#launchamerica
May 27, 2020 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Demo-2 is go for propellant load. At T-45 minutes, the signal was given to start the propellant load and start on a new era of commercial space transportation. For the first time in nine years, a crewed spacecraft will launch from American soil.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock (87 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 


It is absolutely unreasonable to expect me to get any work done from home for the next T-33 minutes... T-32...
posted by PhineasGage at 1:01 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Go for Propellant Load!!!
posted by sammyo at 1:02 PM on May 27


We're up in St. Augustine and I'm FURIOUS at how cloudy it is. Goddammed Bertha.
posted by saladin at 1:03 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Live right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjb9FdVdX5I

Also on the Discovery Channel.

Weather remains an issue.
posted by sammyo at 1:04 PM on May 27


I'm appalled no flight attendant has offered the astronauts a complimentary glass of champagne while they wait for liftoff.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:04 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]


I've got to be honest, I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing. From Musk's involvement, to the role of the Trump administration, to concerns for the safety of the astronauts. And I say this as someone who would wake up to watch STS launches back in the day! I'm excited that there is another launch vehicle that will allow for us to explore space, but I also worry about the future this launch entails.
posted by miguelcervantes at 1:05 PM on May 27 [24 favorites]


Not SpaceX but interesting.
Delta IV Heavy Pad Tour, (with CEO Tory Bruno) - Smarter Every Day 199 - What's it like setting up a rocket launch when you're in that place where they drive it out to the launch pad.
HOW ROCKETS ARE MADE (Rocket Factory Tour - United Launch Alliance) - Smarter Every Day 231 - Wanna watch some rockets getting built?


Clicky link: Crew Demo-2
posted by zengargoyle at 1:05 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


(But I still expect to be cheering and hollering when the launch happens, because space is still awesome)
posted by miguelcervantes at 1:06 PM on May 27


I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing. From Musk's involvement, to the role of the Trump administration

Does it make you feel better to know that the astronauts are escaping Trump's America as quickly as humanly possible?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:07 PM on May 27 [20 favorites]


I've got to be honest, I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing. From Musk's involvement, to the role of the Trump administration

A lot of the original work was kicked off by Wernher von Braun. Does that help?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:10 PM on May 27 [32 favorites]


> I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing. From Musk's involvement,

Space is awesome! Also I'm glad Elon is putting his apartheid-era inheritance to good use [/sarcasm]
posted by Tom-B at 1:11 PM on May 27




Does anyone have a link to the countdown plan, like what's supposed to happen when? My kids would like to be able to count along!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:13 PM on May 27




And Abort.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:17 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


No launch today :-(
posted by Pendragon at 1:17 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Scrubbed for today, repost saturday
posted by sammyo at 1:17 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Ah, damn.

Not a fan of Musk but I am a fan of spaceflight, was looking forward to this. Meet you guys back here Saturday then.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:19 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Aw man. I was about as excited about this one as I was about the Space Shuttle launches of my childhood.
posted by kimberussell at 1:20 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised Elon did not use his weather control device to ensure clear skies for today's launch.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:22 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Welp, that was fun.
posted by octothorpe at 1:25 PM on May 27


Between Trump and Musk and the sheer amount of ego involved, I am actually quite relieved that scrubbing the launch for safety is still a thing that can happen here.
posted by dragstroke at 1:30 PM on May 27 [17 favorites]


Did anyone here ever watch Second City TV? The astronauts' names are Bob and Doug just like Bob and Doug McKenzie from The Great White North. Today they didn't Take Off, eh? I feel bad, it wasn't the weather I jinxed today's launch by not wearing my Launch America T-Shirt.
posted by Rob Rockets at 1:33 PM on May 27 [17 favorites]


Unfortunately the Saturday launch window is also in mid-afternoon, so thunderstorms are all but certain then too.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:37 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


See y'all back here on Saturday.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:37 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Space is hard. but no crash! better safe!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayu0GsrvKQA
posted by jeribus at 1:38 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


(For those unfamiliar with Florida summers, there is at least one severe thunderstorm every day from Memorial Day through September-ish. It's just a question of when it starts and how long it takes to clear up.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:38 PM on May 27 [7 favorites]


Did anyone here ever watch Second City TV? The astronauts' names are Bob and Doug just like Bob and Doug McKenzie from The Great White North.

Take off, you hosers.
posted by hanov3r at 1:42 PM on May 27 [9 favorites]


I've got to be honest, I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing.

