The NASA-SpaceX Partnership Saved NASA Hundreds of Millions

DooKey

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According to a research paper published by NASA's Edgar Zapata, the space agency has actually saved a considerable amount of money and resources by choosing to invest in SpaceX. A commercial partnership is now the best option for space exploration. However, I know some of you (I'm one) out there say Musk is a subsidy baby, but this time we are actually getting something out of subsidizing SpaceX. Check out the reason in the video below.

Watch the video here.
 
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DukenukemX

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Americans subsidize a lot of things. The question is, what don't we subsidize?
 

ChefJeff789

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When it comes to space, things almost have to be subsidized (though for orbital missions/satellite launches, that is not the case). No company could justify spending billions of its own dollars on a mission to Mars to it's board of directors. However, I think the technological - and potential societal - advancements made during such endeavors are totally worth it. It's one of the only fields where I don't mind the government spending large sums on literal moonshots. Now, when you use my tax dollars to pay for everyone else's electric car that I can't afford, than I have a problem...
 

jedijeb13

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At least with SpaceX we are getting more for the money than with LM/Boeing so the subsidy is much easier to justify. The first voyages from Europe to the Americas were government subsidized, but later on businesses found they could make money from the same trips and began to fund the exploration, then fully commercial trips, and in the end private citizens were paying for passage on their own. Let's hope the same will hold true for space :)
 

EODetroit

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Subsidy Baby, what a stupid term, used by stupid people. A government notices that the free market isn't working towards a goal it wishes it would work towards, and morons would have it do nothing? And magically, the free market will provide that product or service? Or, maybe it could encourage development towards that goal. And then you people insult those who take advantage of it? Idiotic.
 

stephen2002

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Instead of subsidizing rockets to blow up our "enemies" that we then subsidize to rebuild I would love to subsidize a Mars colony instead.
 
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D

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There is one thing I never understood about the design:

They are really close to the limit on fuel. In fact they have run out of fuel for landings before. So why aren't they using a drogue chute to slow that puppy down to reduce the need for rocket fuel slowing the decent.
 

gamerk2

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There is one thing I never understood about the design:

They are really close to the limit on fuel. In fact they have run out of fuel for landings before. So why aren't they using a drogue chute to slow that puppy down to reduce the need for rocket fuel slowing the decent.

The chute itself has a weight to it, requiring more fuel and a bigger rocket, requiring more fuel requiring a bigger rocket, requiring more fuel...

Every single pound matters in rockets.
 
D

Deleted member 93354

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The chute itself has a weight to it, requiring more fuel and a bigger rocket, requiring more fuel requiring a bigger rocket, requiring more fuel...

Every single pound matters in rockets.

This I'm well aware of. (I took aero in college. ;-) ) But you do know the SRBs on the shuttles have chutes right?
 

ecuador

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This I'm well aware of. (I took aero in college. ;-) ) But you do know the SRBs on the shuttles have chutes right?

Eh, you took "aero" in college and they have a team of rocket scientists working on the problem, who have successfully developed the most cost-effective launch vehicle, no offence, but what are the chances you might have a clue compared to them? :)
Parachutes have several other drawbacks apart from the mentioned added weight:
- They add an unknown variable in the landing sequence - you don't control how parachutes fall.
- The required explosive release system adds complexity and cost.
- They are expensive to reuse, testing them and folding them back in is not an easy process for any type of parachute.
- Parachutes are mostly subsonic, you'd need to slow down anyway to avoid using exotic supersonic (i.e. very expensive) parachutes.
I think most important is the fact that for Falcon missions, most of the burn after separation is to kill its forward velocity in order to return to the landing pad. A parachute would not help that (not at that altitude and speed), so you'd still need most of the existing system, and then why add a parachute?
The SRBs where built on a cost plus contract, cost was not even a consideration, and they didn't need them to return to a specific landing pad, they could just fall wherever the parachutes take them. So it was a good solution for them.

Oh, and back on topic, SpaceX has never got a "subsidy" that I am aware of. They get awarded contracts for launches that NASA/Air Force needs, but they actually get paid LESS than ULA for each launch! Yeah, even though they have a proven track record, ULA who developed most of their tech with unbelievably expensive cost plus contracts, still gets paid more for each launch.
 

ChefJeff789

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There is one thing I never understood about the design:

They are really close to the limit on fuel. In fact they have run out of fuel for landings before. So why aren't they using a drogue chute to slow that puppy down to reduce the need for rocket fuel slowing the decent.

