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SpaceX Launch - Official Webcast (spacex.com)
248 points by nkoren on Sept 29, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 160 comments



There's a lot riding on this launch. Pretty much every component is brand new. This is the first flight of this rocket, which has new engines, a new engine configuration, the payload fairing, and a much bigger body than their previous F9. Most exciting of course is the attempt to test the re-entry part of the re-usability program to connect with all the grasshopper tests.

If this works, they're going to be much closer to building completely and rapidly re-usable spacecraft. I think their end goal is to have about a 1-hour turnaround time. Spaceships will become like airplanes, and we'll have the new frontier on our hands. This type of re-usability is what makes SpaceX's Mars plans so possible in the short term and why everyone else seems to think humans on Mars won't be until the 2030s or 2040s. With this type of technology, shipping supplies and people to Mars will be so much cheaper than anyone has ever really envisioned. I can't wait to move there!

I'm quite certain that Elon plans to have a massive ramp-up in trips to Mars over the next 5 years. The software team that did their AMA on reddit a while ago was very clear that we should expect to buy tickets to Mars inside a decade - this certainly means that SpaceX will start ferrying supplies, fuel reactors and everything else necessary to Mars (via Red Dragons?) in about 5 years.

Here's hoping.


    > With this type of technology, shipping supplies and people to
    > Mars will be so much cheaper than anyone has ever really
    > envisioned. I can't wait to move there!
I used to be very personally excited about this too, but realistically I can't see habitation on Mars becoming anything more than the equivalent of a glorified trailer park in Antarctica within my lifetime, except with little chance of return, and I'm not even 30 yet.

Exciting for humanity, yes! A nice place to go live? Probably not for another 100 years or so. I'm interested in why you'd be so keen to move there.


For those who are keen to travel to Mars: may I suggest a stint in the Peace Corps first, or on a nuclear submarine, or a tour in Antarctica. If that's not ambitious enough, please try attempting to terraform a desert, or establishing a colony under the ocean or on top of K2, or constructing a city that's mostly buried underground. All of these are cakewalks compared to Mars, and may give you a taste for what the best of times will be like there after the excitement has worn off after the first month or so.

Personally, I think Mars is a destination for robots and tourists, not permanent colonies, as it's basically a hostile shithole. Of all the hostile shitholes in the solar system, there are others I'd rather visit, like Europa or Io. But to each their own.


> For those who are keen to travel to Mars: may I suggest a stint in the Peace Corps first, or on a nuclear submarine, or a tour in Antarctica. If that's not ambitious enough, please try attempting to terraform a desert, or establishing a colony under the ocean or on top of K2, or constructing a city that's mostly buried underground.

Actually, it would be like signing up for a Peace Corps tour in Antarctica, first travelling there for 6 months on a tiny 4-man nuclear submarine, then arriving to build then live in an underground city where the outside atmosphere is more rarefied than at the top of K2 and drier than most deserts.

> it's basically a hostile shithole

The only reason we think the Earth is so great is that we evolved to live there. Otherwise, it would be a shithole at the bottom of an annoyingly deep gravity well and annoyingly dense corrosive atmosphere.

Technology changes everything, though.


I don't see the impetus for colonizing Mars until we've started building serious cities in Antarctica. What does Mars buy you that Antarctica does not? Even the doomsday scenarios of "all your eggs in one basket" don't really seem to work; an Antarctic colony could be made self-sufficient and survivable in the event of an asteroid strike or nuclear war more easily than a Mars colony.

I think it's a cool idea, but people seem to severely underestimate the difficulty.


Distance and independence, I think. A truly self-reliant Mars colony could basically ignore Earth altogether.

For that reason I think it's likely we will never see a real permanent Mars colony effort, only small research stuff, just like what we have w/ Antarctica.


I think you've got the whole thing backwards. We'll probably get the technology we need to build serious cities in Antartica FROM the attempt to colonize Mars.

Colonizing Mars is completely irrational, correct. But so was going to space in the first place, so was sailing around the Earth, so was any sort of flight.

It boils down to what motivates and excites people. What makes the future a compelling, interesting one.


> Colonizing Mars is completely irrational, correct. But so was going to space in the first place, so was sailing around the Earth, so was any sort of flight.

No, no, no. Those were not irrational.


Not in the long-term sense, the same way that colonizing another planet is not irrational in the long-term sense. We'll need to be a multi-planetary species if we expect to survive longer than most of the other species on Earth. Putting all your eggs in one basket (especially one that we seem keen on destroying ourselves) is an inherently risky proposition.

When the first explorers were sailing around the Earth, it was for the sake of exploration, and the possibility of riches/gold/spices. But it certainly wasn't entirely rational, as a lot of them didn't know where they were going, and had no idea of what they'd find when they got there.


It was entirely rational. Aviation pioneers and explorers were pursuing things they valued. They were fully aware of the risks, and it was worth it to them.

I think the current most significant effort to colonize Mars is also rational: Elon Musk wants to do it because it's something that's valuable to him personally to accomplish.

I don't think doing something (e.g. colonizing other planets) for the sake of our distant ancestors is rational. That is self-sacrificial. No value is being pursued.


Distant ancestors or progeny? Doing things for your progeny can be rational.


> What does Mars buy you that Antarctica does not?

Geez, Mike, I know this isn't your first reading of such threads on HN.

How about vastly easier access to most of the resources in the Solar System?


> How about vastly easier access to most of the resources in the Solar System?

Is that really true though? Mars isn't vastly close to the asteroid belt and Jupiter systems.

A quick and dirty lookup in Wolfram Alpha tells me that the distance from Mars to main asteroid belt is comparable to the distance from Earth to Mars. Given that we've yet to land or park in orbit a single earth-grazing asteroid, isn't that actually still vastly far ?


> distance from Mars to main asteroid belt is comparable to the distance from Earth to Mars.

"Distance." Ahem.

http://i.imgur.com/SqdzxzF.png

Vastly easier in economic terms. The gravity well of Earth is just deep enough that it becomes annoying for creatures whose technology depends on molecular bonds to escape.

EDIT: Take a look at this thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/1ktjfi/deltav_map_of_...

"This is the simple physics fact that I use to blow peoples minds. It takes more energy to crash a rocket into the sun than it does to crash a rocket into Pluto."


"It takes more energy to crash a rocket into the sun than it does to crash a rocket into Pluto"

I don't believe that's what the chart shows. It talks about the energy differences of orbits. You need to knock off delta-v if you want to orbit at the chromosphere, but not if you want to crash into it.

