A Spectacular Day in Florida

Credit: SpaceX

This has been a crazy but pretty amazing trip to Florida.

Flight out of LA on Monday afternoon. Got into the hotel in Cocoa Beach at Midnight. There was a line at the desk. Got to sleep at 1 a.m., up at 4:30 to try to get a prime viewing spot on the beach. Finally got there at about 8 a.m. Then a very long wait while they wanted for upper level winds to calm down. Then an amazing launch 15 minutes before the window closed.

Loved watching this from the beach. People were yelling and cheering, just a great atmosphere. Out in Mojave I see nothing but sand but no water. Being able to like on the beach listening to the waves crash all day was amazing. I went swimming at least three times. I just miss all that so much living where I do.

Credit: SpaceX

We were able to see two high altitude burns on the side boosters and then ones as they approached the landing zones. Then the boosters disappeared behind the dunes. The beach was then rocked a pair of sonic booms and the roars of the engines.

Credit: SpaceX

Elon Musk said yesterday that central core slammed into the ocean at about 500 kph about 100 meters off the drone ship, damaging the vessel in the process. They were planning to send the Red Tesla with the spaceman aboard near Mars, but apparently it’s going to the asteroid belt.

Congratulations to everyone at SpaceX on a spectacular success yesterday.

 

  • passinglurker

    So they shot at mars and went long? So just like everyone in the history of space flight on their first try, but India.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    It should be orbiting for the next billion years or so. One of these orbits should get it pretty close. Hope you’ll stay in Florida long enough to enjoy a little more of the Atlantic and for a few updates on BO and commercial crew.

  • Robert G. Oler

    now crazy things can come true 🙂

  • jimmycrackcorn

    I was under the impression they were never “shooting it at mars”, but were putting it in an orbit around mars (outside of mars, around the sun).

  • ThomasLMatula

    The stated idea was to have the Aphelion just a bit pass the Mars orbits but with no risk of impacting it for planetary protection reasons. However this works out much better because it shows its able to reach the asteroid belt, something I hope Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are taking note of…

  • ThomasLMatula

    CNN gets it…

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/06/opinions/elon-musk-has-launched-a-breathtaking-new-space-age-seymour/index.html

    Elon Musk just launched our earthshaking new adventure
    by Gene Seymour

    “Indeed, after the sheer exhilaration of Tuesday’s test flight wears away, you’re still left pondering the stunning possibilities unleashed by its (so far) apparent success. Space X could begin fielding offers from other companies, even governments, to service long-range, long-distance missions into deep space. We could be entering a period of buccaneers, free-lance adventurers, speculators…”

    Yep, time for the “Rock Rats” and “Rolling Stones” to move from science fiction to real world 🙂

    And Elon Musk is not waiting around for NASA to wake up….

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/06/elon-musk-says-spacex-to-focus-on-bfr-following-falcon-heavy-launch/

    Elon Musk says SpaceX to focus on BFR following Falcon Heavy launch
    by Darrell Etherington, Devin Coldewey

    “Musk said that BFR might be ready for “short hopper flights with the spaceship part” of the rocket by maybe next year. These will essentially be flights of “increasing complexity,” with the intent being to go out of Earth’s atmosphere and then “come back in hot to test the heat shield,” because BFR’s primary purpose will require it to survive planetary entry, on Earth, Mars and beyond.”

  • Hemingway

    Thanks for interesting personal story

  • JS Initials

    It might pass an asteroid named Messier. Wink!

  • JS Initials

    Now that the FH has been successfully launched for the first time, what is to become of those two anonymous billionaires who were planning to fly to the Moon in 2019 onboard a Dragon 2? Obviously, the FH is capable of sending them there, but Elon said that there are “no plans to man-rate the Falcon Heavy.” Has Elon discreetly told those two billionaires lately, “sorry, change of plans, we can’t send you to the Moon, here’s your deposit back”?

  • Eric Thiel

    I saw in an interview that he plans on using the BFR instead if the program moves fast enough.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    The report on the trajectory of the F9H makes it sound like they aren’t headed in the direction originally planned. If I were planning a trip to the moon, that would make me very nervous. Being diverted to Venus would not be a good plan.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    I wonder how much was stripped out of the roadster. I’m guessing that at least the battery was removed. It would add a bunch of lightness and subtract a whole bunch of safety concerns. I doubt they are tested to be stored in vacuum. So it’s a very light payload for the size of rocket even when it’s downrated by half to allow for recovering the boosters and first stage sections.

