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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy successfully launches (techcrunch.com)
2968 points by mpweiher 74 days 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"


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].


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.


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 :)


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."


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


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.”


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


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.


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:


@$#%^%# light pollution everywhere. turn down those %$%@%# 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.



> 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:


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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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


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?



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.


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


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.


> 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


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.


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.

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.

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.

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

It was awesome. The synchronized landing of both boosters was emotional.

Might be a naive thought, but for a few minutes, you forget everything else. There were millions of people from every nation live-watching the broadcast and everyone was cheering and hoping for the best.

The world seemed at peace during that moment and this is what I love about space exploration and all these great human achievements.

There was a comment thread on reddit where people were checking in with "GO" from all around the world before the launch. Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, UK, Eastern Europe, South America. This is humanity united under a common cause that's greater than us. How anyone can say space exploration doesn't have tangible benefits for humans after witnessing today's events is a complete mystery.

I sort of was hoping for a big bang. Am I the only one?

Landing these things will become the standard. mmillion dollar fireworks will not. Anyways, still very impressed.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

I’d have paid for core booster missing the drone ship: “of course I still love you” and say “I don’t love you” as it crashes in the water.

The recoverable rocket stuff is new/cool enough I still like seeing it work. It’s still amazing.

I. Am. Just. Speechless.

Perfect takeoff, 2 simultaneous landings (still waiting for confirmation on the droneship landing), the car is in orbit.

I don't remember being so nervous watching a launch video since... Space Shuttle missions, I think.

Great job, SpaceX!

Watching the car orbit and the Earth's reflections in the windshield and paint and Starman's visor is sublime (sometimes goes to cameras of the engine/orbit overview)


e.g. https://i.imgur.com/Yu6gRar.jpg

This is all I'm watching for the rest of the day https://imgur.com/oKWTAQk

Same here.

Might I suggest pairing it with Pink Floyd's _Echoes_[0]?

- 0 - https://open.spotify.com/album/468ZwCchVtzEbt9BHmXopb

I only just noticed the "Don't Panic" on the center console. I presume that's there in case Starman picks up any hitch-hikers.


I've had the same running all day, to be honest. Having the 2001 a Space Odyssey soundtrack and Interstellar's soundtrack in the background is quite pleasant.

What are the particles flying with different speeds when the camera points away from the Sun?

Link to a timestamp with what you're asking about please it's a 4 hour video...

It's pretty much constant in the video; just keep watching until you notice small particles floating about. I recall them being visible especially well about 1 hour into the stream.

And I'm playing this in the background https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lERqGULWxs

It seems unreal - like some sort of advertisement. In fact, they should put that in a commercial! :D

Yup that was amazing. Slightly related, I'm already nervous for the James Webb Telescope launch. Maybe Spacex should launch it :)

The main argument for Falcon Heavy over Ariane 5 is cost, not reliability. Ariane 5 remains the most reliable heavy launcher, so that's the launcher you want for JWST.

if it isn't too expensive to build 3 of your payload, falcon heavy could blow up twice and still be cheaper!

Obviously JWST does not fall into that category. I imagine if it blows up, it is just done forever?

Depends on how much a Falcon Heavy launch will really cost at the end, but right now the nominal fee seems to be around 70M€ for Falcon Heavy and around 150M€ for Ariane 5.

On average, that's true. however, the most recent Ariane 5 launch did not go as expected. I can only imagine all of the people involved with JWST just got a little more anxious than they wanted to be this close to launch.

1 successful launch vs 1 launch anomaly in 16 years and 80 consecutive succesful launches.

I know where I'm putting my money.

Ariane 5 had an anomaly just two weeks ago where they put the satellites in the wrong orbit.


Yep, which is the only one it's had since the first flight.

> I don't remember being so nervous watching a launch video since

landing of the mars mission was pretty big in the spectacle sense.

> car is in orbit.

That is correct...but NOT in orbit of our home planet!

Hmm, I think it's still in parking orbit around earth, no?

Yes, I believe you are correct, I got slightly too excited. (: It's on a highly elliptical earth orbit at the moment. The second big test is doing a long stage 2 burn after passing through the Van Allen belt. I believe that will take place in 6 hours or so.

It's not that elliptical (at least not for another 5 hours or so when burns resume)

It is quite elliptical. Right now the second stage is in GTO, with an apogee of 7000km and perigee (presumably) of ~200 or so. When it arrives at apogee, it'll reignite and go hyperbolic, onto a trajectory that escapes the Earth's SOI - then it will no longer be in Earth orbit.

Driving around looking for a free parking spot

My understanding from the diagrams they showed is that the orbit is a wide one (oval) around Earth that passes near Mars.

It's actually orbiting around the Sun, it passes near Earth orbit at the perihelion and near Mars orbit around aphelion, but is not actually in orbit around either planet.

It has just burned again to raise apogee, and will burn a third time to switch from earth orbit to a transfer orbit (edit: or perhaps the next orbit is the final Earth-Mars orbit?)

That was like watching a sci fi film when the two cores landed.... I watched it with my mother (who is 80!), and she said it was as significant as the moon landing.

Do we know the fate of the centre core yet?

> Do we know the fate of the centre core yet?

I might be reading into something that's not there, but the presenters (I didn't get their names) acted like they received surprising news in thier monitors at 39:03[1] just as they were about to report on the drone ship landing.

Dude: "We've just gotten confirmation..."

Lady: "oh!"

Dude: "Oh"

Lady: "[laughs] We are waiting to hear what happens..."

1. https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=39m5s

I think it was the right move, even if they knew then the main core had blown, it is too easy for the naysayers to make that the story. Taking away from the real and powerful narrative SpaceX must tell. That for the first time since the Saturn V we have a rocket powerful enough in active service to take us to the Moon/Mars, at a 1/3 of the price of the next heaviest lifter.

Also, as she starts saying "We are waiting to hear what happens", he says "Scratch that...".

I felt like they were trying to redirect people to the main site for more information. I think the presenters were instructed not to give people more news so they could gain more traffic to their site. Seems like a smart way to gain more interest.

in the background you can see the feed from the drone ship - they see that it comes back on and the smoke is clearing but there's no rocket. They were a bit surprised. :)

Of the centre core, these are the last few moments before it is lost from the feed. Smoke can be seen...


... and then back to the presenters. As someone said to me, "That's their lying face!" :)

Can't fault them for wanting to dwell on the positives though, was an amazing moment to watch.

Edit: You can switch cameras on the above youtube video to the countdown net; you can clearly hear them saying "We lost the centre core" at 38m30s - not sure if that means "lost signal of" or otherwise. The people in the control room appear to become more muted at that point, though they still seem composed. It's really not clear.

Edit: On the countdown net you can hear some minutes later "suspected loss of signal": https://youtu.be/-B_tWbjFIGI?t=42m21s

Center core lost, announced on internal feed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B_tWbjFIGI&feature=youtu.be...

At this point in that video, some minutes after the loss of signal, you can hear on the countdown net https://youtu.be/-B_tWbjFIGI?t=42m21s - it's garbled but sounds like "Suspected loss of signal".

But they also say the insertion was successful. So the payload made it, but they were planning to recover the center and that failed?

Correct. There were several goals with the launch. The primary was successful payload insertion, the secondary goals were the successful return of the outer two boosters to land, and the central booster to a drone ship down range (success unknown). Additionally the goal was to recover the fairings, but the success of that is not publicly known at this time.

According to News Conference: 1) Elon confirmed that the faring recovery was not a goal as they have a new version of the faring in active development which should have a recovery strategy in place. 2) It appears that the center booster was definitely lost. 3) Loss of center booster was best case scenario for loosing one of the three boosters as the outer boosters had really sweet new titanium grid fins.

Can't fault them for sure, but it's strange for them. SpaceX tends to be very upfront with their failures, and tends to broadcast and in many cases re-upload video of their failures.

Doubly so when the "failure" isn't part of the primary mission.

They know how the press works though. There's a huge amount of attention being paid to this launch, and journalists will be racing to report it ASAP. If they announce immediately that the centre core has been destroyed, the headlines around the world are going to be "SPACEX LAUNCHES CAR BUT LOSES SPACECRAFT", and the failure, however partial, will be a central plank of the story.

If they delay the core announcement by a couple of hours or so, the headlines are all "SPACEX SENDS CAR TO MARS", with a minor note appended later to say, "A SpaceX spokesperson later confirmed the landing of the spacecraft's central core did not succeed and it has been lost." Like it or not, issues of timing like this makes a big difference to how the exact same events are reported and perceived.

Yeah, presumably they worked out the various optimal messaging strategies for every possible combination of failure/success of each part of the mission in advance. Amazing work on their part; I was super impressed after I deduced what you wrote about 2 minutes after the stream ended.

Agree it is strange. I love their "How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster" film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvim4rsNHkQ

Watching the countdown net it seemed plausible that they didn't know whether it had successfully landed either.

It wasn't a lie; they just didn't know the result. There have been multiple cases in the past when contact was temporarily lost after drone ship landing.

It's ok to be professional and say that you need a day to look at a failure (if it's that) before you announce it with the beginnings of an understanding.

A restart failure indicates there may be a systemic flaw in all Falcons that could impact recovery efforts in the future as well as other missions that depend on reliable restart capability. One would hope that they have enough telemetry to diagnose the cause.

I'm sure they do, they normally have pretty detailed information on failures.

But even in the worst case first stage engine restart issues will never halt falcon launches. The first stage engines don't ever need to restart to complete the primary mission, and while landing the first stages is a great bonus, it is and always will be a secondary mission objective.

They do eventually come out with it but pretty much every failure they've had so far they've kind of glossed over it during the livestream then come back to it later during a separate press conference.

