Thank you for the kind response. I remain convinced that only an Apollo approach will get us to the moon before the Chinese. Musk is finding out the hard way that the infrastructure needed for launch vehicles of any real size are taxing to say the least. It has been said that private spaceflight is the surest way to turn billionairs into millionairs.
My fear is that some of the big talk of the alt.spacers will cause the Proxmire types in Washington to cut NASA funds thanks to the illusion of progress on the private spaceflight front. The rocket planes we see fly today are little better than the ME-163 Komets used by the Luftwaffe to try to shoot down B-17s...to little effect. It will be all Musk can do just to get his EELV class Falcon IX in the air--and I simply do not see a private HLLV.
If you want to go to the moon--you must abandon the concept of space assembly via EELV. Each of those Launch Vehicles stays on the pad a long time. Take the Delta IV that has been lingering in SLC-6 as long as that old Titan IV has been there.
It is too simple to say "well, that's gov't for you." That shows a lack of understanding of what is needed to make these birds fly--and Musks own delays are proof enough of that fact.
I think that the private world has much to contribute. The gov't funded genome project was in a very close chase with a private company that actually led the race. Its one think to work in a so called man-scale with microscopes.
It is something else again to produce one-million pounds of thrust or so needed to get to orbit. NASA is best at Big Access to space--needed for stations, moonships, landers to Europa, etc. Private industry is good for payloads.
The strong-man approach to spacelift worked. You had ruthless Chief Designers with resources at their beck and call. Griffin emulates these men. He knows that the number 1 goal of the prime contractors is to make money--thus the push behind EELVs and the attacks on HLLV. Griffin has an adversarial relationship with the contractors and will have them build what he needs--and not build what they want. Thus his approach is best for the taxpayer. If you believe that regulation/oversight is always bad--the result is that the prime contractors gut you.
Sean O'Keefe got things backwards. He fell for the Kistler promises, and thought that NASA would 'buy rides' from private space companies, who would provide the actual launch services.
That scenario failed because it played to the weakness of both parties.
It needs to be the other way around. NASA builds the launch vehicles and private industry has the payloads. That is why we have space tourists. The big R-7 launch vehicles came first--and were privatized in part with tourism funds. Rutans craft flys a couple of times higher--and only one Mach number faster--than the MiG-25 Foxbat, which allows you to stay in the air longer, is more stable, and as an altitude winner in its own right gives you a good view.
The result is that if I want to FLY fast and high, I'll go rent a MiG flight. If I actually want to go to space--I'll get on a Soyuz. The oreration aspects are exactly what NASA is suited for, because Musk and others just cannot compete at the level needed.
Economies of scale favor NASA. The Kistler folks have had their try--and will continue to fall flat because they are at the mercy of private funds, and NASA isn't. A private flight to the moon using all private rockets is no more doable than a private Tennesee Valley Authority, or a private Interstate highway system.
The Soviet military understood scale--but not commerce. That is why they had trouble duplicating the B-29. Their consumer sector was also in a shambles. Our military had both strong men like Medaris on the inside, and consumer goods on the outside.The space race was between gov'ts, after all.
Libertarians understand commerce, but not scale. An all-private approach in the 1950s and sixties would have given the Soviets the moon, as would the enemies of NASA. The same is true today.
With Griffin forcing the contractors to toe the line, he will get the LVs he needs, and it is up to the primes to make their money on that. Since it is may tax money behind this--I want an engineer to make the calls, not the suits.
Kistler had some good engineers, but it was the suits who, by failing to invest in favor of other 'sure things' left the engineers in the lurch. If we attack NASA, we will do that on a grand scale and destroy the infrastructure which gave us the brainpower behind the GPS, which Rutan needed for SS1.
To truly be a private spacecraft, he would have had to put his own GPS constellation up to say that he did his stunt without gov't. NASA is gov't at its best. Same with the Russian space firsts--it is one thing they did well.
And that is why Boeing and Lockheed-Martin use their engines.
Do you want to know what really lost the Soviets the moon race?
I know that goes against everything you were taught--but hear me out. The REDS had a lot of cooks (Chief Designers) each with his own idea for space. Chelomei vs. Mishin...Korolev vs. Glushko, vs Kuznetzov. And they had loads of funds compared to the space start ups.
In the USA, Von Braun led the way. Yes he wasn't a big fan of balloon tanks and Centaurs, but his expertise was without question, and with the weight of NASA behind the Saturn V, the moon race was won.
Cooperation, in the end, won the day, not competition.
Economics bore me. I am for whatever works in spaceflight. Because when that next big asteroid hits, it want matter what system you live under any more. So I am with what works. Griffin is of the Apollo generation, and I choose to support his vision.
And beware venture capitalists. They are some of the worst scum on the planet. They will put a little funds here, a little there, to see what takes hold. To wet their beaks if you will. But they have no staying power--and no vision. So if someone finds a cheaper way to grow tobacco, they will put money in that. If you had a cheaper way to go to space--well, they'll help you EAT the cake.
But they won't help you bake it, beyond a few crumbs used to print glossy pamphlets passed around to other folks at space conventions, where everyone is selling...and no one is buying. The worst of the venture capitalists give you just enough money to get your hopes up--then dash your head to the ground when they pull out the carpet.
Which makes me wonder if hauling them off to Siberia after laying the butt of an AK-47 upside their head is such a bad thing after all.