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Space Transportation Technology

SpaceX Boosts Malaysian Satellite Into Orbit 71

Posted by timothy
from the congratulations-to-mister-musk dept.
Soychemist writes "On the same day that yet another shuttle launch was postponed, SpaceX successfully carried a Malaysian satellite, RazakSAT, into orbit. This is the second successful launch in a row for Elon Musk's space exploration startup. Later this year the company will launch its larger Falcon 9 rocket, which could be used to carry cargo to the International Space Station. RazakSAT was designed by ATSB and carries a high resolution camera. If it is intact, the satellite will take photographs of Earth that could be used to better manage natural resources."
Adds xp65: "The satellite was separated from the Falcon 1 about 48 minutes after liftoff at 3:35 GMT (11:35 pm EDT). The orbit is 685 km and 9 degrees inclination. Launch was delayed several times due to a faulty helium valve on the ground and bad weather at the launch site at Kwajalein. This was the fifth flight of the Falcon 1 rocket, with the last two flights being succesful. Later this year the inaugural flight of the larger Falcon 9 rocket is planned from Cape Canaveral."
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SpaceX Boosts Malaysian Satellite Into Orbit

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  • RazakSAT (Score:5, Funny)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:08AM (#28689725) Homepage Journal
    RazakSAT!
    Well, how 'bout that?
    Truly a moment to savor.
    In the lee of the Earth she's a hairy boar,
    But by light she's a hell of a shaver [teamone.de].
    Burma Shave
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's start a commercial space station. First, connect a module to the ISS. Then, when those idiots plan to burn it down in 2016 via re-entry, disconnect it and start a new space station with that single module.

    • by StCredZero (169093) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:37AM (#28690127)

      Let's start a commercial space station. First, connect a module to the ISS. Then, when those idiots plan to burn it down in 2016 via re-entry, disconnect it and start a new space station with that single module.

      The Space Shuttle external tanks are the close to the size of a 747 hull and have to make it to orbit with the Shuttle. (Otherwise it would run out of fuel!) Also, they contain hydrogen and O2, which evaporate completely, leaving an empty, non-toxic hull capable of supporting atmospheric pressures. Lots of people have proposed using them as the basis of really large space stations.

      http://www.freemars.org/studies/torus/ettoru2.html [freemars.org]

      • by CRCulver (715279)

        Lots of people have proposed using them as the basis of really large space stations.

        In his trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] Kim Stanley Robinson proposes using them as the basis of a vehicle that could deliver a substantial amount of colonist to Mars and give them enough space to be happy over the long journey.

        • Yeah, because an inch or two of aluminum is going to shield people really well from ass tons of radiat6ion.

          • If you store the LOX/LH2 propellants outside the ship, the fuel acts as shielding. Space radiation problems are overrated.
            • by Rei (128717)

              Space radiation problems are overrated.

              And how do you arrive at that conclusion? The Apollo astronauts repeatedly saw flashes of light on their trip from cosmic rays impacting on their retinas. This is no trivial amount of radiation. And if you face a strong radiation storm without a very well shielded shelter, the crew won't even reach their destination alive. Literally. You *have* to shield against solar radiation. As for GCR, while it's a lower dose, it's incredibly hard to shield against, but if y

          • by techess (1322623)

            Is and ass ton like a troy ounce?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ankhank (756164) *

        > Shuttle external tanks ... have to make it to orbit with the Shuttle.
        > (Otherwise it would run out of fuel!)

        Yeah, that's why there are so many of them up there in orbit now, one per successful Shuttle launch. They have to keep sending up more fuel to deorbit the damned things so they don't bump into each other.

        Oh, wait, wrong universe. In this one:

        "When more than 97 percent of orbital speed is attained, the ET is detached from the Shuttle Orbiter and directed to cross Earth's atmosphere to burn up

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by icebrain (944107)

          They deliberately shut down just a hair early to make sure the tank re-enters where they want it to. The shuttle could easily bring the tank all the way to orbit, albeit at a slight payload hit.