And in fact, CuriousMetaphor pointed that out in a child comment to that quote.


Well, if you want to cancel your orbital velocity, such that you are drawn into the sun, it does take a lot of energy. But you could also transfer transverse momentum in a fly-by with a planet and head straight into the sun, which is a cheaper way of doing it.

Still, it's something that might well seem counterintuitive to people not familiar with orbital mechanics.


Certainly it takes a lot of energy for that. Which is why no one does that, and every probe sent to Mercury or to Pluto has used an assist.

I submit that the comment "It takes more energy to crash a rocket into the sun than it does to crash a rocket into Pluto" focuses wrongly on energy, when the important factor is time. Delta-v computed by Hohmann transfer orbits are simple to compute, yes, but leads to an "intuition" which excludes things like low-energy transfer trajectories.


One thing at a time. We first need to get people away from the "intuitive" terrestrial mindset that distance = difficulty. The example, that it would take more energy to drop a rocket on the sun than to hit Pluto (directly, absent more advanced tricks) is a good starting point.


As a first approximation, the terrestrial mindset is that distance = difficulty. However, rivers, swamps, oceans, forests, deserts, and mountains all modify that statement. Anyone on a river knows that it takes longer to go upstream than down, and someone who has been in eddies, rip currents, or the Gulf Stream well knows that distance and difficulty are only roughly correlated.

So it's not that hard to convince terrestrials to use an alternate-but-still-terrestrial energy model, where the Sun is at the top of a high peak, the Earth is on the flank of the mountain, Pluto is near the base, and the terrain is rough enough that things don't just roll down the hill.

That image you showed, with delta-v based on Hohmann transfer orbits, maps directly to that terrestrial energy model. As that energy model is obviously wrong - there is no friction in space - it means that that delta-v map is inadequate as a teaching method.

Yes, you've gone from crystal spheres to epicycles, but you can't use that new knowledge to understand most of the routes that we actually use for spacecraft.

Take the planned Solar Probe Plus as a quite relevant example. Its original plan was to fly by Jupiter, but now it's expected to use multiple flybys of Venus.

You cannot explain that with a delta-v map. Moreover, I argue that pointing to a delta-v map as an explanation is itself a sign of a terrestrial mindset.

To get back to the topic of "crash into the Sun" and "crash into Pluto" - to the best of my understanding, it's easier to build a rocket that can crash into the Sun than can crash into Pluto, and it takes less time to achieve that goal.

Once you can reach L2, you can crash into anything in the Solar System, if you're willing to wait long enough. Reaching Pluto takes a very long time, so it's much more likely to be affected small unforeseen events, like solar storms. Corrections require propulsion. Propulsion control requires computers. Computers require energy. All of these require mass. A Pluto-crash mission requires more mass than a Solar-crash mission, so is harder to build to get to L2 in the first place.


Most of the large amount of verbiage you've produced in these threads are flights of fancy involving sloppy logic you've concocted then tried to attribute to me, or are redundant expressions of ideas I've already stated which are also trying to masquerade as a "correction." This is not what I term good discourse.


Right, so mining asteroids from Mars won't take as much raw energy, but it will take good long-range space robotics. And patience.


So low earth orbit and the moon are both 'closer' to Jupiter than Mars is, in terms of energy requirements.


Yes, but Mars low orbit is closer to Jupiter than LEO and the moon. Building space elevators for Mars is going to be a lot cheaper, so economics is still going to favor industry controlled by Mars, at least until the difference becomes insignificant between Mars and Earth for building space elevators/some form of access to low orbit. (At which point cultural and human capital (sentience capital?) of Earth might make it dominant in the Solar System once again.)


We don't build oil refineries above deep-sea oil wells.

We don't build foundries next to iron mines.

We don't cut diamonds next to diamond mines.

We don't put textile factories in the middle of cotton fields.

We ship bauxite to where electricity costs are the cheapest.

South Africa is the major producer of many important minerals, but it doesn't control the world's industries.

Why then would economics "favor industry controlled by Mars"?

I can conceive of a future where that's so, but only in timescales of several centuries, and it's not at all obvious that there will be any time when Mars will be more important economically than the Earth.


We used to. We stopped when transportation costs came down far enough.

We do not ship raw materials to the space station, because transportation costs are high.


Oh?

When did we ever have a refinery above a deep-sea oil well?

When was the diamond cutting industry ever primarily located at diamond mines?

I can think of any number of examples where high transportation costs were never high enough to cause the production site to control "industry" in general, or even the specific industry it was in.

Consider ivory. For several hundred years, Greenland was the main supplier of ivory - specifically walrus ivory - to Europe, until elephant ivory from Africa became more abundant in the 1400s. But Greenland's dominance of a handful of goods (polar bear fur being another), did not lead to "industry controlled by" Greenland.

Beaver pelts would be another example. The market was in Europe, the trapping was done in the US (due to near extinction of the Eurasian beaver). The individual trappers in the American wilds did not control or dominate the fur market - it was the trading companies which did that.

And again I mention South Africa. Its "estimated share of world platinum production amounted to 77%; kyanite and other materials, 55%; chromium, 45%; palladium, 39%; vermiculite, 39%; vanadium, 38%; zirconium, 30%; manganese, 21%; rutile, 20%; ilmenite, 19%; gold, 11%;" and so on.

But the market is so large and complex that domination of those niches doesn't naturally lead to domination of the entire market by South Africa.

And overall market domination is what stcredzero proposes for Mars.

But I can be wrong. What is your scenario for how economics will "favor industry controlled by Mars"?


> When did we ever have a refinery above a deep-sea oil well?

Refineries are generally located near the ocean, which is to say, economically "close" to transportation.

Ivory, beaver pelts, and platinum are/were relatively concentrated forms of wealth. Terrestrial transportation is not as big an issue with those as it was with, say, the proximity of iron and coke in the US in the earlier days of the industrial revolution. The key point here, is that those resources were controlled by the US.

> The individual trappers in the American wilds did not control or dominate the fur market - it was the trading companies which did that.

They clearly didn't control such trade without local representatives. Nor did Europe retain such control in the long run.

> But the market is so large and complex that domination of those niches doesn't naturally lead to domination of the entire market by South Africa.

Because with modern transportation, everything is now fairly "close." Unless you are dealing with quite large quantities, location is often no longer an issue on Earth.


> We don't build oil refineries above deep-sea oil wells.

No, but we did build them next to waterways which facilitated transportation. The oceans are no longer "global" when the relevant context becomes larger than the Earth. In a solar-system wide context, the Earth is like a populous resource-rich country with just a few very poor harbors.

