GREAT GREED FROM SPACE TO SCHOOLS IS EXPLODING IN OUR FACES FOR ALL TO SEE. Mr. Musk May Smell Good To Some, But His Corrupt Bucks Can’t Change Physics.
The creed, nowadays, is that greed is good. The screed of greed gave us Greece all over, the lemmings just don’t know it, they are too busy swimming.
Tomorrow, I will try to explain a simple observation on the European debt crisis an esteemed commenter and economist on this site, Partha from India, just made. It’s related directly to the essay below, which is about how superstitious people such as Mr. Obama (“Bless America”) believe all the creed one needs is from greed. Meh (as Paul Krugman would write, and cows have it.) Here she blows:
After thirty years of ever more blossoming greed creed, one was ready to extend it to NASA: just let billionaires replace NASA, their greed is greater, that would be better. It’s not just that greed is good: greed is better, say the crocodiles, and they chew. $33,400 to squeeze their palms, and don’t you be eaten, ha ha ha.
(The same philosophy was extended to education, and the president of the USA was seen cavorting with Melinda Gates: hey, when he graduates, maybe she has money for him!)
Some believe 70 virgins are waiting for them, if they just explode a little girl in a busy market place (a technique used by “Boko Haram” (“Book Forbidden”)). In the USA, superstitious politicians believe that 70 billionaires are waiting for them, if they just organize the public powers for them (see banksters’ greed in Greece, where corrupt politicians, some of them outright billionaires, like PM Papandreou, the Pelosi-Feinstein of Greece, just worse, harnessed the state to serve plutocracy). So Obama finished all his discourses by blessing the USA, as if he were the Pope.
And took real public money to finance billionaires. Same story as Greece. Exactly.
Space X has been heavily subsidized by NASA, under orders of the government of the USA, to the tune of billions of dollars. The president has posed with Elon Musk (both of them are so photogenic together, tall and slim). Never mind that Musk is not a rocket scientist: he plays one on TV, just as Obama plays religious figure on TV (“God Bless Amerika!).
Greed creed flows from the idea that if a few individuals can get very rich doing something, they will do it better, smarter, and, most importantly fairer, because money is just, and its servants, holly.
This is a delusion: the success of start-ups, in the USA, has primordially to do with the size of the market in the USA (the USA youth market is about four times that of France, which is the largest in Europe).
When Obama became president, Mr. Musk, after several rocket failures, was broke. Nothing that Obama, who, as president travelled dozens of times to California for private money, could not fix. Mr. Musk does not just have friends, he has an extensive family in charge of other businesses.
In 2015, Musk’s personal fortune reached 12 billion dollars. Mr. Musk creates companies which leverage massively massive government subsidies (electric cars, solar panels). As usual, companies interfacing with the government (Google, Facebook, etc.) are most happy. It is not just Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.
The head of NASA does not make 12 billion dollars in six years, as Mr. Musk did. How can Space X, which pays fortunes in the billions of dollars to its stakeholders be cheaper to operate than one where no corruption is involved. Ah, yes, because when a few guys get paid zillions, it’s corruption.
The idea that greed can overwhelm the laws of physics seems to come from the general creed that greed can overwhelm anything, and is of best counsel. That is assuredly not a scientific idea. It’s a well-known anti-scientific idea. But it’s back, and Space X is the proof.
Euclid replied to King Ptolemy’s request for an easier way of learning mathematics that “there is no Royal Road to geometry.” (According to lawyer-philosopher Proclus, writing more than seven centuries later.)
Rockets are very flimsily built controlled explosions, aimed precisely. To insure that this dangerous contraptions work nevertheless, one cannot spare expenses, and overlook any detail.
The principle of making a cheaper commercial space vehicle is the exact opposite: it is all about overlooking expensive details, cutting corners, obsessing about money, rather than exquisite technology.
The large, and not cheaply built Ariane 5, has made 78 successful commercial launches (although one was sub-optimal for one of the two satellites). Only one Ariane 5 launching two French communications satellites failed (vol14/ of Ariane 5, 157th of the overall Ariane project).
That was the first launch of the new, heavier version of Ariane, with a new giant main hydrogen engine, Vulcain 2.
The reason of that failure is instructive: the main giant hydrogen engine had a partial breach of the cryogenic small tubing which cools the engine with liquid hydrogen at minus 250 Celsius. The inside of the sophisticated Vulcain engine is at 3,000 degree Celsius (more than half the temperature of the surface of the sun). The failure happened at 96 seconds, the rocket became progressively harder to control over the next few minutes, and was destroyed by ground control at 450 seconds.
A thorough analysis made sure that the metallurgy got understood better, before the next launch, which was the Rosetta spacecraft. The next 65 launches worked. Thanks to not trying to cut corners.
The tubing concerned in Vulcain 1 was only .4 millimeter thick. For citizens of the USA that means one sixth of one tenth of an inch. Space X does not have any technology that sophisticated. Space X basically uses the technology invented by the Nazis, 75 years ago (time flies, but Space X does not). Ariane engineers are better, because rocket science is all they do, their lives are dedicated to do their job well. Their creed is not greed, but engineering.
How many different heavy launchers does the West need? The USA has around six launchers right now, either in existence or development. Still, it cannot launch any American in space (Ariane 5 could launch the largest USA command module under development, right away). Russia has launched around 2,000 Soyuz rockets (a much smaller vehicle than Ariane 5). Soyuz is a workhorse. It gets economies of scale, and is presently the only way for the USA to get to space.
Yes, Ariane 5, the safest vehicle around is human rated, and the USA could have bought Ariane rockets (NASA’s hyper expensive James Webb telescope is to be launched by Ariane 5). However collaborating with second rate Russia is safe, whereas depending upon the French superpower is just plain scary: it could prove that the French Socialist system has abilities beyond wine and cheese.
The (large) Space Launch System NASA works on makes sense, because it has unique capabilities. (It’s actually a modernization of Saturn V, using some Space Shuttle motors.)
But nobody needs Space X. And the mentality that just because it’s private, and operated by billionaires, it’s better, does not make sense when said private industry is actually heavily subsidized. Besides, whatever the rather lightly educated Mr. Musk may think, cheaper physics does not exist. There is no billionaire’s road to physics.
There is no billionaire road to wisdom either. Quite the opposite: being a billionaire assuredly proves that one is not wise. Our greedy politicians and revolving door civil servants believe differently, naturally. Otherwise, they won’t be so greedy.
Oh, and my advice to the Congress of the USA? Forget about Space X, cut all its subsidies. Concentrate on NASA’s Space Launch System, and don’t hesitate to use Ariane 5: a bit of cooperation is not just friendly, it’s good economics.