The feed quality drops in a way that makes the shaking antennae explanation seem plausible. I doubt the announcers knew then (why not just say so unless there was some ambiguity?), but it must have been a distinct concern, hence their 'smile nervously' reaction.

It is a bit odd they haven't announced that it was lost yet, but I agree that seems very likely.

FWIW the drone ship feed has been lost in exactly the same way every time I’ve watched a landing.

I can concur. There’s always 5-10 seconds starting right as the exhaust enters the frame when it cuts. IIRC they have one or two satellite uplinks and they go down due to the vibration.

Also in the video if you watch mission control’s wall of monitors you can see the feed cut back with an empty drone ship a minute or so later. Seems to confirm that the rocket missed the deck due to the engines not lighting.

I noticed on the top right screen when landing the 2 outside boosters that they did a 3 engine landing burn. Previously they'd only done this over the water, but considering that the last one went well on 31 Jan, perhaps they also tried a 3 engine landing burn over the drone ship this time and something went wrong.

Just speculation, but it makes sense to me...

It sounds like it was lost: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B_tWbjFIGI&feature=youtu.be...

Although there hasn't been an official statement by SpaceX yet, and whoever said "we lost the center core" could have just been referring to the video feed from the drone ship.

It’s a command center of a complicated operation, nobody cares if someone has a camera issue on a side goal, it’s all about situation. I vote the booster was lost, and it was not worth using more bandwidth on it.

The quote from the video is: "We lost the center core."

For those like me unfamiliar with the terminology used in this context, is this wording reserved for situations where the rocket is destroyed or could it also mean they lost contact/video feed with the center core?

They normally call out "LOS" or "loss of signal" when they lose a video (or any other kind of) feed, but I have heard it on other streams that they say something like "We lost stage 1... signal/camera feed".

Where i live it was 21:45 and i couldn't help but told my son that was on bed to come and see it, cause IMHO it's a significant moment for space exploration. He went to bed later than usual but has a nice story to tell tomorrow at school.

Considered the same with my 4yo, but she was fast asleep since hours before. I'll be sure to show her tomorrow though! Not every day you see someone launch an astronaut in a car into space, then land two boosters next to eachother.

We already dig other nice videos on youtube with rocket launches and the like. "How it's made" and so on. Some manufacturing videos have, believe it or not, caught her attention for half an hour! I think it was especially a video from manufacturing the Mini (car), lots of robots and automation.

I showed my 5yo daughter the animation they had before she went to bed, will show her the video tomorrow.

I watched last evening alone (my wife wasn't interested, sadly) and this morning again with the entire family.

Same here! ;-)


You can hear "Centre core defect on shutdown". Definitely didn't make it.

I heard center core boostback burn shutdown

Texted a friend who works at SpaceX, it didn't make it

I'll bet it blew up on the droneship. It was weird they didn't have an immediate confirmation; I thought they have a boat or heli within visual range for the photo.

Perhaps they have to "structure" a more formal statement even though the rocket could have been observed exploding. Purely speculation though.

Yeah, that's sort of how I feel as well. It seems odd that they didn't immediately know or say, then they cut it off immediately.

I feel the same! Suddenly I think I can grasp a bit of how it must’ve felt to watch the Apollo missions back in the day

I'm just an amateur following along, but this seems likely to be one of the most important launches in modern rocketry history. This sets the stage for deep-space missions with reusable launch materials, which can greatly reduce the cost of future space exploration. Absolutely incredible achievement by the SpaceX team.

This definitely feels incredibly significant. The Soviet Union tried and failed 4 or 5 times to launch a rocket with this many engines, but now we're able to nail it on the first try aaaand land the boosters.

Well, but to be fair to the Soviets, they had to do it with really "stone age" electronics and technology and not knowing the many things we know today.

I am pretty sure that SpaceX was able to achieve what they did today also because they studied the Soviet N1 rocket and learned from what the engineers at that time had to figure out from scratch.

The other thing is that the N1 Moon rocket was a very different design - a single booster with many small engines, so incredibly difficult system to control, especially given the state of technology 50 years ago. Falcon Heavy is more similar to the successful Energia booster - core + strap on boosters - that was originally designed for the Russian shuttle. Or the Angara series.

You make it sound easy, but NASA's current heavy lift rocket has spent billions more than SpaceX and the project is still years away from test launch.

Delta IV heavy looks pretty similar to the Falcon Heavy approach. I would imagine there was some knowdgle transfer there.

That being said, SpaceX is taking a much more pragmatic and efficient approach to building rockets with far less bureaucracy. This is the epitome of private sector efficieny over government projects.

I recall reading SpaceX had to reinvent quite a few wheels because the existing private sector was far too expensive — everything from cryogenic pumps to sea recovery of lower stages.

The problem is lack of meaningful competition, rather than government vs. industry; governments can be very good when competing with other governments.

I don't see how that's much of a credit boost to the Soviet failures the parent is referencing. The Apollo program had the same constraints of lacking modern electronics and not knowing many of the things we know today.

The comparison was that N1 had a some 30 engines (Falcon Heavy has 27, given it's 3x Falcon 9's) and that was its downfall.

In comparison, the Saturn V used only 5, they were just that much bigger. It's widely regarded that the 5 vs 30 was the difference as to why Saturn V was successful and N1 was not, as the Soviets simply had to roll too many dice in a situation where a failure resulted in complete mission loss.

It's a lesson in system engineering, particularly around failure durability and parallel vs serial critical subsystems.

It's interesting that in Soviet rocket engine school engines count by pumps, so, e.g. RD-180 is one engine, one pump, two chambers. In American rocket engine school engines used to count by chambers.

In this sense R-7 is remarkable because it has a good overall success record (most launched rocket) and 32 chambers working at liftoff. Some of those chambers are rather small - about 3 metric tons of thrust, about as much as main chambers on British launcher Black Arrow - but still.

My feel/understanding is that chamber design is something that gets more difficult as it increases in size (obviously), but also by combining multiple smaller chambers you only suffer minimal downsides from a reliability perspective. After all, it's not like multiple smaller chambers result in heaps of extra moving parts, so a lot of the risk of duplicating components is gone.

You're right, though, the R-7 is a fantastic achievement not only for the chambers, but also considering how many engines and pumps it has. All those spinning, moving parts are another point of failure and they're all necessary for success.

Apollo program certainly did not work under the same type of constraints the Soviets had. Yes, the electronics was primitive compared to what we have today but Apollo didn't need to work around international embargoes for every screw and piece of wire.

If Soviets wanted something modern, they had to reinvent it from scratch - or steal it. They were fairly good at both. Whether it was a computer, transistors or entire designs. The results were usually very simple designs where little could go wrong and that didn't need complicated technology - which wasn't available. E.g. the Soyuz capsule vs. both the Apollo and Space Shuttle craft.

I lived in a former Soviet bloc country and I can tell you that getting even silly components like LEDs required superhuman efforts. The few that were made domestically ended up in industrial uses (or exported to USSR) and importing anything from abroad was almost impossible. We had a black & white TV full of tubes until late 80s at home - color solid state TVs didn't become available until 1988 or so (and sucked big time).

I was just assuming it was going to blow up.

It's definitely another inflection point. The Falcon 9 is 75% reusable by cost of components, the Falcon Heavy is 90% reusable. And it's capable of much, much more. That might open up the heavy lift launch market to a whole new gaggle of players and begin really expanding out what is done there. It'll certainly put a lot more missions on the table that weren't there before, like low cost outer planets space science probes.

Also, something nobody has talked about yet. Falcon Heavy is capable of something no other US rocket is really able to do yet, launch new space station modules (or new space stations period).

> Also, something nobody has talked about yet. Falcon Heavy is capable of something no other US rocket is really able to do yet, launch new space station modules (or new space stations period).

I'm pretty sure one can launch space station modules on regular Falcon-9 as well. Russians launch some on Soyuz rocket.

Surely FH is more convenient for big stations.

> this seems likely to be one of the most important launches in modern rocketry history

SpaceX's Falcon project is the first major progress we've made in the field of human spaceflight since the Apollo program.

To be fair, I think the Space Shuttle was substantial progress as well. An evolutionary dead end maybe but still a lot was learned.

> the Space Shuttle was substantial progress

Marginal at best. The Space Shuttle lofted 833 astronauts at a cost of $209 billion [1]. In 2013, NASA was paying Russia $70 million per astronaut for a Soyuz lift [2]. That comes to $58 billion in 2013 dollars. That leaves $151+ billion, ignoring inflation, to justify everything else the Shuttle did. $150+ billion is 10x SpaceX's lifetime capital expenditures. (It's about what NASA expects it will cost to put humans on Mars.)

At first, the Space Shuttle (conceived as a shuttle to an American space station, the latter never built) was an expensive way to low-earth orbit. After the ISS, the Space Shuttle became an expensive way to the ISS. It pioneered virtually nothing and nowhere and was better at nothing than any other craft.

It was not worthless. But for the cost we could have achieved vastly more. Opportunity cost is real; the Space Shuttle set spaceflight back at least a generation.

It's not fun to trash these programs. But over time, I've realized it's necessary. We cannot correct failures we refuse to recognize. The Space Shuttle's dismal ROI was a motivating factor behind the Bush administration's support of COTS [3]. Without that programme, SpaceX wouldn't be what it is today.

[1] https://www.space.com/12376-nasa-space-shuttle-program-facts...

[2] https://www.space.com/20897-nasa-russia-astronaut-launches-2...

[3] https://www.nasa.gov/commercial-orbital-transportation-servi...

The Space Shuttle was remarkably well designed for orbital bombing missions, which is the only reason the Soviets felt compelled to build the Buran to reproduce its capabilities.

