Blue Origin’s Successful Engine Test Fire Puts SpaceX on Notice

Er… you can’t compare SLS to Falcon Heavy, BFR or Blue Origin’s rocketry plans without mentioning that SLS is single-use and will cost something approaching a *billion dollars* per launch. (That doesn’t include the subsidy Congress pays ULA just for existing, which currently approaches a billion dollars per year. SpaceX and Blue Origin don’t receive subsidies, only contracts for deliverables.)

Which means there is no comparison at all. SLS is old tech with no hope of getting to a competitive launch cost. That program has to die; it’s just a matter of establishing that reusable commercial rockets can do the heavy lifting. Once that’s proven, SLS will be on fumes. Congress won’t want to spend the money; and NASA will want to stretch their funding by tapping cheaper launch services.

It’s also considerably premature to say that Blue Origin’s static engine test presages rapid progress to a competitive, reusable commercial rocket. That is where they are headed, yes. They have the technical and engineering chops to get there, yes. But they are years away from their first commercial launch, and they have not announced any commercial launch dates for orbital rockets. There’s a lot of catching up to do for Blue Origin.

I *want* them to catch up to SpaceX. The more new-tech rocket designs we have launching, the better. But breathless reporting and spurious comparisons can do the reading public no favors.

Why isn’t there a by-line claiming authorship of this article? It would be nice to know who, exactly, is flogging such skewed reporting.

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