> it's not at all obvious that there will be any time when Mars will be more important economically than the Earth.

I also point this out in another thread here. It's also possible that technology makes the location advantage of Mars moot before it has a large enough population to be a major player and there is a solar-system wide economy to be a player in. It will undoubtedly be important, however.


I don't agree with the assumptions behind your analogy.

You believe it's a natural mapping from "ocean travel" to "space travel." This is frequent enough to be a trope at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceIsAnOcean .

However, you have not established that it's true. Space travel could be more like hovercraft travel. There rare cases where hovercraft are the most appropriate means of transport.

Or to be more generous, it could be like air travel. The air cargo and passenger industry is huge, yes. But it's dwarfed by ship, train, and road transportation.

Nor have I established that it's a false analogy. I've only pointed out many counter-examples of how the premises you've given don't necessarily lead to the conclusion you've reached.

But let's assume that you are correct. South Africa is a resource-rich country with good ports. How come economics doesn't "favor industry controlled by" South Africa, while it will favor Mars that way?

Kenneth Burke gives an example of gradatio, a rhetorical technique: "Who controls Berlin, controls Germany; who controls Germany controls Europe; who controls Europe controls the world". That construct is well-enough known that a Google search for "who controls * controls the world" finds dozens of different examples in the first few pages of hits. Here's a baker's dozen of them:

   - He who controls food, controls the world
   - He who controls information, controls the world.
   - Who controls the moon controls the World
   - Whoever Controls Princess Diana, Controls the World
   - He who controls the water controls the world
   - Who controls Eurasia, controls the world
   - He who controls the internet controls the world
   - He who controls the branding controls the world
   - Who controls money, controls the world
   - who controls Jerusalem controls the world's memory.
   - He who controls the calendar, controls the world
   - he who controls the seas controls the world
   - The person who controls the oil controls the world
Your argument so far is essentially "Who controls Mars controls the industry of the Solar System." I believe that's highly speculative and not reasonable.

I can be wrong. How is it likely that Mars will be the center of industry within the next, say, 200 years? What is the process of getting to that point?

You suggest that it's easier access to "most of the resources in the Solar System". How does the economics of that work out? And I don't just mean nickel mining of asteroids, since there's plenty of historical examples - again, South Africa - where raw ore extraction does not lead to overall market control.


> You believe it's a natural mapping from "ocean travel" to "space travel." This is frequent enough to be a trope at http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceIsAnOcean

Uh, no. You posited a kind of analysis based on the analogy (implied by your invocation of various examples) and I poked a hole in it. Now you are trying to pass it off as mine. No analogies are required. Just look at energy/transportation costs.

I don't know if that was some kind of inefficient reverse-troll or an honest mistake.

> Your argument so far is essentially "Who controls Mars controls the industry of the Solar System."

...based on energy/transportation costs. You seem to have missed that there, then substituted a lot of fluffy logic in its place.


Then let's try this again.

How do energy/transportation costs make Mars the natural industrial hub of the Solar System? You have made a hypothesis, now justify it.

I can come up with no scenario where that's possible in the next 200 years. Indeed, the only way I can do it is to have a sizable population on Mars first, so it builds upon its own internal economy rather than through any sort of trade. It's expensive to get people from Earth to Mars, and there needs to be a big enough population to be self-supporting, even in terms of education and training, so we're talking generations to get to that point.

And if we can put a nucleus of 10,000 people on Mars, to start that colony, then we'll have developed Earth-to-orbit technologies a lot better than we have now.

The explanation you gave - "based on energy/transportation costs" - has not a good predictor of industrial control in world history. Why should it be a given in the Solar System's future history? What is the essential difference between space and ground?

At the very least, you have to show that life-support costs do not dominate the equation. Why wouldn't we have automated mines on Mars, with at most a skeleton oversight crew? Why is it economically more feasible to have a self-supporting colony instead?

Over and over again, in reading about asteroid mining and Lunar and Martian colonization, the answer I read is at best "we have no idea if it's economically feasible" and more often "not economically feasible". While you posit that the answer is obviously weighted in favor of Mars, and not in need of further explanation.

Give me at least a vaguely reasonable scenario for how Mars becomes the natural industrial hub of the Solar System. Otherwise you're handwaving your religion at me.

And for any argument you give, explain why the Moon isn't a better choice.


> And if we can put a nucleus of 10,000 people on Mars, to start that colony, then we'll have developed Earth-to-orbit technologies a lot better than we have now.

If your argument depends on this, it is already flawed.

> The explanation you gave - "based on energy/transportation costs" - has not a good predictor of industrial control in world history.

Actually, it was quite a good predictor up to the earlier part of the industrial revolution. It does a nice job of explaining where the industrial centers of the northeastern US appeared. Technologies developed in the industrial revolution are the very ones that changed this situation.

> ...the answer is obviously weighted in favor of Mars

Read The Case for Mars. I don't have the time or desire to discuss this with you in particular.


Of course, how silly of me. I knew the answer all along and just wanted to waste people's time. I'm so sorry to have wasted yours. It couldn't possibly be that I'm actually curious what people think and haven't seen a good answer yet.

Jerk.


The repeated question can act as a sort of propaganda. (See the CO2/climate "debate.") If you know what people will probably say in response, then it would be the civic thing to do to mention it. It would also make it more likely for you to see the alternative answers. I call that "progress."


What repeated question? What makes you think I know what people will probably say, beyond the doomsday scenarios I already mentioned?

I actually found your idea of better access to space intriguing. I'd love to discuss it. But not with someone like you.


Oh come on. I just did a search. Considering the amount of times you've been around such threads on HN alone, is this really the first time you've seen the "solar-system wide resource" rationale?

I find your pose of victimhood incongruous here.


I don't actually recall taking part in a Mars colonization discussion on HN before. I frequent SpaceX threads, but that encompasses many topics besides Mars.

Between that and you calling me "Mike" even though I have no idea who you are, I have to wonder if you think I'm somebody else.

In any case, it's the first time I've seen that rationale. Believe it or not, I don't really care, but it's true.

As for "victimhood", I think you've mistakenly identified "calling out a jerk for being a jerk", which is a different thing.


>Between that and you calling me "Mike" even though I have no idea who you are, I have to wonder if you think I'm somebody else.

I'm not the person you are responding to, but why would you be surprised that someone is referring to you as 'Mike'? Your username is, after all, mikeash, and just this week your post on arm64 was on HN and you were participating in that discussion.


