Wow. Facebook could have started an entire space program for less money than they spent on Instagram.
Your mobile phone has more computing power than all of NASA in 1969. NASA launched a man to the moon. We launch a bird into pigs.
Instagram or omgpop or space travel, its all about priorities.
Apple has something like $100bn in cash reserves. Like, cash on hand (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/mar/19/100-bill...).
Think about that.
Space-x spent cash. Facebook bought Instagram primarily with stock.
Facebook didn't spend that in cash or most likely anywhere near that. Now if Space-x had invested 1% of their market and done this, the comparison would be fair.
Before it began, there was no guarantee that SpaceX would be successful, or that it would only cost $800 million in expenditures. And on the flip side, I expect the current value of SpaceX is higher than $1 billion.
Extreme example of how risk distorts price: if I buy a lottery ticket for $1 and win $1 million, does that mean that some guy who bought a soda for the same money could have done the same instead of buying the soda? Was the money spent on the soda wasted?
Elon took a risk, and appears to have won quite a position.
We don't act unless we absolutely have to. I mean problems like disease cure, poverty and hunger eradication, space colonization can be solved with that kind of money on hand.
This is also what I think of Aliens too! We talk of super intelligent aliens who would have colonized space.That would have never happened, because just like us, they might have wasted their money, energy and resources on photo sharing apps and putting birds in pigs instead of doing some real stuff that actually matters.
I think people are underestimating the costs NASA incurred by being first. Take the X15 for example, its first test flights were without its planned engine because nobody up until that point had ever built a throttleable rocket engine.
Now its well known how to build them and what not to do. I'm not saying NASA is efficient, but direct numerical comparisons like these unnecessarily distort the various differences in history between the two.
The shuttles many deficiencies are rather well documented as well. And it, now had, features that the Dragon rockets don't serve such as the obvious recovery of space payloads for example.
That research would benefit a NASA attempt to build a new launch vehicle as well, yet there's no way they could have done so at anywhere near the cost SpaceX managed (they even acknowledged that with a study).
We're not being armchair historians here, hypothesizing about a world where NASA never existed. We're talking about rocket development in the here and now. And in the real world of today SpaceX is able to build new launch vehicles about 5x cheaper than NASA could.
Versus... an organization that just wants to launch a rocket, building on that data and fundamental research that others spend money doing, but which doesn't have any strong commitment to any of the other priorities (such as releasing new reusable data or basic-science research for others to build on in turn). Of course the latter organization will be cheaper, because the entire organization has a different set of priorities. In particular, NASA's mandate requires it to spend money on trying to make its results constitute scientific advances, i.e. publishable work, releasable data, etc.; whereas Space-X is happy to save money by not doing so.
For example, I've been looking for the FTP site where I can download raw data originating from Space-X and released into the public domain, and I can't find one. That's not very helpful for others who're looking to build on their advances!
If NASA were spending $5 billion a year on developing its own automobiles when they could just buy cars from Toyota or Ford the decision would be a no brainer.
True, if Toyota exists to supply those automobiles. Not, if NASA is the first one to make a automobile.
Remember NASA was the first to make many things which are not available off the shelf.
Nobodys claims NASAs people or its research in the last 60 years sucked.
Edit: so it seems $1.2-$1.5 billion is the accepted figure from outside analysis, but I don't see how this is possible. With a total budget of $7.2 billion in 1985, I don't see how they paid for $10.8 billion in launches.
Governments have long held this information close to their chests. NASA, in particular, has never published accounting on what the Space Shuttle really costs, since this information would help a competitor (Russians, Chinese, etc.) build a similar vehicle with better economics.
Space-X has a single goal - lift 1000Kg up 500km cheaply.
The space shuttle had a million competing goals - from the airforce who wanted a certain glide slope, senators that wanted bits built in their home state, Presidents that wanted a launch on the day of a press conference, scientists that wanted a platform for different experiments, Astronauts that wanted justification for crewed vessels. And of course Nasa that needed to find budgets to keep 'N' Apollo era people employed.
