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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy successfully launches (techcrunch.com)
2968 points by mpweiher 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 872 comments



"That core booster approached the platform as planned, but it unfortunately hit the water going 300 MPH and was lost, because some of its return engines failed to light"

https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/06/spacex-landed-two-of-its-t...


Thanks for the closure - I've been refreshing twitter all morning.

I've seen the much-touted $90M price-tag for the FH launch, but does that take into account loss of the core or boosters?


I think he said in the press conference that they weren't planning to reuse the core or boosters. (But then mentioned later they wanted some of the parts? IDK)


Correct, the engines were going to be retired anyway but they are keen to reuse the titanium grid fins on the boosters which cost a small fortune to make.

The core actually had older ablative grid fins made of aluminium so no great loss there[0].

[0]https://i.redd.it/l6s2bds7pl801.png


Have you seen an approximate price for those fins anywhere. I saw the interviews, but I want to know how expensive is expensive.


Platinum is USD$32K per KG, so if the platinum grid fins are 100KG, then they would cost > $300K each just for materials. With 4 per booster that might be a million dollar price tag for the grid fins.


The fins are titanium, not platinum. The cost of material is negligible.


Oops, you’re right my mistake


That would be $3200k for each, but they are made out of titanium, not platinum, and most of the cost is in the work, not material. I'd like to know the price too though.


Yep - Titanium is notoriously difficult to work with.


Titanium isn't particularly terrible to machine. Nothing is hard to machine if your budget can cover the correct tools and you machines can provide the right setting to run those tools.

Your typical mechanical engineer fresh out of school has incredibly limited experience when it comes to things that are not stupid-proof to work with (engineering programs have other priorities). They then go on to build specialized knowledge in various subjects and usually more on the design side, not the execution side. Of course someone who designs plastic molds or simulated impeller designs all day is going to create a black box around things that aren't their specialty. You don't care about how the impeller or mold is made other than knowing that it can be made, what its material properties are and knowing that actually making it involves a bunch of details you don't know so you offload it to a 3rd parts (for the same reasons someone else is having you design the impeller or the mold).

A bunch of engineers and otherwise smart people on the internet saying that titanium is like computer programmers saying residential electrical is complicated or web devs complaining about bash. It really doesn't mean much but people who have no experience with this things tend to think the people who only have a shred know what they're talking about.

It's not difficult. Most other people just know they don't know how to do it and that they don't know what they'd need to know to go about learning how.


It's not that difficult. The more common alloys machine relatively easily; some of the tougher ones can be a pain but not much more than other special purpose materials like Inconel.


So difficult that the SR-71 leaked fuel before starts and had to be re-fueled right after take-off. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird#Fuel


The SR-71 took off with a small fuel load to reduce stress and improve engine-out performance, that is why it was refuelled immediately after take-off.

The mental image of it leaking so much fuel on the ground such that it needed immediate refuelling is a myth propagated extensively on the internet.


The characterization is/was also propagated by people who actually refuelled them, so I'm somewhat unconvinced it is a myth.


I believe if you look for primary sources like pilots and ground handlers/mechanics you'll mostly find reference to small leaks (I think they were referred to as drips caught in cookie trays).

I had a quick search and found the KC135 chap who says the refuelling was needed due to leaks, but without being rude to him I'm not sure he's really a qualified source for that information. It sounds more to me like 2+2=5.

I'm procrastinating so lets do some napkin maths, the claim is

1) a significant amount of fuel is leaking out of the expansion gaps,

2) climbing up to 25,000 ft at 300 knots would heat the airframe enough to seal those gaps,

3) there would still be sufficient expansion room to allow for travelling at M3.2

----

Ignoring that no engineer would be happy with 1.

For 2...Total Air Temp = Static Air Temp + Ram Rise. At 25,000 ft the static air temperature is about -35 C. Ram rise for a true airspeed of 300 kts:

RamRise = V^2 / 87^2 = 300^2 / 87^2 = 12 degrees.

So skin temperature at typical refuelling altitude would be -23 C

Titanium has an expansion coefficient of 9E-69 meters per meter-kelvin. So approximating rather grossly, assuming a s tarting temperature of 20 C over the 33 m length of the plane there would be a contraction of about 1 cm.

----

And for 3:

The aircraft then accelerates up to 1900 knots. RamRise = 1900^2 / 87^2 = 470 degrees

Static air temp at over 60000 ft is roughly -55 C. So skin temperature would be 420 C. So assuming the same length and starting temp, the plane would expand by around 11 cm

----

So to summarise: According to the claims, at ground level and temperature the expansion gaps were large enough to significantly leak fuel. After take-off the aircraft needs to be refuelled immediately. Assuming this is done so (i.e. take-off, climb to 20,000, refuel) then the skin temperature is lower than ground level, and the expansion gaps should have grown ever so slightly. The aircraft then climbs up to its M3.2 cruise point and everything expands significantly "as designed" and the gaps disappear.

----

Perhaps the anecdote we'll see on the internet now is that the SR-71 had to take off and go supersonic to rapidly heat up the skin before briefly decelerating to refuel, but the refuel had to be done super fast to stop the skin cooling down too far...


My primary source is my father, who was a senior NCO responsible for fueling operations. It was his job to know.


Fair enough, no point trying to dispute a family anecdote!


The SR-71 leaked fuel before takeoff because it needed separation distance between parts to allow for expansion. It had nothing to do with the difficulty machining titanium.

From your source: "Fuselage panels were manufactured to fit only loosely on the ground. Proper alignment was achieved as the airframe heated up and expanded several inches.[30] Because of this, and the lack of a fuel-sealing system that could handle the airframe's expansion at extreme temperatures, the aircraft leaked JP-7 fuel on the ground prior to takeoff."


The Blackbirds leaked because they had engineered gaps to allow for heat expansion.


I bet SpaceX could engineer something in spec that wouldn't leak fuel or need to be immediately refueled though.


And we’re also comparing an aircraft designed in the late 1950’s and built in the early 60’s by slide rule (while still being extremely accurate) to modern spacecraft having the benefit of decades of materials and design technology


That has nothing to do with titanium and everything to do with material expansion, the design/shape of the assembly and ambient vs operating temp.


Cant reply directly to wand3r for some reason. Re his comment spacex could engineer something that wouldn't leak or need instant refuelling - I wouldn't be surprised if they could - but they have around 30 years of advancements to help them!


They could do it back then too.

If you dig past the internet comments and read some of the "primary source" books, the picture of the leaks is very different. I can't remember the exact book I read it in, but the author states there was a tank sealant, and it lasted around 50 hours (I think), before it needed to be replaced.

This is somewhat backed up by the Jenkins book [1] which talks about the time consuming process of replacing sealant, and the Graham book [0] that is the source for the Wikipedia claims on expansion. It talks of different sealants used, and how leaks were precisely noted and collected in _shallow_ drip trays.

[0] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=dX5cCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA129&dq...

[1] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lEpWE748QUsC&q=sr71+seal...


KU Leuven states the grid fins at 41kg. (The same volume of material would be 193kg in platinum)


ahh, I noticed that in the feed and was wondering why. I guess they expected it was the least likely to work? or needed the better grid fins less because of the cylindrical top


Can they still recover them?


If I understood properly none of the boosters were block 5 so they weren't looking at re-flying them.

They are however interested in recovering the grid fins on the side boosters, which were redesigned to accommodate for the nose cones now sitting on top of them.


Smart that they used old pre-block5 parts for this test flight. (Not that I expected any less from those folks!)


Block 5?


The latest hardware revision that's expected to be the mainstay for F9 flights going forward. Has better performance and addresses some reusability issues discovered in earlier blocks.


But if they weren't on this flight, how sure is SpaceX that they are more reliable?

But yeah, that's just a question from my mind. This launch was amazing, the future in the making right here.


As far as I know, the center core was a block five one, but they didn't intend to refly it anyway, from what Elon said in the press conference. Maybe they intended to study it? If that's the case, there will probably be another "expandable" block five flight.


According to reddit, even the center core (B1033) was Block 3. No block 5 cores have flown yet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/wiki/cores#wiki_.5Bfh.5D_b10...


The plain is to lock down block 5's design so it can be man rated which in itself would make it more reliable. This will probably not happen until they fly them a few times though so that wouldn't mean the first block 5s would be more reliable.


I recall reading or hearing yesterday that space-x no longer plans to man-rate any falcon-9s instead reserving that for the BFR.


I believe that was in reference to the Falcon Heavy, not the F9. The F9 is expected to be man-rated for NASA's commercial crew program.



Version 5 of the falcon design.


To be perhaps slightly more accurate, it's like a major version 5.

Almost (if not) all missions include changes of some kind; the manufacturing blocks each have significant, incompatible differences in parts.

Upgrading the grid fins would be a minor version change, modifying the engine to increase its throttle depth a major one. I don't know, but it seems like there would need to be significant re-tooling for each new block, and many parts would be incompatible with previous blocks.


Even if they're not reusing any of it (this time), it's still very useful to examine and analyze how well it's held up.

Perhaps some piece of metal is showing more fatigue than they'd like to see, or a wire had damage to the insulation from a vibration. I'm sure that's the sort of thing they'll be looking at.


The $90m price is for a fully reusable FH, yes. The cores in this particular flight, however, were not intended for reuse either way.


SpaceX has been keeping their launch prices pretty consistent, even when they couldn't know how many F9 stages they would actually recover. I think they've factored in testing losses into the price.


I wouldn't be surprised to learn that advertised prices are still far above what they could achieve after flying for a while and paying down some of their R&D debt (and if/when the market becomes even a little bit competitive).


Almost inevitably. They don't need to hit rock-bottom prices because they're already there compared to the rest of the current market, and they can use the money to pay back their enormous R&D budget, or if Musk is just throwing that money off as a worthwhile loss then to pay for research on BFR and their other future projects.

After all if you can make a hefty profit while still undercutting the competition you're basically winning at capitalism.


The damage to the ASDS might be more of a problem. Depending on how badly it was damaged, it might not be available to catch other cores that could have landed otherwise


It look cool to have them land on their own, but wouldn't it be much cheaper to use parachutes and drop them in the ocean !? Either way they are going to take them apart down to each bolt and then reassemble again to make sure there are no faults. You don't simply fill it up and relaunch.


