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Comment Re:No Garage here (Score 1) 82

Tom Mueller was indeed head of several Pintle engine projects at TRW, but he was also working on a personal project in his garage when Elon came to talk to him. He was working on a project for a rocketry enthusiast club called Reaction Research Society. More details at this link:

Comment Re:Simplify and add lightness (Score 3, Interesting) 82

The Vacuum optimized Merlin 1C is both regenerative and radiatively cooled. The main copper chamber is regen, and the columbium extension is radiative.

In general, the Merlin as a booster engine is far lighter and much cheaper than hydrolox booster engines (but much more inneficient). They are slightly lighter and much cheaper than typical russian kerolox booster engines (and slightly less efficient than them).

I wouldn't say the Merlin is horribly inefficient, more that it's focused on optimizing cost and thrust to weight ratio rather than ISP. There really hasn't been much in the way of American development of kerolox engines lately. Most people focus on hydrolox development or buy Russian kerolox.

Comment Re:Congratulations (Score 1) 282

Senator Hutchison (R-TX)'s statement following the inaugural flight of Falcon 9 in 2010: "This first successful test flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is a belated sign that efforts to develop modest commercial space cargo capabilities are showing some promising signs. While this test flight was important, the program to demonstrate commercial cargo and crew transport capabilities, which I support, was intended to enhance not replace NASA’s own proven abilities to deliver critical cargo and humans to low Earth orbit. Make no mistake, even this modest success is more than a year behind schedule, and the project deadlines of other private space companies continue to slip as well."

Senator Shelby (R-AL): Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, whose state of Alabama is also a NASA stronghold, further decried the launch as a display merely replicating what “NASA accomplished in 1964.”
“Belated progress for one so-called commercial provider must not be confused with progress for our nation’s human space flight program,” Shelby said. “As a nation, we cannot place our future space flight on one fledgling company’s definition of success.”


Comment Re:Compared to the Saturn V... (Score 3, Insightful) 146

According to Wikipedia: "In 1969, the cost of a Saturn V including launch was US $ 185 million (inflation adjusted US$ 1.11 billion in 2011)." According to SpaceX (projections, since obviously FH hasn't flown yet): "With Falcon Heavy priced at $80-125M per launch SpaceX has the potential to provide the US government significant value" So 1/2 the performance at 1/10th the cost.

Comment Re:Vision (Score 1) 248

Falcon 1 Flight 3 definitely did not make orbit. As you noted though, that still puts SpaceX on even footing in terms of 'vehicles lost' vs 'vehicles that made orbit'. And since they're 3 for 3 on the last 3 launches, and 1 for 1 on the newest design, I'd say that throwing around "50% success rate" is a little bit misleading.
The Internet

Adobe Founders On Flash and Internet Standards 515

An anonymous reader points out an 18-month-old interview with the founders of Adobe (and creators of PostScript) Charles Geschke and John Warnock, and highlights three interesting quotes from the book Masterminds of Programming that seem very timely now. "'It is so frustrating that this many years later we're still in an environment where someone says if you really want this to work you have to use Firefox. The whole point of the universality of the Web would be to not have those kind of distinctions, but we're still living with them. It's always fascinating to see how long it takes for certain pieces of historical antiquity to die away. The more you put them in the browsers you've codified them as eternal, and that's stupid. ... With Flash what we're trying to do is both beef it up and make it robust enough so that at least you can get one language that's platform-independent and will move from platform to platform without hitting you every time you turn around with different semantics. ... You can see why, to a certain extent, Apple and Microsoft view that as a challenge because they would like you to buy into their implementation of how the seamless integration with the Web goes. What we're saying is it really shouldn't matter. That cloud ought to be accessible by anybody's computer and through any sort of information sitting out on the Web."

Comment Re:Really, Time? (Score 1) 196

But casting him as an intellectual and a history buff? Have they ever even watched his program?

I wouldn't jump to conclusions about Beck as a person just based on how he acts on his program. It's fairly plausible that he hams it up a bit to play the 'everyman who loves his country' role that he's carved out. I haven't watched his program, but from what I hear it's a bit more over the top in comparison to his show back on CNN. He could very well be an intellectual and history buff, who happens to become an emotional demagogue once he's in front of the camera. Stewart and Colbert (as you noted) aren't the only ones playing up the entertainment angle.

Comment Re:NASA isn't that bad. (Score 2, Informative) 122

SpaceX has developed their own engines. 4 at last count: Merlin, Merlin Vac, Kestrel, and Draco. They are using common dome tanks, which NASA (as far as I know) is not using in their current programs. SpaceX started as little more than an assembler of outsourced and off the shelf parts, but these days they pretty much design and build as much in house as they can. They may be relying on a lot of NASA's theoretical research of years past, but they are definitely designing their own rocket rather than just slapping NASA parts together.

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