The ISS should count as major progress as well.

Should have, but didn't. At least not for manned spaceflight. We learned how to keep humans alive in space way back with the Gemini project. A long-duration orbital sojourn could have been had for the cost of the ISS. At the end of the day, I struggle to think of a single big thing we can do post-ISS that we couldn't without.

It may not make headlines, but the knowledge we have gained about long-duration human health in space from ISS is utterly beyond price. For all its problems, that alone makes ISS worth it.

> the knowledge we have gained about long-duration human health in space from ISS is utterly beyond price

The knowledge was valuable, but not priceless. The same data could have been gathered, many times over, with long-duration multi-member orbital missions. We could have probably gotten an interplanetary flight in, too. The staggering cost of the ISS crowded out a lot of good science.

There is no way we could have achieved a similar volume of data without ISS. With ISS we get six astronaut-years of data every single year, and it’s got at least another decade in it, barring political stupidity.

The argument could be made that we could have made do with less data, perhaps. But we could not have gathered this volume even once without ISS, let alone “many times”.

> There is no way we could have achieved a similar volume of data without ISS

NASA spent 72 billion 2010 dollars on the ISS [1]. (Total cost is over $150 billion.) From Expedition 1 in 2000 through Expedition 53 in September, the ISS played host to 25,290 crew days of human occupation [2]. That comes to $2.8 million per day for NASA or over $5.9 million more generally. (Remember: this does not include the cost of getting to nor from the ISS.)

The Apollo program cost $107 billion 2016 dollars [3], or $98 million 2010 dollars [4]. (This includes the cost of the Saturn I, Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles.) From Apollo 7 in 1968 through Apollo 17 in 1972, the Apollo program hosted 305 crew days of human spaceflight [5]. That comes to $3.2 million per day.

TL; DR We could have replicated the time spent on the ISS with a series of Apollo programs, using Apollo technology and Apollo-era costs, and had budget left over for a manned (probably non-landing) interplanetary mission [6].

The ISS is a boondoggle [7] on every measure except number of dollars funneled to defense contractors. It's not fun to trash these programs. (I grew up adoring the Space Shuttle and the ISs.) But over time, I've realized it's necessary. We cannot correct failures we refuse to recognize.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#Co...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_International_Space_St...

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program

[4] https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program#Mission_summary

[6] Keep in mind the degree to which I'm putting my thumb on the scale in the ISS's favor. We're counting the Apollo program's launch costs but not the Space Shuttles. We're including, in $2.8 million per day figure, everyone's crew member hours but only NASA's costs.

[7] I am not (yet) in favor of de-orbiting the ISS. Sunk costs are sunk. Looking forward, there is probably something useful to be done with the beast.

> We could have replicated the time spent on the ISS with a series of Apollo programs

I doubt an Apollo CSM [1] could support astronauts for a full year (although Mir could [2]). It has proven very handy to have a space station within reach of resupply missions and with enough space to house some gym equipment and a whole bunch of medical equipment. You might also have trouble finding people willing to spend much time beyond the Van Allen radiation belts [3] in an Apollo era space craft [4].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Command/Service_Module

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_EO-3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_TM-18

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Allen_radiation_belt

[4] https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/stereo_astron...

I was not aware of this, do you have a link to any of that info?

Here’s an article summarizing the findings of the most headline-grabbing medical study of the ISS program, the Twins Study in which Scott Kelly spent a year in space while his brother Mark remained on Earth; both were subjected to exhaustive testing, and the article briefly covers each investigation. One that I found particularly interesting: Scott’s telomeres grew significantly longer while he was in space!


Most astronauts spend six months on the station, and obviously most of them don’t have a twin, but they all add data to our knowledge of how space affects humans. We have learned a lot about how to counter muscle atrophy, and we have a better understanding of how the eyes and bones are degraded by prolonged weightlessness.

NASA loves to talk about ways that space research has improved life on earth (just google it, they’ll shout it at you), but even if you could find a way to do all that other research without a crewed space station, you can’t accumulate six astronaut-years of human medical data in space every single year for decades on end unless you’ve got a place in space to put a bunch of humans for a really long time, over and over again.

To me, that is what makes ISS a human treasure. Someday we will build a more cost-effective replacement on the basis of the lessons we’ve learned, but for now it’s the best we’ve got, and it’s quite good.

Right off the top of my head the medical data from long term space exposure will be absolutely critical to any future journeys. And I'm sure that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to perfecting long duration systems design, technology proofing, etc.

Actually, much of our medical data & tech proofing from really long term space exposure belongs to the Soviets/Russians and Mir, not the ISS.


Hopefully the proof for this assertion is not simply that the majority of the ten longest spaceflights were conducted by the USSR/Russia, and rather the most impactful information was gathered from them.

Are you just disregarding the (pretty cost-effective) experiments that could be done in space because of the ISS?

It's not all about flashy missions like sending humans to Mars (for dubious scientific value as opposed to just sending robots).

On-orbit construction, how pressurized modules hold up after two decades of space travel, long-running experiments requiring in-person management, etc.

for the amount of money spent on getting it there and maintaining it, and because we are keeping it understaffed for safety reasons, we are getting very little return on it.

ish. I mean it's not the most powerful ever rocket - so in some ways they are still catching up to the Saturn V.

Man next to one of the boosters: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVYYekSWAAEHpTa.jpg

That's nuts.

they looked so tiny on the video stream: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVYWR2IUQAAutMB.jpg

I was also surprised that the Falcon Heavy didn't look all that big, really. Until I saw people next to a booster. Scale is hard.

Yet another incredible show from SpaceX. At this point, if they said they were going to build a football stadium on Europa, my only question would be when does it open.

But I couldn't help but laugh at the fact that they can launch a massive rocket on the first try and land (at least) 2 cores, but the camera STILL cuts out on the drone ship.

I don't find that surprising. The communication link back is presumably by satellite since it is in the middle of the ocean, and probably a directional antenna because of the high bandwidth. You have any good suggestions for having a reliable connection via directional antenna on a flimsy barge that a rocket is landing on in this middle of the choppy north Atlantic?

Tow a cable from the barge to a nearby ship, buoy, or platform on which the antenna sits, that's out of range of the vibrations and faces a different direction?

I believe they are required as part of FAA regulations to ensure that no manned craft are within 15 miles of the landing zone? Something like that, at least, which would complicate a tether-based approach.

I think the suggestion was a separate but tethered unmanned platform, which would presumably have less vibrations. I would imagine it's just not cost-efficient for SpaceX, as they'll be able to recover the footage later regardless.

Who needs a tether? Ubiquiti makes gear capable of slinging 400+ Mbps over 25km in a straight line. For about $1500 they should be able to shove the "last mile" to a ship outside of the exclusion zone and put the sat uplink on the ship.


If you're losing connection due to a shaking radio dish, as in the original case, a different shaking radio dish is hardly a compelling solution.

They have grid antennas with a slightly wider beam, or maybe a sector style with 20-30 degrees could be used. I just think it's easier to engineer a workable ship-to-ship stabilized radio solution rather than deal with the ship-to-sat dish which probably has much tighter tolerances.

On the pictures of the droneship the quite distinctive Inmarsat BGAN (which is in essence 3G bounced of geostationary satellite) antenna pod is plainly visible.

Edit: inside the pod is fairly high-gain directional antenna mounted on motorized positioner, but it is designed to track the satellite from slow (ie. ship) or predictably moving (ie. truck) platforms and certainly cannot cope with vibrations from the landing reliably. Man-portable BGAN terminals usually have fixed antenna and officially require quite lengthly positioning process (on the other hand it will work for some value of "work" when you just throw it into car trunk and park with trunk vaguely pointing to south, but you will be lucky to get reliable phone connection, not to mention video stream, in that case).

No, but I'd guess that the guys that land rockets like it's nothing would. I'm on the bungee-cord-and-duct-tape level of engineering.

Keep the camera and antennas on the boat instead of the platform with a zoom lens?

What boat?

There is always a ship with SpaceX (and other) folks on it a number of miles away from the barge.

How about a camera feed from the tow ship (with a view like the two other boosters landing)? If you can film a rocket 300km in the air, you can surely spot a rocket landing 15 miles away. Unless ofcourse you don't want the world to see it crashing into the ocean live.

I wonder if their internet constellation would help at all with that.

I do find that super weird. You would think one of the nearby ships would have a feed as well no?

There aren't any nearby ships, for obvious safety reasons. Plus, any nearby ships would have the exact same issue - where exactly would you "feed" to, when any ship that far out is going to be using a commercial satellite data feed (ie, very slow and unreliable)?

> for obvious safety reasons

The safety reasons don't hold, you can easily shoot from several kms away (there are people on land several kms away from the launch pad). In the worst case, you can pilot a drone from several kms away, close enough to the barge.

> any ship that far out is going to be using a commercial satellite data feed

The footage from the droneship always appears perfect seconds before the landings. So it's not simply the fact of being at sea.

Earlier in the feed they showed some ships that were presumably towing the drone out. I'm sure there are some that are within a mile or two.

To your second question, how about a camera on a boat closer in with a hard line to a boat farther out with the satellite connection? You act as if sending a video feed is an unsolvable problem despite them beaming living video through the rest of the mission when they are in space.

Yes, very hard to believe this was a technical failure/limitation. My money would be on a deliberate cut, possibly even automated, when the systems became aware of impending failure. It'd be important for SpaceX that any negative outcomes are delayed from public release in order to control what makes it into the headline news. The fate of the reusable components would be a particularly sensitive aspect of the PR campaign.

Nah, this is standard stuff for SpaceX. They always get signal dropouts and someone always says "conspiracy!"

