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SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the go-cat-go dept.

Space 111

SpaceX's first regular launch to the International Space Station is set to go off at 8:35 (Eastern time) Sunday evening; the first SpaceX launch to successfully reach the ISS was more of a test, though it did bring some goodies to the crew. Wired has a live video feed in place. Slashdot reader Lee Sheridan is in Florida for the launch; if you're one of the billion Facebook users, his photos of the mission briefing and Falcon 9 lift vehicle being lifted to vertical are public. The SpaceX twitter feed might be fun to watch, too. Update: 10/08 00:09 GMT by T : Bonus points for intelligent parsing of the acronym-laden communications on the live feed.

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frist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580009)


/. timing always sucks (4, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580047)

Slashdot... It's the website I watch like a hawk, so that I can find out about live events, 5 minutes before they happen (if I'm really, really lucky).

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580101)

Hey, this time you got an extra half hour ;)

I'm watching this projected on my wall -- not quite as good as being there, but exciting anyhow. Maybe should open my windows and crank up the volume, so the neighborhood gets to hear those engines roar ...


Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580185)

Is it kind of sad that I'm hoping the launch is scrubbed till Thursday, when I'll be down in the Cape Canaveral area? I've watched launches from there before while visiting my grandparents; I'd like to catch another one...

Re:/. timing always sucks (0)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580259)

Well, it just happened. It . . . was pretty much like every rocket launch I've ever seen on film dating back to the 60s.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580331)

I see you're not easily impressed, but every launch is a dizzying list of things that have to go right. It does take a little imagination to come anywhere close to recognizing the scope and scale of a huge success. You just can convey all that on tv very easily.

And if the launch itself still doesn't impress you, at least you can say you were alive to see the dawn of commercial space flight.

Re:/. timing always sucks (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580379)

Yeah, I was alive to see the first commercial contracted flight to deliver a shitter to the decaying ISS.

It's hard to be massively impressed by something that should have occurred twenty years ago and by something that will be the biggest success for probably the rest of our lives (other than when they send a person in t he rocket up to the ISS, which could just as well happen right now, if they wanted, so it'll happen quickly).

Re:/. timing always sucks (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580483)

I get that there's plenty of room to play with the phrase, "commerical space flight", and SpaceX is certainly doing that. And I won't be the one to kick off the typical slashdot thread o' pedantry, as I suspect you're just being passive-aggresive about it. We both know the score.

What I will say is that I'm excited about it all. I think spacex in particular is ambitious and capable enough to do exciting things. I like that NASA is doing increasingly impressive exploratory work instead of spending all their time and money on shuttling food and clothing. And I agree that a lot of this stuff should have been done a long time ago... but it wasn't, and now it is. That's something.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580827)

something that will be the biggest success for probably the rest of our lives

I bet you're a lot of fun at parties....

Re:/. timing always sucks (3, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580883)

One huge problem SpaceX is facing for commercial crew vehicles is that there is no formal standard or licensing system in place for orbital spacecraft made by commercial entities, at least regulations defined by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight. NASA has some regulations in place... regulations that none of their vehicles have ever met (including the Orion spacecraft) and they are also very arbitrary and political regulations as well. SpaceX is trying hard to hit a moving target as the regulations for commercial crew flights to the ISS also keep changing based upon political winds at the time.

One thing that SpaceX (and Elon Musk in particular) has mentioned is needed for the Dragon is the launch escape system of some sort that can haul the capsule away from the Falcon 9 in an emergency. That still needs to be developed. Furthermore, the current edition of the Falcon 9 (currently called the "version 1.0") also lacks the payload capacity to send astronauts to the ISS. At the moment and with this launch, all it can do is send up about 500 kg of cargo inside of the Dragon, which isn't enough for a proper crew + life support. The "upgraded version" of the Falcon 9 ("version 1.1") on the other hand is expected to provide that sort of lift capacity.

SpaceX is close, but not quite ready to send somebody up yet.

Re:/. timing always sucks (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581261)

Actually the maximum pressurized cargo capacity for Dragon is 3310 kg which you can read about in the COTS-2 press kit. This resupply mission is not using up the full capacity of the capsule in fact SpaceX even used up the spare capacity to launch a 150 kg ORBCOMM satellite. If you are launching an 80 kg astronaut with a Sokol suit (10 kg) how much do you need extra for life support anyway?

Re:/. timing always sucks (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581601)

Well if I recall the crew capsule is going to be bigger for the purpose of having room for 7 astronauts to be comfortable, and a bigger capsule adds a lot of weight.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

adamgundy (836997) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581681)

no, it's exactly the same size capsule. just replaced cargo racks with seats, controls, windows, environmental controls.

Re:/. timing always sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582099)

They don't even have to add windows, the dragons have had them from the startas a sign that they were also designed for crew from the start.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581937)

The Dragon can handle the extra capacity, but the Falcon 9 v1.0, the rocket propelling it, can't.

Disclaimer: I don't have firsthand knowledge; I'm just clarifying the posts above.

Re:/. timing always sucks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581359)

I think test flights for the abort system (which has been developed) start in 2013. First a launch pad abort test, then in-flight at max q. That may have changed. The 30 day life support systems have been tested. I think the last estimate I heard for start of manned missions is mid-2015.

I don't know what rocket configuration they're planning to use to put manned dragons up, but the capsules can handle over a ton, and I know they were meant to start launching the Falcon Heavy configuration in 2013 as well.

They've been pretty speedy. I hope to see them doing the human shuttling soon enough, and hopefully a Red Dragon delivery to Mars. It'd be nice to have a little forward pressure on NASA, for a change.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581071)

I'm excited that it happened without any delay of any kind, and I hope that this sets the pace for their future launches!

