Is the US Paying $300 Million Too Much to Launch Rockets? Elon Musk Thinks So.

Is the government overpaying by $300 million? Elon Musk of SpaceX has long argued that there needs to be greater competition with the awarding of space launch contracts. New reports indicate that SpaceX may be $300 million less than the US government is currently paying.


Special deal: buy a SpaceX flight and get a satellite (cost: $300m) for free!

That appears to be the deal that SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk is offering the US government, with the newfound competition in the national security payload launch market. Since SpaceX received approval by the US Air Force in 2015 to utilize its Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX has received contracts to launch GPS III satellites into orbit. What the government has been paying SpaceX may be $300 million less than what US taxpayers will be paying the Colorado-based United Launch Alliance (ULA), jointly owned by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to do a similar launch in 2020.

$300M cost diff between SpaceX and Boeing/Lockheed exceeds avg value of satellite, so flying with SpaceX means satellite is basically free https://t.co/CaOulCf7ot

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2017

​Is science synonymous with 'truth'? Game theory says, 'not always.'

Good science is sometimes trumped by the craving for a "big splash."

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  • Scientists strive to earn credit from their peers, for grants from federal agencies, and so a lot of the decisions that they make are strategic in nature. They're encouraged to publish exciting new findings that demonstrate some new phenomenon that we have never seen before.
  • This professional pressure can affect their decision-making — to get acclaim they may actually make science worse. That is, a scientist might commit fraud if he thinks he can get away with it or a scientist might rush a result out of the door even though it hasn't been completely verified in order to beat the competition.
  • On top of the acclaim of their peers, scientists — with the increasing popularity of science journalism — are starting to be rewarded for doing things that the public is interested in. The good side of this is that the research is more likely to have a public impact, rather than be esoteric. The bad side? To make a "big splash" a scientist may push a study or article that doesn't exemplify good science.

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
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Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

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NASA and ESA team up for historic planetary defense test

Two space agencies plan missions to deflect an asteroid.

ESA's Hera mission above asteroid 65803 Didymos. Credit: ESA/ScienceOffice.org
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  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together on missions to a binary asteroid system.
  • The DART and Hera missions will attempt to deflect and study the asteroid Didymoon.
  • A planetary defense system is important in preventing large-scale catastrophes.
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