Tag Archives: Rand Simberg

Why SpaceX will succeed

Never mind the usual snooze media headlines about SpaceX botching, stumbling, or failing to softly land their Falcon 9 first stage last Saturday. What they did “astonishingly right,” as aerospace engineer Rand Simberg puts it, certainly justifies plenty of optimism for next time.

After stage separation about 90 km high, they relit three of the first stage’s nine engines to slow down from about 3,000 mph. After re-entry, three more engines were relit to aim it at the tiny (from so high up) drone ship with its bulls-eye landing platform and four small fins were deployed to help steer it. Slowed down sufficiently, a single engine relight was all that was needed for a soft landing.

“With the exception of the final landing itself, almost everything went according to plan,” Simberg writes. “The vehicle entered intact, flew to the ship, and (apparently literally) hit the deck, because the hydraulic fluid that controlled the fins ran short by 10% of that needed to control and softly land.

“But in so doing, it accomplished another major ‘first,’ not just for a private company, but for any space ship. Previous Falcon flights had demonstrated the ability to enter the stage intact by retrothrusting (as opposed to simply braking against the atmosphere), but this was the first time such a vehicle had not only survived entry, but flown precisely to a pre-designated location, without wings.”

Space X will try again Jan. 29. When they finally succeed, as they almost certainly will, the next step will be to figure out how much it will cost to quickly and reliably, reuse the stage to cut their about $61 million price of a Falcon 9 launch.

Unlike the snooze media, bureaucratic NASA must be green with envy.

Via PJMedia.

The return of Moloch

No, in my support of the IDF, I haven’t forgotten the innocents of Gaza. Namely the children who suffered and died during the late unpleasantness. But it’s not enough to say they were the victims of the fighting, which Hamas started and continued even after the IDF took them under fire. Hamas, and the PLO before it, have long sacrificed the children of Gaza and the West Bank in the name of a higher hate. They call it jihad. But it’s really much older. It’s Moloch, the child destroyer, come again.

MORE:  Meanwhile, the unilateral IDF truce in Gaza isn’t open-ended. If fired upon, they fire back.

Apollo VIII

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Instapundit remembers hearing it on Armed Forces Radio as a teenager in Germany. I was twenty-four in 1968 when it was broadcast from the moon. I was duty officer that Christmas Eve night at squadron headquarters of the Sixth Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Meade, MD. The duty NCO and I were transfixed.

New home away from home

The confirmation this week of liquid water on Mars may not be startling but it’s a solid boost:

"Mars has become a much more attractive location for the establishment of earthly life. That knowledge will help in the refinement of plans for settling the planet in a self-sufficient way, whenever those who wish to do so can somehow raise the money to get there."

Government’s bean counters will decide, for now, until private enterprise can figure how to make money off it.

A surfeit of astronauts

The story behind the story of astronaut Lisa Nowak’s cross-country odyssey of love gone wrong isn’t just NASA’s problem of psychological evaluation of future crews for the space station, moon base or Mars exploration, i.e. what if this had happened in space? It’s a hidden one of the space agency’s recruiting too many astronauts in the first place. They’ve created a surplus of high achievers chasing too few flights. Not to mention the problem of what to do with them after the peak experience they’ve been aiming at for so long is suddenly over? Nowak waited a decade before finally getting into low orbit last summer. Her chances of flying again before another decade passed were poor even before her escapade made them nonexistent.

UPDATE Nowak has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder.