back to article SpaceX beats off Bezos' rocket for rights to historic NASA launch pad

Jeff Bezos is going to be fuming after NASA announced that it will lease its historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center to Elon Musk's SpaceX operation – and not the Amazon chief's Blue Origins rocketry firm. NASA Launch Control 39A Public spaceport goes private ... the 39A launch pad "The reuse of Launch Complex 39A …

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FAIL

Put up or shut up

Considering Blue Origins has yet to produce anything tangible, and SpaceX has delivered payloads to ISS & GSO, I wouldn't be sad if we never heard from Bezos again.

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Trollface

Re: Put up or shut up

Aren't you saying that we actually MUST hear from Bezos again?

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Unhappy

Re: Put up or shut up

"Considering Blue Origins has yet to produce anything tangible, and SpaceX has delivered payloads to ISS & GSO, "

How about the 100 000 LH2/LO2 engine?

Or the work on M1+ launchers?

BO are not big on publicity. That does make them insubstantial players.

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Re: Put up or shut up

They may have an engine and a suborbital rocket and done some work on a a launcher, but they simply haven't launched anything remotely requiring a pad like this, whereas SpaceX have. They may be private, but they are way behind SpaceX.

If BO produce anything that needs something like pad 39 within 5 years, I will be very surprised.

Seems like the sensible choice from NASA.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Put up or shut up

If the Special Projects Bureau had also tendered for the pad, NASA may have relegated the BO offer to 3rd place.

May be Musk will let the Special Projects Bureau have use of the pad, though I hope the editorial independence of the Reg will not be at risk.

Paris - Can get her to come, and press the launch button.

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Re: Put up or shut up

It's not as simple as BO not having launched anything, it's all actually quite complicated.

Space X has, from day 1, been 100% dependent on the US government for resources, technical expertise and guaranteed funding (Señor Musk borrowed the money for this endeavor, you know that right?). Space X was built, from its initial proposals onward, to be the US go-to company. Basically NASA outsourced itself. The advantages are huge for Space X, but so are their commitments. They get privileged access to US resources and expertise, but everything they do is dictated by the government. All the back rubbing and Congressional ass kissing/work offsets, are still there and will always be there. That was in the design all along.

Space X was never intended to commercialize space. Ever. Space X was intended to commercialize NASA, which they're doing a damn fine job of.

Blue Origin on the other hand is in the same class as the Bigelow project. They're aiming to make space related 'stuff' a true commodity. As such they've got different goals and operations to deal with. Ultimately BO and possibly Bigelow, will likely be vendors to Space X/NASA but will also have opportunities that Space X will never be allowed to take part in because of their deep integration with the government.

It's two different roads being travelled with two different destinations in mind. Both are equally important and valid ways of going about simplifying space travel/exploration and, in reality aren't competitors. The competition for some resources will always be there, but each business is built, from the ground up, with different goals in mind, and that's as is should be.

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Re: Put up or shut up

The same could be said for Boeing or Lockheed-Martin

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Re: Put up or shut up

Well, yes, the same can be said of Boeing or Lockheed. Space X was designed from the very beginning to be the space focused equivalent of Boeing or Lockheed. The people in Congress who aren't so thick as to hate science have wanted a non-NASA option for many years.

Go read the Space X proposals and vision documents, the government was the one out looking for a new space specialist and were the ones encouraging Musk and his pals to create a new private sector specialist in space travel and exploration. Thankfully it was Musk who decided to do this. Plenty of people wouldn't have taken it seriously and just have taken the easy money.

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Joke

Re: Put up or shut up

the editorial independence of the Reg

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha *breathe* hahahahah!

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Re: Put up or shut up

SpaceX may have been reliant on that funding from day 1, but if you've followed the company you'll know that government work is not their aim, long term. Their long term aim is commercial work, with government work as well done much like any other company.

Their plan is to be a multi-purpose launch company; basically they want to be space truckers to anyone who wants to pay them.

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WTF?

Re: Put up or shut up

I'm not the one that needs to be following the company. I'm not sure what you're following, but Space X themselves tell you that the US government is their primary customer and will always be their primary customer. Anything that isn't US government is a bonus but it is not nor has it ever been key to their plans.