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581561)

I'm excited that it happened without any delay of any kind, and I hope that this sets the pace for their future launches!


Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582537)

no. the biggest success will come in about 2-3 years, when spacex finishes developing the readily reusable falcon 9. then you will see falcon 9 launches every week. then shits gonna go nuts. as they say.

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580397)

I see you're not easily impressed, but every booting of a computer is a dizzying list of things that have to go right. It does take a little imagination to come anywhere close to recognizing the scope and scale of a huge success. You just can convey all that on tv very easily.

And if the boot sequence itself still doesn't impress you, at least you can say you were alive to see the dawn of commercial computers.

Re:/. timing always sucks (4, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581101)

And if the boot sequence itself still doesn't impress you, at least you can say you were alive to see the dawn of commercial computers.

While it was before my time, the dawn of commercial computers was a big deal. There also was a time that only government agencies like the U.S. Army (who helped pay for the ENIAC [wikipedia.org] and in part the COLOSSUS [wikipedia.org] as well) even owned computers. A rather infamous declaration by an early computer pioneer declared that the worldwide demand for computers was exactly five.

Even so, I remember a field trip in kindergarten where I took a trip to a computer and walked inside ('look but don't touch"). It seems funny to talk about such things today or that a field trip to see a computer would even be remarkable, but I do find this stuff to be incredibly fascinating.

I can only hope that multi-ton launches to orbital space stations will some day be as remarkable as seeing a jet aircraft take off from an airport. Perhaps inspiring sights, but common and every day experiences too.

Re:/. timing always sucks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581563)

I just moved to Merritt Island 2 weeks ago and I got to watch it take off, it was pretty cool, we are relatively close to the launch site and it took like 2 minutes before the sound even reached us.

Re:/. timing always sucks (3, Informative)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580123)

Yeah they got this one in with some time to spare. T-21m as I'm writing this.

And it looks like wired's embedded ustream feed isn't working... so there's this:
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html [nasa.gov]

Re:/. timing always sucks (1)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580801)

And it looks like wired's embedded ustream feed isn't working...

Maybe their copyright robot decided it sounded too much like science fiction? [io9.com]

Re:/. timing always sucks (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580133)

Did your hawk eyes miss the SpaceX story [or was stories?] yesterday?

I'm watching the video stream now because I found the SpaceX live blog because I found out about the launch on Slashdot yesterday.

Space Shuttle was better (2, Interesting)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581321)

Do the simple math:

SpaceX is being paid by NASA $1,600,000,000 to launch 12 vehicles to the International Space Station, each of which carries 2,000lbs of cargo. Total contract pays them $1,600,000,000 to carry 24,000lbs of cargo to the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle carried 28,000lbs to the International Space Station for about $400 million per launch.

We could have flown the shuttle once a year for 1/4th the cost, gotten more payload to orbit, and have gotten crew to the ISS. For 1/2 the cost, we could have rotated ISS crew every six months and taken 2x the amount of payload to the space station. We should have continued work on the Crew Return Vehicle, and we should have gotten Ares-I working and under control.

The current path that we are on is total bullshit.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (2)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581649)

There are other costs in there. The quoted price for a Falcon 9 launch fully loaded is $54 million, while NASA is paying $133 million per launch. I suspect the extra costs involve extra requirements NASA has placed on the missions, as well as the inclusion and operation of Dragon. Considering the launch capacity of a v1.0 Falcon 9, which is lower than the weight of a fully loaded Dragon, they can lift (with Dragon) 10,581 lbs of cargo per launch, giving a potential cost to NASA of $12,601 per pound. The space shuttle ended up costing, in practice, about $20k per pound.

I don't know why this initial launch is using up so little of the maximum capacity. Perhaps they intend to ramp it up; they have to, actually, since that 12 launch contract requires a minimum of 44,000 lbs of cargo be lifted.

Furthermore, while the space shuttle was only ever going to get more and more expensive to launch as they became more and more decrepit, SpaceX will continue to get more efficient as they ramp up their production capacity, and introduce new versions of their spacecraft. Early next year, the Falcon 9 v1.1 will launch, increasing the rocket's payload capacity by more than 40% with similar overall launch costs. Later in the year, the Falcon Heavy should launch, increasing payload capacity from the current ~20,000 lbs to 120,000 lbs. Six times the payload capacity as today, but at an estimated cost of roughly 2-2.5x the cost of launching a Falcon 9, further reducing launch costs. The space shuttle, already more expensive, would have just continued to get increasingly expensive. There's a reason why NOBODY contracted NASA for commercial lift services for decades.

On top of that, the Falcon 9 will eventually be able to carry 7 crew into orbit, the same as the space shuttle, at a much lower cost per launch. What we might do with Falcon Heavy, which has multiple times the lift capacity of the space shuttle despite costing a fraction as much, is very exciting.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581793)

Based on the pre-launch press conference [livestream.com] SpaceX's minimum total launch capacity is 20 metric tons (~44k lbs). SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell also specifies that SpaceX expects to actually launch around 60 metric tons (132k lbs). The video also suggested to me (although it wasn't completely clear) that part of the reason the mass on this flight was so low is they had a bunch of low density stuff and as a result ran out of volume before they ran out of mass.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582147)

Part of the problem with this particular launch is that the current version of the Falcon 9, while carrying the Dragon capsule, has just enough thrust and payload capacity to barely launch the Dragon capsule itself plus a modest payload inside.

