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SpaceX second try tonight/this morning

SpaceX will try again for the one second launch window this monring at 03:44 am EDT; coverage will start at 03:00 am. The link is not yet up, I will add it here when I see it.

The link is here and will go live in about 1.5 hours from now.

Broadcast is live both at SpaceX and at NASA’s web site.

Falcon 9 launch flawless, Dragon capsule is in orbit, solar arrays deployed. Dragon is on its way to ISS! It is a new ballgame in space.

27 comments to SpaceX second try tonight/this morning

  • Good smooth launch and 1st stage separation.

    Now THAT is how you do private enterprise in Space.

    Go SpaceX!

  • Dragon has reached safe orbit and solar arrays deployed.

    Way to go guys!

  • Bolt

    The amateur listeners in the UK are getting good S band low rate data from SpaceX ..


    with some lovely Doppler.

  • Ed Dahlgren

    It was thrilling, like the excitement of the Mercury launches again!

  • Bolt

    Just had another pass over the UK and we have another data downlink this time a higher speed one ..


    Good signal strength.

  • RAB

    Bloody Ace!

    Well done Dale and all concerned. Mankind has it’s future back.

  • NickM

    Not that I want to sound like The Grinch but…

    This is “Back to the Future”. At best this is a recapitulation of the glory days. It’s like when Dale says about Falcon-9 Heavy going up soon and being nearly as big as the Saturn V I’m “Like whatever”. And it still involves NASA (it’s just “out-sourced” because NASA couldn’t fly a kite these days – well they could but it would be a million dollar kite that would usually work) and it is going up to that tremendous orbital white elephant the ISS where they are researching how to play Connect 4 in Zero-G or something. Sorry, guys. This is not like the “start of the internet”.

    I have more to say but I must now go to Macclesfield – by car.

  • Russ

    @NickM: There is a tremendous difference between a private company cranking something out, and a State doing it as a Prestige Product. It IS a game-changer. Just a couple weeks ago I read that Russia might actually choose to go with SpaceX for launches b/c of of the price differential.

    I can’t hire NASA to do something for me. If I have the funds, I can hire SpaceX. That alone makes this a completely new ball-game.

  • @NickM:

    I hate to fill Samizdata with hyperbole, but SpaceX and the other private companies to follow are doing what should have been done in the 1950’s but were crowded out by Soviet hysteria, state control and secrecy over equipment and designs enabling the private exploration and more importantly EXPLOITATION of space.

    Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins were important milestones in the early exploration of space. However, they were really no different than Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation.

    We are now at the point equivalent to the first privateers (Sir Walter Raleigh and Christopher Newport) exploring the New World in 1603 – 1609.

    Once we get to a point where rockets capable of carrying astronauts into orbit are being made and launched on a production line basis, the cost of 1 KG payload to orbit will tumble until the establishment of high earth orbit space stations for the commercial exploitation of space become a necessity.

    We are not there yet, but we are finally laying the necessary ground-works to get there. NASA was a useful foundation, but we are now beyond the point where it can meaningfully contribute to Earth orbit operations.

    NASA should step back into the purely scientific exploration of space, which cannot be easily commercialized (i.e. Hubble, Deep Space Exploration) and let the space privateers take over from here.

    This is the only way to ensure that we have an operational moon base by 2050.

  • NickM

    Russ, John,
    I hear you but it’s still just a rocket. Now until they get space elevators or fully re-usable variable-cycle SSTOs or whatever then it doesn’t tackle the other real issue which is cost. Now no rocket of the Falcon type will ever be cheap enough to genuinely allow privateers of the Raleigh or Drake fashion. Sometimes quantitative differences are big enough to become qualitative. Until then space is for people who have made a fortune and not for people who want to make a fortune. And that makes a difference. I don’t believe this is “necessary groundwork” either. Rockets like this are basically the same tech that von Braun would recognize – single-use, liquid fueled…

  • Russ

    I hear you, but I think such arguments based on technological determinism are misplaced — how we get to a given technology is at least as important as how advanced it is — exemplum gratia, look at what the humble cell phone is doing to revolutionize Africa.

