Reminder: SpaceX launch tomorrow. Watch it live!

There isn’t a hacker out there that isn’t interested at least a little bit in the prospect of building a mission specific rocket to explode someone off the face of the planet… without killing them. We got a tiny taste of what is coming when they let us watch their engine test a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, May 19th, they are going to broadcast a launch live! You can watch it on their site beginning at 1:15 AM pacific. For some additional insight, you can also read the tweets of [Elon Musk], the founder of spaceX during the event.

Take a few minutes and enjoy the video below that discusses the program and some of the engineering obstacles they’ve had to overcome.

[via BoingBoing]

Comments

  1. joe says:

    It’s an absolute travesty that this is being done by a private corporation, and it’s an even bigger concern that space and space exploration is heading toward the private corporation route.

    This kind of stuff need to be publicly funded and run, preferably public university or public institutions.

    As we start to expand outside our little planet, we absolutely should not let it be driven by the repugnant virus that is greed and profit motive. That will only lead to more destruction and/or abuse of other planets and space. Space exploration, study, and travel needs to be done in the spirit of scientific inquiry, public betterment and benefit of all (and not just for humanity), openness, sharing, and mindfulness.

    To let private corps be the ones pushing out into space is disgusting, revolting, and will benefit very very few except the greedy and unethical. I spit at SpaceX.

    • GCL says:

      I beg your pardon.
      According to the science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, that is the only way to go. In fact he felt that a civilization that has not attempted space travel as a private not public activity isn’t one. And we are about 24 years late.

      In fact his estate established a foundation to investigate the possibilities and a prize to support a trip to the Moon and eventually Mars. Therefore according to his excellent novel “Rocket Ship Galileo” we should have done things that way, and incidentally it was the basis for his film “Destination Moon”, which has its own book.

      Besides NASA is helping by providing space and probably advice.

      • joe says:

        A science fiction writer. Fiction. Just as Ayn Rand also wrote fiction, and her view are most vile of all.

        If things are left up to private corporations, exploitation and profit motive, the most disgusting aspects of humanity, will be the driving force which ends in disastrous results to the detriment of society.

      • M4CGYV3R says:

        Just because someone says something, that does not mean it makes sense or is true or valid.

        Corporations, in a fiction writer’s ideal sense, would be fine for this endeavor.

        In reality, corporations are money pits that funnel as much as physically possible into the pockets of the few people at the top of the pay grade food chain therein. They also have this nasty habit of coercing the government into helping them take as much money from the public as possible, for the same purposes.

      • Justin says:

        I think Joe is a bit off base in his damnation of a private corporation with “exploitation and profit motives”. This is one of those special cases where the competition is not about making money and more about being first and best. Nasa had that magic when they put a man on the moon and now Elan Musk recaptures that magic by being the first Howard Huges of Space.

        It is Nasa that is being hindered by bureaucracy, suppliers that play games and lack of serious challenge. This will let them focus on new ventures and yet still be part of the excitement of a new phase of space travel.

        It’s the companies 20 years from now that Joe should worry about.

      • Engineer Krause says:

        This is just stupid. Corporations aren’t good. But they are NOT. THAT. BAD. usually. Might I remind you that normally, NASA contracts with the much more corrupt and generally not very innovative Lockheed, Grumman, etc which actually PROFIT from cost overruns?

        Nor is the government all that bad. I’d say that BOTH of these issues are simply a human problem in general. Humans currently are not that great at working in large organizations, especially ones that loose their goals.

        The biggest problem for NASA is a lack of funding and a mission delivered from above that keeps changing.

        I am disgusted by both sides of the government vs private debate. It’s a name-calling thing.

      • Matt says:

        @joe:
        Wow, what a liberal nut-job viewpoint!
        First, Ayn Rand has nothing to do with this conversation. Good job showing what an extremist you are, though
        Second, if it’s bad to have corporations doing this, why are they outperforming the government in every way? As soon as the government becomes non-partisan and efficient maybe you’ll have a point.
        In then mean time I’ll trust the future of our species to people who have something to gain from doing things quickly and efficiently.

    • macona says:

      Nobody is stopping the govt from doing space exploration. Well, no one but themselves.

      It is a well proven fact that if you want to do something the most expensive way possibly, have the govt do it.

      • Steve says:

        And we all know that the Government would never use the things they learn in space exploration for bad things like military. The governments of earth have all shown there restraint in that respect sense time immemorial.

    • vic says:

      While I share your view that governments of the world should use most of their resources for the betterment of Mankind as a whole, that’s not how they work. Judging from history only war or competition with each other has been an incentive to progress in any domain other than the art of collecting taxes. Now that Russia has fallen under the radar, and China’s blip is still too faint, the governments just doesn’t feel like it any more.

