Saturday, August 04, 2012

NASA bypasses Utah’s ATK For Post-Shuttle Vehicle Contract

Decision leaves the future of hundreds of jobs in Box Elder County in doubt

Bad news for the Northern Utah jobs picture and the Utah economy in general, folks, as both the Standard-Examiner and Salt Lake Tribune report that Utah-based aerospace firm "Alliant Techsystems’ plan to use its Liberty rocket to eventually transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station was left unfunded on the launch pad Friday."

Here's the lead from this morning's Standard-Examiner  front page:
OGDEN — ATK Space Systems in Box Elder County was bypassed Friday in its bid to win part of nearly $1.2 billion from NASA to develop a new commercial space launch system to carry American astronauts into space.
The decision leaves the future of hundreds of jobs in Box Elder County in doubt.
ATK already laid off more than 2,000 employees as the space shuttle program wound down. It hoped to avoid further layoffs by building more solid-rocket motors for its proposed manned launch system, called Liberty.
Read the full S-E and Trib stories here:
Needless to say, Utah 1st Congressional District Representative-for-life Rob Bishop R-UT  is practically apoplectic about this development:
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, in whose congressional district ATK is located, said he and the rest of Utah’s congressional delegation will not take the decision lying down.
The real question... what will Bishop and the rest of Utah's federal congressional delegation be able to do about it?  Not much, we'll suggest.

Added bonus question:   As frequent and loud Obama critics, what exactly did Bishop and the rest of Utah's congressional delegation expect?  Seems obvious to us at first blush that Utah will be paying the foreseeable and probable price for its crackpot right-wing political extremism.

But what do our Gentle Readers have to say about all this?


rudizink said...

In the interest of kick-starting some discussion on this topic, we'll take the liberty of incorporating this gem of a comment from Trib reader "Dewdle" who apparently doesn't believe this NASA decision was merely political:
Did Utahns honestly believe that the " Liberty" space-a-palooza would ever get public support ; that ATK-Lockheed-Astrium was somehow entitled to funding for a half-baked scheme ? ATK's  booster-capsule scheme was an engineering  scam from the get-go.  Basically it was a new paint job and trim on a cobbled up stack of inherently dangerous Old Technology . It was a wicked bit of steampunk. Jules Verne would've loved it. But it was more an episode of Junkyard Wars than Spaceflight: the Next Generation.  The only difference was ATK could not sweettalk NASA into using a Rocketdyne J2-X liquid hydrogen engine for the second stage, so they sweettalked the French for an Astrium  Vulcain liquid hydrogen engine already being routinely used on the  Ariane V booster.  And a brief word about Lockheed-Martin, builder of the capsule: can you say military-industrial defense contractor well known for ripping off the taxpayer with overpriced  underperforming often delayed products ?  The troika of corporate aerospace  robber barons that cobbled together " Liberty " were pushing  a flying ziggarut fueled by  desperation . That it was concieved in Utah is no shocker. Those of us who live close enough to Utah to observe the workings of the Zion, Inc. business paradigm are shocked but never surprised about the entrepreneurial deceit that Utah spawns  , unforgivingly so.

Hopefully , no human being will ever again fly into space on the illegitimate  grandson of a Morton-Thiokol pipe bomb deployed by scammers from Utah.  " Liberty " was a lunker.

If you beg to differ and still believe that " Liberty" has engineering merit and ATK can launch humans into space with a little help from its friends, then roll up your temple garment sleeves and do it with your own money and not one dime of public assistance.  Try out that free enterprise private funding " we can do it"  business model. Build your own spaceport. If it's worth doing, that is.

Maybe after Mitt Romney becomes unemployed in November, he can help you get some investors from Bain Capital to jumpstart  " ATK Liberty v. 2.0 " . If it's worth doing at all , Mitt would know. He knows everything. He can book the first ride, too.

As always, we love a good rant.

Dan S. said...

I have no idea whether ATK's proposal was better or worse than the others. And I have no idea whether NASA's decision process was based more on technical merit or politics. But I'm absolutely sure of one thing: Rep. Bishop couldn't care less about the technical merits of this or the other proposals. He would've cried "favoritism" even if his home district's proposal had come from the Brigham City Junior High Model Rocket Club.

rudizink said...

 ROFLMAO!  Great post, Dan. I'm still chuckling.

blackrulon said...

Why aren't   any Utah legislators looking on the bright side of this contract bid failoure? Now Utah will not have any of that pesky federal money coming to Utah.

AWM said...

Orrin: "It's Utahs time to lead"
NASA: It's Utahs time to stay behind

Danny said...

 It sounds like somebody has a bone to pick in the comments above.  The Liberty system wasn't a bad idea.

But NASA never gave it a nickel.  And official after official dropped gentle hints that ATK would not be in the ballgame, Liberty or no.

But nobody was listening.

Space-X is what Obama is talkin' 'bout.  The money went to them and some capsule makers that will fly on Atlas rockets.

NASA wants a clean break with the past.  They want to flush out the cobwebs.  It may not be right, but that's the lay of the land.  You gotta pay attention to what IS, not just what you WANT.  Pass that tip to the high paid help at ATK - they keep losing business left and right.  Something ain't workin'.

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