Sounds to me like utterly worthless corp-speak for "shit isn't going so hot, but we are going to fix everything, just you wait". I think there might be trouble in paradise among Boeing's top brass.
In no way surprised to hear this, especially after seeing Boeing spreading FUD here recently (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18139146). They must not be comfortable with all of the other upstarts in the industry threatening their comfy spot as one of NASA's go-to contractors.
Vehicle /Attempts Est* 95%CI* Succes Fail
Falcon 9 v1.2 42/42(D) 0.98 0.90-1.00 42 None 2015-
Atlas 5 77/78 0.98 0.92-1.00 68 06/15/07 2002-
Delta 4M(+) 27/27 0.97 0.85-1.00 27 None 2002-
Soyuz-FG 54/55 0.96 0.89-1.00 0 10/11/18 2001-
Ariane 5-ECA 65/67 0.96 0.89-1.00 2 01/25/18 2002-
NASA doesn't actually build any rockets anymore - it's all contracted out to various companies.
On the list of governemnt expenses... NASA is almost a rounding error ($18.4 billion in 2011, about 0.5% of the $3.4 trillion US budget). Perspective is important.
I feel like there's probably a "law" using a constant that states "As a project's ETA approaches T, the actual delivery date approaches infinity."
Where T is ~10 years.
And in response to the inevitable "safety" -- let's be honest, we're strapping humans to a giant bomb that hopefully explodes in a controlled way.
Astronauts are some of the bravest people in the world, but the end goal is to explore and colonize space.
The SLS is not about space. It's been referred to as the Senate Launch System for years now and that's very accurate. It started back in 2010 and still isn't going up anytime soon. For comparison the first time we sent anything into orbit (a probe) was 1958. The first time we put a man in orbit was 1961. In 1962 Kennedy would give his famous space speech. In 1968 we sent a man around the moon. In 1969 we put a man on the moon. Compare the timelines and it's simply pathetic.
But what the SLS does provide is an immense number of jobs, votes, and support for the congressmen that keep it funded.
The last chief of NASA, Charles Bolden, was the person you want on paper. A decorated and high ranking military officer who was an astronaut with a STEM education. What he was not was a political player, and I think NASA has suffered under him. The person that has replaced him is, at a glance, is the exact opposite of who you want. Jim Bridenstine is an MBA, career politician, and has no technical background whatsoever. But he does have a genuine interest in space which he has worked to support for years, and he is, for better or for worse, a political player.
And I have hopes and expectations that he will change the direction of NASA into the far more logical direction that you, and just about everybody, sees would be more productive. And I think we're already seeing this. Recently NASA released a scathing report against the SLS which said, without mincing many words, that they're not going anywhere anytime soon if they have to rely on the SLS. The lengthy report is here , here  is a random media report on it to give some sort of cliff notes. This is the sort of stuff that Bolden, for whatever reason, did not have the capability or will to push through. That report didn't say anything that everybody didn't already know, but actually stating those things was speaking what must not be spoken - and is now something that demands action.
 - https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf
 - https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/278656-nasa-report-blame...
I believe this is why the EU has had problems - they're all on the same currency but countries are not permitted to print their own money and they don't have international money redistribution programs. In such an environment any country with a trade deficit will eventually suffer - see Greece.
I'm not advocating such pork distributions but I think they may actually serve a purpose other than getting votes. OTOH some places get pork that really don't need it even for the reasons I outlined above.
There are several mechanisms to move money , just the free movement of labor alone has transferred a lot of money from Germany further to eastern Europe for decades already.
I fail to see how military exports would be better than that, defense products are not "money", they serve no productive purpose at all in any country that's not at war.
It should also be noted that Germany is among the biggest weapons exporters on this planet  and quite a big chunk of Greece debt boiled down to liabilities for military hardware from other EU members .
In the US the people in rich parts of the country pay more in taxes to the federal government than they get back. This is a good thing, not a problem like many people state. It is not about building weapons for export, it is that the US government spends $600 billion on defense spending, moving resources from rich parts of the country to the poorer parts (to pay for government bases and defense contractors that build weapons for the US government). I agree that there are better ways to do this redistribution of wealth, but it is the only one that seems acceptable to the Republican party. Building infrastructure could be another, but it has not happened since the building of the interstate system ended in the 1980's.
The EU supra-national government (very similar to the US federal government over the US states) has a very small budget (€143 billion for the year 2014, from Wikipedia) and no real ability to raise large amounts of money from taxes it can impose. Varoufakis believes that until the EU has such a mechanism, having a common currency is going to continue to build up financial problems that are like to break up the union in a bad way.
If I build a missile factory in Baghdad, Mississippi that runs for 20 years then is closed won't the same problem persist as before the missile factory was created?