  • Michael Halpern

    Sort of, they were firing in the right direction to reach mars orbit, but to test the full capabilities they burned as long and hard as they could they estimated that it would be an Earth Mars cycler, seems they underestimated

  • Kirk

    During the post-launch presser Mr. Musk specifically stated that they would burn the upper stage to depletion.

  • delphinus100

    Agreed on the safety issue, but given that one whole Tesla is a fraction of a Falcon Heavy’s maximum payload, and anything else it was carrying would have also been ‘mass simulator’ stuff, the battery mass in this particular case, would have been a non-problem…

  • Kenneth_Brown

    When was the last time any time line of Elon’s has been remotely close to accurate? The F9H was at least 5 years behind schedule. Doug will know when it was first promised to be flying. The BFR is even bigger and more complex. Expecting it to fly in the next 8 years might be a stretch.

  • windbourne

    my kids are in 8th, 5th, and K, and and the 8th/5th graders classes were talking about this. Apparently the kids found it interesting to see a tesla up there, while the teachers talked about the historical value of such.

    Way cool.

  • windbourne

    they are going on the BFR.
    I thought that they would be doing flights in 1-1.5 years, but he now says 3 years or less.
    What is nice is that once Dragon 2 is launched , they will devote all of their engineering resources to BFR, which should move it quickly.

  • windbourne

    Normally, I would agree with you esp about musk time (as opposed to real time).
    However, we are talking the first stage being ready rather quickly. When you think about it, while it is bigger, there is nothing complex about it. In fact, FH is far more complex than the BFR.

  • windbourne

    particularly at this price.

  • ThomasLMatula

    How do you know this wasn’t the plan all along? Might have worried the Planetary Protection folk needlessly if he said he was aiming for the Asteroid Belt, so he just says its going out to Mars’ orbit and then “misses” a bit 🙂 oops…

  • windbourne

    U know, the FH is supposed to be capable of sending 16+ tonnes to mars for a price of $100M.
    OTOH, the average launcher here sends 16-20 tonnes to LEO at $100-200M.

    I had not thought that much of this, but it really is a game changer.

  • passinglurker

    thanks for the clarification

  • passinglurker

    well yeah they can’t aim right at mars planetary protection and all that jazz

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    The entire vehicle is 1,420,800 kg, so the removal of 500kg of Tesla battery pack does not really “add a bunch of lightness”. As a test flight, the mass of payload is not that important, since the mass of the vehicle itself and the aerodynamic loads far exceed the stress of carrying the payload mass. The test is more about vibration and aerodynamics, engine control across the three cores, side booster separation and any centre core specific issues.

  • Amanda

    Watch Murder on the Orient Express only on this web site : xmovie4klive.blogspot.com

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    I thought to myself that the sight of the two side boosters coming in to land was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Then in the press conference, Elon says seeing the two side boosters landing together was the coolest thing he’s ever seen. Nice to know that he is still just as awed by all this stuff as the rest of us.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    It would be an exceptionally large problem if they were caught lying.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Announced 2011, with the original expectation/hope of flying in 2013. The delay of FH has been more to do with performance and reusability improvements of F9 and a steady decrease of heavy lift importance in the launch market. They haven’t been working with full resources on this specific project. Most of their engineering effort has been working towards F9 Block 5 and Dragon 2. Block 5 is a 2-3 months away and Dragon 2 should be qualified around the end of year. With those project developments complete, the majority of SpaceX engineering resources will be put toward BFR. So comparing the FH development schedule is not too useful for predicting the rate of BFR development. Also, SpaceX is a much more experienced and competent organisation than it was in 2011.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    SpaceX doesn’t gain competency as quickly as other companies due to massive employee turnover. I am talking about Elon more than any one of the companies he is part of. He frequently announces things with timelines that are not even closely met.

    The standing joke in the space industry is that anything new will be built and working in “two years”.

  • redneck

    Yeah, their competency gain is so slow, it took them 15 years to go from start up with zero employees to industry leader. Maybe there are some other companies that should have competency gains this slow.

    Seriously, does fossilization=competency gain for you?

  • Removing mass from the payload makes a huge difference compared to the mass of the whole rocket. Removing a significant percentage of the mass from the payload makes a noticeable difference in terms of how far up out it can go.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Radiation Will Tear Elon Musk’s Rocket Car to Bits in a Year

    February 07, 2018 | Article

    Elon Musk has launched his sportscar into deep space. Stellar radiation is going to tear it to bits.