They're not interested in the extra hassle of continuity for the sake of putting on a live show. The droneship has tons of cameras, the booster has tons of telemetry, that's all they're interested in.

(if you must spin a conspiracy, the one where they deliberately don't upgrade to keep their fans guessing is more credible - it's zero effort)

I have nothing to gain by SpaceX failing. I wish them all the best. I'm just stating what I think is pretty obvious - that this was a massive PR exercise, apart from anything else. My BS detector goes into overdrive at times like that.

When you mount cameras on a landing barge, you would expect there to be a high likelihood of them being damaged or affected in some way when your rocket lands. So you do the obvious thing, and setup a redundant camera feed somewhere at a distance. Previous test landings at sea had a chase plane. Where was that this time?

What nearby ships?

The landing barge is towed into position by tugs, and once the boosters are landed I presume it is towed back out, so there will be some tug boats nearby.

I thought the barge was a drone?

It has station-keeping thrusters to stay at precise GPS coordinates. But it can't move far under own power and is towed. The name ASDS is not really to be taken literally here.

It will likely be a proper dynamic positioning system so will more than likely use two independent reference systems for position, one could be a DGPS system the other could be as basic as a taughtwire....

The nearby ships with the people that weld the booster to the deck for transport.

They could perfect it, by having say an underwater wired data feed going to an ancillary ship which transmits it, which then is out of the thrust cone of the rocket. But it's probably just not worth it to get the footage 5 minutes early.

Congrats! To everyone at SpaceX Mission Control, NASA, and the 45th Space Wing. You are inspiring the next generation of astronauts and explorers!

At approx t-minus four minutes and counting. Elon Musk tweeted the "Holy Mouse Click" had returned "true". That moment when control is transferred to the onboard modules. And the Autonomous Flight Safety System takes control.

Its truly awesome to see that silky smooth burn. that perfect parabolic arc. And think upon the twenty-seven Merlin engines all firing in synchrony. Equipped with an intelligent decision making capability. And what the implications might be for future human spaceflight.

Here is an ancient link. But back around the mid-noughties. NASA published some details on the architecture of an AFSS:

An Autonomous Flight Safety System


Considering the Falcon Heavy includes reusable side boosters and central shaft. The complexity multiplies. As an example, take a peek at an implementation for expendable missions. that still use ground or satellite tracking and control.

Range Safety Algorithm Software Module for an Autonomous Flight Safety System


Darpa contributed tool for low level verification of onboard AFSS software.

SeaHorn: A fully automated analysis framework for LLVM-based languages


And of course, once your computers make it into space. They will need a place to store all the mountains of data generated ;)

SpaceBelt: space-based cloud storage network


Reposting my comment from the other thread:

Someone noticed there was a camera feed on the mission control wall that shows the Center Core's drone ship, after the smoke clears no ship can be seen: https://twitter.com/Darkphibre/status/960990105581240321

9:00 into the feed, it's likely the core either missed or failed to land properly. Although the screen is partially out of view. So this is still speculative.

Watching the launch with my daughter: "Daddy look! It's two daughter rockets helping the mommy rocket!"

That's so sweet.

It was so captivating to watch the launch production. Just watching this test launch you can see how SpaceX is recapturing the hearts and minds of the world and generating the same level of wonder that NASA did in it's hay-day. It's a proud day in annals of mankind and engineering. What an absolute feat. Congratulations to everyone on the team at SpaceX.

They lost the center core: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B_tWbjFIGI&t=2307

But 2/3 is impressive! Seeing the simultaneous landings had me in tears!

Was there anything special about the center core other than boosting longer and needing to land out at sea? Seems like they've landed plenty out at sea, but not while landing two on land.

I thought this was impressive: "With a total of 27 first-stage engines, Falcon Heavy has engine-out capability that no other launch vehicle can match—under most payload scenarios, it can sustain more than one unplanned engine shutdown at any point in flight and still successfully complete its mission." http://www.spacex.com/falcon-heavy

The centre core is significantly strengthened to cope with the additional load from the side boosters. It also has slightly different aerodynamic properties because of the fixed struts that hold the boosters in place. Either of these could have affected the landing. They'll collect data and fix it.

It ran out of fuel. There was enough to relight the centre engine but not the 3 outer engines required to complete the landing.

It didn't actually run out of fuel. It didn't have enough of the hypergolic mix used to ignite the engines (triethylaluminium & triethylborane that causes the green flash sometimes seen at ignition) and only one of the three engines needed for the landing burn re-lit.

Here are some really rough numbers derived from pausing the live stream.

Falcon Heavy Side Booster Separation - 61km, 6,881 km/hr

Falcon Heavy Core 1st Stage Separation - 92.5km, 9,474 km/hr

Also a link to screen caps of speeds/altitudes of previous Falcon 9 separations


It is probably the fastest/highest burn they've ever tried to land, and thus needs the most fuel to land, expeirences the most structural stress, etc. etc.

Lost, or lost video feed?

There's been word from unofficial but reliable sources that it came in 'too hot' and died on impact.

That's unfortunate if so. You'd have thought there would have been plenty of extra fuel to obviate the need for a hard landing, given that the actual Roadster payload is a small fraction of the rocket's capability. This wasn't a mission where they were stretching fuel to make the landing, like they have with some of the marginal Falcon 9 launches in the past where the payload size was just at max for the vehicle.

I'm pretty sure that there was plenty of fuel margin. If it did come in too hot, there must have been some other reason.

My first thought is that the extra 'stuff' on the outside of the center booster required to connect the outside boosters might have caused some problems during re-entry.

That or simply timing issues. The center core should be faster than F9 is when it's coming in for landing, so if the compensation for that wasn't worked out quite right (possibly due to extra weight in addition to the velocity difference) that'd pretty quickly get it coming in too hot.

After all, it's only a few second difference between 'nominal' and 'way too hot' with the suicide-burn style landings.

> That or simply timing issues


> only a few second difference

More like hundreds of milliseconds I think. (:

> More like hundreds of milliseconds I think. (:

Quite possibly, I just wanted to be generous. I'm not quite sure how much leeway the crush core in the legs plus 3-engine burn can offer. The 3-engine burn especially may give more options if they allow for it to be extended if the core is moving too fast, though it'd be understandable if that's not something they do.

Thanks. That clip is the confirmation I’ve been looking for since the live stream ended. I agree that it’s still an amazing achievement!

"Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt."


Damnit Elon!

But I guess that's one way of saying he had ∆v to spare...

Note that he never said "accidentally" :)

That was incredible. Watching the double landing of the boosters I couldn't help but feel like we live in the future. It was actually a little emotional.

That was thrilling. An incredible accomplishment. The first time in my life I thought I had an inkling of what it had been like to watch the Moon landings.

Did they need to modify the Tesla to make it vacuum worthy?

Like, remove any fluids, remove any parts that might explode in the hot or cold of space, deflate the tires, etc.

Note: I'm more interested in a scientific answer, as opposed to casual conjectures. Preferably from an engineer knowledgeable of such things. And specifically, the materials sciences aspect of how materials will survive in a vacuum.

As a mechanical design engineer (not of cars, of other vehicles) I can't think of any systems that you'd need to modify if you don't plan on driving the car again. This is all off-the-top-of-my-head theorycrafting, so I could be wrong.

Space is only -1 atmosphere and even then, it only affects sealed systems. For the rest, they'd equalise. Also, cooling in in space is actually fairly gradual as there's only radiation, not convection or conduction. Let's go through the systems and evaluate what that means:

For structural components, nothing will really change. After all, we built spacecraft out of aluminium before. The ISS has to cope with this more, as it goes in and out of sunlight every 90 mins, so it gets something like 15 cycles of high/low temperature a day. The thermal shock of going from darkness to sunlight is the main issue, but this won't be passing through the earth's shadow constantly since it'll be orbiting the sun, so changes will be far more gradual.

Bigger issues come from different materials joined together, such as steel to aluminium, since they expand at different rates, but that's not really a problem here and even if it is, it'll just crack a bit at the seam. That's not going to cause the car to explode into little fragments.

For unsealed systems with fluids, they'd just boil away in the vacuum before desubliminating into little frozen droplets and bounce around or whatnot.

The only sealed systems with fluids in them that I can think of are tyres and brake lines. Tyres tend to sit at about 30-35 PSI, which is ~2 atmospheres. They then have to endure significant heating/cooling, dynamic pressures of spinning, etc. so an extra atmosphere wouldn't cause issue from a pressure point of view. Ditto brake lines - you stomp on them with a mechanical advantage and they never rupture.

I think you'll find the worst damage will be to the paint over time, which will fade more aggressively since it's not protected from UV sunlight any more.

edit: I forgot the batteries, which I believe are a sealed unit. They might have just dropped the battery pack from the car. Not sure what a vacuum would do to them as I don't know enough about Li-Ion battery design to comment.

Elon says, albeit casually, here in the press conference at 5m36s: https://youtu.be/sytrrdOPYzA?t=5m36s

"We didn't really test any of those materials [...] it's just literally a normal car in space"

It would be pretty cool if they retrieve it later, replace the batteries... and it still works :D

i think its expected to next swing past earth in 2030

They have a bigass vacuum test chamber, you can bet they did their homework and every container that might end up pressurized had a hole in it to allow the leveling of the pressure. No point taking chances with something like this, it only has to look good, it doesn't have to drive.

> it only has to look good, it doesn't have to drive.

After all, where it's going it won't need roads.

It's not like they're trying to keep it driveable? I would guess they'll have drained any fluids but I don't expect it to be fully operational after the van allen belts, for example.

How would the Van Allen belts disable a car?

Non radiation hardened electronics will likely die.

