Things have been kind of quiet on the blog because a) I’m still busy renovating the house in Florida and more importantly, b) my bandwidth is limited here, as there’s no Internet service to the house, and I have to rely on tethering to my phone.
I didn’t post about it at the time, but my Twitter followers know that I drove up to the Cape on Saturday afternoon, with a press pass to the SpaceX launch early Sunday morning. It was the first Falcon launch I’ve seen on the east coast (I did see one pass through the clouds at the January Vandenberg launch).
It was impressive. I don’t know what the quantity distance is for that vehicle, but we were on a causeway in the middle of the Indian River at CCAFS, and I think the pad was only a couple miles away, judging from the time that I saw the ignition and started to hear (and feel) the roar. It was sufficiently bright that it temporarily shut down the center of my retinas, but I could see it all the way downrange past staging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rocket naked eye that far downrange. It was very impressive, but I hope it becomes routine, including the landing, if it hasn’t already. The next step is to start reflying those stages that they continue to collect (six now). I told John Taylor that SpaceX now has a bigger fleet of reusable rockets than NASA ever had.
Speaking of which, Stephanie Osborn has a guest post from a fellow former NASA colleague with thoughts on the failure of reusability of the Shuttle.
I think that whether single pour or the selected segmented design, solid rockets on a reusable crewed vehicle were a mistake. And the fact that Jim Fletcher was head of NASA (and “Barfing Jake” Garn) is also part of the explanation for building them in Utah, Florida’s environmental regulations notwithstanding.
But as I’ve noted in the past, it’s a huge fallacy of hasty generalization to attempt to draw lessons about reusability of spacecraft from that program.
Rest in peace among the stars.
I hadn’t talked to him in years, and am a little surprised that he was still alive; he had life-threatening health problems for a long time (liver, if I recall correctly). I’m glad he got as long as he did. He was a great historian and advocate for space and human spaceflight.
[Update a few minutes later]
Sigh. Doug O’Handley, too.
The Space Studies Institute is offering it free on Kindle this week, to celebrate the Apollo anniversary. If you haven’t read it, it’s a classic. Actually, it is even if you have read it.
[Update a few minutes later]
Sort of related: Our discussion of Evoloterra last night on The Space Show is now archived.
A reminder that I and Bill Simon will be on The Space Show tonight at 7 PM PDT to discuss our ceremony to commemorate the anniversary. My cell phone allowing…
During the anniversary week of the first human moon landing, Eric Hedman reminds is that we know practically nothing about the effects of partial gravity on human (or any animal) health. This is a sign of how unserious we remain about human spaceflight.
The first launch on the way to the surface of the moon.
It’s also the 71st anniversary of the first nuclear explosion at Trinity test site.
[Update a couple minutes later]
The anniversary of the landing is Wednesday. Bill Simon and I will be on The Space Show at 7 PM PDT to talk about the ceremony we came up with to commemorate it.
Did he save it? And if so, why? An interesting bit of history of which I’d been unaware. Mondale wanted to kill it, and did manage to reduce the fleet size from seven to five (including Enterprise, which never flew). Which was economically stupid, because it saved very little money. If we’d had six vehicles, we’d have still had four after the losses of Challenger and Columbia (assuming that we hadn’t built Endeavour from spares after Challenger, and those two events would have occurred in that alternate universe). A four- or five-ship fleet would have made for a slightly different calculus after the loss of the latter, because part of the reason the program was ended was that three was too small a fleet to continue to operate for long.
Donald Robertson has an op-ed at Space News that reflects many of the themes of my monograph (which, by the way, I have updated with feedback from the past couple days).
I’ve posted an update on my SLS Roadblock project, for those interested. The document itself can be found here. I’ll be interested in feedback.
Related: Growing a spacecraft for artificial gravity.
Half a million dollars. 0.03% of what we’re spending annually on SLS/Orion.
I’ve fixed a few problems with the document, including some missing figures, so you might want to refresh or download again.
@JeffFoust has a good history at The Space Review today. It nicely complements my op-ed on keeping the FAA out of orbit.