. Yet despite generous green energy handouts, his SolarCity is heavily indebted. He now wants to merge it with his electric car company, Tesla Motors, which also benefited from almost $1.3 billion in subsidies. Solidifying his crony credentials, the epitome of crony capitalism itself, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has subsidized the payloads for numerous SpaceX launches. The Ex-Im Bank's chairman misrepresented this as support for "small business."

When it comes to colonizing Mars, it's easy to get swept up in Musk's vision. Commercial space flight has a bright future, but that future shouldn't be built on the backs of taxpayers. Yet it's hard to see how SpaceX is ready to self-finance such a bold mission without heavy government involvement.
There's no doubt that Musk is an impressive salesman and innovator. The government bought into his pitch of cheap rocket launches and rewarded him with lucrative contracts. Unfortunately, his low bid price may end up offset by the explosive tendencies of his rockets. Now that he has set his sights on Mars, let's hope—for the future of science and exploration—that he can avoid similar disasters and also that he has the courtesy to leave taxpayers out of it. We are already very busy paying higher interest on our giant debt and taxes.

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  1. I wish Musk all the luck in the world! Seriously, he gives no fucks about ideology, he aims to go to Mars, and he’s prepared to use all means fair and foul to do it. And if he milks a few tax dollars doing it, at least he’s producing something tangible with them, unlike plenty of other beneficiaries of them. Go Musk!

    1. Sorry, not on my dime.

      1. Like you have anything to say about how your dime gets spent now? It’s not in my power to authorize tax funded support, or to withhold it. But I’ll be a lot less offended by Musk going to Mars on my dime than most of the things it’s spent on.

        1. “Like you have anything to say about how your dime gets spent now? It’s not in my power to authorize tax funded support, or to withhold it. But I’ll be a lot less offended by Musk going to Mars on my dime than most of the things it’s spent on.”

          Fail.
          The ‘they’re already stealing from you, so why not steal more?’ lame excuse.

          1. They aren’t stealing any more. We’re talking about how money that’s already been stolen, or will be stolen, is going to be divied up. Taxation is only limited by how much they think they can get away with stealing, not by how much they’re planning to spend. What they steal doesn’t come close to covering the cost of their spending.

            1. If Musk wants to do it, let him pay.
              You imbecilic defense shows you have no idea what taxes or theft means.

      2. Nope, on the government’s dime.

    2. I honestly don’t see much interesting about a tiny colony eeking out a living months away, likely at a continued cost to the taxpayer.

      I can’t understand why he isn’t targeting a moon colony. What is so special about Mars that isn’t similar on the moon? Wouldn’t anyone who would pay 200k to go to Mars be happy to go to the moon? And the likelihood of self-sustaining trade with a lunar colony is much higher than a mars colony.

      1. I’m guessing ego, based purely on the heresay of said friend below. It’s more about being the first than the actual mechanics or benefits of it. Musk will fade like Carnegie if he just keeps doing what he’s doing, but if he does something like a Mars trip? Guaranteed place in the history books.

      2. It’s a pretty good bet he won’t succeed entirely. But he’ll still advance the state of the art trying. I expect he’ll eventually get some to people to Mars, to a fate of being overworked, bored and crabby once the novelty wears off. Like most big ideas, it’s certain not turn out quite as planned.

        What Mars has in favor of it that the moon doesn’t is that it’s somewhat more earth like in terms of environment. Possibly it could be made more earth like still. At least in theory it could become self-sufficient. Also, the technology that has to be developed for transportation would have to be a lot more sophisticated.

        1. “It’s a pretty good bet he won’t succeed entirely. But he’ll still advance the state of the art trying”

          Goody for him; let him pay for it.

        2. He won’t succeed unless he gets the quality control problem he doesn’t know he has under control. I’ve seen this personally, the guy runs on ego, spends all his money on the fun stuff and skimps on QC seeing it as a useless expense then waves the inevitable failures off as “being me is hard, and occasional failure is inevitable”.

          I mean it shouldn’t be a surprise:
          http://www.reuters.com/article…..SKCN0XO1M3

          A leaky trunk here, a leaky helium tank there.

          What’s a couple hundred million in payoads between friends.

          1. And by personally, I mean another similar individual and the company he runs.

        3. I think the point of the article is that Musk isn’t innovating because his shit keeps exploding on the launch pad whereas the Russian made rocket engine a competitor uses has launched at least 100 times without a single explosion.

          Please explain how this is somehow ‘innovation’ when there is already a comparable system that is demonstrably better in every respect. It’s as if someone is trying to sell you a Horse and Buggy without wheels when you already own an Audi.

