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NASA Space Science

SpaceX Conducts First On-Pad Test-Fire of Falcon 9 109

Posted by timothy
from the still-learning-how-to-stage-launches dept.
FleaPlus writes "On Saturday, SpaceX successfully conducted a launch dress rehearsal and on-pad test firing of their completed Falcon 9 rocket, with the 15-story tall rocket held down to prevent launch (videos). SpaceX is one of several likely competitors (ranging from the upstart Blue Origin to the more experienced Boeing) in NASA's new plans for commercial crew transportation to low-Earth orbit. SpaceX has been cleared by Cape Canaveral for the Falcon 9's first orbital launch next month, carrying a test model of the company's Dragon cargo/crew capsule, although CEO/CTO Elon Musk has cautioned that they're still in the equivalent of 'beta testing' for the first few flights."
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SpaceX Conducts First On-Pad Test-Fire of Falcon 9

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  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday March 15, 2010 @08:24AM (#31480506) Journal

    ...of getting to space by making incremental improvements in technology (and substantial cost reductions through cutting bureaucracy).

    Let NASA do the high risk/high return investments in fundamentally new technologies (aerospike engines, composite fuel tanks, hypersonic ramjets hell even laser beamed launchers or space elevators!). That, in a nutshell, is Obama's plan isn't it? To me, just a space enthusiast, it sounds good if not ideal. ("ideal" would have been to not have invaded Iraq and instead, COLONIZED Mars. They cost about the same.).

    I just don't want to someday have American astronauts make their first landing on Mars and have to order Chinese food from the restaurant there. (It's okay, they can have the Moon).

  • 15-stories? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Henriok (6762) on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:01AM (#31480802)
    I know americans have problems with units for length but really "15 story tall"? Exactly how tall is a story? I don't even know how tall a 15 story tall house is, or even that it's 15 stories tall. Does that include the ground floor or basement? Or the top floor? A penthouse, it that one or two stories and included in this measurement? Can you use "story" to measure something lying down or is everything "1 story long"? The height of a story must differ from house to house so how many stories tall is a 15 story tall house? No one knows how tall a 15 story tall house is, or that it differs from a 12 or 22 story tall house. Intuitively they are just "tall houses" and a 12 story tall house may very well be taller than a 15 story tall house. Insane! Can anyone translate this into some sane unit? And please, keep reports on scientific and technical issues scientific and technical.
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday March 15, 2010 @09:05AM (#31480842)

    Whens the IPO for spaceX?

    I check finance.google.com and its all BS paper shuffling worthless shells of a company. All either struggling, dying, living off the government teat, or all of the above. Its like watching a bad season of survivor and the only ones left on the island are the biggest crooks and cheats so you wish none of them would win.

    On the other hand, I'd like to invest in a company doing something interesting, like spacex. Even if they fail, I'd much rather throw away $$$ on a cool rocket than a bunch of thieving financial industry crooks.

    I found one article from Dec 2007 stating they might IPO in the next two years, aka Dec 2009

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0344600420071204 [reuters.com]

    So, wheres the IPO? I was reading slashdot in the Redhat IPO era and I suspect the combined slashdot readership would probably enjoy buying some SPACEX even more so than RHAT.

    If 50K slashdotters alone, each bought $1K of SPACEX at an IPO, that would be enough for one Falcon 9 launch right there.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday March 15, 2010 @10:37AM (#31481846)

    Whens the IPO for spaceX?

    I suspect Musk doesn't intend to do one. He doesn't really need the money now (though that may change when it comes time to man-rate Dragon), and giving up control of his company to someone who is only concerned with the quarterly bottom line may not appeal to him.

    Frankly, though I'd love to own some of SpaceX, I'd prefer to leave it in the control of a guy who isn't afraid to risk some of his own money for long-term gain. And don't see that it's too likely to stay that way once an IPO happens....

  • No, we are on the edge of a true space race explosion amongst the private companies similar to the net in 1992. Will we see a .com bubble? Most likely. But we will still see MANY MANY companies created and expansion of man to the stars.

    Wall Street is looking desperately for that "next big thing" and I also believe that soon money is going to be pouring from the private equity markets into spaceflight in a manner than has never happened before. Will Wall Street overdo that kind of speculation? Just like everything else that they do, but then again I think it will end up being better for the USA in the long run.

    The one thing that puts some sanity into spaceflight is that so many companies now have "bent metal" and that they have to meet that one incredibly tough obstacle in order to prove that they are capable of competing: get something into orbit

    Any company that can successfully launch their own satellites will likely have gone through a trial by fire that will imply some real engineering talent which must be in place for that to happen in the first place, unlike some of the web companies that was just a dreamer and a URL.

    On the other hand, the market for even near-Earth asteroids and lunar exploration is an untapped potential that could yield some very real financial returns that are on the order of trillions of dollars. A market that size is something also hard to pass up.

  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@@@netzero...net> on Monday March 15, 2010 @04:40PM (#31487358) Homepage Journal

    Besides, Elon Musk wants to be an astronaut, and take a flight in his own Dragon capsule at some point in the not too distant future.

    Unfortunately like D. Delos Harriman, he is likely going to be blocked by a series of lawsuits from doing so until after the company is so firmly profitable that his loss from an accident would be irrelevant to the bottom line. That is not the case that the moment with SpaceX.

    I'd have to agree with you that the IPO for SpaceX is at a minimum of 5 years away. That SpaceX is going to need the IPO is true, particularly if Elon decides to go ahead and make his Saturn V-type heavy lifter vehicle that he has been dreaming about and talked about from time to time.

    Well, that would take trying to find a market for such a heavy lifter vehicle too, but being able to send up the ISS in about 2-3 payloads would be something real cool, wouldn't it?

    The preliminary work on an engine similar to the Saturn F1 has already started quietly at SpaceX, but I have no idea if or when it will ever see the light of day. Keep in mind that the test stands at McGregor that SpaceX now owns were originally built to test the F1 engines for the Saturn V, if that gives you an idea of what kind of dream Elon may have for the future.

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