> You don't simply fill it up and relaunch.

Yes, you do. Or at least, that's what they want to do. They've already reflown a bunch of their landed rockets, including the two boosters on Falcon Heavy. The ultimate goal is to be able to fill it up and relaunch, and the ultimate motivation for propulsive landing is simple - that's what is needed on Mars (parachutes won't do much there), so they want to master it.

EDIT: I meant that today, with Falcon Heavy Test Flight behind us, the two side boosters qualify as reflown - this was their second mission, not the third.


So the FH boosters were reused? The ones that landed back again? Amazing, great news to start a morning :)


Yes!

The left booster "originally launched on July 18, 2016 in support of the CRS-9 mission, and landed back at LZ-1". The right booster "originally launched on May 27, 2016 in support of the Thaicom 8 mission. Notably, it earned the nickname "Leaning Tower of Thaicom"; having developed a significant lean upon a hard first landing."

Source:

https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/7vg63x/rspacex_falc... linking to details of:

- https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/wiki/cores#wiki_b1025 - left booster

- https://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/wiki/cores#wiki_b1023 - right booster


No.

This has been gone ove many times, but:

Parachutes aren't cheap or easy. Saltwater is horrible for precision parts. They are trying to gas and go, or at least move, gas and full power test.


SpaceX goal with the Falcon 9 is to be able to land, simply check the core (the engine gets more complicated checkups), and to have it back on the launchpad within of a few days or weeks.

Arianespace (a major european launch company, known for the Ariane 5) has developed their own new engine concept for reusability, which is designed to be restarted unlimited times. Once Prometheus flies, they’ll not only have a reusable rocket comparable to the Falcon 9, but one that can fly, land, be refueled without checkup, and immediately fly again.

SpaceX also aims for that in the long run, but not in the Falcon 9 series itself.


> Once Prometheus flies

Sounds like they are not that committed to the project and if it happens at all it will be a long way off. Will it be worth competing with both SpaceX and Blue Origin?

“We could replace Vulcain 2.1 by Prometheus,” Bonguet told SpaceNews. “Or Prometheus can be the first brick to build the next generation. We will see where we are in 2025 or 2030, and then decide on the right time whether to go one way or the other.”

http://spacenews.com/ariane-6-could-use-reusable-prometheus-...


Prometheus is finished, production on the prototype has started, and the first flights of the prototype are expected in 2020.

If Arianespace follows that schedule, they’ll be a decade late compared to SpaceX, but still ahead of all other competitors in this.


There's no flight scheduled. They're developing a full-scale article to be ground-tested in 2020.

Prometheus or not, Ariane 6 is an expendable rocket in any form that currently or will soon exist. By the time they figure out the very basics of first-stage reusability on a launcher that is roughly equivalent to Falcon 9 FT, SpaceX will have BFR ... likely for quite a while.

At least their reusability plans are not a joke like ULA.


AFAIK, there's no major disassembly between flights. Certainly inspection and test firing, but nowhere near the meticulous detail and overhauls that the Space Shuttle went through after each flight. This is a completely different beast than what many observers' mental models are accustomed to.


A large part of the work SpaceX are trying to do is get it so that they can pretty much just give it a fairly simple inspection, fill it up and relaunch it. They already need far less work between launches than the space shuttle did.


I'm kind of glad they had something fail. That means maybe they learned something new to improve the next shot.


The rocket ran out of engine igniter fluid. It had enough to light the centre engine, but not the two side engines.

That seems to imply they were trying to do a 3-engine landing, which they tested recently in the 'failed to expend the rocket' incident. This might explain why they miscalculated the igniter requirement since they don't have much experience with 3-engine landings.


On the other hand, if you look carefully at the landing video, it looks like they did a three-engine landing boost on the other boosters: https://youtu.be/BBA7su98v3Y?t=517 So they have definitely learned something valuable in that landing incident.


Interesting. Looks like a 1-3-1 burn (start with 1, ignite two more for a bit, then finish on a single one).

I wonder how much longer the '3 engine burn' was for the GovSat launch last week that did a 'water landing'


Cool. I'd assumed they only did that with the centre core, but you're right.


Is the normal landing a 1-engine landing? If so, is the advantage of a 3-engine landing that it requires less fuel due to having a much shorter 'suicide burn'?


Yes, and yes. The less time you're in the air, the less fuel needed to counter gravity's continual pull, so the most efficient landing burn is basically the highest acceleration you can handle without coming apart such that your velocity hits 0 as your altitude does.


What’s a “suicide burn”?


most of the people I know are twisted pessimists. you're a twisted optimist


'Crazy things can come true': Elon Musk discusses Falcon Heavy launch: Full presser

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sytrrdOPYzA


Was it just lucky that the core didn’t directly impact the drone ship or was it designed to aim to the side in the event of the landing speed being too high?


It always comes in slightly to the side of the barge and as part of the landing burn it does a final sideways correction. I believe it was for this kind of situation - or one where the final burn doesn't even happen.


I read somewhere that the drone ship was damaged.


Elon mentioned in the press conference that two of the engines on the droneship (it has four, one on each corner) were damaged.


Do they send another ship to fix the drone ship?


There's another ship nearby which tows it, it doesn't go all the way in and out of port on its own power.

And the ship has taken far bigger poundings in the past, one of them blew a huge hole in the deck.


Oh ok, cool. I guess I thought it was more autonomous than that by the name.

Watching the other boosters land was really impressive.


I think it's just fuel saving for the ship rather than lack of autonomy


More time than fuel I think. The droneship has precision-manoeuvring thrusters, not engines that would let it move at any significant speed.


> But the core, middle booster, which attempted to land aboard “Of Course I Still Love You,” a drone barge that SpaceX uses as a mobile, ocean-borne landing pad stationed in the Atlantic for its flights departing from Florida, wasn’t recovered.

“Of Course I Still Love You” is the name of a spacecraft in The Culture, a series of novels that inspired Elon Musk when he was young.


There was something doubly awesome about the two falcons landing at the same time right next to each other!


Can confirm this was the greatest thing I've ever witnessed in my life.

https://youtu.be/AGPH_i0ZlyM?t=56


There's something awesome (in the literal sense) and unsettling about watching something and being able to say "I am witnessing history".


When I saw the first successful booster landing I realized I was seeing history.

When I saw the first successful booster landing on a drone ship I realized I was again watching history.


And there's still more!

Live Webcam from Spaceman:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M


@$#%^%# light pollution everywhere. turn down those %$%@%# lights so we can see the ^#@&^^% stars.

(...yes I do know it is the ol Sol)


All of this insane expense and amazing science and they couldn't make a VR360 camera happen. :(


Tough crowd. I'm rather more amazed at what did happen than at what did not.


I guess "amazing science" wasn't strong enough for you. If we were able to look around 360 from the POV of the driver, rather than getting the two feeds, it would be better. It doesn't cost a lot to put a lens on the camera you have, provided it was high enough resolution. Even a 1080 can do 360, but 4-8k is better.

I'm not sure what happened that was new here other than the PR of putting a car into solar orbit. They landed their 20 something rocket vertically. They crashed another one or something.

It just seems like a lot of expense and science to stop at a normal camera.


Amazing. Do you honestly believe that what you've just witnessed is prioritized in terms of the quality of the video feed rather than everything else that just happened?

Do you even begin to appreciate the challenges in getting a 4-8k feed from space to earth?

I've been in the video business from '95 to 2015 and there is so much going on behind the scenes from even a simple live stream from a spacecraft to earth that I am wondering what it would have taken for you to be satisfied. FWIW I've personally done the Internet portion of two Space shuttle launches live-stream to earth and I can tell you that nothing about such an event is 'simple' by any stretch of the imagination. 2.5 million people watched that stream and it 'just worked'.

This never was about the quality of the feed (which is nothing short of amazing by the way), but about testing a new rocket. The fact that only one of the three first stages didn't make it is also quite impressive.

Yes, it was PR. But given the amount of work that went into this I figure they were entitled a bit of leeway.

This comment is totally out of place on a site like this, and it makes me wonder (1) what incredible stuff you've been up to today and (2) whether or not you are even remotely aware of any of the complexity a feat like today's launch entails to put you in a position to criticize any of this rather than to accept it in gratitude and wonder.

Keep in mind that according to Elon Musk there was a 50% chance the whole thing blew up on the pad I'd say they got their priorities right and spent what time and budget they had on the main item rather than on the PR bit.


To go with this - Apple has struggled to get live footage to work from the middle of the tech world, with good infrastructure and a with a massive budget. It would seem harder to get space tv working.


I’m guessing it’s bandwidth and tech limitations. They don’t have a very fat pipe up there, and they also have tons of experience with the type of camera they have mounted in there... maybe they didn’t have time to test and certify any modern 360 cameras. Hopefully it’ll happen sometime though!


I think bandwidth isn't the issue. You can do 360 with a 4k feed. I expect it was more of a issue of hardware that would make it past Mars without space killing it.


You do realize this guy basically did the bottle flip with two fucking rockets in unison?

Then again he calculated it, which is more than we can say for the countless teenagers trying to flip bottles in on their tables for views.


Did anyone else notice that the bottom two windows are not different cameras on different boosters? The guy even told us, "I know they look similar but they're different". Nope, they are the same. Watch how you can see two pads and they both land on the pad on the right. And you can see the second booster burning in the same orientation. The roads leading to the pads also make it easy to notice.


Or the part where he was about to spill the beans about the center core, but was quickly told to STFU in his earbud so they could delay the news of any failure until after the primary news cycle burned through the tandem landing miracle fuel.

I hope one day to be as good at both engineering and PR as SpaceX is.


They corrected this in a new upload: https://youtu.be/bCc16uozHVE?t=29m36s


For this launch the live stream editors probably had 4x the normal amount of feeds to switch, so I’ll forgive them for a couple editing mishaps. I’m guessing they don’t have the same setup as would be at something like the Super Bowl... at least not yet :)


They also failed to show the fairing separation view when the music started and repeated that shot after the stream was essentially over. I guess a lot of things were just new and not quite like normal F9 launches (where presentation has been largely flawless for a while now).