You missed the one goal that was in the forefront of all others:
Justify a large budget / keep the permanent bureaucracy employed.
Elon doesn't care about this.
In the government sector labor force size is a BENEFIT.
In the private sector it's a COST.
That is why private sectors of the economy deliver more and more value relative to the number of people employed over time (farming, publishing, software, hardware) and why government dominated sectors move in the opposite direction (the only sectors to gain headcount in the recession are education, healthcare, and government).
As far as delivering more value, a lot of economies of scale are thanks to technological advances. A lot of technological advances can be credited to expensive governmental programs that were springboards the private sector was later able to launch off of.
You read a WHOLE lot in there.
Look at the point that I actually made, and JUST that point:
In Government, headcount is a (political, organization, etc.) benefit.
In industry it is a cost.
Can be said for the private sector as well. Unless you think the private sector is growth averse.
>In industry it is a cost.
Governmental employees are not free.
You also made other points as well such as the #1 goal of the Space Shuttle program was to keep bureaucrats employed & that the private sector is more efficient regarding the value it creates per employee.
"Building Britain’s Recovery: Achieving Full Employment", published on 15 December 2009, restates the Government’s response to the recession and signals the start of the programme to return to full employment.
I'm not supporting government waste, but the way. Efficiency should be the goal, but you obviously have NO idea what you are talking about.
That would suggest that the solution for unemployment is to simply give all unemployed people public sector jobs - which doesn't sound like a very good idea to me.
- The taxpayer paid the wage (the same as jobseeker's allowance, I think). The private companies didn't pay anything.
- Companies could just sack their workers and enjoy the benefits of free labour.
So much for the minimum wage! How can minimum-wage workers compete with free labour? (Free from the company's perspective, that is.) And this was supposed to reduce unemployment?!
And anyway, if people are working, why aren't they getting minimum wage?
It's a mixed bag. Some economists claimed it helped others claim it lengthened and made the recession deeper.
Yeah, it worked very well in Russia and East Germany. So well people were risking their lives to go somewhere else for better opportunities. And if North-Koreans could get out of their country, I'm sure they would be happy witnesses of a full-employment state policy.
You obviously have NO idea what you are talking about.
Incidentally, I never understood why Thatcher was evil for not subsidizing the loss-making mines, and modern politicians are evil for subsidizing loss-making banks (i.e. RBS).
Some view Thatcher destroyed the industry not only because it was unprofitable but also as an attack against the unions, supposedly going so far as to shutdown even profitable mines or those that had potential. Putting 180,000+ out of work is going to cause some outrage from those you are putting out of work & the surrounding communities that relied on those wages. Also some may view domestic energy production as a valuable asset to retain even if it is not market viable just due to energy security/independence concerns.
As far as the bank comparison, I think some people have a kinder view towards the plight of a coal miner working in dangerous conditions for not a lot of pay vs the plight of an executive banker raking in massive bonuses while tanking the economy.
Of course, what goods/services should be guaranteed and what the value of X should be for each one is and will remain an open problem.
>> Can be said for the private sector as well. Unless you think the private sector is growth averse.
Huh? Employees aren't growth. Employees may be necessary to accomplish/support growth, but that's very different. The difference is that a biz will happily take growth with no employees and will try to avoid employees with no growth.
Of course judging a company based only on it's headcount is silly, just like judging that the government must be wasteful and inefficient because of it's headcount.
Unless you're claiming that everything import is growth....
I don't understand this claim. You state it like it's well-known fact. In what (evidenced) ways is headcount advantageous in government and not in business? Using headcount as a proxy for importance/value when rewarding middle managers is common in many organizations.
And it's the same in private industry.
It's a cost to the shareholder. To every layer of management from the shopfloor foreman to the board it's a benefit.
At the management level, the manager -- who bears no personal cost for managing N+1 workers instead of just N workers, will almost always choose N+1 if given the option. He doesn't pay their salaries, after all, and to him, the increased headcount is a status symbol. It's also something he will convince himself he actually needs. (You never hear middle managers complaining that their divisons are overstaffed, but the opposite complaint is almost universal).
