It's a BFD
February 6, 2018 8:09 AM   Subscribe

SpaceX will attempt to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time today. The launch window is from 1:30 to 4:00 PM Eastern. You can watch it live here. An animation on Youtube depicts how the launch will work if everything goes according to plan. The payload is Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster carrying a space suit-clad dummy. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" will play in the vehicle during the launch. The car is destined for an elliptical orbit around the Sun, taking it into the vicinity of Mars.
posted by artsandsci (453 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am stupidly excited for this. I know there's a big "rich guy doing rich guy stunt" element to it but, payload aside, it's also a pretty important step for spaceflight. I like spaceflight. It's neat.

Does anyone know if there are any cameras aboard that will show the car in space? I'm sure they didn't put together any kind of deep space communication system but it would be cool to get a glimpse of the car floating free. They usually get pretty good on-board footage of the launches and stage separation.

Also, all three first-stage rockets are supposed to land. If they pull this off it will be the greatest thing.

Even if there's an Earth-shattering kaboom it'll still be worth watching. Maybe especially if there's an Earth-shattering kaboom.
posted by bondcliff at 8:15 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


This is exciting! Anyone know of a non-youtube way to watch the stream? Sadly, youtube is blocked at work.

I'm hoping they show it live on MSNBC or whatever terrible channel is currently on TV in the office..
posted by Grither at 8:15 AM on February 6


Oh wait, nevermind. Somehow I always forget that I have a handy personal internet device in my pocket. I think this launch is worth watching on my phone.
posted by Grither at 8:21 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]




Does anyone know if there are any cameras aboard that will show the car in space?

Yep: "There are three cameras on the Roadster," Musk said. "They should really provide some epic views if they work and everything goes well."
posted by zsazsa at 8:25 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Every step throughout this has had me saying "So they're really doing this, huh?"

I fully support silly stunts in aid of Science!
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:25 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Forget the Falcon Heavy’s payload and focus on where the rocket will go -- We found one killer app for Musk’s rocket—if NASA embraces it. (Eric Berger for Ars Technica, Feb. 2, 2018)
A final version of the Falcon 9 rocket, dubbed Block 5, should debut later this year. Upgrades for this variant will focus on lowering the cost and time to refurbish a rocket from landing to launch. However, the new rocket will probably also feature another performance increase of about 10 percent, or more, in lift capacity.

Essentially, then, SpaceX will have nearly tripled the capability of the Falcon 9 rocket from 2011 to 2018, the period between the unveiling of the Falcon Heavy and its eventual flight. This means that many of the heavier payloads that once might have flown on the bigger rocket can now be accommodated by the single core Falcon 9.

A 6-ton Inmarsat communications satellite, designed for geostationary orbit, was originally scheduled as one of the Falcon Heavy's first customers. But a Falcon 9 Full Thrust, operating in an expendable mode, had enough power to deliver the satellite to its desired orbit. So for less money, and a more timely launch, the Inmarsat satellite rode a Falcon 9 rocket into space last May.
Elon Musk says the Falcon Heavy has a 50-50 chance of success -- “I feel super optimistic. But I feel as though that optimism has no basis in fact.” (Eric Berger for Ars Technica, Feb. 5, 2018)
“It’s small, don’t you think?” he quipped. “I think we need to step up our game.”

So began our interview with the founder of SpaceX on the eve of the launch of the most powerful rocket on Earth. During our time at the launchpad, we were most interested in the risks involved in such a test flight, with a brand new rocket packing the equivalent of four million pounds of TNT. And Musk was happy to oblige.
Biggest concerns

“One of my biggest concerns is booster-to-booster interaction,” Musk explained. “You’ve got a lot of dynamics going on there. Those rockets are very flexible; if they flex in unexpected ways they could potentially impact one another.”

With three Falcon 9 cores, the acoustical noise generated by the launch is three times greater than a single Falcon 9 launch. SpaceX engineers think they understand these interactions, but they haven’t tested them in flight. Some unexpected resonancy could cause a structural failure. These systems have all been tested extensively on the ground, but ultimately, nothing compares to an actual flight test.

“There’s a lot that could go wrong,” Musk admitted. “A really tremendous amount. I really like to emphasize that the odds of success are not super high. I don’t want to jinx it—I’m tempted to say. Because I feel super optimistic. But I feel as though that optimism has no basis in fact. I feel like we’ve got a two-thirds chance of success, but in reality we only have a 50-50 chance.”
posted by filthy light thief at 8:26 AM on February 6 [9 favorites]


When I heard about this on the news this morning I thought about this video simulation that was released of the release of the car in orbit.
posted by achrise at 8:27 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Funny, first thing that popped into my mind was “Terminal Velocity
posted by chavenet at 8:31 AM on February 6


It started as a joke but I think it borders on conspiracy theory now:

Musk is a Martian that is just trying to get home. This (Tesla, SpaceX, solar panels, flamethrowers) is just all part of his master plan.

If I was moving offshore I'd ship my car ahead, too.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:31 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Musk is a Martian that is just trying to get home. This (Tesla, SpaceX, solar panels, flamethrowers) is just all part of his master plan.

Ah but the flamethrower gives it away that he isn't a Martian - he wants to kill the Martians. J'onn J'onzz beware.
posted by durandal at 8:37 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


One of the other things apart from the interbooster interaction that is going to be interesting to see is how the craft reacts with 27 engines providing thrust.

Keeping the thing steady with that many engines is going to be a nightmare. Compare to the Space Shuttle which had 5 pushing it to orbit. That being said, we can fit teraflops in the palm of our hands these days compared to the electromechanical and crude IC systems used back in the day so fingers crossed they can get it right.
posted by Talez at 8:38 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking of the puzzlement of future astro-archaeologists which makes me think about archaeology on earth and how maybe some of those theories of cat worship or whatever are really just misconstruing jokey stunts by long dead rich and powerfull.
posted by Pembquist at 8:39 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Recreated in Kerbal Space Program, featuring a Reliant Robin rover.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:41 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


The launch window has been moved up to 2 PM EST, FWIW.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:41 AM on February 6


The part that really stands out to me is that the booster rockets are expected, upon detaching, to do a 180° and fly back down to Earth, making a soft landing in an upright position. That looks incredibly challenging, but also like one of those ideas that seem super obvious in retrospect, making me wonder why it hasn't been done sooner. Or has it? I admit I don't follow private space travel that closely.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:42 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I choose to believe that the Tesla roadster will someday be recovered and installed in the Smithsonian as an important artifact of this era of spaceflight.

Er, or it will be destroyed when the rocket fails catastrophically. One or the other.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:44 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


The payload is Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster carrying a space suit-clad dummy. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" will play in the vehicle during the launch. The car is destined for an elliptical orbit around the Sun, taking it into the vicinity of Mars.
your future capitalist overlords will be insufferable "epic bacon" reddit nerds
posted by indubitable at 8:45 AM on February 6 [27 favorites]


future?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:47 AM on February 6 [18 favorites]


The part that really stands out to me is that the booster rockets are expected, upon detaching, to do a 180° and fly back down to Earth, making a soft landing in an upright position. That looks incredibly challenging, but also like one of those ideas that seem super obvious in retrospect, making me wonder why it hasn't been done sooner. Or has it?

SpaceX does it. They've done it 21 times now. The biggest problem is you need fuel and oxidizer left in the tank for the flip and the burn back. It means you need a bigger launch craft to get a smaller payload to orbit but in the grand scheme of things, the fuel is $500K and the launch vehicle is the expensive thing running around $27m a shot. If you can bring the expensive thing back, refurbish it, and reuse it, you start down a marginal curve tending towards the $500K side of the curve for a launch price.
posted by Talez at 8:48 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


Was there any resolution to the flamethrower stunt, or was that just a fundraising exercise with a side helping of product liability for Musk's company? Bloomberg suggests that no permits would be required for use of the flamethrowers, but I'd be curious if simply slapping a disclaimer on the side and shipping a fire extinguisher with them is really enough to get them out of any potential injury lawsuits that might arise.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:50 AM on February 6


If these launches work, he’ll be able to threaten the whole planet. An ICBM is just a rocket.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:50 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I think Aya Hirano was asking "what leap in technology enabled SpaceX to do it when others before could not...or could they?"
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:50 AM on February 6


SpaceX does it. They've done it 21 times now.

That's pretty incredible. My feelings about Musk are mixed but that's undeniably cool.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:52 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If these launches work, he’ll be able to threaten the whole planet. An ICBM is just a rocket.
posted by bigbigdog at 15:50 on February 6 [+] [!]


I mean, they already could. You only need LEO for that, not this interplanetary stuff.

I would suggest that successfully constructing a warhead-sized nuclear weapon without regulatory agencies and/or whistleblowers noticing would be the real constraint here.
posted by jaduncan at 8:52 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Ah but the flamethrower gives it away that he isn't a Martian

My guess is that the flamethrower is needed to make it past NASA personnel and stow away on the rocket just before it leaves. I'll have all the details worked out when I finish my screenplay.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:53 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I think Aya Hirano was asking "what leap in technology enabled SpaceX to do it when others before could not...or could they?"

Oh. That's just computers that can do a lot of math very quickly that can keep up with the reaction control systems calculations necessary to make sure it stands upright and making sure that math is correct. The latter part is the hard part.

The biggest problem with attempting it is that it's a gamble and people traditionally involved in space stuff are risk averse and public companies. Developing the system resulted in the destruction of nine boosters. Given that it's $25.7 million a hit on those puppies you're looking at explaining to shareholders why $231 million went up in smoke because your brilliant system didn't work perfectly the first time. SpaceX has no problem with that because it's all private and the shareholders can allow the company to take the temporary hit and possibly light the money on fire while the kinks are worked out for something incredibly complicated.
posted by Talez at 8:57 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Why does it always have to be "Space Oddity"? How about, oh, "Loving The Alien", for a change?
posted by thelonius at 8:58 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


It could be fun to calculate the maximum relative velocity attainable by the Tesla roadster and how much damage that impact could have. My suspicion is it would not be very much, barring some clever gravitational slingshotting you'd be limited to the energy stored in the rocket. There's better ways to hold the world hostage than the technology represented in this rocket.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:59 AM on February 6


I simultaneously both don't get and do get the brouhaha over the "flame thrower". It's basically the same thing as a propane torch you can buy on Amazon today for $55, only it looks like a sci fi gun instead of a mundane tool, and costs literally 10x as much. But it does look cool.
posted by zsazsa at 9:00 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


wow, who knows what kind of flashy stunt that Francisco d'Anconia will do next to show the world the power of free market capitalism and his own brilliance
posted by runt at 9:08 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


What the world doesn't yet realize is that the "dummy" at the wheel of the Tesla is actually Richard Branson, whom Musk hired goons to kidnap, knock unconscious, and stuff into a spacesuit.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:10 AM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Can’t Elon persuade The Donald to be the First President In Space? He gets to ride in the sexiest spaceship ever and tweet eternally from orbit.

Star light, star bright, first star we see tonight...
posted by cenoxo at 9:11 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


What the world doesn't yet realize is that the "dummy" at the wheel of the Tesla is actually Richard Branson, whom Musk hired goons to kidnap, knock unconscious, and stuff into a spacesuit.

"Guys hear me out. This is gonna be the best prank ever."
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:12 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


What the world doesn't yet realize is that the "dummy" at the wheel of the Tesla is actually Richard Branson, whom Musk hired goons to kidnap, knock unconscious, and stuff into a spacesuit.

I fully support a "world's most dangerous game" among billionaires provided the loser's assets are used to support a social safety net for the working class
posted by Existential Dread at 9:13 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


One thing that hasn't been mentioned much is that this is (I think) SpaceX's first rocket which could put significant payloads into geosychronous orbit. Being able to hit that is a major commercial boost for them, and a significant capacity mark for NASA as well. The FH is a pretty big step forward from a space program point of view.
posted by bonehead at 9:14 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: The part that really stands out to me is that the booster rockets are expected, upon detaching, to do a 180° and fly back down to Earth, making a soft landing in an upright position. That looks incredibly challenging, but also like one of those ideas that seem super obvious in retrospect, making me wonder why it hasn't been done sooner. Or has it?

As others have pointed out, SpaceX have done this before. No one else has. You should watch the videos of past landings, they are pretty amazing:

Here's one from August 2017

Here's the first one the landed on land, Dec 2015. Its nice because the crowd of SpaceX staff go wild.

First landing ever, August 2016 on a barge named after an Iain M Banks Culture Ship.

Bear in mind that these things are about 40 metres tall, the height of a 12 storey building, and they blow up very easily if you get it wrong.

Here's a delightful compilation by SpaceX of all the failed landings and ... er ... Rapid Unscheduled Disassemblies that they had to go through before they perfected this landing technique.
posted by memebake at 9:25 AM on February 6 [12 favorites]


I would suggest that successfully constructing a warhead-sized nuclear weapon without regulatory agencies and/or whistleblowers noticing would be the real constraint here.

But what if you did that part . . . . ON MARS!?

Wake up sheeple!!
posted by The Bellman at 9:28 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


One of the other things apart from the interbooster interaction that is going to be interesting to see is how the craft reacts with 27 engines providing thrust.

Who does he think he is, Sergei Koralev?
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


(got those landings the wrong way round, land was first, droneship second)
posted by memebake at 9:30 AM on February 6


I haven't seen a detailed analysis of "could we have vertically landed a rocket stage in the 60s-70s-80s-whatever" but it would be interesting.

You'd need beefy computing power to get the control loops tight enough, so my tummy sense says 1990s at least, using those wacky DSP chips that were just coming out.

