back to article Boeing CEO takes aim at Musk’s Starman-in-a-Tesla stunt

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg took a shot at SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch during a discussion with Politico’s Robert Allbritton last night. After commending the innovation of the new-space community, while pointing out that Boeing had had its claws into the space industry since the dawn of spaceflight, Muilenburg was keen to …

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  1. Alister Silver badge

    With the recent investment in Reaction Engines Limited, this may stand a chance of becoming a reality

    Hmm, whatever fraction of the £26M that was shared between Boeing and Rolls Royce. Not exactly a massive injection of cash, considering the size of either company, more an expression of polite interest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "a discussion with Politico’s Robert Allbritton"

      Ah, yes. It's still called Politico and not The Lobbyist Loudhorn or The Establishment's Recorder?

      Colour me surprised that they hype up Boeing's rocket business.

  2. Geekpride

    Pathetic. Regardless of what you think of Musk, SpaceX are getting stuff done and are doing more to get people excited about space flight than Boeing are. They should try getting their own act together instead of being reduced to belittling the success of others.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Probably why His Muskness said "Do it"...

    2. MrXavia

      Musk should use the next test flight of the heavy to do a lunar orbital return flight, or even a landing and return with the dragon2 (assuming it has the delta-v capabilities I can't be bothered to look today)

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Musk should use the next test flight

        All this pro-Musk talk ignores the inconvenient fact that Musk's shots derive their funding from NASA (i.e. taxpayers) just like Boeing's do.

        Musk can't go to the moon on NASA's dime because, well, it costs more than the said dime.

        I reckon NASA might usefully examine a model wherin they run the launch facilities and provide a telemetry consultancy for private firms who get the chance to belly up to the bar and do what they claim to be able to do - make spaceflight a reality via the private sector and it's money.

        The taxpayers can lease space on said flights just like Musk and Co want right now, but the expensive R&D should be funded privately or these buggers should shut the fuck up about "private industry vs government projects". If I'm helping pay for it it ain't private industry that is getting the job done, it is a partnership that too many "entrepreneurs" don't acknowledge openly or often enough.

        Something along the lines of "With our expertise and the vital funding from taxpayers hard-earned money, we can make this a reality".

        No, I'm not holding my breath. Then again, I'll never float in the vacuum of space, so notwithstanding the same companies paying for the dismantlement of the EPA and the deterioration of the "free as in" air I probably won't have to.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Musk should use the next test flight

          We would have been on Mars at least a decade ago or sooner if space exploration was funded half as well as bombing brown people has been and will be. Vietnam and the bill due did as much to kill the momentum of Apollo as anything.

        2. Flakk Silver badge

          Re: Musk should use the next test flight

          All this pro-Musk talk ignores the inconvenient fact that Musk's shots derive their funding from NASA (i.e. taxpayers) just like Boeing's do.

          Not really. I am quite mindful that SpaceX is receiving huge amounts of taxpayer funds, just as I am mindful that compared to SpaceX, NASA's progress (and, by extension, Boeing's) seems positively glacial.

          If this fact is inconvenient for anybody, it's NASA and Boeing.

    3. DCFusor Silver badge
      Pint

      So, Boeing's going to retrieve the car

      On their own dime, instead of wasting mine, for a change? Fat chance. Popcorn ready, but I call TOTAL BS. Tell you what mister insecure CEO - I'll pay the new price for that used car to help you with the costs. And yes, given your Total Inability To Space Unusual Pickup devices....

      I'll even buy you the beer.

      Because with your normal launch costs, anything a mere millionaire could recompense you is barely a rounding error - and that's the (double precision floating) point.

  3. maffski

    ...more an expression of polite interest

    A marking of territory. If the test show promise they'll stump up the cash for the next phase. BAE have increased their existing investment so it must be making progress.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: ...more an expression of polite interest

      A marking of territory. If the test show promise they'll beg the government for the cash for the next phase. BAE have increased their existing investment so it must be making progress.

      As much as everyone screams about the subsidies SpaceX has gotten, they were quite literally peanuts compared to what gets dumped into Boeing every year.

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Hmm

    Dear Boeing,

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Best

    Elon

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      Or more succinctly .... "Do it"

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Yes, that's nicely succint

        Though I think ""Go ahead, make my day" has a certain ring to it.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Or more succinctly .... "Do it"

        Considering the context, that strikes me as polite "code" for "Bite me!"

