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ISS

SpaceX's Falcon 9 Successfully Reaches Orbit 282

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the now-to-build-a-moon-base dept.
terrymaster69 writes "After an aborted launch attempt last week, SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon9 rocket Tuesday at 3:44 am EST. SpaceX's founder Elon Musk tweeted: 'Falcon flew perfectly!! Dragon in orbit, comm locked and solar arrays active!! Feels like a giant weight just came off my back :)' The Dragon capsule is scheduled to dock with the ISS on May 25th."
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 Successfully Reaches Orbit

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  • Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AikonMGB (1013995) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:38AM (#40075165) Homepage

    Congratulations, SpaceX; this is a turning point in our space age =)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Spritzer (950539) *
      Having been a small part of this I can say that it's a VERY exciting moment. This is a giant leap toward the future of manned space flight, and everyone involved should be extremely proud of their efforts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crazyjj (2598719) *

      Am I the only one who doesn't see this as a positive thing? Privatization will only provide an excuse to cut the NASA budget even more. And NASA is already outsourced to the gills as it is. And it could set the stage for the government bailing on space research and exploration altogether (and no private company is going to pick up the slack on projects with no profit behind them).

      So it could be a "turning point" in the space age alright. It could be the end of it.

      • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:23AM (#40075595)

        NASA launches are already done by Boeing. Why would a different vendor change anything?

        This means NASA will get more launches for their budget, if they get anymore cuts they have to have SpaceX just to survive.

      • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:00AM (#40075955)

        Am I the only one who doesn't see this as a positive thing? Privatization will only provide an excuse to cut the NASA budget even more. And NASA is already outsourced to the gills as it is. And it could set the stage for the government bailing on space research and exploration altogether (and no private company is going to pick up the slack on projects with no profit behind them).

        How is the ability to get to space cheaper and more efficiently a bad thing? For NASA or anyone else. There is zero reason to "slash" NASA's budget because of this: they are already working closely with SpaceX anyways, and will be commissioning them to launch flights. NASA runs the experiments and bigger scientific projects, like Mars rover missions and whatnot. The ability for them to get their projects into space cheaper can only be a good thing.

        Really, if the government wanted to bail on space research they already could have. The DoD already has its rockets, the EU and Russia have theirs, really research is the only reason NASA exists anyways and is why they have existed for 20 years or so. This only helps that, by making the cost-to-orbit cheaper.

      • because it is no longer the exclusive domain of government. While government focused efforts can be very good at times it can also hold back progress as well.

      • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

        by caseih (160668) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:14AM (#40076115)

        You're right. A whole bunch of pork-barrel Republicans also see this as negative. I remember the sarcastic comments Republican congressmen made last test flight when they said, "congratulations to Space-X for doing what NASA did 50 years ago." Such ironic comments given Republicans' supposed private enterprise leanings, but easy to understand when you realize that NASA funding traditionally hasn't been about exciting science so much as a means of funneling large amounts of corporate welfare back into the home states of congressmen.

        And really if you look back on the last 30 years of the space age, a lot has been accomplished by NASA. But almost all of the exciting science did not involve NASA's crown jewel space flight vehicles such as the Shuttle or Saturn 5 at all, but rather remote probes to the outer solar system, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and of course Earth, almost all launched on privately-made (though some designed with NASA's help) rockets like the Atlas, Delta, and so forth. Hubble is the one example I can I think of a scientific triumph that involved the Space Shuttle. Though with the money spent on the shuttle flights to fix and upgrade Hubble, I think they could have built and launched a couple of hubbles. I also think the Space Station is a success, and really was the purpose for which the Shuttle was built. However design by committee to do too many other things poorly means the Shuttle and the Space Station have cost orders of magnitude more than they should have. Had NASA developed a heavy lift rocket along the lines of the Saturn 5 I think the space station could have been lifted and built much more cheaply, and we probably would not have had a gap in manned flight that we now have.