When the next version of the Falcon 9 is expected to be used (called the Falcon 9 "version 1.1") it will be able to send up to the ISS the full 3,000 kilograms+ of cargo mass. Its first flight is going to be a commercial payload, but used for NASA on the CRS-3 flight as the CRS-2 flight is expected to have the last of the "1.0" version Falcon 9 rockets.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581701)

Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org] Falcon 9's payload to LEO (low earth orbit) is 29,000 pounds (not 2000 lbs). LEO is up to 1,200 miles [wikipedia.org] , whereas the ISS orbits at 205 to 255 miles [wikipedia.org] . (The 10,700 lb capacity mentioned by the other reply is for geosynchronous orbit which is FAR higher and not where the ISS lives.)

This turns your calculations on their head; both vehicles have more capacity than NASA wants for servicing the ISS, and the Falcon 9 is (already) only 1/4 the cost of the (very mature) shuttle per launch.

I am wondering what Falcon 9's success rate will be though. They've only had a few launches. Surely one will blow up sooner or later.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581835)

There's a bit of a difference.

Falcon 9 can carry 29,000 pounds to LEO. However, there is only so much space inside a Dragon Capsule which is what actually docks with the ISS. So he's 100% correct--the Shuttle can take 28,000 pounds and dock with ISS. The Falcon 9 cannot dock with the ISS, so it doesn't really matter how much it can carry. If it doesn't fit in a Dragon Capsule, it isn't going.

Of course, what he fails to mention is that there is no longer a need to carry 28,000 pounds up to ISS anymore. There's no place to put that much volume of things like oxygen tanks, food, etc on the ISS. So filling up the shuttle with enough food, clothes, oxygen, nitrogen, fuel, etc. to last a year is kind of a waste.

Also, the NASA CRS Contract with Space X is for 12 launches through 2016. So figure we're paying 1.6 Billion for, say, 3 launches a year over four years. Three shuttle launches would be 1.2 Billion per year or 4.8 billion dollars over four years versus 400 million for four years.

So the Shuttle can take more cargo, but we don't need to take that much cargo.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#41584685)

Good point. Still, Dragon's payload [wikipedia.org] is 13,000 pounds, not a mere 2,000 lb. But as you said the main point is that the Shuttle is massive overkill for maintaining the ISS, like commuting to an office job in an 18 wheeler.

Re:Space Shuttle was better (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41583403)

The Space Shuttle carried 28,000lbs to the International Space Station for about $400 million per launch.

LOL you wish it was that cheap. You took total contract cost divided by number of missions for spaceX, why not for space shuttle? Because the numbers don't match your axe to grind. Here I'll do the data gathering and division for you:

From wikipedia "The actual total cost of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, is $196 billion." (this is pure BS, to "do it all over again" would easily cost over 300B, but I'll use the artificially low PR/marketing BS number for the sake of this argument) divided by 135 missions (unsure how to account for disasters) yields 1.452 billion dollars per 28K lb mission absolute minimum, real world is going to be much more.

So you're looking at 1.6B vs 1.5B, not much of a difference given "nasa accounting" thats a rounding error.

There are serious issues why the shuttle program had to end which began in the 80s, so its pointless to debate what if we continued it. For example we lost about 1 shuttle per 50 flights, and the production lines shut down permanently in the 80s. So if we launch until they're all destroyed, we soon would have no launch capability at all, and merely have to farm out to spaceX later, and the only thing waiting does is make stuff more expensive. I suppose we could R+D and reopen the production lines to build more 1970 era space shuttle orbiters, but that will absolutely explode program cost above the "cheap" 1.5B per launch. Or we could R+D even more and build new 2010 era space shuttle orbiters, that would probably be overall a bit cheaper but still boost program cost above 1.5B.

If you wanted to continue the shuttle program, that decision had to be made in the 80s when the last orbiter rolled off the assembly line and the clock started ticking on the program shutdown. Sunday Oct 07 2012 is a bit late to the party to decide the orbiter production line should have been kept open back in April of 1985. First, build a time machine and go back more than a quarter century...

Re:Space Shuttle was better (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#41587709)

"The actual total cost of the shuttle program [...] is $196 billion." [...] divided by 135 missions [...] yields 1.452 billion dollars per 28K lb mission

Worse than that. If you compare the shuttle program's annual budget with the number of missions flown in a particular year, there's almost no correlation. The cost of having a shuttle program was pretty much the same whether you launched 4 flights per year, or one, or none. Hence, ModernGeek's claim that

"We could have flown the shuttle once a year for 1/4th the cost,"

is crap. It would have cost $3 billion per year, the minimum cost of maintaining the facilities and staff necessary for the shuttle program.

But it's worse than that. The stated capacity for the Dragon deliveries is for internal, pressurised payload. The "28,000 lbs" figure that ModernGeek quotes for the shuttle is unpressurised payload in the cargo-bay. If you want to lift unpressurised payload, you can use the full capacity of an F9 launch (or any of the more expensive, but still cheaper than the shuttle, rival launchers like the Delta-IV Heavy.)

But it's worse than that. The reason SpaceX's contract is broken up over 12 launches is that NASA wants 12 launches; access not payload capacity. So you need to compare Dragon with the cost of 12 shuttle launches, which, at a program maximum of 4 per year, means $9billion at an absolute, fire-sale, cutting-corners, minimum.

Facebook user (-1, Offtopic)

camcorder (759720) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580151)

No I'm one of those few 348 billion people.

Twit.tv (2)

Seumas (6865) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580229)

There's a pretty decent feed on http://live.twit.tv/ [live.twit.tv] with Andrew Mayne and Molly Wood on-site for the launch, right now.

I'm not particular excited about this, but whatever. Wake me up when something epic like the moon missions of 69-72 happen. I won't hold my breath in my life-time.

Re:Twit.tv (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580673)

For someone who doesn't find this interesting you've already posted 3 times of the current 24 posts on this article. That's pretty sad.

God (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580245)

One minute to go, nerds onscreen. W. T. F.