The metals in the are likely to sublimate significantly over the course of tens of thousands of years. Plastics and rubber might only last decades. Painted surfaces might survive longer than exposed metals.

The glass will eventually become clouded and discoloured due to radiation damage and scoring by micrometeorites. Some plastics can rapidly deteriorate in sunlight.

Erosion from micrometeoroids (dust) and larger impacts is also a factor over timescales of thousands of years.

I doubt it will last the millions of years that is suggested.


Musk basically said "not really" in the press conference

the car is not actually in the vacuum AFAI can tell from their GIF: https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/spacero...

id imagine a 360-camera is projected onto the inside of the sphere/case the car is actually inside of.

What are you talking about. That gif is showing the fairing separation. There's no sphere.

amazing, is the car strapped to the outside of the rest of the ship? how does it remain so stable after the separation? by "sphere" i just meant the case it is shown inside of at the start, since the markings on the wall resemble motion tracking panels used for 3d projection. perhaps I just underestimate the precision and smoothness of the fairing separation, or am misunderstanding how the car is rigged so as to remain so stable.

ah ok that makes more sense, thanks for that pic. too cool!

It's like putting a satellite into orbit, right? Up until the rocket stops burning, it's held in place by something, then it's released, then enclosure opens with minimal/nonexistent effect on the payload, leaving it out there... In this case, the car has enough velocity to float to it's Sun orbit, I guess.

No, the 3rd burn took it from earth orbit to sun orbit.

Saw this on their careers page right after the landing. Looks like it worked!


To bad that it is only for americans. Due to some sort of US regulation.

That's not really their call because of ITAR.

ITAR is not limited to just Americans. I work with ITAR materials and am not an American (working in Europe)

Then you might be fine, they don't limit it to americans arbitrarily (hell, Musk himself wasn't born in the US!), but limit it to those that are allowed under ITAR.

The wording on their job postings is:

>To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, applicant must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.

It seems SpaceX has even perfected its tests to the point that their simulations are doing an amazing job at predicting real life situations. Great job on spaceX. Today History was made, and the new generation of children is inspired to choose space-focused careers

Even the modeled exhaust in the rendering looked almost identical to reality. Top minds.

Yes, there were two or three moments during the livestream when my mind literally said "nah, they spliced in that promo video from few days ago; this can't be real".

Fuck Snapchat filters, fuck another JavaScript framework being released, fuck Google releasing another chat app, fuck the next iPhone having wireless charging.

This is innovation. This is the future. This, and Tesla, are the biggest technological breakthroughs since the iPhone.

Comparing Falcon heavy to iphone is slightly insulting IMO.

Remembered watching an old Star Trek film where the Cochrane character wouldn't launch without playing "Magic Carpet Ride" on the way up and thinking that space travel could never ever be so glib...

Well played Mr. Musk. Well Played.

After the rocket took off, I told my wife that Elon Musk is our Zephram Cochrane. She looked at me like I was a 40 year old virgin.

Absolutely amazing. Just watched it live, gave me goosebumps. Although:

"SpaceX also attempted a recovery of all three of the first stage boosters it used during the launch. It has recovered two of those thus far, and we’re waiting to hear back from SpaceX on the official status of the final, third booster, which was landing at sea."

Yes! Just that one piece of information short of calling it perfect. Can't wait 'till we know what happened to the center stage!

Double landing of reused boosters. No matter how you slice it, it's quite a feat.

Is the Tesla car and it's space suit-wearing driver a reference to the intro from the 1981 film Heavy Metal?


It's a pretty inescapable suspicion :)

One of those "this must be the future" moments for sure. I'm really amazed that there is a Tesla Roadster on its way to Mars at this point. That blows my mind.

Devil's advocate, here.

Am I the only one that find it quite disturbing that a private corporation taking over more public space?

In the long run this stuff will bite humanity at large in the butt.

For another way to look at it, consider how quickly commercial airline travel became available after the Wright Brothers' first flight.

Compare that with how long it's been since Yuri Gagarin's first flight, and we're just now getting to where we can imagine passenger flights to space in the next few years.

Of course aviation may be easier than spaceflight, but I think a large part of the difference is that aviation was developed by companies trying to make a buck, while spaceflight until recently was dominated by governments who were in it for political purposes.

Myself, I'll take the faster progress you get from the profit motive.

I truly believe that if spaceflight had developed under private enterprise like aviation did, you and I would have been able to buy tickets years ago.

Similarly to air or water, I see no problems with companies building the ships that ply the medium. Do you find it odd that Boeing and Airbus make most of the airplanes that you fly on? Government sets regulation where it can and allows the market to operate within those regulations.

You can bet that when and if a lunar, astroid, or any other colony burgeons beyond a sizable hotel that a local government will form and begin to assert its own regulations, not unlike towns of the American west or trading posts operating underneath a larger national trading company. Under what form that occurs has yet to be seen.

I will never understand this sort of idea?

Did you think the future as a space fairing civilization would be all run by one government agency?

Do you think NASA would fly tourist to moon and the mars?

That seems absurd to me. We don't have government building cars, or airplanes, or trains or anything like that. Why should rockets be built by government?

If government wants to do something in space, they have a wealth of private options.

I would prefer the government doing this, instead of SpaceX. But I prefer SpaceX doing it, instead of nobody doing it.

What public space? The public and global governments aren’t interested in space exploration and haven’t invested heavily since the Cold War.

Suggest spending taxes on this to the average joe and they’ll grumble “sort out the problems on earth first” or similar instead

It doesn't seem worse than private companies literally owning people's lives (and having the audacity to call it not slavery). But it seems this is where we're headed, some sort of dystopia ruled by wealthy people.

As for space launches - well, the US Gov did a "great job" at saving what they learned from building the Saturn V, can't imagine them being better at space exploration, either.

Besides, all of the planes and ships are built by private companies, and it's worked OK-ish so far.

Quite the opposite - I'm really happy that now it's individuals taking over what used to be government monopoly.

I find it exciting how well on track we are for the cyberpunk dystopia.

In what way are they 'taking over', and what space?

I would claim they are expanding the market and generally that is beneficial for all stakeholders.

We are not discussing a finite resource like forests, here.

Man, the lift off, separation, landing, and don't panic sugared with Bowie. How great was it to witness that?

Does anyone have a "top-down" view of the Roadster's (planned) orbit? I've read that it's on a Hohmann transfer towards Mars's orbital neighbourhood but haven't seen a diagram.

See also the other reply. https://imgur.com/a/NJsIv

Ah thank you! I missed that. Here's a screenshot


Wow. I can’t recall the last time I got this emotional from watching something on TV. Good thing my wife is asleep, cause I’m tear-eyed over two rockets touching down at the same time...

It got a little dusty in my house when those two boosters landed. I think someone was cutting onions too.

Watching those boosters land side-by-side made me question my reality. Beautiful.

"Update February 6th, 5:10 PM ET: This post has been updated to reflect that the center core did not land on the autonomous ship as intended."


What's the difference in how SpaceX is run vs Musk's other companies? It seems to succeed doing the hardest things whereas the others have struggled to meet their goals.

Would Musk focusing only on it make any difference?

edit: This is not a complaint, just a question, why the downvotes? I'm used to getting downvoted for no reason, but this is basic a question, with great answers. Come on HN! We can't ask questions?

> What's the difference in how SpaceX is run vs Musk's other companies?

One, this is his baby. I believe he spends more time at SpaceX than his other companies. Two, B2B. The public only sees breathtaking videos. The contract negotiations, sales process, pricing, support, insurance, et cetera happen behind the scenes. Finally, nothing has been on time. Years' delays don't feel that bad because (a) space is hard, (b) space is awesome and (c) everyone else going to space is even worse at keeping to timetables.

NYTimes article mentioned their initial target for a heavy rocket launch was 2013 due to being "naive." Safe to say SpaceX isn't all that different from Tesla or Solar City in that regard.

I think this is a big point. SpaceX has a solid business just with their Falcon 9 rockets. Delays to the Falcon Heavy really only impact them for payloads that require the bigger rocket and their overall R&D costs.

Landing and reusing the Falcon 9 cores is probably a much bigger benefit to their bottom line overall.

Tesla on the other hand has to be able to deliver tons of reliable cars to people all over the place in a competitive market. Delays to the Model 3 mean they're burning money they can't afford to lose while their competitors are rapidly catching up to them.

While SpaceX could continue their successful Falcon 9 launches during the 5 year delay on Falcon Heavy, Tesla will likely be gone in 5 years if Model 3 delays are even close to that long.

Yeah, it must be really hard on you that world changing, incredible technologies have unknowns and sometimes take longer than expected to deliver. You should let us all know how to do it right.

And I have to deploy a few web services tomorrow, woohoo... Elon has created a vision for generations to come, that is why today is so historic.

Starman cam is currently streaming live as it circles the earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M

I feel like I must be crazy, but did anyone else notice that the two videos from the pair of boosters seemed like they were cloned from the viewpoint of a single booster?

I don't mean they look similar. I mean they look like they came from the same video feed. When completing the touchdown, they both seem to land at the same pad -- you can see the flame of the other booster and the pad the other booster is landing at in both videos, except they aren't rotated 180 degrees from one-another because the rest of the landscape is identical. Also, watch the moment when the boosters do their initial burn to slow down from freefall. The flames in both videos look virtually identical.

Here's a few samples: https://imgur.com/a/Xpbu8

Did they acknowledge that the videos weren't actually taken from both rockets during the stream and I just missed it? Or is there some other explanation?

Yes, the feed displayed two videos of the same core. Not sure if this was explicitly acknowledged, but supposedly they fixed the error in the archived feed.


Yeah, they accidentally used the same stream twice. Easy mistake to make.

Ah! That explains it.