Same, and I was mulling it over this morning. I think a lot of it comes down to institutional trust (which is obviously having a hard time of it these days). In the past, I had pretty much absolute trust for a) what NASA was doing b) how they were doing it, and c) why they were doing it. That hasn't gone, entirely, but to some extent SpaceX's involvement erodes it. It's entirely likely in the past I was too naive and now I'm too cynical, but I also can't shake the feeling that my beliefs are somewhat justified at least.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:48 PM on May 27 [9 favorites]


I want to know more about the SpaceX Ground Crew bondage suits, and I can't find anything. It's like they took an Intel Bunny Suit and crossed them with Death Star death ray technician uniform.
posted by cardboard at 1:52 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


I met a former SpaceX scientist at a party a few years ago, and they told me a story about their environmental compliance that made me very queasy about the company. I've always kind of given them the side-eye since then...
posted by suelac at 2:12 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


The bit of banter I saw between the NASA PR guy, the NASA President (who looks & talks like a Trump appointee whose CV reads "Vice President, Ayn Rand Young Objectivists Club [1988-1992]) and vaguely stoned Elon about the importance of this public/private partnership turned me off the whole thing. Go on to space kids, get off my lawn.
posted by chavenet at 2:17 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Over the course of the Space Shuttle program, there were 153 launches, of which one resulted in a full loss of crew and vehicle. There was also a separate failure on reentry that resulted in a full loss of crew and vehicle.

Falcon 9, and its derivative Falcon Heavy, have flown 87 missions between them (84+3). Of those, one saw a rocket explode on launch, which could have resulted in a loss of crew but could also have been survivable. Another one resulted in arrival in an incorrect orbit but the crew would not have been in any particular danger. Beyond that, all payloads have been successfully delivered to orbit.

They've launched the Dragon capsule 22 times, all of which reentered successfully except for the one time that the rocket blew up on launch; the software wasn't set up for recovery in that situation, but if it had been, the capsule might well have landed safely.

The SpaceX stats for these non-crew-certified launches don't look significantly different - given the small sample sizes - than the results for NASA's flagship vehicle.
posted by Hatashran at 2:23 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]


A lot of the original work was kicked off by Wernher von Braun. Does that help?

Elon Musk: Just as bad as the Nazi directly responsible for the V-2 rocket and thousands upon thousands of British dead.

Yeah, kinda fits.
posted by sideshow at 2:31 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Over the course of the Space Shuttle program, there were 153 launches

I believe that figure is actually 135. A while back I put together a detailed table of all the STS missions, for reference.
posted by Rash at 3:26 PM on May 27


You want trauma, 13 year old me wanted nothing but to be an astronaut and strap myself atop a controlled stick of explosion. I spent my youth planning to be a test-pilot because that was how you got to be astronaut. I built model rockets. I had my recommendations for the Air Force all lined up. At 13 I went to Space Camp and managed to burn up the shuttle on re-entry due to insulating tile damage. OMG Columbia. I watched Challenger go boom while home sick. I still wanted to strap myself on top of a rocket. Turns out I'm too short to be a fighter pilot, much less a test pilot. Dream ruined.

The falcon already has a better record than the shuttle. Astronauts are happy to strap themselves on top of a giant pile of explosives. After burning up on re-entry, watching Challenger got boom and Columbia go poof, I'd still do it if I could.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:58 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I could not help but notice how much an hour of the NASA broadcast resembled a car commercial. So many shots of gullwing doors, and then a side view from a chase vehicle.

There was a point just before they reached the launch tower, where both astronauts got out briefly and dashed into a trailer for a pit stop. The tight camera angle of the pad made it look like two space suited explorers of an abandoned industrial park climbing the steps back to their LEM, their open sided buggy seen from the rear with NASA logo prominent. That will be my image from the day I suppose.
posted by joeyh at 5:11 PM on May 27


I've got to be honest, I have really complicated feelings about this whole thing.

Elon Musk Is the Hero America Deserves :P
posted by kliuless at 5:32 PM on May 27


Curious, why is the launch window so small? Sure, it’s trying to catch the ISS, but surely a bit of extra thrust gives them a minute or two of a window?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 PM on May 27


Rash:135
Duh. Yes, a simple typo. 135 missions.
posted by Hatashran at 6:17 PM on May 27


The falcon already has a better record than the shuttle.

Not surprising really. The Shuttle was basically an experimental aircraft. The Falcon for all the fuss about reusablity is still a great big rocket and we have lots of experience building those.