Simplicity (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580269)

One thing that strikes me is how modern technology has simplified so many things. Mission control is so much simpler and streamlined - just flat screen monitors on tables. Much cleaner. Even the launch system, using a static support tower angled away from the rocket, appears (at least to my untrained eye) much simpler these days than the mechanized support systems that had to release or pull away from the rockets.

Launch looks perfect so far. Second stage just ignited.

Re:Simplicity (3, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580707)

The internal rocket systems have also improved considerably, since the Falcon rockets use TCP/IP for internal commands along with the dozens of cameras mounted inside of the vehicle. I loved the live dual views of the 1st stage separation event from both the 1st and 2nd stages at the same time... together with 2nd stage ignition. That simply wasn't even possible in the Apollo days.

I love this photo though in terms of putting things into perspective: https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/255106389683343360/photo/1 [twitter.com]

Re:Simplicity (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580843)

Really? I'm surprised. I'd figure they'd use 1553 or CANbus.

Re:Simplicity (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581825)

Really? I'm surprised. I'd figure they'd use 1553 or CANbus.

I hereby revoke your /. licence for suggesting military standards and a license encumbered protocol ;^)

But seriously, that's probably a big consideration for a commercial project. Tie your commercial project to some MIL standard and the cost of all your components go up since components that implement MIL standards often are sold to the less than cost concious miltary programs. Similarly, Bosch has a lock on the CANbus with their patents and have used this to essentially create a tax on the automotive electronics business. The only reason to use CANbus is that your product is in an automobile and has to talk to the bus that is in nearly all automobiles.

Just sayn'

Re:Simplicity (2)

ThreeKelvin (2024342) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581859)

CANbus would be a really bad choice for a control system like this one, since the capacity of the bus [bits/s] is linearly proportional to the inverse of the length of the bus. Because of this CANbus is great for cars, satellites, and other "small" systems, but horrible for large systems that require fast sampling.

Re:Simplicity (3, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582703)

SpaceX is one of the first to use TCP/IP for internal component control on rockets, but the protocol is pretty solid and "off the shelf" components can be easily had. Since they are starting with literally a clean sheet, they could have used almost anything.... and Elon Musk was very comfortable with TCP/IP as a protocol.

There are other bus protocols that are made available to payloads... as required by the customer and the mission. External interfaces for those buses can be made available to ground support teams just prior to launch as well and is a part of the Falcon design. The Dragon capsule in particular meets not just the physical docking standards for the ISS, but also has the necessary power and data bus connectors as well for compatibility with the ISS module standards.

A nice side effect of the TCP/IP protocol is that they can use fiber optic connectors to isolate controllers electrically... which also cuts down on the weight of the vehicle as well. There certainly is no thick bus cable full of copper going the full length of the rocket, which is the case for legacy rockets.

Re:Simplicity (2)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | more than 2 years ago | (#41583575)

That simply wasn't even possible in the Apollo days.

What piffle! The fourth launch of the ( unsuccessful ) Soviet N-1 launcher in 1972 relayed telemetry at 9.6 GB / second on 320,000 channels.

Yes, GIGA BYTES per second and that was FORTY years ago.

"Dozens of cameras" are pretty but also pretty much irrelevant for telemetric purposes.

Tell me, what was the telemetry data rate for this launch?

Re:Simplicity (4, Informative)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580709)

Don't know if this contradicts your statement much, but the first US space launches (uncrewed and crewed) were pretty simple affairs. Both (Explorer 1 and Mercury -Redstone 3) used the Redstone IRBM as the basis of the launch vehicle. Since the Redstone was a field deployable ballistic missile its launch support was minimal, not much more than a launch ring to sit on according to a bio of Von Braun I just read. The first Saturns (Saturn I) didn't have much either. Check out the picture of the first one launched (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_I). The two stage Saturn I's had nearly the same payload capability as the Falcon 9. The later Saturns and the Shuttle had a lot of ground support, I'll admit.

Re:Simplicity (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582463)

The early Saturns, which contrary to popular belief were developed before Kennedy was elected in 1960, had a 1st stage that consisted of a cluster of stretched Redstone and Jupiter missile tanks and a cluster of eight H-1 engines derived from those programs

There are many reasons why the later Saturns and the Shuttle had so many people and so much ground support equipment, but here's a brief explanation:

1. The systems are more complex than most keyboard-jockeys understand. There are fuel systems and oxidizer systems, but then there are also systems to pressurize the tanks (usually with helium) as fuel is sucked out of them (do they don't implode during ascent) and there are are systems to control the temperatures of systems like the onboard guidance electronics (so it performs properly) and systems to gimbal the engines (to steer) and systems to monitor the engines and all the other systems (in order to trigger an abort if needed) etc. Those 1st Saturns had only a live 1st stage initially and then later carried a live, moderate-performance, second stage. The later Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets were more complex systems (requiring more support and monitoring) and also carried precious human cargo whose families and nation would be unhappy to lose.

2. There were no modern computers back then... so instead of a PC watching a thousand sensors and alert if something failed, we used to use hundreds of well-trained people who each monitored a very limited number of things and used the best complex fuzzy logic systems available then (human brains) to make moment-by-moment judgements

3. Shuttle systems were designed in the late Apollo years... shuttles at the time they started flying were the most complex machines ever designed and built by man and for the whole thing to work you needed the most high-performance and complex engines ever built. When they started flying, the shuttle engines used turbopumps, for example, that were the fastest rotating devices man had ever made... the whole system was really pushing the limits of what was humanly possible to an extent that most people never appreciated. And that first flight happened years before the first 4.77MHz 8088-powered PC was sold. As a result, you had very complex ground support systems and lots of people on the ground keeping an eye on things... and remember that things needed to be perfect because there was no real escape for the crew if something went wrong (yes, I know, Columbia had ejection seats for the two-man crews of the first couple test flights, but nobody seriously liked the odds of ejecting in the vicinity of those burning SRBs and three SSMEs...)

