Elon Musk, the ad-Astra Afrikans-American who has, in the last few years, revolutionized access to space, seems to have dropped one too many red pills.
Devon Delvechio recently did the above video on Musk's changing perspective in the eyes of the hip set but today came a rather pointed rebuke of the man by...the FAA and EPA.
It seems that the FAA has delayed their approval of Musks new spaceship launch until at least March pending an environmental review. Note that the whole point of the rocket is to get completely out of the environment.
Musk has, in the last few years gone from the darling of the Ted-Talk left to something of an annoyance at best. His recent Twitter-feud with Senator Warren and his appearance on the Babylon Bee of all places seems to have cemented his transition in their eyes.
Musk was, for many years, an enthusiastic repeater of leftie platitudes as he took govt. subsidies for electric and solar endeavors during the Obama years. It was this lack of offensiveness from the lefts point of view that likely enabled his much more consequential rocketry project to proceed unnoticed and unmolested.
I suspect that the environmental review delay is a sort of shot across the bow, telling the billionaire to "get back in line". These people, especially those in the Biden Administration, are vindictive enough that they'll strangle a new industry in the crib just to spite Musk.
Worse, it's quite possible that Musks space projects are themselves a primary target. Starlink itself bypasses many donors to the DNC, Solar power satellites could be a big step in curbing emissions...without paying the grifters that fly private jets to conferences to lecture poor people on their carbon footprint.
Musk is an impressive genius but his brilliance is partly a result of his autism, which ill prepares him for the kind of Byzantine emotional maneuvering that is necessary when dealing with our ruling class. Whether this change in opinion of him by the powers that be is something he can survive is something I'll be watching with not a little apprehension.
This is, perhaps, our Sakharov moment. The problems of space travel and making a profitable business out of anything related to it are hard enough, and in and of themselves could sink him.
I'd hate for these lilliputian savages dragging our once glorious civilization under to be what ends up ending SpaceX. I'd take Musk over any of these aggressively useless wannabe feudal overlords.
Reminds me of this: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/arts-letters/articles/natan-sharansky-doublethink
Posted by: firstname.lastname@example.org at Thu Dec 30 15:31:51 2021 (hRoyQ)
Posted by: The Old Man at Sun Oct 17 12:05:39 2021 (nDQLw)
No. I confess I've been rather self-focussed of late, but I've called a couple of times and called again after your comment. There is no word at this time. However the last time I spoke to him, things were on the up-swing. Also, he has limited windows for taking calls, so I'm not in panic mode ...yet.
5Correction! I just talked to him. He's doing better. He is still in therapy but is being moved to a better facility. He is making progress. Accommodations are not 4star. Know that there has been recent good news, but I'm not at liberty to elaborate.
Will There Be 'Splodies?
There may not even be a burn. As this is being typed there appears to be an issue and Space-X trucks have arrived at the launch-pad and disgorged technicians, while the rockets flaps are being tested.
However, the FAA mandated launch window extends until 8PM Houston time. For now the commentators are discussing the relative merits of cooking bacon in the oven.
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Explodemologists has an update as of 17:37.
"They're pumping in fuel! The countdown has restarted!
Fireworks are likely!
It looks like they did it! no explosions are in evidence and a small fire on the pad has been extinguished. It appears this was completely successful.
According to a new analysis of Gaia satellite data, the closest star cluster to our Solar System is currently being torn apart - disrupted not just by normal processes, but also by the gravitational pull of something massive we can't see.
consists of a roughly spherical group of hundreds of stars sharing the same age, place of origin, chemical characteristics, and motion through space
This young stellar nursery is the closest star cluster to Earth, being only 47 parsecs (153 LY) away. For our purposes that's ridiculously, arbitrarily far, but on the galactic scale we're practically touching.
Anyway, data from ESA's Gaia satellite indicates that stars in the cluster are vanishing and or being thrown out of the formation. The paper is here, and more layman friendly articles on the subject can be found here, here, here and here.