The throttleable Merlin engine is key to success, but I mean that's just ... rocket science :)

I think it's mainly because the economics finally work, and SpaceX can optimize for reusability as a design goal, rather than optimizing for number of Senate votes or chasing after single-stage-to-orbit designs for the military.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:31 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I would suggest that successfully constructing a warhead-sized nuclear weapon without regulatory agencies and/or whistleblowers noticing would be the real constraint here.

Wasn't he the one talking about corralling an asteroid into orbit, or was that someone else? (mostly snark)
posted by Slackermagee at 9:34 AM on February 6


I think the DC-X/DC-XA program was one of the first to look at in-atmosphere vertical take-off and landing at near working scales. That was early 1990s.
posted by bonehead at 9:35 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


(oh, and Bezos' BlueOrigin have also landed a rocket after getting it to space, but their rocket is smaller and doesn't have the capacity/range of the SpaceX one)
posted by memebake at 9:35 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Anyone know how long after liftoff until the roadster capsule opens up?
posted by furtive at 9:36 AM on February 6


For people wondering 'why a car?', test launches like this usually go up full of concrete blocks or similar, because no-one really wants to put their expensive satellite at risk.
posted by memebake at 9:37 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


We have a conference room booked to watch this at work. It's pretty exciting. I go back and forth between the car being dumb and fun, but there really isn't much option. Nobody is going to pay money to put a payload on this rocket and very few would even take the ride for free if their payload was expensive or hard to replace. NASA sends boring things like water along to test their rockets and people don't roll their eyes. I really hope we get to see three landings in a row. That would be something pretty special.

Not sure if your title was a reference to the next SpaceX rocket, the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket, of course. What else could it mean?) but that will be a much bigger deal yet if it ever flies. It seems like a stretch, but SpaceX has followed through on many things that seemed like a stretch already.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:37 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


/r/spacex is the core clubhouse for the launch (and landing) obsessed and well moderated with often the most current info.

There are sticky threads at the top for the most current launch, a general "SpaceX Falcon Heavy Test Flight Official Launch Discussion & Updates Thread" and a list of media resources "Falcon Heavy Test Flight Media Thread" which often has utterly amazing amatur photography. Deeper in the threads it's a bit fanboish but very good and current information.
posted by sammyo at 9:42 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Anyone know how long after liftoff until the roadster capsule opens up?

Probably right at the end of the launch cycle about 15-20 minutes after liftoff.
posted by sammyo at 9:45 AM on February 6


OK my reading comprehension about this was a little off (maybe it was the KSP simulation) but I had pictured the point of this being to orbit the Roadster around Mars, but then I read more closely the Gizmodo article and saw that, as mentioned in the posting, this is going into an orbit around the Sun, with only occasional visits to Mars*. I was heartened to learn that "The car is expected to stay in orbit for hundreds of millions of years, possibly even longer." because its awesome to imagine this being discovered in the future, after all memory of today's event is erased, and the discoverer going WTF? Fingers crossed

* Anybody seen more descriptive ephemeris? All I got is "an elliptical orbit around the Sun at a distance that will take it as far out as Mars".
posted by achrise at 9:49 AM on February 6


Developing the system resulted in the destruction of nine boosters. [...] SpaceX has no problem with that because it's all private and the shareholders can allow the company to take the temporary hit and possibly light the money on fire while the kinks are worked out for something incredibly complicated.

Not just that - the insane cleverness of the reusable booster strategy is that every single one of those failed test landings was a completely successful orbital launch of some payload for which SpaceX got paid. The test happens when the booster has already done its job and is falling into the ocean. All they really gave up was some payload capacity because of the extra fuel margin and hardware for landing, plus the R&D and operational cost. The test vehicles were better than free, they were revenue-generating.
posted by allegedly at 9:50 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


But what if you did that part . . . . ON MARS!?

The SciFi novels probably get it mostly wrong and too much of a derail for a launch post (and landing Three count'em Three rocket simultaneously. (the first stage splits apart)) but the first viable off planet colony will have a major effect on geopolitics.
posted by sammyo at 9:52 AM on February 6


There is wind, the launch is now scheduled for 3pm EST, looks like the window is shrinking for today.
posted by sammyo at 9:56 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Earth's garbage capacity is way too low, with 80 million cars per year being pumped out, it's time to start on the solar system!
posted by fairmettle at 9:57 AM on February 6


It is worth noting that this will not be the first electric car Earthlings have hefted into space. Three of them still sit parked on the moon.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 10:01 AM on February 6 [38 favorites]


Ah but the flamethrower gives it away that he isn't a Martian - he wants to kill the Martians.

Elon Musk is following the footsteps of Hank Scorpio.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:04 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


This is so cool - I'd love to see the 3 rockets land as planned. Fingers crossed it goes off today!
posted by kimberussell at 10:05 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of hoping that the "dummy" turns out to be the autoicon of Jeremy Bentham.

This is going to be the most powerful rocket launched from the US in my lifetime, I think. Pretty psyched.
posted by phooky at 10:06 AM on February 6


This is awesome, good luck SpaceX!
posted by BeeDo at 10:15 AM on February 6


We’re all counting on you.
posted by chavenet at 10:20 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Latest update is 3:10 EST
posted by lazaruslong at 10:23 AM on February 6


memebake: For people wondering 'why a car?', test launches like this usually go up full of concrete blocks or similar, because no-one really wants to put their expensive satellite at risk.

But isn't launching the expensive satellite a gazillion times more expensive than building it? It seems silly to waste even a 50% chance of getting a satellite into space.

They don't all have to be the James Webb Space Telescope. I'm sure you could get a bunch of cool science done with a pretty cheap satellite that, if it doesn't get up there, oh well.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 10:39 AM on February 6


who knows what kind of flashy stunt that Francisco d'Anconia will do next

Surely D. D. Harriman...
posted by The Tensor at 10:46 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


You'd need beefy computing power to get the control loops tight enough, so my tummy sense says 1990s at least, using those wacky DSP chips that were just coming out.

Would GPS also be necessary to help the booster home back in on the landing pad? Or is the sensor integration so good that it wouldn't be necessary? I'm thinking GPS can't hurt, although someone trying this in the 70s would probably have access to military locators, LORAN, etc.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:54 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Currently eyeing a 3:45 launch, but apparently the launch sequence has begun, so it looks like they're loading the propellant. Still a cautious go, I guess?
posted by phooky at 10:55 AM on February 6


I fully endorse the Tesla as payload but feel they will have missed a real opportunity if they haven't fitted it with a couple small solar panels and turned on the headlights and windshield wipers along with the radio.
posted by jermsplan at 11:10 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


And they are gassing her up!

T-1h 25m Go for PROP load: RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway

This is now a live thread.
posted by sammyo at 11:27 AM on February 6


they will have missed a real opportunity if they haven't fitted it with a couple small solar panels and turned on the headlights set the left turn signal blinking.

For 3 million years.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:28 AM on February 6 [27 favorites]


Do we know if its an old roadster or the new superfast 600mile range one?
posted by memebake at 11:30 AM on February 6


Anybody seen more descriptive ephemeris? All I got is "an elliptical orbit around the Sun at a distance that will take it as far out as Mars"

The Roadster is headed for a Hohman transfer orbit between Earth and Mars. If you were trying to actually reach Mars, this is the first step. You swing out as far as Mars' orbit, then hit the boosters at the right time to get captured by the planet's gravity and begin to orbit. You also, uh, need the planet to be there at the right time. Many courageous Kerbals have given their lives while I tried to do this.

Maybe once the actual parameters of the Roadster are known we'll know if/when it could swing by Mars.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:32 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Really gonna be disappointed if an obscenely rich rival doesn't steal his Tesla like SPECTRE snagging spacecraft in You Only Live Twice.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:33 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Really gonna be disappointed if an obscenely rich rival doesn't steal his Tesla like SPECTRE snagging spacecraft in You Only Live Twice.

Jeff Bezos.

It's obvious.

This is the mission New Glenn is designed for.
posted by cstross at 11:40 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Once the Roadster reaches Mars its backend drops away to reveal a NERVA nuclear rocket with the license plate "CULATER" (a la One Crazy Summer)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:47 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Musk is basically Ready Player One’s idea of cool in human form.
posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


It's Musks personal first off the line original Tesla roadster.
posted by sammyo at 11:51 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Official webcast starts in a bit less than an hour.
posted by sammyo at 11:54 AM on February 6


You also, uh, need the planet to be there at the right time. Many courageous Kerbals have given their lives while I tried to do this.

I managed to accidentally land on Duna once. Once.

Every subsequent time the planet has failed to be in the appointed location at the appointed time. Note that this is not a failure of my planning or calculations, but rather the result of a stubbornly recalcitrant celestial body.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:59 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


My feelings about Musk are mixed but that's undeniably cool.

He's like Tesla and Edison in the same person.
posted by Foosnark at 12:06 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


There is some suitably UNZ UNZ music playing on the live feed right now. I am appropriately pumped.
posted by lydhre at 12:20 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Turned on the feed at T- 21:00 . Lots of cheering in the background.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:25 PM on February 6


Has the SpaceX team ever been on the launch audio before? Sure makes it a bit looser/rowdy than earlier flights. I kind of like it.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:28 PM on February 6


There have been some party atmosphere launch webcasts like this one, but the last few have been much calmer with cheering in the distance. I more than kinda like it. Space is hard but it's also fun. They should be having fun.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:33 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Oh, they're in every flight - they went _insane_ the first time they landed the Falcon 9.

Ever wonder how big it is? It's hard to get a feel with the lens they usually use at a safe distance, but you can see people at the bottom here.
posted by Kyol at 12:33 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Good luck to all of SpaceX, including the (at least one!) MeFite/MeFighter who works there.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 12:34 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I particularly appreciate the very casual pose that the model astronaut is posed in.
posted by anastasiav at 12:36 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Sitting here holding my kid who's eight days old, telling her we're about to shoot a sports car around the sun. She was born in interesting times.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:36 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Oh my God, they're launching a copy of Asimov's Foundation trilogy, plus a library, like in Foundation. You beautiful nerds!
posted by loquacious at 12:37 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


It galls me that this is a private enterprise, but ... goddamn if I don't wish I could go to Mars.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:37 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Sitting here holding my kid who's eight days old, telling her we're about to shoot a sports car around the sun. She was born in interesting times.

My kid is watching the stream while connected with friends all around the East Coast on slack and a google chat hangout.

The future is .... community.
posted by anastasiav at 12:39 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


This inspires a weird mixture of interest, disappointment, and melancholy in me.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:39 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Is all that stuff supposed to be smoking like that? Is it water vapor or something?
posted by mudpuppie at 12:42 PM on February 6


Very cold propellants like liquid oxygen (LOX) which they just finished topping off...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:43 PM on February 6


Godspeed, I guess, you dumb car.
posted by penduluum at 12:43 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


3min 40s are they going for it?
posted by memebake at 12:43 PM on February 6


branson is vaping
posted by poffin boffin at 12:43 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


This is weird... why am I so nervous??
posted by Grither at 12:44 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That makes sense. Thanks!
posted by mudpuppie at 12:44 PM on February 6


The future is .... community.

We're not in the past anymore, Elaine. This... is the FUTURE.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:44 PM on February 6


Is all that stuff supposed to be smoking like that? Is it water vapor or something?

The spaceship is powered by aromatic pies from 1940s cartoons whose wafting scent trails have the power to lift hobos off their toes. The trick to space travel was to fill rockets with pies and equip them with artificial noses.
posted by compartment at 12:44 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


go go go
posted by bowmaniac at 12:46 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Go you magnificent bastard, GO!
posted by Talez at 12:46 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Just hearing people excited for space has me.
posted by filtergik at 12:46 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


holy fucking shit
posted by bondcliff at 12:46 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


youtube - 2,111,438 watching now
posted by bowmaniac at 12:47 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Wow.

Utterly jaw dropping.
posted by Tevin at 12:47 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Jesus, look at that velocity dial.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:47 PM on February 6


There's the curve of the earth. Never get used to seeing that.
posted by penduluum at 12:48 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Holy crap that thing looks like a Saturn 5 lighting off. IT's frickin' huge.
posted by loquacious at 12:48 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


DON'T
PANIC!
posted by Talez at 12:49 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


We have Space Roadster
posted by filtergik at 12:49 PM on February 6


lol "don't panic"
posted by bowmaniac at 12:49 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


We have full David Bowie!
posted by dirigibleman at 12:50 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


"DON'T PANIC!"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:50 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


humanity, some times, you're all right.
posted by halation at 12:50 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Space is really close, innit.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:51 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


When do the stages start landing?
posted by Grither at 12:51 PM on February 6


That thing looked like such a freaking beast roaring away...

Cut to DON'T PANIC and Bowie. I don't care. I love this.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:51 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Wow just wow wow wow!!!
posted by sammyo at 12:52 PM on February 6


Right now, Grither.
posted by bonehead at 12:52 PM on February 6


This is making me weepy and I don't even know why.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:52 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Humanity is finally back into interplanetary space. We have our ride.

Falcon Heavy can get 37,000lb to Mars. LET'S DO THIS.
posted by Talez at 12:52 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Landing Burns stat!
posted by filtergik at 12:52 PM on February 6


BOTH SIDE BOOSTERS DOWN! HOLY SHIT!
posted by Talez at 12:53 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]


Dual landing of boosters! Premium!
posted by filtergik at 12:53 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Just hearing people excited for space has me.

