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SpaceX to Attempt Launch of Falcon 1 Today 194

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wtb-ticket-pst dept.
fatron writes "After yesterday's flight readiness review, SpaceX announced they will be attempting the second launch of their Falcon 1 Spacecraft today. The launch is scheduled for 4:00PM Pacific time with a webcast available from T-60 minutes until launch."
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SpaceX to Attempt Launch of Falcon 1 Today

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  • Let's hope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei (128717) on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:00PM (#18406843) Homepage
    Given that Musk has stated that his patients and pockets are not unlimited, and we only have a few more shots at this, lets all hope that today's launch goes off as planned. It's a nice design overall, and I'd hate to see it fail due to a few technical glitches.
    • by cmowire (254489)
      Well, also if it took you 10 blown up boosters before you got it right, I doubt you'd attract any customers. :P
    • Re:Let's hope (Score:4, Informative)

      by Albert Sandberg (315235) on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:04PM (#18406899) Homepage
      It looks very windy, I think they will push the deadline... at least they should.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jdray (645332)
        When I first looked at the webcam, I thought the rocket was wobbling. Then I realized it was the camera itself on the stand. Still, it was momentarily unnerving.

        They'll probably still launch if the winds are only at ground level. If the nav system can't get it off the ground and stabilized in a little crosswind, they don't deserve to be launching.
        • I thought my feed was messed up when I saw that but then I realized that they chose an island for launch. Those islands are known for a constant breeze which can likely be accounted for with a little simply rocket science mathematics. I don't think they would have chose an island if they didn't expect some wind. Besides, it's not likely windy up above. On another note, the wonderful blue sky - island paradise webcam is a stark contrast to the 2 inches of snow falling outside my own window at the present.
      • by FleaPlus (6935)
        According to an (unofficial) post by Kimbal Musk [blogspot.com] in 2005, "The highest winds we want to launch in is 24 knots [~27.6 mph]." I don't know if that's still there policy, but current wind speed is just around 15 mph [weather.gov].
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Having unlimited PATIENTS is only good for Drs and hospitals (and perhaps not even then!).

      Having lots of patience isn't too bad though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rei (128717)
        Yeah, I deserve that for posting so hastily. ;)

        Back on topic: it's such a shame that they have Kwaj as a launch site. It's a horrible place due to corrosion, shipping costs are high, and if you discover that you need something that you don't have onsite, it's a major blow to your schedule.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Given that Musk has stated that his patients and pockets are not unlimited
      I guess it depends on the size of the hospital that he is using. But since they are out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean I would guess that they are probably just using someone who went to one of an auxiliary ship's sick bay. Just taint the food or water and he'll be good for another 10 launches.
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Given that Musk has stated that his patients and pockets are not unlimited,

      So he's a doctor, too?
      • No, an IP attorney (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Teancum (67324)
        It should have read patents and deep pockets are not unlimited.

        Although who am I kidding here. When he is successful Boeing will pull out a stealth patent they developed for the Delta IV and demand "fair and reasonable" royalties to put Elon's prices on par with other Loc-Mart rockets.
    • Have you been to an emergency room lately? There are plennnnnnty of patients. Is he using them for ballast or fuel?

  • FTA: After the upcoming demonstration flight, Falcon 1 is scheduled to launch a satellite for the US Navy Research Laboratory

    Should the US government be using private launch vehicles? Might be a good way to jump start private investment though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) *
      They should use exclusively private launch vehicles and demand competition from their suppliers.
      • Re:hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hey! (33014) on Monday March 19, 2007 @07:40PM (#18408135) Homepage Journal

        They should use exclusively private launch vehicles and demand competition from their suppliers.

        You mean like Haliburton?

        I think we can be pretty certain that any industry which caters primarily to the government will not be dramatically more efficient than the government at doing anything, and possibly less efficient. All the negative risk aversion aspects of government decision making are retained, with whole new opportunities for graft and fraud added on.

        At best, it's like the difference between a golf ball landing on some blade of grass, and a golf ball landing on a particular blade of grass. Buying something on the open market is like the golf ball landing on some blade of grass. If there are things out there which are proven to do the job, the might not be exactly what you'd want, but the difference between perfect and good enough is negligible. The difference between landing on one blade of grass on the green and another a foot or so away is negligible.

        Specifying something for government consumption is like trying to get a golf ball to land on a particular blade of grass. In order to make sure the competition is fair, you have to ensure a level playing field. In order to ensure that the playing field is level, you have to make sure everybody is proposing to deliver exactly the same thing more or less. Not only does the solution have fewer degrees of freedom, the number of organizations who can respond to such an RFP is limited. In other words, the usual suspects. In other words Haliburton.