It implies familiarity to call someone by their first name. Combine that with certainty that I'm active in discussions I don't remember taking part in, and I start thinking of mistaken identity.


> It implies familiarity to call someone by their first name.

This isn't the 19th century, and you're not amongst old-world bluebloods.


You can browse a hundred HN comment threads without seeing anyone call anyone else by their first name. In the rare event that it happens, you'd be hard pressed to find an example where the people didn't already know each other.


> it's basically a hostile shithole.

Going somewhere is not about being there, but getting there. What we'll have to do to get there is worth the effort.

The Moon is a "hostile shithole", even worse than Mars, but every time I look to that Apollo 8 picture of the Earth rising above the lunar horizon, or read about Neil Armstrong eclipsing the Earth with his gloved thumb, I realize how fragile this world is and how futile our big empires are. It was worth it.


Indeed the moon is a hostile shithole as well, but nobody is suggesting we go live there.


True, nobody thought of that seriously, at all.

The page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_the_Moon most certainly does not exist, and even if it did, it would be a lightweight article devoid of serious references.

Note: I'm certainly not suggesting we go live there, but quite obviously it has been suggested. That kind of blanket statement is annoying to me, which is why I responded.


Our biggest empire put Armstrong there. A digression, but just saying. The logistics of getting people to the moon in the late sixties are mind-boggling.


Mars is perhaps large enough for comfortable gravity, but small enough that a space elevator is much more practical? I can see that making it a very nice place for colonies in the long term.

(Short term of course it's going to suck for all the reasons you suggest. But the only way we're going to get better at moving beyond Earth is to start doing it)


>I'm interested in why you'd be so keen to move there.

I am not the OP, but I'm very interested in moving to Mars at the first chance I get. Why? It certainly isn't about comfort, as you've pointed out. However, to many people, life is about a lot more than creature comforts. The chance to be among the first group of humans to leave our planet and live elsewhere is a unique opportunity that literally only comes once in the history of Earth. It is the first step to securing the universal survival of our species and genesis. It's about meeting new challenges, pushing limits, and proving that we are more than above-average apes beating each other with sticks and sharp objects.

This is very much a philosophical journey as well as a physical one. It's about bringing terrestrial life into the greater universe. It's about realizing the best aspects of humanity, while hoping to discard many of our flaws. It's a new beginning, a new chance. Plus, being a founder of a new society is a chance few people will ever have.

If having all of this means that I will have to live without as many baths, I am all for it.


I know that everybody has different motivations, but a common one I am seeing is to go for the glory. However, that's only enough reason to go to Mars, not enough to move there. Glory won't sustain a long-term commitment. I worry that a lot of these volunteers will get tired of it after a short period. Day-to-day life never has much glory.

And frankly, people who are motivated by glory rarely have the introspection needed to really understand their own motivations and sustain commitment. The people who do great things over long periods of time are self-motivated and do it for the love of the thing, not for a dream of glory from others.

Furthermore, I really do think that glory is the most important motivation for moving there. If these people are really highly motivated by "meeting new challenges, pushing limits," well, they can try setting up self-sustaining colonies in deserts or Antarctica today. But no volunteers I know of for that.


Beyond glory is the incredible potential of the Martian gravity well for future commerce. Ease of access to orbit and the asteroid belt will make Mars a hub for space-based industry. In addition, prior hydrology on Mars means that it has mineral deposits untouched by any prospector. Once people start moving to collect these resources, Mars will become an industrial juggernaut, and will almost certainly be more influential in space industry than Earth could ever be.


In the end, most people do what they do for the people around them. I suspect that motivation would hold just fine.


I'm glad that people like you exist. I hope we have more people with such an adventurous spirit. It's one of the great things about the human race is that there are so many of us, each of who find different things fulfilling. You can do what you love, I can do what I love (staying firmly on earth), both of us are happy and we take humanity forward!

I guess the point I'm trying to make is: having a lot of people is beneficial, because then there is likely to be someone who is happy to do the things that you aren't so excited about.


You are very right - I fully understand why people would want to stay behind! I'm very passionate about this, though, and I tend to get grouchy when people argue against doing it at all. If they don't want to go, that's fine, but when they start arguing that no one should do it, I see them as actively trying to hold back human progress for no good reason.


I can't speak for cryptoz, but here are some reasons why people might want to move to Mars:

1. It sure does sound like a lot of fun! And dangerous! And thrilling!

2. Fame and glory

3. The chance to explore and directly experience a place no other human has ever been.

4. The opportunity to stake a claim on some new land (and find out what that means). Maybe form a new government! Make new laws... I can see this being quite attractive for groups that feel stifled by Earth (e.g. religious groups, the far left, the far right).

5. The chance to spread humanity to a self-sustained place beyond Earth, as a backup (albeit a fragile one at first).

You're right that Mars would not be a nice place to live, especially in the early days, but that's not why people would go!


Regarding #5, what kind of disaster does Mars provide a backup for that, say, a self-reliant colony at the South Pole on Earth does not?


Asteroid impact, global nuclear war etc.?


A self-sufficient Antarctic colony should be able to survive those just fine.


It depends on the size of the asteroid and on a deliberate choice not to target the colony with a nuclear weapon.

I'd prefer a self-sustaining colony on the Moon before attempting Mars. There we can perfect our tools because, on Mars, if you screw up, you'll have to wait at least six months for your rescue mission.


actually, it would be way more complex to establish a self-sufficient colony on the moon. The moon lacks a lot of basic resources that mars provides, albeit in different ratios than earth does.


The Moon and Mars are very different worlds, but there are many reasons, local resources excepted, building a Moon colony should be easier. Lower gravity, no atmosphere and abundant solar energy should make metallurgy easy. The 3 light-second RTT may make telerobotics viable and allow some construction workers to have short commutes and to sleep at their homes.


However, the lack of any hydrology on the surface of the moon means that ore veins will no exist, at least not at any level of purity that would warrant extraction. On Earth and Mars, running water has sorted minerals for us. The only thing you could really consistently 'mine' is He3 for fusion powerplants that don't yet exist, and oxygen + silicon/iron/calcium from the regolith. Hydrogen will have to be imported if anything useful is to be made, and it is cheaper to send hydrogen from Mars than it is to send it from Earth (if you can stand to wait a few months from shipment to delivery).


I recall a comparison being made about how very tenuous the atmosphere really is on Mars. The comparison was something like this:

Consider how hostile the peak of Everest is to life. It has been climbed without oxygen masks only a handful of times. Then consider that to achieve an air pressure on Earth equivalent to the Martian surface, you would need to stand on a mountain around FIVE TIMES as high.

