They Just Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used To

A notable news story over Labor Day weekend was the delay of NASA’s second Artemis launch attempt.  It was originally scheduled for August 29, but on that attempt…

Actually, Artemis was originally scheduled to launch in 2017.  But who’s keeping track?

Other than me and millions of other taxpayers?

So the August 29 launch was moved to September 3, and that, too, was scuttled:

This and other articles recounted issues including “engine temperature problems” and “dangerous fuel leak” and “hydrogen leaks.”

When you hear what Artemis costs, you may wonder – as I did…

“I paid #@%!&%@! dollars for this #@%!&%@! thing…and it leaks?”

A September 3 Associated Press article said,

“With a two-week launch blackout period looming in just a few days, the rocket is now grounded until late September or October.”

Of the entire Artemis program, this article noted:

“NASA’s own auditors recently estimated that a single launch of the rocket will cost $4.1 billion – eight times greater than what the agency estimated in 2013.”

And since we’re talking costs, the total cost for Artemis from FY2012, when the Space Launch System (SLS) program began, through FY2025 will be $93 billion. 

So, years late and billions of dollars over estimates, but who’s keeping track?

Same answer as above.

Now let’s compare and contrast that piece of machinery with another piece of machinery our government built – this:

This is the USS Texas, a Navy battleship that was launched 1912 and commissioned in 1914.  According to the Battleship Texas Historic Site brochure:

In World War I, Texas served as part of the Battleship Force of the Atlantic Fleet, participating with the American squadron in maneuvers in the North Sea against threats from the German High Seas Fleet.

Facing the German High Seas Fleet…

…was no walk in the park.

Texas survived World War I and after some modifications, from 1927 to 1939 it served as the flagship of the American fleet in the Atlantic and Pacific, representing American naval power:

Texas circa 1928.

During World War II Texas saw action in the invasions of North Africa (November 1942), Normandy (June 1944) and Southern France (August 1944).  Moving into the Pacific in late 1944, Texas provided support for the landing at Iwo Jima in February and March 1945.  In April it took part in the invasion of Okinawa, the largest amphibious assault of the Pacific theater.

At the end of the war, Texas carried many prisoners of war from the Philippines to Pearl Harbor, and made three voyages from Pearl Harbor to California, bringing nearly 5,000 troops home from the Pacific – troops like these:

Texas was decommissioned in 1948 but instead of ending up in a scrapyard, it survived and is the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.

Texas is still around.

One hundred years after it was launched.

That’s what I meant by this post’s title: 

They Just Don’t Build ‘Em Like They Used To

If Texas was being built by NASA, it would still be sitting somewhere, unfinished and/or unseaworthy, instead of facing down our enemies in World War I and World War II.

While NASA whined about engine temperature problems and leaking fuel and asked us taxpayers for more money.

And more money.

Again, from the brochure:

“Texas was scheduled to be used as a bombing target, but Texas citizens launched a successful statewide fund drive to save the ship.  The U.S. Navy towed it to Texas to become the nation’s first permanent memorial battleship, and it was officially transferred to the state in ceremonies at San Jacinto Battleground in April 1948.  For 35 years, Texas was administered by the Battleship Texas Commission, then it became part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 1983.”

I’m not going to pretend that Texas hasn’t needed plenty of maintenance since it took up residence in Texas – of course it has.  But as the above paragraph states, it wasn’t our federal tax dollars that brought the ship to Texas – it was a “successful statewide fund drive.”

The people of Texas wanted Battleship Texas, and they put up their money to make it happen.

Texas was in active service from 1914 to 1948 – 34 years.  It served our country well, and continues to do so.

According to the foundation in charge of its care – the Battleship Texas Foundation:

“The mission of the Battleship Texas Foundation is to preserve and enhance the Battleship Texas and develop this historic ship into a premier museum and visitor attraction.”

Texas has been and will continue to be source of knowledge about our country’s past – and its future.

And to that end, on August 31 the ship was towed from its location in the Battleship Texas State Historic Site:

Texas is in Galveston for repairs estimated at $35 million, to “repair the hull and ultimately restore the ship to its former glory,” according to this Associated Press story:

“In 2019 the Texas legislature approved the funds to fix the hull.  The foundation plans to make other fixes that it’s paying for.”

The people of Texas and donors to the Battleship Texas Foundation are paying, not U.S. taxpayers.

And,

“Travis Davis, the foundation’s vice president of ship operations and who was aboard the vessel during it trip, said Battleship Texas did really well during its journey:  ‘She’s been a champ the whole time.’”

Texas has been a “champ” since it launched in 1912.

While this thing…

Languishes on its launchpad, waiting to try another launch attempt in “late September or October” or more likely…

Waiting until the…

Or perhaps – unlike the long-lived and well-traveled Texas – the only journey Artemis makes will be this one…

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