Maybe you're bogged down in the feel good press stories? The same kind of thing that used to see Microsoft dominating the 'smart home'. But the actual business part of Space X is wholly pragmatic and wholly focused on being a subsidy of the US government. Look at their RFQ's for projects, it says that right in the documents. Read their vision documents, it says that right in the first things they ever published.

I don't have the first negative thing to say about the company, but I've also got the sense not to get caught up in the romantic 'Tony Stark builds a spaceship' mythos the press has built. The company itself doesn't toe that line, those who do just come across as simple and easily marketed to.

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Re: Put up or shut up

Gotta love the downvotes for truth. I'm sorry if the world doesn't work the way you think it does, but there's nothing I can do about it. Instead of living in a fantasy world where you just end up being disappointed, try accepting reality and understanding what you're championing. It'll make the world a lot nicer for you.

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Re: Put up or shut up @Don

Not sure what your point is. Musk has taken advantage of government subsidies and knowledge to start space rocket company, done when he found he couldn't buy what he needed for his own Mars plans (that's what Musk has said, I presume he wasn't lying). That seems, well, an obvious route to me. He's also been doing lots of development outside of NASA's original requirements IIRC - Grasshopper, Human rated Dragon etc. I'm all for Musk on this one - don;t reinvent the wheel, just make a better one. And if the government will pay you to develop it, take advantage. In the end, both Musk and the government benefit. (Unless they continue to fund SLS, or whatever vastly overpriced system is currently in vogue).

And I've heard at least one BO employee saying they are wasting their time - the speed of development is glacial, and the concepts flawed. The only reason they are still going is Bezo's very very deep pockets.

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Facepalm

"Blue Origin"

Singular.

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"Launch Complex"

Not "launch control".

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Joke

Re: "Blue Origin"

Aaaahhh! BO as in Blue Origin - there I was thinking Bezos had the other kind of BO and so I wasn't surprised they wouldn't let him near 39A

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Ominous.

> if Congress is prepared to give it the funding to do so

Considering that a) the republicans can easily filibuster all legislation, and has done so to slash Obama's proposed funding for NASA, and b) the republicans are driven by libertarian fervor to never ever spend tax money on anything but the military and subsidies to corporations (but I repeat myself), that does not bode well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ominous.

Never got that subsidies-for-corporations thing. I thought you guys were Capitalist rather than a state-lead protectionist bunch of socialists- which is what propping up failing corps is.

Someone should really call them out on that one, more or less whenever they call the Democrats socialists.

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Re: Ominous.

That's OK then, the SLS and Orion *are* subsidies to corporations...

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Re: Ominous.

> SLS and Orion *are* subsidies to corporations

Pretty much, yeah, otherwise NASA would have been defunded long ago.

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Holmes

Re: Ominous.

> republicans are driven by libertarian fervor

I don't think the words you use have the meaning that you think they have.

Republicans are big-state conservatives, they just to tax & spend for as much as democrats, or at least do not manage to do otherwise. This is called "bipartisan consensus": spending other people's money to mind other people's business, while doing some welfare on the side. If one can squeeze it in, grill some sandpeople for fun & profit.

Libertarians are something completely different.

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Re: Ominous.

Indeed, Libertarians are a different thing altogether. I'm not certain how valid all their ideas are, but they are at least not just the two sides of the same coin like the Democrats and Republicans. We're certain the ideas from those two parties are all pretty much invalid.

But corporate subsidies are a direct result of successful capitalism. Capitalism is a concept which revolves around the management of money so that it can be acquired in greater quantities than are necessary for a functional society. It has absolutely zero, nothing to do with free markets, it is 100% the opposite of a free market environment. Everything about capitalism is hostile to a free market(s).

A free market is one which is self regulated through the unleveraged distribution of 'money'. Its only goal is to be free. Full stop. That's it and the idea is DOA the second a government imposes the collection of taxes on its citizens. But that's beside the point.

The manipulation of public resources is the ultimate expression of capitalism. Individuals/companies have acquired enough resources to be able to force the government to distribute public funds in their favor with the aim of using those resources to acquire more resources. Dictating the distribution of public resources means you've won at capitalism. It is the only way it can work.

Capitalism has worked well for me, but that means by default, it didn't work out so well for others. But it is very important not to confuse capitalism and free markets. They cannot exist in the same time and place.