          Well, that, and there's also the problem of having to recompute the launch trajectory a bit, and having to figure out some way to maneuver the tank after it's jettisoned.

          So yeah. It's not done now, but it could have been done relatively easily had it been desired.

          • by Rei (128717)

            Not at "a slight payload hit". To get the ET up to a reasonable altitude where it won't deorbit shortly would take pretty much the entire OMS fuel budget.

            There have been some interesting proposals to use the ETs as the backbone of a station, but they've never made it past review.

            • by srvivn21 (410280)

              Not at "a slight payload hit". To get the ET up to a reasonable altitude where it won't deorbit shortly would take pretty much the entire OMS fuel budget.

              According to the link provided by the parent of the post you replied to, the ET is jettisoned at >97% of orbital velocity. Perhaps I am mistaken (it certainly wouldn't be the first time) but that indicates to me a (relatively) small additional fuel requirement to bring the ET fully to orbital velocity.

              There have been some interesting proposals to use the ETs as the backbone of a station, but they've never made it past review.

              For political or practical reasons? :o)

              • by Rei (128717)

                Perhaps I am mistaken (it certainly wouldn't be the first time) but that indicates to me a (relatively) small additional fuel requirement to bring the ET fully to orbital velocity.

                The OMS only has 305m/s delta-V (getting to LEO generally takes 9-10k, depending on aero drag), and much of that OMS delta-V is needed to deorbit. The Space Shuttle is rated to take 25,000kg payload to LEO. Since the ET has a massive cross section, it'd need to be a high LEO, at least as high as the ISS. The original ET was ove

                • by khayman80 (824400)

                  I'm sorry for being offtopic, but I don't know how to reach you except via a Slashdot comment.

                  I just wrote a brief article [dumbscientist.com] on climate change that quotes some of your insightful and helpful comments to me in the past.

                  I'm scared that this article will be filled up with rude people insulting me, or (MUCH worse) acolytes blindly believing in whatever I say. So if you see any mistakes in my reasoning or have any questions, please leave a comment at the form at the VERY bottom of the page. I'd like for the first

      • The Space Shuttle external tanks ... make it to orbit with the Shuttle.

        The external tank (ET) does not make it into orbit. It is dropped beforehand. The two orbital maneuvering systems' (OMS) engines [howstuffworks.com], located in pods on either side of the tail, place the shuttle into final orbit.
        • Oops, forgot the critical bit. The fuel for the OMS engines is stored in INTERNAL tanks, and is not supplied by the ET. The SSMEs do get shut down when the ET is jettisoned.
      • by Phoghat (1288088)

        Andy Hardy: Hey guys how are we going to raise money to help the orphanage?

        I know, let's build a space station, and give a show. We can charge $200,000 a ticket and save Sister Mary's kids!

    • Better still, the day before they plan to de-orbit send a propulsion module to the ISS, hijack it and boost it to a higher orbit and then send a commando astronaut in to disconnect it from NASA communications systems and take the thing over for your own purposes.

      Claim that you want to re-cycle it int he name of earth and blame greenpeace.

    • by Megane (129182)
      Yeah, that's a good idea. [slashdot.org] Aren't you glad you're the first to think of it?
    • by drgould (24404)

      Let's start a commercial space station. First, connect a module to the ISS. Then, when those idiots plan to burn it down in 2016 via re-entry, disconnect it and start a new space station with that single module.

      The biggest problem from a space development point of view is that the ISS's orbit has too high an inclination.

      So it's useless as a waystation for flights to geosync orbit, the moon or mars, which is where all the interesting stuff is. Anything you attach to ISS is going to have the same problem.

      What

  • Launch video (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeti (105266) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:25AM (#28689953) Homepage

    The Wired article [wired.com] also embeds the complete launch video.

  • by Big Smirk (692056) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:26AM (#28689987)

    Yes, I know, its good to make fun of NASA and its shuttle program.

    I guess it doesn't take long for the public to remember that the space shuttle carries humans and thus is subject to a completely different set of requirements. Loose a Malaysian satellite - who cares, they are insured (BTW the insurance rate is of course based in part on the success/failure rate).

