ULA Seminar turns into PR disaster


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DocM

Brett Tobey, ULA's new VP of Engineering (hired Sept. 2015) spoke at the ULA Seminar and his comments created quite a PR nightmare.

 

One is that he thinks SpaceX is losing $250 million per F9 launch, and it cost $4 billion to develop. Also smack about Aerojet-Rocketdyne being the poorer of 2 fiancees vs Blue Origin (!), a Blue Origin BE-4 exploding on the stand, ULA almost folding, and....and....and.... 

 

Oh, Brother 

 

Among other interesting tidbits is concern about the loads Starliners 4 launch escape system rockets will cause, and it sounds like Atlas V's human rating isn't a closed case.

 

This talk was up on YouTube, twice, but has since been made 'private.' No wonder. Even the non-SpaceX fans on NSF think he's flipping delusional. 

 

Anyhooo, a (Reddit) /r/SpaceX user put a transcript up on Google Docs

 

Transcript....

 

Space News summary, with some embarrassing bits somehow omitted ?

 

Space News #1

 

And now,  The plot thickens!!

 

Space News #2

 

 

Quote

ULA chief disavows his head engineers take on Vulcan engine competition

 

WASHINGTON  United Launch Alliance sought to distance itself Wednesday from remarks its vice president of engineering made Tuesday implying the Denver-based rocket builder has all but decided to use Blue Origins BE-4 engine instead of Aerojet Rocketdynes AR1 to power its next-generation launcher. 

 

"These ill-advised statements do not reflect ULAs views or our relationship with our valuable suppliers," ULA Chief Executive Tory Bruno said Wednesday via Twitter. "We welcome competition."
>
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Edited by DocM
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Beittil

Way to make a speach like that when you are barely 6 months into your job, lol. Especially in the trigger happy firing culture in the USA! I saw this pop up on the FB group last night and was like, wtf has this guy been snorting :D

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IsItPluggedIn

Sounds like he wants a job over at BO, so much praise for BO its not funny, it was painful.

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Draggendrop

I was going over this on reddit...real bizaare...or should I say incoherent....:s

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DocM

For the record;

 

Brett Tobey started at Lockheed Martin in 1983, serving since Sept. 2010 as their Chief Engineer for the Civil Space Line of Business (LOB) until moving to ULA in Sept. 2015. 

 

Not a spring chicken.

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DocM

Inevitable

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/ula-shied-away-price-war-021345846.html

 

ULA exec resigns after saying firm shied away from price war with SpaceX

 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A senior United Launch Alliance executive resigned on Wednesday after saying the firm last year refused to bid on a launch service contract for the U.S. military's next-generation GPS satellite because it was hoping to avoid a "cost shootout" with Elon Musk's SpaceX.

 

The comments by Brett Tobey, formerly ULA vice president of engineering, were made on Tuesday at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The industry trade publication Space News posted an audio file of Tobey's talk on Wednesday.

 

Tobey resigned his position, effective immediately, ULA chief executive Tory Bruno said in a statement. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Boeing (BA.N).

 

"The views, positions and inaccurate statements Mr. Tobey presented at his recent speaking engagement were not aligned with the direction of the company, my views, nor the views I expect from ULA leaders," Bruno said in the statement.

Tobey's comments contradict the reason ULA gave last year for skipping the bid.

 

The comments came as ULA, the sole provider for U.S. military launches for nearly a decade, scrambles to compete with industry newcomer Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, whose launches cost a half to a third of those of ULA.

 

"The government was not happy with us not bidding that contract because they had felt that...they had bent over backwards to lean the fill to our advantage. We saw it as a cost shootout between us and SpaceX," Tobey said on Tuesday.

 

At the time, ULA said it was not bidding to launch the GPS-3 satellite because it did not have the proper accounting procedures in place to do the work.

 

It also said it lacked enough of the Russian-made RD-180 engines that power its workhorse Atlas 5 rocket to launch the GPS satellite, citing a congressional ban passed in 2014 after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

 

Tobey said the ban was engineered by Musk to help break ULA's monopoly on the U.S. military's launch business.

 

Musk "starts attacking us in Washington.  He...says, 'Why don't you go after United Launch Alliance and see if you can get that engine to be outlawed?'," Tobey said.

 

A spokesman for SpaceX, John Taylor, declined to comment on Wednesday.

 

The ban was reversed in December by Senator Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, Tobey said.

 

Congress is debating whether to re-establish the ban on Russian rocket engines for military missions, and possibly expand it to include NASA launch service contracts as well.

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FloatingFatMan

Resigned my ass. I bet his desk was packaged into a shoebox before he even got back to his office!

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DocM

I was surprised he exited by elevator, under his own steam, rather than by 9th floor window air mail.

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flyingskippy

Something tells me he knew he was on his way out and felt as though he might as well go out on with a bang. Probably got a good severence/pension  too. 

 

Interesting to hear about BO blowing up a power head though. Got more news out of his speech about them than they have released since forming.  

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Unobscured Vision

Oooh, they've stepped in it now. 

 

http://spacenews.com/mccain-calls-for-investigation-of-fired-ula-execs-controversial-comments/

 

Quote

McCain calls for investigation of fired ULA executive’s controversial comments

 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is asking the Defense Department to investigate comments made earlier this week by a now-former United Launch Alliance executive.