    Yours Truly: Saturn, Saturn13

  • SamuelRoman13

    Musk said in the Post Flight that the SpaceShip will fly first. It will be from Texas and will fly out and return and accelerate back into the atmosphere to test the interplanetary heat shield.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Experts say it will go just beyond Mars and come within 64 million miles in June. Pretty close to Inspiration Mars. A few mid course corrections and they would have made it I think.

  • SamuelRoman13

    Were you at the Post Launch press conference Doug? NASA needs to do a me too of SpaceX. I am sure Musk would say think big. Stop SLS. Use a Saturn-5. Since it has a payload to LEO of 150 tons and NASA does not need that much at first. Add legs and bring tjhe 1st stage back for reuse. It should be cheaper to build since the sides are not made from 8″ thick sheets of aluminum. It will fix the burning parachutes problem of SLS. Put out a RFI NASA. Let anyone bid on the many sections and parts. Not Boeing, I do not like the way they have run the SLS program.

    Yours Truly: Saturn, Saturn13

  • Jeff2Space

    That’s the current public facing statement. But there is no fundamental reason that Falcon Heavy couldn’t launch Dragon 2 on such a mission.

    My guess is that SpaceX needs more investors for BFR/BFS. But who’s going to invest in BFR/BFS if Falcon Heavy is “good enough”? Saying Falcon Heavy won’t ever be “man rated” seems to be a self inflicted stab at Falcon Heavy so that investors won’t be afraid to dump a few billion dollars into BFR/BFS development.

  • Jeff2Space

    BFR isn’t very hard (you “only” have to scale up Falcon 9 only equip it with Raptor engines instead of Merlin engines). But BFS isn’t going to be a cake walk. A fully reusable upper stage, which is what BFS is on the outside anyway, has never been done.

    And before anyone says “the space shuttle orbiter did it first”, I’d like to correct that misconception. The space shuttle orbiter cheated by dropping the LH2 and LOX tanks (external tank). The orbiter wasn’t a reusable upper stage. It was a spacecraft which incorporated only the main engines of its upper stage. The space shuttle external tanks cost tens of millions of dollars each to build. That’s not fully reusable.

  • Jeff2Space

    That was just an initial orbit estimate based on few (too close together) data points. The revised orbit (published today) puts it barely beyond Mars orbit, so nowhere near the asteroid belt.

  • windbourne

    Fudge.

  • duheagle

    Bad guess. BFR/BFS development has been going on for some time and has involved a substantial fraction of SpaceX’s engineering cadre for the last two years. All this development has been internally funded from operating revenues. Given SpaceX’s increasing launch tempo, the rest of BFR/BFS’s development will be funded the same way. BFR/BFS will require neither additional outside investors nor “a few billion dollars.”

  • duheagle

    FH (not “F9H”) was late because it had to be serially redesigned as the F9 it was based on improved and said F9 improvement incrementally chipped away at FH’s payload envelope at the low end.

    BFR/BFS is the centerpiece of SpaceX’s foreseeable future and is being pushed as hard as the company can manage as witness all the Raptor and large composite tankage work already done.

    Development of F9 and FH are pretty much done and Dragon 2 is also nearly done. The already large fraction of SpaceX’s engineering team at work on BFR/BFS will be getting a steady stream of reinforcements over the coming year.

    You make a lamentably common mistake in taking FH’s total delay as typical of Musk project delays. It’s not. It’s an outlier. BFR/BFS are not going to take 8 or more additional years to appear and fly.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    I don’t think that is enough for this program, but Starlink should be able to pick up the slack along with a possible Lunar COTS would be icing on the cake.

  • duheagle

    Please tell us how you presume to know SpaceX’s turnover rate.

    I live near the SpaceX Hawthorne plant and run into SpaceX-ers frequently. They’re easy to pick out as they tend to wear a lot of company-logoed clothing. They like being the cool kids in town.

    The engineers – the most critical cadre anent competence-building – all have SpaceX stock options at various stages of vesting. They’re not going anywhere. To do so, they’d have to cash out and, as one of them explained to me, “that Alternative Minimum Tax would kill me.” The last SpaceX engineer I talked to has been with SpaceX for over five years.

    As I usually do in such encounters, I brought up the “issue” of SpaceX’s low salaries and long hours. As is also usual, said engineer was openly scornful of the idea that SpaceXers are some class of brutally exploited serfs. SpaceXers are a proud, even cocky, bunch. They know what the deal is going in and, like their boss, are playing a long game.

  • duheagle

    Elon agrees that BFS is the tougher nut to crack. That’s why SpaceX is tackling it “fustest with the mostest” as the saying goes.