          I love the idea of space exploration, but first you need to actually be able to demonstrate that you can leave the atmosphere 10/10 times without dying before you can think about getting to Mars. This is a pretty massive setback if you ask me, and it demonstrates to me that Musk is a corner cutter which isn’t the type of guy you want starting a colony on another world. If he can do it on his own dime, fantastic. If he’s going to suck up cash for spectacular explosions, not so much.

          1. Also bear in mind I would be singing a different tune if these were in the testing phase, you’re going to have some test explosions, although hopefully not many as even a test explosion is expensive.

            That’s not the case here though. These are supposedly finished designs that are having Total Existence Failure. I’m not blaming the design necessarily, it could be a maintenance problem or a dozen other things, but clearly there is a very big problem here.

          2. if not for musk and others like him you’d still be eating your poop with two sticks.

      3. IMO,it’s necessary to first colonize the moon. The moon is the “high ground”,overlooking and commanding the Earth’s surface. an excellent observation and weapons platform,with a huge gravity gradient as a major advantage.
        Easy to fire missiles down to Earth,and difficult to fire up at the moon.
        that’s why China has moon colonization as a goal.

        1. the moon is nothing but a giant dust bunny

      4. Trade what? Moon rocks? Bottles of space vacuum?

      5. Trade what? Moon rocks? Bottles of space vacuum?

        1. Moon squirrels?

            1. Moon green cheese!

              Or maybe smegma from the general vicinity of my moon! Let me show you my moon!

        2. If you do some basic research, you’ll discover that the moon is essentially made out of rocket fuel. So, yeah, it would be pretty wise to at least prove you can build something nearby before trying to build something on another world. Especially if there are valuable and applicable resources on your ‘test’ colony.

      6. What is so special about Mars that isn’t similar on the moon?>/i>

        Well:

        Mars has an atmosphere that delivers many critical elements for life right to your door, while the Moon doesn’t.

        Mars has significant amounts of water; the Moon doesn’t.

        Mars, between the extra distance from the Sun and the existence of that atmosphere, has lower levels of deadly radiation than the Moon.

        Mars has a rotation period of near one day, instead of the Moon’s near one month, so the day/night cycles are better-adapted to Earth life.

        Mars has higher gravity, and thus is more compatible with Earth life, than the Moon.

        (Between those first five, it is much, much easier to grow your own food on Mars than the Moon, which will massively reduce the minimum necessary supplies from Earth to sustain a colony on Mars versus one on the Moon.)

        The same atmosphere delivers critical elements of rocket fuel right to one’s door, and makes aerobraking possible. The result is that round trips from Earth to established facilities on Mars (critical for any sort of trade) could have higher dry-mass fractions (that is, be cheaper per pound of cargo, in both directions) than Earth-Moon round trips.

        1. Correct except for the last part. Mars requires a higher deltav and will have a smaller mass fraction as a result. That includes using aerobraking.

          1. Round trip.

            Sure, one-way, you can launch more from Earth to the Moon than to Mars. But it’s much, much easier to convert Martian atmosphere and a hydrogen feedstock (possibly from local Marian water) into rocket propellant than to convert lunar regolith into rocket propellant.

            The result is that, assuming an established facility, you can land “empty” on Mars and refuel there, but you need to land on the Moon with your return propellant in your tanks. Combined with aerobraking, then, you can get away with a higher dry-mass fraction on the Earth-to-Mars leg of a round trip than Earth-to-Moon leg of a round trip.

            Then, on the return trip, even though the delta-v on Mars-to-Earth is substantially higher than Moon-to-Earth, the cargo weight on Mars-to-Earth can be higher, because a fully-refilled-on-Mars rocket has a lot more propellant than the same rocket that has only what propellant that it could deliver from Earth’s surface to the Moon.

      7. “I can’t understand why he isn’t targeting a moon colony.”

        Why not a colony on the bottom of one of Earth’s oceans? Much closer and no need to worry about exploding rockets.

        1. Why not a colony in the middle of bombed-out Detroit? MUCH cheaper and more practical!

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    5. Is it okay then if those of us taxpayers who object to his use of our funds use any means, fair or foul, to stop him from doing so?

      Oh wait, maybe that’s why sabotage has not been ruled out yet from the recent SpaceX explosion…

      If it does turn out to be sabotage by taxpayers, then I say that they have every right to do as they wish with what they (partially) own. If they paid for 10% of the rocket, then they can destroy that 10% (which sadly is crucial to the launch).

  2. Yes. Yes he will.

    1. “Signs point to YES”.