They acknowledged it and uploaded a newer video where this is fixed.


It would be helpful if you explained what part of my comment you’re replying to.

On the one hand this is super exciting, I even cried. On the other hand, it makes me feel miserable: am I wasting my life? What have I done? Meanwhile Elon is sending reusable rockets to the space.

You and all (7.442 billion - 1) of the rest of us buddy.

I'd count the 6 thousand employees in the same boat, as Musk's vision could not be achieved without their help

No doubt.

You aren't!

Cried proud human tears today.

Even if the droneship didn't work out...

It's such a shame that so many people with Elon kind of money aren't doing anything to transform us into a spacefaring species. Why doesn't apple have a mars program? What the fuck are people doing with all the money?

Awesome work by spacex. They are peerless, except if you want to count massive superpower governments as peers.

Apple is a publicly traded company which makes consumer electronics. The have investors to pay a dividend back to. It would be a dumb move to switch target to the space sector, which requires a much different company and talent pool. Frankly it would probably be easier, and more sensible to start a company from scratch.

If you wonder why all of the shareholders of Apple aren't plowing their money into spaceflight, well it's probably because they're a retirement fund, or just aren't rich.

Other people invest in making this world a better place, see Bill Gates, or other worthwhile causes, of which spaceflight is just one.

Space is exciting, but we have plenty of earthbound problems that deserve attention too (and which need to be solved to enable/improve things like the FH launch).

Not everyone can be Elon Musk, nor should they try. There is much to do with our feet on the ground.

Elon does not have so much money. SpaceX was buissness he started and he put all his money into it. He has only become really rich since.

I think I'd consider Blue Origin a peer.

Because they're too busy trying to save millions of people in third-world countries to care about first-world problems.

Less snarkily, the pitch of Elon Musk is surprisingly selfish--he's basically doing this as much so he can get to Mars as anyone can. By contrast, people like Rockefeller and Carnegie in the past are largely responsible for endowing public culture in the form of museums, concert halls, public libraries and the like, and the modern day equivalents like Gates and Buffett are attempting to eradicate malaria from the world.

Nevertheless, you should reserve ire for those who have the ability to do philanthropy and fail to engage in it in any form as opposed to those whose philanthropy isn't in the areas you'd prefer.

This is a joke right?

He's got a point. Gates is fighting disease. I'd say that's at least as worthy a goal as going to space. Different billionaires have different goals, I guess. Branson wants to go to space too. The Koch brothers are trying to ruin the US. Soros is overthrowing communist regimes. Larry and Sergey want to stop ageing. Billionaire hobbies, I suppose.

> It's such a shame that so many people with Elon kind of money aren't doing anything to transform us into a spacefaring species.

"Elon kind of money?"

Heard of government subsidies?


Edit: not taking sides and adding my subjective point to the article; just merely stating fact that Mr. Musk projects are in large part government-funded.

Pardon my French, but that’s a load of bullshit in this context. SpaceX is privately funded and only receives money from the government from the launch contracts it sells.

That amount is for Tesla and SolarCity combined. To put things into perspective, GM received a $50B bailout, Ford got almost $6B for “energy-efficient” cars, as did Nissan with $1.6B.

Finally, almost all of those are loans, tax credits and incentives, not money 'out of pocket'. The goal is always to generate more wealth than was “spent”.

Also, generally, WTF. Tesla - unlike most others - pays back its government loans on time, in full, with interest. They're using this money the way it was meant to be used.

Literally everything Lockheed, Raytheon, ULA, and every other company with a building along the Dulles Corridor is government funded. Not a single one would have private funds as SpaceX did to develop capabilities not specifically requested in a government RFP. TLDR: You have no idea how the government works and why SpaceX is different - GTFO.

Trolling on HN? You must be new, but still good luck with that.

The official YouTube live broadcast video by SpaceX is at: https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c

Can someone explain to me why are we sending a Tesla to Mars? I mean other than shits and giggles, is there any value in having it there? I assume putting stuff in the space is expensive and I wonder if that effort couldn't have gone to something more useful like a robot to look for water or whatever.

This was a demonstration launch, so no paying customer. The alternatives are (1) sending a rock or (2) spending months and millions of dollars designing a spacecraft capable of doing something useful. Option 2 is out of the question, option 1 is boring :)

It's not going to mars. It is in an orbit that could go to mars if that was the desire, this is just a test. A silly, awesome test.

The short answer is: no. You're talking about an entirely different mission profile, at far greater difficulty and at a radically greater cost.

You need an advanced robot, reliable, highly tested, constructed by the best rover engineers on the planet. You need to spend years designing the overall program. You need to deliver the robot safely to the surface of Mars. You need to operate the program at non-trivial cost for an extended period of time to then look for water etc.

Add a few billion dollars to the cost, basically.

For it to go to the mars we would have to be at the correct transfer window (or have a much higher Delta-V margin, which maybe BFR would be able to manage, but not necessarily Falcon Heavy). So it is not going to Mars.

Then, there are other costs. Cost of launch could have been absorbed by Tesla. Cost of developing a mars-capable payload would be extra. Who would pay for it, on a completely new and experimental rocket?

You’d have to pay - a lot - to develop the robot (and control its mission). There was a car already lying around.

> other than shits and giggles, is there any value in having it there?


First flight of this vehicle configuration so it's a test flight. Most other test flights would just use a concrete mass simulator. Elon thought of something more interesting.

This was a test flight so they could send anything they wanted, so they did.

That was fabulous. My son sat cheering in his space suit all the way until the live feed cut off. Can we turn a corner as a species now and look towards exploration again?

>> [...] the rocket’s payload [...] will pass through the Van Allen belt — a zone of charged particles and extreme radiation surrounding Earth. Assuming it makes it through that radioactive beatdown [...]

What can happen ? Did a payload already exploded passing through the Van Allen belt ? Are batteries a problem ?

I guess the worse that can happen is that computer chips and similar (camera sensors etc) are damaged?

Can’t see what would make it not “make it through” but I could see how we might never I find out.

Oh okay. And last Elon's tweet says that the last stage still has a burn to do after the belt. So if the chips are damage it may be impossible to do the burn.


As I understand it, this is the whole reason for this coasting. They're chilling out in the van allen belt specifically to tick off that box.

If they need it to work through the radiation belts then they have proper radiation hardened stuff on it I’m sure.

In 2016, Ford spent 2.34 billion U.S. dollars on advertising in U.S. media. Total Tesla ad budget: 0. Total investment in SpaceX: 1.6 billion U.S. dollars.

> That includes things like launch parties. They don't do traditional advertising.

Advertising is advertising - doesn't need to be "traditional" - even if that's the metric ... who cares? They're a unicorn, plenty of companies have benefited (temporarily) from unabashed media excitement. Comparisons like this are silly.

Temporarily. You mean a decade is temporary?

Elon over there landing rockets on drone ships, I'm over here finishing a new photo app.

Elon over there going to Mars, I can't even get this dang app to build.

Might be time to move....


But even to be a dishwasher, which I wouldn't mind:

>To conform to U.S. Government space technology export regulations, applicant must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident of the U.S., protected individual as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3), or eligible to obtain the required authorizations from the U.S. Department of State.

I mean, I understand, but it still puts a damper on the "Team Humanity" vibe. :/ Same as when the SpaceX team were chanting "U!S!A!" at one of the Falcon launches.

(Hope this doesn't come across as petty.)

Consider that the SpaceX team can simultaneously be team USA and team humanity. They are after all exactly that.

People outside the US want to feel part of the accomplishment, which is understandable as there are only a few nations that are likely to ever have the resources to do something like this. So the USA cheering feels exclusionary, naturally. I chalk it up to them being proud of the immense work they've done to get the US back into space properly again.

Elon agrees. He’s complained publicly about this law.

This is nothing short of amazing, but what also amazes me is the fact that 45 years ago...humans were also able to launch a payload larger than today's into orbit (Saturn V moon rocket)...that's crazy if you think about it...45 years ago?!

That had a whole nation funding it, and the space race was on meaning it was a prestige thing rather than a practical thing.

Seeing two falcons landing felt to me like seeing first STS spaceship taking off all the way from Space Canaveral. Truly amazing! I cannot wait to see a version where 16 of them are landing... simultaneously! (its just a dream)

Great job Elon and team SpaceX!

Like a lot of other folks on here and probably in history, as a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. It's hard to put into words the feelings I experienced while watching the video, and especially the landing. For all the things going on in the world (and even in my own career writing line of business software) that make me nothing but exasperated, these moments rekindle my hope and all that sense of wonderment I used to feel every moment and every day. I'm excited to see what comes next.

Wow, beautiful and moving to see people building wonderful things. Have been focused on politics for a while and it's really a breath of fresh air. Made my day!

Absolutely amazing, we watched science-fiction today.

Anyone knows what happened to the core booster?

Elon Musk just confirmed in a press conference that the third core was lost; two of the engines that should have slowed it down failed to re-ignite and it came in too fast. I predict either success or a more interesting failure on the next flight.

There was a strange part of the video near the end where they show the car floating through space, and suddenly a background image pops in for a second: https://imgur.com/a/ZyVqK

Any idea what that was?

EDIT: I think it's a replay of the capsule opening that initially contained the car, just spliced in at a weird part of the video.

They were looping the fairing deploy. The "background image" you see is the inside of the fairing: https://www.instagram.com/p/Be3m_LNgOYY/?taken-by=elonmusk

The background is the inside of the fairing.

Raises some interesting secondary questions; Did the starman dummy contain telemetry? At lift off? Now? If I were SpaceX this is a good way to test your spacesuit, actually in space, if you instrument the dummy its on. Pressure sensors, temperature sensors, G sensors.