I think the cameras were just on opposite sides so the different pads looked to be on the same side, no?


Nah, the two feeds were identical including a portion of the other booster’s rocket plume in the top left. The two pads are different colours, both feeds showed the rocket landing on the lighter pad.

Hopefully we will get a corrected version for the official movie!


It seems they fixed it. Here is the corrected version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCc16uozHVE

The live (uncorrected) version for comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8wxV-lUsZg


Sadly, they seem to have taken down the corrected version. :(


They are slightly different, I suspect it's for creating 3d illusion. If you cross your eyes and overlap the two images you will see the landing in 3d.


It's not quite our generation's "one small step for Man" moment (I'm saving that for when we actually land a human on Mars) but it's damn close.


If you haven't seen it there is some, according to Armstrong 'persuasive', evidence[0] that he did in fact say 'one small step for a man'.

[0] https://www.space.com/17307-neil-armstrong-one-small-step-qu...


I hope it's not close to our generational moonshot. We've had quite a few impressive launchers in the past - not commercial, of course, but also built without current level of accumulated experience - so to consider FH their modern version would be to accept lowering the standards.

Nevertheless :) FH first launch is an impressive feat.


If they keep going the way they're going, I think our generation's moonshot is going to be a Mars-shot.


I fell this is the most important moment in space exploration since the Apollo landing, but I don't see a big coverage in mainstream media. Elon is probably on the trajectory to be remembered as the biggest entrepreneur ever.


I would say, "since the ISS". The ISS isn't as exciting as sending humans to another celestial body, but we'll never get to Mars without the lessons learned and it's an amazing feat.


I don't fanoboi much but Elon gets me pretty close. He's done 5 lifetimes of work before hitting 50.


We are constantly witnessing history.


Strictly speaking, every time you watch something you're witnessing history.


Please don't post unsubstantive comments here.


Watching both boosters come back to land in person was straight out of sci-fi.

My non tech interested wife was cheering for both boosters to land safely. “What world am I in!?”

Thanks SpaceX for making us excited about space again.


I watched the launch and landing from the beach. The booster recovery was pretty amazing to see


So! Jealous!!!


I get a headache watching Star Wars like sci-fi where everything is manually controlled by the pilot. How did sci-fi get so disconnected from the actual future?


>How did sci-fi get so disconnected from the actual future?

The original Star Wars was made in 1977, and based heavily on World War 2 combat films (much of the space combat and the trench run on the Death Star was lifted - sometimes shot for shot - from a film called "The Dam Busters.") For reasons of continuity and tone, that mechanical aesthetic can't ever change much throughout the franchise, or else it wouldn't "look" like Star Wars.

But the point is that it's exciting, it's visceral, the archetypes of the fighter pilot and joystick and of buttons that do important things make sense to the audience, and as a result those scenes can convey emotion though the use of familiar visual language.

Sci-fi was never "connected" to the future, and it was never (or at least, never explicitly) about attempting to accurately describe or predict the future. Yes, you could have replaced the ships and pilots in Star Wars with remote or AI controlled drones, not colored in the blasters, etc, and it might be more realistic, but no one would enjoy watching it.

People do enjoy dogfights (and spaceships that bank when they turn) and space wizards with laser swords doing flippy shit and punching each other with telekinesis, though.


Wow I never looked it up before, but the lifting of the trench run from The Dam Busters is uncanny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNdb03Hw18M


some sci-fi was never connected to the future. But when it comes to Arthur c Clarke and Neil Stephenson, I'd have to disagree.


Maybe they could explain it all away saying that in a previous era autonomous weapons were used and almost exterminated everyone in the whole star wars universe, so all parties including the empire and the rebels agreed to not make use of automatically controlled weapons or space craft.

Or maybe software technology was lost and they are only able to use extremely rudimentary systems...


>Maybe they could explain it all away saying that in a previous era autonomous weapons were used (...)

Except that fully sentient AI is already commonplace in the form of droids, including battle droids.

This is a universe where a small robot that only speaks in clicks and whistles had to physically transport holographic "data tapes" about a moon-sized space station that can travel faster than light. A lot of it doesn't make sense when you think about it, but then it's supposed to be Flash Gordon with the serial numbers filed off.


Star Wars is not sci-fi, it's a cross between space fantasy and space opera. The list of better sci-fi movies is long.


From wikipedia

> Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking

> A science fantasy is a cross-genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon and/or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy

Star Wars is 100% science fiction.


The core difference between science-fiction and fantasy goes back to the philosophical debates about the nature of the universe in ancient greece, the difference between a mechanistic view of the Universe (which we have come to accept as the foundation of science) and a teleological view of the Universe. Star Wars has a teleologic view of the Universe, it's baked into the DNA of the material. "The Force", the light side, the dark side, being "strong in the force" based on your heritage, and so on. That's the foundation of Star Wars.

Star Wars is not science fiction, it is fantasy or mythology in a science-fictional setting. It is fusion cuisine.


It clearly doesn't meet some definitions of science fiction but would still be almost universally called that. Try (getting in a time machine and) going to a Blockbuster Video and try to convince them that Star Wars doesn't belong in the science fiction section.

> teleological view of the Universe.

Almost all fiction is almost completely teleological. Nothing ever happens by accident in fiction, everything that happens has a human motivational cause. The characters' incredibly improbable and complicated schemes almost never fail by accident as they very likely actually would but always due to confrontation or betrayal. (See also: political narratives.) The human brain just cannot help but pay attention to sex, alliances, confrontation and betrayal.

The Force being with you by birth is a bad theme because it takes away the humanity of the people that have it. They succeed or fail in part not because of their intentions but because of magic stuff they happen to have that you cannot have. It's painful to watch.


> They succeed or fail in part not because of their intentions but because of magic stuff they happen to have that you cannot have. It's painful to watch.

A great deal of success or failure in real life comes down to legacy, genetics and random chance, or "non-magical stuff" other people have that you cannot.


In the book The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe writes about some thing similar, the first astronauts in the Mercury program had nothing much to do, and NASA was considering choosing people like trapeze artists, who are used to stress and high acceleration for the role.


Star Wars is soft sci-fi as opposed to hard sci-fi like 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Star Wars takes place in the distant past, not in the future.

Also, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great movie about a great example why you do not pilot your ships with computers all the time.

Also, you do not know what the future holds. You are living in the present, not the future, where we very well may have pilots piloting ships.

Star Wars is not science fiction and it does not take place in the future. We are not living in the future either.


> Also, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great movie about a great example why you do not pilot your ships with computers all the time.

No, it merely illustrates why you want your AI properly bottled up and airgapped that way the flight computer will follow your instructions after you consult with the AI (assuming an AI is ever built...).

Computers can control spacecraft just fine in the present without AI so really there does not seem to be a pressing need for this.


HAL is merely an expression of the 20th century trope of the computer run amok. Same as the IBM system from "Desk Set" and the "War Games" WOPR. It's a product of ignorant naivete of what computers are capable of and what their true weaknesses are. It has no basis in reality. Just a way for writers to personify a machine with flaws to drive the plot forward.


Since 2012 the SpaceX Dragon capsule has been under AI control for rendezvous with the International Space Station for grasping and docking. It uses computer vision to estimate its pose relative to the ISS and steers accordingly.

Source: Andrew Howard of SpaceX, who is in charge of this software and has to endure the stress of each rendezvous. Screwing up could kill the ISS crew.


Between 'HAL' and auto-dock I can see some differences.

Unless your connection confirmed that the onboard computer of the SpaceX Dragon capsule is sentient.


I’m absolutely not taking a position on what is _real_ AI and was isn’t.

I was just providing evidence against the claim of the last paragraph of your previous message.

While you are waiting for AI that meets your specs, the world is flying real spacecraft with software that most people are happy to call AI right now.


No, it merely illustrates why you want your AI properly bottled up

Instead of a daemon, call it a djinn?


Isn't the key part of Sci-fi that it contains a society that has in some way advanced beyond our own? Saying it's not sci-fi because the fictional advance is set in our past (but at a development technologically beyond our own) seems quite a strange distinction.


> Saying it's not sci-fi because the fictional advance is set in our past (but at a development technologically beyond our own) seems quite a strange distinction.

I didn't say that at all. It is in the past, and also, it is not science fiction. Star Wars is quite fantasy, offering no explanation in science for the force, hyperspace, lightsabers, etc.

I love Star Wars with all my heart. But it is not about the future and it is not science fiction. It takes place "a long time ago" and it centers around magical, unexplained powers.

Edit:

And,

> Isn't the key part of Sci-fi that it contains a society that has in some way advanced beyond our own?

No, I don't agree with this at all. I would even say that in nearly all science fiction published, the societies have not advanced beyond our own that much - or if they have, they are also demonstrated to be far behind us in other ways. Science fiction is a lot of things, but certainly there is no requirement for it to show a more advanced society than ours.


No. The key part of SF is the "What if...?" question. A Science Fiction story should posit a difference about the setting from our own world and this difference should have consequences. Alternate history stories like "The Man in the High Castle" are Science Fiction. "What if the Nazis won?".

Likewise the key part of Romance genre fiction is the Happy Ending. It doesn't matter whether they sleep together (a lot of Romance aimed at older and Christian readers doesn't have any sex at all), or get married, but there must be a Happy Ending.


Official picture of the landing:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVZ0NPoU0AAMWk6.jpg


Here they are in full resolution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacex/with/25254688767/


Wow, just wow! And huge congrats to SpaceX!


I am pretty sure at some point in history, launching two rockets at the same moment must have been a big achievement. And now you have two rockets (in some sense boosters are rockets) landing back at the same time.


I own this tshirt - which commemorates the first time we had two humans in orbit at the same time in different spacecraft: https://shop.sovietvisuals.com/products/vostok-1962-shirt-aa


Now that two boosters landing shot should be put on T-Shirts :D


Shut up and take my money! (I'll have two in black, size L, thanks...)


