Tuesday, July 05, 2016

SPACE NEWS: Why DARPA is pursuing a reusable spaceplane.

A somewhat interesting article, if only for the ignorance displayed.

In the article, yes, DARPA is pursuing a quick turn-around spaceplane, but why? Not answered. XS-1 is not a new program; it's been around in one form or another for years. The (admittedly very tight) turnaround times are key to 'why?' for there has been a longstanding need to get intelligence assets to a crisis area in minutes, not hours or days. That capability has been essentially nonexistent since the SR-71 Blackbird was retired in the 1990's.

Equal ignorance of basic economics is displayed by a commenter (windbourne) on the indirect costs of business. Twice the (direct) employee's salary is actually a bit low. Typical in my experience as a DoD contractor, the indirect burden per employee is about 1-1/2 (for a total of 2.5 times salary); a little more or less depending largely on how much manufacturing the business does.

With respect to security clearances (again windbourne), indeed the shoe leather investigation used to be done by the FBI as late as the mid-80's, but the adjudication -- that is, granting the clearance -- has always been done by the government contracting agency (Army, Navy, Air Force, NSA, CIA, DIA, etc.). Only the government can grant a security clearance, and each agency jealously guards its prerogatives.

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