        The Space Shuttle was a fantastic vehicle, and a historic one, but it didn't do any of what it was designed to do that well, at least as far as economics go. Now that the program has ended and we can look back on it, we can safely say that from a program goals and outcomes point of view, the Shuttle was a costly lesson.

        As for private rockets, as the other poster said, all rockets have always been developed under contract with NASA by private companies. As was said, Boeing has built a lot of rockets used to launch satellites over the years. The difference here is that NASA is only contracting the end result with Space-X (rocket launches). They did not have a hand in the rocket's design. This is a good thing I think. Space-X is still being held to NASA's strict standards for testing and reliability, but they aren't influenced by pork-barrel spending requirements, or being forced to design it a certain way (say with a solid rocket first stage). This is a very good thing and I hope it starts to spell the end of using NASA by Congress as simply a means of funneling tax dollars to specific subcontractors in specific states. Another real difference here is that Space-X is among the first companies thinking to build man-rated rockets, and feeling like they can do it economically and for less cost than the Russians, and certainly several orders of magnitude cheaper and more efficiently than NASA's own post-shuttle designs.

        • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Informative)

          by Brannoncyll (894648) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:22AM (#40076837)

          As for private rockets, as the other poster said, all rockets have always been developed under contract with NASA by private companies.

          Just as a clarification, the Ariane [wikipedia.org] rockets in Europe are arguably the most successful rockets, launching almost half of all the commercial satellites. These have been developed by a private company, EADS Astrium [wikipedia.org] (a subsidiary of EADS [wikipedia.org], a big aerospace and defence contractor) since the 1980s and produced/operated by another private company, Arianespace [wikipedia.org]. The latter appears to be jointly controlled (in terms of shares) by EADS and the French space agency, CNES, so it might be considered as semi-private, but EADS is certainly a public company.

          • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DesScorp (410532) <.DesScorp. .at. .Gmail.com.> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @11:58AM (#40077921) Homepage Journal

            As for private rockets, as the other poster said, all rockets have always been developed under contract with NASA by private companies.

            Just as a clarification, the Ariane [wikipedia.org] rockets in Europe are arguably the most successful rockets, launching almost half of all the commercial satellites. These have been developed by a private company, EADS Astrium [wikipedia.org] (a subsidiary of EADS [wikipedia.org], a big aerospace and defence contractor) since the 1980s and produced/operated by another private company, Arianespace [wikipedia.org]. The latter appears to be jointly controlled (in terms of shares) by EADS and the French space agency, CNES, so it might be considered as semi-private, but EADS is certainly a public company.

            Not the same thing as Space X. These companies were created directly by European governments, often out of the remains of European government owned defense companies, many of them nationalized. Saying these companies are corporations is like saying that the US Postal Service is a corporation; technically true, but missing the forest for the trees. They were created specifically to serve their governments. Any private sector business is the cherry on top of the ice cream. Space X, on the other hand, was a private company from the ground up, specifically created for a perceived private space transportation market, the aim being to make a profit off of it for private investors. Government contracts will be part of that, but the aim of this company is to be the premier provider of space launch to private companies. NASA, for all the good it has done over the years, has been suppressing that private market. A company like Space X is long overdue.

            • Re:Congratulations (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Brannoncyll (894648) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:43PM (#40078457)

              Not the same thing as Space X. These companies were created directly by European governments, often out of the remains of European government owned defense companies, many of them nationalized. Saying these companies are corporations is like saying that the US Postal Service is a corporation; technically true, but missing the forest for the trees. They were created specifically to serve their governments. Any private sector business is the cherry on top of the ice cream. Space X, on the other hand, was a private company from the ground up, specifically created for a perceived private space transportation market, the aim being to make a profit off of it for private investors. Government contracts will be part of that, but the aim of this company is to be the premier provider of space launch to private companies. NASA, for all the good it has done over the years, has been suppressing that private market. A company like Space X is long overdue.