      That’s why even if in the short term this will favor private companies only, I think in the long term it’s the way to go, assuming the goal is that space exploration actually takes place.

      • Zeph says:

        I think you may be badly oversimplifying. For example, many biotech innovations begin with government research. Typically in the US, the typical mode is to transfer the technology to private firms for full development (including the risks and costs of that), but many would not have begun without the initial government sponsorship. There are many other examples of government created innovation, outside of war and per se competition with each other. As well, obviously, of privately sponsored innovation – it’s not black and white.

    • Mariusz says:

      Without these big bad corporations you would not be sitting in front of your computer criticizing hard working people for trying to do something meaningful.

    • b1r6m4n says:

      You sir, sound like a communist, socialist, obama supporter…

    • Steve says:

      Let the political spewing begin. (on both sides)

    • wjp4bs says:

      Wow. Do you truly believe that our government put a man in space? Don’t get me wrong. I know we went, but we got there on tax dollars paying private corporations to innovate. Do yourself a small favor and just watch “From the Earth to the Moon”. It was produced and directed by a very liberal Hollywood actor you might love as much as I do. Mr. Tom Hanks Watch for the episode about the Mercury 7 disaster. You’ll see just how much work private engineers and scientists did to put a man in space and eventually on the Moon. Your repudiation of SpaceX is unrealistic and uneducated. You really should consider your audience before skewering the good people who innovate for fun and/or for profit. This is the Hackaday demographic.

      • GCL says:

        I couldn’t said it better. By ” Mercury 7 disaster” you might mean the one concerning Grissom correct? They never did figure out from the telemetry what did happen. And even with the capsule finally recovered by that guy who maintains the private museum over in Kansas we may never really know.

        He (Elon Musk) is basing his incredible design on over 60 years of advancements, most of them done by private industries who worked with the government to accomplish the near impossible. The fact remains we’ve almost accomplished the inevitable that of an ordinary Joe Citizen in orbit, and not as a tourist for blanks’ sake. And who knows? It might even be a HaD reader who does it.

      • Zeph says:

        I think this is missing the point. The only meaningful distinction in regard to large and complex projects is (1) privately financed and directed corporate development driven by attempts to make market based profits, and (2) publicly funded and directed developement contracted to corporations but whose goals are set by the government paying the bills.

        Of course pretty much any sizable modern technological deployment will use corporations to do most of the work in either case (just as the corporations will in turn contract with other corporations for smaller pieces of their part of the project in either case); that’s not the distinguishing factor. The core distinction is more about who sets the goals and purpose of the project at the top of the food chain. Going to the moon was a government initiated, sponsored and directed project, accomplished with the aid of many corporations.

        Developing the IBM PC was a corporate initiated, sponsored and directed project. We can probably all think of successful and unsuccessful government and corporate directed efforts (unless looking through black-and-white ideological filters).

        There is much to be said for and against either approach. The key to wisdom is seeing which approach fits best where. For example, private utilites on their own have never had enough profit incentive to handle rural electrification, so if that’s considered in the public interest, some degree of governement intervention tends to be required. On the other hand, there has been no need for government to initiate or direct the development of, say, smart phones – the profit motive works fine there.

        A good scientist or engineer pays attention to which tools work best in which situation (an ongoing evaluation) and chooses accordingly. And ideologue is more intent on fitting their perception of the world to their emotional preferences and comfort (from whatever side of the spectrum they prefer). The key is optimal interaction of profit driven corporate abilities and pitfalls with government strengths and weaknesses (acknowledging and objectively evaluating both). The largest obstacle to this is ideological blinders – the attitude that “I already know that (government/corporations) are (evil/good), I just need to adjust the data to fit that conclusion through selective highlighting and discounting of the mixed feedback we get from the real world” rather than working out the dynamics behind those mixed results.

        You can find the ideologically latched-up on all sides; the key is to find people who can still consider and evaluate hypotheses rather than already knowing all the answers. None of us is very perfect at that, tho scientists are on average relatively more trained in such critical thinking, at least within their field, and there could be some skill bleed through to other areas of life.

        HAD material is not exactly science, but I think it draws on some of the same mental skills (and of course draws some working scientists). It’s hard to get a circuit working or a program debugged by calling it a socialist or a nazi when it doesn’t do what you want; you have to learn to consider and reconsider your assumptions and adjust to the feedback from the objective world to be very successful. Given that, it’s interesting to see what kinds of political tendencies (hopefully flexible and evolving) the audience here may have.