This is what's known as an "agency problem." Many (most?) of the agents of the greater whole (the company) have personal incentives that work at odds with the company's greater incentives. This clash of incentives leads to waste, bloat, inefficiency, and so forth, because almost nobody is personally on the hook for the company's total health in the long run. (Sure, they're indirectly on the hook. If the company starts doing poorly, they could risk losing their jobs. But people tend to externalize failure, and don't hold themselves personally responsible).
I do not know if you are familiar with how big companies work, but usually when you reach a large enough size, such companies start to track "productivity indexes" between their departments and against competition, when comparison is available. SUch an index would look like = sales of the department / headcount of that department, which basically gives you an "average value" of an employee in that department. Then in order to prove that you need additional headcounts, you need to have a high productivity index in the first place to justify it. So that's why big companies don't just keep growing forever: they start to become more efficiency-sensitive, and consider carefully the cost of an employee versus the actual benefit to have more.
Personal anecdote. A company I worked for fired the more costly tech support staff right before an important partner product launch which left a bunch of undertrained customer service reps supporting the new product which gave a bad experience to customers. It also irritated the partner because the training the reps received essentially told them that almost any problem needed to be referred to the partner, swamping them with customers wanting them to fix a problem that wasn't theirs. They then had to scramble & rehire a tech support staff.
Take Intel's Itanium project which has struggled on for 16 years, yet Intel still has resources devoted to it. Sometimes you cannot just kill a very unsuccessful project & it can take many many years to wind it down.
You could also look at any need for layoffs as being a miscalculation by the company. When Yahoo announces 2000 layoffs, does that mean they're being efficient by cutting staff or does it mean that they've had 2000 employees on staff that shouldn't have been there in the first place & for how long? Why didn't the indexes and metrics in place tell them to not hire these people?
Also the government is not immune to layoffs. They have actually been one of the top organizations laying people off over the last few years.
There are actually a lot of companies with more than 100.000 employees... I think it's just natural that there aren't more... you need a very big market for them
NASAs project management wasn't that bad in the beginning, Apollowas pretty successfull, wasn't it? Afterwards it somewhat declined.
Not that the Europeans are any better as of late, Ariane for example is not a landmark of efficiency.
This is not true, at least for government which has cut jobs in the last four years.
It's about as 'commercial' as Ariane
Sometimes it seams to be the ways enterprise software is written and implemented.
What Space X is a good example of is the very effective model we have here in the US of doing innovation. Government funds fundamental R&D, then private industry commercializes it. It's a healthy synergy that you see throughout the sector.
It not only has to fly different obsolete aircraft. It has to fly it's biggest most expensive ones empty to a distant foreign country because of 'political links', it has to fly uneconomic routes to distant outposts, it can never fire anyone, it has to keep large fleets on standby for vague secret military purposes, it has to show huge losses on projects to hide military black-projects or subsidies to commercial aircraft makers.
And that's just assuming Nasa is otherwise perfectly competent and efficent.
No I'm not bitter - I jut worked on Hubble for a Nasa 'partner'.
Please elaborate. What are your sources for this?
Instead Nasa was told - get a man to the moon before the decade is out. But it was also told build something in Houston to keep senator X happy; stick a few $Billion to Boeing they are having a hard time; keep a few SR-71s flying in case we have another war in the gulf; make sure the Shuttle can get to a polar orbit from Edwards without overflying foreign territory; buy the mirror from P-E because we need to keep Keyhole alive till the next funding cycle. And a hundred other 'tasks'
And that's before the inevitable internal bureaucracy kicks in
Imagine being able to order a satellite launch from a rocket company's web site. Select payload type. Select orbit. Select date and time. Checkout with Mark Zuckerberg's credit card.
You haven't learned your lesson from the last 20 years.
There are no more "European markets for space launch" and "American markets for space launch" than there are "European markets for database products".
People compete globally.
