back to article Elon Musk's SpaceX: Now we help do SURVEILLANCE for the SPOOKS

After an extended spat between Elon Musk and the US Air Force, SpaceX has finally been certified for military space missions, muscling into what had been a cosy monopoly held by a Lockheed-Boeing joint venture. An Air Force press release notes that the first opportunity for SpaceX to compete to provide launch services will …

  1. Elmer Phud

    Hmmm. . .

    At this rate we'll soon have enough material orbiting the planet to make Dyson sphere -- all we need is our own little sun.

    1. Badvok

      Re: Hmmm. . .

      Oh dear, I can see your train of thought, yet you still hit the 'Submit' button anyway?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Orbital factory

      Ton's of material zipping around up there could be used for new devices.

      Would need some sort of micro-fabrication facility.

      1. cray74

        Re: Orbital factory

        "Would need some sort of micro-fabrication facility."

        And many other facilities: those to reprocess solar cell materials; the vast and varied chemical facilities to work with the many different battery types in orbit; differing metallurgical facilities to handle the steel, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and other alloys; the enormously complex facility needed to make microchips from whatever electronic raw materials you find in orbit; something to recycle the composites; and then you'd need several layers of facilities to turn the resulting basic components into finished goods.

        The aerospace industry is a complicated web of processes to turn raw ores - or defunct, atomic oxygen-worn, radiation-blasted space hardware - into useful goods.

    3. Marcus Aurelius

      Re: Hmmm. . .

      If we have enough material to make a Dyson sphere, perhaps we'll need a space version of a Dyson vacuum cleaner.

      One wonders if a vacuum cleaner can work in space....

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Hmmm. . .

        Dyson sphere?

        I believe they already make a Dyson Ball.

      2. Ru'

        Re: Hmmm. . .

        "One wonders if a vacuum cleaner can work in space...."

        One would reply that space would be the ideal place for such a thing...

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm. . .

      >At this rate we'll soon have enough material orbiting the planet to make Dyson sphere

      "Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."

      Anyhows, Dyson Spheres are built around the star, not around some lump of rock that orbits it.

  2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    The real reason SpaceX got the gig


  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Given the USAF handed ULA a 36 core block buy* before this

    You have to wonder how many launches they will get.

    *Because, y'know how certain could they be that SX would be able pass certification, and ULA said they'd give them such a good price when the USAF asked them "What's the cheapest price you could give us" and they said "the one that gives us the most guaranteed orders for the most number of years."

    This is the start of a very long road.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: Given the USAF handed ULA a 36 core block buy* before this

      Quite true. But, remember, the GPS satellites are aging.

      The number is close to a binary fraction portion of the aging satellites.

      The Air Force hasn't gotten Congressional funding to replace the aging satellites for nearly a decade.

      So, would you rather do without GPS, out of fears of a camera that has long been present peering at your bum?

      Communications is also key. Something I learned firsthand, while I was in the military.

      Is spying present?

      Yes. Get over something that has been around for thousands of years.

      Spies keep every nation honest.

      Look up Able Archer and figure out *how* close this planet came to nuclear winter and radioactive fallout. Two spies kept everyone honest and prevented a thermonuclear war.

  4. Brandon 2

    50 years ago, the idea of a Russian engine pushing anything American into space would have gotten many people fired in Washington. My hat's off to Musk. Not that his rockets are completely "Murican", but raw materials come in, and engines go out the other side of the plant in 'Murica... why they don't get nearly all of the military's launches is beyond me... probably the same reason Hillary has made millions off uranium deals... pretty ironic, the US seeking to extradite FIFA officials for taking bribes...

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      All depends on your point of view...

      If you're a US citizen it's capitalism. Be a patriot. Live the American Dream.

      If you're not a US citizen it's evil, unpatriotic, corruption and so on.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: All depends on your point of view...

        Well, as a retired US military citizen, who held some multiple character clearances, with alphabet soup behind the hyphen, I'll suggest you read the writings of US Marine Corps General Smedley Butler.

        Then, with an eye to those true words, review history since.

        Although, fuck all if I can figure out *why* we'd overthrow Iraq. Iraqi oil goes to Europe.

        But then, the US overthrew Iran's democracy to install the corrupt and inept Shah, at the behest of British oil interests.

        Something I had long attributed to "taking care of war buddies".

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: All depends on your point of view...

          "Although, fuck all if I can figure out *why* we'd overthrow Iraq"

          Because Saddam dared to take payments in Euro.

          You can't have tinpot dictators underming the hegemony of the almighty Greenback. People might look behind the curtain and realise that confidence in the currency is all smoke and mirrors (There's a hell of a lot of gold simply _missing_ from the federal reserve.)

    2. DryBones

      Yep. Because 50 years ago there wasn't as much of a global economy going on, manufacturing wasn't being outsourced to China by everyone and their brother, and US aerospace companies hadn't discovered that Russian engine technology (or at least metallurgy) was decades ahead of theirs, and could be had for notably cheaper. Funny situation wherein the local technology was more expensive and less efficient, but they didn't care because patriotism. Nationalism? Anyway.

      Now you've got the return of this drive to do it locally, only it's being used as a political football, and they also want it as cheaply as possible. The main reason it CAN be done cheaper is the emergence of additive manufacturing, which is a relatively recent development. Costs are going to come down, manufacturing of some of the stuff being used for politics is going to return to the US. It's just another folding chair in DC's stupid wrestling match.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        So you're saying the politicians are

        rearranging someone's face with the deck chairs on the Titanic?

      2. Wzrd1

        "...and they also want it as cheaply as possible."

        Erm, this US citizen and recently retired veteran calls bullshit on your bullshit.

        We *all* seek the cheapest.

        Or are you honestly willing to pay over $1k for a PC, just to bitch about the price?

        Every US car has a majority of foreign components. Do you *honestly* want to spend $50k for a *cheap* car and $100k for a decent family car and half a million for a luxury car? SUV, you're shit out of luck for under $300k.

        You know, you've increased my respect for the ancient Athenians. They prohibited the Idios the vote.

        Perhaps it's time for a Constitutional amendment...

  5. That Old Guy

    They don't have much of a choice

    They needed another launch option since the Russians haven't been able to do it lately without either losing the payload or blowing it up.

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: They don't have much of a choice

      "They needed another launch option since the Russians haven't been able to do it lately without either losing the payload or blowing it up."

      We've done less, on a federal front.

      Welcome to libertarianism run amok.

      Makes me sorry I redeployed home.

  6. bollos

    "military space missions"?

    is america running out of places to bomb on planet earth??

    1. Wzrd1

      Re: "military space missions"?

      "is america running out of places to bomb on planet earth??"

      Naw, Earth is big, bombs are small and plentiful in the US.

      Annoyingly, they're sparse for the citizenship. Otherwise, that tree stump would've been long gone for free. ;)


  7. Kharkov
    Big Brother

    Progress! But slowly, slowly...

    While it's good that SpaceX has been admitted to the NSA launchers club, squeezing the overpriced ULA out and, in time, driving them out of business, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

    The first GPS III satellites won't be launching until 2017 at the earliest & the first of those will probably be covered by the last block-buy the DoD announced for ULA.

    Competition is coming, but not yet, not yet...

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