The current theory as reported, is that a huge mass of dark matter, (which is invisible to telescopes) is passing through the cluster and disrupting it. As a few of the articles suggest, finding Dark Matter, would indeed be strong evidence for Dark Matter, though, like all other evidence for the stuff this is indirect evidence (as Dark Matter's supposed properties would dictate).
Allow those of us at Brickmuppet Blog to offer an alternative possible explanation, but not necessarily the only one, for the phenomena being examined.
To laugh at Saganâ€™s words is to miss the point entirely: There really is only one true home for usâ€”and weâ€™re already here.
Lowther does a good job dismembering Shannon Stirone's twaddle, finally using this for an epic finishing move...
There was only one true home for usâ€¦ the Olduvai Gorge. Until it wasnâ€™t.
Yep. That's a 'fatality', and that should put to bed this particular nonsense.
This seems to be a big "thing" in academia right now, and has been percolating since Musk began looking like he might actually pull it off. The arguments I've seen have ranged from environmental concern trolling like this. Safety concern trolling like this and others (to my surprise including Kim Stanley Robinson) and the idea put out by Daniel Deudney and Phil Torres that allowing people off earth is itself an existential threat as people living off planet will develop with different priorities, become different cultures and there will therefore be no alternative to war. (I wish I was being silly, but that is their argument).
I'm not a big fan of terraforming for other reasons (I'm in the Gerard O'Neal/DandridgeCole camp) but Musk and Zubrin make a good case that the benefits of the tenuous atmosphere and myriad other resources make Mars a very attractive place to do one's crawling, standing and baby steps as humanity gets out of its cradle.
I'm pretty sure that is why there is now such a visceral reaction to this amongst upper class academe and those who the idea of the cosmos being sullied by the great unwashed plebians.
Providence has provided those who would micromanage our lives, via vacuum and hard radiation, a natural barrier to prevent people escaping their attentions that's far more effective than the Berlin Wall. They do not want an alternative or counterexample to the homogenized, post-discontent society they envision. The U.S. Australia, Canada, and a few others provided such safety valves in times past. To have a similar escape route unexpectedly open, just as these can taste their triumph over the human spirit must be rather disheartening.
So, while I think the more rational course is to move on from Mars to space habitats like the Stanford Torus, or O'Neil's Cylinders I do find myself willing to consider an exception to my skepticism against terraforming in the particular case of Mars. It's technically doable. (Hell, people have worked out the math on terraforming the MOON) It would be quite the scenic vacation spot and would represent a middle finger to the culture of the Handicapper General by the Culture of Excellence and Striving for Greatness and Arete. Baring the existence on Sol4 of something more advanced than a Volvox, it would harm nothing of consequence while creating vast benefits and stand as a profound testimony to the potential of Humanity and a meaningful inspiration to the children of future generations.
I'll take the future of Olaf Stapeldon over that of H.G. Wells any day of the week. Those of the opposite opinion need neither suffer nor trouble themselves about us. They can sit in repose, lords of their cradle, smugly secure in the knowledge that we deplorable fools could not possibly have survived our folly.
And perhaps many of those who go won't. It is quite true that this is an objectively wild-eyed and potentially tragic endeavor. Space is cold, (when it's not evaporatingly hot), dark, radioactive and has, to be frank, rather poor toilet facilities and ventilation. It is not for the faint of heart or the stupid or the incompetent. It's gonna be a frontier where you have to make you own fricking air. It will take years to make it safe and generations to make it comfortable and pleasant. But it will be something of real, lasting value, and that is worth risking a lot for.
It is, as they say, the truly great ones who plant trees for their descendants that they will never walk in the shade of.
There is nothing WRONG with not wanting to go into deprivation for a noble dream. In fact it's sensible. However, while I don't begrudge anyone who doesn't want to go, I'm alarmed at the surprising putch of articles demanding that this endeavor NOT BE ALLOWED.