The only reason that someone in China or France wouldn't prefer the use the best quality / lowest cost supplier is if their local government gets involved and distorts the marketplace via either taxation or regulation.
Also, if the US wants to buy an aerial refueling aircraft, they are more likely to choose Boeing than Airbus. And of course its the other way around, too.
So these are two different markets. For products, but also for engineer recruiting.
If you want an accelerated view of what I was imagining, consider this: say SpaceX is wildly successful. Ten years from now, they have not only fulfilled all of their existing NASA contracts but they've also made huge advancements towards bringing all sorts of payloads to and from the ISS and maybe the moon, whatever. They could offer their services to any highest bidder, or, as a US company, could continue to cut deals with the government that they pay taxes to and bias all of their business in its favor. Their profits will not suffer because there will likely be similar ventures in other countries, and all in all it will be very similar to space exploration at the height of its frenzy, before everyone got all chummy with common goals for humanity and whatnot. I wish I could type this faster and more clearly but I've got to run– I hope you get my point though (even if you disagree).
Do you think the Air Force would launch recon satellites on a Chinese rocket? How about the X37B?
Granted, there is also a sizable international market for purely commercial launches.
Competition is actually a good thing sometimes.
> The Dragon spacecraft was developed from a blank sheet to the first demonstration flight in just over four years for about $300 million. Last year, SpaceX became the first private company, in partnership with NASA, to successfully orbit and recover a spacecraft. The spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket that carried it were designed, manufactured and launched by American workers for an American company. The Falcon 9/Dragon system, with the addition of a launch escape system, seats and upgraded life support, can carry seven astronauts to orbit, more than double the capacity of the Russian Soyuz, but at less than a third of the price per seat.
Well now, look at these gems! If you still need a reason to get into this company, just read the first sentence of either quote.
So, Dragon can't carry astronauts yet.
By the way SpaceX is my favourite company of all time. Elon Musk is living my 6 year old self's dream (actually my dream is still pretty similar, just haven't got their yet ;p )
// that is the exact line count from "wc -l" - I am not joking
I cannot help but look at the history of the big 3 Detroit automakers and their love of using service and support as a revenue source. It bit them pretty badly when Honda came along and made cars that didn't need the repairs.
I look at the example of the automakers every time someone tells me the proper business model for software is give away the program and charge for support, consulting, and training. I would much rather pay for software that I never have to call support about.
"(This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.)"
Then through further discussion, after the contract is signed, everyone realizes they actually need product X2. And so the contractor revises their bid to $Z where $Z exceeds the original $Y by a wide amount (i.e. Provide a new sidewalk and re-landscape the grass on either side for $250,000)
There are no cost overruns in government contracts. Just changes in scope. You don't find out what they really need until you really get into talking with them.
Umm, there are tons of cost overruns in government contracts (and in non-government contracts). Consider the James Webb Space Telescope for example. Or the F-35. Or about any software project. It's very hard to predict costs of new inventions.
I've heard (and I'd love to hear whether or not this sounds reasonable) that one of the big problems is that you'll source a part like a resistor, ASIC, or something, and then for whatever reason it'll get changed--maybe a cheaper part became available and you were forced to use the cheaper part, maybe the part is no longer in production and has to be switched out, maybe the part just failed to function correctly.
The effect of this, of course, is that you have to redo all of your integration testing and verification work, and for something like a 6-month endurance test on an avionics box this just plain takes a lot of time and money.
I'm not sure that my friend was accurate, but it seems reasonable to me that that kind of thing could cause big delays.
It's the same way in software -- when estimating how long a large project will take to complete, you have to assume that some things will go wrong. Maybe you have to track down a nasty bug in a third-party library, or you lose a team member, etc. All of this has to be considered based on its impact and likelihood as part of up-front estimation.
F-22, JSF, the Kiowa repalcement, the new tankers, A400M, NH90, Eurofighter, Rafale, B787, A380, B747-8, A350... you name it. Almost all of them were over budget, late and ran into serious technical and performance issues. Not all of them were due to design changes. And even if, when you know that certain changes are going to blow your development apart you just don't ask for them as a customer.