Re:Simplicity (2)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580959)

Yeah, miniaturization of components helps. That 'static support tower' is the erector, fairly common to field-launched theater, IR- and ICBMs for around fifty years now. With the later Saturns there were a lot of connections; tower made them easier to do, and to service during a hold. For the Shuttle, apart from the slew of connections, tower afforded last-minute crew egress.

Congrats to SpaceX et al on nominal launch and insertion.

In Orbit (3, Informative)

runeghost (2509522) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580339)

It's in orbit. No apparent problems so far.

Re:In Orbit (2)

Hexydes (705837) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580561)

Yup, everything looked good! Set to dock with ISS on Wednesday. For anyone that missed the launch, here is a video from T-minus 60 seconds through main engine cutoff. http://youtu.be/jAq-Ic5SzfY [youtu.be]

Re:In Orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581281)

Apparently, about 5 seconds after going supersonic, one of the nine rocket engines blew, but the onboard flight control was able to compensate:


Re:In Orbit (4, Interesting)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581931)

Except... *ahem*.. The catestrophic failure of engine one at T+1:20 [youtube.com] . Shielding and control systems easily compensated, though.

Re:In Orbit (1)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581985)

*catastrophic ... Gah! At least, that's what it looks like from the video.

Re:In Orbit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582461)

Catastrophic, that word doesn't mean what you think it means. If the control systems can compensate then it isn't catastrophic.

Although the Falcon 9 needs all 9 engines for takeoff, it is designed to handle losing 1 or 2 (depending on how far into the launch it is) after takeoff without a problem.

Re:In Orbit (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582779)

That redundancy was put to the test.

Catastrophic failure really does mean the complete disintegration of the engine though. If this was the 2nd stage or the only engine on the rocket like the Falcon 1, it would have been a loss of mission. On the other hand, this is a situation that was anticipated and in fact tested at the McGregor test facility, where the engines were isolated from each other so a failure wouldn't impact the other engines.... including having shrapnel isolated and kept from the other engines in the event of such a failure. While not deliberately sought for or planned, it is good to see this safety system was put to the test.

Any news on the Orbcomm Sat? (2)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580355)

Well, title says it all. Any news about the orbcomm satellite being properly deployed?

Re:Any news on the Orbcomm Sat? (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580591)

According to the tweets the satellite is still attached to the second stage at this time. They will need to light up the second stage again to get it into its intended orbit.

Half of the controllers on cell phones. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580363)

A multi-million $ launch and half of the controllers were texting away, oblivious to the task. No wonder the Russians eat our lunch in space work, US "workers" don't have the discipline to go 2 minutes without needed to suckle on Facebook's teat.

News for nerds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41580449)

News for nerds uses 12 hr time.

Film at 23

Those are my pics... (3)

Leebert (1694) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580465)

Thanks for the link Timothy, but I'm pretty sure my crappy iPhone pictures are far superseded by those done by the official photographers. :)

But yeah, this was a BEAUTIFUL launch.

SpaceX stream (4, Informative)

Altanar (56809) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580507)

If you missed it, you can watch the recording at http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ [spacex.com] , which in my opinion, was the best way of viewing it live.

Re:SpaceX stream (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#41580911)

Oh, WTF. I was just watching the replay and they seem to have pulled it. It was better than the NASA TV coverage I watched live, and I was just about to watch the second stage light off, but the feed dropped and now it's GONE.

Sometimes I hate the modern unarchivable internet.

Re:SpaceX stream (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581323)

The reason for the takedown appears to be due to a rapid unplanned disassembly of engine 1 during Max-Q: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6zsZiVa998&wadsworth=1

Re:SpaceX stream (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581667)

Yep, I saw a few frames of that during the launch. Wondered what it was but clearly it didn't ruin the mission. I'm interested what the official word will be.

Re:SpaceX stream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582043)

It's not the first time Space X has covered up an engine failure [spacenews.com] .

pop (4, Interesting)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581013)

i watched the launch, and on the closeup view of the engines from spacex, one of those engines definitely went pop at 1:20 into the flight. you can see the debris coming off. its unmistakable. i guess its a testament to the value of having the ability to sustain a engine failure and still get into orbit.

Re:pop (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581541)

The NASA feed mentioned that they shut down one engine to reduce the dynamic pressure on the rocket during that phase of flight.

Re:pop (2)

adamgundy (836997) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581713)

no, that comes later, just before MECO, and it's not to reduce dynamic pressure, it's to keep the G-forces on the payload from getting too high as the rocket loses weight (by burning fuel/oxidizer) and accelerates faster. the new F9 1.1 (yet to fly) has engine throttling capability and is supposed to throttle down around Max-Q (F9 v1 can't do that, no throttle capability) and before MECO, instead of shutting down engines.

this was definitely an unexpected problem with either the engine or the fairing around it.

that said, the rocket coped amazingly well given the spectacular loss of an engine... adjusted and compensated in real time and ended up dropping Dragon off within 2km of the target.

Re:pop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582191)

Unless the engine is designed to disintegrate upon shutdown, it didnt shut down.

Re:pop (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#41583607)

Unless the engine is designed to disintegrate upon shutdown, it didnt shut down.

Not mutually exclusive. Historically most engine failures happen somewhere between 0% and 100% power VERY rarely when at full power.