I really fear that these people in academe and positions of societal power will do everything they can to stop this from happening, using every tool in their legislative and cultural quivers. This is a real issue and needs to be addressed.
A very detailed and informative press conference doing an almost frame-by-frame analysis of the landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars. For those that just want to watch the landing, the raw footage of the landing begins at 1:47:44.
Yay for no 'splodies. But the current thinking is that there were in fact no lakes, more and more they're finding that everything we see on the surface of Mars can be explained by glaciers and ice flows, and there was probably never liquid water present in any significant amount.
Posted by: David at Thu Feb 18 20:53:44 2021 (aT8ji)
The speculation I saw last night is that the FAA was treating the engine swap as having created a new vehicle, which seems stupid. They did rush out to claim they were working with SX to try to approve the launch.
Posted by: Rick C at Fri Jan 29 15:25:00 2021 (eqaFC)
There is tons of speculation, all of it without any backup. First we were hearing that it was related to the engine swaps, which doesn't make sense. I was also hearing that it was related to the flight termination system, and there is now a story from the Verge that the FAA is considering the SN8 flight to have violated it's permit and they are taking the tongs to SpaceX this time around because of that. But nobody else is confirming that, and it seems like we'd have heard of that weeks ago. I'm now hearing that this is all nonsense, and it's just the FAA reviewing and reconsidering what altitude to allow, they're apparently not happy with either very high nor very low target altitudes, and are trying to determine what is actually the safest criteria for all the various things that could happen.
Posted by: David at Sun Jan 31 05:16:52 2021 (jdGUg)
"there is now a story from the Verge that the FAA is considering the SN8 flight to have violated it's permit and they are taking the tongs to SpaceX this time around because of that."
I'm pretty sure I read something a couple days ago that the FAA said they were working hard with SpaceX to get the permit reinstated or whatever. That doesn't mesh well with the Verge's story, FWIW.
Posted by: Rick C at Sun Jan 31 15:16:54 2021 (eqaFC)
Oh Wow. They're Going to Test This Thing Next Month
They've been best known until now for cool CGI animations of stuff they say they'll do eventually, but now The Gateway Foundation is announcing plans to do a 40% scale test of their fabrication robot 'D-Star'.
If this thing works, even the 40% version will have massive potential to assemble things in orbit and beyond. If Space-X gets their rockets working and produced in the quantities that Mr. Musk is promising, then we could have the solar system from Mercury to Pallas opened up in less than a decade.
Approximately 96% successful. Just that little 4% at the end. And the engines dying from a lack of fuel pressure. And the final one eating itself. But holy crap, that was AMAZING.
Really, that is a successful test. The hard part was everything BUT the landing.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Wed Dec 9 18:49:32 2020 (Bkp4m)
Space-X has launched a NASA mission with an international crew consisting of NASA and JAXA astronauts to the International Space Station. The mission commander, Colonel Michael Hopkins USAF, will be transferred and sworn in to the U.S. Spaceforce during this mission, and so this mission marks the first spaceflight of a Spaceforce servicemember. Hopkins has two spaceflights under his belt. Mission specialist Shannon Walker has done a previous tour to the ISS, Victor Glover is on his first spaceflight, but is an experienced test pilot and The Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, is one of 7 current (11 total) Japanese astronauts, has been an astronaut since JAXA was still NASDA, and has ridden fire twice.
I dunno what the odd pulsing of the second stage engine pumps was, but it's now been 15 minutes, the capsule is in orbit, the first stage was recovered, and all 'splodies have been confined to the interiors of the engine nozzles.
UPDATE: Final crew note; the zero gravity indicator on this mission appears to be Baby Yoda.
NASA has successfully slammed the Osiris-REX space probe into the Earth Crossing asteroid Bennu, knocking debris into space that will hopefully be collected and returned. Our Crack Team of Science Babes have some thoughts on the matter.
"We hit it!"