              With these defense/aerospace companies it is often difficult to tell how much of it was founded by governments and how much was private enterprise. If you trace back their histories you often find that they are formed from multiple mergers between private companies and privatised former-government setups, some or all of which are partially owned by the government. Its very confusing. However, EADS currently has almost 50% of its shares on the open market, which to me is the hallmark of a private company. Also, I understand that most of their business is with private companies; telecommunications and whatnot. For example, if you look at the launch history of Ariane 5 [wikipedia.org], you see a very large number of communications satellites and only a few government contracts such as the ATV "Jules Verne" and science platforms like Herschel and Planck.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          However design by committee to do too many other things poorly means the Shuttle and the Space Station have cost orders of magnitude more than they should have.

          The Space Shuttle's problems were not "design by committee" problems. If I had to pick the single biggest cause, it was having their budget radically slashed due to waning public interest in space post-Apollo and the increasing funding demands of the Vietnam War. This caused all sorts of compromises that either directly (aluminum frame instead of t

      • by brokeninside (34168) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:31AM (#40076287)

        Another way to look at it is that once manned space flight is a reality for private firms, the resulting complications that arise from conflicting interests will result in NASA being re-engineered at least in part as a law enforcement agency. And, once that happens, they will be in a veritable arms race with private concerns. That will drive all sorts of new research and development.

      • This Is Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jdev (227251) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:25AM (#40076875)

        This is a fantastic thing. Take a look at NASA's goal.

        To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

        Being the tow trucks to space has very little to do with that. NASA has done that for more than half a century now and I'm personally very happy to offload that responsibility to private entities.

        So what does this mean for NASA now? I'd say it clears up their responsibilities for space exploration. More rovers. More probes. And if we can justify it, more manned space flights. If private entities can handle sending things up to orbit, then I see that as a good thing.

      • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Informative)

        by sneakyimp (1161443) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:33AM (#40076959)

        Read this page [spacex.com] on the SpaceX site, especially this part:

        As noted last month by a Chinese government official, SpaceX currently has the best launch prices in the world and they don’t believe they can beat them. This is a clear case of American innovation trumping lower overseas labor rates.

        and this part:

        If there are cost overruns, SpaceX will cover the difference. (This concept may be foreign to some traditional government space contractors that seem to believe that cost overruns should be the responsibility of the taxpayer.)

        The business-as-usual approach where the government hands NASA gobs of money so that NASA can in turn pay Boeing all the money they ask for is affected by SpaceX. It is my hope (and Musk's stated goal) to maintain low fixed costs for launches. If SpaceX delivers on this promise, that will mean that we can still maintain a presence in space for less money. Another thing to note: SpaceX is in California. I'd be willing to bet that Florida and Texas republicans will still want their pork projects for all the aerospace companies working out of Texas and Florida. Also, there's always the sacred cow of defense spending. Remember the X37-B? I'd be willing to bet more money gets spent on that in the future.

        • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Informative)

          by quacking duck (607555) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:14PM (#40078115)

          Another thing to note: SpaceX is in California. I'd be willing to bet that Florida and Texas republicans will still want their pork projects for all the aerospace companies working out of Texas and Florida.

          Not to defend pork spending, but Florida does have one huge advantage over California: it's the most south-eastern point in the US, and launching eastward from there gives any craft a free speed boost going into orbit. Any eastern state could do the same, but the further south you are, the more orbit options you have. I don't know where SpaceX's rocket parts are made (is it actually California, or is that just their HQ?), but obviously the further away this is from the launch site, the more costly the transportation.

          There's no technical reason you couldn't launch eastward from California, except you'd be launching over land, and populated areas. For jettisoning booster stages (or falling debris from a failed launch), this is a bad idea.

          • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Informative)

            by sneakyimp (1161443) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:55PM (#40078631)

            You make good points. Yes 28.5 degrees North and launching eastward gives a substantial boost to any rockets launched and so Florida and/or Texas will likely stay in the picture as launching point. I'd be willing to bet that NASA gave SpaceX the equivalent of free rent at the launch facilities (which are probably maintained by other contractors on NASA's behalf). The SpaceX information on the Falcon Heavy [spacex.com] all list an 'inclination' of 28.5 degrees so I am guessing the assumption is all launches will happen from Kennedy in FL.

            I watched a video on Elon Musk which stated that raw materials come in to the factory in Hawthorne, CA and rocket parts come out the other side. I believe most of their 1500+ employees are in CA (awesome vid of them cheering the launch here [vimeo.com]). Hawthorne is about a mile from LAX and they can probably just take the parts over to LAX and put them on a big transport and fly them. I'd be willing to bet that transport costs are but a tiny tiny fraction of the human resource cost of the project. Los Angeles has tremendous assets for this sort of work -- there's a hi-tech corridor around Glendale/Burbank with all kinds of operations. There's an enormous talent pool of skilled workers, access to sea, air, and land shipping, etc. Boeing's a little different but most of their employees are on the West Coast. Lockheed also has a lot of facilities in Cailfornia. As does Raytheon. If you want to hire talented and experienced engineers and rocket scientists (and support staff), there are a ton of them around Los Angeles.

            • I watched a video on Elon Musk which stated that raw materials come in to the factory in Hawthorne, CA and rocket parts come out the other side. I believe most of their 1500+ employees are in CA (awesome vid of them cheering the launch here [vimeo.com]). Hawthorne is about a mile from LAX and they can probably just take the parts over to LAX and put them on a big transport and fly them. I'd be willing to bet that transport costs are but a tiny tiny fraction of the human resource cost of the project.

              Transportation costs would probably be minor by comparison, true.

              And SpaceX won't be dealing with anything the size of the shuttle external tank, which had to be shipped by covered barge [nasa.gov] from around New Orleans. The Falcon components could also be transported by rail, since no one section of the rocket itself is wider than the old shuttle SRBs (Falcon: 3.2m, SRBs: 3.7m). The fairing, or payload capsule, is 5.2m though, too wide for train tunnels, so those parts probably have to shipped or flown.

              There's prob

  • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:38AM (#40075175)
    Yeah, it's still a little while until we get people up there in one of those things, but it's gonna happen. We're back, baby! Congrats to the Space X team!
  • More info and video (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:41AM (#40075203)

    SpaceX Launches Private Capsule on Historic Trip to Space Station [space.com]

    And don't forget the Space Launch System (SLS) [wikipedia.org], which is the next iteration of (government operated) US human spaceflight.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:49AM (#40075273)

      By next iteration you mean next pork barrel spending project?

      That thing is designed for only one purpose, to keep the shuttle parts suppliers in business.

      Humans will be flown on Falcon 9s and possibly Falcon XXs before the SLS even manages to go over budget.

      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:59AM (#40075387)

        If SpaceX delivers successfully on its manned spaceflight capability, I don't think anyone who actually cares about US manned spaceflight will be disappointed.

        The fact that spaceflight has matured to the point that a private enterprise like SpaceX can now conduct this level of mission is a wonderful thing, but that doesn't obviate the need for government-supported and -operated space capabilities. The private sector isn't the only solution. They can apply what we've learned but do not have the same motivations of government space programs, which have resulted in nearly immeasurable advances and payoffs much closer to home.

        The government acquisition and contracting system is far from perfect, but NASA, United Space Alliance [unitedspacealliance.com], and United Launch Alliance [ulalaunch.com] are no slouches. ULA has success after success [youtube.com] and knows how to reliably get research and military payloads to space. The fact that SpaceX is now in the mix is only a good thing. During this morning's press conference everyone involved from NASA to SpaceX was all smiles.

        • by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:14AM (#40075513)
          The space shuttle was a flying dump truck. The most awesomest dump truck ever, but still a dump truck. Falcon 9 is a flying dump truck. Just as there's no reason in the current age for the government to produce dump trucks, we're reaching the point where there's no reason for the government to produce a low-earth orbit vehicle.