Right off the top of my head, spending too much time around critical shaft speed, flow separation from one side of the nozzle and not the other collapses it (some are tough enough to resist, some not), hard starts (well, stops) where ignition stops for an instant and fuel oxy accumulate in the chamber and suddenly ignites all at once poof kaboom... Or screaming combustion instabilities as the pressure drop across the injectors drops... Another classic is a bearing is going on the turbopumps so efficiency drops by 1% at full power but the engine keeps going until you shut off the power, then the turbo spins down and instantly seizes going from 50K rpm to zero in a fraction of a rotation... well, the axle stops, but the blades usually fly off when that happens. Oh and obviously leaky shutoff valves... You engineer those guys to not shut off accidentally, if they leak a little thats better than an uncontrolled accidental shutdown, so leak in the chamber, spark off a hot spot and kaboom. I don't know their plumbing but if they did the old "one set of valves to start, one set to stop" obviously a partial shutoff valve failure could flow broken valve parts into a full speed rotating turbopump. I'd give 50:50 odds I listed the failure mode above. Who knows if they'll recover enough parts in good enough condition to figure out the root cause.

Re:pop (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582203)

Of course, the better thing is to have such a good design and such good workmanship that you do not blow an engine to begin with...

It's good to have an airbag in your car, but it's a sign of something gone terribly wrong if you ever deploy it... and the police and your insurance company do not celebrate with you over the wonderful airbag feature having proved the value of redundant safety systems.

The simple fact is that rockets must be very light structures in order to fly and have reasonable payload capabilities... so they cannot be built like army tanks. It is, therefore, an extreme risk to the vehicle and the mission to have anything explode and throw shrapnel in the vicinity of a flying rocket. It's worse if the thing that explodes is actually an important part of the rocket. Worse still if the explosion happens near max-Q when the vehicle structure is being subjected to some of the highest stresses of the flight.

Congrats to SpaceX for another spacecraft successfully placed into LEO, but this could very easily have become a lost payload and a failed mission; While they will surely have their PR flaks telling the press that this was a demonstration of how robust their system is, their engineers will have to do some serious work on the issue before the next launch. It's a bit concerning that they are saying they shut an engine down... oh, sure, I'm sure their avionics did detect an anomaly and did indeed send a shutdown command to the engine... but a review of data from the loss of shuttle Challenger also reveals that the orbiter's comuters detected anomalies in the three main engines (the fuel and oxidizer pressure levels dropping-off as the external tank exploded) noted the turbopumps going over-speed, and then issued shutdown commands to the engines. If not for the dead astronauts, some NASA PR flak back then might have been able to say with a straight face that their computers had detected anomalies and properly shut down all three engines...

Re:pop (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582859)

I bet the engineers would love to recover this particular 1st stage... if only to check out what is left of the failed engine to see what went wrong. I know that there were plans to recover the 1st stage at some point in the past, but beyond a very long term plan I don't think any parachute recovery system on the first stage was even considered for this flight.

I do agree though that SpaceX likes to hide their failures and tends to wait some time to come clean on those kind of problems. SpaceX definitely downplayed the problems encountered in the Falcon 1 flights, including one very embarrassing "oh shit" that abruptly ended the live webcast of one launch.

It will be interesting to see how SpaceX will respond in this situation.

Re:pop (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#41588335)

Things that can go wrong will go wrong sooner or later. Obviously you try build to not go wrong, but it is healthy to have ways to "survive" (in the case of the rocket, able to continue the flight) when things go wrong.

Private Space Enterprise (2)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581503)

"Tomorrow's planned flight is to be the first under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA that calls for a dozen resupply flights by SpaceX, essential in the post-shuttle era". link [slashdot.org]

I find it hard to believe that NASA isn't capable of designing and lauching its own launch vehicle.

Re:Private Space Enterprise (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581661)

I find it hard to believe that NASA isn't capable of designing and lauching its own launch vehicle.

They've failed on the last three tries, and are trying to get Congress to fund #4.

Congressional meddling badly cripples NASA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581949)

The current NASA plan the Senate Launch System is a congressional mandate not to cut their inefficient pork barrel projects.

Follow the logic. We decided to shutdown the shuttle program because the shuttle was to costly to operate. Congress mandated that the shuttles successor use as many shuttle derived parts as possible. The Congress again mandated that as much as possible of their shuttle replacement be saved.

NASA may be capable of designing a launch vehicle, but not an affordable one, especially not with congress refusing to let go of the pork.

Senate Launch System? (1)

runeghost (2509522) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582415)

Does it burn Senators as fuel, or just throw the whole lot of them into orbit? I'm fine with either approach, but inquiring minds want to know!

Re:Senate Launch System? (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582889)

No, the Senate Launch System was designed by the fine engineers found in the upper chamber of the national legislature of America, hence its name. It is amazing how voting for appropriations to colleges can give you a PhD level knowledge of aerospace engineering, at least after you have been able to take lessons from an army of lobbyists. They also figured that the folks in Huntsville were too inexperienced in the matter so those same legislators decided to take the design into their own hands. That rocket really is a piece of.... whatever.

Re:Private Space Enterprise (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 2 years ago | (#41588047)

Not really. The past attempts, including the shuttle, were all designed and created (and even operated) through a cascade of external cost-plus contractors. I'm not sure if NASA has ever tried to actually build its own launcher in-house.

Frankly it would be an interesting exercise, just to see what happens. I suspect the order of expense, from cheapest to most expensive would turn out to be: 1) Fixed price-on-delivery purchase of services under SAA, 2) in-house development, 3) traditional cost-plus contracting under FAR. Ie, the mandated way of doing things is the most needlessly wasteful.

Re:Private Space Enterprise (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581847)

I do, too. But why should they? NASA's designed plenty of rockets to get into LEO.

Personally, I'd rather they design rockets to go more interesting places.

Re:Private Space Enterprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41583597)

NASA's designed plenty of rockets to get into LEO.

On the contrary, they haven't designed a single one. They issued design specs and industry responded.