"Living" on Mars will be akin to be parking the International Space Station in a frigid, red desert and cowering inside for 99% of the time. Not really living in my book.


> I'm interested in why you'd be so keen to move there.

tripadvisor badge. 'you visited 2 worlds!'


"Had to bake my own water out of the soil, and there's perchlorate everywhere! No shuffleboard on the trip over and internet was very laggy. Two stars, would not take trip 2nd time."


This was America, or my home country - Australia - about 200 years ago.

Its not Antarctica because Antarctica is very heavily claimed at this point. But Mars? You'd be amongst the first colonists of a new planet. You'd be helping build something which may outlast Earthbound habitation, and moves us out of the current resource paradigm (exactly 1 planet).

And unlike LEO you'd have the possibility of the local resources to set up something permanent.

But I mean hey, its not perfect - I'd move to the Asteroid belt or Jupiter system if I could. Though my real enthusiasm would be diverting comets to add water to Venus - since get the atmosphere well, out of the atmosphere and you're looking at Earth 2.


  > This was America, or my home country - Australia - about 200 years ago.
  >
  > Its not Antarctica because Antarctica is very heavily 
  > claimed at this point. But Mars? You'd be amongst the
  > first colonists of a new planet. You'd be helping 
  > build something which may outlast Earthbound habitation, 
  > and moves us out of the current resource paradigm 
  > (exactly 1 planet).
  >
As I type this from a reservation, I'd like to assure you that America and Australia both had land claims at the point those pesky Europeans showed up. Keeping the claim was the problem.


Hence "heavily". There's a bunch of theory crafting over people having limited scale wars in the Antarctic once the resource exploitation treaty expires.

Which, really makes me hope asteroid mining and Mars colonization is a thing well before then.


Given the old trade routes, tracking of objects, wars fought all before the Europeans showed up, it was "heavily". The US was not exactly empty.


Why hasn't it happened already? If you are willing to get into a war over resources its not as if a treaty is going to mean anything to you.


Basically because treaties matter, and there's no proven resources. No one's been able to go test drilling, and there's still other opportunities out there for oil relatively. But all the science suggests there should be a lot of it, and once the treaty expires the re-negotiation is going to happen in a very post-peak oil world compared to today.

The problem comes in when someone definitely finds something, and wants to start a project. Creates a point of friction and that's where you get wars or skirmishes starting.


Unfortunately, the length of the Venusian day means that Earth-like conditions are almost certainly never going to arise on Venus. Plants don't take very kindly to baking in the sun for 116 days and then having a 116 day absence of light. Could this be overcome with some large-scale engineering? Perhaps, but there will never be open, lush fields on the surface there.


116 days of no light is really not all that different than places which have a winter that gets below freezing. Most plants in places with a winter die, fall and spring back up every single year. Where I live, first frost to last frost is on average about 120 days.

Also, you should see the size of the vegetables that grow near the poles where they have short summers but very long days,


> Plants don't take very kindly to baking in the sun for 116 days and then having a 116 day absence of light.

Some of them don't mind that much, actually. There have even been experiments growing plants with 2 weeks of light followed by 2 weeks of darkness, as on the moon. It can work if the 2 weeks of darkness are also at lowered temperature, which is easy to achieve in the absence of sunlight.

The exotic species of plant used in the experiment? The pea.


OK, so, you know (or you may not) how when you're in the desert, and it's approaching midday, the temperature just rises, and rises? Imagine the hour around midday not being an hour, but 10 days. Insolation, even at our distance (remember, inverse square law), is punishing. On venus, it's ridiculous.

Venusian colonisation will have to be sub-surface, even if we cover it in water - at least until if and when we come up with a gigantic solar shield that can filter and weaken a planet's worth of sunlight.


> Insolation, even at our distance (remember, inverse square law), is punishing. On venus, it's ridiculous.

Venusian colonization will probably be high up in the atmosphere, where temperatures and pressures are often going to be around the same as in San Francisco.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_Venus#Aerostat_...


> I'm interested in why you'd be so keen to move there.

I don't think it is something that can be explained. Either it is something that you get, or it just isn't.


Let's not forget the high risk of cancer from the solar radiations. Also an almost one-year travel can't be done in a ship that's like a crowded airplane. We'd go crazy without some more space and intimacy (and work to do).

Not that it's impossible but escaping the Earth's gravity cheaply isn't the only challenge.


There are over 5,000 crew members of nuclear submarines in the USN. I think they currently only have 90-day deployments, but I don't think they would tell you that 1 year travel "can't be done." It's a matter of motivation/necessity I think.


Mars colonization will take off extremely rapidly, most likely.

Making propellant on Mars is easy, all you need is Hydrogen and power and you can make 16x as much mass in propellant as the Hydrogen you bring along. And this is with mere kilograms of equipment to process the martian atmosphere. Make no mistake, this is a big deal in a lot of different ways.

So that bootstraps you into being able to effectively explore Mars at all, because now you don't have to ship out all the propellant for the return trip, which is an exponential savings.

Now add to that the fact that Mars has a day similar to Earth and substantial quantities of subsurface ice (and small amounts of water in the surface soil). That means you can use fairly modest capital equipment (stuff you can transport using the same vehicles you send people, and capable of being powered fairly easily) to start mining water ice within the first handful of trips to the planet. Which means that you can have local supplies of: potable water, propellant, fuel for equipment that runs on internal combustion engines, breathable oxygen, and carbon monoxide (which I'll explain the significance of later).

With oxygen, abundant CO2, water, and inflatable structures you can start growing plants on Mars due to the light levels and day lengths. A colony could start supplying some of its own food within less than a decade.

But wait, there's more. Given the low Martian gravity it would be almost trivially easy to create an SSTO RLV that could travel back and forth between the martian surface and orbit, refueling on the surface with locally produced propellant. You could build these on Earth and send them over without crews and just enough propellant to make a powered, parachute assisted landing before being put into service. They could visit a station in Mars orbit which would make it easier to make trips back and forth to Earth.

Additionally, by using a cycler (a spacecraft which is on a permanent trajectory looping between Earth and Mars) you could significantly increase the amount of useful payload you could deliver to Mars and increase the comfort and safety of passengers. Although for bulk cargo you could use electric propulsion to push the cargo out of low Earth orbit over to Mars and then use aerocapture / aerobraking to bring the payloads within reach of an orbital tug at Mars that could bring it to a station where it could be ferried down to the surface.