  3. A friend of mine went to university with Elon Musk, her friend dated him for a couple months.

    She says he was a bit of a loud mouthed cunt.

    There’s really no point to this story, just thought I’d share.

    1. What an asshole, this guy.
      -Some asshole

    2. Pretty much anyone can plainly see that he’s a loud mouthed cunt without having to date him. He seems to go out of his way to impress this impression upon people.

  4. Short answer: no.

    Solidifying his crony credentials, the epitome of crony capitalism itself, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has subsidized the payloads for numerous SpaceX launches.

    The payloads are typically by some other company (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Loral,etc), not by the launch vehicle provider. That said, Elon is cronyist shithead, fuck him.

    Although he’ll be less of cronyist once NASA cancels his contract to launch astronauts to the ISS after the first manned Dragon/ Falcon 9 launch accident.

    1. Jesus Christ, so many left out words, I’m not even gonna bother trying to fix that shit. Oh well.

    2. Fuck me, I meant “Short answer: yes”

      Yes, he’ll go to Mars off the backs of taxpayers. Jesus Christ, I need some more caffeine.

    3. Perhaps a moment of reflection and review?

      Concentrate the snark, hone your zeal.

    4. Yes, but the way Ex-Im works is by subsidizing (through guaranteed loans) the foreign purchase of American goods. So in the case, the subsidy goes to the company wishing to launch their satellite or whatever into space, but its purpose is to provide business for SpaceX.

  5. When night time is the right time, cronies prefer Elon Musk when it’s time to get close someone else’s cashwad.

    Elon Musk, you deserve it!

  6. Elon Musk’s drams about Mars really shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

    1. A dram is better than a gram.

  7. On topic Tom Woods Show episode.

    http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep…..ttle-mars/

  8. While the Atlas V has proven to be very reliable, it’s powered by Russian engines, and the Russians have already threatened to stop supplying them once. Let’s give Russia veto power over our spy satellite launches. What could possibly go wrong?

    Also, the $120 million per launch price is misleading. ULA receives 800 million taxpayer dollars just to keep the lights on every year.

    It may be that Musk is “making billions” from NASA, but he’s clearly doing a much better job than NASA can. The Constellation program blew through $9 billion dollars and produced no rockets at all.

    Right now NASA is blowing almost $3 billion a year on the Senate Launch System, an unaffordable rocket which will probably never fly. If it does, a single individual flight of the SLS is going to cost more than $1 billion.

    Against this backdrop, the $788 million NASA spent subsidizing the development of two entirely new rocket systems, and the 3.5 billion they paid for 20 resupply flights seems like quite a bargain even if you factor in the two failures (Orbital’s Antares rocket blew up shortly after takeoff on a resupply mission last year).

    1. Did you have a point here, or just a rant?

      1. No, he’s part of the Musk defense force. The group of nerds who see Musk as their hero and anything that he touches as holy. I was headed down that path…. then I got a job, then I saw how many “Musks” work in less visible ventures and the trail shitty products they leave in their wake, he just happens to have decided to make his break for wannabe awesomeness after he had a bunch of cash in the bank. Making new stuff is fun, making sure it’s right isn’t. Thus we sit watching SpaceX being baffled by how their rockets keep blowing up… it’s quite simple, they don’t spend any time or money making sure they’re building what they think they’re building.

        They’ll do something to address this specific issue, return to launches and then a year or two from now another will go up in smoke and we’ll get to hear how “space is hard” while they investigate the next slightly different thing that caused their rocket to blow up.

        1. There is a large Musk defense for on the web. I run into them on car forums. Especially, miata.net one of the older, better car sites.

          1. Probably because he is one of the few people in this country doing something interesting. Instead of taking his millions (and later his billions) and buying an island to retire on, he dumps it all into things that we need. He is showing that space travel can be done CHEAPER without NASA. He is showing that we can reduce pollution without government regulations. What’s wrong with that?

            1. “He is showing that space travel can be done CHEAPER without NASA. He is showing that we can reduce pollution without government regulations. What’s wrong with that?”

              Because he’s not.

              He’s lost two payloads, and is going to run Tesla into the ground with warranty claims. He’s showing you can trick people into buying something with a low price and promises to be awesome.

              And in the case of NASA, Mr. “Better than the old guys” will be the first to ask to renegotiate the contract when his cheap space flights end up not being profitable.

              Trust me, I’ve seen this movie before…

              1. and what of it if columbus had listened to people like you?

                1. Well, for starters, lots of North American natives might still be alive today, not having been enslaved.

                  And so, nowadays, in the same grand tradition of colonialism, we taxpayers are being enslaved to fund colonization of Mars.

