Comments

  1. Hue-Man says

    Ah, yes, private sector. Never take risks with human life. Never have any quality control problems. Never have to recall products. No bugs, not ever. Never hire the lowest-cost worker. Make sure you only purchase cars produced Monday morning because you don’t believe what the statistics say. But then, your car has never NOT started when you most needed it.

  2. Kas says

    Actually I’ve had my current car for about five years now and its never failed to start. I happen to agree with your point though the private sector makes me nervous.

  3. says

    Anyone concerned about “the private sector” aspect should look again. The US Government didn’t build any of the shuttles, nor the shuttle program. These were, like everything from government buildings to battleships, tendered out to private enterprise. They just have government oversight. And in a big way so did the SpaceX program. NASA oversaw their procedures and I’m sure checked all their sums.

    Further more, failure by a government contractor rarely sees any financial retribution, rather they request more money from the government to fix the problem. I doubt the same will be so from a purely non-government operation, for whom, one costly mistake will see their business disappear.

    Consider too that with the commentor’s car analogy. Hudreds of thousands of cars are pushed from production lines with many variables and variations along the way, there is a lot more room for error with each iteration. In terms of SpaceX and other projects like James Cameron’s deep sea vehicle these are extremely well controlled operations.

    I’d go for the purely commercial operator any day over a tendered government job. They have a lot more at stake should failure occurr.

    And I whole heartedly disagree that this was of “minor historic import”; this was massive. That it had so little fanfair was kind of sad.

  4. Rob says

    For answers on what the astronauts go through and what it feels for them I recommend the very well and humorously written “Packing for Mars” by Mary Roach.
    She handles all the dry, technical aspects of space travel with wit and grace.

  5. Nat says

    “Ah, yes, private sector. Never take risks with human life. Never have any quality control problems. Never have to recall products. No bugs, not ever.”

    That’s a ridiculous standard. It is impossible to manufacture anything without the risk of breakdown. We can mitigate risk, but that’s it.

    That’s why the private sector is an inherently better choice when it comes to manufacture. Tort law encourages companies to manufacture something to the utmost standard while allowing for substantive penalties when the standard of care is not met. Air travel is far safer than automobile travel not only because the level of engineering expertise required to make an aircraft operate, but because the potential liability is too catastrophic otherwise.

    “Never hire the lowest-cost worker.”

    Companies hire the lower-cost worker to reduce their costs, so they can sell their products at a marketable price. Unless consumers express an active desire to pay more – and they never do – then it’s in the company’s best interest to seek the lowest-cost worker who can perform the job.

    This was an achievement, and it may one day be more than a minor accomplishment – it may be a significant turning point in human history, on par with the moon landing.

  6. Nat says

    “Further more, failure by a government contractor rarely sees any financial retribution, rather they request more money from the government to fix the problem. I doubt the same will be so from a purely non-government operation, for whom, one costly mistake will see their business disappear.”

    It’s an elementary concept, but some people seem to have significant issues in grasping the concept of incentives.

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