  • ThomasLMatula

    It appears he is also looking at launching it from his Texas spaceport. That would be great!

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/premium/spacex-may-test-bfr-at-boca-chica/article_664575a8-0c81-11e8-a4f9-c3fe471d4fba.html

    “We’ll either do that at our South Texas launch site, near Brownsville, or do ship to ship,” he said. “We’re not sure yet whether ship to ship or Brownsville, but most likely it’s going to happen at our Brownsville location, because we’ve got a lot of land with nobody around, and so if it blows up, it’s cool.”

  • ThomasLMatula

    It appears he is looking at launching it from his Texas spaceport. That would be great!

    http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/premium/spacex-may-test-bfr-at-boca-chica/article_664575a8-0c81-11e8-a4f9-c3fe471d4fba.html

    “We’ll either do that at our South Texas launch site, near Brownsville, or do ship to ship,” he said. “We’re not sure yet whether ship to ship or Brownsville, but most likely it’s going to happen at our Brownsville location, because we’ve got a lot of land with nobody around, and so if it blows up, it’s cool.”

    Since the pad their hasn’t been finished it would be easy to convert it to serving the BFR’s needs. And he wouldn’t have to worry about federal shutdowns impacting his schedule.I wonder what condos are going for in South Padre Island. It would be a great location for viewing the launch.

  • ThomasLMatula

    True, it is hard, indeed, as you point out it was impossible for NASA to do. But so were reusable liquid boosters impossible for NASA. But the great thing is that SpaceX isn’t NASA and isn’t afraid to take risks.

  • ThomasLMatula

    As per Lazarus Long – Thou shall always remember the 11th Commandment… 🙂

    But in terms of the launch license it only states: “and transporting the modified Tesla Roadster to a hyperbolic orbit.”

    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/media/LLS%2018-107%20Falcon%20Heavy%20Demo%20License%20and%20Orders%20FINAL%202018_02_02.pdf

    Th Tesla’s orbit is hyperbolic in respect to Earth so it satisfies the license requirements. 🙂

  • ThomasLMatula

    “Well it didn’t take long for the liberal anti-space crowd to start denouncing Elon Musk for wasting money when folks are suffering and charge him with polluting the Solar System…

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/07/elon-musk-spacex-launch-utterly-depressing

    Why Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch is utterly depressing
    Nathan Robinson

    “A mission to Mars does indeed sound exciting, but it’s important to have our priorities straight. First, perhaps we could make it so that a child no longer dies of malaria every two minutes. Or we could try to address the level of poverty in Alabama that has become so extreme the UN investigator did not believe it could still occur in a first-world country. Perhaps once violence, poverty and disease are solved, then we can head for the stars.”

    And the socialist solution…

    “But Musk is only rich enough to afford these indulgent pet projects because we have allowed gross social inequalities to arise in the first place. If wealth were actually distributed fairly in this country, nobody would be in a position to fund his own private space program.”

    And

    https://theconversation.com/falcon-heavy-spacex-stages-an-amazing-launch-but-what-about-the-environmental-impact-91423?xid=PS_smithsonian

    Falcon Heavy: SpaceX stages an amazing launch – but what about the
    environmental impact?
    Ian Whittaker, Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

    First the global warming guilt trip…

    “The amount of kerosene in three Falcon 9 rockets is roughly 440 tonnes and RP-1 has a 34% carbon content. This amount of carbon is a drop in the ocean compared to global industrial emissions as a whole, but if the SpaceX’s plan for a rocket launch every two weeks comes to fruition, this amount of carbon (approximately 4,000 tonnes per year) will rapidly become a bigger
    problem.”

    And the “He’s polluting the Solar System” argument.

    “However, current reports suggest that the rocket may have overshot its trajectory, meaning the vehicle will head towards the asteroid belt rather than Mars. This is probably going to mean a collision is inevitable. The scattering of tiny fragments of an electric vehicle is pollution at the minimum – and a safety hazard for future missions at worst. Where these fragments end up will be hard to predict – and hence troublesome for future satellite launches to Mars, Saturn or Jupiter. The debris could be drawn by the gravity of Mars, asteroids or even swept away with the solar wind.

    What is also unclear is whether the car was built in a perfect clean room. If not there is the risk that bacteria from Earth may spread through the solar system after a collision. This would be extremely serious, given that we are currently planning to search for life on neighbouring bodies such as Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa. If microorganisms were found there we may never know whether they actually came from Earth in the first place.”

    Yes, the decadents of the folks who objected to the invention of the wheel because a wagon might run over plants crowd are still trying to drag humanity down…