    • austin says:

      i know what you mean, imagine if corporate interests were the guiding force in 1492, think columbus would have (re)discovered america? think we would have developed the exchange of cultures and ideas on the silk road if it was driven by greed? would we have ever discovered south america if we were driven by greed and looking for some mythical city of gold?
      all these things were discovered by purely altruistic motives.
      \sarcasm

      seriously there will be those who go into space for the love of exploration, or to make a new home, or to escape an oppressive regime, or to seek religious freedom (or to seek religious exclusivity) but the way will be paved by greed. when routes are made through space for trade and mining, and when stations are made for people working these jobs, there will come those who just want to go to space, who want to do purely scientific or altruistic things, those who seek, as the puritans of old sought, religious exclusivity, those who seek, as charles darwin did, scientific research. we will likely see a resurgence of the spirit of exploration we seen in ship based trade routes of the past. but only greed and personal interest will get us there.

  2. rileyporter says:

    Good luck and godspeed Mr. Musk!

  3. untrustworthy says:

    I miss NASA.

  4. Mr Name Required says:

    I am in utter, utter disbelief at the sheer gall of one of the commenters here – “I spit at SpaceX”. That’s dispresctful to the extreme.

    Any billionaire can own a football team.
    Any billionaire can own a villa in Europe.
    Any billionaire can have a showroom full of the most expensive cars in the world.
    Any billionaire can own a casino, or a suite of racehorses.

    In fact any billionaire can (and I’m sure many do) the most utterly, utterly mundane things with their fortunes.

    …but Elon Musk, the geek’s hero, thought beyond the mundane and started his own freaking space program. And is achieving results, like being the first private corporation to get to orbit. And he wantsto go to Mars, what a challenge!

    Mr Musk, I salute you, you’re a bloody legend. And my best wishes and hopes for the mission and the future.

    • joe says:

      And the showroom full of expensive cars, or casino would benefit society so much better if it were in public institutions and universities enabling much more rapid beneficial progress of humanity and society as a whole, rather than cooped up by those billionaires.

    • FuelCell250 says:

      Joe, I thought we already had a little talk about being respectful in the comments on Hack-a-day. You could have articulated your thoughts in a much more polite and persuasive manner.

      Personally, I disagree. There are good and bad companies, but SpaceX appears to be genuinely interested in affordable space exploration for all.

      Look at our technology advances in the past 60 years. How much of those advances are the result of government funded programs, and how many the result of private companies? Capitalism works, and it works very well. America’s biggest problem is we are abandoning that system and mindset. Companies like SpaceX bring us advancements, knowledge, and best of all, jobs.

      That’s my two cents. If you disagree, I will be more than happy to hear your arguments. Put on your top hat and monocle, and let us debate like sirs.

      • Zeph says:

        You speak as if you are able to sort out the sources of innovation in more pure terms than I could. As far as I can see, government sponsored research (conducted by a mixture of direct employees, university employees, or contracted private firms), has formed much of the core of our technological society – AND – profit driven exploitation and enhancement of that technology has made it widespread.

        Consider the internet protocol, which was not developed for commercial profit – but which also would not be as widespread without the latter. Or consider the AIDS treatments which were developed partly based on publicly funded research and partly on private (if you don’t directly care about that, you should care about the advances an anti-retrovirals in general). Or microchips – to substantial but not exclusive degree developed in response to the need for space flight miniturization, but then becoming far more valuable for commercial reasons.

        It’s just not so black and white. Government is better at (sponsoring and directing) some types of innovation because it can in the best cases incorporate a feedback loop from “those most affected” which is not present among the systematic feedback loops involved in pure market dynamics. Privately directed innovation is better at other things, for similar reasons – it’s feedback loops suit it better for them. Government sponsored and privately sponsored innovation go hand in hand, and have for the past 60 years you mention, and more. It takes a bit of selective evaluation to conclude that one or the other is the sole (valuable) driver of innovation; I don’t see that a Martian anthropologist with not axe to grind would conclude it’s predominantly one or the other.

        Joe is impolite in expression, and I hope you can convince him to discuss things more civilly – but his points are not entirely without merit. He obviously distrusts market driven markets as embodies in large and politically powerful corporations as the prime steering mechanism for humanity’s collective decision making as we cope with the challenges currently facing our species (or at least our technological civilization).

        I tend to agree with the commenter who suggests that the real concern would be not the current cutting edge high tech enterpreneurs like SpaceX, but the companies who follow in coming decades, consolidating and exercising power. Joe apparently sees (imagines) the dark shadow of that future overlying and tainting any current technological achievement by SpaceX that we might otherwise applaud. I can understand that concern, whether or not I currently see the shadow as being as dark as he does. I can also understand your dissent from his vehemence in position (and your desire for civility).

        I am still evaluating, not so sure as either of you. But I’m clear that I’d like to have all good minds on deck as humanity rounds the coming corner… hypothesizing, testing, rejecting, confirming, creating, evaluating, improving. Not just being “more right” than the other side in their own minds.

    • Jeff says:

      He also isn’t limited by decisions from the government, he does what he wants when he wants.

      Joe is living in another world in his head, I doubt that he even comprehends life at all. It has to be really hard to live with such limited brain capacity.