I can be as cynical as the next guy but I'm sitting in my office and I'm tearing up watching this. I can't imagine actually being there and part of it.
posted by bowmaniac at 12:53 PM on February 6 [13 favorites]


That was actually unbelievable.
posted by penduluum at 12:53 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


"The falcons have landed."
posted by bonehead at 12:53 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Holy shit. Like, seriously. I'm speechless.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:53 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


OK that landing was fucking AWESOME.
posted by Grither at 12:53 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Two down! I'm bawling.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:53 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Y'all that double booster landing was the absolute coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. Wow.
posted by Tevin at 12:54 PM on February 6 [36 favorites]


That landing was amazing.
posted by sleeping bear at 12:54 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Don't let me down, center core.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:55 PM on February 6


Did the 3rd stage land yet? I have no sound...
posted by Grither at 12:55 PM on February 6


I wonder how much they're paying for licensing Bowie's music for this. The broadcast license for an event like this has to be spendy.

And holy shit there's a fucking Tesla roadster in space.
posted by loquacious at 12:55 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


They lost video out on the barge. SpaceX isn't saying anything yet.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:56 PM on February 6


Sounds like they lost signal on the center core? But we aren't sure if it landed?
posted by lazaruslong at 12:56 PM on February 6


That was insane.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:56 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Once the rocket goes up
I care where it comes down
It’s part of my task
Says Elon Musk

sorry
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:56 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


Sounds like they lost signal on the center core? But we aren't sure if it landed?

The drone ship can lose the video signal from the vibration.
posted by Talez at 12:57 PM on February 6


Heh, apparently my stream is like 5+ minutes behind, I'm still waiting for landing.

I'm also getting totally crap 240px video with pauses every other second. Oh well, the replay videos will be out soon enough.
posted by loquacious at 12:57 PM on February 6


Color me impressed!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:57 PM on February 6


Heavy Metal has a reality now!
posted by filtergik at 12:57 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


It looks like the third booster is in orbit?
posted by Tevin at 12:57 PM on February 6


I feel like we'd know if the center core had successfully landed. Could be wrong though. That said, this was a major success. The launch was flawless, both side cores landed successfully, and the center core at the least made it to the droneship.
posted by Justinian at 12:57 PM on February 6


So they end the feed and leave us in suspense about the center core?!
posted by jkent at 12:58 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That was so cool I'm gonna watch it again when I get home with the sound on this time!
posted by Grither at 12:58 PM on February 6


ok that was cool. that side booster landing...
posted by supermedusa at 12:58 PM on February 6


We are waiting to find out what happened to the center core.

Send a freaking helicopter out there! Zomg.

My prim and proper mother-in-law shouted "Oh my god! They fucking did it!" when the boosters landed.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:58 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Puts me in mind of how they wanted "Here Comes the Sun" for the Voyager Golden Record, but they couldn't get the rights. (They didn't ask the actual Beatles, apparently.)
posted by Countess Elena at 12:59 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


In the immortal words of Beavis and Butthead:

Whoa! That was cool!
posted by TedW at 12:59 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Center core landed fine.
posted by sammyo at 12:59 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Also looks like the video on the webcast showed video from only one of the side boosters, but doubled up. I was kind of wondering why both were firing adjustment thrusters at exactly the same time all the time...
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:00 PM on February 6


It looks like the third booster is in orbit?
No the second stage is in orbit. The three boosters all return to earth.
posted by beagle at 1:00 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Again! AGAIN! DOITAGAIN!!!
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:01 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Live shots of the roadster with the spaceman driving over the atlantic ocean on the way to mars, unfuckingbelievable!
posted by sammyo at 1:01 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I was wondering the same thing about the boosters' video feed... like, color me impressed if you could do an open loop vertical landing.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:02 PM on February 6


I'm trying to imagine going back to 1985 and explaining to myself that one day this would just be Tuesday.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:03 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Also looks like the video on the webcast showed video from only one of the boosters, but doubled up. I was kind of wondering why both were firing adjustment thrusters at exactly the same time all the time...

Apparently that was actually two boosters. I was watching the control jets firing and they were firing and very slightly different times. They commented on this on the stream.

Apparently the flight regimen is jut that precisely controlled.
posted by loquacious at 1:03 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


did you see that? that was fucking cool.
posted by bondcliff at 1:04 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


It was neat and all, but I can't help feeling like I just volunteered my services as an unpaid extra in a Pepsi commercial.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:08 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Watching that made me feel hopeful and happy and I teared up a little.

Shutddup, I'm not crying, You're Crying.
posted by enfa at 1:10 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


saamyo, how do you know the center core landed okay? I can't find anything anywhere about it.
posted by Justinian at 1:10 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Apparently that was actually two boosters.

I'm not so sure. Watch the side booster landings again (Webcast @ 37m41s)

They're both showing the same pad and you can see the flame from the other booster in the upper middle of the frame.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:11 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure it's a duplicated video feed. When the engines fire up, you see the glow of the other booster at the same point on the screen.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:11 PM on February 6


The livestream ended very suddenly with a "whelp, nothing more to see here folks," so I assume they think there's at least a possibility they lost the core.
posted by figurant at 1:14 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Still no word on the center core, nothing has been officially confirmed.
posted by Tevin at 1:15 PM on February 6


Current best guess is that the center core is gone, based on audio from a SpaceX feed.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Aounds like they lost the centre core

https://t.co/5WoQq1QWl7
posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 1:16 PM on February 6


That's what I was saying, yeah. They were like "the side cores have landed and here comes the center core!! We may lose visual for a short period of time before we can see what happened! And... ok bye."
posted by Justinian at 1:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Core loss isn't a HUGE deal though, if they got the payload away, is it? I mean, an expensive loss, sure, but the basic part of the mission worked flawlessly.
posted by anastasiav at 1:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


According the the Guardian, all cores landed successfully. (9:08pm update)
posted by bonehead at 1:17 PM on February 6


Watch their faces at 39m09s. That's probably Musk telling them to wrap it up.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:17 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I'm not so sure. Watch the side booster landings again (Webcast @ 37m41s)

Ah, I missed this in my feed glitch. That is weird and obviously just one booster with a delay between the two identical views.
posted by loquacious at 1:17 PM on February 6


Maybe it went rogue and landed on Mar-A-Lago.
posted by cenoxo at 1:17 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Two out of three ain't bad.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:19 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


bonehead, I see nothing in the 9:08 update about the center core.
posted by Justinian at 1:19 PM on February 6


According the the Guardian, all cores landed successfully. (9:08pm update)

But it doesn't say that?
posted by lazaruslong at 1:19 PM on February 6


"According the the Guardian, all cores landed successfully. (9:08pm update)"

It doesn't say ALL cores landed successfully it says "Today it managed to land two Falcon 9 rockets simultaneously, each dropping gracefully from the sky with a controlled burn" which means they've accounted for two out of three.

Two is good and it's understandably a good deal more difficult to land the third on a robot barge in the middle of the ocean.
posted by Tevin at 1:19 PM on February 6


In fact it explicitly calls out: "Today it managed to land two Falcon 9 rockets simultaneously, each dropping gracefully from the sky with a controlled burn".


Edit: Emphasis mine
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:20 PM on February 6


Seeing those two side boosters land in tandem gave me the chills. My mind hasn't been blown like that since the Apollo program. WOW. WOWOWOWOW.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:20 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


Current best guess is that the center core is gone, based on audio from a SpaceX feed.

That might just be the moment when they lost the signal from the drone ship?

But yeah, it feels odd they haven't managed to post any sort of visual confirmation of the third core.
posted by dnash at 1:21 PM on February 6


It's the Guardian. I'm guessing they put up some premature copy that was quickly corrected.
posted by figurant at 1:21 PM on February 6


I may have reported the third landing prematurely.
posted by sammyo at 1:22 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Now the Guardian is saying: There’s still a mystery about the core rocket booster: it was supposed to land on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic, but smoke obscured the camera and then the feed cut out from vibrations on the deck.

Looks like it wasn't as definite a statement as I had thought.
posted by bonehead at 1:22 PM on February 6


They would have known whether the center core landed pretty much right away. They have, like, satellites and drones and things.
posted by Justinian at 1:23 PM on February 6


"Loss" could mean loss of signal. And if you've confirmed two landed that doesn't mean you've lost a third. I don't think we'll know until they get eyes on the barge.

Whatever happens, if I was on the SLS team I'd make sure my resume was up-to-date.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 1:23 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Do they really not have a second craft of some sort within camera range of these drone ship landings? I'd be shocked there's no camera that could send out a shot of the core standing tall, if that was indeed the case.

It doesn't even matter. First test flight, so risky that they used a simulated payload, successfully delivers payload and lands 2/3 boosters. By all rights, better than should have been hoped for.

All I want is for the center core to have returned enough data that they can make useful improvements, regardless of whether it survived the test.
posted by jermsplan at 1:24 PM on February 6


Damn it Center Core team, you had one job!

Actually about a billion jobs - any one of which could have been mission ending, great job!
posted by inflatablekiwi at 1:24 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That's the problem with using a Drone Barge (does anyone know which one it is?) - it's unmanned (unpersonned?) and a fair distance from any human observation, for obvious reasons.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 1:25 PM on February 6


If it failed, I'd suggest renaming the barge "Two out of Three Ain't Bad" in honour of today.
posted by bonehead at 1:26 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


it's Of Course I Still Love You, and i hope it's doing okay.
posted by halation at 1:26 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


If it has landed safely, any views on why they wouldn’t have reported that by now? I’m usually an optimist but this has entered “Quiet.... Too quiet.” territory.
posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 1:27 PM on February 6


renaming the barge

No. Never.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:27 PM on February 6 [17 favorites]


(and hoping that a failure doesn't render the naming of said barge unfortunately eponysterical. but we do still love you! you did a good job, rockets!)
posted by halation at 1:27 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Humans.

Just did something amazing and everyone's focusing on the bit that maybe failed.

C'mon people.
posted by chavenet at 1:27 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Having watched several drone ship landings, they always lose the video feed when the rocket starts rattling the heck out of the satellite antennas. Sometimes it comes back seconds later, sometimes not for a while. They always get the video eventually, even if they have to pull memory cards from the surviving cameras. The support ships are too far away to get visuals.
posted by allegedly at 1:27 PM on February 6


Folks in the Reddit thread are speculating that the core crashed (based on background screens in some of the videos) and SpaceX doesn't want that video to get out for the news agencies to play over and over instead of the successful launch videos.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:27 PM on February 6


That dual landing of boosters looked so sci-fi I could almost believe flat-earthers. The fact of technical actuality eclipses those far fetched stories.
posted by filtergik at 1:27 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


They tried using a robot to lock down the rocket on the barge but it does not seem to be used. The tracking boats must be quite a ways away from the ballistic event for safety, it would take out just about anything smaller than a battleship.
posted by sammyo at 1:28 PM on February 6


This whole center core thing is how conspiracy theories are born, isn't it?
posted by vverse23 at 1:28 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Overslept a nap due to recent not sleeping, so missed the live launch, but awoke in time to see the two cores land, so I'm satisified.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:29 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


rocket starts rattling the heck out of the satellite antennas


Maybe they should but the antennas on a tethered buoy some distance away....
(armchair-engineer here)
posted by jkaczor at 1:29 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Just did something amazing and everyone's focusing on the bit that maybe failed.

Because I think we're all hoping for a success. I mean, we just saw everything else work perfectly and this is the one thing that we don't yet know about. Should we just keep saying "that was cool!" and not talk about the rest of it?

There is nobody here who isn't in awe of what just happened.
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I can't remember the last time I was this giddy-excited about something. I am gonna have 'life on mars' stuck in my head for a week.
posted by zjacreman at 1:32 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Via Universe Today: analysis and speculation on the orbit. Summary: Three months too early for a true Holman transfer, likely a stable orbit between Earth and Mars.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:33 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


In amongst all the other good news, the ghost of Sergei Korolev can rest a little easier. He thought having 20+ engines on a superheavy booster was doable, and SpaceX just proved him right.
posted by Quindar Beep at 1:34 PM on February 6 [18 favorites]


So, today was the first day of classes at MIT. I'm getting ready for the first lecture tomorrow and I (along with, I assume, the entirety of the school of engineering and probably at least math and physics too) am spending a little too much time debating whether I should cancel the plans for Day 1 and just show the dual booster landing on a continuous loop for an hour. Maybe with a tasteful caption like "ENGINEERING WORKS" or "SPACEX TO INVERTED PENDULUM: EAT SHIT."
posted by range at 1:34 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Musk has an update on the upper stage restart burn. Can you guess what his replies are about?
posted by figurant at 1:35 PM on February 6


This was a success by any measure. They may or may not have gotten it letter perfect by getting the last core down or not, but this day was a huge success. Falcon Heavy is a big step forward for getting back out past LEO in a significant way; that's the key to the moon and other, further, places. What just happened hasn't been possible for nearly two generations, at least in the US.
posted by bonehead at 1:35 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


debating whether I should cancel the plans for Day 1 and just show the dual booster landing on a continuous loop for an hour
um YES
OBVIOUSLY
posted by halation at 1:36 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Regardless if the core landed they still got back two more boosters than a Delta IV Heavy launch.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:37 PM on February 6 [10 favorites]


I don't follow many SpaceX launches closely, but I recall them discussing failures as soon as they had visual proof of them. I also dimly recall that there is never any close observer to a barge landing, so that's not new. We can discuss the chances of the core (and possibly the barge) being lost, but I don't yet think we have any reason to believe that they're sitting on knowledge of a failure.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:38 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


and sent more cars around the sun than any Delta IV ever did
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:38 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


We're all Martians today.
posted by chavenet at 1:39 PM on February 6


The Hitchhiker's Guide "DONT PANIC!" on the Tesla's center console screen is what made it for me.
posted by Justinian at 1:40 PM on February 6 [16 favorites]


I'm at Caltech. We had a lunch faculty meeting today, to talk about graduate admissions, updating our email lists, and so forth. At about 12:43pm, the department chair looks at his phone, closes PowerPoint or whatever, and projects full screen Falcon Heavy T -1:43 seconds.