        1. Sweep

          Re: Hmm

          I think Musk would be happy to see anyone put humans on Mars. That's my take on it.

    2. Samoa Tech

      Re: Hmm

      Do it = all that!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the a leader slags off a competitor...

    ..it's because they are genuinely worried.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: When the a leader slags off a competitor...

      I regard Elon's companies as a bit like Napster. Even if they eventually fail (which I doubt), they've rewritten the rulebook as to how the game is played.

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: When the a leader slags off a competitor...

      First they ignore us

      Then they laugh at us*

      Then they fight us

      Then we win.

      *I reckon on that performance, we're about here.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: When the a leader slags off a competitor...

        You're reading my mind again, aren't you?

        My exact thoughts when reading the article :o

  6. Herring`

    One thing that Space-X have done: they've made landing a rocket from the edge of space on a robot barge seem routine.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Sod the barge, coordinated twin landings of the boosters in the middle of pads next to the launch pad stole the show. It could almost have been footage from the pre-launch computer generated video of how things were hoped to go.

      It's watching things like that which make you realise we are living in the future.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        And if, while watching the twin rockets landing on pillars of fire, you didn't have the Thunderbirds music ringing in your head - then you've no soul. Or are too young/old to have watched Super-Marionnation, or can't remember music.

        Now where's my nuclear powered airliner!

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Thunderbirds? Super-Marionnation? I guess I'm too old and missed these shows although I think my kids may have watched them. I need to do some Googling and see what I missed.

      2. Herring`

        The twin booster landing has to be up there in the top 10 coolest things anyone has ever done. And I'm including stuff like Worcestershire sauce on cheese on toast here.

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge

          re I'm including stuff like Worcestershire sauce on cheese on toast here

          Steady on! That's still leaps ahead a pifling booster landing!

        2. Samoa Tech

          Nothing compared to "Worcestershire sauce on cheese on toast here."

          Take that E.M.!

          1. MJI Silver badge

            er!

            Worcester NOT Worcestershire

            1. Stevie Silver badge

              Re: er!

              That's not what Lee and Perrins print on their labels.

              They say Worcestershire, as the picture on their Wikipedia page will show.

      3. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > footage from the pre-launch computer generated video

        Hell, I was there in person, and it STILL looked like CGI... it was so perfectly done.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Even more perfectly, they didn't land together - there was a deliberate 2second gap so that the landing radar didn't interfere with each other. That's how precise it was!

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          > Hell, I was there in person

          Were they playing the Thunderbirds theme over the PA?

          (If not, Elon should have done it)

      4. Chris Tierney

        Thunderbirds

        I grew up watching Thunderbird 3 land vertically thinking how cool and idea it was and it simply sparked my imagination as a child. However I grew up and that spark got slowly extinguished that no-one had yet managed this outside of tethered test rockets. Elon Musk with his double booster landing and every other falcon 9 first stage landing has made me realise once again that anything is possible and I should never give up on the imagination of him and people like him. The spark is back and I'm off to watch some Thunderbird 3 err I mean falcon 9 first stage landings on YouTube.

      5. TDog

        It was science fiction in reality. My 91 year old father cried. They used to go out to watch a plane fly overhead in Rotherham. And had horse drawn rubbish carts. And electric trolley busses. And I nearly cried as well.

        Like to see the mars thing. Love to see Heinlein city on the moon, which we probably need, because of the cheap delta v and lots of stuff there.

        Doubt if I will live to see anything else, but one can hope.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      they've made landing a rocket from the edge of space on a robot barge seem routine.

      Well, as Meatloaf once bellowed; Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.

  7. Clive Galway
    FAIL

    "We might pick up the one that's out there and bring it back"

    Bringing things back is SpaceX's forte, dumbass.

    1. IglooDude

      Re: "We might pick up the one that's out there and bring it back"

      Indeed. It invites a Musk response along the lines of "start with your own boosters".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

    ... which will impact, AFAIK, the ULA Atlas first stage - and probably made Musk happier...

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

      It's funny... Congress bitches about the embarrassment of launching American national security satellites on Russian engines, but they forget the original agreement was to get a license to produce a copy of the engines in the US and then work on improving them... which Congress then refused to fund.