              2. It was also a Simpsons episode–about a monorail…

        2. “The true thrift is always to spend on the higher plane; to invest and invest, with keener avarice, that he may spend in spiritual creation, and not in augmenting animal existence. Nor is the man enriched, in repeating the old experiments of animal sensation, nor unless through new powers and ascending pleasures, he knows himself by the actual experience of higher good, to be already on the way to the highest.”

          emerson

      2. The point is that ULA receives almost $1 billion per year of taxpayer dollars whether or not they launch any rockets. Even after that, each launch costs more than SpaceX. The article should have mentioned that important fact.

        SpaceX launches things cheaper than NASA and ULA. The fact that our tax dollars pay for the launches doesn’t make it cronyism. The government will launch anyways, SpaceX is providing the best value.

        Tesla took a government loan when it was offered to them. I don’t blame Musk for taking it. Tesla was the first to repay the loan, and with interest.

        So what’s the problem here?

        1. I believe the point is that while SpaceX may be cheaper per launch on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain so on average when you factor in their completely destroyed vehicle and cargo value when they literally go out with a bang.

        2. ” SpaceX is providing the best value.”

          No they haven’t. If you buy a $1000 car and it explodes immediately after leaving the lot was it “the best value” just because it was cheap?

          Stop drinking the Kool-aid. Talk is cheap, action is the only thing that matters… right now musk is sitting on a 7% failure rate.

        3. Re: the gov’t will launch anyways

          This is an assumption. The gov’t might very well make a decision not to launch if there are no affordable choices. I would argue that as the gov’t goes further and further in debt, it will not be able to afford to launch anything, even with Musk providing this supposedly cheaper service.

          This is coming from a guy who worked on a NASA spacecraft whose funding was pulled by Congress in response to a recession (good for them!) It was never launched (good for the taxpayers).

  9. We have to get beyond Antares. Just ask Spock.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8Fd0HXzFUs

  10. Considering all the election crap that gets published in Reason, it’s good to know that I can always count on Veronique to write a column worth reading. France’s loss is our gain.

  11. Here are my thoughts on Space X. I dont like government subsidies of businesses as the government’s track record of picking winners is abysimal (and always will be when market forces are excluded). United Launch Alliance is simply another big aerospace firm subsidized directly by goverment and military agengies above and beyond the cost of thier product which is in itself overpriced and reliant on Russian technology.

    Companies such as Space X and Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos entry into the spacecraft market) are working hard to change the old NASA driven model of outragiously expensive one-off spaceflight and are at least offering a service for the money provided by government agenies (even if they are suffering from some growing/learning pains). These startups are the future of spaceflight and an incredible asset to the United States. If our politicians were smart, they would scrap NASA’s Space Launch System and offer these two companies (and others) an opportunity to bid on a better and cheaper alternative for the pure science and exploration work that NASA has traditionally done.

    The real crime is not in offering up valid contracts to assertive private companies pushing technological limits. It is in wasting taxpayer money on projects run by bloated agengies like NASA, and awarding legacy companies like United Launch Alliance for their stagnation and lack of innovation.

    1. You wouldn’t know what legacy and innovation means if it smacked you in the face, you speak words but clearly have no real understanding of how this stuff works. Being “innovative” when you keep destroying the customer’s assets is called gross negligence. Ignoring the loss of the payload, there is the issue of the cost of missed schedules, failed missions and work arounds that will need to be accounted before you can even begin to assess the price… I guarantee you that F9-020 cost NASA orders of magnitude more money having to recover from the loss of the payload than they would have saved had the mission been successful, it’s entirely possible that they blew through the savings of the whole contract in that one incident.

      The reason ULA didn’t change their price to counter SpaceX is likely because they know it’s unsustainable.

  12. Headline, emphasis added:

    Will Elon Musk Launch for Mars off the Backs of Taxpayers?

    Article, emphasis added:

    Commercial space flight has a bright future, but that future shouldn’t be built on the backs of taxpayers.

    I’m so confused!

  13. As long as he self-finances it. All the power to him. If not, fuck him and his ego.

    How about he stabilizes Tesla first?

    1. “How about he stabilizes Tesla first?”

      WithOUT taxpayer money…

      1. You mean the loan that he repaid in full WITH interest?

        1. I’m curious Kirk, with what money did he repay that loan considering Tesla has yet to turn a profit? Did he perhaps just shuffle some of his billions around? Genuinely curious.

