I have a confession to make about Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches.

Every time he does one and it makes the news it always seems like it’s coming out of a technothriller.  For example:

Back in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported that the founder of SpaceX and Tesla was figuring out how to launch small satellites into space to create a high-speed network with the capability of reaching everyone on the planet.  This week, SpaceX will take a significant step forward in their mission to turn that dream into a reality. The company will be launching two test satellites on February 21, after initial plans to begin on February 17 were delayed to “perform final checkouts of upgraded fairing.”

Continue reading I have a confession to make about Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches.

Falcon Heavy’s central core booster did not survive reentry.

That’s a shame, but this is how you learn:

Elon Musk said on a conference call with reporters that the launch “seems to have gone as well as one could have hoped with the exception of center core. The center core obviously didn’t land on the drone ship” and he said that “we’re looking at the issue.” Musk says that the core ran out of propellant, which kept the core from being able to slow down as much as it needed for landing. Because of that, the core apparently hit the water at 300MPH, and it was about 100 meters from the ship. “It was enough to take out two thrusters and shower the deck with shrapnel,” Musk said. That should be worth seeing on video: “We have the video,” Musk confirmed, “it sounds like some pretty fun footage… if the cameras didn’t get blown up as well.”

Continue reading Falcon Heavy’s central core booster did not survive reentry.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy test flight today.

Via Geeks Are Sexy, here’s the live feed:

3:10 Eastern Time, which means… not at 3:10 Eastern Time, sorry.  Expect a delay on this launch, because there’s always going to be a delay.  Heck, it might not even launch today.  But if it does, Elon Musk is going try to send a Tesla to Mars.

OK. I’m not particularly enamored of our current self-appointed tech barons.  But I have to give him style points for using a car with ‘Space Oddity’ playing as ballast payload.

Tweet of the Day, “SpaceX The FLAMETHROWER!” edition

Is it really happening? Really and for true?

Maybe. Apparently, flamethrowers were available for pre-order (behind a password).  And as many people are bemusedly finding out right now: you can buy flamethrowers in the USA! As in, legally.  You don’t see them very often, because not very many of my countrymen are damned fools who would seriously consider picking one up, just for the heck of it*. And some locales do ban them. But you can buy flamethrowers. Legally. Continue reading Tweet of the Day, “SpaceX The FLAMETHROWER!” edition

SpaceX reportedly planning lunar orbit tourism in 2018.

Really big news, if (BIG ‘if’) true: “Two thrill seekers are paying SpaceX to make a trip around the moon next year [2018].” Why? Because the single hardest part of going anywhere in space is generally getting out of the gravity well.  They used to call orbit ‘Halfway to anywhere,’ because you used up so much energy just getting to that point. If you get to a place where you can routinely get manned craft orbiting the moon and coming back, well.  Landing on the moon and returning to lunar orbit are both problems that have been successfully solved before, is all that I’m saying.  And it’s easier to reach lunar orbit from the surface of the moon than it is to reach Earth orbit from the surface of Earth.

Mind you, 2018 is mad optimism.

Moe Lane

PS: It is no secret that I have a thoroughly justified low opinion of the previous administration when it comes to… pretty much everything; and I remain unhappy that the United States does not have a functional manned space program.  But I  will admit that I am pleasantly surprised at the way that private space initiatives were not squelched – or even particularly hindered – over the last decade or so. It could have been so much, much worse.

They think they’ve figured out why SpaceX’s Falcon 9 blew up on the pad.

Short version: big leak in the cyrogenic helium system apparently lead to a Big Boom with the liquid oxygen. And I mean big:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what You Will Not Go To Space Today looks like.

Tweet of the Day, @SpaceX Landed Their Falcon 9 First Stage Successfully edition.

Let me be honest: I didn’t do anything nearly this awesome today. But that’s OK. It’s not always about me.

The SpaceX Grasshopper VTVL* test.

It’s a rocketship made the way that God and Bob Heinlein intended:

Takes off on a jet of fire, lands on a pillar of fire. Only went up just under 2,441 feet this time, but that’s why they make prototypes.



*Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing. Had to look it up, myself.