          Going to Mars, exploring asteroids, and other new ventures should now get NASA's focus. Those require the development of new ideas and science, and don't have a clear viable business plan to support private development of a turnkey solution.
          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Going to Mars can be flown by private ventures. Sure NASA should focus on how to survive once we get there, but they do not need to build the rocket to get there.

            • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:36AM (#40075705) Journal

              Going to Mars can be flown by private ventures.

              In theory, anything can be done by provate ventures. That doesn't make it true in practice. Getting to Mars is still difficult and unreliable, and generally uses different, purpose built systems each time. Doubly so as new ion/plasma based propulsion methods are being developed. That's still well ni the realm of basic (i.e. government funded) research.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Researching those should be done by government research. Right now though, Falcon XX could be built and make it there.

                • Researching those should be done by government research.

                  Part of research is then using it to build something to see if you were right and to find out what you missed. That means the government should still be working on it.
                  Falcon XX could be built and make it there.

                  Hopefully, maybe, probably, possibly.

                  Getting to Mars has proven exceptionally hard. Besides, the XX is a heavy launch *concept* and won't be going anywhere beyond LEO (or perhaps GTO) even when it is build. The actual getting to Mars bit isn't

                  • by Guspaz (556486)

                    We don't really need the Falcon XX for a moon or mars mission: there is no reason why multiple smaller launches by something like the Falcon Heavy can't be used. This does require orbital rendezvous, and those are hard, but not impossible.

                    For example, the Saturn V took 119 tons to LEO, and a Falcon Heavy will take 53 tons (with 70 a possibility with a new second stage under development). Two Falcon Heavy launches, which would cost in the ballpark of $200m, has the lift capability of a manned lunar mission.

            • by saider (177166)

              Name one private company that could fund a Mars Mission and still remain solvent. Only the government has the money to be able to pursue a goal where there is no clear profit motive.

              • by jnaujok (804613) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @11:19AM (#40077467) Homepage Journal
                Just to be pedantic -- Elon Musk has said he could design the Falcon XX for $2.5B. Bigelow Aerospace can put up a "Mars Mission" space station using BA-300's for less than a Billion dollars more. Assuming six launches of the Falcon XX to put those six BA-300 segments into an interplanetary transfer orbit at $150M each (SpaceX's estimated cost per flight of the XX) and you have a total of right around $4.5B. Now, Apple has a warchest of $80B in cash, so Apple could launch not one, but about 30 missions to Mars and remain solvent.

                Whether they'd get a return on their investment is a tough question, since I'm not sure whether FoxConn will set up slave labor camps on Mars to make iPads or not.
            • by Brannoncyll (894648) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:28AM (#40076901)

              Going to Mars can be flown by private ventures. Sure NASA should focus on how to survive once we get there, but they do not need to build the rocket to get there.

              Aside from prestige, how would you go about convincing a private company to fly to Mars? There's nothing there that is commercially exploitable. The best approach IMO is to create government contracts to lay the groundwork for exploiting mineral resources in near-Earth asteroids. Once money can be made from such ventures, private companies will invest in more advanced craft to fit the purpose, which by their nature will have many characteristics with the type of vehicle necessary to fly to Mars.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          I don't believe the private sector is the only solution. I do know however that the SLS is as ill advised as the Shuttle program. It only exists to keep ATK and the rest of that bunch in business. Right now government space programs only motivation seems to be to keep their friends employed.

          ULA/USA AKA Boeing has a history of charging ass loads of money and sucking off the government teat, I think you mean. These are the entrenched players that hopefully SpaceX will shake up.

