Category Archives: Space

CRS Mission

It was scrubbed yesterday for weather, but it’s set to launch in a few minutes. It’s an unflown booster, but the cargo Dragon has flown before.

[Update a few minutes later]

Everything looking good through Max Q.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Clean MECO and stage separation. About to do boostback of the booster. Grid fins are deployed.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Another successful landing. I don’t think they’ve had a failure for Falcon 9 since the first success, though they have lost them on Falcon Heavy.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Solar arrays deployed, and Dragon on its way to ISS.

[Late-morning update]

With this launch, SpaceX has hit another milestone.


I know that posting has been light, but this is the first real vacation we’ve had in a while. We’re in a vacation rental up above Estes Park, within walking distance of the park boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ve been pretty much house bound since the storm, but it’s OK, because it’s a very nice house, and we do have an all-wheel machine to go down the mountain into town if we want to.

Here is the view from one of the balconies.

That’s the continental divide, inside the park. I think that the pointy mountain to the right is Long’s Peak, the furthest-north fourteener.

But I want to give thanks for my health, which considering all the wear and tear of decades, is still pretty good. My back is slowly recovering, and I’ll probably be back to normal by next week. I’m also grateful to live in what I think is still the greatest country on the planet, warts and all, and despite the desires of some to “fundamentally transform it.”

I’m also grateful for my readers, and all of my friends in the space industry, and the ability to start to accelerate our progress in opening the solar system to humanity in the coming years.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Back Update

Well, I’m doing better than Friday and over the weekend, but I’m still getting twinges, that occasionally elicit a yelp. I have a ticket to Houston for SpaceCom tomorrow morning, but thinking I’ll probably just have to cancel and eat the ticket. I don’t want to aggravate it on the trip and not be able to get home Thursday night. I was supposed to have a meeting with some JSC folks, but it may have to be a telecon.

[Friday-afternoon update]

Just got my MRI results. I have a compressed disk (and a little arthritis, but I don’t think that’s the issue). For our Colorado road trip, just got another shot in the ass of a muscle relaxant, and prescriptions for oral muscle relaxant (that they should have given me last week instead of the steroids), and prescription-strength ibuprofen (instead of Vicodin, which apparently isn’t that effective for nerve pain) for pain and to reduce inflammation.

When we get back, I’ll start epidurals and physical therapy (I assume basically strength training) to build up some muscular protection of the spine down there.



Are we really running out of it?

The problem lies in the type of sand we are using. Desert sand is largely useless to us. The overwhelming bulk of the sand we harvest goes to make concrete, and for that purpose, desert sand grains are the wrong shape. Eroded by wind rather than water, they are too smooth and rounded to lock together to form stable concrete.

We cannot extract 50 billion tonnes per year of any material without leading to massive impacts on the planet and thus on people’s lives – Pascal Peduzzi The sand we need is the more angular stuff found in the beds, banks, and floodplains of rivers, as well as in lakes and on the seashore. The demand for that material is so intense that around the world, riverbeds and beaches are being stripped bare, and farmlands and forests torn up to get at the precious grains. And in a growing number of countries, criminal gangs have moved in to the trade, spawning an often lethal black market in sand.

Ironically, as we discussed at the Space Settlement Summit last week, lunar regolith dust has ideal properties in that regard, which is why it’s such nasty stuff to deal with. Probably not worth the cost of importing it to earth, though.

[Update a while later]

For some reason, this reminds me of the old joke about what would happen if socialists took over the Sahara Desert.