Best faculty meeting ever.
posted by brambleboy at 1:40 PM on February 6 [29 favorites]


(thanks all for the info about how far off observer vehicles typically are. Surprising to me, but understandable)

Musk's only regret: not putting a small motor in the Space Man's left arm so it could raise up and give a thumbs up and start a worldwide conspiracy.
posted by jermsplan at 1:41 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]




> What just happened hasn't been possible for nearly two generations, at least in the US.

I'm as much a fan of the Soviet space program as anyone, but they (and the Russians in turn) never had moon-shot capability, ever. Energia would have let them sneak up on it, as it was a Saturn V-class rocket with a glider on it, unlike the Space Shuttle, whose orbiter had the primary engines on it, so swap the glider out and....But even that wasn't a full-developed Moon rocket.
posted by Quindar Beep at 1:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


(I mean it would be educational malpractice to not show it a couple of times... We teach a feedback and controls class and that clip is like hardcore controls pornography... But man it's tempting to just let it run in the background for an hour...)
posted by range at 1:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Apparently there's a copy of Hitchhiker's Guide in the glovebox and a towel on board as well.
posted by bonehead at 1:42 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


Oh, yeah, and the video I posted earlier? Reddit r/SpaceX moderators are saying that they use that terminology when communication is lost during normal flight/reentry. So the words 'we lost the center core' are... not exactly conclusive.
posted by suckerpunch at 1:43 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The Hitchhiker's Guide "DONT PANIC!" on the Tesla's center console screen is what made it for me.

Does anyone have a photo of that? The only photo I can find is the side view of the car.
posted by bondcliff at 1:43 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Musk just put up a short video of the car dash
https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/960992715579125760
posted by bonehead at 1:46 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


bondcliff - here at the 15:52 timestamp Don't Panic
posted by anastasiav at 1:46 PM on February 6


live feed of Starman
posted by jermsplan at 1:47 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


"DON'T PANIC" image
posted by rhizome at 1:48 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


My guess is that Musk is currently engaged in a battle of wits with Q, who's lounging on a pool chair on the drone ship, sipping a piña colada through a loopy straw, all while suspending the core above the drone ship using some heretofore unknown extradimensional force. "Oops! Almost dropped it!" The deal Q is looking for includes changing the name of the drone to I Know You Are, But What Am I?
posted by mondo dentro at 1:48 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]




Ok I was just watching a live view of the Earth reflecting off the windshield of a car in SPACE and this is not really the future I expected but it's kind of cool nonetheless.
posted by bondcliff at 1:52 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I will take the piss out of the dumb car bro shit forever but that was pretty fantastic.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Fantastic! The best thing since watching Apollo Saturn V launches as a boy, hairs standing up on the back of my neck. And those dual boosters landing tail first on a column of fire! This is the right stuff.

Let’s see Russia or China top this (please) and start a leapfrog space race.
posted by cenoxo at 1:54 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


HOLY CRAP THAT STARMAN FEED RIGHT NOW.

Just casually driving by the Earth. NBD.
posted by anastasiav at 1:55 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


This really is straight out of Heavy Metal right now.
posted by bonehead at 1:56 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


In space, no one can hear you grind the clutch.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:56 PM on February 6 [14 favorites]


live feed of Starman

So I clicked, and it was neat, and then Earth came by in the background and OMG SO COOL!
posted by dnash at 1:57 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Yeah Starman sittin' casual with the big blue marble in the background is taking my breath away.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:57 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Even when the Earth is out of the range of the camera, you can still see it reflected in the paint job.

What is the thing they keep cutting over to? Is that the final rocket?
posted by anastasiav at 1:59 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


My personal hero Samantha Cristoforetti, hometown girl, amazing astronaut, fellow nerd: Ha, ha... at @SpaceX there must be many froods who really know where their towel is ;-)
Congratulations on amazing achievement!
#FalconHeavy #DontPanic

posted by lydhre at 2:01 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Not sure it's the kind of imagery The Whole Earth Catalog had in mind.
posted by popcassady at 2:01 PM on February 6




why's this taking so long to get to duna. did anyone tell elon how to activate time warp? how is he such a n00b at KSP
posted by suckerpunch at 2:03 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Waiting to see the bad guy crawl from under the car and onto the windshield.
posted by popcassady at 2:03 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Oooh, sun. Wonder if we'll get to see the moon.
posted by popcassady at 2:04 PM on February 6


What just happened hasn't been possible for nearly two generations, at least in the US.

This isn't exactly a capability that the US has. This is a capability that SpaceX has. So I'm still waiting for the SLS.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 2:05 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I want the cool space rockets to be *MY* cool space rockets!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 2:06 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


What would really cap it now is a tweet from Musk saying "Crap! I left my sunglasses in the glove box!"
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:08 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


What area of the Earth did we just see, with the large grey cloud?
posted by anastasiav at 2:09 PM on February 6


What area of the Earth did we just see, with the large grey cloud?

Britain.
posted by popcassady at 2:10 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


The moon just showed up!
posted by linux at 2:11 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Goddamn that was the coolest.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 2:12 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


OK, am I the only one not slightly terrified watching the live feed? Like I am imagining sitting in that seat, having no sense of orientation, no sound, the sun a white-hot cone of light, and nothing but unfathomable darkness in every possible direction, with the top down. I mean it is really cool to watch but my recurring nightmare of stepping out of a spaceship and falling in the wrong direction is coming back to me here. Yet I cannot look away!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:13 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


So when do the Vulcans land?
posted by cenoxo at 2:14 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Britain. Good headlights on those Teslas.
posted by StephenB at 2:14 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Quindar Beep: not actually true — the Energiya stack flew twice in different configurations, once with an uncrewed prototype Buran shuttle aboard (which made orbit and landed successfully), and once with the Polyus/Skif-DM laser-armed battle station aboard. The Polyus flight aborted due to a design/software error:
The catastrophic malfunction that led to Skif entering the atmosphere in the same area as Energia's second stage was successfully investigated. It was found that 568 seconds after launch, the timing control device gave the logical block a command to discard the side modules' covers and laser exhaust covers. Unknowingly, the same command was earlier used to open the solar panels and disengage the maneuvering thrusters. This wasn't discovered because of the logistics of the testing process and overall haste. Main thrusters engaged while the Skif kept turning, overshooting the intended 180-degree turn. The spacecraft lost speed and reverted to the ballistic trajectory.
But yes, the USSR flew a Saturn-V equivalent rocket successfully on two occasions (long after the cancellation of the N-1 direct-ascent moon rocket project).
posted by cstross at 2:14 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Oh, nothing, just watching THE PLANET EARTH REFLECTED OFF THE PAINT OF A SPORTS CAR IN SPACE.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:16 PM on February 6 [17 favorites]


It looks like a Rush album cover
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:17 PM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Oh, nothing, just watching THE PLANET EARTH REFLECTED OFF THE PAINT OF A SPORTS CAR IN SPACE.

As one does.
posted by dnash at 2:18 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Oh, nothing, just watching THE PLANET EARTH REFLECTED OFF THE PAINT OF A SPORTS CAR IN SPACE.

As one does.


On a Tuesday.
posted by anastasiav at 2:20 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Another view of the double landing. Turn on the volume: you can hear the twin sonic booms at the end.
posted by bonehead at 2:20 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Nice try, Abrams, but all that lens flare gave you away.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:21 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Actually, I know where he's headed .
posted by helion at 2:21 PM on February 6


"The center core then broke away from the vehicle’s upper stage, but did not land as intended on one of SpaceX’s autonomous drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean." - source
posted by cardboard at 2:22 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


cstross: As large a payload as Energia had, it had no restartable upper stage equivalent to the S-IVB or the Falcon Heavy's second stage. It could get things, quite heavy things even, to LEO, but not to the Moon.

It would have been able to evolve into a Moon rocket with a relatively small amount of work -- and there's evidence that Glushko intended so, and was waiting for the winds in the Politburo to change again -- but it wasn't there yet when it was cancelled.
posted by Quindar Beep at 2:23 PM on February 6


My 3 and 5 year olds just got home from school, and I’m working at home - some days it’s great to a parent and have two wide eyed little astrokids as a captive audience! Totally ambushed them at the door and had the liftoff queued up to play! Minds successfully blown.

I hope SpaceX have a few “easter eggs” hidden in the car for the next few months as spaceman makes its way to well....wherever it is going....

Freaking awesome!
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:24 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't bet against actual Easter eggs at this point.
posted by Quindar Beep at 2:25 PM on February 6


Credit where credit is due, though, the Russians had some pretty neat ideas in the late 80s, they were just never able to execute on them all the way. The N-1 had a tendency to explode, due to what I'm told were quality-control issues, but that would have been a workable design if not for that; clusters of inexpensive engines are a design that others have come back to over and over because there are advantages (arguably) vs. massive F-1 style or SSME engines, with theoretically fewer single points of failure. I suspect we'll see it again.

And the concept they had for the Energia "ultraheavy" Mars rocket in the early 90s was neat. They didn't have the tech to do a vertical landing of the boosters like SpaceX does, so their proposed reusable-launch solution was to basically take what amounted to 3 robotic, fuel-filled Space Shuttles, strap them to a center core, and use them as boosters. Once they'd done their part, they were supposed to glide back and land on a standard runway. Not a bad idea, really. Presumably you could also use those boosters in other configurations (like Delta does) if you don't need as much throw weight. In some ways it's a more sensible design than the Space Shuttle.

Anyway, today was pretty amazing, both as a technical achievement and also as an economic one. The US got to the moon by assigning a non-trivial percentage of GDP to the task and grinding away at the problem, no mean feat at all, but once the task was accomplished and priorities shifted, the system (Saturn) and more importantly the infrastructure to support it or do it again (F-1 engine manufacturing, etc.) went away.

What SpaceX has done is showed that the cost of a heavy launch vehicle, while high, isn't necessarily "multiple-superpower-GDP-percentage" kinds of high; hopefully they will also show that a space program with interplanetary capability can be sustained without that type of funding, either. Fingers very much crossed for them; supposedly they are turning out something like 3-5 engines a week, which could mean as many as 30 booster cores a year (I guess some don't make it through final QA or something). I don't think anyone has built that many rocket engines of that size, on that schedule, outside of a military ICBM program. You can't say Elon isn't ambitious.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:26 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


So, yeah, sports car in space is pretty kind of fratboy marketing on the surface, but holy shit I'll eat Don Draper's heavily smoked porkpie hat dry no chaser if this isn't essentially the greatest, coolest marketing stunt and imagery so far.

I mean, seriously. Shiny sports car lazily rotating in space with the earth in the background or slowly reflecting across it is just... well, this is going to sell a fuckton of Teslas, and somewhere, some multiple car ad execs are sweating in pure jealousy and having trouble breathing.

Every time I tab over to that Starman feed I just start laughing again because it's just so fucking surreal and absurd. There's a fucking Tesla in space. Apparently Musk's personal Tesla. There's a frickin' Space X space suit chilling in the seat.

It's... it's the distilled "Oh fuck that's so cool it's hot" of the marginal best bits of Heavy Metal and high concept prog rock and the surreal silliness and absurdity of HHGTTG all rolled into one and it's just... ludicrously perfect.

Hell, we haven't even had widely watched live views of the earth from this far away since the moon landings, and we're sitting here watching a fucking electric battery powered sports car arcing far away from the earth.
posted by loquacious at 2:29 PM on February 6 [19 favorites]


There's a starman waiting in the sky
He'd like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a starman waiting in the sky
He's told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:34 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


sports car in space is pretty kind of fratboy marketing on the surface

On the one hand yes, but on the other, as someone pointed out on reddit, this is possibly the greatest fuck-you to (noted electric car hater) Jeremy Clarkson ever. I'm content to admit to some redeeming social value there.

And also for the Heavy Metal thing. I mean, holy shit.
posted by bonehead at 2:34 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Anything that constitutes a fuck-you to Jeremy Clarkson gets my 100% support pre-emptively.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:35 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Also, is space, like, really dusty? Or are those particles from the car reacting to solar radiation?
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:36 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I want that video feed to be my new Apple TV screensaver.
posted by dnash at 2:36 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Something is emitting/leaking from the car.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:39 PM on February 6


It cracks me up that the live stream has 715 thumbs-downs.

How jaded do you have to be to give a thumbs-down to a live video of a mannequin sitting in a convertible electric car as it orbits the Earth?

(Actually, it jumped to 738 as I typed that.)
posted by mudpuppie at 2:40 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Something is emitting/leaking from the car.

Uh-oh. I hope their AAA is paid up...
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:40 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]




Well I sure hope they checked the tire pressure before launch.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:41 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Something is emitting/leaking from the car.

I told him to go before launch
posted by sapere aude at 2:41 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


ALPHA CENTAURI OR BUST

The device that speeds up or slows down the passage of time is under the seat.
posted by Talez at 2:42 PM on February 6


oh crap the feed cut out, did something happen to you Starman
posted by Countess Elena at 2:43 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


It may have been getting too far away, the earth was shrinking pretty quickly on each rotation
posted by memebake at 2:44 PM on February 6


Making all those turns without signalling is just asking for trouble
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:44 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Something is emitting/leaking from the car.

I was kind of wondering if they drained the fluids.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:45 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I'm still watching Starman! He is okay!
posted by Justinian at 2:45 PM on February 6


Some people on Facebook have been asking "Why? Why a car? What's the point?"