    • by Nebulious (1241096) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:55AM (#40075345)
      SLS is joke. It's a rocket designed by congress. The design is intended to keep as many existing Space Shuttle Factories open as possible. The new components it does need get their contracts delivered right to the usual industry giants on a silver platter.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:18AM (#40075553)

        So do you think the United States should divest itself of government-operated space launch capability? Should the lessons learned, capabilities gained, infrastructure created, and accomplishments of the last over-30 years be abandoned because the legislative, acquisition, and contracting landscape for government space operations isn't perfect? The "industry giants" in government space operations became "giants" for a reason.

        SpaceX has shown that private enterprise has a place alongside government, but SpaceX isn't doesn't operate in a vacuum (pun intended!). Every launch on the SpaceX manifest through 2017 [spacex.com] is happening via a US government launch complex, and for good reason. Just because existing space contractors benefit from SLS, it doesn't automatically follow that it's the "wrong way" to do things.

        Space exploration is a key asset which serves to invigorate the national spirit [al.com], and government and private enterprise both have a significant place in the future of US space operations.

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:26AM (#40075627)

          We don't have any now. They current space launch folks are all Boeing. They current industry giants got that way by doing well 40 years ago and now can charge any price they want. Mind you then price not a concern as we were racing the Russians to the Moon. Boeing is still trying to live in the cost is no object world as far as launches go.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by icebrain (944107)

          There's a big difference between government-operated and government-produced, and it's the latter that GP was probably talking about.

          It's one thing for the government to purchase launch services or to operate/maintain a launch site (parallels would be government hiring UPS to move some packages, or maintaining the airport). But the government (and especially congress) doesn't need to be making technical design decisions, like what the vehicle will look like, what engines it will use, and so on. The direct

        • Should the lessons learned, capabilities gained, infrastructure created, and accomplishments of the last over-30 years be abandoned because the legislative, acquisition, and contracting landscape for government space operations isn't perfect

          I don't want to argue for or against government involvement, but what you said above is a straw-man. The infrastructure/technology created could be privatised. The debate is between continuing government involvement or privatising the current assets; no one is arguing that the infrastructure should be bulldozed and the documents/books be burned.

    • by tibit (1762298) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:56AM (#40076551)

      Dave, honey, the would-be SLS service tower cost about as much as the entire Falcon 1 and most of Falcon 9 development program. $500M. The government is absolutely, completely over-the-top with their spending. You have no sense of scale whatsoever.

    • by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:42AM (#40077059)

      The SLS is estimated to cost $41 billion for R&D and four launches, and is expected to have a cost-to-leo of $8500 per pound. SpaceX is claiming that the R&D on their Falcon Heavy will be ~$2.5 billion, and they'll have a cost-to-leo of $500-1000 (with the lower figure depending on them getting stage recovery working).

      Why does the SLS need to exist? It won't be able to do anything that projected private sector products won't be able to do for a fraction of the cost.

      Let me put it in perspective: the Falcon Heavy is projected to put cargo into orbit for 3% of the cost of the shuttle (~1/30th the cost).

  • by biometrizilla (1999728) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:43AM (#40075219)
    "Now THAT's how you put a satellite into orbit!", signed Elon Musk.
    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      On the first spacewalk, slyly plant a North Korean flag on some random american satellite, with the Korean for "BOOSH, BITCHES!". Wait a few months and watch NASA flip their shit trying to figure out how the North Koreans did it.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:45AM (#40075235)

    Fair play to the SpaceX team, its a world first for private enterprise.

  • by Cragen (697038) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:50AM (#40075281)
    Oh, NO! That "giant load off his back" means he's experiencing weightlessness which means he stowed away on the capssule! Abort! Abort! (Grats!)
  • Video of the launch (Score:5, Informative)

    by Solozerk (1003785) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:52AM (#40075321)
    A HD video of the launch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQNJG8MPcIc [youtube.com]
    SpaceX always releases amazing videos of their launch :-) in this one there's even a camera to watch the solar array deploying in orbit.
  • USA rocks (Score:3, Informative)

    by JOrgePeixoto (853808) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:54AM (#40075337) Journal

    I love America (even though I am not American). Few countries *even have* a space-reaching rocket, while in the US multiple *private companies* have it.