Back to Martian resources. With carbon monoxide available all you need is energy in order to be able to effectively smelt metals such as iron, copper, or aluminum. Some of the rocks and regolith on Mars are effectively high grade ores, especially of iron. It would not take much equipment to be able to start producing builk amounts of steel. This could be used for all sorts of purposes in expanding a base into a full fledged settlement.

From there things accelerate quickly. It gets easier and easier to send things to Mars, to come back from Mars, and to build things on Mars. Capital investments on Mars start to make a huge amount of sense. A substantial power source on Mars (even just in the single megawatt range) is not merely a lifeline for a base it becomes the seed of a growing industrial base. With power and water you can process the atmosphere and bootstrap the chemical industry with all the products listed above. And with that you can smelt bulk metals, and make glass. You can also start making concrete and other building materials. You can start making buildings and farming structures where only a small fraction of the structure is composed of supplies shipped from Earth.

And that's really just square 1. From there you can move on to more advanced industry, more robust farming, more advanced technology, and so on. The very first visitors to Mars will likely be scientists, but the second wave will be dominated by engineers. Imagine what will be built with the thousands of tonnes of steel, concrete, aluminum, copper, and so forth that will be produced within only the first decade of this primitive industrial capacity coming online. Certainly more than a trailer park in the skies, far more.


All of this can be done today in the Sahara, or underwater, or on the top of K2, but nobody has done them there. Why should Mars be any different?

Yes, one can do these things, but will the economics work out such that it's actually feasible? For example, solar power on Mars is pitiful, and there are no fossil fuels. Where does the power for industrial production come from? Nuclear reactors? How expensive is it to bootstrap a reactor on another planet? Where does the coolant come from without a nearby river?


The Sahara lacks a CO2 atmosphere, it also lacks substantial quantities of subsurface ice.

Besides which, about 4 million people live in the Sahara today, despite many of the surrounding countries being some of the poorest and least developed on Earth.

The point of living on Mars is not to find the most convenient place possible to live. That would not be Mars, nor would it be the Sahara, nor would it even be Copenhagen, Dubai, or the Netherlands (where 10 million people live on land that used to be under the sea). But people live in those places even so because it turns out there are compelling reasons to live there. Just as, I believe, there are compelling reasons to live on Mars (much more so than in living in the Sahara).

Edit: most people living in the developed world today are swaddled in the embrace of a vast web of advanced technology and industry. The hammer used to build the home down the street was mined and forged an ocean away. The phone you use every day contains components developed and manufactured across a handful of continents. The food you eat could come from next door or across the world. But that web of technology and industry is familiar to us, whereas one involving living on Mars is alien and implausible to our sensibilities. But over the course of decades and centuries as technology advances, as industry develops, as the unusual becomes more commonplace, maybe people will start to view life on Mars in a similar fashion. Maybe it won't seem so impractical when the bounty of martian agriculture feeds substantial populations, when martian industry is a multi-billion dollar or multi-trillion dollar business, when cities full of people exist on Mars, and so on.


Wow, my creative mind is tingling with ideas of what this could lead to. Martian politics? Martian colonies rebelling and forming their own 'nation'? Race and gender issues on Mars? Possibility of wars between Earth and Mars over the most easily accessible resources? Arms race? Etcetc... whoa!


There is a series of books written about that called the Mars Trilogy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_trilogy


> Why should Mars be any different?

Because Mars can 1) support a large human population, with industrial infrastructure, and 2) is situated closer to the majority of the resources of the solar system. It's a foregone conclusion that if humanity gets off the Earth, that Mars will be a future economic superpower.

(The middle of the Sahara and certain places underwater may also become settled for similar reasons: proximity to natural resources. K2, not so much.)

> solar power on Mars is pitiful, and there are no fossil fuels. Where does the power for industrial production come from?

The economics of solar power are completely different for Mars.

Given that Mars is about 1/10th as massive as the Earth, launching from its surface to space is vastly cheaper. In fact, the reduced gravity on Mars is forgiving enough that we can contemplate building a space elevator there with materials that are currently commercially available.


I'm not convinced Mars can support a large human population even with initial massive economic subsidy. Pregnancy in the high radiation and low gravity of Mars may result in low fertility rates and some very... interesting, (misshapen, if not defective) new humans. Unfortunately the only studies, which were kind of bad, were conducted in zero G and not 0.4 G [1], and the embryos were quickly transferred into mice in 1G for neonatal development and birth.

Even if fetal development in microgravity is OK, absent DNA repair technologies, radiation induced decay of the gene pool over the generations may require a continual replenishment of fresh, "unmutated" DNA from Earth--at least until humans evolve sufficiently on Mars. It is not practical to assume no additional radiation exposure on Mars: even if humans are buried underground, and do not come out during the occasional solar storm, they must occasionally walk on the Martian surface. Otherwise it's a robot's world, and human colonization is merely an exercise in preserving the human race though Martian burial in case of Earth apocalypse.

[1] http://www.everythingology.com/mammalian-reproduction-in-spa...: "These results suggest for the first time that fertilization can occur normally under G environment in a mammal, but normal preimplantation embryo development might require 1G"


> radiation induced decay of the gene pool over the generations

Exercise: think of inexpensive ways of mitigating this. Took me about 2 seconds to think of 3.

Low gravity might be an issue. Given the record on biological processes we thought earth-normal gravity would be vital for, I doubt it, however. I did find one mention of lower fertility rates from microgravity.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/08/spacebabies/

But if all microgravity does is to lower fertility, even that's not a problem. 38% of earth's gravity probably won't be a showstopper.


> Exercise: think of inexpensive ways of mitigating this. Took me about 2 seconds to think of 3.

instead of "leaving it as an exercise to the reader", why don't you list your three cheap ways to mitigate gene pool decay? coz i can't see any cheap ways - anything coming from earth will cost an arm and a leg.


> coz i can't see any cheap ways - anything coming from earth will cost an arm and a leg.

Good point: Relatively inexpensive.

1) Zygotes, sperm and eggs are very small. Even with radiation shielding, it's not that expensive to ship a whole lot of them from Earth. These can be used to "refresh" genetic information from Earth and ensure enough genetic diversity. If medical technology has progressed far enough, it may even be possible to send sequencing data and avoid shipping material altogether.

2) Keep everyone born on Mars underground and shielded from radiation, at least until they can store their genetic material in radiation immune facilities for breeding later.

3) Everyone immigrating from Earth would be wise to store and ship their own genetic information. This can be sent on the same flights with the "backup diversity" information in (1), which would greatly minimize the cost. The marginal cost for another sample of eggs/sperm is going to be pretty low.

Also keep in mind that not every launch has to contain such information.


