I’m not as excited about this flight as NASA and its booster want me to be, certainly not enough to get up at 4 AM. It just passed apogee, and things seem to be going well.
Meanwhile, PBS (with Miles O’Brien, of course) is the only major network to look at the serious programmatic problems. Lori doesn’t hold back.
[Update a while later, as the post-flight presser is about to start]
The Empire strikes back, briefly, but it won’t last:
The Orion launch has been be a triumph of engineering, hiccups and delays aside. But the Empire may not love the sequel. SpaceX is planning a historic launch of its own next year – the rocket is called the Falcon Heavy. Yes, Musk named his rocket after the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars, and he promises it will take twice as much payload into space as the one Nasa launched on Friday, and at one-third the cost. So far his claims about SpaceX have come true, and soon he’ll be fighting, with the lobbyists and the politicians who play favorites, for satellite contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Combine that kind of force with Elon Musk’s capsule full of actual people returning to space – under a Nasa contract to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station – and you have a private startup that can beat Nasa or any other government agency back to the moon, if it so chooses.
And so far, it does seem to so choose, though Elon will try to skip the moon and go straight to Mars, unless someone pays him for a lunar mission.
[Update a few minutes later]
No Sarah Zhang, Orion is not the answer to our space stagnation, it’s a continuation of it.
Lori on MSNBC.