A good counter example is the F-117, that one was, aparantly, in budget, on-time and did what it was supposed to do. My theory is that it's the grown bureaucracy that it messing it all up. In the F-117s development there was none since it was more than just top-secret, they took what was available and turned out good. I know that one example doesn't make a proof, but it's pretty cose for me.
However, even with cost plus there are incentives to come in faster/better/cheaper. If you run a company and have the choice between '1 project scheduled for 18 months, stretched to 2 years and collect the extra' or '2 projects scheduled for 18 months, each finished in a year, and collect all the extra bonuses', you typically choose the second plan.
Launching a satellite these days is a relatively known quantity whereas many horrifically over-budget government projects are doing things no one has ever done before.
Sure, it's not a great thing that this happens, but it seems like a douche point to make when the government simply has no other choice.
Edit: Sorry, misread 'government contractors' as 'government agencies'. I was under the impression that he is talking about NASA.
For a brand new stealth fighter though, there are a lot of unknowns and a lot of development to do before they can build the first plane. The contractor can say "We think we can do all the necessary research for this with 100 people over 3 years plus $2 billion in additional costs for materials and to contract out the construction of new factories etc. All that added up would be $5 billion (plus $100 million per additional month beyond 3 years) and we expect a 15% return in profit on this development." This is called a Cost plus Fixed Fee contract. If they were to bid it as a firm fixed price contract they would just say "we want $3 billion per plane for the rest of time" and the government would likely overpay comparatively. The government agrees to the cost plus fixed fee terms because the know it allows the contractors to price their offering lower if they don't have to take on the risk.
So option 1: Government takes on risk of overruns but pays a lower price if on time and on budget.
Option 2: Contractor takes on the risk and makes out like a bandit if they are on time and on budget.
well let's just say it did go well. Lesson to be learned: If you are in full ontrol of everything from scratch to delivery and have clear costumer specs you can do that.
If you are a quasi state-run business with political obligations serving multiple customers with different requirements, you better don't.
The contractor who underbid. If Roger's submits a bid for $1m to deliver 50k widgets he shouldn't be able to come back after the fact and demand $4m to complete the project because he underestimated his costs.
The contractor has to swallow all the extra costs, because they were foolish enough to sign a vague/wrong contract?
I'm not asking this to suggest a particular answer, just wondering where this strategy takes us.
[Edit: total profit, not margin.]
I don't think the old government contractor system made long term sense, but it was a great start to space exploration and money "wasted" looks more like invested to me.
So apparently it is possible for the government to agree to contracts that do not leave the taxpayer holding the bag for overruns.
"I'm fixing x because x is broken. They're slow, costly, inefficient, and aren't taking advantage of modern technology."
Elon Musk is doing a YC startup (in spirit) on the most grand scale possible.
(Moment's pause to remember and respect the Challenger and Columbia Astronauts, and the Russian Cosmonauts who also gave their life.)
As I think about it though, I think of the few brave people I know who would be willing to take a one-way trip to Mars, as long as they were starting a colony.
YC hackers are like Z.
SpaceX is like Z.
Therefore SpaceX is YC hackers (in spirit).
I ask because as someone who was previously unfamiliar with the amount of funding SpaceX had to work with, $800 million sounds like an incredibly small amount of money to do (what looks like) more than NASA does with its ~$18 billion budget.
Also keep in mind that the $800 million amount is for developing the Falcon I, Falcon 9 ($390 million total) and the Dragon spacecraft (about $400 million). Even had NASA used more commercial oriented procurement methods they estimate it still would have cost at least $1.7 billion to develop.
Cut NASA down to size and you're just getting more missiles and warships. You're not getting a tax break or the sudden birth of 100 SpaceX's. SpaceX should be applauded for its innovation and drive, not considered the low hanging fruit of space and everyone suddenly saying "This stuff is so easy why isn't NASA using their methods?!?" Because its not easy.