A link to the official YT... much better: https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=37m17s


I've not smiled so hard in quite a while :)


Is it just me, or are those both the same landing pad but with different cameras?


they sure looked like the same landing pad to me ... and the videos of 'each booster' all the way down seemed to be from the same booster to me.


Yep I believe on the live feed they showed the same booster camera twice. You can tell when they land and you see the landing pad coming up. Maybe this was a mistake, or maybe one of the boosters wasn't returning video and someone improvised? Its a bit weird.


Update: SpaceX posted a new video with the correct feed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCc16uozHVE


yeah, I thought so too ... even when she said they were 2 different video feeds. It was still an amazing launch and dual landing !!


The floating Tesla was pretty cool too...



Magic...how could it be so steady!


It feels like the human race is starting to master space travel. It's probably just an illusion, but I feel like we're entering a new era.


These are only baby steps at the beginning of the adventure.


But. We are making them!

I've almost lost hope around the end of the Space Shuttle program. I thought it will be only satellites, ISS and occasional science probe launches. SpaceX single-handedly restored my faith in the future of space activities again, and with other player on the scene, we now have realistic hope of seeing an actual industry in space within our lifetimes.


I didn't think I'd say it, but after reading @Pinboard's history of a space shuttle, I'm glad we're moving past politicized too big to fail projects. http://idlewords.com/2005/08/a_rocket_to_nowhere.htm


Which is amusing, because @Pinboard absolutely cannot stand SpaceX and mocks them constantly.


And the amazing thing is, even if SpaceX should fail, an entire industry has started to happen.

Arianespace has spent years developing new rocket engines specifically for reusability, and has started building prototype rockets.

Bezos’ company has mastered landing, and is directly building their mars rocket.

In 5 years we’ll likely see at least 3 major companies up there with SpaceX, and true competition in space.


Yes!

Moreover, there's lots of companies in every vertical needed for bootstrapping the industry - ground services, satellites, in-space manufacturing, asteroid prospecting & mining... all in the early stage, all betting on cheaper access to space than it was just few years ago. We're in a critical moment where things suddenly start adding up and - I hope - will form something great!


And Linkspace in China are making good progress with their scale prototype too (they just posted the first untethered hop video to their twitter).

It rather looks as if the tail-landing reusable booster stage is a "steam engine" type of eureka form factor, and everyone's going to be doing it. Yay!


Falcon Heavy is 1/10th the cost of other heavy lift launchers, and able to launch 10x (or more) often, with a higher payload. This is no baby step.


Yes, that's important.

Wonder what success of FH would do to works on BFR? If BFR would be as successful as Musk writes, would SpaceX make two rockets - or optimization will lead to just one?


FH success mostly helps BFR in regards to operating a ton of engines simultaneously (27 for Heavy, 31 for BFR) and in operating heavy lift capacity rockets in general.

BFR/BFS will come online as a self-competitive offering from SpaceX initially and both lines will be out in the market together (BFR vs. F9/FH). If and when BFR attains sufficient maturity, reliability, and market trust then the Falcon line of rockets will be phased out. BFR will have much greater capabilities (higher payloads, etc.) but will be substantially cheaper because it'll be 100% reusable and the reusability longevity for its parts will be much higher than for F9/FH, so there won't really be much reason to keep Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy around.


> FH success mostly helps BFR in regards to operating a ton of engines simultaneously (27 for Heavy, 31 for BFR)

However, the FH uses RP-1-O2 Merlin engines, whereas the BFR will use Methane-O2 Raptor engines, so they might not learn too much.

Edit: RP-1 fuel.


If BFR is as successful as Musk hopes (_especially_ around the reusability aspect), I think BFR would replace the F9 and Falcon Heavy as a lift vehicle.

If BFR is actually fully reusable it would be cheaper to launch than the F9 (due to the non-reused second stage).


Musk has actually said that he expects BFR to be cheaper to fly than their original Falcon 1 ... meaning prices in the $5-10M range, as opposed to $60+M for F9.


I think that was referring to cost per kg to orbit, not cost per flight.


Yes, but seemingy pioneered by ONE MAN -- so we need to throw the masses at this problem.


Space rockets are 1960s technology, so I think we entered that era 50 years ago.


The goal back then was to make things possible. Right now, especially with SpaceX shaking the competition up a bit, the process is making things cheaper, which enables space access for uses that have been cost-prohibitive in the past. However, I guess cubesats and tiny launchers are just as much a part of that development as SpaceX' work on reusability.

And the landing shots are just damn cool.


Ok, so Musk is basically doing the job of the Chinese companies of the past: producing cheaper copy of other people's inventions.

And yet, some call him "visionary" or "genius" :)


Quantity has a quality all of its own. And quantity is only achieved through this sort of further optimisation.

It is much too easy to disparage an optimisation as unimportant compared to some hypothetical "original" idea of which it is a refinement, and we should not do this, especially to try to claim credit for people we know at the cost of those far away we've never heard of.

The "original" inventions behind recorded music, the telephone, the incandescent light bulb, and numerous other obvious examples are poor shadows of the commercially successful item that means we know them today. We honour many of the people who refined these items as "geniuses" today, often pretending to ourselves that they invented them rather than merely refining the work of others, this does everybody involved a disservice, and it disparages the real contribution of people (in China and elsewhere) optimising today's inventions. The flat panel display you're almost certainly reading this on is the product of _millions_ of such optimisations.


Very good points; I'm in general though space skeptic in the following sense. Human race as a whole always seeks more, bigger, further, faster as solution its problems. I don't think space is the solution to our earthly problems.

Maybe 1000 years from now, people look at us and say god damn it. I wish they had stayed there and learned how to live in earth well. We are now speared all over the place and we all hate hate each other; and just right now I hear Martian went ahead and annexed Venus and they also seem to be interfering in Andromeda elections.


He isn't basically doing what you're describing at all in fact. :)

The launches are cheaper because of the breakthrough in being able to reuse the rockets by landing them.

That's the exact opposite of copying.


Inventing new things so we can do the old things cheaper in an equally safe or safer way. Not basically what the Chinese do.


So, like Ford and his Model T?


Wouldn't landing rockets vertically show that we have mastered in-atmosphere conditions rather than space?

I'm not trying to be negative, just trying to understand how you came to the conclusion you did.


Most of our space travel challenges are caused by the size restrictions and cost associated with putting spacecraft into space. Currently spaceflight is still very much an aerospace (literally translated as airspace) problem.

In a theoretical world where we could just beam anything into earth orbit, unmanned interplanetary spaceflight would likely be an expensive hobby instead of something only governments attempt.


From '02 - '06 Musk dumped 100MM of his own cash into this, with uncertain outcome. Is it fair to say SpaceX was at least partially an expensive hobby, at some point?


If by "hobby" you mean "not making you money", then yes - in the same sense as just about like every startup in existence.

If by "hobby" you mean doing something for fun or personal growth, with only vague - if any - expectations of future usefulness, then no. SpaceX was aimed at getting us to Mars from the day 1; it's their entire raison d'être. Musk bootstrapped it with his own cash because he also set this goal - getting humanity to Mars.

If by "hobby" you mean doing something meaningful instead of just making moar money - then sure.


I don't know if this is really like every other startup. The amount of money involved and ambitions are far beyond the average startup.


From '02-'06 (or even '02-'017) did Musk send anything to another planet/leave Earth orbit? No.

Maybe you could argue the Falcon 1 was an expensive hobby, but interplanetary spaceflight is certainly not.


That was absolutely insane.

When I saw that, all I could think about was seeing hundreds of those and that scene being as mundane as a plane landing.


Open a chapter about "History of the 21st century" and this image will be there.


It was almost a brain stack-overflow for me. I made a weird, bleating laugh noise and tried to open my eyes wider than design spec. A sincerely surprising and amazing sight.


I looked around my office expecting that someone else was watching and as stunned as I was. No one else was watching :(


I know right, it's like the Curiosity landing all over again - so impressive, no one seemed to care :D


Those first images were incredible.


For some time both streams looked like they were the same. That synchronization!


They were the same. Don't know if they did this intentionally. I actually watched them for two minutes for that, and was 99% sure they're the same image, just translated a bit. The final confirmation came near the end, when the other booster entered the view, and you could see for sure, both rectangles streamed from the same camera.


It seems they fixed it. Here is the corrected version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCc16uozHVE

The live (uncorrected) version for comparison: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8wxV-lUsZg


I thought it was interesting that they specifically said the two panels represent the two boosters. I don't think they ever directly claimed each video was from a different booster.


Ah interesting. I don't think that's what they meant. I think they did think it was 2 different views.

https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=37m10s "even though those look very similar those ... are representative of different boosters"


I think they were themselves a bit surprised they were so similar, and weren't yet sure whether they were from different boosters or not, so they kept it vague.



The landing pads were different in the preview, so it indeed looked like it was the same image. Also, no 3D/misalignment effect from cross-eyeing them.


They certainly looked very similar (as they would from that height) but the thruster firings were not at all synchronised (I thought the same thing, until I saw that).


Here's proof they were the same- coming in to the same pad

https://imgur.com/a/u6sLs


They were not the same video feed.


They said in the broadcast they weren't but when it got close to the ground you could tell they were the same feed.

https://i.imgur.com/WXQEsKo.png

https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=37m49s


You can see the flame from the other booster.


Agree, same view of the flame of the same booster, indicating it's the same camera on the same booster... the glare shows up in both feeds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbSwFU6tY1c&feature=youtu.be...

If it were two different cameras we'd see two different landing pads. In the end of the video both feeds are coming down on the northern pad.

Edit: Here's the sat image from december with notes added https://imgur.com/a/u6sLs


They were two feeds from two cameras on the same rocket.

Since they are on the same rocket, you see them land on the same pad.

The rockets have redundant cameras, and through a probable misconfiguration we saw two feeds from two cameras on one rocket.


Those are not at all the same. You can see different parts of the ground. You can even tell that the source of the right stream was really to the left of the other one.


You'd think it would be easy to tell. I mean, you see the other booster ignite in both views, which means they have to be looking toward each other - in opposite directions. I don't know about you, but when two people look in opposite directions they tend not to see the same things.