I've been answering that the point is that this stupid car that will be floating in an orbit between Earth and Mars is a museum. It is a Liberty Bell of human space flight. Someday, idiot tourists are going to go take selfies with it. And that is why we do this. That's the point.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:45 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


This is printed on one of the Tesla's circuit boards.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:46 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


I've been answering that the point is that this stupid car that will be floating in an orbit between Earth and Mars is a museum. It is a Liberty Bell of human space flight. Someday, idiot tourists are going to go take selfies with it. And that is why we do this. That's the point.

I've been wondering--that Roadster, what's powering the lighting/cameras? How long will it last? I figure once we get to the point of being able to traverse space daily, it'll still be hard to find, much more so if there's no signal coming out from a piece of space debris.
posted by anem0ne at 2:48 PM on February 6


"The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space."
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:49 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]




So, it’s still in orbit for now, and sometime this evening they light stage 2 again and send it to(wards) Mars?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:50 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


"Why? Why a car? What's the point?"

To that, I would just say, this was a TEST flight, so they didn't want to risk sending up anything actually valuable, so why begrudge them having a bit of fun?
posted by dnash at 2:52 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


what's powering the lighting/cameras?

I imagine that the 56kWh battery pack of a Tesla roadster can run a couple of cameras for quite some time.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:53 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


"Why? Why a car? What's the point?"

Why not?
posted by mazola at 2:53 PM on February 6


sometime this evening they light stage 2 again and send it to(wards) Mars?

No, I think that's it, its on its way now.

what's powering the lighting/cameras?

Its still attached to the second stage, that's the engine that you see on the feed occasionally. Presumably that has a bunch of battery power (or maybe they're using the roadsters battery, but that seems unlikely). But it doesn't seem to have solar or anything so it will run out eventually.
posted by memebake at 2:54 PM on February 6


something something electric car range anxiety
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:54 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


So what's that view with the green slime oozing out of the cylinder? Anyone see that?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:55 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Fuel tank camera?
posted by popcassady at 2:56 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]



So, it’s still in orbit for now, and sometime this evening they light stage 2 again and send it to(wards) Mars?


It's heading there now; they have to coast it through the Van Allen Belts before they fire Stage 2 up again and try to enter Mars's orbit. It's possible the fuel will freeze or the radiation will cause damage before they can get it there, tho, the belts are pretty rough going.
posted by halation at 2:57 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


the green slime in space context makes me a bit uneasy too
posted by helion at 2:58 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Don't worry about the Green Slime. It's going back home.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:59 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Oh, so yeah they are going to light up stage 2 again, in 3 or 4 hours. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/960988527159795712
posted by memebake at 2:59 PM on February 6


"Why? Why a car? What's the point?"

To that, I would just say, this was a TEST flight, so they didn't want to risk sending up anything actually valuable, so why begrudge them having a bit of fun?


Also a bit more incentive for everyone to make sure everything goes right. That's Musk's personal Roadster. No one wants to blow up the boss's car.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:02 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I've been wondering how long the non-metal components of the car will last, being exposed to direct sunlight and vacuum. Will this be a mostly burned out looking shell in a million years? How quickly will the paint fade?
posted by polywomp at 3:02 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Ah, that is probably the LOX tank camera. Looks weird in zero-G. Though it's supposed to be blue.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:05 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


To that, I would just say, this was a TEST flight, so they didn't want to risk sending up anything actually valuable, so why begrudge them having a bit of fun?

This. Somebody was being all "why did they waste this shot?" and I had to point out that in 1962 NASA sent an entire lane of an Olympic sized pool 167 Km up so that their rocket would have an appropriate load to push against. Once it got there they released it explosively into the ionosphere, you know, to see what would happen.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:10 PM on February 6 [9 favorites]


I'm surprised no one thought to max out the tach and speedometer...
posted by sapere aude at 3:11 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Also a bit more incentive for everyone to make sure everything goes right. That's Musk's personal Roadster. No one wants to blow up the boss's car.

End-stage capitalism in a nutshell
posted by Existential Dread at 3:15 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Space stuff has always been so serious, its weird to see something silly in space. I guess that's kindof a milestone.
posted by memebake at 3:15 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Would have been funnier if it was a Delorean.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:22 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


I admit I've been gawping at the livestream while queuing appropriate music. So far:

Johann Strauss II - The Blue Danube Waltz (from 2001)
The Eagles - Journey of the Sorcerer (from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
John Yager - Benson, Arizona (from Dark Star - lyrics)
John Barry - Capsule in Space (from You Only Live Twice)

Any other suggestions?
posted by Major Clanger at 3:22 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


The plastic is going to be severely degraded. But there's no wind in space, so it might just sit there until the slight centrifugal force of rotation knocks it apart. Probably eventually as the carbon fiber body is exposed the epoxy binder will degrade too. It's going to be an interesting teardown if it's ever recovered.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:23 PM on February 6


Any other suggestions?

Tangerine Dream, man!
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:26 PM on February 6


Space stuff has always been so serious

People still joke around, though...

How John Young Smuggled a Corned-Beef Sandwich into Space
1971: Man plays golf on the Moon
NASA - COLBERT Ready for Serious Exercise
A Gorilla (Suit) in Space

and so on.
posted by tss at 3:27 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


into the sun chips place
posted by theodolite at 3:28 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Any other suggestions?

Naturally.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:39 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


And this one goes out to Hotblack Desiato.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:42 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Any other suggestions?

GCU Arbitrary once requested "Space Oddity" but the request was ignored.

Monster Magnet's "Space Lord Mother Fucker"
Muse's "Knights of Cydonia"
Rush's "Cygnus X-1" or many other things
BOC's "Take Me Away" or many other things
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:42 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The Verge. The middle booster of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket failed to land on its drone ship.
posted by popcassady at 3:49 PM on February 6


SpaceX press conference live feed (running behind schedule)
posted by figurant at 3:58 PM on February 6


Oh, also Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'." Duh.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:04 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Has anyone seen an orbital map showing where it currently is over the earth's surface?
posted by lharmon at 4:10 PM on February 6


"failed to land on its drone ship" spans the distance from "tipped over after making touch down" to "slammed into the ocean at high speed in a giant fiery ball of destruction." I wonder which occurred.
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Musk was saying it ran out of fuel, so likely the latter.
posted by popcassady at 4:12 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I think Musk mentioned that the engines had failed to fully throttle up on the landing, possibly due to insufficient propellent. The stage seems to have hit the water at 300 km/h, damaging the drone ship in the process.
posted by figurant at 4:13 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Oh, I guess it struck the drone ship directly. The audio on the press conference is a bit flakey.
posted by figurant at 4:15 PM on February 6


Musk was saying it ran out of fuel

I'm guessing somebody forgot to plug it into the charging station last night.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:16 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Specifically, I think Musk said that they didn't have enough TEB, the chemical they use to re-ignite the rockets. There was enough to restart the center engine but not the outboard ones. I think there was plenty of fuel, as in RP-1 (kerosene).

Musk mentioned something about the rocket taking out a couple of the engines on the drone ship.
posted by tss at 4:17 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Well hey, at least it was headed in the right direction.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:20 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


What an age we live in.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:26 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]




(hey, anyone know an easy way on a Mac to capture some of that live video stream? Would be fun to make some clips with soundtracks...)
posted by dnash at 4:31 PM on February 6


Still kinda haven't fully wrapped my mind around the reality that a dude put his car in space today, it's just too cool to feel real yet.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:34 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


QuickTime Player can record your screen and convert it to video. From there, any number of video editing programs can add a soundtrack.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:35 PM on February 6


"Crazy things can come true." Elon Musk at press conference in answer to "what did you learn" question.
posted by filtergik at 4:41 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


"It's literally a normal car in space." Elon Musk commenting that they did nothing special to the materials of the Tesla Roadster they put in space today.
posted by filtergik at 4:45 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


"Crazy things can come true." Elon Musk at press conference in answer to "what did you learn" question.

🎶 Crazy things can come true
      It can happen to you
      If you're rich as fuck 🎶
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:47 PM on February 6 [12 favorites]


This was one of the top three best things I've ever seen. I have the live Starman feed on my big TV and I would leave it up there forever if I could.
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:47 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


"We want a new space race. Space races are exciting." Elon Musk stating that he hopes this gets more countries and companies into the industry.
posted by filtergik at 4:48 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I keep tabbing over to the livestream. Yes, it's still giving me the heebee-jeebees but I cannot look away. Some highlights of the event so far:

- "Oh wow! That car got really far away from Earth fast! That must be trav- oh wait, it's the Moon. ... Oh wait, it's the Moon!"

- "Damn, Earth is enormous, isn't it?"

- "Oh no that satellite is going to collide w- ah no, wait, it's just some weird lens flare."

- "STARS!"

- "I knew space is old but wow that's a lot of dust."

- "Damn, Earth is tiny, isn't it?"

- "Those weird flashes in the background when the car is in darkness, are those thunderstorms on Earth? Or is it ... Mangalores??"

- "🎵 🎶 Around the world, around the WO-rld 🎵 🎶"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:48 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


what's powering the lighting/cameras?

Musk remarked in the presser just now that the batteries will likely only last 12 hours or so. So catch your starfeed live while you can, it will be gone tomorrow.
posted by bonehead at 4:50 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Normal car; Space Suit. Elon Musk confirmed the space suit in the driver's seat of the Tesla Roadster is a space worthy, actual suit.
posted by filtergik at 5:10 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Any other suggestions?

I am watching it with the funky 70s version of the 2001 theme playing in the background.
posted by compartment at 5:13 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


So Like, If You Could Bring Elon Musk's Tesla Back From Space, Would it Still Work?
The answer is that it’s complicated. But probably not.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:24 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Musk confirmed the space suit in the driver's seat of the Tesla Roadster is a space worthy, actual suit.

Looking forward to a plot point in an asteroid mining docudrama where the crusty old space mechanic saves the day when he remembers there's an old space suite that happens to be in a close orbit during the emergency.
posted by sammyo at 5:26 PM on February 6 [20 favorites]


I cried when I realized they were really going to launch. Then again when the fairing cleared and they revealed the car playing "Life on Mars." Then I shouted when the landing pads came into view when the boosters came in for a landing. What a day.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:28 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Looking forward to a plot point in an asteroid mining docudrama where the crusty old space mechanic saves the day when he remembers there's an old space suite that happens to be in a close orbit during the emergency.

Or some of the car's li-ion batteries venting and sending it on a course to its destiny, be that a rendezvous with an alien culture or a disastrous collision with something human.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:34 PM on February 6


My Google-fu is failing me... What would have been the view like from the ISS? Either the rocket going up or of the Tesla currently in orbit?
posted by mephisjo at 5:36 PM on February 6


Or some of the car's li-ion batteries venting and sending it on a course to its destiny, be that a rendezvous with an alien culture or a disastrous collision with something human.

Yeah, not a chance they left any of the car's batteries in it...
posted by killdevil at 5:47 PM on February 6


I can think of some perfectly appropriate music to accompany video of the Teslacar in Space...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:52 PM on February 6


What would have been the view like from the ISS? Either the rocket going up or of the Tesla currently in orbit?

If the rocket was even visible from the ISS, then a bright tiny dot. The Tesla is almost certainly not visible.
posted by Pyry at 5:55 PM on February 6


I may be obsessing over the live satellite tracking linked above, but... It's falling, yes?
posted by emelenjr at 6:01 PM on February 6


How tall are the booster cores themselves?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:10 PM on February 6


Watching Starman fly over Earth on the live feed is the best thing.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:10 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I may be obsessing over the live satellite tracking linked above, but... It's falling, yes?


What's falling? I mean technically all orbiting things are falling, they're just moving fast enough sideways to miss.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:19 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Looks like the live stream has ended. No news about prepping for the next burn, but this is probably about when they’d do it.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:38 PM on February 6


Even if it crashes back to Earth it'll still be the sickest jump of all time
posted by theodolite at 6:42 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The insertion burn happened at ~02:30 UTC, as it was over southern California.

Godspeed, Starman. You did good.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:49 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Starman is not falling toward the Earth and missing. Past escape velocity, into interplanetary space, moving ever further away from Earth, Starman is falling toward the Sun and missing.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:30 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I'm confused, I don't think the final burn has happened yet. Im still watching the Starman stream and it's still gently rotating and they are still cutting to a view of the 2nd stage engine. Is the second stage also going along for the long ride?
posted by michswiss at 7:30 PM on February 6


The stream ended over an hour ago.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:42 PM on February 6


Whoops. They fired the rockets a bit too long.

@elonmusk: Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:49 PM on February 6 [6 favorites]


Well, I'm not sure what's playing then as I started it a little over two hours ago and it's still going. Youtube is saying it's a live stream. Hmm...
posted by michswiss at 7:50 PM on February 6


First person to the roadster wins all of Elon's money. Ready Player Two, in theaters everywhere Summer 2019
posted by theodolite at 7:54 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.

2.61 AU, nice. Probably Elon has a console with a prompt like USE MAXIMUM ROCKET POWER (Y/N)?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:02 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Anyone nerdy enough to know how much additional dV that would take? I mean, is it like 0.5m/s or another 10m/s? Or is this where the real aerospace nerds push their glasses up their noses and say "no you fool that's specific impulse and it's another 3.81 heptiseconds *sniff*".
posted by Kyol at 8:13 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Falcon Heavy is a big step forward for getting back out past LEO in a significant way;

Took me a moment to realize this was low-earth-orbit, and not law-enforcement-officers.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:26 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


The inspection process to clear one of those reusable rockets for flight again must be insane, just thinking about all of the stresses they're subjected to along with the complexity and sheer size of the things... like how are you ever going to catch that random 2cm bit of material that has some subtle little microfractures that will turn it into a very bad day on the launch platform?
posted by jason_steakums at 8:28 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I have the opposite LEO problem, which makes true crime threads really confusing.
posted by ver at 8:31 PM on February 6 [8 favorites]


The inspection process to clear one of those reusable rockets for flight again must be insane [...]