For example, if the fertility rate is lower (but not zero), you can try a "quantity, not quality" approach. My parents had like a half dozen siblings each; nowadays people only have one or two kids but they could easily try for more within a lifetime.


The simple answer about the Sahara is that's its (1) in our biosphere and (2) there are too many people about.

Part of the reason space is so attractive is because it's empty - land goes to who gets there, not who has force of arms to hold it, and there's a hell of a lot of it out there.

The other reason is, you can do whatever you want, and not endanger the lives, or livelihoods of other members of the human race. Toxic spills on Mars, or asteroids or in orbital foundries don't endanger anyone. There's a massive advantage to be had pushing heavy industry and mining off-world.


> land goes to who gets there, not who has force of arms to hold it

no, this will never be true, whether its mars or earth. Right now, the other planets isn't "claimed" because it's not economical, nor worthwhile (yet). I bet you when the sufficient incentive and technology exists to colonize another planet/moon, the various gov'ts will start claiming land, using the thread of force.


An unfortunate truth. Many settlers who came to the New World did so to escape persecution from the existing regimes in the Old World. But upon arrival, they created their own societies, cultures and governments that persecuted new groups of people.

I'm afraid that the saying "you can take the [person] out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the [person]" applies to all of humanity.


Excellent run-down of the situation. Additionally, the asteroid belt is figuratively next-door, and the reduced launch costs from the surface only make it easier to reach. Mars will be the center of future space commerce, not Earth.


Thanks for this. My digestion of this was that "Mars has a competitive advantage over earth with its low gravity, and a competitive advantage over orbit because of the proximity to resources, which could make it incredibly important for large scale industrial production." Hadn't thought of it that way.


instead of inflatable structures, you're going to want to dig underground and pipe sunlight in using fiber optics. It's cheaper.

The hardest part of martian colonization is the high abundance of perchlorate everywhere.


by that token living in earth orbit is not much different. The only question I have is, other than proving we can do it; living on Mars; what are our goals for being there? Do we truly expect people to establish a autonomous existence?


> Do we truly expect people to establish a autonomous existence?

Yes.


From the video stream, it looks like it reached orbit (?) without any problems.


Yes. The mission component reached orbit in a very un-eventful fashion. :)

What we are really holding out for is tidbits about the actually fully new component of the rocket.. it's stage 1 recovery system.. if it's as mature as the grasshopper tech looks it probably was 100% successful but it's probably going to be a little bit before they let people in on how it went.


'Partial Success' for Falcon 9 First Stage Re-entry:

http://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/1ne36t/partial_succe...

Key points:

* 1st stage rolled, causing the fuel to centrifuge, shutting down the engine early

* 2nd stage couldn't be restarted


I could not find the link to their AMA can you please link that. Thank you.


"could not find the link"?

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1853ap/we_are_spacex_s...

Sorry to say, but that was literally a matter of googling "reddit spacex ama". Come on.


To his credit, he may have tried searching for it with reddit's search feature, which isn't great. I still agree with you though --- a simple google search is really often better than using a given website's search functionality, and I think it's fair to say that a given HN reader should be privy to that knowledge.


Per SpaceX post-launch press conference: all payloads delivered safely into orbit.

First stage did not land intact. The first burn went OK. The second (single-engine burn braking to the surface) cut off early: the stage spun, and the roll was centrifuging fuel in the tanks. Pieces of the stage have been recovered. (FWIW, this was with the tanks nearly drained. This may be different from Grasshopper, which has ballast to get its weight up and make it easier to control, possibly in the form of extra fuel.)

Next recovery attempt will be on the fourth Falcon 9 v1.1 launch (for space station resupply, after two communication satellite launches).

There was also a problem relighting the second stage after payloads were deployed; they've identified the issue, and will correct. (This would have been an issue for the comsat launches, as delivering them into their desired orbits requires relighting the engine.)


> First stage did not land intact.

Intact as in it broke up during descent?


Not during descent --- it got to the point of doing the second burn, but that sputtered out early because the stage was spinning too fast, and the spin was centrifuging fuel to the edges of the tanks. They haven't actually said that it hit the water too hard to stay in one piece, but that's the (fairly clear) implication.

The spin was due to "aerodynamic torque" (i.e., it was spun up by the atmosphere going down), per Elon's twitter stream.



The launch will included a number of Falcon 9 v1.1 "firsts", including:

- First use of the upgraded Merlin 1D engines, generating approximately 56 percent more sea-level thrust than the Merlin 1C engines used on all previous Falcon 9 vehicles.

- First use of the significantly longer first stage, which holds the additional propellant for the more powerful engines.

- The nine Merlin 1D engines on the first stage are arranged in an octagonal pattern with eight engines in a circle and the ninth in the center.

- First launch from SpaceX's new launch facility, Space Launch Complex 4, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and will be the first launch over the Pacific ocean using the facilities of the Pacific test range.

- First Falcon 9 launch to carry a satellite payload for a commercial customer, and also the first non-CRS mission. Each prior Falcon 9 launch was of a Dragon capsule or a Dragon-shaped test article, although SpaceX has previously successfully launched and deployed a satellite on the Falcon 1, Flight 5 mission.

- First Falcon 9 launch to have a jettisonable payload fairing, which introduces the risk of an additional separation event.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9


It's amazing that there is so much variance from launch to launch. I realize they are in a very progressive stage of the company but you'd still might think there would be more commonality from launch to launch for such a error-prone exercise.


Why would you believe that? One of the big point about Falcon 9 is how simple it can be and how easy it is to manufacture the product.


Because launching rockets is hard.


I think that's one of the big things that's different with SpaceX. They move quite quickly.


I can see the advantages with the new engine pattern but I never understood the thinking behind the grid arrangement.


I got goosebumps hearing all the people saying "X, go". So many people working so hard, coming together to achieve something. Wow. Edge of my seat.


OT but you should watch http://www.firstmenonthemoon.com/ -- several times all the flight controllers do their checks, concluding with "stay/no stay".


Yeah, the final poll. That is one of my favourite parts of a launch as well, second only to the engine ignition. Both of these things are very powerful - dozens of incredibly bright minds working together to lift thousands of kilograms into the sky.


Interesting post from the spacex subreddit. It looks like we might get to see a recording of the first stage return (if it works).

http://www.reddit.com/r/spacex/comments/1nd0qc/american_isla...


Musk's private jet is also in the area.

http://uk.flightaware.com/live/flight/N887XF


It is worth mentioning that the first stage successfully was successfully relit. I would expect footage in the coming days of the first stage soft-landing.