Do they turn off the camera if its about to fly by something that would rather not be seen?

Elon said in the press conference afterward it was just a mannequin in the suit, no instrumentation.

Check 25:30 for one of the most surreal moments I've ever witnessed - they blow the top, start playing Space Man, and send the Tesla into orbit - > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8wxV-lUsZg&t=25m30s

Regarding the center core, if you switch to the second stream (mission control) and go to 38:30, you can hear "We have lost the center core" - could be referring to the signal though. https://youtu.be/wbSwFU6tY1c?t=38m26s

It's so Kerbal Space Program. First Space-X built the Falcon 1, with one Merlin engine. Then the Falcon 9, with 9 Merlin engines in a circle with one in the center. Then the Falcon Heavy, with three Falcon 9 boosters side by side. Next maybe a bigger Falcon Heavy, with five Falcon 9 boosters in an X pattern.

Yup. Sad they abandoned asparagus staging (AKA. fuel crossfeed), though. That would be Full Kerbal.

In the press conference after FH launch, Musk mentioned a "Super" heavy with four side boosters, yowza!

"ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space"

In engineering terms, how does this compare to the most powerful rocket ever made, the Saturn V?

Heavy in full reusable can lift 140,000 pounds to low earth orbit. The Saturn V at its best lifted 310,000 pounds.

So Heavy is about 1/2 as lift capable...at a tiny fraction of the $/kg.

Unbelievable. The simultaneous booster landings were incredibly impressive feat. Outstanding launch and spectacular landings!

Screen shots from live feed: https://imgur.com/a/gh410

Hard to pick favorites from those.

I know. I'm rotating my desktop.

Given the excitement, I have to wonder what it would have been like to watch Saturn V takeoff. It still remains the largest most powerful (and most expensive) rocket ever built. Hats off to the previous generation.

We'll see when ESA or SpaceX decides to launch a Moon mission. HN should still be around then.

We are living in an 80's SciFi movie. This shots are amazing, I would never have believed:


Live views of the Star Man from space -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M

USA Today reports the center stage landed

"The core stage, meanwhile, burned slightly longer before separating from the upper stage, performed a flip maneuver and landed on SpaceX's Of Course I Still Love You drone ship."

Not sure it's true.


live view of Starman and his car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M

So what about the core?

Is the core designed to be reusable or is that a one-time-use part?

I'd assume if they are landing it, it is reusable. It'd be sort of wasteful to pack fuel for landing, if we were just going to dump the module.

It can be reused, just won't be as it's an outdated model.

They still want it back for data.

The core was supposed to land on the barge, but the video footage got disconnected and they said they don't know what happened to it yet.

Oh, perhaps I have the name wrong. I meant the part connected to the payload with the Merlin engine designed for vacuum, above the three main rockets (the center of which must be the core).

That's the 2nd stage. It's still attached to the payload I believe, so that they can test mid-course corrections to the transfer orbit.

It will relight its engine again in about five and a half hours to depart Earth orbit for interplanetary space.


reusable of course.

Wonderful feat, SpaceX! Congratulations!

But I have this one observation on watching the launch, and landing and I hope someone can explain the discrepancy to me:

How come the two boosters when they stick-landed have different colors than when they were launched - so soon? I mean, they were all real shinny white when blasting upwards from the launch pad. Are those the same ones that stick-landed to perfectly?

I don't get how we're seeing the views behind the car (https://cdn.teslarati.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Roadste...) -- is it a green screen? special effects? something else?

The faring (the cover that you see in that photo) detaches and falls back to Earth. The car is exposed and floating in space.

Thank you (wow) - just saw an animation and had that a ha moment...

So the car is supposed to be in an Earth-Mars orbit. It it stable or is it designed to fall to earth at some point soon (say one or two orbits)?

I think right now the car is in a low Earth orbit. There will be a second ignition of the top stage later to shift it to the Mars orbit. The timeline ends with…

Mission continues on an experimental long coast and third stage two burn to target a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun

… which I can't completely decode.

Update: SpaceX says "Upper stage restart nominal, apogee raised to 7000 km. Will spend 5 hours getting zapped in Van Allen belts & then attempt final burn for Mars."

The target orbit will be a ellipse around the sun.

The closest point to the sun will be about 1AU (Earth-Sun distance). The furthest point from the sun will be something like 1.5AU (Mars-Sun distance).

This orbit will precess, meaning that it will slowly rotate its axis around the sun, rather than staying locked into the exact same path.

This. AIUI, they didn't bother setting up the "spacecraft" as an actual deep space probe, and it's likely missing electrical power for an extended mission, plus all of the hardware necessary to orient itself, track time and position, perform further burns to insert into Mars orbit, and communicate with Earth about all of that.

According to SpaceX, the orbit could potentially last for a billion years if the timings work out.

Source? I was poking around for the orbit's parameters last night...

They mentioned in during the primary live test flight feed. The female broadcaster said it during the explanation around the 10-14min to launch mark

It was mentioned in the livestream.

Someone has a GIF (or explanation) of the Earth-Mars Orbit?

It's a Hohmann transfer orbit. It will be orbiting the sun, with a periapsis (point of closest approach) at Earth's orbit an apoapsis at Mars's orbit. It's not going to circularize at Mars, and indeed will intersect Mars orbit quite a ways behind Mars.

TL;DR: Elliptical solar orbit.

The car is on an elliptic heliocentric orbit that crosses the Earth orbit at its perihelion and crosses Mars' orbit at its aphelion. It is not in orbit around either planet.

What does this launch mean for humans? Does this mean we can send humans to Mars on the next mission? Is there step by step plan anywhere?

This is kind of a "big deal" but on the other hand it's also just an intermediate step. The really cool thing here is that this brings another contender into the heavy lift launch market, which has traditionally been an incredibly small space, especially recently (with NRO launches dominating). More than that, it dramatically reshapes the cost structure in that market. If you want a Delta IV Heavy launch normally you're looking at spending around a billion dollars, and generally the only customers who could even have the option to use that vehicle would be the US government anyway. So, of course, that means it's been a very restrictive field.

Falcon Heavy is, on the other hand, nominally a $90 million launch cost. That's cheaper than the typical launch cost for a Falcon 9, Atlas V, or Ariane 5 class vehicle, so that's crazy cheap. A lot of that is down to the fact that 90% of the hardware cost of the Falcon Heavy stack comes from reusable rocket stages (the 3 main cores). On top of that, the Falcon Heavy side boosters are just regular Falcon 9 cores, so as SpaceX gets better at reusing Falcon 9 rockets it'll also become easier to launch Falcon Heavy rockets because there will just always be a stack of appropriate components sitting around in inventory ready to go. Meaning that the potential flight rate on Heavy launches could be quite high. The Delta IV Heavy launches maybe around once every year or every other year or so. The Falcon Heavy could potentially fly many times per year.

Together that's kind of a "big deal". It'll crack open the heavy lift market to a lot of people who previously lacked the means or the access to launch big payloads. If launching 20 tonnes to LEO is something that costs 10 figures and happens literally less often than every blue moon then you tend to only launch things like multi-billion dollar spy satellites. But if launching much more than that mass costs less than a traditional comsat launch and can happen every other month or perhaps more often if there's the demand, then you're going to get a lot of folks coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of that capability (and, as well, that'll still include NRO and US national defense folks as well, they won't miss out either).

So, what are some things that become more possible with Falcon Heavy?

* Space station components. After the Shuttle program ended there was much less capacity for launching station components, it was restricted to small bits and pieces (a docking adapter here, a small inflatable module there) and Russian components launched via Proton. With Falcon Heavy in the mix it becomes more practical to launch new space stations and new station components. So that's more of an option now.

* Deep space missions. Falcon Heavy is capable of launching reasonable payloads on interplanetary trajectories to the outer planets. So that means it could make new missions to asteroids, comets, the gas and ice giant planets (or their moons), as well as KBOs and TNOs much more cost effective. NASA, ESA, etc. could look to using Falcon Heavy for those sorts of missions in the near future. It also makes things like "ordinary" Mars rover missions cheaper, of course, and allows them to be larger and more capable.

* Space telescopes. Launching big space telescopes like Hubble and its successors will become much cheaper. So instead of having just one or two or even a handful of big top tier observatory class space telescopes we could have many of them.

* Crewed interplanetary missions. In theory you could do something like a crewed cislunar mission similar to Apollo 8 using a single Falcon Heavy launch. More realistically if you wanted to do a "proper" interplanetary mission you'd assemble something in low Earth orbit. You'd put up separate boost stages as well as the crewed spacecraft component and the return vehicle on separate flights and bring them together then set off somewhere. If you're, say, NASA and you have a paltry $2 billion or something to pull off a crewed mission to an asteroid, perhaps, then being able to buy a half-dozen Falcon Heavy flights and put up a crap-ton of payload into LEO with only a quarter of your budget is hugely advantageous.

* And, of course, all the standard stuff like spysats and big national defense payloads. This isn't such a huge deal for "the future" but it'll be a substantial revenue stream for SpaceX.

As for sending humans to Mars, SpaceX won't be using Falcon Heavy for that. They have a next generation launch architecture planned that is more or less specifically designed for mars colonization (the BFR/BFS). That system will be much larger and able to put about 150 tonnes into LEO in a single (reusable) launch. It'll be fully reusable, including the 2nd stage (the BFS). It'll use LOX/Methane instead of LOX/Kerosene because of the superior performance, significantly improved longevity of engine components (less soot and coking in piping) to enhance reusability, and compatability with a Mars exploration architecture that includes utilization of the Martian atmosphere to produce propellant for return trips (which is actually surprisingly easy). They will begin the first stages of manufacturing that rocket sometime this year but it will be a few years before it even has a test flight.