I met a former SpaceX scientist at a party a few years ago, and they told me a story about their environmental compliance that made me very queasy about the company.

Tesla has the unsafest vehicle manufacturing plant in the US with repeated OHSA violations including non reporting of mandatory report incidents (and that was before defying the stay at home order) so I wouldn't be surprised at all that Musk is also playing fast and loose with environmental regulation too.
posted by Mitheral at 6:20 PM on May 27 [8 favorites]


Why is the launch window so small?
The ISS goes in a circle around the Earth. Imagine a Hula Hoop at a 52-degree angle to the Equator. The ISS travels along that hoop. Meanwhile, the Earth spins around underneath it, but the Hula Hoop stays in the same orientation.

When Dragon - or any other spacecraft - launches, it goes into its own orbit, another Hula Hoop. Ideally, these will be coplanar - parallel, if you will - and at the same height. By putting the Dragon into a slightly lower orbit than ISS - just a few miles' difference - it'll go around the Earth faster than the ISS. If you launch a bit behind the ISS, the extra speed means you catch up. Once you do, you speed up slightly to raise your orbit, and then when the two orbits intersect, you adjust your speed so that you have zero relative velocity, and then you dock.

Unfortunately, the Earth is rotating underneath that Hula Hoop, so it's only possible to launch into a suitable matching orbit when Cape Canaveral is directly underneath that hoop. Cape Canaveral is moving east at about 700 miles per hour, so if you wait one minute to launch, you're twelve miles east of the ISS's hoop.

But, it's not a matter of making a twelve mile correction, because you don't get to make it at launch. Instead, your two hoops are now at a slight angle to each other. So now, when you finally get yourselves in the same place at the same time, you still have a significant lateral velocity difference. My back-of-the-envelope calculation puts it in the neighborhood of sixty miles per hour if you delay your launch by one minute.

Dragon carries enough fuel to deorbit, which requires a velocity change of around 250 MPH. So a one-minute delay in the launch window would require a significant percentage of the onboard fuel, but might be feasible in a sufficiently urgent emergency. Much more than that would be impossible.

And like so many questions about space travel, if you'd like to understand this better, the best way to do so is to play Kerbal Space Program.
posted by Hatashran at 6:44 PM on May 27 [47 favorites]


According to the video in this tweet, when launching to ISS there's about a 5 minute window, but with the Falcon 9's cryogenic fuel once they start loading they can't stall the countdown without unloading and refueling the rocket, which would take an hour and a half or so.
posted by ckape at 7:16 PM on May 27


It actually seems in retrospect the Russians did a much better job at designing a safe space launch system and it was the Americans who skimped on safety to the point of disaster.

The Americans built 5 space shuttles starting in 1981. Challenger and Columbia were both destroyed in accidents in 1986 and 2003, killing all astronauts on board (total of 14 fatalities). With only 3 operational shuttles remaining and the evaluation that the risks inherent in the space shuttle's design could not be overcome, the program was retired in 2011 and the Americans started using the Russian spacecraft instead.

The modern Russian space program started in 1979 with the revamped Soyuz-T which, along with its upgrades, has remained operational until today without a single fatality. One of the reasons for this safety record is that it had a launch abort (ejection) system to save the cosmonauts if anything went wrong - which ended up being used twice to save the crew on board (1975 and 1983) - a key safety system that was entirely missing on the American Space Shuttle for cost reasons.

The only vaguely similar disaster faced by the Russians was when all 3 cosmonauts in the Soyuz 11 died in 1971 due to a failed pressure valve that led to a loss of cabin pressure during return to earth. After that incident the cosmonauts were made to wear their space-suits at all times during re-entry, until the revamped Soyuz-T came online in 1979 - so the Russian space program has not had a single fatality since 1971, while the Americans have lost 14 astronauts and ended their program in 2011.

The STS was also hugely expensive, estimated at about $200 to $250 million per seat, while the US buys seats on Soyuz for $90 million each, and Space-X for about $55 million each.

The best theory I have heard for the failings of the STS is that it is actually a military design built primarily for a cold war mission - the ability to "steal" enemy satellites intact and bring them down to earth. That's why you have a huge cargo bay that opens to space to grab passing satellites and the ability to land smoothly like an airplane. Every other design spec was deprioritized, like cost, safety, etc.
posted by xdvesper at 7:22 PM on May 27 [14 favorites]


Soyuz also required an abort on MS-10 (2018).
posted by miguelcervantes at 8:18 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Though FWIW, there have been a total of 141 crewed Soyuz missions, carrying three or fewer people each, a total lofting of around 400 people. Meanwhile, there were (double-checks notes) 133 successful Shuttle launches, carrying about six people each, putting around 800 people into orbit.