Well, and that's what I think makes the regular Falcon 9 kind of appealing for satellite operators. "Eh, oh well, there was a launch failure, the good news is we brought the cost of getting into space down enough that you could send up multiple satellites for what you used to have to spend, let's have our underwriters talk to yours and we'll work something out m'kay?"

I'm not sure that holds as true for the Falcon Heavy and exhaustively planned one-off missions to the outer solar system with tight transfer windows and everything. But who knows, maybe the FH will end up being the first use for cores that end up as an ordinary pre-flown F9. Or everything that demands the FH's capabilities will always want the highest performance missions and they'll all be discarded on launch. Options, baby, we got options.
posted by Kyol at 8:35 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I watched this after the fact. I definitely didn't expect to feel this way, but I cried upon seeing those boosters set back down. Maybe it's in part because I've been rewatching Battlestar Galactica on Prime, but I felt very "Fuck yeah humanity!" seeing this.
posted by limeonaire at 8:51 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


There's a corrected stream up that has both booster cams and oh my it is just amazing, even the third time through.
posted by Kyol at 9:02 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Anyone nerdy enough to know how much additional dV that would take?

About 2.9 km/s to a Mars transfer orbit, about 6 km/s to the asteroid belt. Pretty significant, someone had a lead foot I guess.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:02 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Ok, look. I have to vent this, somewhere; bear with me.

I am a voracious reader, grown up on lots of SF, I read (multiple times) novels, short stories from all the major authors - Asimov, Bradbury, Dick, Ballard, Heinlein, Le Guin, you name it. I can quote Douglas Adams from memory. Fantasy, as well, too many to mention. Plus literature, the classics, the modern, the contemporary - I immerse myself in a text and visualize places, faces, people - the daily and the fantastic. And don't get me started about comics, and movies. I think I know every frame of 2001, a Space Odissey.

Chemistry would have been my major, if I finished it - I loved organic chemistry - it taught me to visualize and understand structures, atoms, molecules, proteins, the way they are laid in space, how they work, and interact; things never seen by human eye (until very recently), deducted by pure abstraction and tiny clues: a spectral line, the pattern of diffraction in a crystal, a change in color; I also took my fair share of maths, calculus, algebra; I can think of abstract polydimensional entities and reason around those - and then there was all the physics. Then by repeated twists and turns I became a sort of a multimedia designer - so my job was -still is- to figure out things that weren't there yet, first by conceptualizing them, and then solving all the practical issues to bring them to fruition. And then came coding.

I'll cut it short: I think I am quite a rational person, but most of my intellectual life has also revolved in various ways around creativity, and abstraction, to various degrees and in various fields.

So anyway: tonight I cast the SpaceX feed to the TV and watched the liftoff, and the various stage separation, and reentry and landing with my better half who shares most of my nerdery (or gracefully puts up with it) and much anticipation and tension and fun and awe (and emotion at the Bowie reference, and joy at the Douglas Adams one) were experienced.
Then I saw a link somewhere and switched to the feed from the cameras mounted on the second stage. And this picture appears on the screen.

Earth. Rising from behind a red convertible. With a mannequin in a space suit in it. Quietly spinning in orbit. Now.
And I'm stunned with the full force of one unexpected thought:

This image is real. I'm looking at it. I understand it. Yet, I cannot really process it. I was never wired for it.
posted by _dario at 9:05 PM on February 6 [29 favorites]


"Haha whoops guess we're going to the asteroid belt!" is the perfect capper to today's amazing adventure.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:22 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Earth. Rising from behind a red convertible. With a mannequin in a space suit in it. Quietly spinning in orbit. Now.
And I'm stunned with the full force of one unexpected thought


/@ stumbles in through the garage door: "HEY, YOU GUYS SEE THIS THING WITH THIS FRICKIN' SPACE SUIT DRIVING A TESLA IN EARTH ORBIT?!? BEST COMMERCIAL SINCE THE SUPERBOWL!!"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:08 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


This image is real. I'm looking at it. I understand it. Yet, I cannot really process it. I was never wired for it.

And this picture appears on the screen. [REAL]

Does that help?


Probably Elon has a console with a prompt like USE MAXIMUM ROCKET POWER (Y/N)?

I'd have coded that like this:

USE MAXIMUM ROCKET POWER ([Y]/N)?
posted by mikelieman at 10:19 PM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Can we just talk about this for a second?
(Imgur post comparing animations of the dual booster landings to the real thing today.)
posted by cenoxo at 11:19 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


But who knows, maybe the FH will end up being the first use for cores that end up as an ordinary pre-flown F9.

I believe that's exactly what they did - the two side cores they used today had flown and landed before.
posted by memebake at 1:00 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I got this weird feeling that aliens are coming.

Also:
And this picture appears on the screen.

Any chance Ol' Musky is going to sell prints of this picture?
posted by Literaryhero at 1:56 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Even more: Musk, when talking about the space suit said this, “It definitely works, though, you can just put it on and jump in a vacuum chamber.”

What do you think his office is like, and how often do you think he has done this?
posted by Literaryhero at 2:07 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Whoops. They fired the rockets a bit too long.
@elonmusk: Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.


Well, good thing Starman's wearing that helmet, then.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 4:59 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Even pre-launch what I was hearing was that the launch of FH was off by months if the real hope was to rendezvous with Mars. At which point I feel like "Fuck it, let's put the hammer down and see what this baby can do" is absolutely the right decision. Another one of those subtle perks to using a simulated payload on a test flight is that he didn't just launch an expensive satellite with scientific tools into the asteroid belt. Who cares?
posted by jermsplan at 7:27 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Exactly. The payload might as well have been a load of concrete or whatever.

I do hope they did add in enough power, transmitters, and so forth that they can get back some data, but since the whole thing was a test flight getting back just the pix from orbit was a bonus.

Seriously though, if you're spending the money to launch, even for a test launch, an extra million or two for a few solar panels and a nice transmitter doesn't seem like a bad idea. If it blows up, well too bad, if it doesn't you get basically a free exploration satellite out of the affair. With computers as cheap as they are today, slapping on enough to get useful data back shouldn't cost very much at all.
posted by sotonohito at 7:57 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Who cares?

A lot of people, apparently. It seems like I spent a lot of yesterday swimming in the sea of all those people who care that way, and it made me a little sad, to be perfectly honest. Today, all my social media feeds have gone back to The Trump Show and the regular terribleness that is life on Earth, but for a brief moment, yesterday was better, and now I'm full of feelings, not all of them good.

There were people yesterday complaining that he sent a car, not a science package. They were complaining that he sent anything at all, that all the money involved could be better spent on helping the poor and the sick. There were people soberly rationalizing that; golly gee, it's neat that one of the 0.1% businessmen can throw his car into space, but that it would be better done by governments and countries and socialist utopias and ... and... and... it just makes me so mad and I want to shake them all until their heads fall off.

Humanity is in a race against itself. It needs to get off this planet and be able to live elsewhere, many elsewhere's, any elsewhere's. I don't care how that happens. If it's a tyrannical totalitarian corporate dystopia that does it, it's fine. If humanity stumbles, though, if we screw this up and lose technology, lose this civilization, even for a little while, we may not ever be able to get it back. All the easily attainable energy sources and mineable resources are gone. We used them. Even if we manage to write down all our knowledge and it survives, that doesn't fix anything. Physics on paper is great, but physics on paper does not get you to space. Only physics in the form of something that lifts you into space and lets you live there indefinitely gets you to space.

If we don't get off this rock before we cannot get off this rock, then none of this crap matters. No art or culture matters. No science. No joy or beauty or despair matters. Not in the long term. If humans live for another 100,000 years or another 10 million years, is irrelevant if it never leaves the Earth.

Stuff like yesterday isn't sufficient, but it's necessary. It needs to exist to make people think about what's possible. If it takes the socioeconomic willpower of an Elon Musk to do it, that's just dandy, because none of our actual governments have that kind of socioeconomic willpower.

(sigh) Sorry. I just had to rant for a bit.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:03 AM on February 7 [18 favorites]


I spent all day yesterday at the hospital with a loved one. After the operation and getting her back home and situated, my 14 hour day was over. Finally had a moment to myself and the first thing I saw was the video of a convertible in orbit, Earth through the windshield, "Don't Panic" being as reassuring as ever. It was absurd in all the right ways, beautiful, can't really put my feeling into words. After all this continuing horridness with Trump and my family's deep stresses, there's this moment of beauty and comedy that erases all those anxieties for a moment.

I still can't quite get over it. Seeing the entire planet reflected into the side of a car. Something I had never even imagined seeing before. I can't stand Musk in many ways, but he and his team did something good yesterday. There were probably better uses for the 100-200 million spent, but sometimes just setting the cash on fire, and letting people dance around the flames, is money well spent.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:23 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


Humanity is in a race against itself. It needs to get off this planet and be able to live elsewhere, many elsewhere's, any elsewhere's. I don't care how that happens. If it's a tyrannical totalitarian corporate dystopia that does it, it's fine.

Oh hell no. Extinction is way preferable to Hank Scorpio's interstellar boot-heel. Sorry humanity.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:35 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


The center core was only able to relight one of the three engines necessary to land, and so it hit the water at 300 miles per hour about 300 feet from the drone ship.

I hope they got some good video of that!

As for complaints that this was a waste of money, my response is to point out that the money spent on space exploration isn’t just put in a big hole and set on fire. It is spent hiring people, a lot of them highly skilled engineers, machinists, and so on, but also the folks who sweep the floors and empty the trash cans in the factories and offices involved in this project. And all those people go home and spend their salaries on houses, and cars, and groceries, helping other people have jobs. All in all, far better than Musk parking that money in the stock market or the Cayman Islands where it only benefits him (and a few lawyers and accountants).
posted by TedW at 8:55 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


I dunno Xyanthilous, I think you need to hang out with more positive people. Everyone I was around yesterday was full "holy shit, he actually did it". Maybe it's just because I work with engineers, but we actually broke some bubbly out at work. Team Humanity just got back in the big game in a way that we haven't been since STS turned into... whatever it turned into, and the Russians stopped being able to foot the bill for Energia/Buran. (IMO, both of those are really failures of their representative governments' management structures, and not of the technology per se. They show the risks of being both overly cautious and overly ambitious.)

And anyone complaining about the payload doesn't know enough about rocketry to be worth listening to. Most rockets fly with a "sandbag payload" on their first launch (in some cases literally sand, because it's relatively inert and doesn't create shrapnel if the rocket explodes, in other cases steel blocks or concrete or whatever). The Roadster was just Elon's very expensive sandbag.

Putting a scientific payload in might seem like a good idea in retrospect, since it made it to orbit, but it would have seemed like a huge waste if the rocket had blown up on ascent, as it could easily have done. Even some sort of low-cost educational satellite payload would have been a ton of bad PR for SpaceX if it had ended up as debris floating in the ocean, so it's pretty easy to see why they just didn't do it.

Also if you look at the vehicle, there's a whole capsule below the Roadster, which presumably carries a lot of instrumentation; they're presumably gathering a lot of data from the flight even without a purpose-built data-gathering payload.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:01 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Humanity is in a race against itself. It needs to get off this planet and be able to live elsewhere, many elsewhere's, any elsewhere's. I don't care how that happens. If it's a tyrannical totalitarian corporate dystopia that does it, it's fine.

Not to pile on too much, but if you believe that the ultimate goal of humanity MUST be to establish off-Earth colonies, then it absolutely matters whether we're talking totalitarian corporate dystopia or socially responsible democracy. Humans have evolved to live on a very special rock with certain atmospheric, thermal, chemical, gravitational, and radiation limits. A colony on Mars or the Moon is going to be limited to the resources that can be transferred from Earth. That colony won't be autonomous or self-determining; they won't be able to create machinery or synthesize rocket fuels or grow food without copious assistance from Earth.

A totalitarian corporate bootheel means that those colonists will be at the absolute mercy of the corporation, enabling a recreation of the colonialist oppression and labor suppression of the 19th century. Musk, Bezos, et al won't be living on the Moon; they'll send Amazon employees desperate for work, and they will grind them into the dust far beyond what they do here.

There must be absolute democratic control over space resources, space exploration. Otherwise the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few will continue and worsen. It's great to foster competition and support a race to the stars, but space isn't owned by Musk. Or Bezos. And they shouldn't be allowed to determine who gets to go, and what gets done there and how.

We can do both. Having hundreds of billionaires while billions live in poverty is not a prerequisite to a space program. Musk would be able to do this even if his personal net worth were a mere billion dollars, or a mere 50 million. His employees are the ones that are making this happen. Highly specialized labor, but labor nonetheless. I have less of a problem of him shooting a car into space than with the attitude of "It's the boss's money, the boss's car, let him do what he wants!" No, it's wealth that we as a society and a political system have decided to allow him to extract, and ownership that we have decided he should have, simply by virtue of extracting that wealth.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:03 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


I agree with Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick, we need to become a multi-planet species while we have the chance. Some of you are giving Xyanthilous stick for implying that absolutely any means towards that goal are ok. I wouldn't agree with that either, certainly not any means is justifiable. And perhaps Xyanthilous was being hyperbolic and didn't mean that either.

But certainly this is a goal where quibbles should be carefully weighed before being lobbed or else put aside.