Chutes are almost impossible to direct, and can get grabbed by gusts very easily. When aiming for such a tiny target from near-orbit, the random trajectory changes from a chute make it a poor choice. You can eject the chute at a high altitude, but again the problem is that it may have already thrown the rocket far enough off course that it can't reach the pad (for reference, I'm an aerospace engineer working in the industry). Like others have noted, every pound matters. You don't want to carry extra fuel - ideally the rocket will run out the instant it's fused to the pad (the Falcon flash-welds its feet to the barge pad, so it doesn't tip over).
 
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Chutes are almost impossible to direct, and can get grabbed by gusts very easily. When aiming for such a tiny target from near-orbit, the random trajectory changes from a chute make it a poor choice. You can eject the chute at a high altitude, but again the problem is that it may have already thrown the rocket far enough off course that it can't reach the pad (for reference, I'm an aerospace engineer working in the industry). Like others have noted, every pound matters. You don't want to carry extra fuel - ideally the rocket will run out the instant it's fused to the pad (the Falcon flash-welds its feet to the barge pad, so it doesn't tip over).

That makes a lot more sense.

I remembered most of the fuel used during a decent stage was used to slow the approach as it got close to ground. I thought it would make a reasonable approach to use a drogue for a couple seconds during that stage to save that fuel. The 100 + or so pounds of that chute plus ascent fuel would surely weigh less than the braking fuel without. But now that you pointed out the issues I understand.

To the previous poster ecquador: I never claimed I was smarter then space x engineers. If I was smarter I wouldn't be asking now would I? Now take the rocket out of your exhaust port. ;)
 
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Uncle

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Did you notice the flock of Geese flying backwards. Now play the video forward from the end. LOL Just Kdg.
 

0neTwo

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The rest of the post makes sense and all, but THAT little tid-bit blew my mind.
Its 100% incorrect. The rocket does no such thing, at all. Men used to board the ship after it has landed to weld the feet down. Now the "roomba" robot comes out and slides under the rocket to secure it.
 

daglesj

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Eh, you took "aero" in college and they have a team of rocket scientists working on the problem, who have successfully developed the most cost-effective launch vehicle, no offence, but what are the chances you might have a clue compared to them? :)
Parachutes have several other drawbacks apart from the mentioned added weight:
- They add an unknown variable in the landing sequence - you don't control how parachutes fall.
- The required explosive release system adds complexity and cost.
- They are expensive to reuse, testing them and folding them back in is not an easy process for any type of parachute.
- Parachutes are mostly subsonic, you'd need to slow down anyway to avoid using exotic supersonic (i.e. very expensive) parachutes.
I think most important is the fact that for Falcon missions, most of the burn after separation is to kill its forward velocity in order to return to the landing pad. A parachute would not help that (not at that altitude and speed), so you'd still need most of the existing system, and then why add a parachute?
The SRBs where built on a cost plus contract, cost was not even a consideration, and they didn't need them to return to a specific landing pad, they could just fall wherever the parachutes take them. So it was a good solution for them.

Oh, and back on topic, SpaceX has never got a "subsidy" that I am aware of. They get awarded contracts for launches that NASA/Air Force needs, but they actually get paid LESS than ULA for each launch! Yeah, even though they have a proven track record, ULA who developed most of their tech with unbelievably expensive cost plus contracts, still gets paid more for each launch.


Yeah parachutes can be as dangerous as...capes!
 

kirbyrj

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<Edit>...I was ranting about EODetroits view of the government and decided it wasn't worth it.
 
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DeathFromBelow

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<Edit>...I was ranting about EODetroits view of the government and decided it wasn't worth it.

Hey, even Thomas Jefferson had no problem using government money to aquire and explore the Louisiana territory.
 

Mohonri

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There is one thing I never understood about the design:

They are really close to the limit on fuel. In fact they have run out of fuel for landings before. So why aren't they using a drogue chute to slow that puppy down to reduce the need for rocket fuel slowing the decent.
ecuador hit most of the good points, but a couple more things are worth pointing out:
1) The landing burn doesn't use that much fuel, IIRC. It only uses a single engine. The boostback and re-entry burns each use three engines and use a lot more fuel than the terminal burn. Those two also occur at much, much higher altitudes, where parachutes would be less effective anywhere.
2) The cost of the fuel isn't all that much, relatively speaking. I seem to remember Elon Musk stating that the fuel costs for the first stage are something like $250k per launch. To allow for landing, they need an extra 30% of fuel, compared to a disposable first stage. So let's say the extra fuel costs $80,000. A parachute system for a 25-ton empty first stage could very easily cost that much or more, and would definitely be non-reusable--you'd have to cut the parachutes after slowing down in order to land in the intended location.
 
