SpaceX Is Blowing Up Government Contracting

Elon Musk’s space travel company, SpaceX, had a catastrophic failure on September 1, 2016, where a rocket exploded on the launch pad.  And this is not the first time Musk’s rockets have failed.  Last year, a SpaceX rocket carrying NASA cargo also failed during flight.

The Washington Post reported today:

The recent explosion of a SpaceX rocket should raise concerns about going with the lowest bidder on sensitive national security launch contracts, the chief executive of the United Launch Alliance wrote in a letter to top Pentagon officials earlier this month.

The argument is a fundamentally conservative one.  If you give a contract to the lowest bidder and then that bidder destroys government property, then that contract recipient damaged more than he saved. Yes, SpaceX was the lowest bidder, but then they went on and destroyed government property that the taxpayers are going to have to fix.

Think about it this way: if you hire a cheap contractor to fix up your kitchen and that contractor does a terrible job by using flimsy wood and poor wiring for the electricity outlets, then you might have to get all of the work done over again.  Ultimately, the double charge will cause you to spend more than you otherwise would have had you used a more efficient contractor in the first place.

The New York Times reported in a September 4, 2016 piece titled “SpaceX’s Explosion Reverberates Across Space, Satellite and Telecom Industries”:

The key for SpaceX will be how quickly it can satisfy federal investigators, rebuild the damaged launchpad at Cape Canaveral and resume sending satellites into space. For commercial telecommunications customers, getting a satellite manufactured is time-consuming and expensive, taking two years or more and costing $200 million to $400 million each.

The rocket in question — the Falcon 9 — has exploded not once, but twice.  How can NASA and the Air Force trust that the next Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket will not also explode?

Now that would be an expensive kitchen. Taxpayers are going to have to pay to repair Musk’s damage. SpaceX will have cost the taxpayers far more than the quote they originally gave the federal government when they secured the launch contract.

According to the Washington Post, SpaceX won a $82.7 million competitively-bid contract at a price far lower than competitors when the federal government stressed competitive pricing over the success of the launches.

The Post reported:

SpaceX has now had two of its rockets explode in spectacular fireballs, raising concerns about its reliability and safety. One of its rockets blew up last year while carrying $118 million worth of cargo to the space station. Earlier this month, a rocket blew up during fueling before an engine test and a $195 million satellite was destroyed.

This does not even fall into the category of “you get what you pay for,” because the lower quality rockets caused damage and increased fees to the government and taxpayer.  There is nothing conservative about using government money to get a low bid contract when that contract will cause massive damage that ends up costing the taxpayers more money, increasing the deficit and embarrassing the United States space program.