I think your point that free trade is the problem is fairly evident in this kind of problem, however, I am not sure that spending on things such as military producers or even national infrastructure is a long-term solution. In the end the project always ends, the product stops being produced, and times change.
Is this just delaying the eventual wealth-death of a town/state or does this lead to a self-sufficient system?
Then, either the EU changed or I did or both, and my opinion changed. Trump definitely did his part to wake me up and see that BREXIT was less about the EU itself as I initially thought and more about populism and protectionism. Both are things I never liked. I still hope that BREXIT served as a overdue wake-up call for Brussels.
Now, I favor European integration and cooperation. I'm simply not sure where to draw the line yet. Defense politics and military cooperation are definetly over due and the EURO needs some kind of reform (no idea how exactly, but the last crisis showed the current system to be not stable enough).
Would I support a "United States of Europe"? Good question, maybe it's inevitable one day. The issue definetly will be that European nation states are much more different, culture, language, politics, history, than American states which share a common history starting with the first settlers. I for my part see the risk of loosing something.
Now that I think about it, that could be a reason for the rise of populist movements.
Thank you for making me think about all that!
”The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is a fund allocated by the European Union. Its purpose is to transfer money from richer regions (not countries), and invest it in the infrastructure and services of underdeveloped regions”
”Global budget: 183,3 billion euro (2014-2020)”
That’s 30-ish billion euro a year.
Lack of EU-wide social security payments may be a problem, though.
For comparison, the USA has a federal budget of about $4 trillion.
The problem is that “the EU” doesn’t have an economy, and still is mostly built from individual economies.
Also, "bureaucratically neutered" is an odd phrase. It's the government, so of course there is oversight and politics at an agency level. But OTOH, the agency's record at not interfering with discrete science findings is actually very good.
What point are you trying to make? [Disclosure, I have published research while funded by NASA.]
I can't say I understand how that's criticizing from both directions. The research is underfunded, and as you noted more funds generally increases the speed of the research. There are layers of bureaucracy, which naturally slows down the rate of research due to waiting on various aspects of the research to get reviewed and deemed useful to the agency. How is that attacking it from two sides?
And your take on what I mean by "bureaucratically neutered" is fairly accurate, but I stand by it. I am referring to having non technical bureaucrats in the agency calling shots about research they may not understand based on non-related pressures (pork funds drying up due to political shifts, undesirable media exposure for research with uncomfortable results, sudden change in leadership that may not think the research is necessary after all, etc).
All this said, I have indeed never been involved with the agency so you might have a better perspective on the matter than I.
Also, I'd think at JPL you guys would have a bit easier time getting funding/latitude to do the research you do vs a lower profile lab, given JPL's track record.
Edited to reflect my opinion of reality...
If you look at how the individual subsystems and subcontractors for the F-35 program were spread around various states and congressional districts, creating jobs in various places, they intentionally designed it to be unkillable.
Fixating on the troubles of NASA's crewed programs might make sense if NASA were doing well with their uncrewed programs. Except they're not.
Additionally, there is a huge number of highly successful robotic missions that have been running or are in the works. Just now in terms of active programs there is the Curiosity rover, the Juno Jupiter orbiter, the Parker Solar Probe, New Horizons, InSight, Dawn, TESS, Osiris-REX, MRO, Fermi, STEREO, and many more.
It would be surprising (out of character) if this didn't happen.
Also the timing here is really lucky. This will get buried under today's aborted launch.
More likely, today's event provides some positive increase to the political argument in favor of plowing billions more into getting all the new US launch systems up to where they need to be.
The Europa Clipper mission is also currently scheduled to launch on SLS:
Nope, but it keeps asses in congressional seats and the pockets attached to them full.
What guarantees do tax payers have that the money won't be wasted at SpaceX just as it's wasted at Boeing?
Why not scrap it, and just save the money. Full stop.
If Boeing and SpaceX are not able to do their things without NASA continuously pumping new billions into them, then we should take a step back, reevaluate, and consider a total rehaul of the future roadmap. Because obviously things aren't working.
But we're not at that point yet. The only thing we've proven thus far is that giving out lots and lots of money does not seem to solve the problem of project setbacks.
The result is the BFR will be able to land 10+ times as much cargo on the Moon or Mars as the SLS, and at maybe 1 percent the cost per ton.
I think what is going to happen is the tax payers will finally wake up to how they are being ripped off, and the SLS program will be canceled.
Assuming the Army rotates tanks out of front line service before they are useless, by the time the fleet is too worn out, the Abrams design will be hopelessly obsolete. Not because the design is bad or obsolete, but just because that's how many of them there are.
In contrast, the Army has massive deficiencies with many of their other, lighter vehicles, and has been trying to rectify them for decades now but all the projects have failed, for various reasons. Some of the failures have been the Army's fault, but others can be traced to the Congress deciding that the Army needs more tanks to stockpile instead of, say, armored ambulances.