Thanks. You should put this up on Medium. Tons of great info that others can benefit.

Is there cause for concern that the payload is spinning along what looks like roughly it's normal axis. Can we assume that they equipped it with some sort of means for attitude control?

Edit: referring to the Starman live feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBr2kKAHN6M

Spacecraft are commonly spin stabilized in order to keep them from tumbling. The same reason that rifles spin bullets or quarterbacks throw spirals, really.

And yes, it will have attitude control in order to ensure that the three burns (two complete, interplanetary insertion to come) all happen in the correct orientation

Yup. You could actually spot attitude control firing on the Starman feed at some point.

That's hilarious. Also note the 'Starman chilling out', he certainly is going to be pretty chilled.

Amazing to see. Hard to imagine if not for Musk, we'd be stuck with ULA garbage and a realistic Mars tripped planned for 2050+

And both boosters landed simultaneously!

That was seriously impressive to watch. Congratulations to all the SpaceX engineers who made this a reality.

Sounds like they lost the center core (might just mean the signal its not clear), hell of a showing though the team should be really proud of the accomplishment.


"We lost the centre core" at 38m27s https://youtu.be/-B_tWbjFIGI?t=38m27s

That could just mean they lost the feed.

The booster landings were incredible, however, the initial shot of it clearing the pad looked like a scifi movie intro.

Seeing both boosters land side-by-side was absolutely an epic moment. Showing Star Man in the Tesla Roadster with the text displaying "Don't Panic" was just amazing. Very grateful that SpaceX allows us to join in on the excitement. I can't wait to see what comes next!

I wonder for how long we're going to get images from that tesla. there's no power source so the stream will end, but it does sit next some very huge batteries so let's hope it's going to last and we'll be able to check with the spaceman every now and then!

Next test flight will put a Tesla supercharger in the same orbit...

By 2020 the super charger will have an arm to dock with the Tesla and recharge it

Hopefully they put some of those solar tiles on it?

Maybe a house with solar tiles, powerwalls, and a Tesla or two :)

Just curious. They did not put solar panels? Too bad... :D

“ For Sale. Tesla Roadstar, cherry red. One owner. Covered 92 million miles. Buyer to collect. ”

" Quick. May fade to white. "

The stream cut out before they were able to report on the main engine recovery. Anyone have more info?

Way to make space fun again :)

Love that pic of the dummy astronaut in the Tesla looking back at Earth.

Been watching all the previous launches. This one felt like a special moment in time.

Congratulations to everybody involved! One of my earliest memories is watching the Challenger launch in my school auditorium. I'm glad my daughters can have the same experience with a much more inspiring conclusion.

Leaders of the Chinese/Russian/European space programs should learn something from such launches. The message is loud and clear - your junks are no longer economically feasible for space missions.

Vaguely. In reality it's going to an orbit that will cross Mars' orbit, but it won't actually be particularly near Mars for a very long time. It's a good proof of concept that they could launch something to Mars with this vehicle though.

That was beautiful to watch, especially the landing of the side boosters.

A Q & A is going on right now with Elon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KORTP545vAc

Official photos from today's mission:


It's impressive they got it on the first try. Their software models/simulations must have played a huge role in this, aside from other processes and engineering gotchas.

Musk just posted this live feed link of Starman:


What's your opinion:

Were the two falcons landing at the same moment synchronized to look good for the cameras, or was it just how it happened because they travelled together?

This flight profile clearly shows they were scheduled to travel and land together.


I stopped everything and set aside time to sit and watch the whole thing. It was like seeing magic made real, only better, rapturous. Very emotional launch.

That was amazing. But... what happened to the core?

"There's a starman waiting in the sky He's told us not to blow it Cause he knows it's all worthwhile"

A truly historic moment. Well done SpaceX!

That was really impressive. Does anyone know what happened to the core? Seemed to lose feed to the drone ship.

Absolutely outstanding! Incredible footage watching the simultaneous landings! Landmark achievement

I am stuck in the worst traffic jam in Paris since 10 years. Bah. Who cares? :D That was insane!

How about dat snow tho? Hope you made it home safe! :)

This makes me excited to be human again. I need to do something more meaningful with my life.

I think it's worth noting that NASA wasn't the one to accomplish this, it was a private company. It makes me hopeful that there might be a real possibility of huge infrastructure development by private companies, because it seems like the government is unable to organize itself to accomplish huge infra projects like in the past.

Starman in a convertible made me smile like a little boy. Hope it lives on as b-roll

Absolutely insane. I had goosebumps throughout the launch. Well done SpaceX

Fuck yes! Thank you everyone that worked on this and thank you Elon Musk!

What an amazing feat! Well done SpaceX. Hope the core made it too!

Can someone confirm if the tesla roadster is heading to Mars?

That's going to be one very hard to overtake Tesla.

My son has been very interested in fast cars lately, so this morning I asked him what the fastest car was, and corrected him. Then we watched the launch together.

What age we live in, that live video is understated

the coolest part to me is watching both boosters touch down in sight of each other at the same time. that was science fiction worthy

A wonderful inspiring art project, well done!

I hope the main core landed successfully too.

still waiting for CORE to land but ohh boy..was that awesome to see both the boosters land together at the same time.

Really love SpaceX - 63 tons- this is a lot

any link to the center core landing video?

No. Watch SpaceX's twitter feed. It might be a while though.

Impressive! But what happened to the core?

This is an amazing day for all humanity.

My uber is here, in the final frontier.

You had me at "towell"!


Any news on the core?

this is amazing. mars is next

NASA money put to good use.



Anybody saw the 'Don't panic' thing on the Tesla? Made me chuckle, they sure have a sense of humor.

I absolutely love that Musk is putting a car into Mars orbit. Assuming mankind doesn't have an extinction event (or dark ages event), it is extremely likely we'll populate the solar system over the next millenia. In 200 years, Martian children can look up in the sky and know that one of the quickly moving visible satellites is a hilarious, old-Earth car. Depending on how accessible orbit is from planets over the next couple hundred years, it could very well be some sort of space station museum.

Or, imagine we hit a dark age and bounce back, and this event is lost to history. Five hundred years later we manage to get some people to Mars orbit and they find a fucking car in a capsule with a little mannequin stuffed into it flinging around the planet at hundreds of kph.

All while it's blasting David Bowie over their radios.

Is it okay to put unnecessary stuff in the orbits around our or other planets? Isn't this space trash that can potentially be problematic for future endeavors? Are we creating problems for ourselves to satisfy our vanity?

It's going into a heliocentric orbit, and people will surely be tracking it.

If it gets to be a problem in the future, it will have so much historical value that someone will launch a mission to go fetch the Roadster and bring it home to Mars.

It's fun to imagine the technology SpaceX might come up with for that mission.

I'm wondering if they could make it work after retrieval.

Mars is really big relative to a car. You could probably put dozens or hundreds of cars in orbit around Mars without any added difficulty.

Anyway I wouldn't normally consider it to be space trash, but in this case it's pretty much just a big Tesla ad billboard orbiting the planet so I agree with you sentiment

Space debris is a huge problem. One car gets hit bit tiny debris at any point, and the number of debris flying around multiplies.

Not where it’s going.

Space debris is a problem in a small number of high-traffic Earth orbits. There is almost nothing in existence on this random Hohmann transfer solar orbit where the car will live for hundreds of millions of years.

Space is big.

the standard cargo for these missions is a chunk of cement. If you want to test a rocket you have to throw something up there.

It probably does not add a measurable amount of junk to hit than is already up there in the form of natural rocks.

Though if in the future human population hits the quadrillions and we are living on all 8 planets we should probably start worrying about our space trash.

It's not in orbit around Earth, and won't be visible from Earth. As soon as it boosts out of its parking orbit, it will be orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars.

Also, there is not any danger of stuff "crowding" out there because the amount of space between Earth and Mars is really quite extremely huge.

It would be cooler if it was going to be in Mars orbit, but it is just going into an elliptical solar orbit that will vary in distance from the sun between Earth orbit and and Mars orbit.

Hmm, they said heliocentric several times. But it’s a cool orbit no matter how you slice the the pork chop. Pretty sure this is intended to be similar to a “mars cycler” orbit. A “mars cycler” is an interplanetary space station which follows a sort of transfer orbit between earth and mars. This provides a cushy radiation shielded environment for interplanetary travelers and economizes on propulsion by leveraging gravity assist. IIRC some guy named Aldrin came up the gist of the design.

it's in orbit around the sun:

> Following launch, Falcon Heavy’s second stage will attempt to place the Roadster into a precessing Earth-Mars elliptical orbit around the sun.

It's not going into Mars orbit. It's kind of weird that Musk never corrected that. Even his tweet from December said "mars orbit."

Well it's going into mars' orbit of the sun, and then immediately continuing on through...

It'll become a touristic attraction.

Part of me enjoys it, but a big part of hates that he put a car there. I don't associate cars with anything good, only bad.

Why? General opposition to motorized transport?

Opposition to non-bipedal forms of transport?

Or is it opposition to the type of urban planning that is centered around the car more than the pedestrian?

Loved it. Absolutely amazing. https://i.imgur.com/KF87gOR.jpg

I posted more screen shots of launch: https://imgur.com/a/gh410

Saw the don't panic. Wondering if they packed a towel.

Apparently they stuck in the glove compartment ‘a copy of Douglas Adams' book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," along with a towel’.

Source: http://m.dw.com/en/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-falcon-he...

As awesome as all that was, I can't help but feel sad that neither Douglas Adams nor David Bowie lived to see this.

Nor Asimov. They mentioned a copy of The Foundation series was on board.

Does anyone know how long a book (paper) would last in space?