They are the same video streams: https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=2268

Wasn't intentional, but oops.


at least at the landing they were, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbSwFU6tY1c&feature=youtu.be...


Pretty sure they were, as at the very end they both dial into the same landing pad.


They were the same. In the end you could see both of them heading for the same landing pad before they cut to fullscreen.


Why would these two images not be the same then? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbSwFU6tY1c&t=37m48s


Here's proof they were the same- coming in to the same pad

https://imgur.com/a/u6sLs


Translation offset.


They were not, I've watched closely and right before slowdown burn, attitude engines were firing a little late on one. It was only parts of a second, but clearly visible if you watched closely.


There was a mistake as in the feed they claimed they were separate, but in fact it was a duplicate of the same stream: https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=2268


Two cameras on one rocket, not the same stream twice from one camera.



I'm not seeing that. Do you have a link / pic?

https://i.imgur.com/WXQEsKo.png

https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=37m49s


It's unbelievable how precise the landings were: https://imgur.com/570TgAI



In the past few years we've gone from not even having a reusable launch vehicle to synchronized spaceships as performance art. (Oh and sending a car to Mars for fun.) What a time to be alive.


Yea, unreal. One of those rare moments when you're watching history unfold and completely aware of it.


Yes, that was pretty SF.

So, whats to stop them attaching an additional two (or more) to the existing rocket now that they have the basic synchronization worked out.


I guess they'd have to make the center rocket stronger to handle the added force of more rockets. Also, there may be diminishing returns when it comes to adding more boosters, and at some point it makes more sense to just redesign the rocket to be bigger (hence the BFR, which is the planned successor to Falcon Heavy).


Musk has said there is no reason they can't attach two more in the future.


That would be simply Kerbal.


Honestly it’s amazing how much better I understand this and other space stuff I’ve seen in the last year or two (like shows about Apollo, etc) since playing KSP.

No better way to learn basic orbital dynamics out there.


SpaceX should create their own space simulator or buy KSP, let players test and sort out various problems - crowdsourcing! :D


They don't need to buy anything. Related visuals (models and textures of KSP rockets) were already made and are maintained by the community, and all they need to do to crowdsource a test is to post it on Reddit. I guarantee you, hundreds of players will try to one-up one another on that one.

(Hell, I might even be among them.)


The fairing diameter would not be much larger than it is right now and that is a limit all by itself. A bigger rocket would support a larger fairing.


Seriously, I was in awe, it looked so futuristic. The future is here now. It's crazy what we humans are capable of in this year 2018.


I remember watching the artists impression animation video of how the the falcon heavy launch and landing would proceed, and when it showed both boosters landing at the same time I thought "heh, I wonder if they'll be able to pull that off in real life", and they did! Almost identical with the animation.


So true. Was that just a happy coincidence? I wonder how much work went into coordinating there landings.


Well they do separate at the same time and fly the same path back to earth so not a coincidence (though it's really satisfying)


gravity i guess


Almost brought me to tears! What a historical event! Wish I could've been there.


Even when we know that each one is fully automatic, and really (after staging) the booster return is just two instances of $booster, it's still absolutely magnificent.


Watching that made me realize I now have to re-evaluate many "bad sci-fi scenes" into "pretty accurate predictions of the future"!


My skin went in chicken skin mode automatically :)


They should name the landing "Double Eagle" or "Double Falcons".


Like a ballet.


Love that SpaceX’s own team shoots, announces, and switches the live production in-house rather than hiring a production company.

Also love seeing machinists side by side cheering with software engineers, standing by a mission control which is placed feet from where engines are assembled on the shop floor.

Open company culture well-executed.

Congratulations to all there!


It’s like that at BlueOrigin too. I visited twice (they gave me a job offer but withdrew it after I got badmouthed by a reference, gah). They have an avionics software engineering room right next to where they assemble the engines.


> they gave me a job offer but withdrew it after I got badmouthed by a reference

Why in the world would someone agree to be a reference and then bad mouth afterwards? Some folks...


If you know that the person asking you to be a reference is a bad engineer, and they're applying for someplace that builds critical systems - medical devices, say, or rockets - maybe you want to warn their potential employer that they're hiring a liability.


It's pretty presumptuous to make that assertion unless you knew the person for many years in different work environments.

I've seen lots of engineers become 'bad engineers' because of a myriad of environmental issues (bad management, bad peers, bad office, bad engineering decisions foisted upon them).

If you didn't see them perform well, don't provide a reference. If they are that bad, nobody in a reputable position will provide them a reference and the hiring company will see that.

It's not your responsibility to be an arbiter of some ex-coworker's life.


The only time I was a reference for someone, I was asked questions, and I answered them. I wouldn't know if they were spun positively or negatively. Is that how senior engineers provide reference, or is it more free form?


If someone calls me up and asks about Coworker X, and I refuse to provide a reference, isn't that likely to be viewed the same as a negative reference?


You refuse the coworker when the coworker asks if he/she can use you as a reference.


Yes but then you don’t get to crush someone’s dreams in an act of petty revenge. /s


You have to be careful with who you use as references these days. But honestly I'm not sure why they are still a thing anymore. Most professionals give stock responses, ie yes/no that the person worked there, and are forbidden by HR to give much useful information.


Such are the better-safe-than-sorry business policies of a litigious society.


Someone asked me to be a reference, I said no, they still put me as a reference anyway. I was not happy. Didn't badmouth him, but I also didn't say anything good about him. And when asked if I would hire him where I worked, I said no.


I asked permission from all of my references beforehand. Two were coworkers and the last was my previous team lead. I knew all of them had positive opinions regarding my work.

The problem was BlueOrigin’s reference-questionnaire. One of my references shared it with me afterwards. It’s a stock template - except pretty much all the questions seem contrived to find reasons not to hire someone. One of the questions was along the lines of “On a percentage scale where would you rank [candidate] relative to other people you have worked with?” (Which is s problem if you’re a relatively poor player in a high-performing team). Another was (almost verbatim) “Please provide a reason why we should not hire [candidate]?” (As opposed to “Can you think of a reason?” - I was surprised that the question straight-up assumes there is a reason).

BlueOrigin’s cooldown period is 2 years which is long for Seattle, when you consider SpaceX’s is 1 year and Google can be 6 months. My recruiter at BlueOrigin did tell me to re-apply though and gave me his card. I’ll think about it.

In the interests of honesty - I will say that I am not a model employee and I do have productivity problems - I’m sure that my references gave honest answers with good intentions and I accept that I’m probably not BlueOrigin-material: I have punctuality problems, I’ll spend half a day procrastinating then working late until 1am to make up for it, and I stilll often go on code refactoring crusades without telling anyone. Sometimes I think I wouldn’t even hire me anyway :)


I interviewed at BlueOrigin ~3.5 years ago, my impression was they're very old fashioned and secretive. Not necessarily a bad thing for such critical systems (though I think SpaceX has the better model/culture even if I know it's not for me), but I was applying for a backend role using Spring and hoping to get in on a program they had at the time where you could move around the various departments like avionics and such to get an idea of the whole 'stack' as well as learn more about what they did to get high quality assurance...

They were the only company to ask in the interview about my college GPA (which wasn't good, I still don't remember the exact number and didn't at the time but it's below 3) and I didn't get an offer. But I'm kind of like you, naturally a slacker but in my jobs I've always managed to put out work that satisfies everyone it needs to (including myself, sometimes, but other times...) and meet deadlines, so 'tsall good.

Your last bit reminds me of a quote "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member". It's hard to accept praise or feel belonging knowing the full depths of one's faults which are only improving slowly. ;)


I interviewed for the superlative job title “Spaceflight systems avionics software engineer”. Contrary to your experience, I found the process to be very casual. They told me not to bring my resume, but to put together a PowerPoint presentation about my life. For one of my interviews the interviewing engineer didn’t even show up and his boss came in later and said (paraphrased): “you made it this far so I guess you’re good enough” and had me go see the next interviewer. It did take them 2 weeks to get back to me with the “We want to make you an offer”-call.

My biggest surprise was that they were (and I assume still are) running Windows 7 on their dev boxes.


Imo that doesn't just sound casual, it sounds somewhat dysfunctional.


> but to put together a PowerPoint presentation about my life

Wait what? This seems like a big red flag to me.


To be fair, they already had my resume from earlier-on in the application process.


They sound like a mess. When an interviewer doesn't even show, that's not a good sign. When this boss says, "I guess you're good enough", that's a worse sign. This is rocket science, after all.


... My resume is terrible, but I'd rather bring it than a PowerPoint presentation about my life even if it was a million times worse.


I was once asked to list the number of days taken off work by the person I was referring (including sick days).

I assume it was a sneaky way of finding out whether the person suffered from any recurring health condition, and I refused to answer it.


> “On a percentage scale where would you rank [candidate] relative to other people you have worked with?”

That does look like a terrible question. Without context, team organisation, and work history for the reference person, the answer is meaningless... Not even if you're poor performing. If that person just happens to work with amazing people, of course you'd be rated lower.


> Another was (almost verbatim) “Please provide a reason why we should not hire [candidate]?” (As opposed to “Can you think of a reason?” - I was surprised that the question straight-up assumes there is a reason).

Think outside the box. Reply with, "No."


>Sometimes I think I wouldn’t even hire myself :)

Don't let other's words shape who you are.


In the right context, what you listed are your strengths.


That's definitely badmouthing someone :)


Most of the time when someone asks to use me as a reference I never get a call. Last time, my colleague's prospective employer kept me on the phone for about 30 minutes and had an extensive list of questions about his work habits and performance.

Depending on what this company wanted, it's entirely possible that something I said during that call would've influenced the company's hiring decision, though I was obviously trying to portray my friend in the best light possible given the context.

I don't know if BlueOrigin has a similar process or not, but it's not necessarily that the reference was intentionally giving a negative report; they could've just picked up on something the reference said and felt it didn't mesh with the position.

Spoiler: my friend got the job, supposedly in part due to my good reference. Phew! I would've hated to be the one that got blamed for "bad mouthing" him.


