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At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video) 137

Posted by Roblimo
from the ad-astra-per-aspera dept.
Tuesday morning at 0344, right on schedule (and it had to be right on schedule), Elon Musk's baby finally left the launch pad on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Two babies, actually: the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is what we watched as it took off from Cape Canaveral -- the first private spaceship headed for the ISS -- with the Dragon spacecraft perched on its nose. The Dragon carried over 1000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the ISS. The launch went off without a hitch. But don't stop holding your breath quite yet; Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.
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At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship Takes Off (Video)

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  • Popping sound (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:00PM (#40081701)

    After watching both this and Copenhagen Suborbital's launch, I noticed that the rockets seem to "pop" at a few Hz. I don't recall hearing this on NASA launches, does anyone know why this is?

    • by medcalf (68293) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:04PM (#40081741) Homepage
      Well they can't rap, silly!
    • Re:Popping sound (Score:4, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:18PM (#40081827)

      I haven't watched the video yet, but when I was present for one of the shuttle launches a few years ago there was a point when it was pretty high when the sound definitely started "popping". It was fairly high by that point, so the sound was traveling quite a distance and was mostly the low frequencies by the time it got to us, but the popping was clearly noticeable.

    • by poity (465672)

      It happens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuzuWmno-X8 [youtube.com] (1:35 mark)
      Don't know why though, but since it's the same sound at low speed as well as high speed it's probably from the engines.

    • Re:Popping sound (Score:5, Informative)

      by ThreeKelvin (2024342) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:31PM (#40081905)

      If you mean the "popping noise" the TM65 engine that Copenhagen Suborbitals testet made at startup, then it was a bit of engine oscilations. It's most likely caused by the engine being run at a low fuel pressure. The fuel will ignite in the ignition chamber, causing the pressure to rise, giving a higher exhaust flow, causing the pressure to drop, giving less exhaust flow, resulting in more fuel in the ignition chamber, that ignites, ...

      At higher fuel pressures the oscilations are dampened. (But they do sound awsome!)

      I don't know if that's the case with SpaceX's Falcon, but I'm pretty sure that if they have engine oscilations it's nothing they can't handle.

    • by longacre (1090157) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:36PM (#40081945) Homepage
      NASA probably used special $3 billion taxpayer-funded microphones for their launches, whereas cost-conscious SpaceX bought theirs at Best Buy.
    • by slew (2918)

      After watching both this and Copenhagen Suborbital's launch, I noticed that the rockets seem to "pop" at a few Hz. I don't recall hearing this on NASA launches, does anyone know why this is?

      I'm not sure, but I've heard antecdotally from some people that are more knowledgable that these frequencies result from some collision/mixing of the hypersonic exhaust with the surrounding still air. If it were actually something in the rocket, say like low frequency combustion instability in the rocket engine itself (aka chugging), I'm guessing that would shake the rocket to bits. AFAIK, chugging tends to be more in the 20-200Hz range, not really low frequency like a few Hz...

      Maybe on NASA launches they

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FWIW, the space shots of the 60's, as I remember them, used to "pop". Back then I just thought it was a limitation of the audio hardware in use at the time.

    • Well, one possibility is that the sound waves are cancelling each other out. At the speed the rocket is travelling, the source of the sound is travelling at rates near equivalent to the wavelength of the sound. For example, at 20 hz, the sound waves are 17ish metres long. Travelling at 612 km/h, in 1/20th of a second, the rocket could have travelled half a wavelength away. Essentially, the popping you hear could be extreme Doppler shifting.

      Of course, it could also be that burning over a thousand of
  • by bobstreo (1320787) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:02PM (#40081723)

    Scotty is on board.

  • One Rocket, TWO takeoffs! [slashdot.org]
  • I'm assuming the noise is more due to the mic cutting out than actual sound that the rocket made. Are there mics that can capture the roar, so it can be played back in DTS? :)

    • by electron sponge (1758814) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:34PM (#40081939)

      I'm assuming the noise is more due to the mic cutting out than actual sound that the rocket made. Are there mics that can capture the roar, so it can be played back in DTS? :)

      They should have used Monster Cables.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yes. using real microphones that use 48Volt phantom power it would have done a great job at it. Problem is Slashdot's budget is $12.50 and they cant hire anyone that is experienced or skilled in video, so they have to learn as they go.

