Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rocketdyne vs. SpaceX?

Florida Today reports that a recent Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne campaign could be aimed at SpaceX.

The company, whose engines power United Launch Alliance’s Delta and Atlas rockets and propelled space shuttle crews to orbit, touts its record of producing “smoke and fire” in 14 launches last year, rather than “smoke and mirrors.”

“While the other guys launch powerful press conferences, we power launches of people and critical payloads,” an ad reads.

The left side of the ad’s split image shows a microphone on a table with the tag, “Others’ idea of making noise.” On the right side, the microphone takes the shape of an Atlas V rocket blasting off, with the retort, “Ours.”

The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne ad on their web site.

The ad refers readers to the web site Near the top of its home page is an icon labelled, "Alert! Contact Congress Now!"

Click on that link, and you're taken to a new page that falsely claims:

The U.S. Space Shuttle program ended on July 8, 2011, and NASA has yet to announce its plan for continuing human space exploration beyond Shuttle.

The truth is that NASA's primary mission for human spaceflight through the end of the decade is the International Space Station. NASA flies crew rotations to the ISS every six months. NASA is also working on the Congressionally mandated Space Launch System. Congress ordered NASA to build the SLS without giving NASA a mission or destination. NASA is required to submit a proposed schedule of missions later this year, but there's no guarantee that Congress will act upon it.

The bottom of the web site has a Pratt & Whitney logo.

A Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne video uploaded to YouTube on December 7 has the title card, "Smoke and Fire ... Not Smoke and Mirrors."

Click on the arrow to watch the video.

The video ad does not mention SpaceX or show the microphone graphic seen in the print ad.

The Florida Today article quotes a SpaceX spokesperson:

A spokeswoman for Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX called the ads “silly.”

“Making history, producing amazing technology, and shaking up the industry might make us newsworthy, but they aren’t running ads because of our press coverage,” spokeswoman Kirstin Brost Grantham said. “That we have emerged as a serious competitor in the launch business, with a manifest that is growing every day, that might be another story.”

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