  5. Fileark says:

    @Joe Um… I couldn’t disagree with you more, NASA was the huge lumbering governmental monster that gobbled up trillions of dollars that can no longer make any progress. These new private companies have to turn a profit unlike any government organization, that’s why they can ship payloads into space for about 5-10 times cheaper than NASA. Bring it on! Capitalism will bring the space age into its next phase much faster than governments! I want a space vacation!

    • Bg says:

      NASA hasn’t even broken 1 trillion in total over its 50 year history – NASA’s budget is a comparatively tiny chunk of the overall government – the total number is easy to find. Less hyperbole please. Once the SpaceX guys start carrying people, there is potential for costs to rise due to the safety testing required (or if not required, would be prudent).

      • draeath says:

        I see no reason why this should be treated as anything except experimental aviation. We already have regulations covering it.

        The only thing I’d say warrants a bit closer scrutiny is regulation to mitigate orbital debris, or contamination of foreign bodies.

  6. Mark Smith says:

    SpaceX is under pressure to make sure their space program is safe. I worry when the pressure changes to levels that NASA accepted.

    What happens when SpaceX encounters a foam-impact style problem? Will they exhaustively try to solve the problem, or will they grow acclimated to it as NASA did?

    That said, I’m optimistic. If SpaceX can do it, eventually everyone can do it. I can’t wait till I can travel to 0G with the same safety factor as I can travel via airplane now.

    • Zeph says:

      Just by the way, do you imagine that the safety you expect from commercial airlines derives purely or primarily from their own market driven profit motivations, absent signficant motivation from government supervision, oversight, and regulation?

      People are right to highly respect the abilities of profit motivated corporations in a capitalist system to create and manage large projects. However, history also shows us that looking only to the bottom line financially can have disasterous consequences as well. Try some poorly regulated third world air carrier – which is equally motivated to earn a buck but which is not effectively regulated. Some may be excellent. Some may not. You will need to adapt to a lower level of expectation.

      SpaceX per se is not in that situation of course, for many reasons and I believe that in their specific context market forces will tend to favor safety fairly strongly for many years to come; I’m referring more to expanding generalizations that some people are making.

      • Mark Smith says:

        Sorry! Didn’t see this till now, many months later.

        I imagine that it is a result of the combination of the two. For the initial period, regulations are going to have to be invented. Some of the tech involved is either new, or rapidly changing.

        Even with these regulations in place, we see airlines occasionally have similar problems to NASAs institutional problems found to be at the heart of the Challenger/Columbia disasters.

        Google American Airlines Flight 191, for example. Faulty maintenance procedures, which the manufacturer recommended against, were used when maintaining the engines of the aircraft. These resulted in an engine falling off. It took a major disaster for the regulating body to do anything about it. That was in 1979.

        Now google Alaskan Airlines Flight 261. Faulty maintenance procedures, tools that did not meet manufacturer requirements used by the airline, airline changing away from manufacturer’s suggested maintenance intervals, etc. Major disaster again, and it was found that the FAA probably should have noticed the problems sooner, but didn’t due to institutional deficiencies at the time. That was in 2000.

        Yes, Air travel is INCREDIBLY safe, but there are still disasters that happen because of high pressure, and relaxed standards. External regulation is just as hard to get right as internal regulation, and possibly harder to maintain.

  7. GCL says:

    Simon well said. Joe, he was indeed a writer, and a very good one. All of his books involving space flight were correct, there was no element of the silliness which invaded the genre such as the Buck Rogers serials. And he almost approved of Star Trek for reasons I’m not sure of.

    And when we got to the Moon he was present as a commentator to offer advice, because by Gadfrey he was right. And besides like Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt, he got there first.

    Now before you start thinking of insulting our principles I strongly suggest you spend some time reading his works. Besides, one of the nice things about this country is that the technology your using to try and insult us happens to be a spin off of the first fifty years of that whole idea about going to the Moon and every other place. And as it happens we are all free to try and do what he’s doing, the only reason why I’m not, is that I know I don’t know enough about technology to do so. What I do know is how to look it up, and well eventually build my own. I’ll stick with simple and cheap satellites to put in orbit first, before the fun of visiting the space station.

    • joe says:

      And yet none of what your wrote means anything when it comes to what’s best for humanity (and other species), and the best way to drive innovation, progress, and exploration. Via public means is the most beneficial and ethically sound.

      Being correct about engineering matters in a fictional setting doesn’t change any of that. As a side note that doesn’t have any relevance whatsoever (just like Heinlein in general when it comes to how best to drive human progress), I have in fact read some of his works. They are for the most part good books, but they are also works of fiction with fictional outcomes upon society.

      • glawery says:

        “The best way to drive innovation, progress, and exploration Via public means is the most beneficial and ethically sound.”