    • Re:USA rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:05AM (#40075441)
      Well, come on over, then. We need more people with a can-do attitude. Visa applications are avaialble at your local embassy...

      For those who don't know, Elon Musk was born in South Africa, and left to avoid Military Service in the 80's (which propped up the Apartheid government). He came over here, built paypal into a powerhouse (thorugh a merger, he didn't found it), founded Tesla motors, and he built a rocketship. Hell yeah.
      • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:43AM (#40075775)

        For those who don't know, Elon Musk was born in South Africa, and left to avoid Military Service in the 80's (which propped up the Apartheid government). He came over here, built paypal into a powerhouse (thorugh a merger, he didn't found it), founded Tesla motors, and he built a rocketship. Hell yeah.

        Oh yeah? Well this morning, I played the Torchlight 2 beta and got an Engineer all the way to Level 12! And then I'm going to the dentist in an hour!

        Man, fuck those guys that put my life into perspective. ):

  • by scharkalvin (72228) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:05AM (#40075431) Homepage

    It may be possible to certify the man rating of the Dragon spacecraft before the Falcon launch rocket. So the Dragon may be able to return astronaughts to earth FROM the ISS before it is used to bring them up there (since no ride on the rocket would be required if the Dragon is sent up empty).

    • by Megane (129182) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:52AM (#40075853) Homepage

      That's an interesting idea, but there is no need for it. Once a Soyuz is up, it doesn't cost any more to get down. Even the custom-fitted Soyuz seat is needed for the ride up. One of the rules on ISS is that every crew member has to have a seat on an escape vehicle, so the Soyuz that they rode up on stays docked. Even crew that was brought up on Shuttle and left behind on ISS had a Soyuz seat ready, because the shuttle took someone else back to free up that seat. And there's no other way up right now, so everybody has a Soyuz seat ready.

      On the other hand, this will mean that we will now have a decent downmass capability. Soyuz had very limited downmass, and theoretically you could put cargo return capability on a Progress, but nobody did it, because it was cheaper to just let the "trash" burn up. Now they can afford to return stuff that wasn't worth returning before, allowing more reuse and analysis of what had to be classified as "trash" before.

      In the end, the one thing the Shuttle could do that Crew Dragon or Falcon Heavy won't ever be able to do is return full-size modules. It will only be able to return what you can stuff through the hatch, but that's not too bad of a limitation.

      • by dlgeek (1065796)
        The Soyuz has a limited on-orbit lifetime though. After the recent loss of a cargo Soyuz, there was a threat we'd have to abandon the station if the currently docked capsule expired before they could re-certify the platform and launch a replacement mission. Being able to fly a rescue dragon to the station for re-enty could be a posisble way to avoid this in the future by allowing a crew to stay up longer.

        That being said, it's of course incredibly unlikely that we'd see such an convergence of event during
  • IPO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:05AM (#40075445)

    1) screw the FB IPO thats a pump and dump scheme of the largest scale. I want to buy shares in spacex, they're actually doing something interesting, valuable, and apparently profitable. Which is probably why they're staying out of the stock market (the old saying, bad money always drives out good money...)

    2) I wanted to ask for a spacex tee shirt for fathers day, but all I can find is a couple IP violators, people ripping off newswire photographers, that kind of product. Their might be "real" shirts out there... where? I would think a tastefully done black tee shirt sold directly by spacex to wealthy /.ers could be a significant funding source for their operation. Well, honestly all it would probably pay for is free donuts and coffee on Friday, but I'd feel cool contributing to that too.

    • Their might be "real" shirts out there... where? I would think a tastefully done black tee shirt sold directly by spacex to wealthy /.ers could be a significant funding source for their operation.

      I couldn't find anything and I doubt there is anything yet. I sent SpaceX an e-mail so maybe they'll decide to get something setup. I'm pretty sure it would be real easy to do and only take a day or so.

