Humanity just took a picture of a black hole with a multinational telescope array, predicted by decades old math and all that jazz.
All a few (educated) friends had to say is that the image looks like garbage, what is this bullshit on my frontpage.
I was surprised about how upset these reactions made me. But then I figured there must be a multitude of important things of which I do not have even the tiniest understanding or care.
Watched the video w my 10 year old kid and tried to explain how impressive this is and relate it to my own experiences watching space shuttle launches.
Pretty much the whole (western) world stopped to watch it. It felt very much like returning to space for the first time since the end of the Apollo project (it wasn't, but it felt like it), it was such a step change from the previous generation of rockets. This was science fiction in action, it was going to revolutionise space travel. It even looked like a new form of transport, and the speed with which it cleared the gantry was amazing to people used to a Saturn 5.
We taped it off the TV, and I remember going back to watch it again multiple times.
Anyway, the question was, "how do they compare?". Personally, emotionally, they're pretty damn cool, but way less exciting. More so than can be hand-waved away as simply being older and more cynical.
Both are impressive, but spacex' achievement is making their booster truly reusable. The shuttle required way too much refurbishment to be commercially viable.
These vehicles are also completely different in their purpose so it's hard to really compare, I find them both inspiring really.
Here's a comparison made by everyday astronaut: https://youtu.be/HF69nqY3TZs
The shuttle boosters would parachute and land in the ocean where they were retrieved and could be reused.
Back then, the thought of those boosters precisely flying themselves back to the launch site would seem like science fiction -- now it is science fact.
Just watching that video brought back memories of watching the shuttle launches -- as swish_bob says those were a BIG DEAL back then both for the engineering achievement but also culturally. It was something to admire and be proud of even if your only contribution to the project was "being born in a time and place where people do things like this".
If my memory is not playing tricks on me, when the MTV music channel started (which was also a pretty BIG DEAL in my world back then) they used animations of the shuttle (landing on the moon, I think) as part of their branding because it was hard to get any cooler than the shuttle.
Landing the boosters. Simultaneously. The entire live web stream, live video from space, the stats and maps, etc
The shuttle impressive part is that they are landing the second stage, which is an order of magnitude harder than landing a booster.
The Falcon (9/heavy) impressive part is that they are flying a reusable rocket in an way that is commercially viable (which, BTW, is what the shuttle hoped to achieve).
I think the best analogy I've heard for the boosters is that it's equivalent to throwing a pencil over the Empire State Building and having it land on it's eraser.
Being 'amazed by it' isn't equivalent to fully realizing what SpaceX's achievements imply: specifically tracking the progress of SpaceX means counting down the years until you can buy a ticket to Mars.
Do most people realize that these launches are primarily done to create Mars colonies? Do most people realize that the goal of SpaceX is to terraform Mars into a planet livable like Earth? Do most people really grasp all this?
I haven't met a single person (aside from existing friends) IRL that understands any of this. It seems to be mostly "cool, rockets!" to most people - none of the full understand of what each success is to SpaceX: money in the bank for Mars development and experience launching rockets to colonize space.
The vertical landing via rocket is to make it easy to launch and land on any solid surface in the solar system. Do most people realize the impact of this? I would be shocked.
Going to Mars for scientific research would be an incredible step forward for man kind. But the feasibility of space still holds a lot in question. It is exciting, but let's not call it "saving humanity".
Also, just FYI, your comment comes across as incredibly elitist as well, which is made even worse because the so-called "implications" don't actually follow from what we saw today, or do so only barely.
I think that is lost on most people. There's no point in today's launch for SpaceX if they don't get closer to colonizing and then terraforming Mars. They don't care otherwise - that is the goal.
Edit: Not sure what you mean by elitest, but okay. Every SpaceX launch, including today's, works towards this goal: this is what watching SpaceX launches is about for a lot of people, maybe most who watch.
What can be done to get more people to grasp the significance here? Or is this pattern just human nature?
Space telescopes, Mars rovers, Moon missions, these are the cool parts. Exploration! If SpaceX lowers costs enough to give of us more of these missions, then people will care. They've only maybe just started to make an impact, with Beresheet.
If the rocket puts a car into space, we have the ability to put a car into space. If the rocket lands and is reusable and cheap, we have that ability. If we send colonists to mars, we can send colonists to mars.
Until it's done, people won't worry about it or incorporate it into their worldview. Short of offering to help, what's the point in worrying about it until there's something new that I can do? There are way too many things to worry about them all, I just care when a new thing is actually available.