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Mushroom

Re: Ominous.

Never got that subsidies-for-corporations thing. I thought you guys were Capitalist rather than a state-lead protectionist bunch of socialists- which is what propping up failing corps is.

Someone should really call them out on that one, more or less whenever they call the Democrats socialists.

Nope. Corporate Communist Capitalists are what we are now.

They have been called out. Many times. But like most people in the closet while denouncing the very thing they are in secret, their denial is often pathological if not violent and then doubling down on the very behavior they are denouncing.

And it gets worse from there...

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Re: Ominous.

Libertarians are something completely different

No, Libertarians claim to be something completely different. It's the same old money-shuffling scam, with a whiff of feudalism added.

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Re: Ominous.

There's a pretty big gap between those who think they're Libertarians, and those who actually are. More than a few people have latched onto the name simply because it sets them apart from the more insane elements of the Republican Party. The little surge in those claiming a Libertarian philosophy is largely due to the GOP losing control of its members and its message, not increased interest in Libertarian ideals.

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Re: Ominous.

You really ought to stop getting your daily intake of misinformation from MSLSD. You have such a mishmash of conflicting information I'm not sure I can sort it out for you, but I'll give it a shot.

1. Republicans aren't anti-science. They are anti-politicizing science. If the rest of the budget is in order, they're up for funding the next gizmo after the latest particle Large Hadron Collider. To the extent we have a gripe with NASA it is that we need to get the government out of NASA and let private enterprise begin to drive space exploration and development. The one function of NASA that probably needs to remain with government is a regulatory function similar to the FAA as private development proceeds.

2. Neither Libertarians nor social conservatives are in favor of subsidies to corporations. RINOs might be. We both favor reducing tax rates to the minimum necessary to provide for the constitutionally permitted functions of government. We regard taxes on business as inefficient and constitutionally questionable because no business actually pays taxes. They pass along the cost to the consumer and reduce output of whatever good it is the business would otherwise be producing.

3. The primary source for taxes is something of a topic for debate. The two primary camps are a flat national sales tax (not a VAT) or a flat national income tax.

- The national sales tax proponents claim they'd manage to gather revenue even from illegal operations such as drug smuggling. More importantly as a tax on consumption rather than income it would be economically efficient. The claim is also asserted that such a system would be less invasive than our current tax collection process. Libertarians tend to prefer this option for what I think are obvious reasons and are joined by some conservatives in support of this system.

- Flat tax is seen by others as somewhat easier to implement and less disruptive. This view holds that the problems with income tax are more to do with its redistributive functions than the tax itself. Particularly pernicious‎ to a democratic republic is excluding too large a group of people from the tax. They hold that while there would be some simplification from the sales tax route, you'll still wind up with invasive regulation by government. Given the risk is the abuse of government power the best remedy is to place all citizens equally at risk of the abuse rather than insulating a faction from it.

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FAIL

Re: Ominous.

Republicans, as a party, are militantly anti-science. Don't even mention them and particle accelerators, the GOP strangled the last one when they thought it might dethrone their god. They give their approval to anti-science based education as well as anti-science based basic health issues.

The budget being right? What the fuck are you talking about? If they have to contribute to that budget it's never right for them. They want everyone else to pay for their massive subsidies to the defense industry that exceed by 200x our annual science spend. The massive subsidies for the petroleum companies. The massive subsidies for large scale agriculture. The massive subsidies for the chemical industry. The massive subsidies for the financial sector. The list goes on, and on, and on. The GOP flagship interests are are the biggest subsidies on Earth. The GOP industry love-buddy subsidies were larger than the GDP of China last year.

Whatever party it is you think you belong to it sure as hell isn't the GOP. I'm sure they appreciate your vote, but you should research, even a little bit, what you're supporting before you go out advertising for the wrong guys.

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Re: Ominous.

" Everything about capitalism is hostile to a free market(s)."

Indeed, which is why in the Land of the Free, the govt has had to step in on several occasions to break up monopolies built from naked capitalist behaviour.

The capitalists realised that the way to avoid any more repeats was to buy the government - which is a task that has almost been completed.

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Re: Ominous.

Don't confuse your hatred with real facts and not DNC talking points that have been filtered through the LSM. I'm a Republican and I'm for basic research funding IF the rest of the budget is in order. So are all the rest of the actual Republicans I've met.