The late Iain M Banks had an interesting argument about space-faring civilizations and he argues that one you get into space, utopia gets a lot easier. "Essentially, the contention is that our currently dominant power systems cannot long survive in space; beyond a certain technological level a degree of anarchy is arguably inevitable and anyway preferable. ". A quite unusual argument, but an interesting read.

re: the argument about what they should have put on the thing: It was already 5 years late, so that may have been a factor. But in any case, now they have flown this, they can do it again. And in space terms, the Falcon Heavy is amazingly cheap. It has higher re-usability than the Space Shuttle had, and is 45 times cheaper than the shuttle when you look at $ per tonne to orbit.
posted by memebake at 9:21 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Let me be perfectly clear here. Enabling 1000 people to live on Mars, subject to the whims of Mother Earth, is insufficient. Something that scales to 1 billion people living on Mars (or wherever they bloody wish, because at that point, whatever magic you've invented would allow that) is the goal.

SpaceX's own goals lay this out:
Our aspirational goal is to send our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022. The objectives for the first mission will be to confirm water resources and identify hazards along with putting in place initial power, mining, and life support infrastructure. A second mission, with both cargo and crew, is targeted for 2024, with primary objectives of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights. The ships from these initial missions will also serve as the beginnings of our first Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.
If that settlement is dependent upon Earth, they might as well name it Roanoke, because they're all dead the moment they left home.

Back to the goal, though. A billion people. A self-sufficient, self-sustaining number of people, not dependent upon the Earth. Reading even a small amount of history has taught me a couple of things. Species come and go, and governments and societies come and go. Pardon me if I chose to pick the path that the species may last long enough to outlive the government, and not the other way around. At that point, I don't care about Hank Scorpio's boot of tyranny, only such as people live longer than it does. The slaves that built the pyramids were probably pretty unhappy people, but it eventually got better.

Anyway, this is turning into a fight, and I don't want to fight about it. I'm out. Peace.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 9:25 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Something is emitting/leaking from the car.

I was kind of wondering if they drained the fluids.


I'm wondering if the airbags or alarm system had to be disarmed before launch.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:35 AM on February 7


If we don't get off this rock before we cannot get off this rock, then none of this crap matters. No art or culture matters. No science. No joy or beauty or despair matters. Not in the long term. If humans live for another 100,000 years or another 10 million years, is irrelevant if it never leaves the Earth.

You and I have vastly differing ideas about the meaning of art and culture and beauty and joy.

Should I not pet a dog because he'll be dead in ten years?

There is no permanent archive. In the long term, we are all dead.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:53 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


The slaves that built the pyramids were probably pretty unhappy people, but it eventually got better.

no, they suffered and died in inescapable, horrible ways. it did not get better for them. it may have gotten better for their ancestors but not without extremely large amounts of real, lived suffering

by the by, this is also literally the rhetoric Neo-Confederacy types use to justify America's history of slavery - that the slave economy built America into the powerful, economic engine that it is today and so the ends justify the means. as John C Calhoun once said, 'Slavery is not a necessary evil, it is a positive good!'
posted by runt at 9:59 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


The people who built the pyramids were levies of ordinary citizens during the rainy season, and from what we can tell from graffiti and remains of housing and food they actually had a pretty good time for bronze age dudes. More like the WPA than anything else.

And any which way the space colonization argument is pretty silly. If we ever manage the technology to make genuinely fully self-supporting offworld colonies, it would be way the hell easier to do the same thing in the Sahara, Antarctic, or undersea. And if we had the space transport capability to get them set up it's unlikely that asteroids, comets or even global warming would be much of a challenge.

We should send things into space because there's all sorts of fascinating things to look at and experiment on out there. That's all the reason we need.
posted by tavella at 10:07 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


There were probably better uses for the 100-200 million spent
More than $500 million, if you count all the R&D.

Less than $90 million, if you look at their pricing and take into account that some of that price is profit rather than cost.
posted by roystgnr at 10:25 AM on February 7


For some perspective on the price tag ...

Every year Bezos throws $1000 million of his personal AMZN stock into his rocket company, which isn't nearly profitable (SpaceX is kinda-sorta break even.)

SLS has cost U.S. taxpayers $18000 million so far and it doesn't have a mission or a firm launch date.

The average superyacht costs $275 million.

I mean, SpaceX flights are so damn cheap.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:05 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


It's easy to say "put a science payload on it", but that handwaves how complicated science satellites are. The satellite has to be able to orient itself, point solar panels at the sun, point radio broadcasts at the earth, know which direction it is currently pointing and where it is to aim for these things, point the science at random things, and not run out of power and die while doing these things. It has to do all of these things flawlessly, automatically (because of speed of light comm delays and occasional loss of line of sight), and at three hairs over absolute zero temperature. Most workable solutions to these problems involve radioactive isotopes.

All of this is not allowed to delay or affect the launch at all, because goal one is to demo the rocket so customers will buy your launches. So, yeah, I'd launch my car too, even though a Toyota Yaris lacks wow factor.
posted by quillbreaker at 11:07 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Booo, Elon, boo I say!

You could have turned that car into a satellite, had it literally cruising around space, but noooo. Where's your vision? What happened to your imagination?

A self sustaining colony in the asteroid belt would be pretty cool, I agree. If we have to go back down another gravity well, but one with shitty radiation protection, then fine, have at it. Just don't spend too long there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on February 7


Let me be perfectly clear here. Enabling 1000 people to live on Mars, subject to the whims of Mother Earth, is insufficient

And really, even at 1000 people, it's just going to be 20 billionaire families with staff to support them.
posted by rhizome at 11:29 AM on February 7


Honeymoon's over, but the show was MAGNIFIQUE!, n'est-ce pas? Wish Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clark, and Isaac Asimov could have seen it.

Morning after, it's nose back to the grindstone to solve some significant problems. The core missed the drone ship; Starman/car/capsule will miss Mars (wanted to see him cruising around the Red Planet on a weekend); and how to pay for all of this stuff.

We all remain on a tiny Pale Blue Dot. Whether it's our only home forever (or a stepping stone to the sky) remains to be seen, but why not try for both?
posted by cenoxo at 11:29 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Elon Musk [via Twitter]: Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.

This is a small thing, but it bugs me that Musk's language here implies that the payload has already surpassed Mars and arrived at the Asteroid Belt, when what he really means is that is where it's headed on its current trajectory.

NASA would never use such misleading, imprecise language, but I guess that's showbiz for you!
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:35 AM on February 7


Atom Eyes, I was wondering about that as well! The graphs yesterday made it look like it was already past Mars and I'm like "It only takes a half-hour? What's been the big excuse?"
posted by rhizome at 11:42 AM on February 7


I was kind of wondering if they drained the fluids.

There are photos around of the car, mounted on the capsule/vehicle, inside a vacuum chamber (I think it's the big NASA one in JSC Houston?), so I think that would have boiled off any remaining volatile fluids.

at 1000 people, it's just going to be 20 billionaire families with staff to support them.

The history of colonization on Earth doesn't suggest that this will be the case. Aristocrats—successful ones, anyway—generally don't volunteer to be colonists. Most of the actual colonists sent by European powers to North America weren't wealthy; the titular Governors of the colonial possessions, in the early years, often never saw the land they technically governed, doing so through intermediaries. (E.g. Ferdinando Gorges was Governor of Maine, but I don't think he ever saw the place with his own eyes.)

I don't see why that pattern wouldn't hold if and when we start colonizing other planets/moons/Lagrange points/whatevers. Some rich people will go as explorers or tourists, but I doubt they'll actually want to move there. Whether it's on a planet or a moon, those early habitats are going to be rough in terms of creature comforts and privacy; there's just no other way for it to be. Most rich people aren't going to tolerate that, when by definition they can lead very comfortable lives here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:59 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Also, given that the entire purpose of a colony, at least traditionally, is to extract wealth and send it home to its parent, sending rich people who are going to absorb that surplus wealth building themselves nice living accommodations doesn't make much sense. You want colonists who have the right skills, but are going to be okay with living rough and sending back the entire value of their labor, minus the very bare minimum it takes to survive. (People escaping famine are always a safe bet.)

Since there's probably nothing worth literally sending back from Mars to Earth, I'd expect the early colonists' labor will be used for expansion and construction, until the place can be self-sufficient for resources, which will take a lot of people and years. North America wasn't industrially self-sufficient from Europe until... the mid-19th century, maybe? At any rate, it was the work of centuries (granted it wasn't always a priority), and Mars will be harder.

That's one of the things I can't quite figure out about colonization: how do you make it economically self-sufficient? Otherwise, it's going to be one bad year in the stock market away from being de-funded. Tourism might work for a while, but going to Mars is a very long haul—I doubt many people are going to want to do it for fun, particularly once it becomes something humans do and not something barely imaginable.

Fairly certain there aren't any exploitable natives or beavers to kill and skin on Mars.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:11 PM on February 7


"It only takes a half-hour? What's been the big excuse?"

A genuine question: with current technology, is there any way to actually reach Martian orbit in less than 6-9 months or so? I would assume not, because if you approach too fast, the insertion burn would require too much fuel / time. But I'm not a rocket scientist, just some guy who's killed hundreds of poor Kerbals.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:18 PM on February 7


Fairly certain there aren't any exploitable natives or beavers to kill and skin on Mars.

You're forgetting the fierce, but loyal and intelligent Calot
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:23 PM on February 7




is there any way to actually reach Martian orbit in less than 6-9 months or so

Well, New Horizons reached the orbit of Mars in 78 days. It was going 21 km/s, which is about twice the escape velocity of Mars. If it had actually been pointed at Mars, it would have hit the atmosphere at about 32 km/s. Curiosity (for comparison) hit the Martian atmosphere at 5.8 km/s, so you're either going to want a retro-burn or a really robust aerobraking system. Really you only need to get yourself below Martian escape velocity to be captured and make more aerobraking passes, though, I guess. (Anybody know how fast Mars Odyssey was going on its first aerobraking pass?)

Citation: I am a linguist who has also played KSP.
posted by The Tensor at 2:00 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


is there any way to actually reach Martian orbit in less than 6-9 months or so?

With enough fuel, yes, but there are diminishing returns. You can get there in 4 months with a little more delta-V, if you pick the right launch window which happens every two years or so.

But if your engines fail on arrival, you're SOL, so you probably want a free-return trajectory just in case. So actual missions are likely to be 5 months or more to satisfy this constraint.

(I also found this nifty NASA trajectory tool that lets you play around with scenarios.)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:20 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


is there any way to actually reach Martian orbit in less than 6-9 months or so

If you have an unlimited amount of energy, then you could comfortably travel at a constant acceleration of 1 g for half the trip and decelerate at 1 g for the second half of the trip. At the average distance to Mars, this trip would take about four days. You would reach a maximum velocity at the halfway point of about 3 million miles per hour.
posted by JackFlash at 3:06 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I'm skeptical that Mars will ever be sustainably habitable by Homo sapiens. Post-human tunnel-loving dwarves with superhuman abilities for oxygen metabolism and radiation resistance, possibly with a chemolithotrope "agriculture" ecosystem are another matter. I suspect it will be far easier to change humanity to fit Mars than to change Mars to fit humanity. (Assuming we last that long.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:30 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Binaural recording of the launch.

This gave me chills again.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:47 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


*scrambles for my headphones*

This is extremely relevant to my interests.

I've been thinking about this for ages, how to capture that really huge sound of a rocket launch with some kind of high dynamic range recording system and microphone array. I've even tried to mimic the sound with experimental sound processing. distortion and other crud, and what I'm really simulating is really just overdriven/clipped mics and gain paths as the sound of about a million sonic booms interfere with each other.

Going beyond biaural field recoding, I've been thinking more in the lines of a frequency-separated array of different kinds of microphones ranging from pressure transducers to large diaphragm mics or stuff like piezo/contact mics on large plates or diaphragms, and even stuff like synthetic aperture MEMS mic arrays.

I've heard a couple of really well done recordings that almost capture the dynamic range and sheer thunderous noise, but it's still... still not really the full sound and even those recordings are obviously dealing with dynamic range issues and clipping.
posted by loquacious at 4:01 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I remember a while back on the pro audio mailing list mastering engineer Bob Katz had landed close access to a shuttle launch and was seeking advice on the best recording rig. I think in the end he went with DPA high voltage small diaphragm omnidirectional mics running through a 200v phantom supply straight into Prism 24 bit converters with no preamps. I never got to hear the recording though.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:22 PM on February 7


Post-human tunnel-loving dwarves with superhuman abilities for oxygen metabolism and radiation resistance

🎶 They're the world's most fearsome fighting team...🎶
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:31 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I think in the end he went with DPA high voltage small diaphragm omnidirectional mics running through a 200v phantom supply straight into Prism 24 bit converters with no preamps. I never got to hear the recording though.

That's the general direction I've been thinking. 24 bits, even 32 bits because why not, and then a full 192k stereo. The headroom is there on the digital and ADC/DAC side of things, it's just that your mic and gain path selection would be crucial.

And really I'd like to do a launch with a whole array of suitable (and calibrated/plotted!) mics, each tracked raw just like that to their own dedicated recorders or at least tracks all linked with a precise master clock. Then take all of those tracks into a mixer and blend them, not at all unlike a pro arena recording or big room or orchestra/stage recording with a mix of instrument section mics and room/hall mics.

But I think if you start with an array of sources from different good high amplitude mics you could get pretty clever with bandpassing and mixing the best parts of each track for maximum sonic reality, frequency response and dynamic range.



And on listen and relisten that biaural recording is - besides being super cool for biaural - otherwise pretty good but has way too much excited photographer noise in the background, and still essentially not the dynamic range and quality I'm looking for, which is admittedly really high. Even without the photographer noise and talking, whatever headset or earbud biaural mic setup he's using is likely electret or very small diaphragm because it gets totallly blown out by the sonic booms and much of the launch sound. (My friend does a lot of biaural recording, and there's only so many stereo/biaural headset mics out there, and as good as they are they don't compare to larger or higher powered mics.)