        Would you care to bring a few examples when it actually happened in the past? What comes to my mind is that FEAR and/or MONEY was always the main drive of advancement. That makes your comment right in a never-happen theoretical way. I would like to join in: The best way to live would be to love – and never kill, maim or hurt – each other! To look at each other as brothers and sisters ( as we are all in it anyway ). To actively help the unfortunates. To actually think ways to make the world a better place, and work on them, instead of pointing out:
        -the faults of the current system
        -the faults of the ones who try to change it

      • HackTheGibson says:

        I have been reading your comments and finally had to respond. First, the government provides services, not the betterment of society.

        When the government starts deciding what is better for society, then we are in trouble. What would you think when they decide space is a waste and then you no more research?

        Also, these evil corporations are owned by people. If you aren’t happy start your own. Most of these huge companies have been started in the last 60 years.

        More money is wasted in bureaucracy with the government.

        Last, who do you think you are to say that you should take my taxes for your goals? If I want to support a project then I should be able to send my money to them (as I already do) versus you forcing me to pay for something through taxes.

      • wjp4bs says:

  8. jaf says:

    so can someone take a break from this whole public vs. private debate and tell me when they are actually going to light this rocket?

    also I’m for private space flight they are progressing much more rapidly. all those public institutions that joe is going on about are just as capable if not more likely to put on a show and line their pockets with the funds where as a private entity has a motivation to actually accomplish something because if they don’t accomplish some thing they don’t get paid, if they don’t get paid they don’t buy food and if they don’t buy food they starve to death and don’t get to accomplish things anymore. and if if this works nasa can build working rockets from them.

  9. William says:

    @Joe, I have personally met Elon and he is the person whom wants to better mankind as a whole. (as well as the globe by making reusable just about every part on the rocket) He is very open with technical details. (just ask him and you’ll see)

    The reason that SpaceX is doing just about everything in house is to control quality. If you have outsourced, like NASA did with most of the rocketry components, it would be hugely inefficient and prone to engineering blunders.

    Look at the first rocket attempts by researchers and NASA if you don’t believe me about the blunders.

    (Knock it off with the fallacy game. It gets boring after a while.)

    • Bg says:

      “Look at the first rocket attempts by researchers and NASA if you don’t believe me about the blunders.”

      I can’t believe you seriously think that the failures in the early years of rocketry were due to bureaucratic inefficiency, and not the fact that NASA was trying to do something not been done before, namely lighting off hundreds of thousands of tons of explosive, corrosive, or otherwise hazardous propellent without blowing up the guy on top.

      I don’t understand how people throw NASA under the bus as if we would be living on Mars & going to Titan by now if not for government agency bureaucracy when it seems the reality is that the space program would not exist today if not for government leadership & public funding in the past. SpaceX didn’t grow up in a vacuum. A private company would never has started the space race on its own, the ROI would have been many years down the road. Capitalism is great, but it’s not the magic answer to *every single thing*.

      • Dax says:

        Most of the technology that ended up in the moon missions and eventually in the space shuttle was actually either by captured German scientists and engineers, or from private companies like Northrop who had already developed the technology and were looking for buyers. Like the motor design used in the moon lander, which ended up in the Falcon rocket as well.

        Most everything that NASA has managed to do on their own has been more or less a disaster either by engineering or by managing. If you want good examples of the problems of design by committee, go to NASA archives.

      • Dax says:

        “A private company would never has started the space race on its own”

        Not necessarily the space race, but a race to space anyhow. The first private commercial spaceflights actually started pretty much the moment the cold war ended around the turn of the 90’s. For example, Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Pegasus started service in April 1990.

        With the cold war going, and the government not allowing anyone else to have rockets, NASA was pretty much the only buyer in town. It’s a bit dishonest to say that the private companies wouldn’t have done anything, when they couldn’t have done anything.

  10. Thanatox says:

    If you have paid attention to NASA’s opinion on this their thought is that surface to LEO is now considered routine. Therefore NASA, a research organization, no longer needs to spend time energy and manpower doing it. Instead NASA has chosen to refocus their attention on the cutting edge; reaching the moon and other celestial bodies.

    Many public and private research organizations need cars, light bulbs, paper, copy machines etc. but it would be silly for them to build these things from scratch. It’s much more prudent and cost effective to just buy them.

    Surface to LEO is no longer something that needs serious R&D so rather than reinventing the wheel every time NASA has decided to let someone make a wheel assembly line and just buy the wheels it needs.

    I am glad that we have reached the point that achieving LEO is trivial enough that private companies can make a profit doing it. I am glad that SpaceX is having success at it.

    At the same time it is my sincere hope that NASA remains a world leader on the bleeding edge of space exploration and research. A hope that cannot be achieved if it continues to expend resources on trivialities like delivering groceries to the ISS.