And quite a bit more cargo. The shuttle also carried big chunks of the ISS, the Hubble space telescope, and lots of other large things.

But yes, the STS was definitely designed to fulfill military requirements and to spend money in every congressional district.
posted by Hatashran at 8:38 PM on May 27 [9 favorites]


Soyuz 1 killed Komarov.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:47 AM on May 28


I'd be more excited about this, except (a) sounds like it's just as likely to get scuttled a second time due to weather, and (b) I wouldn't trust Elon Musk for anything because that guy is nutterpants. And what suelac said.

I hope I'm wrong and we don't have another Challenger incident here.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:42 AM on May 28 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have stats on how often manned launches get scrubbed because of weather? Seems like it was pretty common, but with my luck it could be that it was only the ones I tried to tune in for.
posted by ckape at 11:56 AM on May 28


Not actual statistics (and I can't find for the shuttle) but the National Weather Service has a couple Spaceflight Meteorology Group summaries for Project Mercury and Apollo that have scrub and delay figures for each launch (scroll down, past the table). Not so often are they for weather.
posted by Rash at 12:23 PM on May 28


Not the most auspicious omen for the Saturday's Demo-2 launch attempt — SpaceX's Starship SN4 prototype explodes after rocket engine test, Space.com, Tariq Malik, 5/29/2020 [with videos]:
SpaceX's latest Starship prototype exploded just after an engine test Friday (May 29), erupting in a dramatic fireball at the spaceflight company's South Texas proving grounds.

The Starship SN4 prototype exploded at about 1:49 p.m. CDT (2:49 p.m. EDT/1849 GMT) at SpaceX's test facility near Boca Chica, Texas according to a video provided by the South Padre Island tourism site SPadre.com. The explosion occurred about a minute after a short test of its Raptor rocket engine, but it was unclear what caused the conflagration....
Related: SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy rocket in pictures.
posted by cenoxo at 10:47 PM on May 29


New launch live stream. Launch time is 3:22 PM Eastern.
posted by Tsuga at 10:57 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


PhineasGage > I'm appalled no flight attendant has offered the astronauts a complimentary glass of champagne while they wait for liftoff.

Space flight attendants are so 2001: we’ve come a long way, baby.
posted by cenoxo at 12:11 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


T minus 10 minutes and still go.
posted by cenoxo at 12:13 PM on May 30


Drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You”??
posted by Burhanistan at 12:36 PM on May 30


Bob and Doug have officially taken off, with an initial flight path towards the Great White North.
posted by ardgedee at 12:36 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You”??

Musk named the drone recovery ships after AI ships from Banks’ Culture series (the other two are “Just Read The Instructions” and “A Shortfall of Gravitas”). For all that he’s a kinda looney asshole sometimes, those names give me joy.
posted by hanov3r at 12:41 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


1st stage landed, 2nd stage separated, SpaceX Dragon capsule is en route to the ISS, all nominal.
posted by cenoxo at 12:46 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


2020: GTFO
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:52 PM on May 30


One of the commentators sounded just like Robert Dennis in PDQ Bach's New horizons in music appreciation, so I almost expected him to say "And they're off!" instead of liftoff.
posted by mogget at 1:12 PM on May 30


*squee!*

I love everything about this, but especially that they had a little sequined dragon plush floating around the cabin.
posted by kimberussell at 1:16 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know where they sourced the zero-G indicator? I'd like one for my daughter and also me.
posted by persona at 1:20 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Lest we forget:
• World’s first human in space (Earth orbit) Russian Yuri Gagarin, April 12, 1961 (launch starts about 00:00:47).
• America’s first manned rocket (sub-orbital) Launch of Alan Shepard On Mercury-Redstone 3 Freedom 7, May 5, 1961.
posted by cenoxo at 1:23 PM on May 30


Woo-Hooo.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:46 PM on May 30


For all that he’s a kinda looney asshole sometimes, those names give me joy.

