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SpaceX sneaks in X-37B space plane launch ahead of Hurricane Irma

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Getting bored now

Boring and routine 1st stage landings. I want excitement!

Nah, not really. I'm still amazed every time!!!! Especially at the landing accuracy.

Not hearing much of Blue Origin though. I hope they can catch up.

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Re: Getting bored now

It's fascinating how in such a short time they went from spectacular explosions to making those perfect landings feel like routine. Soon it'll barely be a footnote to the stories!

Seeing from the onboard camera, coming down from space at 3500+ km/h to land right in the middle of the logo is just amazing!

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Re: Getting bored now

I want it to land under a retractable swimming pool

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Re: Getting bored now

It's Apollo 12.

First time out it was amazing. Now, I nearly skipped past the video. But I didn't, so it's okay.

They've made the startling commonplace, and well done to them!

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Re: Getting bored now

I'm waiting for the Falcon Heavy, where the thing goes up, and then two boosters come whizzing back to land next to each other. Though you'd hope they'll keep them a bit further apart than in their PR video - as it would be dead embarrassing for one to slightly miss the target and blow them both up.

And then ten minutes later, another booster comes back to join them (or more likely land on the barge) - assuming the second stage isn't required to sacrifice itself in order to get more height.

Musk really ought to rub out the company logo on the landing pad, and have a nice blue swimming pool painted there instead.

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Re: Getting bored now

It's the wide angle shots of the landing that get me - they look like something straight out of classic science fiction. Can't wait for the Falcon Heavy trial - synchronised landings! (or a large explosion - either way, quite exciting).

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Thumb Up

Re: Getting bored now

I love the long range camera shots they've been getting for the recent landings. You can pretty much watch the stage 1 booster go up, and then come back down.

Here's a good animated one, although this stabilised one is even more impressive.

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Re: Falcon Heavy

Falcon Heavy demo flight is set for launch (or to be delayed again) in November.

So far, Falcons have not had names. I suppose "Funny, It Worked Last Time..." and "Only Slightly Bent" would be too tempting.

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Re: Getting bored now

There's a really big swimming pool visible on Google Earth, that might be retractable, about 200 klicks south at MAr-al-lago club on the coast in West.

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Re: Getting bored now

If you think about the landing, take a look at those grid fins that are used for most of the guidance. Now take a look at the Wikipedia page on grid fins

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_fin

Hum, big grid fins at the tail end of a lot of guided bombs. Now look again at a Falcon 9 stage one booster. Large cylindrical object; check, gid fins at tail end; check. Looking lots like a guided bomb, and there is *plenty* of expertise in getting guided bombs, aka large cylindrical objects on target.

Don't get me wrong it is a super impressive feet to land a rocket, it's watching science fiction become science fact right before my eyes. However the being on target for the landing not so much once you realize where the technology comes from.

Mind you boring and routine 1st stage landings is the goal. That SpaceX has rapidly turned the first successful landing into a routine occurrence is great news. If they could only nail the odd landing it would be a waste of time trying.

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Happy

Re: Getting bored now

jabuzz,

Well it is possible that some journalist who gives a Tesla a bad review might find themselves on the wrong end of a Falcon 9 landing "accident"... But I think we're safe from that until Musk removes SpaceX's operations from Texas and Florida to his new base of operations in a hollowed-out volcano somewhere.

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@Flocke Kroes -- Re: Falcon Heavy

Or maybe "Low mileage, one owner." from Madman Musk's Used Booster lot...

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Re: Getting bored now

"although this stabilised one is even more impressive."

You git! I'm too embarrassed to say how long it took me to realise it was on a loop while I waited to see it land!!!!

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Happy

Re: Getting bored now

Anyone starting playing Kerbal Space Program surely can recognize the feat.

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Anonymous Coward

I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

With hurricanes on their way I presume it was probably worth a shot getting the thing up in space before the launch facilities got damaged by wind and debris, cheaper than trying to move it to somewhere safe.

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Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

Damaged is an understatement.

For the time being it has been forecasted to track further west through the mid-Florida swamps so Cape Canaveral is likely to be spared the worst of it.

If the original forecast from 24h ago was still valid Cape Canaveral would have taken a direct category 4 (if not 5) hit on the chin with the eye tracking across the launch pads.

Have a look at the pics from St Marteen and Barbuda on what exactly can this thing do. 185mph winds can destroy pretty much anything. There is no normal building (except bunkers) that can withstand that without taking severe damage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

Damaged is an understatement.

My dear boy, understating is what we do this side of the pond..

:)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

Have a look at the pics from St Marteen and Barbuda on what exactly can this thing do. 185mph winds can destroy pretty much anything. There is no normal building (except bunkers) that can withstand that without taking severe damage.

The footage is indeed horrific (especially of Sir Branson re-emerging from his wine cellar - that should not have been shown before the watershed, but I digress).

It would be an interesting area of science to work out how can we drain that energy and use it for power instead. That hurricane is probably enough to power the country for a year with some to spare. You could spare yourself pesky wind farms at that rate..