    The men and women who have worked at NASA over the past half century have changed the world for the better. The things they have achieved for the human race are numerous and cannot be underestimated. I believe I can speak for the vast majority of geeks nerds and hackers that frequent this sight when I say to them: “We salute you”

    While I hold out hope for the future of NASA and this great country I fear that we may be losing our way. It saddens me that videos the final launches of the space shuttle struggle to get 1 million views while there are dozens of videos of stupid cats with 5 million plus views. What humanity desperately needs is more people like Elon Musk. People who are visionary who will reach for the stars. It is these people who will change the world and write the next chapters of history.

    Hundreds of great men and women have worked tirelessly to expand our knowledge and understanding. It is they, the visionaries, men and women who risk everything devoting their lives to the pursuit of great dreams, who change the world and benefit humanity. Some of these dreamers and visionaries were part of public institutions and some private companies still others hapless inventors that worked with little more than their own workshop, but it is always people who change the world never governments.

    Why do some, often those who never dared achieve anything in their life, feel that these great men and women should get no benefit from their labours. The men and women who devote their lives to expanding the horizons of humanity should be our heroes lauded for their efforts treated like kings. Sadly the vast majority of the public know all about Snooki and Octomom but couldn’t name 2 astronauts to save their lives.

    Joe, you say that public research institutions will benefit humanity. Tomorrow morning we will see the manifestations of those benefits. Your public institutions have benefited humanity why do you complain that humanity benefits?

  11. jaf says:

    any day where you launch a rocket that doesn’t have a nuke on one end is a good day in my book

    @joe if long dead sci-fi writers can’t sway you then maybe this quote from another famous space explorer can
    “Space. Trial. Puttin’ the system on trial. In space. Space system. On trial. Guilty. Of not being in space! Go to space jail!”

  12. not_about_space_anymore says:

    @joe

    You do realize NASA didn’t actually build their spacecraft? It was all done via private contractors (Boeing, Rockwell, TRW, North American, Motorola, Rocketdyne, etc.)

    All governments do is increase the bureaucracy and nonsense (i.e. teachers in space, first women, first “minority,” etc.) instead of doing real work or science.

    • Zeph says:

      No, you are missing the key point here – it’s about who initiates, sponsors and sets the mission, for what purposes.

      Of course government in a capitalist country will make use of the often more efficient private corporations to do much of the actual work, like building rocket engines. That’s not in question.

      What is in question is what mission is directing and channeling the innovation. Making money from space tourism leads to one kind of mission, not of high or interest to the government. Discovering more about the atmosphere of Jupiter leads to a different type of mission, of very little interest to market driven sponsorship.

      The two types of missions can and do both make effective use of private corporations for much of the implementation (and even a private corporation initiating and driving a mission will hire parts out to other corporations). They coexist, and actually overlap less than you might think.

      For example, your model is that corporations should by not have been far more in the lead in exploring Mars than governments, due to the inefficiency of the latter. But actually, they have no commercial incentive to do so for their own sake. (Of course they are willing to be contracted to implement parts of that mission if governments so desire, but they don’t set the mission).

      Maybe some day Mars will have some commercial interest, but it’s probably a long, long time before it will produce an ROI attractive to investors on purely market motivation – and it will likely be in large degree government sponsored missions between now and then which make it economically feasible when and if that happens.

      The point is that your (implicit) hypothesis about “gov’t inefficiency” isn’t the prime driver here. Its attraction as an explanatory mechanism is more driven by psychological comfort zones (political confirmation bias) than by its discernment value in understanding which aspects of innovation tend to be must successfully driven by governments and which aspects tend to be best driven by private industry. Each has its place in the technological ecosystem, and each is dependent on the other.

      • Zeph says:

        Just to make one thing more clear – I’m saying that the missions or purposes motivating the projects which appeal to governments and to market driven corporations tend not to overlap much. I’m also saying the the underlying research and technology DO overlap a lot. I can see that if one juxtaposed one of my sentences about the former with a sentence about the latter, it could seem as if I’m contradicting myself, so I thought I would clarify the distinctions I’m attempting to make.

  13. jaf says:

    aborted dang

  14. smilr says:

    Damn – saw the engines light off, realized they hadn’t released it to fly just as the chatter started and the engines died :(

    From what I heard they had an over-pressure condition in Engine 5 during the computer’s safety check of engine function.

    I’m somewhat impressed with the concept that within 1 second of ignition we can determine now whether something as powerful as a rocket thruster is malfunctioning and STOP a launch before the thing even begins to move. But I’ll be damned if my heart didn’t sink at the launch scrub.

    • Zak says:

      Odd that on Elon Musk’s twitter he said that they will adjust limits for countdown in a few days“.

