[ExI] SpaceX launch succcessful

Kelly Anderson kellycoinguy at gmail.com
Wed May 30 02:38:33 UTC 2012

On Tue, May 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM, Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Tuesday, May 22, 2012 12:48 PM Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This is very exciting! I suppose we shall see if taking
>> the libertarian approach to space will work out better
>> than the previous endeavors...
> This is not a "libertarian approach to space" transport. It is, at
> best, a partly private approach to supporting a basically non-libertarian
> approach to space exploration. NASA isn't ponying up money it got
> justly to pay for a ride on SpaceX rockets. Instead, it relies on
> involuntary contributions from viewers like you. :/

Ok, so the money for the first ticket on the libertarian express was
not purchased with libertarian money. I get your point, but I also
reject it to some extent. If SpaceX doesn't deliver, they don't get
the contract. It's a free market system, with a government client.
That is way more free than what existed previously, and I'm not so
much of an idealist that I insist that every piece of food on my
breakfast plate is libertarian back to its source... at least not

> A truly libertarian approach here would be one where no one's
> rights were violated [routinely and inherently] to get to space.

Well, yes, but I count movement towards liberty as libertarian, even
if not purely so.

> This is not to say all is not well with this plan. It's better than the
> old cost-plus contracting used to finance space launchers in the
> past. The big problem, though, remains: an involuntarily funded
> space agency is the big player in this market. (This is setting aside
> the nest of regulations and the context of wider coercive interferences
> in society.)

Yes, I am with you brother! But baby steps my friend, baby steps.

>> (Ok, not ENTIRELY fair, since they are standing on the
>> shoulders of giants...)  But time should tell... If SpaceX
>> actually can create rockets that will go to mars and the
>> asteroids relatively quickly, THEN we'll know this is the
>> right approach.
> I have no doubts that space transportation can be privatized.

Me either... it might be a matter of time though. Remember Roanoke
preceded Jamestown. Is SpaceX Roanoke, or Jamestown.... only time will
tell. But I'm OK with companies dying in pursuit of this, or any other
worthwhile dream. Even people may die on this trip, and honestly, as
sad as that is, it is OK. Just look at the survival rate of any of the
first great voyages... this isn't always going to be as pretty as this
first SpaceX flight seems to be turning out to be.

> It might take a while to do, since the big players -- and this includes
> SpaceX -- rely on government support and this tends to distort
> costs upward.

What distorts costs upward is that it is still very close to the
research stage...

> But I'm not really sure what you say makes sense. If one is merely
> looking at results, governments have already built rockets -- or paid
> for big aerospace firms to build them -- to get to Mars and the asteroids.

But look at the difference in cost. Nasa is paying the russians around
$60 million to deliver one ape to the space station. SpaceX estimates
that they can do the job in 3 (really 5-6) years for $20 million
(really $30 million). Still, even taking out the marketing puff,
that's a nice savings.

> Would this result -- many successful missions to those
> destinations -- prove to you that government is the "right
> approach"?

If they could do it economically, but that never happens with the
government, any government.

> (To me, it sounds like you're setting yourself up for the TVA
> response a proponent of government might answer you with:
> if you merely look at results, the TVA seemed to work really well.
> If you look at the whole picture, though, the TVA was (and is)
> great at making electricity at low rates for people in its district as
> long as it got a huge subsidy from the federal government to begin
> with. This is like me giving you
>  a billion pounds, which to you put into a business that sells products
> below costs, but, hey, you've got a billion pounds to sink into
> satisfying your customers.:)

I am not a huge fan of the TVA.. however, it was helpful in winning
WWII against Japan, so you have to give it some credit, even if it is
a huge boondoggle.

>> The most interesting factoid for me was that SpaceX was
>> founded in 2002, and that Boeing hasn't been able to get
>> something going to this point. I will take this as validation
>> that smaller groups of people can be more efficient and
>> focused than large groups of people. I wonder how many
>> employee years SpaceX has expended thus far...
> I wouldn't make too many generalizations from such a small
> sample. Plus, I don't know, and from your comments I'm guessing
> you don't know, what the culture at Boeing is like, especially
> in their spacecraft division.

Isn't it true that Scott Adams (Dilbert) worked at Boeing? No, that's
not true. However, what is true is that so many of the employees at
Boeing think he works there, that the rumor that he did work there can
not be put down. That should tell you just a little about the culture
at Boeing. :-)

> It might be a lot like Amazon's approach to not having large
> groups of people working on one project. (According to a
> recent issue of Forbes, Jeff Bezos has a "two pizza" rule.
> Teams working on projects should no bigger than can be
> fed with two pizzas. Presumably, they've no heard of the
> paleo diet.:) Also, it could be that you're right and still that
> Boeing, given some stiff competition from start ups like SpaceX,
> might modify the way it approaches these projects. Remember,
> for a long time, the US space launch industry has been facing
> little competition* and basically does business under a monopsony,
> with NASA being the biggest market buyer for launchers, especially
> big launchers.

You are making my argument for me here. What you may not be aware of
is that Boeing was asked to bid on the same project as SpaceX, and
they have not yet delivered a proposal good enough to warrant serious
attention from NASA. But, they WERE asked, and they did field a team.
I would be willing to bet you $10 that Boeing has already spent more
than SpaceX trying to enter this space and have NOTHING significant to
show for it.

> Dan
> * Of course, this did change with communication satellite launches.
> And, also, the US military is the other big player here with launches
> of its satellites. Notably, that military, like all militaries, is also
> coercively funded -- as well as being the major coercer.

No argument there... but why does having non-libertarian customers (at
first) mean that it is not a step towards a more free (as in freedom)

Dan, I'm a glass half full libertarian, you sound here like a glass
half empty libertarian. :-)


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