Honestly, what the army really needs to do is somehow push for a heavy IFV/APC design based on the Abrams chassis, similar to how the Russians have made the T-15. Not because that would be a great match for their needs, but because since the production line is apparently completely impossible to kill, might as well try to have them make something that is even marginally useful, compared to the vehicles they are building right now that just get driven from the factory to permanent stockpile where they will probably sit until they are decommissioned decades in the future.
The Russian Buran(?) was pretty clearly a better system and if I understand right thats because it wasn't trying to be the catch all system with competing goals from the Air Force, internal NASA goals, and congress/the senate(? not American so not sure which is correct here).
Oh please. Maybe information should just be shared, especially with those worse off where "you have to pay for it" would not even work, and maybe that "debt" concept is stupid to begin with (you cannot pay - you will be in eternal debt because first you have to pay me back, for more and more stuff, than interest). Maybe humans should just be more open and kind towards one another to begin with, especially when it does not even "cost" them (the counter argument "but they will compete with us" just means that you have to suppress them, because in any scenario where they do get to rise eventually they will compete with you anyway, especially when we are talking about a billion Chinese and the other couple of billions of people in Asia).
The reason for IP controls is, and has always been, suppression, because technology is a way you get money and power. It's sad that humans have been doing their best to suppress progress that could benefit everyone just so that they could hold on to their share of the pie.
The Russians may have stolen Space Shuttle design (though no one really cares), but they have definitely improved on it.
For a look at the design itself and how remarkably shuttle achieved its goals, I'd suggest the MIT engineering course that covered it. Also look at Shuttle-C or Magnum for an idea of how things could have gone.
A dozen F-22s were just destroyed by a hurricane, possibly beyond repair.
Edit: I admit to not reading the article and not knowing about the over-production.
But you’ve already got 250 chocolate cakes. Want another fifty chocolate cakes? No? Why not!? There’s nothing wrong with chocolate cake!!!
You want bicycles and books? Pffft. You get chocolate cake! Congress has just ordered another 50 cakes for you this week, with a bill for 300 in the pipeline.
What is wrong? Why are you complaining!? You don’t like chocolate cake!? There’s nothing wrong with chocolate cake!
click this and zoom out:
> "we don't need the tanks. Our tank fleet is two and a half years old on average now. We're in good shape and these are additional tanks that we don't need."
Because you haven't fought the kind of war that heavy armor is useful (particularly on an effectiveness to logistical burden analysis) for in decades, and don't expect to in the foreseeable future.
Also, tanks support infantry in cities. When properly utilized, they don't end up on fire like T-80s in Grozny. Again, during the Iraq war, marines were supported by tanks in cities.
But we have plenty of them, and we don't need to build anymore.
Respond to the point people are making and not the point you have a response for.
That's something like 0.15% of the annual military budget of the US.
For comparison, the F35 program has already cost nearly $500B and is going to cost at least $1.5T over its lifetime.
$9B - for a Moon rocket - is pocket change.
Sure, cost overruns = bad. But let's at least have some perspective here.
Yes, let's have some perspective, starting with you. The perspective is not some "waste on military" like so many in this thread claim, the actual relevant comparison is what the $9 billion could have done invested in other rocket companies. You've set up a "big entrenched corp player only or else nothing" dichotomy that was possibly relevant for the 1960s-2000s. But it was obsolete at least as of 2010 with the successful launch of the Falcon 9. If we're talking billions for relatively blue sky research, there are now more players, and players with far more proven capability to deliver and far, far superior designs and ambitions. The SLS even if realized as planned is garbage at this point, to have a sustained lunar presence requires far better economics then it could ever offer. It's not the 60s anymore, and NASA's (and the US government overall) own stated goals the point is not merely to get people back on the moon for a bit then leave but rather to develop something more permanent and useful. A fully reusable methalox stack is just a fundamentally better goal there.
Should NASA continue to support R&D? Absolutely! And I'd fully support putting even more billions into that. But just because it's a "rounding error" to the US budget doesn't make billions "pocket change", it's still completely reasonable to expect value for the money. The same is true anywhere else, just because some people are spending more and have higher budgets doesn't mean they want to piss that budget away. I'd love to see NASA pouring billions into the BFR and Blue Origin's efforts or even more blue sky stuff like going back to some older experiments with a modern twist and working on methalox linear aerospike engines, and then making all that available to US businesses. NASA doing both science and also risky but potentially big payoff basic rocket R&D would be awesome and valuable, and well worth billions. NASA flushing billions down the Boeing drain is not equivalent, in fact what makes it so enraging is precisely that it could be working towards space exploration and development so much more effectively (still providing American jobs even!).
Do you use the same reasoning in your personal life as well? Buying worthless stuff as long as they cost less than 1% of the cost of your house?
Now for cost over runs for something I am pretty sure isn't going to work? James Webb tele.