  • NickM

    I think your example rather makes my point. Cellphones are affordable average Africans. Space travel to one South African – Elon Musk.

  • NickM obviously isn’t up on SpaceX future plans. There is a clear development path to make the entire Falcon 9/Dragon system reuseable.
    They’ve managed to launch 3 for 3 of a brand new rocket design with new engines(not legacy designs from other programs). This is already a huge achievement and the Dragon spacecraft is more advanced than anything flown before. The heat shield is reuseable for LEO entries and designed to cope with entries from planetary trajectories.
    This is not NASA or the Russian space effort done over again.

  • RAB

    Nick, you are a Physics graduate, if you have invented an interstellar anti gravity machine or know where the lithium crystals a buried, speak up sharpish and claim a fortune. 😉

    It is not the technology that has held us back from exploring space, but the dead hand of State monopolies that have done it. If anyone can waste money better than anyone else for the least result, then it’s the State, not a chav Lottery winner. I bet even the ashtrays on the Space shuttle cost two million a piece 🙂

    Britain had a really good space programme in the fifties and sixties. It worked much better than the nascent NASA, who’s rockets almost always exploded on take off. It was cheap as chips too, running on Hydrogen Peroxide I believe. But the bastard Wilson Govt closed it down, at the same time boasting they were the folks at the cutting edge of white hot technology!

    The point is the Govt Monopoly on space travel is now broken. If SpaceX and others like them are now allowed to run with the ball, the, yes, very expensive costs will come down, and innovation will increase.

    We are now, even after 50 years of dithering procrastination by Statist morons, which has totally held us back, we are now hopefully heading where we belong, and must be… Heading for the Stars.

  • Michael Kent


    Saying the Falcon 9 is “just a rocket” like the Saturn V is like saying the Apple II was “just a computer” like an IBM mainframe. Sure the technology in each is the same, but the application is completely different.

    Look, SpaceX wasn’t the first. Conestoga, Pegasus, Athena I, Athena II, Delta III, and Delta IV Medium all flew before Falcon 9, and with an order of magnitude less government funding to boot. But unlike the others, for SpaceX this is just another step toward the colonization of Mars. No other organization with flying space hardware has that as a stated goal.

    It’s worth celebrating.


  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Whilst this is promising, the Space Plane being developed in Britain would be much more revolutionary! A spacecraft that can take off from existing airports would be a true revolution! Then we could truely say, “Goodbye, NASA!”

  • Dale Amon

    Although the Liquid Air Cycle Engine is interesting, it may be too late for it. First off, it has not yet flown; second, when it does fly, the up-mass $/kg is not that much better than what SpaceX will be flying on their expendable; thirdly, SpaceX is looking at reusability as well. In addition, the first generation of the Reaction Engines Ltd vehicle does not have human capabilities built into it from the start like Dragon.

    Then there are the issues of market niche. There are other manned space planes coming along which may be doing orbital work by the end of the decade. What Dragon has that is unique is that it can land on other worlds, ones with little or no atmosphere.

    Not saying they will not grab a niche for themselves, only that there is a lot of competition that is going to be flying before or not long after them.

    The market will decide.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Still, they are using NASA facilities at present. If they could takeoff and land from any existing airport, they would be able to scoop ALL the market!

  • Paul Marks

    I watched the launch on Fox News.

    Wonderful stuff.

  • I am aware of the SpaceX plans. But they are just plans.

    A magnificent achievement but the hyperbole annoyed me from many in the media. I am much more cautious.

    Yes I appreciate it’s a very advanced rocket the illustrative thing here is perhaps to compare a clock and a difference engine. Yes, the later was magnificent and did many of the jobs of a modern computer but it was a dead-end. I suspect chemically powered rockets of whatever power, re-usability or sophistication are dead ends. Do I have a better idea? No, otherwise I’d be in feverish negotiations with Dale here and others.