Re:Private Space Enterprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581965)

NASA is good at doing things which are hard. They are not so good at doing things which are cheap.

Let NASA trailblaze with space telescopes, mars landings, and deep space missions. Hauling cargo to and from LEO is something that has been done for half a century, and it's long overdue to throw it over to the lowest bidder. Which a government agency isn't, and will never be.

Hauling cargo for the lowest bidder? (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582165)

$1.6 billion is lowest bidder, how much of that goes on revenue for the company ...

we've taken (0, Troll)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581591)

a pursuit that rested solely at the hands of the government, space exploration that is, and privatized it. Excuse me for sounding a touch cynical and angry but spacex has but one client, the US government. we have intentionally interjected a middle man into the US space program for no apparent reason. SpaceX does not launch commercial satellites, or mine ore on martian moons, or harvest the gasses of venus. Ironically, an ex soviet project in baikonur handles most commercial clients.

the sad truth is spacex exists to privately reap the profits of a publically subsidized endeavor to explore the universe.

Re:we've taken (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581655)

when did the US government buy Iridium, SES, and Intelsat? And then, of course, when did the US government annex Thailand since Thaicom has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Thaicom 6 next year. I won't even mention the contracts with Asia Broadcast Systems and Satmex since those are obviously US government affiliated.

SpaceX does not mine ore or harvest gasses. And it never will. They are a rocket company not a mining company. If you have a problem with mining companies that don't want to move into space I suggest you go troll their message boards. SpaceX can get your shit in space. It doesn't operate it, finance it, or dictate to the customer what to do. SpaceX isn't NASA so don't bash them for not having as ambitious goals as NASA does.

Re:we've taken (1)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581913)

when did the US government buy Iridium, SES, and Intelsat? And then, of course, when did the US government annex Thailand since Thaicom has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Thaicom 6 next year. I won't even mention the contracts with Asia Broadcast Systems and Satmex since those are obviously US government affiliated.

Well, in the case of Iridium, when the constellation was in danger of being de-orbited, the DoD gave the trustee a sweetheart contract in order to keep the constellation in orbit.

Re:we've taken (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581685)

Space-X has launched one commercial satellite so far, and has at least 5 more launches scheduled for 2013.

Re:we've taken (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581845)

spacex interjected itself into the US space program, by being damn good at what they do, for a fraction of the cost of a NASA developed launch vehicle. theres a lot to be said for having a launch vehicle being developed with the design decisions being free of political influence, and having most of the parts of your spacecraft developed under one roof, and not in many different senators districts around the country, in a myriad of porkbarrel projects. a specific example would be solid rocket boosters that were shoehorned onto the space shuttle, the now defunct ares, and the in development Space Launch System. this is to appease the senator for the state of Utah, and the contractor ATK in his state, who also make solid rockets for the military, for missiles and the like. the problem is, once you light solid rockets, you cant turn them off, and if they fail, they usually go boom, and take the rest of your launch vehicle with them. this is what happened in the 86 challenger shuttle disaster. in contrast, if liquid rockets engines fail, its usually a non-catastrophic failure and the fuel valves close. and if you have multiple engines, they can compensate for the lost engine by burning for longer, if you design your rocket for that. which the falcon 9 is. the fact is, you are ill informed, and wrong, spacex has multiple commercial clients, and in fact has a commercial satellite hitching a ride along with the NASA resupply mission on this very flight. sir, you need to GET SOME KNOWLEDGE ALL UP IN YO FACE. WHHHAAAAA.

Re:we've taken (2)

Strider- (39683) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581905)

this is what happened in the 86 challenger shuttle disaster.

Well, no, not quite. In the challenger disaster, the O-Rings that seal the booster sections suffered a blow through, which cut into the main tanks for the liquid rockets, causing those to explode. After the main tank exploded, the solids continued to fly on for a few seconds until the range safety officer issued a destruct command, causing the two SRBs to explode as designed.

The flip side to using solids for space flight is they very much follow the KISS principle. They are relatively simple devices. As long as you have your materials science right, you light them and they will go. There are no turbo-pumps to fail, no presurization lines that might burst, etc etc etc.

There is a reason why the LES on Apollo and Mercury, as well as your typical ejection seat, and hell your car's air bags, are all based on what is, or is effectively, a solid rocket. They're damned reliable.

Re:we've taken (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41582353)

You are advertizing your ignorance

1. Solid rockets were not selected for the shuttle based on political influence; They were the cheapest way to put a huge amount of thrust into the system while it was at low altitudes where the SSME's which burned LOX and LH2 are sub-optimal performers. The Nixon admin was simply unwilling to pay for the up-front costs to develop a fully-reusable system of a shuttle orbiter and a re-usable flyback liquid-fueled 1st stage... and a liquid-fueled 1st stage with the same sea-level performance of a couple of SRBs (enough to launch an airliner-sized space plane instead of a small capsule) was going to be so expensive you would not want to throw it away. The shuttle needed the LOX/LH2 for high-performance in the latter half of the climb to orbit. (note that the old Saturn V used LOX/RP-1 in the S-IC first stage, and LOX/LH2 on the S-II second and S-IVB third stages)

2. In the entire history of NASA nobody has ever had a scenario where there was a need to shut down a solid rocket with the exception of Challenger... which would never have happened if NASA had not flown the mission on a day when weather conditions were outside the design limits of the system.

