February 08, 2018

I Could Watch This All Day

That may seem like a sub-optimal utilization of resources, but it makes perfect sense for two reasons. 

First; it's a free country and it's Mr. Musk's rocket so if one has an issue with this exercise, one can go pound sand. 

Second; it was the first launch of Space X's Falcon Heavy rocket. No one was going to risk a scientific or commercial payload on a totally new rocket so an inert test payload was substituted, in this case Elon Musk's car. 

The rocket, while having only about half the power of the old Saturn 5 Moon rocket, this is the most powerful rocket in the world right now, its payload capacity exceeding even the massive Russian Proton-M launcher by a considerable margin, it can, for instance send 7,000 pounds of payload to Pluto. 

 This rocket is an entirely new class of launcher and promises to vastly lower launch costs, which, in turn will open the solar system to a far greater number of people and allow for an economical return to the moon, prospecting asteroids and potentially lower cost and more numerous scientific probes. This is a very big deal. 

Musk did this as a private venture and rented the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. This is in stark contrast to NASA's  still unlaunched and non-reuseable rocket that was supposed to have launched in 2016 but instead has burned up 20 billion dollars of taxpayer money

"Well Space-X didn't waste brain cells on any liberative pedagoggies, 'cause they're not asshats!"

Doug Plata, over at Space Review makes a good case that the SLS should be canceled with prejudice and simply place a bulk order for the vastly cheaper (and reuseable) Falcon Heavy, which is quite capable of manned lunar missions (albeit with multiple launches).

It would probably be money well spent.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 12:50 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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1 10/10 would launch again.

Exactly how much cheaper are we talking here? What's the $ per pound to orbit?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Thu Feb 8 02:13:13 2018 (h8yX6)

2 I wish he's launched something practical. A long, spooled steel thread would've been a good first step towards building an Orbital Ring.
Ah well, as you say, his rocket, his money, his choice.

Posted by: jabrwok at Thu Feb 8 11:41:35 2018 (h8yX6)

 Exactly how much cheaper are we talking here? What's the $ per pound to orbit? 

Falcon Heavy $850.00 a pound. Delta 4 Heavy $8,600.00 a pound. Citation here.
There really wasn't anything of value that anyone was going to risk on a first launch. I think most rockets cary water (if anything) on their initial launches except at the beginning of the space race when everyone was trying to get a "first". 
First sports car in space is way down the list, but it is unquestionably a first.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Thu Feb 8 13:38:43 2018 (h8yX6)

4 They launched a Tesla as an "inert" payload?  So they just picked one at random off the production line? 

Posted by: Siergen at Thu Feb 8 17:02:05 2018 (h8yX6)

5 Siergen, it is allegedly (one of) Elon Musk's personal car(s).  So, yes and no.

Posted by: Ben at Thu Feb 8 17:06:27 2018 (h8yX6)

6 Ben, he might be referencing the problems the Tesla Roadster has had.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Thu Feb 8 21:04:42 2018 (h8yX6)

7 There are some really great videos of the landing. It was truly awesome.  

Posted by: Mauser at Thu Feb 8 22:27:26 2018 (h8yX6)

8 Yep--watching those two boosters land side-by-side as God and Robert Heinlein intended was pretty great.
I think the Falcon 9 charges about $65M for a launch, which is something like 2/3 the cost of an Atlas 5 or Delta IV.

Posted by: Rick C at Fri Feb 9 10:55:54 2018 (h8yX6)

9 This was a good thing.  The world needs more of this, and less of the poop.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sun Feb 11 07:23:53 2018 (PiXy!)

10 In addition, the the $15 billion development cost quoted for SLS is a laughable lie. Back in the day of the sand diagrams (you know what they are, right? they remind of colored sand figures by adding expenses) Ares I alone was supposed to consume $40 billions. I am pretty sure that the official figures for SLS are at least 4 times higher than admitted. So it's at least 150 times more expensive than FH for 2 times more payload. It's absolutely out of control, and the only thing that keeps that alive is Richard Shelby's control over the committee machinery in the U.S. Senate. Well, that, and the public's innumeracy.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Sun Feb 11 11:46:10 2018 (h8yX6)

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