Edit: NASA originally came up with the $4B/$1.7B estimates that InclinedPlane mentioned. They visited SpaceX, saw how they actually operated, and revised the estimated downward.
I'm not sure that's really fair for NASA to do. The question they were supposed to be answering was "how much would this cost NASA to do?". They can't just see a more efficient operation and then cheat their numbers down because without Space-X, NASA would never have had a reference to work off of. NASA doing it the NASA way would have been the larger figure, not NASA doing it the Space-X way.
And where would Space-X be without the Saturn V...
On the space shuttle, every outer tile is unique and must be manufactured accordingly. Boeing cover their rockets in shitty orange foam.
When the shuttle returns, it is driven into this spider-like contraption that actually cost almost as much to build as a shuttle. Boeing put the rocket on its side, and use step-ladders, and, I kid you not, a plank.
Hint: Fighter jets cost a lot more because parts have to made in many Congressional districts.
As much as I admire Elon Musk, this is a short-sighted, exceptionalist dogma. It may apply in some cases - for the time being - but do people really think that non-Americans are incapable of innovation?
SpaceX have had a headstart, since NASA and their gigantic budget have decided to take advantage of free enterprise. It's only a matter of time before Asian and European governments begin to do the same.
But he's not saying other places can't innovate. He's saying that running SpaceX in other places is not as likely to be succesful. Some percent of that might be political posturing (they are reliant on politicans supporting NASA buying from them, and on politicans not passing regulation to ban private space travel). But I bet the bulk of it is a true sentiment on his part.
In order to found a rocket company you need the freedom to launch rockets. Now, that's not something anyone can just do on a whim in the US, even advanced hobbyists need permits, but it's possible to get the permits. In some places it would be impossible for a private enterprise to get those.
You also need a pool of exceptionally good engineers to recruit from (both straight out of good colleges, and experienced). While some countries like China have some recent success, and others like Russia have a longer history, the US still has the most rocket engineers free to pickup and start at a new company. That's not something that is likely to change soon.
Sometimes I love th US! (No irony in it)
Sea Launch was an even more innovative entrepreneurial commercial launcher. However the USA first stopped it docking in US ports to receive a payload because it was a foreign missile system and then stopped payloads being loaded in a foreign port because that would be exporting sensitive technology.
I'm guessing that Lockheed Martin and Boeing have less political clout in Texas today than they did in California 10 years ago
Also he's not 'sticking with near space for now' to avoid being called crazy as you imply, he's sticking to near-space now because you have to get that capability working and reliable so you can build on it for going further afield. It's not a smoke screen, it's all quite consistent with a road-map to mars.
Trust me, success in these kind of projects is impossible unless you are crazy.
In fact you have to be crazy to work on anything which others think is impossible.
A. Buy Instagram.
B. Build SpaceX from scratch.
Most of them would probably buy instagram. :(
Elon Musk is an exceptional individual, he has a degree in Physics and he taught himself engineering and "rocket science". Not everyone is capable of replicating what he has done, regardless of the money involved. The average case of a billionaire dumping money into aerospace ends up with the billionaire having less billions and nothing much of consequence occurring in aerospace.
Honestly, the same thing I had to do with Hacker News. Font is damn too small, for me at least.
Firefox: Options, Content, click the Advanced tab under "Colors and Fonts". Choose a minimum font size that's comfortable.
It begs to ask, if the developers nearby are going to gain so much, why aren't they building it themselves? Too many groups that won't take risk... I mean probably 1,000 people who own buildings there will benefit disproportionately... you are never going to get them together to pony up for a streetcar. But the proof is there... look at Portland for a US example... also Seattle and SF and San Diego. Its just easier to get the government to do it. They should put a local surcharge on property values. Its only fair. However, they will f- this project up I'm sure... just like NASA spent a kabillion extra dollars just to build certain parts in certain senator's home states... and my other local train is going to have a snack bar so the Sonoma County housewives that will never ride the train can get a snack; instead of more seats and bike space.