      Doesn’t sound much like a fix to me…

      That excitement on ignition, then realizing that the rocket isn’t moving :(

    • mattbed says:

      Yeah does seem like a bit of a “we’ll put a sticker over the warning light” fix but im sure they know what they’re doing.
      Next launch opportunity 22 May @ 0744 GMT

  15. Area51 says:

    Can someone hurry up and do a full scale test of Buckard Heim’s theorised spacedrive already?

    Rumour has it that CERN have detected signs of the neutral electron in the ATLAS data but have yet to release this because of possible classification issues related to prior research at Area S-4 dating from late 1947.

  16. BlackCow says:

    I am looking forward to the possibility of HAD projects in space. With this push towards private space launches I could see the possibility of putting satellites into space on a budget.

  17. Stopthemadness says:

    Some people on here need to stop listening to their redneck neighbors and stop hating. This is a big step for Innovation, and to say anything negative about it, or try to turn it to their political agenda is absolutely beyond their scope of intelligence.

    It’s a sad day when people think the government is the catch all, do all for any country much less America.

    Space X failed to launch today and do you know how many people on the news boards are trying to make this a political thing?

    Truth be told Good for Mr. Musk he is showing initiative and determination not to let a program die because our government would rather spend it fighting each other and going to war than innovation and advancement.

  18. Iván Stepaniuk says:

    Note that chief engineer Miles O’Brien is now the PBS’s science correspondent. I call that a retreat.

  19. HegerTechnik says:

    http://www.spacex.com/updates.php

    Today, SpaceX aborted the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Due to the instantaneous launch window, we are not able to recycle and re-attempt the launch today.

    Early data indicates that the flight computer detected slightly high combustion chamber pressure on engine 5, which prompted the computer to abort the countdown. We are reviewing the data.

    NASA and SpaceX will hold a briefing at 6:30 AM. Watch it live at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

  20. Chris says:

    NASA was at their best when there was a rival superpower to show up. And when space travel was new and novel. Why put a man on the moon? Just because it hadn’t been done before, or because we can.

    Now you better have a good economic reason to put a man on the moon, and that’s just what private industry will excel at.

    As for NASA, they’ve significantly regressed since their heyday.

    Fuel gasket expected not to seal at current launch temperature? Threaten the people advising against launch into silence, and launch anyway. RIP, Challenger and crew.

    Foam chunks breaking off? Acceptable risk, even though it had caused alarming damage to a Shuttle before.

    Evidence for possible thermal tile damage due to foam impact? Rescue or repair is possible, but unlikely or too much trouble, so don’t even bother. Instead, act like the damage is Schroedinger’s Cat – if we don’t directly observe the damage, then maybe it won’t exist. We won’t have the crew inspect it, modify flight profile, put on their safety gear, or even let them know a potential issue exists at all. Bye, Columbia. At least the crew were blissfully unaware that they were going to die.

    Bureaucracy at work. I’m sure the march of time will eventually record private corporations doing equally stupid things. But at least for now and the near future, such stupidity would be too ruinous to a corporation to allow.

  21. anglophony says:

    I must have been 12 when Armstrong touched the moon,and after the initial ten or so years I’ve been mostly disappointed in how things have gone.
    Jerry Pournelle ,a space activist ,writer (and yes science fiction as well),early computer promoter ( and columnist),and engineer, was once told that space wasn’t affordable ,the initial cash flow wasn’t sustainable (we had enemies then ), and I believe it as well.
    I DON’T CARE if the gov’t needs to do take a hand in this (they’ll leave plenty of loopholes).
    I DON’t CARE if business tries to make a profit (they’ll go for the MINMAX everytime leaving bits and bites scattered all over the place for the smart ones).altruism is a fine ideal , profit mov es things faster.

    So when is HACK-A-DAY gonna start a “Space Hacks D.I.Y.)?
    It’s only the last ten years that things have been getting interesting…

  22. justice099 says:

    This is why I rarely comment on this site. For some reason the hipster geek ‘culture’ is just full of communists. I can’t stand reading or watching science fiction because it is full of communist ideals. Get a freaking grip! Communism sounds great and idealistic when you are a teenager. When most become an adult, they realize how stupid that is, get out of their parent’s basements, find a girlfriend, eventually marry and have children, and work to better the lives of their family. And capitalism provides for that.

    I wonder how many of the people here have even reached step one yet in their 30’s? It’s time to grow up.

    I hack like everyone else and have a job as an electrical engineer, but I will never understand this odd geek culture.

    • Ben says:

      Hear hear.

      What can you do though? Children will be children and the self absorbed will be the self absorbed.

      It’s hard to convince someone of something when they need life experience that they haven’t to understand it.

    • colecoman1982 says:

      “Communism sounds great and idealistic when you are a teenager. When most become an adult, they realize how stupid that is”

      Yes, in that way it is much like libertarianism or any other form of purist capitalism (or, any other kind of purist political philosophy).