  14. Was he in Mexico hoping Mexicans would sneak in to colonize his Mars mission?

  15. Honestly, disappointed.
    I cannot speak for Tesla or Solarcity but I do know that whatever ‘cronyism’ you’re talking about with Spacex is simply delusional. The money that they have received from their largest customer, the United States government, has been fairly won for innovation, payload capability, and cost savings. Spacex costs a fraction of the amount of our contracts with other entrenched public-private monopolies and has created way more useful technology. As a libertarian I may not believe it’s the alright that Spacex relies on the government as a customer, as a realist on this fcking planet I see that they have saved tens of billions of dollars already. Those rockets that are coming back to land? That data would have cost NASA an estimated $10 billion dollars to test, they did it while providing lower launch costs then all precious competitors. I’m sorry, their are way bigger fish to fry then someone making use of government money to stop the complete waste of space exploration dollars that is NASA.

    1. Literally, any forum one visits these Musk-bots will come out in force if Musk is in any way disparaged. I suppose he has a staff for this sort of thing.

  16. The NASA contract should have been “best value” which is Gov speak for technical approach/feasibility counts more than cost in the evaluation. Going with Lowest Price Technically Acceptable biases the competition towards price with generally lower technical acceptability.

    Blowing up a customer’s satellite would seem like bad business for NASA?

  17. If GJ wants to give his campaign a boost, he should promise to make Musk his Science/Space Czar. Gary mentioned that colonizing Mars could be a solution to climate change earlier this week and was mocked for it by HuffPost, but proggies looove Musk, so maybe they would be a little nicer to GJ.

  18. Really Nice Post. Thanks for sharing with us.

  19. I’m 100% fine with financing space exploration on the backs of taxpayers. In fact I don’t think we spend nearly enough on it. This is the type of large long term project that is very hard to privately finance given the way capital budgeting works, but something that makes sense from a societies standpoint.

    1. The long-term nature of the project will discourage today’s capitalists, as you say, but also the risks. Only a government, which is unaccountable and has access to unlimited tax dollars, can bear the risks of repeated failure.

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  21. Only if history means anything……

  22. This article does not take into account the relative strength of a 7% failure rate in the rocket industry. Cherry picking one vehicles 100 launch success record is just that cherry picking. Nor does the article take into account Space-X has been changing configurations frequently, thereby increasing the risk of each launch. But they have agressively pushed the envelope in the process. Is it sustainable? If the vehicle recycling works as intended yes. Falcon 9 is probably finished in its major revisions. Meaning less risk for the truck in future years. The cost per pound is already highly competitive. Once they drop the cost further the risk vs reward profile changes significantly.

    1. As others have pointed out when your client is the government it is hard not to appear like a crony. But the fact is that startup costs for a space company are prohibitive. If “crony” contracts add a new entrent into the oligopoly that a) advances technology, b) puts downward pressure on market prices, and c) broadens the market to lower cost users; is this really cronyism? Why would increasing market competition in a highly regulated, high barrier to entry market be a bad thing? The government is spending the money regardless; what is better spending it on Space-X or on maintaining the ULA monopoly?

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  24. Continued failure will be used as an excuse for more government involvement and monopoly. The profs will be giddy pointing out ‘another failure of capitalism,’ and not see it for what it is. Cronyism.

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  26. he blew up a rocket twice and gm has been around for 100 years and needed a govt. bailout…..musks been doing this for 10

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  28. What plan? All he did was make a video showing a rocket. How will people breath, eat, survive the trip, much less Mars.

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  30. Basically two companies, Lockeed Martin and Boeing were competing against each other. Their incredibly smart lobbyists got the idea they could utilize a monopoly and crony capitalism by combing to make a new company called “ULA” and they would boldly sell this company as a way of saving the government money! So they combined, promptly raised their prices like any monopoly propped up by crony capitalism, and flourished with no competition. Still this wasn’t good enough because they still had to pay their pesky engineers a living salary in the USA. So the executives making millions of dollars a year figured they could outsource the engineering to Russia! Why not since all they had to do was pay a few politicians some money and be done with it!

    Now enters SpaceX. They do all the engineering in the USA. At first they were selling rocket launches for 20 million but saw ULA was charging much more. So SpaceX increased their price to 90 million or so which is about 25% to 40% of what the Air Force was paying ULA. Naturally the Air Force wanted nothing to do with SpaceX even at this great discount. The Air Force did not want to rock their retirement boat. So SpaceX sued our government to get access to this market. It only took a little public light to get access.

    This article feels like it was written by ULA. Trying to spin their crony capitalism into a good thing. Where down is up and black is white. Somehow judging from the threads they have got people believing it!

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