Also, when you develop near a train station you can't build parking lots next to it, which tends to make people with cars upset, and they usually have more political influence than people who just use trains:
We're talking about Elon Musk and looking past the status quo of stuff. The status quo I'm trying to look past is "do everything based on cars, for cars, for the benefit of cars, because cars are the way old people have done it and they're obviously right. Cars. Cars. And more cars."
I very much agree that we ought to get away from promoting cars so much, but lets not kid ourselves. The problem isn't developers, but middle class Americans who like their cars.
Basically the problem is that it is a public good. If the good is provided, everyone benefits, not just the ones who paid. So unless your payment is going to make the difference between it happening or not happening, you don't want to pay. And even if someone gets you to pay, you'll be incentivized to pay as little as you can get away with.
Yes, it is a public good. The public benefits. But if I own condos full of college students and they decide to build a train station for the train that goes to the college in front of it, I'm going to benefit more. And its not that many people - its property owners within a few blocks. We could figure something equitable out.
China is also moving pretty fast towards a free enterprise system while the United States is moving in the opposite direction at approximately the same speed. Well at least, having lived both in America and China, that's my impression.
So my point is that instead raising money to build path.com, color.com, or some other stupid web 2.0, young entrepreneurs should follow Musk steps.
Seriously, being in this industry, that's more than just impressive. And you should really ask yourself what you do wrong...
It seems inevitable, and like we may as well start spitballing now. Send a few rooms that attach to the surface and dig in, practice in there remotely.
I don't think the above comment had anything to do with his capabilities. Merely the practical difficulty in becoming president. (It would require a constitutional amendment.)
Obama was born in Hawaii, so he passes. Musk was born in South Africa, so he doesn't.
It would take a constitutional amendment to change the law. Highly unlikely.
Want to build a Mach3 aircraft in the days when most people thought jets were pretty clever?
Want to do it in <2years using materials that had never been used in a plane before - and do it on budget.
And repeat the success with half a a dozen other projects.
And it's described in a book that everyone in technology (or management) should read http://www.amazon.com/Skunk-Works-Personal-Memoir-Lockheed/d...
This wasn't an attack on space-X it was a celebration of them having continued the tradition of the frankly astonishing work that skunk works started.
ps. it is a very good book
The man is brilliant, and there's so much resistance to what he's doing, it's insane.
1) The huge amount of energy required to lift mass out of Earth's gravity well.
2) The vexing practical expense of obtaining that energy in useful form (e.g. rocket fuel) for launch.
Rocketry's future will always be limited by those daunting constraints.
It would be more informative to say the real price is mass, since it's the fact that you have to accelerate the mass of fuel you will use at time t up to that point that gives rise to the tragically inefficient log term in the rocket equation.
The huge amount of energy required to
lift mass out of Earth's gravity well.
... I'm just confirming your observation
that the energy requirement is huge, but
you're understating the problem, ...
1) understating your case, and
b) propagating a misconception (that getting out of the gravity well is the hard bit).
If you could fly up to orbit at walking pace and then boost the horizontal velocity to orbit you would need very little fuel - compared to firing a big rocket for a few minutes so that the huge mass can then coast to orbital heights.
Of course, you could also say that the rocket itself has far more embodied energy than it carries in fuel.
Fuel is almost ALL the cost of launching a rocket. If you can arrange for me to pick up fuel every vertical mile on the way up - I can get to orbit very cheaply!
Also, how did your hardware get out of the thick lower atmosphere? Someone paid the cost of lofting that mass.
Not much about rockets is trivial, except in theory.
* heat dissipation: your fuel / oxidizer combo probably burns hotter than the nozzle material can tolerate. This needs to be tested (not for on orbit, for the first time)
* fuel supply -- it's non-trivial to design tankage and feed systems that can supply fuel and oxidizer at the rate needed, in vacuum
* propellant storage -- non-trivial unless you go for the really nasty "storable" propellants
Pretty much every piece of the problem is non-trivial.
The cost of the fuel is not that big a deal.