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        I doubt that SpaceX has time to think about general public PR beyond the obligatory webpage and social network presence.

        Who knows, maybe they would be open to outsourcing it to a company that already sells merchandise to geeks? Try mailing your favorite geek stuff supplier and ask if they can get SpaceX stuff.

    • by Corf (145778)
      A google search for spacex shirt leads to thespaceshop.com in the second hit, from which one click leads to their entire selection of Spacex merch: http://www.thespaceshop.com/spacex.html [thespaceshop.com]. They look pretty legit to me.
    • I agree. If I were an investor in stock market, SpaceX would be an investment much more interesting (and perhaps even profitable!) than Facebook.

      I still remember the time when stock exchanges served for you to become a partner in companies that you found interesting, not the current casino.
    • I wanted to ask for a spacex tee shirt for fathers day, but all I can find is a couple IP violators, people ripping off newswire photographers, that kind of product. Their might be "real" shirts out there... where? I would think a tastefully done black tee shirt sold directly by spacex to wealthy /.ers could be a significant funding source for their operation. Well, honestly all it would probably pay for is free donuts and coffee on Friday, but I'd feel cool contributing to that too.

      Here you go:

      http://www.thespaceshop.com/spacex.html [thespaceshop.com]

      Enjoy!

  • In the video it seemed to take 60 seconds to reach 225 m/s, or around 3.5 m/s/s. That's only 1/3 G!! Did the takeoff seem slow to others? Even manned rockets accelerate a lot faster than that! What's wrong with my analysis or their rocket?
    • by macshome (818789)
      The Shuttle only pulled up to around 3G on launch as well via a combination of throttling down and course changes.
    • by Sez Zero (586611)
      I didn't look at your analysis, but ten minutes from launch to spacecraft separation seems fast enough to me. Faster means more fuel and stronger (heavier) rockets and spacecraft. Why go faster, especially if you are trying to become a low-cost leader?
    • by tp1024 (2409684)

      Gravity works even after take-off. Thrust at lift-off is a bit less than 1.3 times the weight.

      0.3g is left, so long as the rocket is flying vertically, which it does, at first.

    • by necro81 (917438)
      Acceleration is slowest right after launch, because that's when you have greatest mass. It is also when you most have to content with atmospheric drag. As you get higher, you've burnt off a lot of propellant mass, you're past maxQ, acceleration increases. Listen to some of the other time-velocity marks in the video, and you'll see this bears out.
    • We've been spoiled by shuttle launches, where the solid rocket boosters propel the shuttle stack upwards at much greater acceleration. Most liquid-fuel-only rockets, including the Saturn V if you watch old video, will launch much more slowly, especially right after launch.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:04AM (#40075995) Homepage

    A mars ship could be launched as modules that are connected in space. and Space X already has a heavy lift plan to do just that.

  • Why does it take three friggin' days to dock with the ISS? I never quite understood why it takes so long to do that sort of thing? Seems to me that orbital mechanics is well understood and computer processing speeds are fast enough to handle navigation with maneuvering thrusters.

    • Re:Awesome but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:55AM (#40076533)

      Why does it take three friggin' days to dock with the ISS? I never quite understood why it takes so long to do that sort of thing? Seems to me that orbital mechanics is well understood and computer processing speeds are fast enough to handle navigation with maneuvering thrusters.

      Well, one reason is that matcing orbit quickly requires more deltaV than they're willing or able to spend.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:41AM (#40076365)
    The real soul searching will happen when the first private astronauts or passengers die. Note this fatality rate is comparable early airplane travel and climbing Mount Everest.
  • Seeing that Falcon 9 is a private vehicle does it need to carry comp and collision? What about uninsured driver? PIP? And is LEO 'no fault'?

    (I ask only partly in jest)

  • by JSC (9187) <john.coxen@com> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @10:00AM (#40076583)
    According the The Reg [theregister.co.uk], James Doohan's ashes are aboard. Boldly go, Scotty. We miss you

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