    Not to mention the shuttle is in a completely different payload class, and more importantly, it is used with hundreds of thousands of miles on the air frame.

    From the bottom of the article "Now 0-for-3, SpaceXâ(TM)s Elon Musk Vows to Make Orbit". While the shuttle has had its failures, its record is slightly better.

    Yes, Soychemist, you are an ass.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kaiser423 (828989)
      Well, that whole human rated thing, and the fact that SpaceX launched from Kwaj atoll in the Pacific where the storm that's over Florida isn't.

      NO ONE launches satellites into known lightning storms, and if there had been a storm over Kwaj they would have scrubbed also. In fact, they did have to wait for rain showers to pass.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        NO ONE launches satellites into known lightning storms, and if there had been a storm over Kwaj they would have scrubbed also. In fact, they did have to wait for rain showers to pass.

        Not to mention the launch scrub followed by a three-month delay [hobbyspace.com] due to the fact that they were worried about the vibration environment of the launch damaging the satellite and decided to do a new engineering analysis.

        Which was the right thing to do, of course. If you're not sure, don't launch.

        Nevertheless, when NASA delays a launch to do a safety check, everybody complains how incompetent they are. When Space-X delays, everybody praises them for being cautious.

        Still: Good job! Keep up the good work!

        • Nevertheless, when NASA delays a launch to do a safety check, everybody complains how incompetent they are. When Space-X delays, everybody praises them for being cautious.

          As I've long said - NASA just can't win. Delay for safety, and they're incompetent. Don't delay, and they're reckless.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FleaPlus (6935)

          Nevertheless, when NASA delays a launch to do a safety check, everybody complains how incompetent they are. When Space-X delays, everybody praises them for being cautious.

          The difference is that SpaceX's delays have been due to them trying out a totally brand-new rocket design and launch support system. The Space Shuttle, on the other hand, has been around for quite a while, and most of the delays (besides the weather-related ones) are due to the inherent technical finickiness of the Shuttle design. And of course, most of the weather-related delays can be blamed on the fact that it's a ground-based launch system situated in the thunderstorm capital of the US.

          SpaceX's launch p

          • SpaceX is also using a brand-new rocket, recently designed and based off of all the technical expertise gained through decades of experience because of the groundwork NASA laid.

            The shuttles are the first and only shuttles ever designed, and are decades old.

            Just to make sure we have the car analogy: This is like complaining the owner of an original Model T won't drive in the same conditions the owner of a F150 will.

        • by FleaPlus (6935)

          Not to mention the launch scrub followed by a three-month delay [hobbyspace.com] due to the fact that they were worried about the vibration environment of the launch damaging the satellite and decided to do a new engineering analysis.

          From the same site you cited, it's interesting to note that the delay was so long because SpaceX was prohibited by ITAR regulations from simply adjusting the satellite:

          http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=13078 [hobbyspace.com]

          Technicians discovered the satellite and the Falcon 1 upper stage rocket share a nearly identical vibrational mode, which could set up a damaging resonance. SpaceX is bound by ITAR restrictions from assisting with any technical problems on the foreign-owned payload, so the company delayed the launch to add some vibration isolation equipment between the rocketâ(TM)s upper stage and the payload adapter.

          âoeThe easiest thing would actually be to make some adjustment to the satellite . . . but thatâ(TM)s not allowed,â Musk says.

    • by Waste55 (1003084)
      Not to mention that some people are even shelling out extra millions (about 68 million in this case) just to NOT use SpaceX.

      http://www.space.com/news/090713-busmon-spacex-customer.html [space.com]
    • by jeti (105266)

      The Falcon 9, which shares most of its technology with the Falcon 1, is going to be rated for human transport. The goal for it is to service the ISS in combination with the Dragon space capsule. The cargo version of Dragon will be used for a few years before SpaceX introduces the manned system.

      • by Macrat (638047)

        The cargo version of Dragon will be used for a few years before SpaceX introduces the manned system.