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workshop35

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Oh, and back on topic, SpaceX has never got a "subsidy" that I am aware of. They get awarded contracts for launches that NASA/Air Force needs, but they actually get paid LESS than ULA for each launch! Yeah, even though they have a proven track record, ULA who developed most of their tech with unbelievably expensive cost plus contracts, still gets paid more for each launch.

Pretty sure the reason they get paid less is because they are far less reliable than ULA is for these launches. When's the last time an Atlas rocket blew up on the pad or on launch? You pay for 100% launch success. Too much probably though, but at least you'll know it will work.
 

LMT MFA

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Every time an Elon Musk company gets brought up, subsidies come up. No one ever mentions that the companies he goes up against are subsidized to a higher degree.

No one ever mentions that Tesla paid back a loan with interest that other big car companies (who got a lot more, mind you), forfeited on.

Without Tesla, other car companies wouldn't be throwing their weight behind electric, or at least gas-alternatives, there would be zero progress on this front. Self-driving cars would still be a far-fetched future thing, instead of now being right around the corner. Google was working on it longer, but Tesla showed the first real steps and now you see how other car manufacturers have scrambled and are getting with the program.
Without SpaceX, we'd all still be cradling a broken dream from back when we were kids, about the space exploration we thought would by now be reality. Instead it's now again an exciting part of our near future. Most of us are now likely to see boots on Mars and again on the Moon within our lifetime, and our kids might even go there.
That solar company is already making an impact in small communities, and I believe helping in getting essential infrastructure back online in hurricane devastated areas.
Who knows what the Boring company and OpenAI are going to bring to the table, but their plans look cool.

If this stuff needs subsidies, that is money well spent. Tesla and SpaceX, by competition alone, have already brought "the future" forward by decades, that's already done, even if they'd quit today, the tech and plans from other companies is already well underway.

You wanna point fingers at subsidies? Point them at United Launch Alliance, see how much funding they're sucking up yearly. Point them at the car companies that default on loans paid from tax-payers funds and get away with it.

It's like people don't want some real honest to God progress.
 

LMT MFA

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Pretty sure the reason they get paid less is because they are far less reliable than ULA is for these launches. When's the last time an Atlas rocket blew up on the pad or on launch? You pay for 100% launch success. Too much probably though, but at least you'll know it will work.

Pretty sure they get paid more because they're Lockheed Martin and Boeing and have their fists so far up the government's ass they made it just about impossible to go up against them so they could pretty much dictate how much money they'd get. Things that are nicely under investigation by now IIRC.
 

Uvaman2

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Every time an Elon Musk company gets brought up, subsidies come up. No one ever mentions that the companies he goes up against are subsidized to a higher degree.

No one ever mentions that Tesla paid back a loan with interest that other big car companies (who got a lot more, mind you), forfeited on.

Without Tesla, other car companies wouldn't be throwing their weight behind electric, or at least gas-alternatives, there would be zero progress on this front. Self-driving cars would still be a far-fetched future thing, instead of now being right around the corner. Google was working on it longer, but Tesla showed the first real steps and now you see how other car manufacturers have scrambled and are getting with the program.
Without SpaceX, we'd all still be cradling a broken dream from back when we were kids, about the space exploration we thought would by now be reality. Instead it's now again an exciting part of our near future. Most of us are now likely to see boots on Mars and again on the Moon within our lifetime, and our kids might even go there.
That solar company is already making an impact in small communities, and I believe helping in getting essential infrastructure back online in hurricane devastated areas.
Who knows what the Boring company and OpenAI are going to bring to the table, but their plans look cool.

If this stuff needs subsidies, that is money well spent. Tesla and SpaceX, by competition alone, have already brought "the future" forward by decades, that's already done, even if they'd quit today, the tech and plans from other companies is already well underway.

You wanna point fingers at subsidies? Point them at United Launch Alliance, see how much funding they're sucking up yearly. Point them at the car companies that default on loans paid from tax-payers funds and get away with it.

It's like people don't want some real honest to God progress.
But but but... Reality can't stand a change against the Elon Musk blind hate of some, that and shorter's have to do their job spreading FUD.
 

PaulP

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SpaceX has received no subsidies from the government. They bid on a contract to provide cargo launch services to the International Space Station, and they are delivering on that contact; at a lower cost than any other provider, I might add. They also bid on the contract to provide human launches to the ISS, and won a piece of it. But they told NASA that they couldn't do it on the schedule NASA wanted it. The other providers said the same thing. So NASA offered to throw in some development funds to help speed things up. SpaceX got less than the others but will probably be the first one to actually deliver people to the ISS. So no subsidies here, just payment for services rendered.
 
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