3. The solids on Challenger did not explode until a range safety officer ordered them to, many seconds after they were both flying free and clear of the debris cloud. One of the booster performed perfectly though the entire flight. The other booster developed a gap in one of the field joints which allowed hot combustion gasses out through the side. The jet of hot exhaust acted like a blowtorch that essentially simultaneously burned through a spot on the lower part of the external tank and also caused the lower SRB attach mechanism to fail. The damage to the tank caused the bottom of the tank to fail and dump its contents out the bottom (seen on film as a huge white LH2 cloud), while the attach point failure allowed the SRB to pivot about the still-intact top attach point... so the nose of the SRB collided with the upper part of the tank. Through the entire incident, including the detonation of the ET contents, the break-up of the orbiter, the detonation of all the propellants from the orbiter's RCS and OMS tanks (visible as puffs of reddish-brown smoke), and all the flying debris... neither SRB exploded, and in fact the unburdened SRBs flew far better than anybody had predicted they would (there had been studies of the aerodynamic characteristics of individual SRBs as part of the overall system analysis back during the development period).

4. The congressional desire to use SRBs on constellation and later on the SLS has less to do with one or two Utah senators and far more to do with the following: [a] The same industrial base that makes them also makes other solids for the military (like our ICBMs) so if NASA does not use them then the overhead shifts to the pentagon and the defense budget must go up...so we don't save a lot by not using them for NASA [b] they have a demonstrated safety record of hundreds of safe and successful flights (2 solids flew per shuttle mission) which is a better-established flight record than even the mighty Saturn V (which only flew 13 times, 10 of which with humans) [c] the desire to fly sooner rather than later (nobody currently makes a big powerful 1st stage motor like the F-1 anymore) but the team at ATK that makes the solids and their facility, tools, plans, and supply chain currently exist)

It does not matter how much you think you know... what matters is the what is really true.

Re:we've taken (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582847)

yes we might quibble on the precise definition of 'explode', but the fundamental problem with solid rockets is the reactants that burn are right beside each other in a solid motor, and if it fails, theres no way to shut it down, and its failure mode is highly likely to take the rest of the rocket with it, either by rapid unscheduled disassembly, or a pillar of flame torching parts of the rocket.

and as for the safety record of the saturn V vs the shuttle, just because the saturn V didnt have the opportunity to rack up the number of flights the shuttle did dosent make it less reliable, indeed, the saturn V has a perfect mission record, despite losing a engine on the apollo 13 launch. such is the benefit of more benign failure modes in liquid rockets.

and as to your point in (2), thats like saying that there has never been a scenario like that except for that one time when it killed 7 astronauts but lets ignore that one because NASA forgot how delicate the solids are. oh, and saving the military money by making the shuttle design less reliable with tacked on solid boosters to prop up ICBM manufacturers sure sounds like a design compromise for political considerations to me.

while im sure the argument that using parts from a established industrial base to save money in building a new rocket sounds nice, in practice using those parts necessitate a design similar to that which came before, with its design flaws and comprimises and resultant high costs. what needs to happen is a clean sheet design, to learn from the mistakes of the previous generation, and thats what spacex is doing, while NASA is taking bits from the previous generation, and not learning the lessons.

Space-X works for more than NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41581917)

Space-X launched a commercial Orbcomm satellite this trip. So there were 2 clients this launch.

The NASA COTS program mentored Space-X as they came up. The big advance with the COTS program is fixed cost contracts instead of cost+ contracts.

The practical result is 10X reduction in launch cost compared to the shuttle.

Space-X still has something to prove. But Space-X seems a better partner for affordable space flight than the giants of the military industrial complex Boeing and Lockhead-Martin.

Re:we've taken (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582513)

we have intentionally interjected a middle man into the US space program for no apparent reason.

Well, you know, except for Shuttle failures accounting for 78% of all people who have ever died on space flights, and 100% of such fatalities in the last 40 years. And the repeatedly proven inability of NASA to design and build a replacement for the Shuttle.

SpaceX does not launch commercial satellites

They don't? So, in what category, exactly, do you put the Orbcomm, Inc.satellite that was part of the payload of this very rocket?

SpaceX Successful Lift Offf!!! (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | more than 2 years ago | (#41581873)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19867358 [bbc.co.uk]

The first commercially contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has lifted off. A Falcon rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifted clear of Cape Canaveral in Florida at 20:35 (00:35 GMT). The robotic Dragon ship will deliver 400kg of food, clothing, experiments and spares to the orbiting platform's six astronauts. It is the maiden flight in a sequence of 12 missions that California's SpaceX company is performing for Nasa. The US space agency is looking to the private sector to assume routine transport duties to and from low-Earth orbit. It has given SpaceX a $1.6bn contract to keep the ISS stocked up with essentials, restoring a re-supply capability that the US lost when it retired the shuttles last year.h

What no pizza in thirty minutes or less? (1)

PDX (412820) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582739)

What no pizza in thirty minutes or less? That is a real winner. Don't waste your time with Tesla just focus on good deliveries Elon.

3 days to ISS? (1)

ani23 (899493) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582881)

Just out of curiosity why exactly does it take till Wednesday to reach the ISS. Isn't that thing nearby?

Re:3 days to ISS? (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 2 years ago | (#41585981)

Just out of curiosity why exactly does it take till Wednesday to reach the ISS. Isn't that thing nearby?

Orbital mechanics are hard and time consuming. It will take time and corrections to get into the proper orbit and velocity to match up with the ISS. Car analogy: This isn't like driving to the local store and pulling into the parking lot. This is more like hitting the highway only to have to then cross lots of draw bridges and ferries close to your desitination that are on a particular time table. Miss one and you'll have to wait for the next opportunity.

So that's why SpaceX stopped buying turbo pumps (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 2 years ago | (#41582969)

I kind wondered why SpaceX started building their own turbo pumps for the Merlin 1D engine - it doesn't just seem to be a matter of performance, but also of quality assurance. It seems like SpaceX has found itself a nice opportunity to review their QA process, while proving that their engine out capability isn't just theoretical.

That said, I wouldn't expect the next launch to happen on time.

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