        By that time, the ISS will have been de-orbited.

        • Not necessarily. ESA and the Russians want the station up until at least 2020.
        • by Rei (128717)

          By that time, the ISS will have been de-orbited.

          Their current schedule, while IMHO overly ambitious, is to have an empty Dragon dock with the ISS in 2010, with crew delivery to follow on later missions.

          SpaceX certainly aims to beat Ares 1 for a tiny fraction of the development and per-launch costs. And they may well succeed.

    • Correct me if i'm wrong, but don't the "human-rated" flights of the space shuttle have similar failure ratios to the "non-human rated"... I know that a lot more satellites have gone up than people, and I think Richard Feynman called NASA on this fallacy back during his research after Challenger [wikipedia.org].

      NASA mitigates risk with about the same degree of effect in both human and non-human flights. The added engineering and checks are simply due to the antiquated and flawed design of the shuttle (I'm a fan of the sh
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 0123456 (636235)

      Yes, I know, its good to make fun of NASA and its shuttle program.

      I guess it doesn't take long for the public to remember that the space shuttle carries humans and thus is subject to a completely different set of requirements. Loose a Malaysian satellite - who cares, they are insured (BTW the insurance rate is of course based in part on the success/failure rate)

      You just answered your own question: If a rocket isn't safe enough to carry humans, it's not safe enough to carry a billion-dollar satellite without paying a large fraction of a billion dollars in insurance premiums.

      'Human-rating' is mostly bogus: the primary difference between a satellite launcher and a 'human-rated' launcher is that there's no abort system on a satellite launcher so if you're going to lose the payload anyway you might as well just crash and burn. A human-launching system needs to ensure t

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        You just answered your own question: If a rocket isn't safe enough to carry humans, it's not safe enough to carry a billion-dollar satellite without paying a large fraction of a billion dollars in insurance premiums.

        'Human-rating' is mostly bogus: the primary difference between a satellite launcher and a 'human-rated' launcher is that there's no abort system on a satellite launcher so if you're going to lose the payload anyway you might as well just crash and burn. A human-launching system needs to ensure t

        • by Rei (128717)

          What's exceptional about SpaceX is that it's essentially a from-scratch system. They were able to take advantage of all that we've learned that we've done wrong with rocket design over the past century -- hence their impressive performance and low cost. Sea Launch just launches slightly modified Zenit rockets, which are modified Energia boosters. The Pegasus by OSC is closer to being a fully privately developed rocket, but they were fully funded by NASA (instead of just winning a COTS contract but mostly

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          And yes, there is an abort mechanism on these vehicles. Except in a "human rated" one, abort means returning them safely to earth. Aborting a satellite launch means blowing it up into little pieces.

          Which isn't an abort mechanism.

          An abort mechanism would be a big parachute to return your satellite to Earth for relaunch, as you can do with a human crew in a capsule; if you have such a thing, then you need to ensure that your launcher will give you the opportunity to use it when something bad happens. If you don't, then you just blow it up because your payload is trash, anyway.

          Similarly, if you can still get your humans into a safe orbit if two engines fail, then having a two-engine-out capability on you

        • Falcon 1 contains something of an abort mechanism. Half a second after launch a diagnostics check is done and if anything looks wrong the mission is aborted and the rocket remains on the ground. This protects the payload from being destroyed if the rocket does not fire exactly as expected.

    • ...but all those private space programs got a huge boost from the decades of NASA doing experiments in the first place.
      To the point where I think even nowaday, nobody would care to even think about investing in space exploration.

      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        ...but all those private space programs got a huge boost from the decades of NASA doing experiments in the first place.

        And that's precisely how it should be: NASA exploring the frontier and pioneering new technologies, and after those technologies have been initially tested private industry then takes them and makes them into cost-effective systems. It's amazing that it took so long for this to happen, but I'm glad that a company like SpaceX is finally doing it. Of course, NASA hasn't still quite gotten the message, and is still keen on trying to compete with the already-existing launch systems with their Ares I.