    I’d also like to point out that the comparison with consumer products is off-beam. railways, personal computers, cellphones… All revolutionary but all inherently from the start mass market and rapidly became so. And yes, I appreciate the first cellphones were hideously expensive compared to what we have now but were still cheap enough to be something loads of people could afford from the start. Say they dropped in price 100-fold in ten years and space-flight does the same it’s not the same thing because space-flight starts at an er… truly astronomic sum.

    There is much more to be said but it would require… Well, I’ve been mulling this stuff over for years and the reason I’m stopping here now is the same reason I never posted on CCinZ. I’d wind-up writing a book!

  • lucklucky


  • Dale Amon

    Just to be clear btw: I am not working for SpaceX. However, I *am* working for these guys. Don’t ask questions because I cannot answer. All I can say is, “Yes, I am working on that for the next several months.”, Possibly for many months to come, in a very hands on sense, and having the time of my life.

  • MarbellaBoy

    Firstly, congratulations to SpaceX on a succesful launch and fingers crossed for the safe contact with the ISS. But, I have to say that , while I applaud the fact that the US government has finally seen the advantage of using a ‘school vouchers’ approach to space exploration, the fact remains that the taxpayer is paying for resupply of a grossly expensive station that does very little to benefit the taxpayer for all that has been spent on it.

    Has anyone ever done a cost/benefit analysis of the ISS?

    Now, if we were to work out what the US taxpayer has spent on the 6 decades long space program it would only work out at a hundred or so dollars per person per year, and I’m sure their national pride has been boosted by at least that amount. But to call this a ‘private’ mission is a misnomer. It may be cheaper than the shuttle, but it is still a huge expense with no material (though a definate prestige) return.

    I’ve no wish to play the Grinch, but unless the private (and freely given, not through taxes) income from space exploration matches the cost, then this will still, despite my technophilia, seem like a boondoggle to me.

  • NickM

    Marbellaboy points out the other elephant in the room – one I had thought of. How is NASA contracting SpaceX for the whole dealie (apart from launch facilities and…) much different from Rockwell being prime contractor for the Shuttle with of course the usual suspects: Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman et al getting a glug from the cup.

  • Dale Amon

    Hugely different funding. Space Act Agreement vs FARS; fixed price paid on milestone achievement vs cost-plus. This is the subtlety in the continuous battle. The gravy train is in FARS with their huge compliance costs and need for teams of lawyers and accountants and overseers… which then make changes and fixes so expensive that contracts are done for the most part on costs plus a margin. This means the classic defence contractor has every reason to find means to load in every possible cost the FARS will allow; more employees means more jobs in the congressman’s district and more profit… regardless of whether they project finishes on time or even succeeds.

    It is the difference between the government having Boeing design a cargo plane to their specs and paying whatever it costs, plus profit, and then uses it to occassionally fly packages from HQ in DC to Ames in SF; versus setting up a competition with milestones for building aircraft that can accomplish the transcontinental delivery… and then becoming one of many customers of the new delivery service.

    The first method has got us where we are… going around and around and around in LEO at great cost. The second way leads to a commercial breakout.

  • Tom Perkins

    “Now until they get space elevators or fully re-usable variable-cycle SSTOs or whatever then it doesn’t tackle the other real issue which is cost. Now no rocket of the Falcon type will ever be cheap enough to genuinely allow privateers of the Raleigh or Drake fashion.”

    It is my opinion yours is a pathological skepticism. The plans with which SpaceX admirably well proceed will bring the cost of orbiting a pound close to a low order integer multiple of the cost of the energy added to it by placing it higher in the well. If the volume lifted annually fills not merely their current roster, but in decades hence amounts to a launch a day with many being Falcon 9H’s or X, then it will cost $50 to lift a pound.

    I doubt the Skylon will ever do quite as well owing to it’s increased complexity. The increased flexibility will give it a will give it a niche.