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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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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...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.

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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.

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Mushroom

Hmm

Dear Boeing,

Actions speak louder than words.

Best

Elon

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm

Or more succinctly .... "Do it"

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Yes, that's nicely succint

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

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Re: Hmm

Or more succinctly .... "Do it"

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

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Re: Hmm

Do it = all that!

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Re: Hmm

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

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Anonymous Coward

When the a leader slags off a competitor...

..it's because they are genuinely worried.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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> 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.

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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!

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> Hell, I was there in person

Were they playing the Thunderbirds theme over the PA?

(If not, Elon should have done it)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Take that E.M.!

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MJI
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er!

Worcester NOT Worcestershire

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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.

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FAIL

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

Bringing things back is SpaceX's forte, dumbass.

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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".

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Anonymous Coward

Russia just announced an embargo on rocket engines...

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

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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.

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

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

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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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 ?

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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 :-)

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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!

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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.

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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!"

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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

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Re: Not a zero sum game...

AdamT,

Sure, SpaceX will almost certainly bring new customers into the market by lowering prices. If there's something to do via satellite that's only marginally profitable now, then it could become so with $20m lower launch costs. But it will take big price drops for that to matter much, given that even a £100m launch cost is less than the $400m satellite. Figures picked out of thin air, for illustrative purposes only...

But that doesn't help Boeing if they are still charging around $100-$200m per launch - when SpaceX are currently around $60m + some discount if you take a second-hand rocket. They said in a press conference a while ago that this would be no more than 30% off. Because if SpaceX can ramp up capacity, and stay reliable, they can steal all of Boeing/ULA's customers. As well as hoovering up the shiny new ones.

I don't know how many parts any of these rockets share, but I don't think it's any at all. So I doubt that an increase in volume of SpaceX production helps anybody else. Obviously if everyone sells more, then everyone gets economies of scale. Worst-case though is SpaceX alone get the increase, they get the economies of scale, become cheaper and it becomes a virtuous circle. Plus extra death-spiral for everyone else.

Especially if the BFR turns out to be all it's cracked up to be.

Boeing would be better served by talking a lot less shit, and getting more shit done.

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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).

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