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Comment Re:I'm On a Boat! (Score 1) 66

A pipe with some fuel in it, that goes to the same place at the same speed as 60 years ago? This is what excites you?

My direct flight to Australia from California in about 13 hours is just a boring rerun of Magellan's voyage, then?

Are you saying your flight will be more newsworthy than Magellan's voyage? Now where's that TSA tip line... Also, I didn't know Magellan was Santa's half brother, 13 hours to sail halfway around the world I think you need some magic mermaids to pull your boat. Yes, the GP is kinda trolling but still... Musk is still putting cargo and satellites in orbit, I guess doing that cheaper is nice but if that was all we wouldn't care much. It's his ambitions for Mars that get people excited, but those are still way in the future. And he's "just" the transport company, we still need someone to fund the entire mission.

Comment Re:History? (Score 1) 66

See above. The SRBs didn't so much land as hit the ocean at highway speeds, bob around in corrosive saltwater, have to be fished out, taken back, fully disassembled, recast, fully assembled, with a large fraction of the parts replaced.

If you want the airplane equivalent, it would be as if every plane flight, instead of landing, crashed into a mucky swamp and banged the plane up badly, ruining half the parts, and the whole airplane had to be broken down, large chunks of the plane replaced, and oh, instead of using jet fuel you have to open up the fuel tank, break it into pieces, and mould a non-extinguishable propellant into place before reassembling it.

This is, needless to say, not the model SpaceX is going for.

Comment Re:Reusable - like the shuttle? (Score 2) 66

In addition to the corrections to your post concerning the tiles, the Shuttle orbiter was basically a second stage (at best, a 1.5 stage). A significant minority of the dry mass of the system. The SRBs were also "recovered", but A) they landed in saltwater, B) "landing" is being generous, they hit *hard*, C) solid rockets aren't just a "refill and reuse", you have to disassemble and recast. The net result is that reuse didn't really save any money on the SRBs.

The Shuttle's TPS was a big maintenance problem (not an issue for Falcon). The SSMEs were also pretty high maintenance. Shuttle had to build a whole huge ET each launch. And NASA has such huge amount of heavy infrastructure overhead.

It's hard to say how well reuse of Falcons will go at this point. But it should at the very least fare far better than the Shuttle system.

It's also worth noting that Falcon is only the start of SpaceX's plans. While they've learned what to do and what not to do from the Shuttle program, they want their experience with F9 and FH to influence their design of ITS and its support infrastructure.

Comment Re:History? (Score 1) 66

The SRBs fell, uncontrolled, into the ocean and were re-filled with firecracker stuff. It was always only marginally economical to reuse them. In contrast, the Falcon 9 is a liquid fueled rocket with on-board avionics, which soft-lands in a usable state. Its engine has been tested after landing, without any refurbishment at all.

The new goal is to turn around a booster and re-fly it in 24 hours.

Comment Re:Reusable - like the shuttle? (Score 1) 66

But they skimped on the maintenance, allowing tiles to get loose.

The problems with tiles were not due to deferred maintenance. They were engineering problems with the adhesives, etc.

It also took a lot of work to refurbish the engines on the Shuttle. They had to be completely removed from the craft after each and every mission, disassembled, and a lot of parts replaced.

Comment Re:Just wait for Falcon Heavy (Score 1) 66

Actually, the next milestone is rapid reuse :) Tweet from Musk this evening:

Incredibly proud of the SpaceX team for achieving this milestone in space! Next goal is reflight within 24 hours.

SpaceX has a backlog. It'll be nice to see if they can really up their launch rate and clear it all out.

Comment Re:Just wait for Falcon Heavy (Score 1) 66

With the heavy - will the side boosters always be able to land at the launch site, or will they need 3 drone ships?

Depends on the payload, they get more capacity with drone ships and if it's heavy enough they'll just be expendable. But given that the Falcon Heavy has a far higher max capacity than the heaviest current heavy lift vehicle (Delta IV Heavy) most launches should be able to land all three at the launch site, I imagine that's the main plan to drive costs down. Launch, land, refurb, fuel, launch again. Using the barge will have a much longer turn-around time, risk of bad weather conditions both on landing at on return to port, exposure to salty spray from the ocean etc. while going back to the landing site will give you almost the same conditions as when launching. If SpaceX manages to make them durable and have a short turn-around they could become a real workhorse doing launch after launch after launch.

Comment Re:Some people (Score 4, Insightful) 66

I'd be the first to encourage people to innovate. But you're painting your portrayal of politicians with a rather wide brush. While we have some deplorable examples of politicians, we also have some who made a major positive contribution to the world.

Then we can talk about lawyers. You might not like them, but the alternative to using them is that we duke everything out or have shooting feuds to settle our disputes.

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