      Buy a real field mixer, some real microphones (like a shotgun on a boom with an audio person) and record to a audio recorder and not to the $200.00 camcorder.

      they really need to spend about $3500.00 on some real gear (if your video camera does not have XLR mic inputs, it's n

      • by Roblimo (357)

        Reality = the $800 Panasonic camcorder and Azden shotgun mic + Audio-Technica wireless lav & handhelds that are the Slashdot standard video gear are at least as good as a Canon XH A1, which was the high-def successor to the XL1.

        XLR mic inputs are only really necessary if you're dealing with music and need big audio bandwidth. And nowadays, you might as well use a Zoom H4 for sound, and it will provide phantom power and give you two channels of directional sound through external mics plus 2 channels of a

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          The issue is that you NEED a high voltage swing to record a very loud noise. Be it a rock concert or a rocket launch. the Azden shotgun you guys use probably runs off of a single AA battery, so it will never record high dynamic range audio like a rocket launch. I agree the Zoom H4 is a perfect direction, add a clapper board for every scene and audio sync will be effortless. Although you could add a AG-MYA30G from Panasonic to fix the camera and power the microphones with more "oomph"... The XL1's succ

    • The engine popping sound is audible when you're present for a launch, that microphone was actually pretty good quality. That's generally what it sounded like when I saw a shuttle go up.

  • But don't stop holding your breath quite yet

    ...the lawyers wanted us to pass on that they advise against issuing this command to your online minions.

  • An accounting marvel (Score:5, Informative)

    by linuxwrangler (582055) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:21PM (#40081839)

    A commenter on NPR today made an interesting point. There is a lot of talk about "first private..." but NASA has relied heavily on private industry since the beginning. Lockheed Martin, Morton Thaikol, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell Colllins, Teledyne, Honeywell, Kodak, Perkin-Elmer.........

    And Falcon launched from a government built/owned/maintained launch-site.

    What *is* different is the accounting. Instead of a bevy of cost-plus contracts there is now a single-point fixed-cost provider which, surprise surprise, seems to be able to deliver at a much lower cost/kg.

    And no, this does not detract from their accomplishment. Getting to space is still difficult and risky. Congratulations to everyone involved regardless of who writes their paychecks.

    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:36PM (#40081947)

      I think the other difference is that the company built the vehicle without providing the design spec. A private company built a product as best as it could instead of delivering a product 'to-spec'. Which admittedly to-spec has created some great vehicles like the Delta-IV. And a Delta-IV isn't *that* much more expensive to launch. We just didn't pay for its design and testing this time.

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:10PM (#40082155)

        Delta-IV is about 3x as expensive to launch as the Falcon 9. Delta-IV is pretty much the most expensive way to put things in orbit now that the shuttle is gone.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          In spite of the cost of the Delta IV, it is still cheaper than the Space Shuttle, and arguably similar in price if not cheaper than the Saturn vehicles were in inflation-adjusted prices from the 1970's.

          On the whole, I really like the EELV program, and it was something not only necessary for the national security of America but remarkably well managed as well. Notable too is that NASA wasn't even involved (at least directly) with the program as it was paid for through the USAF budget. The fact that we can

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      There is a lot of talk about "first private..." but NASA has relied heavily on private industry since the beginning. Lockheed Martin, Morton Thaikol, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell Colllins

      Who relies on whom?

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yeah, nothing NASA launched was built by NASA. All of it was built by private companies and sold to them for use.

      It's all PR. I'll call it Commercial when they launch from their facility and have a paypal for me to pay for each KG of payload I want to send up in LEO.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        It's all PR. I'll call it Commercial when they launch from their facility and have a paypal for me to pay for each KG of payload I want to send up in LEO.

