Congratulations To SpaceX

We don’t know if they’ve successfully achieved orbit, but they were well on their way when we lost contact, and this was a pretty successful first flight even if something goes wrong at the end. It won’t quiet the people whining about “hobbyists,” and “toy rockets,” but they were always idiots.

It was particularly impressive that they had a successful launch within two hours of an ignition abort. I don’t think anyone else in the business can recycle that fast.

I’m hearing that they had a minor roll problem with the second stage. That actually reassures me — the flight was looking too good for a first flight. It’s nice to catch something to fix — that’s what test flights are for. And it seems to be robust, because the guidance system seems to have gotten them to the designated orbit even with the problem.

[Update a few minutes later]

The SpaceFlightNow webcast is showing Bolden saying something, but I don’t have audio.

[Update at 12:30 Pacific]

The Youtubes are going up.

And my email to Gwynne and her reply:

Hundreds and Thank you!

—–Original Message—–
From: Rand Simberg
Sent: Friday, June 04, 2010 8:55 AM
To: Gwynne Shotwell
Subject: Congratulations

You’ll be getting a lot of emails like this, I’ll bet.

It’s a new world. And many more.

It will be very interesting to see how this affects the debate, if at all.

[Update mid afternoon]

Apparently the chutes didn’t open on the first stage. I don’t know if that means it will be unrecoverable, but it won’t be in good shape. “Debris field” doesn’t sound good. One more thing to wring the bugs out of.

[Update a few minutes later]

First-stage chute deployment is one of the things that they didn’t test, I think. At least until today. I suspect they just decided that the cheapest way to test it would be on the first flight, instead of spending extra money on a drop test, which wouldn’t be practical from the separation altitude anyway. It’s just a cost issue, and not mission critical. They’ll have plenty of flights to sort it out.

Crudezilla

King of all spills. And the hero who saves the day:

NARRATOR
This is the teaching laboratory of Baraku Obamasawa, Japan’s greatest living scientist. A world renowned expert with an advanced degree in social engineering from Hokkaido Law School, by the age of 23 he had already written 2 textbooks on the world’s strangest phenomenon — himself. His is a scientist so advanced that he has already earned a Nobel Prize for work he has yet to begin. Today, he is showing students his latest discovery.

OBAMASAWA
… now note as I apply a blowtorch to this pile of 10 million yen, it is converted to ash — thereby creating jobs for these two janitors from the Nippon Custodian Union.

students applaud wildly

STUDENTS
Domo arigato, sensei! We are very honored to be your students. [giggle] You have given us hope and tingles up our kimonos!

Don’t miss a single exciting minute.

[Update a few minutes later]

Warning: the puns are awful.

About Half An Hour Till Launch

Clark has a bunch of links, including webcasts, for the SpaceX launch, now scheduled for 11:20 AM Eastern. The last text I got from Florida Today indicates that weather is green, but there are some cumulus building to the west (typical for this time of year, which is one of the reasons the Cape actually isn’t that great a location for a launch site).

[Update a few minutes later]

They’re holding at T minus 15 minutes. Not clear what they’re waiting for to resume the count. The SpaceX webcast is here.

OK, just heard that it’s a range hold while they verify telemetry.

[Update at 12:06 PM EDT]

Still on a range hold. The webcast at SpaceX has dropped off. They still have three hours of window today.

[Update at 12:20 PM EDT]

I don’t know what’s happened to the SpaceX webcast, but SpaceFlightNow is covering it, with Miles O’Brien.

[Bumped]

[Update at 12:45 PM EDT]

We seem to be making negative progress. I just got a text that says the clock has been reset to T minus 27:30, with no new launch time. So we’re at least a half hour away. But at least the radar’s looking OK. But that doesn’t show anvil clouds.

[Update at 1 PM EDT]

OK, the count is now back at T minus 29, but they’re also saying there may be a boat in the box. I’ve never understood why we allow that to hold a launch. It’s just Darwin in action, and it allows protesters to disrupt launches.

OK, it looks like the hold is back to 15.

[Update at 1:15 PM EDT]

OK, they’ve picked up the count, with a launch at 1:30.

[Update at 1:30 PM]

Abort prior to ignition. They still have an hour and a half to recycle, if they figure out why.

[Update at 13:41 EDT]

SpaceX is saying that it was a shutdown right after ignition. No word yet on the possibilities of recycling today. They probably won’t know until they know what the problem was.

[Update a few minutes later]

Mission control is reporting that there was an “out-of-limit start-up parameter.” That could be lots of things. How do they solve it? How far out of limit was it? Do they widen the limits a little, or what? If it’s an actual hardware problem, I don’t see how they go today. They have less than an hour left.

[Update at 14:30 EDT]

They only have about fifteen minutes left to restart the count.

[Update a couple minutes later]

They’re doing a poll.

OK, clear to go. 2:45 attempt. This will be the last one today.

[Update a few minutes before launch]

They’re saying that they’re accepting whatever the parameter issue was.

[Update shortly after liftoff]

Looking good so far less than a minute in.

OK, just went through Max Q.

It’s interesting to see the “corner” on the rocket exhaust from the square cluster configuration.

OK, they just staged. Looked clean to me, and they have a second-stage ignition.

The Sestak Offer

…that makes no sense:

So how to explain the Sestak offer? Either the Obama administration (and President Clinton!) didn’t know the relevant rules, or they didn’t mind lying to Sestak, or they don’t mind lying to us.

Any reason that it can’t be all of the above? No honor among thieves, even incompetent ones.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!