Some places do "blind" reference checks, where they contact people you've worked with themselves (through Linkedin or similar.) The idea being that the references you provide are likely to be more positive than representative.


That seems open to abuse.


Maybe they were put down as a reference without their prior approval?


Jealousy, anger, etc. Sadly, it’s the nature of people. Can’t assume from the context but I know some people who might do that.


maybe he just put him down as a reference and never asked or gave him a heads up in advance? Or rather why would anyone put down a reference that isn't going to put in a good word for them?


The 4 presenters were also engineers. And by doing it that way, they got to show that some engineers are black women. Let's hope this inspires a generation of black girls to seek a career in space or tech.


This is why I love the live streams hosted by John Innsprucker. He doesn't look like a TV star, he looks like an engineer, a rocket scientist. He looks real.

The other hosts are great, but if you told me they were hired actors or PR people I'd believe it.


Seeing how a harmless comment on a man 'look[ing] like an engineer, a rocket scientist´ leads to yet another long thread about 'bias' and similar concept is worrisome. The more speech is stifled, the more people have to weigh every word, every expression before they dare to utter it for fear of being accused of violating something, somewhere, making someone feel 'harmed', the less open and welcoming society will be. Less open to new ideas and new concept, less welcoming to those who come forth with those ideas and thoughts.

It also does not mean people will actually change in such a way that they won't think someone 'looks like an engineer' or 'looks live a TV star', they just won't say it out loud. Instead they'll say it among friends they know they can trust, more vehemently than they'd have done if this type of speech were not taboo.

I can only hope that the hyper-sensitivity currently found in the public sphere will pass when enough people from enough parts of society speak up against it. If it doesn't we're in for troubled times as it touches something which lies at the core of the enlightened western society, freedom of speech and expression. Those are precious things, too precious to squander.


It's not harmless though, even if no harm was intended. My girlfriend is an engineer like me yet her experience in tech has been radically different than mine. She is constantly subjected to similar kinds of comments that imply that people like her don't fit in or belong, and it takes a real toll. It's a part of the reason why there's so few women in tech.

I would never want to censor anyone. I'm just asking people to think about what kind of effect their words can have. I have the right to say that just as much as someone has the right to comment on who does or does not look like a rocket scientist.


> It's a part of the reason why there's so few women in tech.

I find this rhetoric overblown, as it doesn't match the results of serious inquiry into the topic.

> Cross-cultural consistency of sex differences for four traits: extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and male-versus-female-typical occupational preferences. Men and women differed on all four traits. 200,000 participants from 53 nations.

> Only sex predicted means for all four traits, and sex predicted trait means much more strongly than did gender equality or the interaction between sex and gender equality. These results suggest that biological factors may contribute to sex differences in personality and that culture plays a negligible to small role in moderating sex differences in personality.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-008-9380-7


It's a big leap to go from a few supposed differences in personality characteristics to concluding that tech should therefore be utterly dominated by men in a >4:1 ratio. Even assuming that there are real personality differences between men and women, and that these differences have an impact on the propensity to get into technical jobs, you'd still have to establish the magnitude of these effects. What if the "natural" effect is that the ratio of men to women in tech should be 1.3:1, and that the vast majority of the actual discrepancy is in fact caused by bias and discrimination?

Also, you're ignoring cultural factors. See this article: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/stubborn-obstacle... There are and have been many societies in which women were much better represented in technical fields than they are today in the US. How do you explain that if it's all supposedly just innate biological differences? In the USSR a majority of engineers were women, and the reason for it was actually very logical: Men are stronger and are more suitable for physical labor, and women are thus more suitable for knowledge jobs.

And there are many character traits that men have on average more than women that make them worse engineers. A higher prevalence of mental illness, for starters. More of a tendency to be overly verbally combative and thus detrimental to team functioning. Less ability to focus on "boring" tasks and study, which is why you now see girls dominating boys in school performance at all levels, kindergarten through university.

Who is more "suited" to be an engineer is an entirely different discussion that is not even close to being resolved. What I was talking about was the very real fact that most women in tech experience gender-related discrimination that makes them feel unwelcome. That assuredly has a real effect and is on less shaky grounds than arguing from biological factors.

But I don't want to get drawn into this discussion because I really do have lots of work to get done today. Just refer to everything that was said in the wake of Damore -- I'm sure we wouldn't cover any new ground that wasn't already covered then.


This is an interesting study that addresses your distribution points directly.

> 3233 young and old adolescents representative of the population

> For the young adolescents, the observed difference in Mechanical Reasoning is equivalent to 10 IQ points, and this difference increases to 13 IQ points for the old adolescents.

> Beyond the observed small average sex difference in the general factor of intelligence (g), the boys' large advantage in mechanical reasoning (MR) must be strongly underscored. This sex difference is not explained by g, and therefore the probable contributions of what is measured by relevant subtests such as abstract reasoning (AR) or spatial relations (SR) can be excluded. The MR difference is still present with almost the same magnitude when the general factor of intelligence (g) is removed. It is also noteworthy that, for the old adolescents, more than half of the variance associated with numerical reasoning (NR) cannot be attributed to g. Thus, we suggest that mental processes captured by these psychological measures are behind the documented male advantage in STEM disciplines

http://atavisionary.com/study-index/intelligence-psychometri...

An observed standard deviation of sex difference in measures of mechanical reasoning at the average of the distribution.


If you think unconsciously treating people of a different social group differently is harmful, then you need to take a good hard look at your life and understand that there really isn't much strife in your life. I see where you're coming from, but it's such a minor behavioral difference that acting like it's a big deal really seems like a gross exaggeration to me.


Not every decision on how you wish to act is life or death.


I doubt anyone here is saying people aren’t free to speak. It’s just that speech has consequences.

You yourself are being quite hypersensitive about someone having the temerity to raise the issue of harmful stereotyping, and you’re appearing to attempt to stifle the speech of those who would do that. The irony meter is pegged off the scale. I believe the comment that kicked off the long discussion was pretty measured and backed up by experience. So perhaps it’s OK to chill a bit and just let the views be aired in a relaxed way, without adding drama to the non-drama.


I did not "have the temerity to..." nor do I "attempt to stifle..." anything. By all means you're free to make these claims as long as it is clear that we both realise they're not based on truth. In fact you are as free to make them as the original commenter who launched this thread was to say that the person "looked like an engineer". That is the whole point of freedom of expression, after all. Just don't act as if anyone who does not agree with your standpoints violates a moral high ground and please drop the expletives, it makes for a much more civilised discussion climate.


expletives?


> hyper-sensitivity currently found in the public sphere

That's become the standard of public conversations in the past 10-15 years. Unfortunately, I don't think it is likely to change anytime soon, since there's more and more involvement from politicians as well to make "saying the wrong thing" in public something worth being sued for. I see this happen in many different countries that claim to be "democracies" even though they have free speech as part of their principles.


I wish I could upvote this 1000 times. It is painful to see how little respect for freedom of expression society in general has. While many of use were looking out for Government intrusion upon Free Speech it seems we ignored a much bigger threat.

Social Media enabled out rage mobs and a perpetual victim class has lead to more censorship than any government could ever hope for. If you are guilty of wrong think today you will be jobless, homeless, and a social outcast.

How far have we come from the days of "I disagree with you but I respect your right to say it" to "I disagree with you now I will boycott your employer, get you fired, get you kicked out of your home, and ensure all organizations/clubs/companies ban you from their events and platforms"

Sad days indeed


At the start of the video they introduced themselves as Lauren Lyons: Flight Reliability Engineer and Michael Hammersley: Materials Engineer. All rocket scientists it seems



I went to school with one of the other hosts. He's legitimately a genius, top marks and well-decorated in academia. Kind of weird to see the guy I used to hang out with livestreaming to 2.3mm people.


>I went to school with one of the other hosts. He's legitimately a genius, top marks and well-decorated in academia.

And he's beautiful...

Some people have all the luck.


Are you talking about Michael?


I first read that as 2.3 millimeter people... who busted out the shrink ray?


I did too. mm is millimeter. MM is million. It comes from the Roman numeral M, so it has to be capitalized.


People can recognize context though. You are not the Google calculator


> The other hosts are great, but if you told me they were hired actors or PR people I'd believe it.

Because they are young and good looking and good at public speaking?


Yes. Historically, young people with limited experience didn't end up being the focal point of companies in the media, so the chance that they were some PR workers was much higher than advanced material scientists.


You're showing your biases here. The other people on the livestream are also rocket scientists. They aren't PR people. They just happen to be younger, or women, or of color. So you might want to re-evaluate what you think a rocket scientist "looks like", because your notion is outdated.

Sorry to call you out like this, but these kinds of prejudices about who is the "correct" kind of person for tech jobs are harmful and discouraging to the people who don't fit the stereotypes, and helps contribute to keeping them out of the field.


On the other hand, there are indeed many scientists/engineers who look/act "nerdy" or don't have the suaveness of people we typically see on TV. I think what GP is saying is that typically companies will put forward people who are good-looking and charismatic for PR, so it's nice to see someone different and unpolished be center-stage in the public eye.


Why exactly is “good looking and charismatic” a bad thing? To be a good host you need to (should) be charismatic, that’s literally the job.


I don't think it's a bad thing. I think a lot of the differing opinions here stem from seeing the people on screen as primarily either engineering or PR people. So I think mabbo meant "nice to see an authentic engineering type thrown in with the PR people", whereas Yetanfou thought he said "Of the engineers on screen, that guy is the only one that looks like one". They're kind of standing up for the same principle though: inclusion of people in a role that goes counter to stereotypical outward characteristics.


It's not bad to be good looking and charismatic, but it's nice to see they didn't make it a requirement.


There's a balance. Sometimes I enjoy watching someone nerding out about a subject. Charisma means they'll sometimes start banter with the co-host rather than continue with things interesting to them. Or they'll try to "make" things entertaining and exciting.

I guess it depends if you're looking more for entertainment or information.


I disagree, even if you don't care about banter, a capable host will be able to drive conversation and get panelists/guests/interviewees to express themselves better (even if they are typically awkward in front of a camera). I see it all the time in professional esports streams.