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Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

That hurricane is probably enough to power the country for a year with some to spare. You could spare yourself pesky wind farms at that rate..

Build a large wall around Texas, wait till the state fills with water and open a sluice gate with a turbine on the bottom

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Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

You can quite easily build buildings to withstand a category 5 hurricane. All it requires is the will to do it. I would point you to Darwin in Australia which was flattened in December 1974 by Cyclone Tracy. Some 80% of homes where destroyed. When they rebuilt the city it was to a more stringent building code that makes the houses cyclone/hurricane proof.

In the end it's not rocket science, you just need to build out of reinforced concrete and make sure everything is bolted down to the concrete slab so it can't blow away. Then you do things like put your utilities under the ground.

Want to live in a hurricane prone area then build your houses and other infrastructure to withstand them. When you don't, don't expect me to have a great deal of sympathy for you. I refer you to the following fairy tale.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Little_Pigs

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was probably cheaper and simpler to launch.

"You can quite easily build buildings to withstand a category 5 hurricane. All it requires is the will to do it."

You're nearly right. What it requires is the will AND the money. I have a lot of sympathy for those of modest means living on a relatively small island where most building materials have to be imported when their tin roof gets ripped off, for example. It's easy to understand why they didn't have a more robust home.

It's harder to understand it when prosperous US coastal cities such as Houston get flooded and wrecked by storms, given that their vulnerabilities are fully understood and they have fairly cheap and easy access by road, sea, and air to whatever they might need from the world's richest and most technologically advanced nation which doesn't need to import anything by way of (e.g.) steel and concrete and earth moving equipment, not unless it's to get it cheaper than domestic suppliers.

Then again, look at Grenfell tower. All it takes for a real disaster is mismanagement of the regulations and the inevitability of Murphy's Law.

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Gold badge

I wonder what the panic level at ULA is up to now?

When they managed to secure that last Airforce contract, not at all by nefarious means of course, they must have breathed a sigh of relief. But their prices are beginning to look not just outrageous, but also insane. And their tech, out of date.

So, at what point do they reach Brown Trouser Alert?

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Anonymous Coward

Today did not change much on their panic level, it is not even the first military payload SpaceX launched on a F9, Falcon Heavy is a larger issue than this one as it will mean the entire range of USAF payloads is up for competition. However their biggest problem starts if Blue Origin or another company can become a second competitively priced US launch provider of service for much of the range of military payloads like the New Glenn rocket could.

At the pace they seem to be going they will eventually exit the launch market, but still be around aerospace (at least for a while longer) building payloads (which has been higher profit for them for a long time anyway)

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they could go to brown alert but it would mean having to change the bulb

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Unhappy

"hey will..exit the launch market, but still be around aerospace..building payloads.

Wrong.

ULA build launch vehicles.

Their parents, Boeing and LM, build payloads.

They also hold a straight A in launch success from their parents. IOW none of their vehicles have blow up, on the pad or in flight.

Yes the story around the block buy of 36 cores was very smelly, and this is terrific news for SX, but IRL people should have learned that the USG cares about other things than just the bottom line price, especially where aerospace is concerned.

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Pint

As someone who grew up with the shuttle it seemed that our capabilities in launch vehicles had improved only incrementally from the 60's through the 80's.

Then the shuttles got canned and it all seemed to go to pot.

Then came what seemed to be the miracles of the first private launches and we dared to dream again.

Making these launches (and especially landings) "boring" I find to be the greatest achievements ever. Its what is needed if we are ever going to make even simplest sci-fi dreams a reality.

Now all I want is someone to build a shuttle-type device that looks like Serenity!

A beer for all concerned, all who are interested and anyone who is thirsty.....

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A beer for all concerned, all who are interested and anyone who is thirsty.....

That might end up being a costly round...

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Unhappy

"Making these launches.."boring" I find to be the greatest achievements ever."

Correct.

Until both takeoffs and landings (of all stages) become too routine to bother recording the price per unit mass to LEO will continue to be measured in $10 000.

This is a field which could do with a whole lot more boredom, and a whole lot less drama.

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Iain M Banks lives!

"Of Course I Still Love You" - wonderful :-)

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Re: Iain M Banks lives!

If I were Elon Musk, I'd be sorely tempted to gift ULA a landing barge called "Catch Me If You Can" or some such, just for the laugh.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Iain M Banks lives!

If I were Elon Musk, I'd name it the "Not Invented Here"...

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Surely: "Can't touch this"

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SpaceX to Mars lander ......... touchdown ?

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North Korea

“No country should have missiles flying over them, ... It’s unacceptable. Something serious has to happen.”

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Moon Lander

Reminds me of the Moon Lander program that I used to play on an old ICL 1902T* via Teletype back in the early 70s. Constantly inputting retro fire commands and getting back speed and height readings before going again.

I don't think I every landed as gracefully as this though!!!

*The ICL 1902T was OLD, even then!

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Re: Moon Lander

Should give KSP a go.

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> discretely decouple

Grrrr! If the parts are discrete, they don't need to decouple. You mean discreetly.

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N Korea

Maybe they should have landed it at Guam, after a low-level pass over Pyongyang ???

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