Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kelly: Taxpayers on the Hook for ULA

Florida Today on October 18 reported about a Government Accountability Office audit that faulted how the Defense Department has given a de facto monopoly to United Launch Alliance, shutting out other launch candidates such as SpaceX that might do the job more cheaply.

Click here to read the GAO report. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required.)

Florida Today space columnist John Kelly has written a commentary titled, "Rocket Deal Puts Taxpayers on the Hook."

The list of things that the Defense Department doesn’t know about its upcoming multibillion-dollar purchase of rockets should astound taxpayers.

The military, which helped bankroll development of Atlas V and Delta IV rockets for two of the United States’ biggest companies and propped up the two launch vehicles with billions of dollars in subsidies over the last decade, wants to buy another 40 of the rockets through 2018. The price: $15 billion over about five years or nearly the cost of what NASA was spending over a similar time period operating its space shuttle fleet.

The military is not considering alternatives, including competitors who could help drive down per-launch cost to taxpayers, based on reasons that can’t be backed up by the reliable data. In short, the military is spending $15 billion without knowing enough about what it’s doing.

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