The probe will collect sample of the debris that it kicked up. If it has room and weight reserves for more it will punch the asteroid and blow on it again with the aim of collecting more. Assuming it survives its various assaults on the asteroid, it will return its samples to Earth in 2023.
"The probe will no doubt land in Piedmont Arizona and..."
This is the first time in 11 years that the U.S. has launched astronauts into space on a U.S. rocket, from U.S. soil. Even more impressive, it's a private company providing a launch service which opens up vast possibilities for future space endeavors.
Extrordanary Claims, Thoughts on The Mechanism of Epstein's Suicide, and Less Extraordinary Analogues
One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points out some science links that don't involve pestilence.
"Because in space, no one can hear you sneeze."
Some time ago an interstellar object, subsequently named Omuamua passed through the solar system. On it's way out of The Solar System, it performed what appeared to be a course correction and accelerated out of the solar system. This caused considerable consternation at the time, but subsequent analysis seems to indicate that it was sufficiently flat and non-dense that light pressure combined with the likely sublimation of volatiles on its sun-facing side is sufficient to explain its apparently aberrantly expressed celerity.
That being said, the object is weird and John Michael Godier interviews Dr. Sergey Mashchenko who goes over all the weirdness about this object, known, and unknown as well as some of the speculation that has been put forward to explain the weirdness...the most speculative speculation is that the thing might have been made out of dark matter.
Of course such extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and the proof has been accelerating out of the solar system 2 years. It's only a little more likely than the notion that Epstein killed himself.
Which circuitously brings us to another bit of unfounded speculation, regarding The Epstein Drive from THE EXPANSE
Solomon Epstein DID kill himself, albeit not intentionally. That plot device is what is called a "torch drive" which is a staple of science fiction without FTL. While considered by the authors to be handwavium, Matter Beam over at the Tough Sci-Fi blog has run the numbers and applied the latest theories of fusion rocket designs to the performance figures noted in the series of books and come to the conclusion that the Epstein Drive, is in fact much harder sci-fi than is generally supposed. It's a very long post, go read the whole thing.
While performance of a Torch drive seems to be within the realm of possibility, it is not a near term prospect. By contrast NASA has been sponsoring research by Princeton Satellite Systems which has produced a design for a direct fusion drive that has astounding performance by current standards.
A dual mode engine, it normally has minuscule thrust but incredible efficiency, however, it has an afterburner mode for high thrust. This is nothing like a torch ship, however according to Winchell Chung over at Atomic Rocket...
; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; display: inline !important; float: none;">Regardless of the low thrust, it can deliver a metric ton of payload to Pluto in 3.75 years flat, instead of chemical rocket New Horizon's pathetic 30 kilograms taking freaking nine years.
Its main development hurdles are the magnetic nozzle, which is still a work in progress with regards to the performance needed for fusing of He3 and its reliance upon that very helium 3 which is quite expensive here on Earth. It can be generated, however by making tritium which decays into He3 and there are, of course the questionable proposals to mine it on the moon.
It may seem to be putting the cart before the horse since we can't get fusion power plants to break even on power, however the power plant has to contain the fusion reaction, whereas a rocket is just has to have it blow out the rear end, and we've had fusion explosions since we evaporated a coral atoll in 1952. In fact the rocket design evolved from the constant containment failures in fusion power plant experiments. It basically involves having the inevitable failure happen in one direction....calling that direction aft and building the ship around that premise. Besides the good overview at Atomic Rocket, numerous peer reviewed papers have been done on this engine and its applications over the last few years including a NASA sponsored design for a Pluto probe and a BIS proposal to use the design for missions to the Oort cloud, the gravitational lensing point and the nearest stars.
Its certainly not off the shelf, but if pursued, it promises remarkable improvements in performance in the fairly near term.
Anyway. the future is looking bright.
So don't eat bats.
If it's made of dark matter how come we could see it?
Maybe... Maybe it's space bats.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Feb 9 09:23:14 2020 (PiXy!)