        And so far we've been talking about the best case.

        The worst case, you assume that because the private sector is supposed to be more efficient, you are saving money by using a private contractor. There are very few companies capable of delivering certain things the government wants, and fewer still who can negotiate the contracting process as well. This means that when the government buys those things from the private sector, it is not necessarily buying them from the free market.

        I'm not saying that buying from the private sector is a bad idea. What I'm saying is that the problem of financial efficiency, when we are talking goods and services primarily consumed by the government, is an orthagonal problem to insourcing or outsourcing.

        It's not a bad idea, it's just not an automatic win. Not until there is a healthy industry that can exist without government business.
        • by QuantumG (50515) *
          Your entire post is summed up in the second part of mine, "and demand competition".
        • I think you missed one minor point, but otherwise you were hitting dead on.

          Where the government can save money is to buy commodity equipment/goods that are sold on a larger basis than just to government contracts. Even this has some problems (for example, the Army buying diesel fuel for trucks... still needs specialized logistics). But as has been said, if an Army private can purchase a hammer for $5 at the local Home Depot, he should be permitted to do that instead of going through the normal supply chain where the same hammer will cost $100 due to logistical overhead and layers of approval.

          And some efforts to allow this sort of "petty cash" spending has been introduced into some military units and smaller government agencies, precisely because of this sort of savings.

          I certainly think the military was much more efficient with the use of money during WWII, when nearly every position was an actual sworn officer or enlisted member of the military. Of course there was graft and corruption, but you also stood to have a military tribunal if you were caught, or even receive battlefield justice. Such stuff doesn't happen with Haliburton and its sub-contractors.
          • by IdahoEv (195056)
            if an Army private can purchase a hammer for $5 at the local Home Depot

            You haven't shopped at Home Depot recently, have you?
    • by B_tace (802354)
      Hey, if a private firm can do the job for a fraction of the price, sure! they should be using them and save some taxpayer money in the process.
    • by pavon (30274) on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:13PM (#18407009)
      This is something that the general public is fairly misinformed about. The majority of rocket launches in the US are using rockets designed and build by private companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences. This includes NASA launches. Space X would be competing with these companies, not with NASA.
      • I don't think they're so much as "misinformed" as the really big companies (e.g. Lockheed, Boeing, ... that's about it) feed so tightly off of NASA and the government that it really doesn't seem like they're private anymore.

        That, and everyone loves an underdog. ;-)
        • by pavon (30274)
          Yeah, especially with the creation of UAC, err I mean ULA. I love how politicians constantly praise the benifits of the "free market" while all of our interactions with private industry result in a government monopoly propping up a private one.
      • by pavon (30274) on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:41PM (#18407349)
        To elaborate on my previous post and provied some examples:

        Mars Rovers were launched with a Delta II built by Boeing.
        Cassini probe was launched with a Titan IV-B built by Lockheed-Martin.
        New Horizons was launched with an Atlas V built by Lockheed-Martin.
        Many satellites, including the latest GPS satellites are launched using Delta IIs by Boeing.

        The Minotaur rocket is built by Orbital Sciences using decommisioned Minutemen ICBM engines and are used to launch some military satelites. They also build many of the rockets used for missile-defense tests.

        At least at first, SpaceX would most directly compete with the Pegasus rocket by Orbital Sciences, and hopefully would help to expand the market to include new cliental that can't afford current prices. If they show themselves to be reliable they could also go on to challenge the bigger launchers.
      • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot @ i d e a smatter.org> on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:43PM (#18407377) Journal

        This is something that the general public is fairly misinformed about. The majority of rocket launches in the US are using rockets designed and build by private companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences. This includes NASA launches. Space X would be competing with these companies, not with NASA.

        Now if we could only do the same with the exploration missions, such as Mars and the moon.

        Can you imagine the glorious caucophony if NASA turned its budget into prizes? $1B for the first Mars rock returned to Earth. $2B for the first Mars ground base active for one year. $4B for the first human on Mars. $4B for the first man-year on Mars.

        And what a fantastic spectator sport it would become again. GE, Lockheed, Chevrolet, HP, maybe even Google might all be in a literal race for the prizes. It would be consensually dangerous, as corners got cut to save time and money. The risks would attract more volunteers than ever.