At the beginning of a hearing Thursday of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain, the committee’s chairman, asked Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to look into “disturbing statements” made by Brett Tobey, vice president of engineering at ULA, during a public seminar Tuesday at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Tobey emphasized cost as the main reason ULA did not bid on a GPS-3 launch contract last fall, telling his audience the Air Force “was not happy with us not bidding that contract because they felt that they’d bent over backwards to lean the field in our advantage, but we even said we don’t bid because we saw it as a cost shootout between us and SpaceX.”

(...)

McCain, for his part, doesn’t seem inclined to let the matter go.

“This Committee treats with the utmost seriousness any implication that the Department showed favoritism to a major defense contractor or that efforts have been made to silence members of Congress,” McCain told Carter at the start of Thursday’s DoD posture hearing. “Mr. Secretary, I expect that you will make a full investigation into these statements and take action wherever appropriate.”

(I highly recommend reading the entire article, as well as the comments section below it. There's some "connect-the-dots" going on that are too juicy to pass up reading.)

 

This is going to end badly for ULA. VERY BADLY. 

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DocM

Just heard that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is very unhappy over the comments about the GPS III and other bids, and has referred this to the DoD Inspector General.

 

Just imagine if this ends up in a congressional investigation, and someone decides to supoena Tobey, Bruno -- and Sen. Shelby :ninja:

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Draggendrop

^ We may even have a few uncomfortable military representatives and ex-military, now ULA cushion sitters...this may turn a few rocks...:(

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DocM

Boulders DD, big ones. This looks to smell like an oil tanker full of skunks.

 

Pres. Eisenhower would be buying popcorn by the truck.

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Draggendrop

First thing that pops into mind, is Sen. Shelby, looking back at the "karma shadow catching up to him, that has a Sen. McCain nametag". Sen. McCain was made to look foolish by him...this is not easily forgotten. I would assume that Sen. Shelby's handlers are "schredder qualified"....:woot:

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Torolol

one thing that i definitely see that Tobey (and ULA in general) aren't happy that they unable to outsources some of the GPS-3 projects to Russia (RD-180) and thus would have less profits because of that.

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Unobscured Vision

The more I'm reading about this story, and the comments along with it, as well as my own familiarity with how things well and truly operate in those circles I'm reminded of something President Eisenhower said in his farewell speech as his term in office was concluding.

 

We all see the same thing he did -- Tobey broke verse and is going to get schooled for it. He'll never work in the Aerospace Industry again. He'll be lucky if he's able to get any work as an Engineer again, for that matter. He'd better save his money, his severance package, and just count himself fortunate if he's allowed to live in peace after this. He's [snipped] off a lot of people that he really shouldn't have. My guess, and I hope this doesn't happen (because it's likely he's going to be called in to testify before Congress) is that he's gonna be conveniently "suicided" before he's able to give a deposition of any kind to expand upon his remarks. They do not want him testifying, in any way, shape or form; or giving a DOD Investigation any information of any kind.

 

I promise you, friends, that this thing WILL end ULA if it reaches its' conclusion. He spilled the beans, and ULA is just the sort of shady that would ghost someone breaking verse before threatening the Company with DOD/Congressional Evidence on this scale.

 

Tory Bruno, most of the higher-ups, and possibly others in middle management could be subject to Prosecution under Cartel and Organized Criminal Syndicate Laws, if the scope and breadth is large enough. The US Government would then seize ULA, and all of its' assets, patents, holdings, etc.; and if this Corruption extends into the DOD, and even Senator Shelby and others in Congress?! WOOF ... scandal the likes of which we've never seen.

 

That's how bad this could get.

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Draggendrop

We need FHFT online asap.....

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DocM

Be careful with that acronym, it has more than the military meaning ;)

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Draggendrop

ooooops......I will go to the chalk board...sorry!    :D

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DocM

Worse, they could be charged under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,

 

Unde RICO the feds can charge criminally and sue in federal civil court. Further, anyone damaged by the conspiracy (SpaceX etc.) can also sue in federal court.

 

 

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Unobscured Vision
Just now, DocM said:

Worse, they could be charged under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,

 

Unde RICO the fed can charge crimnally and sue in federal civil court. Further, anyone damaged by the conspiracy (SpaceX etc.) can also sursue in fedeal cour.

Yep, and seize all of ULA's assets, patents, holdings, contracts, etc. Put them up for bid just like a Drug Dealers' nice red Jaguar too, sell it for $100.00 in mint condition.

 

Good grief, SpaceX ending up with ULA for pennies on the dollar including all patents, rights, and holdings ... talk about twists of irony. It could happen in that scenario!

 

"Okay, everyone, welcome to todays' launch of the SpaceX Atlas-VI. This is the new rocket, after the acquisition, and has been fitted with the new R-9 Methane Engines to replace the Russian engines that the Atlas-V used. You'll note that it's using a familiar nine-engine configuration ..."

 

:rofl:

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Draggendrop

If this were to get this big, would the investigation be handed over to another entity, ie the FBI?

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Unobscured Vision
2 minutes ago, Draggendrop said:

If this were to get this big, would the investigation be handed over to another entity, ie the FBI?

Department of Justice. FBI wouldn't handle this one.

 

[EDIT] Actually, having thought about it ... Congress itself would have to deal with this one. Congress has the power to try cases themselves. Likely what would happen is that it would go through Congress, then the Supreme Court would actually hear the case ... I'm not sure, really. There hasn't been anything like this before and there's no precedent.

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Unobscured Vision

Is there such a thing as "Too big to take to Trial?" :huh:

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