      Fuckers. Incompetent illiterate hillbilly goat fuckers.

      So if Russia has indeed embargoed the engines (which I haven't heard) then I will laugh so hard, my liver will probably fall out. One of the very few times I will agree with Putin.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

        I'll have you know there are some mighty fine hillbilly goat fuckers out there.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

          "I'll have you know there are some mighty fine hillbilly goat fuckers out there."

          Yeah! The BEST hillbilly goat fuckers. The GREATEST! Yeah, really, the BEST in the world. MAGA!

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

        embarrassment of launching American national security satellites on Russian engines

        I thought US won the space race because our Germans were better than their Germans ?

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

        "So if Russia has indeed embargoed the engines (which I haven't heard) then I will laugh so hard, my liver will probably fall out. "

        They might have to buy more launches from the cheese eating surrender monkeys who quite sensibly use their own engines. Or offer more cash to Musk :-)

  9. AdamT

    Not a zero sum game...

    SpaceX upset the launch the market by coming in a showing they could do similar stuff to the incumbents but much cheaper. But assuming that drives costs down for everyone, that has to be a good thing for the American Tax Payer (and everyone else who wants to put a something in space). But it seems that many people (including this Boeing dude) are still treating this as a zero-sum game. i.e. that every launch SpaceX (or whoever) does is a launch that they don't get to do. I can see why the car industry might be worried about Tesla, for example, because (very roughly) someone in the market for a new (pricey) car is only going to buy one so, yes, you might lose a sale to someone else.

    But in the space industry a big bottle neck has been cost and availability, and now it looks like costs are going to go down and the availability of all sorts of different and new launch capabilities is going to go up. In that environment can't all of them benefit from the new customers and types of customer that will appear?

    Could well have missed something here but it does seem like a situation in which they should all be able to benefit because they are jointly creating a market that doesn't currently exist.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably very close to a zero sum game

      Primary payloads are expensive and need a sound business case, I believe very few not think "hey, let's build and launch a satellite because prices are down!"

      1. MrXavia

        Re: Probably very close to a zero sum game

        Cube-Sats

        If you can have scheduled cube sat launches, for a fixed price, it would work great

      2. AdamT

        Re: Probably very close to a zero sum game

        @AC - well I think there is an extent to which, yes, that's exactly how some companies think. Part of the business case will be the launch cost and that just got slashed. But there could also be some other cost savings brought on by the new capabilities. Naively you could speculate that a manufacturer could look at their bill-of-materials for the satellite they are just about to build and ask the question "next year I can launch something twice the weight for the same price so how much money can I save by making the chassis out of cast iron rather than <exotic alloy> ?" This might just end up being a $/kg issue: FH is 1400 $/Kg to LEO which is already nearly twice as good as F9 (at 2700 $/Kg) and both those are substantially better than ULA has ever offered (depending on which figures you use you can guess between 5 and 10 times better).

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Probably very close to a zero sum game

          "Part of the business case will be the launch cost and that just got slashed. But there could also be some other cost savings brought on by the new capabilities. "

          That's _exactly_ what's happening.

          Most of the cost isn't the launch mass in any case. It's that high launch costs drive high payload costs by engineering the shit out of the payload and building hundreds of prototypes of _everything_. (the actual unit costs of the flight spares are only a small percentage of any mission cost) If you can afford increased risk then you can build fewer prototypes, which means massively decreased overall bottom line figures.

          Those same high costs add even more complexity by causing "everything including the kitchen sink" to be thrown onto a mission, especially if it happens to be going outside earth orbit (eg: Mars). Mission creep is a very real danger. Cheaper launches mean that you can afford to have more, cheaper launches. On the other hand you can also afford to stick on hitchhikers for interplanetary missions like a dozen beagles (don't laugh, the concept was sound, but quality british funding arrived far too late to be of any use, so the probe went with "string and sticky-tape" prototype level hardware because there was no time left to make space-rated stuff before launch.)

          For GEO communications birds, bigger is most definitely better. It means bigger, more foccusable antenna arrays, bigger more powerful transmitters (and more of them), bigger fuel tanks for stationkeeping and longer life on orbit. Every single increase in launch mass capacity since the 1980s has been enthusiastically taken up by the big boys very quickly.

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