        To my eye, one of the great benefits of space exploration is its entertainment and inspirational value. NASA has managed to destroy that by becoming bureaucratically risk-averse. They can't allow even a broken fingernail during a mission, else they get castigated in the next Senate budget conference. And that ruins the experience of being a fan, of the sort we once had in the 1960s.

        • by QuickFox (311231)
          Mod parent up! Interesting and inspiring!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by pavon (30274)
          Those goals are too large for anyone to meet with private investor funding, and the prizes are too small for tasks that don't have other profit motive behind them (and don't go off about space mining - it is not economically viable). I mean really, a prize managed to provide some tipping point motivation for a (very cool) suborbital rocket plane, and now people think that can scale to sending someone to Mars?

          Both NASA and the military are giving SpaceX serious consideration for their future contracts and th
          • by inviolet (797804)

            Both NASA and the military are giving SpaceX serious consideration for their future contracts and that will do more to shake up the launcher industry than a silly competition ever will.

            The prizes would be in billions, not millions. A billion will get everyone's attention. Corporations can handle space exploration if there is a quantifiable return, such as a cash prize. They can budget for it, calculate risk/return tradeoffs, and manage it to completion -- precisely the three behaviors that corporations

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rei (128717)
          Prizes work well in the small scale, where you only need a few people to form a team, and where a few million dollars can win fame and PR that can be cashed into real commercial projects that bring in more money. Prizes work very poorly in the large scale. There, market forces take the lead: if investors are going to put five billion dollars into a project, they're going to want a return on that. The more the risk, the more the return they'll want.
          • by QuantumG (50515) *
            If that's the case then there's nothing to lose by proposing the prizes is there?
          • by khallow (566160)
            We really don't know how prizes work on the large scale since we haven't done them yet.
        • by Keebler71 (520908)
          Can you imagine the glorious caucophony if NASA turned its budget into prizes? $1B for the first Mars rock returned to Earth. $2B for the first Mars ground base active for one year. $4B for the first human on Mars. $4B for the first man-year on Mars.

          You do realize that SpaceX is part of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services [wikipedia.org] program right? NASA has partnered with SpaceX and Rocketplane-Kistler to do exactly what you describe. Milestone award payments based on demonstrations culminating in a

          • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot @ i d e a smatter.org> on Monday March 19, 2007 @09:53PM (#18409289) Journal

            No offense, but I think part of the problem is the publics lack of understanding how difficult these things are (too much watching Armageddon) combined with ignorance as to what NASA is currently doing.

            No offense, but I think most of the problem is NASA's lack of desire to commit bureaucratic suicide. Now that free markets are en vogue again, NASA is willing to dribble out some small (relative to the size of the overall mission) prizes... but no real prizes, such as would get Ford Motor Company's attention, such as would instantly obsolete whole NASA wings.

            The really sad part is, it wouldn't cost NASA a thing to offer a $10B prize for a successful private Mars mission, unless the mission succeeded, in which case it has already paid for itself in side benefits (if NASA's own justifications are valid). If (as you imply) $10B is not enough to motivate any private enterprise to give it a try, then what harm is there in offering?

      • by khallow (566160)

        Two observations here. First, Lockheed Martin and Boeing both are heavily subsidized by the government during the development phase. Even SpaceX has received some funding (I believe from the US Air Force). It's not really a private effort until government funding isn't a part of the life cycle of a launch vehicle.

        Second, when you say "like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences", you mean just the three companies Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Orbital Sciences. There are no other companies "like" the

    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      Should the US government be using private launch vehicles? Might be a good way to jump start private investment though.

      Should the government use private aircraft or private automobiles? There are of course certain situations where private industry is unable to provide what government needs, but the government should never be in direct competition with private industry.
    • NASA is starting down this path (again). Do not be surprised to see this pushed more in the next 3 years as more systems come on line. What will be interesting is that L-mart and boeing just merged their rocket divisions. Now, they will have to learn how to compete.
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)
      The only public launch vehicle in the US is the Shuttle at this point. The difference here is whether its a traditional big-aerospace company or a small startup that hasn't become dependent on government contracts (i.e. they get paid for results, not attempts.)

      However, even there, Griffin's managed to push some stuff through. Commercial Obrital Transport System (COTS) is a program to supply the ISS cheaply, and currently SpaceX (with the larger Falcon 9) is one of the two finalists, along with Rocketplane
    • Nearly all launch vehicle platformsin the US outside of the shuttle are privately owned.

