atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#6110: NASA, wasting money

Here's how NASA spends money. $234 million to build a launch tower for the Ares rocket, which was cancelled by Obama in 2010. Then in 2011 Obama told NASA they needed a launcher after all, so NASA started work on Space Launch System, and they spent $281 million on modifying that launcher (used once!) to fit the SLS.

So, $500-odd million, and we've launched one rocket from it. But "NASA anticipates spending an additional $396.2 million on the mobile launcher from 2015 through the maiden launch of the SLS, probably in 2020." So now we're pretty close to $900 million for a launcher which has launched one rocket and which furthermore is leaning.
According to a new report in, the expensive tower is "leaning" and "bending." For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper.

These defects raise concerns about the longevity of the launch tower and increase the likelihood that NASA will seek additional funding to build a second one. In fact, it is entirely possible that the launch tower may serve only for the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020 and then be cast aside. This would represent a significant waste of resources by the space agency.
Close to a billion dollars if NASA can stay under budget this time, and it'll be used TWICE.

"Moreover, the agency will have required eight years to modify a launch tower it built in two years."

Meanwhile, Falcon Heavy puts a ton in orbit for $2.2 million. It's the cheapest ride on the block; the next-closest heavy-lift vehicle costs $2.7 million a ton but there's a 10% failure rate.

Excluding development costs--which, so far, are stratospheric--SLS would run $6.7 million per ton. If you include development costs, well...forget it.

NASA is a government agency. We should get them out of the business of developing launch systems; let them buy launches instead. It'll save money all around.

* * *

You guys do realize that if the Yellowstone caldera were to erupt, it wouldn't have to be a big one? It's like people forget that sometimes volcanoes just kind of go "burp" and then shut up for another thousand years. Or ten.

Sure, the entire Yellowstone caldera could abruptly head skyward and cover the country with ash. And it could just as easily blast one tiny corner of itself into a charred wasteland, letting off the pressure and preventing a larger disaster.

* * *

I seem to recall predicting that Amazon's new HQ was most likely to end up in or near Washington, D.C. Looking more and more like I was right.

* * *

This should happen every time a rich Democrat gets up and starts talking about how awful it is that there are rich people. Because all Democrat politicians are rich, to one extent or another, and the higher up the food chain you get, the richer they are.

We just need to ask them, loudly and repeatedly: "WHAT IS YOUR NET WORTH?"

* * *

It's rained so much I'm expecting to see animals lining up in pairs. Last night there was flooding all over the bunker's immediate environs, I think because the ground is (was?) still largely frozen and the water couldn't penetrate.

Thunderstorms last night, freezing rain tonight. Oh yeah.

Since Saturday I've done 13.5 pages of Chicory. I managed to get about two done today during my lunch break, and a few yesterday--and I'm loving how the story is developing.

$5 says no new pages until Thursday's lunch break, but that's fine. Chicory languished for quite a long time.

* * *

...and I still need to finish Apocalyptic Visions, too, but I can't write a novel at work. Turns out they get a little cranky if you use a work computer for that sort of thing. They don't get cranky over drawing. So, there's that.

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