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      I dont think they're really making fun of the shuttle here, its expressing frustration... and even then barely more than just expressing the facts. Anyone who pays much attention knows that the Florida weather patterns are bad for launches this time of the year, and SpaceX will face the same problems whenever it gets around to launching the Falcon 9 from Florida.

      As you say the Falcon 1 and the Shuttle are so different its hard to make comparisons. Ones still a highly experimental new low-cost launcher for

    • by Phoghat (1288088)

      Not to mention that the Shuttle as in existence now, bears no relationship to the shuttle that was envisioned.

      The phrase "Close enough for government work" does not exist for no reason. And oh yeah, shuttles blow up real good too.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:27AM (#28689997)

    In a blow to the domestic economy, American defense contractors have re-adjusted their bids. In light of new competition, next generation shuttle toilet seats will now only cost US$20,000. It's all Elon's fault.

  • Wow, that video of the launch was awesome! There's still stuff that can make my jaw drop. Its a testament to the technical prowess of the USA and the engineers working at SpaceX, this really is the future. On a side note, with more commerical players sucessfully entering the low earth orbit launch business, space junk pollution will come a real big problem in the next decade. Time to launch a space garbage truck!
  • What we need is a bootstrap launch of Project Orion. Use the nuke propulsion to orbit the steel plates, shock absorbers and what-not needed to build a score of Orions in orbit. Then in short order we could have a fully equipped lunar base; a real space station in Earth orbit; and Orions heading out to Mars and the asteroid belt.

    All it would take is one, or at the most two launches from Earth using the cleanest 20 kiloton bombs we can devise, and we could be on our way to building a generation ship to explor

    • by Rei (128717)

      1) Orion launched from the surface is essentially a no-go; the amount of contamination and then the EMPs is simply unworkable.

      2) Orion is obsolete; it's been superceded by better atomic bomb-based designs that are more efficient, lighter weight, and expose the crew to less radiation and shock. For example, Medusa. The paradigm is inversed -- instead of being pushed by the bombs, you're pulled. The spacecraft trails way behind a "parachute" that the bombs are detonated under. The tethers and "chute" itse

  • by toby (759) *

    Ya know, the best way to 'manage' natural resources is to leave them the fuck alone. Better yet, stop calling them 'resources' and start calling them our heritage or a term that reflects the irreplaceability and sacredness of everything we are currently destroying as fast as we can.

    If this satellite helps us leave the Amazon and every other piece of threatened Nature alone, well great, but we already know who's destroying it (our lifestyle is funding it) and where (everywhere), why (greed), and how (corrupt

    • by ScentCone (795499)
      Ya know, the best way to 'manage' natural resources is to leave them the fuck alone

      Excellent idea. So, you're suggesting that all of the humans in the world are rounded up into spots on the planet that do not have natural resources (like, dirt, plants, or water - you know, resources), and have them stand perfectly still until they die. Of course, 6 billion rotting corpses will impact the local natural resources... hmmm. Maybe make some sort of oven or something to cook them all in, and the very last pers
  • From the Wired article:

    Before that breakthrough, the company lost a Malaysian satellite deployment system along with the ashes of actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on Star Trek, and an inexpensive NASA satellite.

    That's what I get for not reading every day [slashdot.org].

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      Only a small portion of the ashes were aboard. The organization that does these services only uses a little bit, knowing full well that the trip may not succeed.

  •   Milestones. "licks finger, chalks imaginary blackboard"

        Way to go, SpaceX. Kudos to the team.

    SB
     

  • >> On the same day that yet another shuttle launch was postponed...

    So, the private sector can now control the weather? Storms in Florida are keeping the Shuttle on the pad this week. If Elon Musk was launching a vehicle with people and it was storming at the launch site, he'd postpone, too. Go ask him what would happen to his fortune if he launched his first manned vehicle on a stormy day and lost the crew.

    In terms of manned flight, the private sector is 40 years behind.

  • so are they gonna reuse the first stage? did they put a parachute on it this time, unlike last time?

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