      Atlas V [lockheedmartin.com] is Lockheed Martin
      Delta [boeing.com] is Boeing
      And my current personal favorite due to the recent perfect ride they gave us, the Minotaur [orbital.com] is Orbital.
  • Yes, it's always very tempting to buy these things as soon as they come out. Who doesn't want their own RP-1 launch vehicle...but the real question is, do you need it right away? Historically, the rate of technological development means that the price will decrease dramatically over the next six to twelve months, making it more affordable for the average, budget-minded consumer.
  • Other info sources (Score:5, Informative)

    by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday March 19, 2007 @06:30PM (#18407217) Journal
    For anybody looking for more frequently-updated sources of info and don't feel like watching the entire webcase, here's some other useful sources of info:

    * SpaceFlight Now's Mission Status Center [spaceflightnow.com]: According to the status center, they're having some problems with remotely-monitoring the telemetry stream, which may end up postponing the launch.

    * Kimbal Musk's "Kwajalein Atoll and Rockets" blog: [blogspot.com] Kimbal is Elon Musk's brother, and often posts interesting (and highly unofficial) updates from the launch site. He sometimes goes into liveblogging mode, but hasn't done this yet today.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HUADPE (903765)
      He does appear to be in liveblogging mode now, this probably changed between your post and mine. /. is not the greatest means for getting this sort of info. T minus 13:30 as of this post.
  • look normal to me from the way the palm trees are moving. It's usually windy there. The apparent vehicle sway is actually the camera mount structure swaying, which you can see by using the upper left corner of the image frame as a position reference and watching the tree sway in perfect synchrony with the rocket. Since the tree and rocket present very different wind loads, it's the camera that's moving.

    I'll bet every asset the PMTR has on Kwaj is pointed at the launch vehicle. Nothing like a live launch
  • New Launch Time (Score:4, Informative)

    by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Monday March 19, 2007 @07:01PM (#18407615) Journal
    From Space.com

    MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2007
    2257 GMT (6:57 p.m. EDT)


    NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff is now targeted for 2345 GMT (7:45 p.m. EDT). Fueling of the rocket had been suspended while trying to correct the data transmission problem between Omelek Island and the company's headquarters in El Segundo, California. So the launch team is now working to get back on track for liftoff.
  • At t minus 14 minutes they have elected not to hold, and are waiting for t minus 11 minutes to proceed with the sequence.

    All stations are reporting ready.

    As someone who has done this before, I can tell you, every stomach in the LCC is twitching in nervous anticipation about now.

  • Abort! (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirBruce (679714) on Monday March 19, 2007 @07:44PM (#18408173) Homepage
    Terminal count abort. No launch.
  • anyone else think that the launch site looks like it's on some remote tropical island? okay, so it's not inside a volcano, but still... definitely evil villain style.
  • by jcr (53032)
    About a minute after I tuned in. Bummer.

    -jcr

  • Launch scrubbed for today. Haven't heard when it will be rescheduled.

    Nick
  • They just said the launch was scrubbed due to fuel issues and they will try again tomorrow.
  • 24 or 48 hour delay, with more details coming tomorrow.
  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... t ['etz' in gap]> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:17PM (#18419083) Homepage Journal
    SpaceX just announced that the abort happened because of a glitch when handing off monitoring and control systems to the internal guidance computers, as a communcations delay resulted in a delay from the rocket. (see http://spacex.com/updates.php [spacex.com])

    The launch is back on for 4 PM PDT (-7 hours GMT).

    Let's hope that SpaceX has all of their ducks in a row on this one. This is just one of those things that happens when you have to get out of the lab and where simulations break down. Sometimes you have to actually have to fire the thing to see what happens.

    This is also why it is called "rocket science".
    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *
      Now if they would just get the webcam back up.
    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *
      According to spaceflightnow.com

      2210 GMT (6:10 p.m. EDT)

      SpaceX tells reporters that launch remains on schedule for 2300 GMT.
    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *
      and another update from spaceflightnow.com

      2220 GMT (6:20 p.m. EDT)

      "We are in a hold right now. We've got a potential RF (radio frequency) compatibility issue with the payload, which we're working through. I anticipate we will come out of the hold in about 10 or 15 minutes and get back on track," says Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX vice president of business development.

      Weather conditions are acceptable at the launch site today, she added.

      2218 GMT (6:18 p.m. EDT)

      It appears launch time has been delayed further to 00
    • by Q-Hack! (37846) *
      2230 GMT (6:30 p.m. EDT)

      The 0005 GMT (8:05 p.m. EDT) target launch time has been confirmed.

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