But yes, SpaceX is doing a lot to make spaceflight more accessible, and that will yield many benefits and opportunities down the road.
It will not be technology that solves climate change; it will be a reigning in of externalities, correctly pricing pollution into corporate development and taxation, and the recovery of truth into politics and decision making.
It should be common knowledge that most corporations are trading our long-term health for short-term profits; if only the corporations could wait 5-10 more years for profits, they could be had sustainably for centuries, rather than all in a burst today.
We need better decision making on Earth - and better technology. But it's hardly SpaceX's fault that we haven't solved our Earthly crises yet.
Sure, in the same way that I'm building the next Facebook because I've registered the domain name I'm going to use.
Personally, from a technology standpoint, I am not that impressed compared to what we have done in the past when it comes to space exploration. Moon landings, space shuttle, Mars rovers... The current state of rocketry all but highlights how awesome it was before.
The awesome part about SpaceX is not that their rockets are the best humanity can do. What's awesome is that it may very well make the first reusable rockets that make economical sense. Unlike NASA in the past, they don't have unlimited money, they are a private company, and even if they have help from the US government, they have to work with a budget.
If anything the achievement is not the rocket itself but how it creates a regain of interest in rocketry, both popular and economic. I mean, our workhorse rocket (Soyuz) dates back from the 50s, and all of the awesome (and too expensive) stuff like the Saturn V and shuttle are now lost.
This is possibly the most Hacker News comment I have ever seen.
62 years after the first flight, world-wide air travel numbered a billion passenger-miles per day.
So, pardon me, but the pessimism about space progress is fairly justified.
It's entirely possible that chemical rockets will turn out to be the "hot air balloon" of space travel. Whether this perspective increases or decreases your pessimism is up to you.
Hence the focus on reusability by SpaceX and Blue Origin.
It's "only" about 2% of global energy consumption. Not nothing, but also not that significant. There are much bigger energy wasters that can be targeted.
And air travel is growing at a steep rate because air travel has gotten so cheap and big populations in developing countries take up air travel.
“No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.”
Rob Malda, on the iPod at its release in 2001.
That money ran out, thus also proving limited.
I’m not in any way denigrating the Russian achievement, but it’s not as though the US had no rockets of it’s own at the time and the military benefits were clear to both sides.
What makes you think that?
The original statement: that most people don't realize how awesome it is.
At face value, I've observed that less than 50% of people I know are even aware this is happening. So on that observation alone the statement is true. Among those that do know, when I've explained that there are something like 10 dimensions to solve (x/y/z velocity, x/y/z position, pitch/roll/yaw, and time) and that you have to solve all of them using only 4 inputs (lower booster, and 3 lateral boosters), they are more amazed.
In my experience, almost everyone I meet has the potential to be more impressed by this event by just learning a bit more about it. Therefore "most people don't realize how awesome this is".
you have to solve all of them using only 4 inputs (lower booster, and 3 lateral boosters), they are more amazed.
I thought they used those grid wings on launch, too.
Gatekeeping aside, the point stands that I, and others, appreciate it more as we learn more about it. Which is pretty cool.
Now it will be interesting to watch how "low cost" commercial heavy launch capabilities will be used. I know they are working hard on the the BFR but there is money to be made here that I'm sure at least Gwynn Shotwell is looking to take away from ULA and others.
Each booster generates 3 distinct "booms". IIRC the causes of each are slightly different, but it's nutty hearing it in person!
One is from the engine bell, one from the widest part of the body by the landing legs, and the third is the grid fins.
SpaceX has only done a small handful of DoD/NRO missions.
Spy satellites don't help industry or commerce or transport or safety or medicine. They solely help those who kill hundreds of people for a living.
Spy satellites, due to their very restricted scope of usefulness (and to whom they are made useful), are weapons of war. We'd be having a different discussion entirely if their outputs were livestreamed to the whole planet (like the GPS signals are). Those that run them don't permit that, because then they wouldn't be quite as useful for committing lots of murders.
What a thing of beauty.
(In case some don't get it, pay a visit to r/SpaceX on Reddit.)
Yep, checks out.
p.s. not meaning to start a derail about Assange which would be off-topic
It seems to me like the rocket lifted off quite quickly, like the acceleration at first (right at t=0) was very rapid compared to other launches I have seen, especially launches with big rockets.
Is this because it's a satellite that can take higher G's? Is it because they're launching a payload with low mass so it has low TWR? Do these engines spool faster than the engines used in other rockets (like the ones used for Apollo or the space shuttle)?
