SpaceX Launches America

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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14 Responses

  1. Robert racek says:

    Space X:Let’s GO.Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    What’s interesting to me is that this is much closer to people’s notions of a Space Shuttle than the actual STS turned out to be. The first-stage booster and the capsule are re-usable (and, presumably, re-usable without too much effort, compared to STS which was almost completely rebuilt between flights).

    Also, this happened before Orion flew a second time. Which, Orion’s next mission is a Moon orbit and they don’t have the rocket for that yet, so it makes sense, but…it still feels kinda “huh” that this is where we are.Report

  3. Michael Cain says:

    We still have plenty of opportunity to throw expensive lifters into the ocean. Boeing says that they’ll have Starliner ready to try its unmanned flight to the ISS again by October or November. (I think that’s optimistic given that they’re reorganizing their software teams and have to complete a review and possible rework of the software.) Each launch tosses away a $100M+ Atlas V, including its Russian-built engine. The Russians are making more serious noises about limiting the uses to which those engines can be put. The United Launch Alliance that’s responsible for the Atlas V says that they need to be guaranteed at least two launches per year to maintain production capability and launch proficiency, even though they admit that those launches will no longer be price-competitive with SpaceX.

    I suspect there’s going to be an ugly shake-out in the US space program over the next several years. Too many new lifters, too many manned spacecraft under development, too few missions to make them all viable. Predicted first casualty — the Boeing Starliner when the test requirements to certify the vessel for launch on a Falcon 9 are released.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    First off, the Astronauts are Bob & Doug… am I the only one trying to fit Strange Brew quotes to this?

    Second, and I can’t say this enough, the fact that SpaceX got rockets that can land on their tail is still an amazing accomplishment that I feel too many people think is a novelty.Report

    • Insane software people who say, “Sure, we can write code that flies a rocket booster from a point 25 miles down range and 50 miles high back to the coast and hit a target with the booster properly oriented at zero net velocity and 15-meter accuracy.”

      But getting a car from your house to the grocery and back? That’s hardReport

      • the old problem of controlled (relatively speaking) vs uncontrolled environment. Can’t code for the crazy people.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

          Wind is generally not sane.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


            I certainly don’t want to take anything away from the SpaceX engineers. Landing a rocket on its tail is certainly an awesome engineering feat.

            It’s also a very different sort of problem than navigating public roads. Honestly, I don’t really like comparing them. They’re different sorts of problems.

            Gosh I hope we make it to Mars in my lifetime. It’s seems unlikely, but not impossible. It would be inspiring.

            I was born before the moon landing. Perhaps I can die after a Mars landing.Report

            • Amazing what a difference a generation can make. I was 15 when my dad dragged me away from whatever I was doing to watch the moon landing. “Dad,” I whined, “it’s just engineering.” But I’d grown up with Mercury and Gemini and Apollo. For him it was science fiction come to life — when he was 15 humans in space were the Buck Rogers serials he showed at the Friday and Saturday night movies in a tiny town in Iowa.Report

        • And yet, you and I do it all the time. When was the last time one of the crazy people managed to hit you? Or get hit by you? If I didn’t think this was a solvable problem, I wouldn’t be as optimistic as I am about aging Boomers staying in their suburban homes far longer than people expect because they will be able to go to the garage, get in the small electric car, tell it “Take me to Dr. Jones’s office, please,” and get there safely with high probability.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain says:

            “When was the last time one of the crazy people managed to hit you?”

            interesting how you just throw this out there like it’s a simple matter

            and yet there are millions of car crashes and tens of thousands of fatalities every year in America


            maybe this problem isn’t as solved as you’re thinking, broReport

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Ready for takeoff, Hoser!Report

  5. Oscar Gordon says:

    Wind is generally not sane.Report

  6. CJColucci says:

    “Primal,” “visceral,” isn’t there one more adjective missing?Report