Category Archives: Space

Space Transportation Conference

I’m tweeting about it, which is a better way of rapid updating than blogging, and it gets a lot more views. So…

[Update a while later]

Meanwhile, SpaceX will be testing elements of BFR next year.

Also, the failed center corefirst stage that they failed to expend from the previous Falcon 9 launch couldn’t be safely recovered, so the Air Force scuttled it with an air strike.

Yes, as per comments, I screwed up in the middle of listening to a talk on launch regulations at the same time.

At The Cape

I drove up from Boynton Beach this morning, and was at the press center by the VAB in Kennedy Space Center this afternoon. I’ll be heading back over there in the morning, I hope for a launch. Elon was wished well by both Tory Bruno and Jeff Bezos.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s Eric Berger’s story on the interview with Elon at the pad today. I didn’t quite get there in time to go out there. He made some news.

[Update a few minutes later]

Alan Boyle (who I also saw today) has a guide to what to watch for.

[Update after midnight]

Elon’s new video.

[Update a while later]

Sorry, fixed the last link.

[Tuesday-afternoon update]

For those wondering, launch has been pushed back to 1505 in hopes that upper-level winds die down. About 20% higher than they want. That leaves a little less than an hour in the window.

[Late evening update]

OK, obviously, everyone saw it. I’m in DC now, after fighting traffic after the launch to the airport.

Many thousands of people saw the first Shuttle launch. Many thousands of people also it land in California, two days later. The intersection of those two sets isn’t large, but I’m a member of it. I imagine that the number of people who saw both those and were present at today’s launch, which is at least as historic, in its own way, is a very elite club, perhaps fewer than have gone into space.

I’ve seen four Falcon 9 launches, but none as close as this one. This one you could feel, and the sound was different, with 27 engines, instead of two large SRBs and three SSMEs. I’d be curious to know difference the decibels. But of course, something the Shuttle never did was launch and land within minutes, and seeing and hearing those two coming back, with the very loud double triple sonic booms, was amazing. As I noted on Twitter, few words are more overused than “awesome,” but that word pretty well describes what I witnessed this afternoon.

[Update before bed]

“This may be the day that Elon opens up space to the masses.”

Falcon Heavy

What is it good for?

SpaceX’s plans, from Falcon 1 to Falcon 5, to Dragonlab, and perhaps now this, tend to outpace their accomplishments. And that’s a good thing.

[Update a few minutes later]

A preview of the flight.

Only pad 39A is outfitted for crew flights, which are expected to start later this year (an ambitious timeline, according to the Government Accountability Office). Should the Falcon Heavy damage 39A, how will that affect NASA’s commercial crew program, which has been waiting to launch astronauts from American soil since 2011? It’s a fair question, and you can bet NASA officials will be watching this demo flight with clenched teeth.

Maybe, but with the successful static fire, I don’t think it should be as big a concern.

Columbia Anniversary

It’s been fifteen years. Challenger was the beginning of the end of the Shuttle program, less than five years after the first flight. Columbia doomed it, though it continued to fly for eight more years. But the decision to end it led to the much more hopeful future we have now, with new commercial vehicles finally demonstrating real reusability, and competing with each other to drive down costs.

Here are my immediate thoughts at the time. Click on follow-up posts for a lot more.

[Update a few minutes later]

Glenn Reynolds: We just entered a golden age of space exploration. Why all the pessimism?

More importantly, we’re finally entering an age of not merely exploration, but development and ultimately settlement.

[Afternoon update]

In rereading what I wrote then, I’m surprised at how prescient it was and how well it held up. Including the foretelling of the book that was to come a decade later.

[Update a few minutes later]

Note my comment there at the time:

Who has an operational solution that’s any better than NASA’s?

Who’s been funded to provide one?

The fact that NASA hasn’t done better does not imply that it cannot be done better. NASA operates under significant political constraints.

Note that fifteen years later (and the two people doing this had started two years earlier), that problem seems to have been solved.

On The Road Again

Heading to Florida in the morning for the mundane, non-landing Falcon 9 launch on Tuesday (though recent wind forecasts make me suspect it will slip to Wednesday), then down to south Florida to deal with another house we want to sell. Then back up to the Cape on Monday for what I hope is a Tuesday Falcon Heavy launch (which will be historic). From there, to DC on Tuesday night. I’ll be checking in from the road, but be good in comments.