That's just 'cuz you don't know them. Wankers.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:04 PM on May 30 [8 favorites]


sockpuppet: a kinda looney asshole sometimes
Oh, wait, ROU A Kinda Looney Asshole Sometimes
posted by zengargoyle at 2:17 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


SpaceX is selling the sequined dragons, apparently (am on mobile, no link)
posted by aramaic at 2:38 PM on May 30


WP has more about the Crew Dragon Demo-2 Mission (see links and footnotes in their article):
...The Crew Dragon capsule launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A on 30 May 2020, and will dock to pressurised mating adapter PMA-2 on the Harmony module of the ISS on 31 May 2020.[17][18] Hugrley and Behnken will work alongside the crew of Expedition 63 for 30 to 90 days, meaning the landing of the spacecraft will occur no later than 28 August 2020.[13]

Docking and undocking operation will be autonomously controlled by the Crew Dragon spacecraft, but monitored by the flight crew in case manual intervention becomes necessary. [14]

The first stage booster landed autonomously on the floating barge Of Course I Still Love You, which was prepositioned in the Atlantic Ocean.[19]

Upon returning to Earth, the Crew Dragon capsule will splashdown into the Atlantic Ocean, where it will be recovered by the Go Navigator recovery vessel.[14]...
posted by cenoxo at 3:10 PM on May 30


Docking with ISS should happen tomorrow (Sunday) at 10:29 a.m. EDT (07:29 PDT, 14:29 UTC). The welcome ceremony aboard ISS is scheduled about 90 minutes later, at 1:05 p.m. EDT. NASA’s live coverage page says there will also be a video downlink event with the astronauts on Dragon, starting at 6:45 a.m. Eastern.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:55 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


VIDEO: Tour from Space: Inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft on Its Way to the Space Station, NASA, 5/30/2020. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley (in shirtsleeves) take viewers on a tour of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will take them on a 19-hour-journey to their new home in orbit.
posted by cenoxo at 11:04 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV
https://youtu.be/21X5lGlDOfg
posted by cenoxo at 5:01 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


...Dragon approaching the ISS.
posted by cenoxo at 5:13 AM on May 31


...at Waypoint Zero, ~400 meters from ISS.
posted by cenoxo at 5:54 AM on May 31


...about 2 hours from planned docking time.
posted by cenoxo at 6:00 AM on May 31


...correction: about 580 meters from ISS.
posted by cenoxo at 6:09 AM on May 31


...final docking approach, less than 10 meters.
posted by cenoxo at 7:15 AM on May 31


soft docking!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:17 AM on May 31


Also, Space X docking simulator: https://iss-sim.spacex.com/
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 AM on May 31


...hard capture complete.
posted by cenoxo at 7:32 AM on May 31


They may be opening hatches between Dragon and the ISS in about an hour.
posted by cenoxo at 7:44 AM on May 31


Still about another hour until hatch opening.
posted by cenoxo at 8:27 AM on May 31


Hatches opened, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are exiting SpaceX Dragon and being welcomed aboard the ISS.
posted by cenoxo at 10:22 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Bob and Doug: "Whew, what's that smell?"

ISS Crew: "You get used to it."
posted by valkane at 12:38 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Watching the Crew Dragon interior & SpaceX mission control center, and the interior of the ISS & NASA Johnson mission control center, it felt like like they'd come out of two different SF movies. The SpaceX side is that antiseptic future of minimalist white surfaces and blue lighting, while the NASA side shows accretions over time and things held together with duct tape. And binders. Bookshelves loaded with white binders.

(Way back when I did a summer internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and there were 3-ring binders everywhere. Also for some reason none of the older male engineers seemed to be able to operate the gigantic old-school coffee machine in the break room, I don't know how they got their coffee fix at those times when I didn't take a break from staring at decades-old satellite trajectory computation code written in Fortran to go to the break room and discover I'd have to make the coffee if I wanted any.)
posted by research monkey at 6:18 PM on May 31 [4 favorites]


SpaceX side is that antiseptic future of minimalist white surfaces and blue lighting, while the NASA side shows accretions over time and things held together with duct tape.

From 11/19/2012, Departing Space Station Commander Provides Tour of Orbital Laboratory (YouTube):
In her final days as Commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams of NASA recorded an extensive tour of the orbital laboratory and downlinked the video on Nov. 18, just hours before she, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency departed in their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft for a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan. The tour includes scenes of each of the station's modules and research facilities with a running narrative by Williams of the work that has taken place and which is ongoing aboard the orbital outpost.
In which we see that access to weightless living and working quarters — while providing spectacular views of Earth — lets humans create a 3D XYZ axis maze with clutter in every direction and on every surface. This is the natural order of things.
posted by cenoxo at 4:08 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


And yet space flight - in any vehicle at all - can't help but spark joy...
posted by PhineasGage at 8:27 AM on June 1


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