    • Stopthemadness says:

      Obvious troll Obvious

    • Stopthemadness says:

      If space exploration is about communism count me communist then. I served 7 years with the u.s. Army only 6 months not in combat, for you right to be a confused moron. And for your right to talk trash about people who are more than likely ten times smarter than you. You say communism I say innovation. You may not see the signs of the times but our planet is getting to small to sustain our population Space exploration is a good idea because eventually we will need another big floating rock in space to live on. You say space exploration is communistic I say being a country that bullies third world countries for their oil production and removal rights is the same. 70 years in the middle east and still people dying over natures padding. Have you noticed the earthquakes lately what do people think is going to happen when you pull the liquid that hold tectonic plates stable is removed in mass quantities? You say Communism I say Say it to my face.

      • justice099 says:

        WTF are you rambling about? 10 times smarter, huh? Who the hell said space travel = communism, you psycho? Wow….

        And, bud, don’t threaten me. You have absolutely no idea who is on the other side of the computer. I would gladly say whatever I want to your face if you presented the opportunity and trust me, there isn’t anything you could do about it. Go flex your 11″ biceps somewhere else, you freak.

      • Zeph says:

        There are good reasons, in my own opinion, for space exploration.

        Overpopulation is not one of them. Isaac Asimov convinced me of that when I was a teenager long ago, in one of his science essays wherein he calculated the the world’s ocean shipping fleet would not be large enough to carry the population surplus from one continent to another. Isaac Asimov was not exactly a naysayer about science and space and technology (he must have been one of the most productive polymaths ever), but he was willing to face facts and adjust his thinking.

        Even with a space elevator, it’s not going to make any sense in terms of required energy and material resources (not to mention cost) to move any appreciable fraction of Earth’s growing billions into space. (Even if you had a full habitable planet in easy reach, which we do not, you’d just move a few people and let them multiply at the same rate that the resources and infrastructure to support them could be developed).

        The physics of massive ex-migration make no sense, nor the economics.

        Space may bring some benefits, tangible or intangible, to the earthbound. Another self-sufficient and sustainable planetary habitation might reduce the chance of an extinction event for our species (tho we’re not yet even close to making our first planet sustainable for technological culture). But we are just not going to relieve Terran overpopulation via space exodus. (Um, I mean in the good sense – obviously there are space based scenarios to disasterously reduce overpopulation).

        Of course, I can’t speak for what might be possible 1000 years from now – but I can be pretty confident that it’s not going to happen in the timeframe of the unfolding crisis; if we still have an ongoing technological civilization in 1000 years, we’ll have had to resolve earthbound problems like overpopulation or exponential growth without benefit of exmigration.

    • Stopthemadness says:

      You did and I quote

      justice099 says:
      May 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      “This is why I rarely comment on this site. For some reason the hipster geek ‘culture’ is just full of communists.”

      Now want to call me a rambling psycho again?

      And as far as my 11 inch biceps you are a troll not worthy of my attention. And no matter the circumstance if you did say it to my face I promise you will wake up on you backside wondering what happened.

      • justice099 says:

        I was referring to “Joe”, a poster up above, not space travel. Someone that was “10x more intelligent” would have figured that out that. Seems you are the only one that didn’t. Just sayin’

        And I highly doubt that, my friend. ;) Easy to talk tough on the other side of a computer.

        Take care now, psycho.

      • BurlyMan2012 says:

        You two got it ALL WRONG! I’d say that you two are dumb and crazy to your faces, and my 13″ biceps (with the bulgy veins) will beat you up so bad when you disagree with me.

        No but really, go to youtube for these kinds of comments.

    • Stopthemadness says:

      Again you open mouth and insert your own foot you must be proud to have no reading comprehension skills. I was talking about the people who are building the rocket having ten times more intelligence than you, now however I think it is more like 50 times greater than yours as you seem to be a very limited bitter troglodyte.

  23. memo says:

    Let´s don´t talk about the cold war and the space race…

  24. jordann says:

    Cape Canaveral, Fl — Today SpaceX Exploration Technologies, (SpaceX) issued the following statement on today’s launch attempt.

    Today’s launch was aborted when the flight computer detected slightly high pressure in the engine 5 combustion chamber. We have discovered root cause and repairs are underway.

    During rigorous inspections of the engine, SpaceX engineers discovered a faulty check valve on the Merlin engine. We are now in the process of replacing the failed valve. Those repairs should be complete tonight. We will continue to review data on Sunday.

    If things look good, we will be ready to attempt to launch on Tuesday, May 22nd at 3:44 AM Eastern.

  25. asdf says:

    Has anyone proposed a plan on how to shield the passengers from radiation on a trip to Mars yet?

  26. William says:

    They made orbit this morning.

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