Military spending if one of the few EXPLICITLY allowed federal expenditures. Basic science research falls into the gray area just like the Louisiana purchase. Everything else you're spewing is just YOUR hatred, not real facts. So if you really want to be tolerant and diverse, pull your head out of your nether region and start EDUCATING yourself.

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K
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My how far NASA has fallen :(

NASA - Need Another Space Agency!

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Unhappy

Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

An organisation that at it's best led the world developing imense expertise in the process, now reduced to selling the family silver.

Hmmm. Sounds rather like the BBC.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

Not sure that's how I would look at it. If a process/function/service can operate without the state sponsoring it, then it removes the dependancy of the aforementioned process/function/service on peoples hard earned tax dollars. Which can only be a good thing?

Whether this sould be applied to auntie or not is another topic for another day.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

You can thank Congress for that. Budget slash after budget slash has made them a shell of what they once were.

It's why they lost 2 shuttles.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

NASA's funding has never, ever been anything more than a rounding error compared to the staggering sums of cash hurled at the military / defence industries over the same period.

Politicians do so love a good, lucrative, distracting war. It's practically a tradition.

As for the BBC: there's a myth that only the UK has a TV License. This is not only untrue, but many EU countries have both a TV license and adverts on their publicly funded TV stations. Oh, and those licenses are often more expensive too.

Seriously, try Italian TV sometime. It makes the BBC look like HBO and Netflix combined! RAI used to be pretty good at home-grown content, but Berlusconi's machinations put paid to that: 99% of RAI's output today consists of cheap talk shows, archive clip shows, and the like. Dramas are almost entirely imported (and dubbed), while the very few (admittedly quite decent) home-grown dramas tend to be the usual detective / cop show variety based on existing novels. So hardly a creative stretch.

The French and Germans are a little better, but the BBC is, as far as I'm aware, the only European TV broadcaster to have no advertising at all, regardless of funding.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

An opportunity for a perfect synergy

The BBC's finest hour - broadcasting heroic Churchillian speeches during WWII

Nasa's finest hour - using Nazi rocket scientists to build bigger versions of a V2

So all we need is a war with Germany

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

You're right. Everybody likes to think the world has moved on since WWII, but the fact of the matter is that most of what's been done since then is either a refinement of technology for the war efforts of various countries or stack on social effects. Everything from women in non-secretarial work roles to computer processors and the EU and UN to the Internet to the outsourcing of work is a direct effect of the War.

It would be nearly impossible for such a large scale Human war to happen in today's world though. What we need is an alien invasion. Angry, advanced aliens who want to kill us, not make friends. An enemy we can unify against and get back to effective warfare and technological developments.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

The shuttles were lost before they even laucnhed, thanks to conflicting demands turning an elegant small spaceplane into a misshapen camel.

The ironic thing was that the biggest driver of the camel's creation (the USAF) jumped ship and eventually built the very thing that NASA originally envisaged. There's a robotised version in orbit above us as I type.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

"The French and Germans are a little better, but the BBC is, as far as I'm aware, the only European TV broadcaster to have no advertising at all, regardless of funding."

Pity the Belgians - A TV license is compulsary (even if you don't have a TV) AND there's no govt TV station.

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Re: My how far NASA has fallen :(

"Angry, advanced aliens who want to kill us, "

Hungry advanced aliens who wish to make us into fast food fillings might galvanise people even more.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Taste

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Coffee/keyboard

"SpaceX Beats Off Bezos' Rocket"

Yet another classic El Reg headline.

Congrats, guys.

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Trollface

Re: "SpaceX Beats Off Bezos' Rocket"

"UUNNGGHH!"

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Joke

White Cat?

Hugo Drax never had a white cat...

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Holmes

Track Record Trumps Promises

The other posters are right that this is about a proven track record.

Space X has it. Blue Origin does not. It both technology, missions and contracts.

Sincere good luck to Blue Origin, but they need a track record to play in the big leagues and at the current rate of their progress, they will eventually achieve it.

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VAB?

Does this mean they get to use the VAB an crawler / transporter as well?

Anyone know?

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Anonymous Coward

Seen over the launchpad

Several weaponized Amazon package delivery copters circling and waiting for the first SpaceX rocket to appear.

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