Unfortunately, it looks like American Islander now has a destination of San Diego, which would seem to make it unlikely that the stage will be recovered intact.

http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?mmsi=367035570...

It'll be interesting to find out what happened, if SpaceX tells us. It could be anything from a breakup at hypersonic velocities to the stage sinking after dropping from three feet over the water. (Or maybe they were just there to observe that a destruct charge went off?)


American Islander is indeed returning to San Diego. But sister ship American Spirit is steaming purposefully SSW... I wonder why... :-)


New launch pad. New rocket with new engines. New customers for SpaceX (Canada). New flight profile (test of a simulated first stage return and powered landing over the open ocean, to validate the same flight profile for use on the Falcon 9-R with retractable landing gear).

Pretty exciting.


slightly OT: for anybody interested in rockets i greatly recommend ignition!: http://www.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf - a story of liquid rocket propellants. foreword by asimov, should i say more?


What a fantastic resource! Thank you for sharing this.

A bit of an FYI for anyone else downloading: It's 223 pages, so if your Adobe reader croaks or feels glitchy while scrolling, try Sumatra PDF instead. It will be almost like opening a plain text document. Plus you can easily highlight text.

  Millions of words have been written about rocketry and space travel,
  and almost as many about the history and development of the rocket.
  But if anyone is curious about the parallel history and development
  of rocket propellants — the fuels and the oxidizers that make them
  go —he will find that there is no book which will tell him what he
  wants to know. There are a few texts which describe the propellants
  currently in use, but nowhere can he learn why these and not some-
  thing else fuel Saturn V or Titan II, or SS-9. In this book I have tried
  to make that information available, and to tell the story of the de-
  velopment of liquid rocket propellants: the who, and when, and where
  and how and why of their development. The story of solid propellants
  will have to be told by somebody else.


Awesome! Thanks for this.


"Awaiting Vehicle Downlink" is that a cute way of saying buffering? Because the flight control audio and mission clock disappear when that pops up.


Nope. That just means, they totally lost video down. I'm guessing they're dedicating a more robust connection for actual telemetry. To be fair, the video is mostly eyecandy. The actual meat is sensor data.


Well aware of that. But given the fact that the Mission Clock and Flight Control audio were disappearing as well.


That just means whoever does the video merge for the live stream decided (inconsistently) that the video downlink should coincide with control room chatter... cut out and all.


It seems that sometimes flight control audio cuts when that happens, sometimes it doesn't.


It only did that the first couple times.


At a guess, two different failure modes. One the "ground server problems" case, and one the "I wish we could hang a giant directional antenna off the side of the rocket" case.


As a software engineer currently learning test-driven development, it's fascinating to see all the parallels in SpaceX's approach to aerospace. It's well worth jumping back to around T-40 in the stream to hear and see lots of what they're doing.


Yeah! I've thought the same thing.

Really makes you appreciate that you can re-run a failing test a hundred times before it passes at negligible cost, while applying the same ideology to spaceflight means tens of millions a pop at minimum.


If you want some extra context for the awesomeness that's happening here (especially around the power of reusable components), try watching When We Left Earth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_We_Left_Earth:_The_NASA_M...

It runs through the making of Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle, Hubble, and the ISS.


I missed take off by a few minutes. Is there a recording up yet?



Much longer version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFefasS6bhc


Full version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj4C9bydkX8

Complete with the intro from SpaceX employees. Is that Elon I hear at 10:41 saying 'CE is go' ? Assuming CE means chief executive...


Apart from the deep tone the voice is different.


(T-20 Min To Webcast End) SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 Makes Its First Launch From Vandenberg, AFB

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj4C9bydkX8


Interesting how the rocket is so skinny with a huge "hammerhead" payload fairing. The upgrades to the Merlin 1 engine series seem to have worked out so well that they have stretched Falcon 9 quite a lot. The loads in the center of the rocket must be huge. To increase diameter, they would probably need to invest so much more in either risk analysis, flight control, manufacturing or transport that it wasn't deemed necessary.

(Resistance to buckling is roughly relative to rotational inertia of the cross section, which for a circle grows with the square of radius assuming a constant shell thickness, and the thickness would actually increase with increasing radius because it is a pressure vessel. Also the actual bending loads increase supralinearly with length.)


That was a surprisingly smooth ride up.

Congratulations to the SpaceX team on another massive milestone. Looking forward to more from the Falcon 9 and Merlin 1D.


I wish they were showing more of the rocket and the launchpad than just some heads talking about "pushing the boundaries" and some such. Let them talk, but in the background.


Since nothing was happening with the rocket or the pad, what purpose would that serve?


Are they not going to cover the first stage re-entry/landing? Or am I mistaken about what this flight was actually testing?


That's a minor part of the event from a press standpoint, the focus is the launch. The recovery is only given a ~10% chance of being successful.


All these launches seem to be so noisy (with chatter from a thousand people). Wonder how the engineers focus on their work.


There's a separation between the viewing areas and the mission areas so it's not an issue.


I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for this launch. I worked on the Cassiope payload about 5 years ago, and it's so awesome to know that it's finally made it to orbit.

And it got to ride on a Falcon 9! Originally, it was meant to be strapped to an old Soviet rocket in Kazakstan. This is so much cooler!


Update from Musk: "Launch was good. All satellites deployed at the targeted orbit insertion vectors."

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/384392608350367744/photo...


lift off. still get excited as I did as a kid when watching something like this.


I've got a technical question: Does anybody have any idea what a ring that comes off second stage nozzle right before the engine fires is? You can see it at 1:21:27 on the SpaceX webcast


According to http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/02/09/falcon-9-flight-1-pict... , it's the nozzle stiffening ring.

I'm guessing that it's there to help with handling the incredibly thin nozzle extension in gravity, and that once the craft is in freefall (or under exhaust pressure) it's no longer necessary.


Thank you so much, I'm nearly sure this is what I was asking about


Didn't see the exact place in the video, but perhaps you are talking about the nozzle stiffening ring? http://www.spacex.com/news/2013/02/09/falcon-9-flight-1-pict... has a still of it happening on a previous flight towards the end of the page.


Probably just a protective cover they put over the engine. my guess is a glorified garbage bag.


Video of it (for those who missed it ) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFefasS6bhc

I'm looking for video of the first stage landing, you can hear them call it out on the audio but its not in this video.


Five minutes and counting. Edge of the seat stuff. Wishing them all the success !


"Picture perfect launch". Congratulations Spacex!


Anyone know ETA for splash-down? Will that be streamed?




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