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The Utah Space Tax

Rand Simberg has a nice article at Pajamas Media today on a topic which he and I and others have been harping on for many months: Republican socialists. The Utah delegation is one of the worst in this regard. To them, NASA is simply a State Jobs Program. It keeps the re-election funds coming in and whether they actually make anything useful or not does not really matter.

A NASA official once privately corrected me when I insisted I they would be forced to build a heavy lift vehicle (HLV), “We’ll spend money on it…”

There lies the problem. There is arguably no real point in an HLV at this time. There is most certainly no need for one with ATK multi-segment rocket boosters (SRB’s) of the sort which accomplished the self-disassembly of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986. I admit, that is a cheap shot, but I think it is an accurate one. Yes, SRB’s give a lot of thrust at start up. Yes they are stable for long term storage. Yes they are a great way to deliver munitions to faraway places. And NO, they are not a good way to build affordable access to space.

The only player in the commercial space game that is using anything like a solid rocket is Virgin Galactic, and their engine is a hybrid, not the same thing at all. Hybrids have solid fuel but use a liquid oxidizer. This allows throttling in real time. More importantly, if necessary, they can be turned OFF. The big ATK SRB engines can only be shut down by blowing off the end caps, and that has rather extreme aerodynamic braking effects.

The Utah delegation wants a new generation of white elephant built at the tax payers expense. They are not at all pleased with the idea that a new generation of commercially minded people are building spaceships which will bring their party to an end.

PS: If you have questions, I will meet you in the comment room as time allows and may well invite a few of my rocket designer friends if needed.

3 comments to The Utah Space Tax

  • Laird

    “There is arguably no real point in an HLV at this time.”

    I would correct that sentence to read “there is arguably no real point in NASA at this time.” It’s a high-paying make-work program with no discernable purpose other than to spend tax dollars. Frankly, if we’re going to spend them I’d rather it be on bridge and highway repairs, since at least we’d get something useful in return (and more hiring; civil engineers are a lot cheaper than aerospace ones!).

  • John B

    Hey! No fair!
    It rescues Chilean miners!
    Seems its expertise does not extend to Australia, though.

  • Patrick Thomson

    It aint just Utah; the news media here, around Houston, is full of worries about when the space shuttle program ends, there will be _____ many thousands of high-paying jobs lost in the area around NASA. No crying about loss of science or advancement thereof or any of that sort of thing, but only the local economic effects.