I don't think the Falcon Heavy is going to be as loud as the Space Shuttle in general due to using an array of smaller engines, but it's still going to be crazy loud.

One of the best shuttle recordings I've heard so far was actually a random YouTube video I've been unable to find again. Part of it was they had an unusually close and isolated recording location without a lot of other people around to spoil the audio, and part of it might have either been that they knew what they were doing with audio and used some good mics, or they lucked out as people do sometimes with either onboard camera audio or a basic mic/recorder package and whatever built in automatic recording attenuation software. (Which can be impressively good sometimes.)

The audio on this particular recording really captured the deep bass and rumble of the external boosters and higher pitched sound of the main engines and barely clipped on the really loud crackling bits in ways I've never seen/heard since, even on official HD NASA footage.

(I spent, oh, a good half year trying to source good launch audio recording for samples and exploring that general super overdriven/distorted sound, and ended up making a noise/experimental track called Escape Velocity that's intentionally trying to mimic that sound/feel.)
posted by loquacious at 4:59 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Also, revisiting the two booster video mini controversy - I think the answer is both. The Smarter Every Day biaural audio video example shows and talks about the nearly matched but slightly different booster views I saw. I think they switched to one on the landing due to a cutout or glitch.
posted by loquacious at 5:01 PM on February 7


Was I the only one thinking "The Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars"?
posted by itesser at 5:24 PM on February 7


Huh, rewatching the official launch it was pretty clear the director accidentally got a feed duplicated when they were shuffling between the 3 and 4 cam views.

Anyway, a few launches back I was frankly amazed at the quality of the official video (IIRC it was the first NROL launch and recovery - no post MECO footage, so here's the landing instead), and here's a dude with (presumably good astronomy) gear doing an equally incredible job of filming the whole thing from the ground, liftoff to landing. I'm sort of surprised I hadn't seen any landings on film before - had we gotten jaded by the sea landings that nobody went out with a camera to document the early ground landings?
posted by Kyol at 6:06 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


Also, for people who like to see little circles within circles, here's an early estimate of the (corrected) orbit the Tesla is on - it never comes anywhere near Mars, but it's well out to Mars' orbit, so it _could_ lob (small) satellites to Mars if there's a market for it.

Here's one with the initial low quality orbit predictions that takes it all the way out to Ceres, but I guess later observations have pulled it back a bit. It's in Sky Tracking mode, click on the heliocentric view (dotted circle icon) to see a god's eye view.

Thanks, Twitterverse, I'm larnin' things.
posted by Kyol at 6:27 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Updated ephemeris for Starman: 0.99 x 1.71 AU x 1.1 deg C3 = 12.0, passes orbit of Mars Jul 2018, aphelion November

So just about 0.3 km/s more than what they needed for the Mars orbit.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:37 PM on February 7


That's the general direction I've been thinking. 24 bits, even 32 bits because why not, and then a full 192k stereo.

Nah, there's no audio hardware in the world even approaching 190dB of dynamic range. 24 bits gets you to about 130dB of useable dynamic range which gets you from silence to permanent hearing damage easily enough. 48KHz would be fine for a launch too, the energy's all at the low end.

Small diaphragm pure pressure mics have the best linearity and the bandwidth, especially the low frequency extension. High voltage phantom gets you a bit more dynamic range but it's all about gain structure really.

Not sure about the Falcons but the acoustic energy output of the shuttle at launch was in the neighbourhood of 50 megawatts.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:44 PM on February 7


Is there any explanation offered to the public yet as to why the final burn was so far off from what was intended?
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:52 PM on February 7


I suspect it's less "intended" than "expected". Since there's no actual destination for the dead weight, they just let it run completely dry to see how much propellant remained (and hadn't boiled off) after the orbital cruise phase of the flight. I mean, that's what I'd do to start getting figures for the salespeople to pitch at clients at the very least.
posted by Kyol at 7:20 PM on February 7


I think the just-beyond-Mars orbit *was* what was predicted. What's strange is why SpaceX/Elon would make such a huge error, I mean they know the performance of their rockets down to a high precision and there should be no surprises of this magnitude. It's like claiming you did the red-eye from BOS to SFO in two hours.

Anyway, if the latest tracking data are correct, in a few million years Starman will either fall into the Sun or be ejected out of the solar system.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:28 PM on February 7


Anything that constitutes a fuck-you to Jeremy Clarkson gets my 100% support pre-emptively.

Clarkson et. al don't have the same record of success in these endeavors.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:38 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


re: what was on the rocket

The Arch Mission have released a proper description of the library that was aboard. It was a copy of Asmiov's Foundation series, as was widely reported, but interestingly although they look a bit like CDs they are actually quartz crystals designed to last billions of years. This is a test run for the long term Arch Mission which is to leave cultural/informational 'backups' in various places across the solar system.
posted by memebake at 2:19 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]




...here's a dude with (presumably good astronomy) gear doing an equally incredible job of filming the whole thing from the ground, liftoff to landing.

Holy shit, that is mindblowingly amazing!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:33 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Yes, if anyone hasn't watched Kyol's linked video I would recommend it. Watch at least the first 2.5 minutes because it gives an awesome sense of the delay between sight and sound of the event. Then around the 8 minute mark the same thing, as the side boosters and down and safe long before you get double sonic booms and landing thrusters. Amazing.
posted by jermsplan at 7:21 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


My wife is a teacher. When she came home from work the other day, I told her, "You have to see this." On the big screen TV, I queued up the live feed of Starman flying over Earth in a red sports car.

The big-screen is a circa-2007 flatscreen that her dad bought when he was still alive. "I have cancer," he said. "I'm getting the big TV."

I brought her into the living room and showed her the flying car. "This is live," I said.

"No," she said. "Is that real? No."

"It's real!"

It was a long and stressful day; it was a kind of relief to see something so amazing on TV. It was just really nice. We kept the live feed on until it ended, and then we watched the recording of the launch.

We live in a community where the public school is the only option. The next closest school is 60 miles away. Some students come from middle-class families; many students come from low-income families that struggle to get by. We have a diverse community; many students are Native or Latino.

Yesterday, my wife asked everyone in her classroom what jobs they thought they could get if they worked hard and studied math and science. Then she showed them the video of the launch.

None of the kids knew it had happened or knew what it had carried into space. So they're watching the launch, and it's awesome; it's a giant rocket flying into space. Everyone in the recording is cheering, and the kids are like, "YES, GIANT ROCKET." Then the boosters separate, and then the center core drops and the second stage lights, and you can see the curve of Earth behind a glowing rocket engine, and then DAVID BOWIE STARTS PLAYING. The fairing deploys, everything goes white before the camera exposure can adjust, and HOLY SHIT AN ASTRONAUT IN A RACE CAR IS FLYING OVER THE PLANET. The kids absolutely lose their shit. Wow. Wow. Wow! Space suit, race car, clouds, ocean, Earth, glowing rocket engine, wow!

And then these waffle iron things deploy from the tops of the boosters. The boosters are flying to Earth, shooting little jets of steam; meanwhile the second stage engine is still glowing as the rocket goes higher and higher. Down below the boosters are still falling, and earth is getting bigger and bigger beneath them. You can see shiny lakes and the coastline and the ocean. Then whoa. A giant rocket booster trailing smoke as it hurtles toward earth. And then, on the ground, the landing pad. The final deceleration burn, AND LANDING LEGS DEPLOY AS TWO ROCKET BOOSTERS SIMULTANEOUSLY TOUCH DOWN VERTICALLY LIKE A 1950s SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE.

WOW.

And then she plays for them some of the recording of the Starman livestream, with, as has been mentioned above, THE REFLECTION OF PLANET EARTH IN THE SIDE OF A RACE CAR. At that moment, it is absolutely the coolest thing ever.

I mean, did you all see this? Was this not amazing?

Then my wife asked the classroom again what jobs they thought they could get if they worked hard and studied hard. Every single kid in that classroom wanted to build rockets and work on a Mars mission. Every single kid believed they could do that. Something that seemed totally crazy and imaginary — a car flying through space — is now something that there is actual room for in real life. For every kid in that classroom, their possible future got a little bigger. Space is cool.
posted by compartment at 10:54 AM on February 8 [50 favorites]


I queued up the live feed of Starman flying over Earth in a red sports car.

I showed it to my six-year-old. She watched about 20 seconds, yawned, and asked if there was a Dr. Binocs episodie about it.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:39 AM on February 8


Every single kid in that classroom wanted to build rockets and work on a Mars mission

Oh man, I hope she can build on that. The waffle-irons are a lesson unto themselves.
posted by rhizome at 12:11 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Thanks for sharing Kirkaracha, that was literally one of the most beautiful things I've read in a while.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:13 PM on February 8


Congratulations to SpaceX! A great achievement. Now on to the BFR!
posted by Kevin Street at 3:44 PM on February 8


More 'why the payload' news:

SpaceX offered NASA the opportunity to get a free ride on this first launch. But the space agency viewed commercial development of this rocket as "competition" and refused their offer. - thehill

The USAF were also offered a free slot and declined.
posted by memebake at 2:36 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


I wonder if it was more a question of institutional inertia, or lack of trust in the Heavy's performance (since Musk publicly gave it a 50/50 chance)

But there is a lot of bad blood in Brevard county between Team Defense Contractor and Team SpaceX. Remember that when the Falcon exploded in October, a SpaceX employee tried to get access to the ULA roof to see if there was a laser up there or something. The way some people talk about SpaceX around there, you can understand why.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:26 PM on February 9


Then my wife asked the classroom again what jobs they thought they could get if they worked hard and studied hard. Every single kid in that classroom wanted to build rockets and work on a Mars mission. Every single kid believed they could do that.

Welp, I certainly didn't expect a thread about a rocket launch to make me cry twice.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:16 PM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Before this thread closes, here's a video of Musk watching the Falcon Heavy launch.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:57 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


'CEO expressing great surprise that thing worked' is not something most companies would let you see. I don't suppose NASA would let you see that either, come to think of it.
posted by memebake at 7:07 AM on February 11


There was a lot of pre-launch press from Musk giving a very low probability of flight.

I just can't tell if this was his way of lowering expectations, or if there really was a low chance of success given the fact he was trying to light 27 engines at the same time, all strapped together like Jebediah Kerman would do.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:42 AM on February 11


Jebediah would probably consider 27 engines not enough.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


"The falcons have landed."

Are we sure they weren’t just hiding in a crawlspace above the garage the whole time?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:09 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


If you have an unlimited amount of energy, then you could comfortably travel at a constant acceleration of 1 g for half the trip and decelerate at 1 g for the second half of the trip. At the average distance to Mars, this trip would take about four days. You would reach a maximum velocity at the halfway point of about 3 million miles per hour.

This is without a doubt the best way to travel in space. I highly recommend it if you ever get the opportunity. You don't even need an unlimited amount of energy, just a very, very large amount of energy.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:56 PM on February 11 [6 favorites]


2018 is shaping up to be a weird fucking year. Between the Whitechapel fatberg and the Tesla Starman nothing seems real anymore.
posted by um at 6:31 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have sometimes disturbing and sometimes awesome weirdness instead of all that dark timeline stuff from last year. So far this is a distinct improvement.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:28 PM on February 11


Hope a few people are still gonna see this, but I've literally spent 3 days looking for this YouTube explainer on Falcon 9's hovering/landing capabilities -- and I must have done something right because it finally popped up in my suggestions.

Hovering a rocket - SpaceX model by Tom Stanton, who not only explains the complex physics of, well, "rocket science", but builds a model to show you what he's talking about. Around 4m in he begins to explain the delicate balance between a rocket's center of mass versus its center of area. The "waffle iron" grid fins contribute to the CoA and thereby give the rocket the stability necessary for it to fall back to earth under a measure of control without using wings, rotors, or a lifting body surface, as other craft like Shuttle have. I have followed SpaceX reasonably closely over the years but I never learned that the grid fins are in fact control surfaces, something like flaps or ailerons on an airplane wing.

I saw that Imgur that is so "wow, Elon Musk predicted how the dual booster landing would look THREE YEARS AGO" but there is this thing about both engineering and physics in that they don't change much. I mean, you have to know how it's going to work if you're gonna do this ...

And I know DC-X was mentioned up thread, relating to the question originally posed by Aya Hirano, but you have to see this video of how controllable it was during flight. An amazing test bed that never reached orbit (and when the inevitable end came, there wasn't any money to recover). Allegedly Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket and New Glenn are evolutions of this concept, but I don't know if any specific design aspects come directly from the program.

The other prior art in the reusable rocket ... space ... was, of course, Rotary Rocket's Roton. They had some great ideas of their own but managed to run out of money before they could be ready for the Iridium-driven mini-boom in the commercial launch market.

I wish I knew how well those designs compared with Falcon 9 in terms of fuel requirements and projected overall launch costs. But the overall idea here has been of keen interest for many years and it's great to see it coming to fruition (I am still a fan of lifting bodies personally though, despite the design issues that plagued Shuttle and led to 14 deaths). What's going to be really interesting is seeing this adapted for Mars landing conditions.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


Rumor has it that many of the DC-X team are now working for Blue Origin.
posted by bonehead at 6:21 AM on February 14




The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets. University of Toronto astrophysicists estimate that the Tesla will probably crash into Earth, Venus, or the sun within the next 10 million years. And it's not at high risk of crashing into Mars and contaminating it with Earth microbes.

original paper at arxiv.org
posted by mbrubeck at 3:16 PM on February 15


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