Or, am I just incorrect that this one is faster...
Jealous of everyone who could witness this up close, as usual.
Generally speaking you want to accelerate as quickly as possible in the early stages of the flight in order to reduce gravity losses (every second you spend going "up", the more energy you have to spend fighting gravity). There are other factors involved here though (if you get going too fast in the lower atmosphere the losses due to drag start outweighing the savings, etc).
The spooling time of the engine doesn't really matter here, because the launch clamps don't release the rocket until the engines are all up and running and healthy, so when T-0 hits, the engines are already at full thrust.
This doesn't really make sense to me from a simple dynamics perspective. Why does time matter, unless efficiency comes into play somewhere?
Imagine you're hovering a hundred feet off the ground. You still need to be burning your engine at a full g, but you're not going anywhere. You're spending LOTS of fuel for zero movement. Now imagine you can only burn at 1.01 g; you will VERY slowly start moving upwards, but you'll be spending a colossal amount of fuel for the same result.
Now imagine instead you're burning at 3g; suddenly you're actually accelerating quite quickly, and you're overall burning much less fuel to go the same distance.
Once you're out of the atmosphere and into the "over" phase, you're not fighting gravity, you're just trying to increase your lateral speed enough that the earth's falling away from you faster enough than gravity's pulling you toward it.
Or you can think of the limit case: as your acceleration away from earth goes to zero, your energy spent fighting gravity in order to avoid hitting the ground goes to infinity.
The payload weight will make a small difference but it'll be pretty small to the overall weight in any event and not make a large difference. Arabsat-6A is just 6 tons compared to a total weight of 1426 tons.
Further into the launch, I assume it's accelerating way faster than what humans can handle, but human limits wouldn't explain what it looks like anywhere where you can use the ground or apparent distance as a point of reference for speed and acceleration.
According to the Source of All Truth, Saturn V generated 7.6 million pounds of thrust, and had a launch weight of 5.1 million pounds. That means that, with no payload, it would accelerate at 1.49G. Meaning that the maximum possible acceleration is less than what you'd get with a fully loaded Falcon Heavy.
But that's not enough slower to be clearly visible. So I got no idea. Maybe it's some sort of perspective thing, or camera angles?
: You can figure out the URL
Congratulations to the team at SpaceX!
Insane. All 3 rockets.
Scott Manley did a video a few years back explaining how this return profile works (and attempting to fly it in Orbiter)
And there was no way to eject the SRBs early, either. Once those lit, you were in for a ride...
The space shuttle had far more black zones in its launch profile than would have been acceptable in the Saturn program, or any manned program since.
The increasingly most likely scenario with SpaceX and BO is that we'll have self-sufficient Mars colonies and space colonies in the next few decades. The funding is economics-based this time around rather than taxes and government projects, making it less volatile and less likely to be cancelled. Pumped!
 Tethered first test: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1114390314565787648?s=19
Lunar and asteroid support colonies, sure, but what is the sustainable profit model for Martian colonies?
EDIT: he also shared this idea in articles.
Deuterium, the heavy isotope of hydrogen currently valued at $10,000 per kilogram, is five times more common on Mars than it is on Earth. Deuterium has its applications today, but it is also the basic fuel for fusion reactors, and in the future when such systems come into play as a major foundation of Earth’s energy economy, the market for deuterium will expand greatly.
Martian colonists will be able to use rocket hoppers using locally produced propellants to lift such resources from the Martian surface to Mars’ moon Phobos, where an electromagnetic catapult can be enplaced capable of firing the cargo off to Earth for export. ...
They will produce multiple exports from Mars that are most likely going to be scientific data and software, things that are easily transmittable back to Earth (unlike rocks etc).
I would also imagine the more distant future profit models will be similar to on Earth; people will buy and sell goods and services there, just like they do here. There will be Martians who want to go explore the rest of the solar system, so they will build that tech as well.
I could list more and maybe I will but I gotta run. There are limitless potential sustainable profit motives and economic activities that will happen on Mars; until we go and establish the colonies, we can only speculate the exact nature of them. But given that millions of people are saving their money clamoring to move to Mars ASAP, I imagine there will be millions of ideas for generating income on Mars.
Where there are problems that people have, there will be solutions that people will pay for. And there will be millions of people on Mars - so I expect millions of problems and millions of solutions.
Edit: I imagine sports arenas will be built, and new sports created/adapted for Mars (the moon will surely be popular for this too). There will be Martian olympics and various other games that nobody on Earth can do - but will surely pay $20 to 'livestream' ppv.
