The “Sense of congress” (i.e., Congressman Smith of Washington) is supposed to be interpreted as “buy stuff from BO” and specifically “use New Glenn when it is available.”

Well Blue Origin did bid for NSSL, but didn’t win. So just from a fairness standpoint I think it makes sense to use American taxpayer money to onboard more American launch capability.

Yeah, that was in 2019, and BO protested after they lost. The procurement was for launches starting in 2022 and apparently USSF did not believe BO would be flying New Glenn by 2022.

And apparently they were right…  :D

NSSL needs more launch companies.

There is likely a diminishing return as the number of launch companies goes over a certain number, and that number may be 2 or 3.

Plus, some DoD payloads require specialized handling that is not cheap to implement, so it may not make economic sense to have more than 2 or 3 certified to handle those.

I disagree about “fairness”. It’s not fair to the American taxpayer to pay a bunch of extra money for a highly questionable return. It looks more like corporate welfare and zipcode subsidy to me.

The USAF has a job to do, and they are always looking for ways to do that job as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, while trying to achieve very high success rates. Of course political influence does get in the way sometimes, but from a non-political view competition should be good, but too much competition for such a small amount of launch “demand” may not be good. It’s a balance thing that I don’t think we have achieved yet.

But the USAF should be allowed to pursue onboarding new launch entrants, regardless their political connections.

I feel that alternatives to SpaceX need to be reasonably competitive on price. I suppose I would tolerate a 10% premium to support an alternative provider, but not a 100% premium. If I were SpaceX and confronted with the “alternate provider” argument, I would spin off the F9 business and bid Starship as the competitor.

SpaceX will continue to be the low cost launch provider, and ULA will be the high cost launch provider. So we need someone in the middle that can provide a good enough launch success record that allows the U.S. to have redundancy and “reasonable costs”.

Make no mistake though, any new launch entrant is going to be taking away business from ULA, and that is a concern for the USAF, since ULA is the only launch provider CURRENTLY certified to launch all of the payloads USAF needs launched.

And while I think ULA’s owners have botched their future by sticking with expendable rockets, the reality is that America needs ULA, so we need to find a way to keep them in business. Horrible as that might sound.

Source link