A better analogy for a fusion reactor isn't containing the energy of the *reaction* (which we don't do very much for D-T, even in large high-field designs, due to most of the energy being in the neutrons) - it's in containing the reactants (and heat) long enough for them to burn.
I wish you could just "poke a hole" in a trap and get serious power from a reaction that's still critical. In gasdynamic traps and a whole host of other designs that aren't toroidal, you have holes anyway, and a lot of losses from them. Ions have to bounce around in your device a few hundred thousand times to fusion, without diffusion out of the magnetic field to the point where they can hit a wall due to glancing collisions with other ions. That sort of sets the size of the "hole" you can tolerate, relative to device volume.
Posted by: MadRocketSci at Sun Feb 9 11:13:00 2020 (+G8SK)
Now that I've read the article, they're proposing blowing up some sort of LIF target in an external field. Okay, different problem.
Still, nothing about fusion is easy. If we're lucky, it's just barely possible to build a reactor the size of a football stadium. I wish we were building fission plants instead of waiting for fusion to get practical.
Posted by: MadRocketSci at Sun Feb 9 11:48:50 2020 (+G8SK)
The Backup Plan is Proceeding Apace
With all the challenging things in the news lately, One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes has brought us news on one of the more appealing contingency plans...
She notes that Elon Musk currently has crews working 24/7 on his Starship prototype with the aim of beginning sub-orbital flights in March.
While Musk's main focus is Mars, he has also been looking towards the moon, initially with a planned 2023 circumlunar flight, and Luna has always figured in Musk's Mars plan.. The moon is much closer and has attracted his attention with regards to ice and as a secondary destination. it's a week away as opposed to six months to a year, and a good place to test stuff for Mars. There is also a lot of science potential there obviously.
While there's very little on the moon worth mining and bringing to earth it's dirt is practically MADE of Iron, Oxygen, and Aluminum and there are extensive deposits of Chromium. Musk has gone to great lengths to remove exotic materials from his toolkit to facilitate field repairs and his structural components tend to be made of stainless steel and aluminum. The moon has everything but nickle and carbon for stainless steel which can be as little as 0.8% carbon by weight. In the highly unlikely event no carbonaceous chondrites have impacted on the moon, or has been baked out carbon can be provided by the carbonaceous not-quite-moons like Cruithne, and Yorp, which could also provide nitrogen and phosphorus. Nickle almost certainly exists in viable ammounts in the larger craters, which were, of course, created by meteors. While, it's unknown if there are spectacular glaciers on the moon like there are on Mercury, there is known to be a good deal of water at the poles.
The moon has a vast uninhabited area, and NO ECOSYSTEM, so one could, as an extreme example, use unshielded nuclear reactors on the surface for smelting stuff, so it's a perfect industrial park for expanding space projects.
Some people seem confident enough that they're already measuring the drapes.
Brian Wang over at NBF notes that Musk is looking to run out these rocket's life cycle on launches to the cis-lunar destinations and then gathere those near the end of their lives for the Martian Launch Window every two years. These large convoys would have the advantage of proximity to one another in the event of any mishap. Obviously one would not send that many people to Mars until the local infrastructure such as habitats (and, if necessary gravitrons) have been developed to accept several thousand people.
Given the numbers Musk is talking about, a typical convoy might have 50-100 ships, most on a one way trip so, 5-10,000 people every two years after about a decade of building habitats. This would immediately push Martian population into a biologically sustainable levels, especially if the population were of varied races and ethnicities. After a decade the population might be 50,000 without factoring births, which is way more than Liechtenstein, and almost as much as the Cayman Islands.
We here at Brickmuppet Blog are more in the Dandridge Cole,Gerard O'Neal camp, favoring large space habitats over outposts on planets or moons, but the advantages of having a large (planet's worth) of resources handy is probably a good advantage at the start of this endeavor. There's a lot to do there as well and the first step is the moon.