It's not a bad thing, but requiring it arguably is.

Most companies would require it.


It is not a bad thing. It is just non representative.


nobody care


> They just happen to be younger, or women, or of color.

Maybe parent was referring to their mannerisms, rather than their appearance. It's not fair to jump to the assumption that parent was showing a bias against any of those variations in the human species.


To be pedantic, the poster did say "looks like" and:

- "looks like" is associated with physical appearance - possibly things like clothes, jewelry, gender, hair, skin color, face, etc. - "sounds like" is associated with their speech - tone, accent, choice of diction - "acts like" is associated with physical behavior + speech

But anyway, I think the point is that, we don't know what mabbo's intent was and 95% likely it was totally benign, but CydeWes is pointing out that saying things like that has a harmful effect by propagating certain stereotypes.

Pointing out someone's implicit biases is not necessarily a personal attack on them. Everyone has them so we should welcome when people point them out (unless done in an mean-spirited or aggressive fashion).

Personally, when I read mabbo's comment, I thought, "Yeah, so true, good point!", then I read the next comment and I thought, "Oh right, thanks for pointing that out to me".


We should also welcome pointing about the stupidity in assuming things always boil down to race/gender/sexual orientation.

It should be obvious that aesthetic stereotypes go far beyond race and gender. Here's 2 very stereotypically different white guys: http://ricerfiles.gizmore.org/images/20160629/28030-human-ha... and this: https://i1.adis.ws/i/Superdry_com/NS_MP_Hoodies_hb_right?qlt...

But to some people, they only think in race/gender/orientaion terms. We should fix that.


Thanks. This whole derailment from topic smells delisive, and tastes impracticable, and it's starting to sound like ostentaion. Old, white, pedantic ostentaion


[flagged]


Seems to me like you’re focusing on the word stupid which is actually fair in this context


It reminds me of when I interviewed at Google.

At the end of one of my onsite interviews, while showing me out the door, the interviewer turned to me with a big smile and said "you really look like you fit in around here". I almost burst out laughing.

I guarantee he had no malice but I just found it funny for one tall, white dude with glasses to say that to another tall, white dude with glasses. And he was right, I did blend in pretty well.

You might argue that perhaps he wasn't referring to my appearance but rather my uhhh.... hand gestures while talking, but at some point you have to call a spade a spade.

I left without saying anything just because I feel awkward sometimes, but in retrosepct, I should have said something. He was so good-natured, I'm sure he would have genuinely appreciated me pointing out that certain people might find his words harmful.


What's harmful about saying someone fits in? I use that as a filler statement after good interviews... if they performed well, they fit in. Does that offend people?


You might be eminently qualified to do the work but in reality no one works in isolation (unless you are Joe Hewitt [0]). So unless you can mind read, no one can say for sure if you will fit in with the existing culture to get the job done, a subtle aspect many people overlook.

A good example of a qualified hire quitting just after six months is Chris Lattner who quit because "... Tesla isn't a good fit for me after all." [1]. You are free to Google the personality clashes which made it difficult for him to continue at Tesla.

[0] https://medium.com/@joehewitt/entrepreneurship-or-lack-there... - original deleted but archived from Google's cache here: http://archive.is/1aDdk

[1] https://twitter.com/clattner_llvm/status/877341760812232704?...


That uncertainty is always a given... addressed in the first three words of "it looks like you'll fit in". I still don't see how that can be perceived as offensive or insulting.


It's called being "Googley".


> Pointing out someone's implicit biases is not necessarily a personal attack on them. Everyone has them so we should welcome when people point them out (unless done in an mean-spirited or aggressive fashion).

I wish I could upvote this 1000 times. We all have implicit biases, and they are often a product of society rather than personal failures. It is painful when you suddenly notice your own shortcomings. But the desired response isn't "omg I'm horrible", it's "I can try to fix this in myself, and think about how to fix it in the whole culture for future generations."


How about you just give the person the benefit of the doubt they weren't talking about race or gender unless they explicitly called it out?

That would work to.


No, it wouldn’t and hasn’t. The whole point is that this type of bias does lead to discrimination in the workplace. Our prior should be that discrimination is happening. This doesn’t mean we are horrible people ... more often that we simply have reflected on the background assumptions/heuristics that drive our behaviour.


So you're saying we should always examine everything people say and view it through the worst possible light? That sounds like a great way to piss people off and get them working against you.

I personally perfect the more charitable approach.


> "looks like" is associated with physical appearance

Yes in very strict sense, but many people use "looks like", "sounds like" and so on interchangeably. I say "your proposal sounds good" even though proposal was sent by email and I didn't mean it is pleasing to my ears, melodic and soothing - I mean its content is OK. So we should not overanalyze and imply meaning that the author may not have put there. "Looks like" may just mean "gives general impression, by appearance, behavior, speech patterns, actions, etc." not necessarily excluding non-visual inputs. Human speech is not always precise.

That said, I agree that we should not have biases like if somebody, say, looks good on TV (and here again I don't mean just pretty face or nice clothes but more overall competent communicative behavior) they must be TV actor or hired comm person and can't possibly be genuine engineer. It's true that many engineers are awkward and some are socially inept, but that shouldn't be required. One can be a good engineer and a good presenter and a good communicator.


> To be pedantic, the poster did say "looks like"

The phrase "looks like" is commonly used as short hand for "seems like", "feels like", "gives the impression of", etc. It would be the same as if someone said they "appeared to be" professional actors, that doesn't necessarily indicate that it's based on visual cues.

Seems like bad form to assign malice to someone based on a likely misinterpretation of their comments, then accuse them of racism and sexism.


I upvoted you, but I think it’s important to recognize that unconscious biases often manifest in exactly that way.

White men have made up the majority of the scientists and engineers we’ve been exposed to in the past, so we associate the mannerisms of white men with them. Women and POC haven’t, so we don’t associate traits common to them with the persona we expect of those professions.


Sure, new mannerisms serve to flag people as scientists and engineers. But again, you're implicitly both assuming, and accusing the parent of, bias (against women, minorities, and young folks). Not only that, but there isn't any defense after you involve the 'unconscious mind'.


For the record, I am not accusing the parent of bias. I'm simply pointing out that bias often manifests indirectly. The core problem with bias is that it fundamentally is about the unconscious mind, and is not generally based on ill will. That doesn't make it any less real, or any less damaging.

We all have biases. The important takeaway is that it isn't about blame or accusations, it's about highlighting when bias appears so that people become more aware of when and how their unconscious associations might be coloring their thinking.


Assuming that the "offender" was talking about race and gender is so ironically racist and sexist. Makes me chuckle.


How is it racist and sexist?


I think a good-faith reading of the parent commentary is that he was talking about the mannerisms and language and overall appearance of the person, not that he was white-skinned and a man. Immediately assuming he was saying he looks like an engineer because he isn't a women, or dark-skinned, is ironically a racist and sexist assumption.


I find it fascinating that SpaceX manages to pull off one of the most amazing things in the history of humanity and the top comment thread here on HN somehow manages to get bogged down in discussing race, gender and sexual orientation as it relates to the "hosts" of the live stream. These are important issues to be sure, but the self appointed thought police of generation "I'm offended" who feel the need to instruct everyone on how they should behave, write and think are beginning to get on my tits. I clicked on here hoping to feel and read everyone buzzing about this great news and instead I just switch off from HN and think "meh". Disclaimer: I'm a privileged middle aged white guy.

Edit: grammar and rephrasing to allow for the inclusion of the phrase "beginning to get on my tits".


>SpaceX manages to pull off one of the most amazing things in the history of humanity

Whoa there. They launched a rocket, one not even heavier than the 50 year old Saturn V. This is not the most amazing thing that ever happened ever.


No, recognizing the existence of sexist and racist stereotypes is not the same as being sexist and racist. Even if one incorrectly assumes that someone holds such stereotypical views.


If you're incorrect enough at spotting stereotypes, and then flatly assert their use, well...

There's now a stereotype being applied, and you're the one that did it.

Even if you're arguing against it, that's not a positive thing to do.


In not saying it's a positive thing, just that it's not sexist or racist.


Even mannerisms may be a bias we should try to fight.


Point is, it's not fair to assume that _any_ bias was being shown. I don't think anyone believes that "PR person" or "paid actor" is a bad profession.

You're assuming the parent was biased against something, and I'm suggesting that the parent discovered some mannerisms were not as indicative of a specific profession as they thought, and said so.


It's not an assumption, it's in the parent comment itself:

> The other hosts are great, but if you told me they were hired actors or PR people I'd believe it.


assumption of _bias_.


What other purpose does it serve than to emphasize what the parent thinks a "real" engineer behaves like?


You made an incorrect assumption based on bad logic. The parent didn't say they didn't look like rocket scientists, he/she said that they could pass as PR people, regardless of whether or not they were rocket scientists.

Let me phrase it a different and rude (sorry) way. "You know they're including real engineers because there is at least one person in the spotlight that would never be employed by a PR firm."


> The parent didn't say they didn't look like rocket scientists

That's exactly what the parent said. Let me quote it for you:

> He doesn't look like a TV star, he looks like an engineer, a rocket scientist. He looks real.

The implication being that the other hosts looked fake, not like engineers or rocket scientists but like PR people.

I think you're being overly charitable here, but even if you're right and your interpretation is correct, the original phrasing lends itself towards a worse interpretation that many other people (including me) picked up on. Precise communication is especially important around areas that are problematic for tech like diversity in our workforce, so if he had meant to compliment the rocket scientists on their poise he should have said exactly that, not implying that they don't look real (unlike the older white guy who fits all the stereotypes of being a rocket scientist).


>The implication being that the other hosts looked fake, not like engineers or rocket scientists but like PR people.

You made the same incorrect jump! The implication is only that he's definitely not in PR so he's probably a real engineer. The others have the looks to be in PR (which is why he "wouldn't be surprised" if someone said they were). Yet he never said they couldn't also be real engineers.

They are just attractive enough that it's ambiguous as to whether or not they are real engineers or just PR folks.


