From: "Jeff Greason" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: effects of launch costs (was Re: Returning to the Moon)
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 09:56:57 -0700
Kenneth Hayashida, Jr., M.D. <email@example.com> wrote in message
> Although I understand the frustration with US licensing and export
> restrictions, one only watch CNBC or Fox News O'Reilly to see the
> ramification of this lack of control over US technology. The open
> publication of key technologies related to rocketry and nuclear devices,
> plus the blabber from certain key companies, has lead to a loss of
> national security.
> When people first started discussing the leaks here in sci.space years
> alot of people thought it was just gibberish. Now, we find that in the
> pursuit of $$$, some people sold off the security of their nation.
> Let's defend the US Constitution and the freedoms of the Bill of Rights by
> defending US technology.
Hi Ken -- long time no hear!
However, I violently disagree. Let me go further -- the entire notion of
US "control" of "US technology" is pure horses**t.
Consider rockets. I taught myself rocketry from the open literature, and
found that very little experimental work was required to get to a point
where my team was on a par with the "experienced" U.S. rocket teams; ahead
in some areas. In the course of learning all this, *very few* of the papers
you really want to look at were published after 1970. There are of course
a few exceptions -- but post 1970, I find just as many interesting papers
published by non-U.S. sources as by U.S. sources. The Japanese have
published some very good recent work on plug nozzles, Volvo is, in
my opinion, the current world leader in bi-contoured nozzle design, and
anything you want to know about reentry vehicles which you can't get
from pre 1970 U.S. papers you can get from recent French papers. Two
years back, I paid an exorbitant price to have a Chinese-language paper
on regenerative cooling translated into English so that I could use it.
The "coupled loads analysis" which the Cox report made so much of could
only be considered a "U.S. secret" if you assume that nobody outside the
U.S. has received an advanced degree in mechanical engineering since,
roughly, 1980. Never mind the fact that the U.S. schools are full of
foreign nationals getting their degree (who used to stay here and work, but
who are now being strongly encouraged to return to their home country, in
a staggeringly stupid turn of policy). You can go to a graduate school in
England, Germany, Japan, Russia, or France (at least) and get the same
knowledge. What's to protect?
It is only a slight exaggeration to say that everything basic in rocketry was
worked out prior to 1955 -- most prior to 1945. If you want a scapegoat
for the "spread" of rocketry knowledge, you're going to have to go back
to the Eisenhower-era decision to make NASA a civilian agency -- something
which I think was a *very* good idea. Knowledge, like a houseplant, grows
a lot better in the light than in the darkness.
The leaking of nuclear secrets I take far more seriously -- there actually
are (were?) some secrets in that area, mostly having to do with miniaturization.
I'm aware of the *readily acessible* public literature in this area, but haven't
done anything like the digging I did in rocketry. Still, just from general
knowledge, I have no doubt that in a 2-3 year program I could come up with
a 1960's era "dry" thermonuclear weapon -- much less than that for a fission
weapon. While the recently revealed security leaks are impressively awful,
you have to keep a sense of perspective as well; these leaks have accelerated
Chinese research by, probably, 10 years. This is a Bad Thing, and those
responsible need to be found and punished appropriately. However, since
this is 1970's technology we're protecting, I find it miraculous that the
technology hasn't leaked out before. In fact, I suspect that it has, and that
most of what the Chinese obtained from this source they had already obtained
from Soviet sources.
The U.S. security posture depends on the assumption of U.S. technical
superiority in military affairs. Keeping secrets is only part (and a rather
small part) of that equation -- the better you keep your secrets, the
slower the leakage of your research to others. But that leakage will
never be zero, or even small. Fundamentally, if you want to be ahead of
the others in the race, you have to run faster than they. As the commercial
world found out long ago -- nothing else gives you a *lasting* advantage.
And military secrets are the most fleeting of all.
> The US gov't (i.e. Congress and the next President) should set US space
> to highly favor small American companies who employ US citizens to develop
> new engines and technologies to use space easily. How about zero tax load
> on such a company's launches for the first 10 years of operations?
This is a good way to "run faster". I'd love to see this, but the
advantage would be in helping us to stay ahead rather than in "denying"
payloads access to foreign launch providers.
> How about zero tolerance of leakage of technology to other nations?
When money was power, this used to be called "monetarism", and was
a disastrously self-destructive policy. With technology, this approach is
not only self-destructive, but impossible. The attempt could do a lot of
harm, however. In pursut it this goal, we are rapidly destroying the U.S.
satellite industry -- unless the current policies are changed within 2 years,
I expect to see either the French or the Japanese dominate the satellite
industry within 5 years. Won't *that* be a wonderful way to protect
U.S. security. Remember -- the laws of physics work just as well for
Markets are global -- if you don't sell it, somebody else will. Then
"somebody else" gets the money, does their own research, and pretty
soon is ahead of you. The effect of "protecting" your technological
lead is to destroy it.
And consider who the "guardsmen" are. In an attempt to "control
the flow of technology", these people are preventing Pratt & Whitney
from getting the RD-180 into production. The U.S. government is
forcing P&W to default on a contract which would give the U.S. production
capability for what I believe to be the best rocket engine technology
in the world -- the RD-170 turbopump/gas generator cycle. How stupid
can you get? Just who are we trying to keep from getting rocket
technology -- U.S. companies?
And in the attempt to "protect" this advantage, we are seriously compromising
the rights and ideals which *make* America worth protecting. If I sit
down in my garage and make a product, where in the Constitution does it
give some bureaucrat in D.C. the authority to tell me I can't sell it or even
talk about it to whoever I darned well please? The best way to "defend
the US Constitution and the freedoms of the Bill of Rights" is to
pay attention to what they say, and to allow citizens to exercise those
> How about free use of existing launch facilities to trial and demo new
For all practical purposes, launch facilities are already offered "free"; it's
the paperwork and regulatory burden that's the killer. I'm expecting
"flag of convenience" launch facilities within 5 years -- we have that long
to get our act together and get a healthy free market in launch technology.
Attempts to make working with the U.S. as difficult as possible only
make offshore competition more likely. (How enthused do you think
someone is about using a U.S. launch site if the launch provider is then
forbidden to *talk* to the payload customer unless they submit, in
writing, 30-60 days in advance, literally EVERY WORD they are going
> How about FAA and Dept. of Commerce being mandated to step out of the
> US space policy arena and a new Cabinet level position for a new space
The FAA and the Dept. of Commerce are space policy's best friend! How
about NASA and the Dept. of State being mandated to step out of the
space policy arena? That would be a heck of a lot better!
"Limited funds are a blessing, not Jeff Greason
a curse. Nothing encourages creative ex-Rotary Rocket
thinking in quite the same way." --L. Yau Propulsion Manager
(Hughes is my ISP, not my employer) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: email@example.com (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: effects of launch costs (was Re: Returning to the Moon)
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 1999 15:08:32 GMT
In article <Sd%y3.17737$Rn.firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Kenneth Hayashida, Jr., M.D. <email@example.com> wrote:
>Let's defend the US Constitution and the freedoms of the Bill of Rights by
>defending US technology.
"We had to destroy the village to save it."
(I suppose I shouldn't complain. A good bit of my income these days comes
from work that would be done in the US, if US laws didn't interfere so
badly with technology export. The laws haven't stopped the work from
being done, since the US has no monopoly on brains; they've just caused it
to be done by exporting the jobs rather than the technology.)
The good old days | Henry Spencer firstname.lastname@example.org
weren't. | (aka email@example.com)