I'll keep thinking about possible _differentiated, diversified, and large-scale_ revenue sources for self-sufficient colonies on Mars to consider prior to and during their founding.
> This camera is on the second stage inside of the liquid oxygen tank. It’s on the top of the inside of the tank looking straight down, and what’s in the middle there between all lines pointing outward is the outlet of the tank that feeds the engine. I have no idea why the liquid oxygen looks kind of purple but this is a super cool shot because you can see the outlet, which has a device on it to make sure we don’t suck any gas through, and on the left side you can see one of the black tanks we fill with gas to keep the tanks pressurized to feed the engines!
If you dig around YouTube you’ll find a number of examples from throughout the space program.
EDIT: Looks like it's a peak into the LOX fuel tank.
These days, it seems like the hardest part of a SpaceX launch is maintaining the drone recovery ship video link.
Even though it looks easy, it's never gonna get old. Not for me, anyway. So great!
I haven't seen a Falcon Heavy launch, but I've been lucky enough to see a 'normal' Falcon9 launch. There's 2 things that I know I didn't expect: The sound is just beyond anything. And I think the video above brings that across at least to some extend. The other part that surprised me when seeing a launch with my own eyes: The exhaust is bright. It gets lost quite a bit through cameras, so I was surprised how bright those flames are - even 30-45 seconds in, when the rocket is dozens of miles away.
At this point, how far ahead is SpaceX from any other launch effort? 5 years? 10?
The Russians are not really playing other then cheap mass production of old tech.
The European spent 4 years arguing and then came up with a something to compete with at the point when they started arguing. Now it will take another 4 years and then they are still far behind what SpaceX had 10 years ago. And that is totally without re-usability, in that they are another 5-10 years behind.
China is doing lots of things, but not as advanced or impressive and while they grind ahead consistently they are not close to SpaceX right now. At least they progress forward.
ULA is like Europe, targeting what SpaceX had 7 years ago and they will get there in 2-3 years. And then it will be far less impressive still in terms of re-usability.
India is just deploying cheap old tech.
That's basically it. SpaceX owns 50% of the US government launches, 50% of global commercial launches (large once at least). All the survives are 100% government depended, the commercial launch market is basically not close to profitable for anybody but SpaceX.
In terms of engine technology, its the same SpaceX and BlueOrigin are about to surpass the old glory of the US and the Russians and are moving into a new area.
There are quite a few tiny launchers coming and RocketLabs is ahead of everybody. They did a great job, major probs.
But it like comparing electric scooter company compared to Tesla.
By only 202km it seems to have dissipated.
Thanks for the link! The frozen o2 is emitted from a drainage line on the tank.
So proud of them for pushing human space exploration forward.
3 for 3, Good job SpaceX!
It's probably technically challenging and not a high priority. Why would this be something you want them to spend any significant resources on?
> Is it really that hard to keep a video camera working near a landing rocket?
> Even if the feed cuts out, can they not just record it locally and rebroadcast?
They literally do this all the time. Look at their YouTube channel, and you can see that they release the completed landings after the fact, even if the live broadcast cut out.
> It makes absolutely no sense.
I disagree. I don't think your expectations make any sense.
I suppose if they wanted to keep a feed up it would be possible to connect the cameras/network equipment on the ship to something with an ordinary 10Gbps 1310nm LX fiber SFP+ in it, attach 1 km of submarine rated fiber optic cable to a series of floats, and run a fiber optic cable to a small nearby ship with the satellite uplink mounted on it.
If you have a ship nearby with the VSAT uplink, another way to do it would be a really low cost IP data point to point link in the 900 MHz band, even if the fresnel zone is deep into the water, it'll be good enough for 15-20 Mbps of traffic. Way more than the bitrate of the video coming off that camera.
Something like two Cambium PMP450i radios, two dual polarity 3 ft long yagi antennas, set up as a layer 2 ethernet bridge. The spread of that type of link's RPE in the 900 band means that as long as the VSAT uplink ship had some ability to stationkeep relative to the barge, you wouldn't even need motorized tracking antennas on both barge + uplink ship.
Or keep it as it is. Adds to the drama.
Yes, but then it wouldn't be a live feed. Which is what they typically broadcast.
Great, I guess that settles it then.
>Yes, but then it wouldn't be a live feed. Which is what they typically broadcast.
Because streaming delays aren’t a thing?
There's a huge difference between watching something LIVE and watching it on a delay. Sports are also broadcast live, and also wouldn't be the same on a delay.