What's happening in space (that's interesting)


#1982

So, apparently this is happening.

(Emphasis mine since he article headline is a bit misleading.)


#1983

Talk about bragging rights. “Yeah, I rode a dragon around the moon and lived to tell the tale.”

Press release:


#1984

Fuck. I want to do that so badly. Nerd envy rising!


#1985

Yeah. Danger be damned, I really want to do this.


#1986

Well really, how dangerous is it? I mean yeah, strapping yourself onto a skyscraper filled with rocket fuel and lighting the fuse is never 100% safe. But SpaceX especially have a really good track record for safety/success so far. And once you’re in orbit things are pretty smooth sailing from there. You’re not really getting far enough out into space to worry about radiation. A few automated engine burns to get you on course to the moon, I assume they would use a free return trajectory, and then it’s just eating freeze dried ice cream and learning how to poo into a bag for a week or two while you coast along and stare out the windows. I mean sure, you might have issues with something Apollo 13 style blowing up en route, but again that’s really rare across the entire history of manned space flight. Worth the risk for the bragging rights I’d think :)


#1987

At this point, Elon, maybe it would be a good idea to deliver on the very first part of your project, reflying a used rocket booster, before literally promising the moon.


#1988

That’s sort of two different things, isn’t it? The re-useable Falcon 9 is definitely a big part of the plan here. But the crewed Dragon capsule has a lot of testing left to do, too. A mission around the moon sounds like a great way to do that. And it’s doable whether the Falcon 9’s are reused or not.


#1989

Well, sure. Basically nothing of what is needed to do the moonshot, including the capsule and the heavy lift rocket, has even been tested unmanned, let alone flown crewed.

While I like that SpaceX is ambitious, given its track record on deadlines it just gets a bit silly when they keep announcing ridiculously short timelines for extravagant new missions before they even deliver on their core business model of reusable rockets.


#1990

Musk’s entire career is based on promising the moon. I really dislike his approach and suspect I would dislike him personally if we ever met. But the strange thing about him, which distinguishes him from the vast majority of con-men, is if you give him enough time and money he actually delivers something.


#1991

I like his big grandiose claims because it keeps space/science/invention relevant. In elementary school, everyone wanted to go to space camp and grow up to be an astronaut. Shuttle launches were shown live in class. Nowadays, SpaceX is one of the few things keeping that whole feeling alive. Even if he doesn’t hit every mark he promises, so long as he’s moving things forward it is a win.


#1992

There’s an article over at Popular Science about the future of the ISS.

[quote]In 2024 the clock will run out on the International Space Station. Maybe. That’s the arbitrary deadline that Congress imposed back in 2014, at which point they’ll have to decide whether or not to keep funding the ISS. And yeah, that’s a whole seven years away. But then again…it’s only seven years away.
The ISS takes up half of NASA’s human exploration budget—half of the pile of money allotted for things like sending humans to Mars or to an asteroid. And if they want to push further into space exploration, NASA can’t keep sinking three to four billion dollars a year into the ISS. Not that it’s really their decision. Congress—specifically the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology—decides how much money NASA will get. And because politicians aren’t experts in space travel, they keep holding hearings to discuss what they could possibly do with the ISS in seven years’ time. Let private industry take it over? Let it crash and burn into the South Pacific? Let the program keep running? The latest hearing took place last week.[/quote]

My gut reaction is “of course, we want to keep the ISS!” But then again, I’d be even happier to build something even better that could be used as a jumping-off point for more interesting missions like Mars. Most importantly, though, I’d hate to see the USA abandon any kind of orbit platform.


#1993

And really, that’s the key. For a thought leader like Musk, he’s not just making promises, he’s pushing himself too. And how does a visionary do that? By making bold promises and trying. He may fail, the project may fail, but he will try.

If someone else picks up the pieces of the failure and is successful, it’s still a win. Imagine if we had closed up shop after the Apollo 1 failure and subsequent congressional hearing?


#1994

There it goes: SES-10 from my backyard.


#1995

Wow cool. You close enough to hear the sonic boom?

Also congrats to SpaceX! First time an orbital class booster has launched and landed twice. The start of real reusability is here!


#1996

Depends upon which way the wind is blowing. Not today. But I’ve heard it faintly at night. And yeah, bravo SpaceX!


#1997

It never gets old watching rockets take off and now land twice!

Plus its so cool to watch nerds getting excited.


#1998

#1999

Not to negate the awesome accomplishment of relaunching the Falcon 9 - it’s super-cool, and watching rockets land on a stream of flame is so “Rocketship XM” cool!

That said, though, I think NASA kind of gets the credit for the reusable thing. They did this big spaceplane thing back in 1981 and flew them once or 135 times…

One thing I never see any coverage of is the fact that, like the Shuttle, SpaceX apparently has to strip down and rebuild the Falcon 9 booster after every flight. The first “refuel and refly” is the Blue Origin New Shepard, though obviously it’s not an orbital rocket. (New Glenn will be, and will be orbital, but it’s still in development.)


#2000

Had to share, from my recent visit to Houston:

New photo by Skip Franklin
Full-size mockup of the shuttle and carrier plane at the Space Center visitor’s center. That tower is where you walk up and then go inside. It feels surprisingly roomy, considering…although I daresay for a multiple-day mission it wouldn’t take long to go stir-crazy in there.


#2001

[quote=“DennyA, post:1999, topic:61992”]
That said, though, I think NASA kind of gets the credit for the reusable thing. They did this big spaceplane thing back in 1981 and flew them once or 135 times…[/quote]
Well, it was a reusable command and cargo module, far from a space-plane. It still needed external, disposable rockets and fuel tanks. Command modules returning to Earth in one-piece are sort of the default state.

Fun-fact: the original design for the Soviet Vostok module (the one Yuri Gagarin flew in) called for the pilot to jump out at some high altitude and parachute back to Earth. The module would come down on its retro-rockets unmanned. This would spare the cosmonaut to 12 gravity acceleration and the likely pulping of their brains. [The Vostok design was adapted from an existing photography platform, and the film didn’t mind the acceleration, apparently.]

Someone in the Soviet Air Force mentioned to the Politburo that under international rules, a successful flight requires that the pilot begin and end in the aircraft, so their plan would actually be counted as “abandoning ship” and the US would get the official rights to the first manned space flight the next year. So they went back to the drawing board and were able to get the acceleration from the retros down to a mere 8 Gs.