Let's think about conditional probabilities here. Let's take the example of a man at a regular day of work. Suppose that 50% of the men in sales wear suits, but only 5% of the men in engineering wear suits, at work. And suppose that 20% of the male engineers wear jeans and a t-shirt, but 0% of salesmen do that. Then, taking a random male employee from either sales or engineering, we can say: (1) if he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt, that is a maximally strong signal that he's an engineer, while (2) if he's wearing a suit, that is a moderate-strength signal that he's in sales.

If there are outfits where you can say "X% of engineers wear this, while Y% < X% of salespeople wear this", then someone wearing that outfit provides evidence (weak or strong depending on the values of X and Y) that they are an engineer. Contrariwise, if there's some other outfit where X% of engineers < Y% of salespeople wear it, then that's evidence for the wearer being in sales. Furthermore, since all the X's and Y's must add to 100% when taken across all outfits, if there are any outfits where X < Y, then there must be some outfits where X > Y.

If there is some pattern of visually obvious signs that, say, 30% of engineers show and only 1% of non-engineers show, then it follows that 99% of non-engineers and 70% of engineers show every other pattern of signs. Which means that, if you see someone showing some other pattern of signs, and you don't know anything except that it's not the abovementioned pattern that 30% of engineers show, then your knowledge logically implies that it's somewhat less likely (1.4 to 1 odds ratio) that they're an engineer. (Maybe someone else knows more than you, and could say that this pattern is actually also a strong signal of "engineer"—let's say it's even stronger, that 2% of engineers are like that and 0% of everyone else is. But the above statement about your knowledge remains accurate. Also, that would imply that the set of all other patterns is expressed by 68% of engineers and 99% of non-engineers, making the average of all other patterns a slightly stronger signal of "non-engineer".) That is a relatively diffuse signal, of course. If someone's very good at recognizing engineer-specific traits, and can see them in, say, 80% of engineers, then the average signal value of "all not-obviously-engineer traits" would be a strong "not an engineer". Or if someone can only recognize "definitely an engineer" traits in 2% of engineers, then that's only a 1.02 to 1 odds ratio for someone who doesn't show those "definitely an engineer" traits.

In conclusion, statements of the form "I can look at some people and conclude that they're very likely an engineer" logically imply statements of the form "There are other people I could look at and be less confident they're an engineer". The quantities—how much less confident—depend on the details.

I'm curious: (1) Do you think all statements of the form "Engineers are more likely to exhibit visible trait X" are worth calling out? (2) If 'mabbo had stated his criteria, and they were, for example (I haven't seen the videos), "Innsprucker is wearing very informal clothes while the others are obviously dressed up", would you think that was worth calling out? (3) If the answer to 2 is no, then would it have been better to ask 'mabbo, "I'm curious what makes Innsprucker so obviously a rocket scientist", before assuming it was absence of the traits "younger, or women, or of color" and calling him out for it?


You're being overtly crass to call someone out for being racist and bigoted when another reading of the same comment could imply that the other host were so professional, well spoken, and polished that he wouldn't be surprised if that was their profession.

Isn't it rather biased of you to assume that being an engineer is somehow superior to being a professional actor, spokesperson, or hostess?


This. Precisely.


I felt the same way as the commenter above and it had nothing to do with their looks or color. Rather, it had everything to do with their speech patterns and tone. They sounded like they had been coached and were reading off cue cards. As I watched them, I joked with a friend that these people had been sent by the PR department to act as engineers and read a script. They didn't sound genuine in the least. If they are indeed engineers, they were trying way too hard. They should relax and try to sound more natural and less like a vocal artist reading a commercial script.


They seemed fine to me.

They served their purpose admirably, engineers or not.

In fact, engineers could stand to learn quite a bit from the rest of the people on the planet.


Oh, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I didn't mean to say that those other people aren't also engineers and rocket scientist.

Some companies might have only let the people who look like them host the live stream. SpaceX put out their top people- young, old, white, black, male, female- and let them all be the faces of the launch. I don't know that my own company would be so brave.


GP's statement:

> The other hosts are great, but if you told me they were hired actors or PR people I'd believe it.

Is 100% consistent with your statement and even implies it, since GP clearly knows that:

> They aren't PR people.

If anything, GP was insulting Innsprucker by saying he is lacking the suaveness or good-looks to be hired in PR, while the others have it all.

I think this is a good opportunity to examine where (implicit) malice was attributed but was undeserved.


sigh.

yet another thread completely derailed by a meaningless and frankly irrelevant comment to the topic at hand, such as the one you made here.

perhaps if we were not hypersensitive to every little detail, engineering would be a more welcoming discipline.

I came here to read comments about this amazing achievement . so how about we focus on discussing the actual topic for a change ?

I hope I'm not the only one feeling frustrated by this trend..


You are not the only one. Funny that instead of looking forward to space exploration a bunch of people prefer mundane debates. I thought that HN was better than reddit but this thread is an awkward exception it seems.


There's a [-] sign next to every comment. You could have easily just collapsed the thread under that comment if you wanted to avoid that part of the discussion. Instead, here you are contributing to the very noise you're complaining about.


Not to belittle your point, but in defense of the original comment, I think he looked "more like an engineer" because he looked like he'd been up for 48+ hours powered nothing by coffee


What happened to the concept of the most charitable interpretation?


It has met the Internet.


Good comment. All the people trying to derail the conversation by claiming you are derailing the conversation could have just upvoted you instead or commented "good point" and then upvoted that.


I really did not want to derail the conversation into this topic anyway. I'm a lifelong space fan and I've been looking forward to this launch for years. I watched it live today with dozens of my coworkers.

But I went to read the comments here and the second highest comment wasn't about the magnitude of the achievement or anything like that, it was just a throw-away comment about the way the livestream's hosts look. I felt obligated to respond because the look of it was so bad. This whole thread would never have happened had that comment not been sitting so prominently on the page sans rebuttal. I'm not the one who started the conversation about looks, in other words.


I really appreciate that you called me out for it. I wasn't being clear in my meaning, and I totally see your point. Too late for an edit now unfortunately.


It's a bit aggressive to assume OP's metrics of what "looks like" a rocket science includes being an old white male.

Actually, you're the one who introduced these features as being relevant, and thus the only one perpetuating these features as being stereotypes right now is you.


totally agree. we shouldn't be judging people based on appearances. Not all rocket scientists or engineers or pole dancers look the same.


I believe the person was comparing the engineer to his model of a TV star rather than comparing his model of the engineer to the other 'tv looking ones'. "Sorry to call you out on this" but this person is clearly giving an opinion and this type of reactionary statement reads as defensive due to you expressing some type of negativity due to the structure of this persons opinion. You might want to re-evaluate what your notion of an opinion is, it might be "outdated". Accusing this person of prejudice due to an opinion is using a hammer where a screwdriver is needed...(words are tools).

Lastly, suppressing the opinion of an individual with the power of appealing to various underrepresented group identities...can you see what type of appearance this person has through a screen? I think you're showing your "biases" here.

Thoughts can be diverse too :)


If this hedges and mild way of pointing out implicit bias is a "hammer", then what exactly do you think is polite enough?


Thanks for the question. The entire comment is kind of defensive and impolite, but I'll focus on what you asked. In my opinion, approaching it like the parent did as an individual making a statement that can be disagreeing is polite to me. However, your question is asking me to define a polite way to introduce and acknowledge implicit bias into a conversation that is meant to be used in the same way as above, and I can't. Using the idea of implicit bias as a means for an accusation of prejudice and 'outdated' opinions by appealing to various forms of groups that the parent could OR could not be identifying with as 'your' own opinion as an 'individual' is a hammer. Its powerful and sometimes is needed, but again its not a screwdriver :)

I interpreted the parents comment as a joke more about the engineer not looking like a TV star than the others not looking like an engineer by the way...

So to close this comment, CANT ENGINEERS LOOK LIKE TV STARS TOO?? to which I will respond and say 'not always'. Maybe that's a way to respond politely to implicit bias...


You don't hire old, crusty nerds to do PR. Why do you seek outrage? What does it gratify?


mabbo never said the others didn't look like engineers.

He said John doesn't look like an actor/PR person (which, I think you'll agree, have appearance job requirements).

> The other hosts are great, but if you told me they were hired actors or PR people I'd believe it.

Lots of people don't marry for money. And if someone marries a poor person, it pretty obvious they're not doing it for money. (Naturally, that doesn't mean they're the only one.)


I think you're wrong there.


The announcer has a bachelors in aerospace engineering [1], I'm pretty sure that qualifies one as a rocket scientist.

[1] http://www.lauren-lyons.com/aboutt-1-2/


Not that. The last sentence from the post.

OP just assumes that people don't go into tech because of what other people will think of them. It's a harmful assumption and not true either. People go into tech because it interests them. It's a choice.


Is this not alike to asking me to not have the mental view of a basketball team as a coloured group of tall males? And if I had that view, then am I discriminating against short white people, or have I built a more accurate mental model of the world?


Bias is an input, and almost never the fault of the person who has it. It's just the way that brains work.

Discrimination is an effect. Bias may cause discrimination, but bias in itself is not malicious.


If you think that being a female engineer is like being short in basketball, then there are clearly serious problems with your mental model of the world.


No, that's not what I said. Let me put it another way, things form patterns in life. All sorts of patterns. E.g. As a silly example to illustrate clearly, trees are generally green. Is that discriminating against other colours? (if such a thing were possible). Or simply an observation of life.


Take Lauren, for example, she's a super accomplished mech/aero engineer who also happens to be a really good host.

EDIT: Of course she's also involved in FIRST :P


> He doesn't look like a TV star, he looks like an engineer, a rocket scientist. He looks real.

Which is funny because, reading the job titles given to the SpaceX announcers, my first thought is always "wow, SpaceX hires some really attractive engineers."


It makes sense, as publicity is central to SpaceX's / Musk's mission. SpaceX evolved out of Musk's Mars Oasis concept, with the aim being to inspire and reignite interest in space with a greenhouse on Mars.


Should have been written: "Love that SpaceX announces, shoots, and leaves live production in-house." Not because it was grammatically incorrect, but because I wanted just one more chance to make an Oxford comma joke. http://a.co/gc5Izsa

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