        Ask, and ye shall receive [nanoracks.com]

        Seriously, this has been happening already. I'm sure Nanoracks will accept most major credit cards and PayPal if you insist. They charge about $25,000 for a "1 unit" or "1 U" rack mount system with a few variables depending on the mass of the system and a few other factors that you can negotiate on the website. At the moment their customers are all going to the International Space Station, and included in the contract allows you to have an astronaut perform in-orbit servicing of

    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @07:13PM (#40082173) Journal

      In the past, the vehicles have been turned over to NASA (or other relevant space agency) whereas here, SpaceX has maintained ownership of the launch vehicle and capsule. It's one of the reasons that NASA has been so paranoid over the launch is because it has less direct control of it.

      • In the past, the vehicles have been turned over to NASA (or other relevant space agency)

        Only if they were purchased by NASA (or other relevant space agency). Otherwise, they (or their launch capacity) went to the whoever was writing the checks. NASA isn't the only game in town, and hasn't been for decades. Private vehicles carrying private payloads have been taking off for decades.

        • But none have docked with another vehicle (or at least a station) in orbit. That's the first here: a government agency is allowing a completely private craft to dock with a space station. Such docking may--and hopefully will--become commonplace with at least SpaceX and Orbital Sciences providing cargo runs (the first ISS mission for Orbital Sciences is scheduled for the fall).

          • The government has worked with private agencies pretty much since it's founding. Heck, a private company handle assembling and dissembling nuclear weapons for the government.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @08:57PM (#40082669)

      Yeah, you could call Lockheed Martin, Morton Thaikol, Boeing,, et al "private companies", but I think the difference is that none of them would suck a deep breath without a government contract signed, sealed and delivered.

      SpaceX designed, built and tested their Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft on their own dime.

      Yes, I know NASA provided some funding, but that was extra funding. You can bet Elon Musk would have funded the whole thing himself if he had to.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:19PM (#40082751) Homepage Journal

        AC gets it right.

        Also, add in that SpaceX is willing to eat any cost overruns. The other "private companies" (government contractors are no such thing) continue to demand additional funds if there are cost overruns.

        When SpaceX is allowed to have their own spaceport, and they're launching a new rocket every day of the week for five years straight to meet demand for a $500,000 trip to Mars, NASA won't even be in the picture.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I don't see SpaceX coughing up the $$$ to rebuild the ISS if they crash into it during the docking procedure.

          • by khallow (566160)
            Why should they? Most of the parties vastly overpaid for the ISS. If I spent a billion dollars for a beat up 1976 Chevy Impala, insurance isn't going to pay a billion to cover me.

            And for NASA, if SpaceX or another private competitor can't dock, then there isn't much value in the ISS except as a funding vehicle for the Russian Space Agency.
          • by Teancum (67324)

            I don't see SpaceX coughing up the $$$ to rebuild the ISS if they crash into it during the docking procedure.

            Actually, SpaceX was required to take out an insurance policy on their rocket to pay for any incidental damage that their vehicle might cause. I'm sure that damage to the International Space Station would be covered under this policy.

            The financial incentive for SpaceX to avoid doing something like that is two fold though: first, their insurance rates would go through the roof and make subsequent flights uneconomical, and second, the rest of the COTS flights would likely be cancelled as well (with the bulk

    • What *is* different is the accounting. Instead of a bevy of cost-plus contracts there is now a single-point fixed-cost provider which, surprise surprise, seems to be able to deliver at a much lower cost/kg.

      Than what? Apollo? The Space Shuttle? Soyuz?2010s technology is more efficient than 1960s and 1970s technology. Who da thunk it?

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Of course NASA relies on the expertise from those industries. Why not? Why re-invent the wheel? On the other hand NASA had the funds, and could take the huge risks, of developing space technology without any known benefits - without even knowing whether it'd be possible.

      Also those private companies have the means to actually build stuff. They have the know-how and the tools to put stuff together, so when NASA develops a design, they hire someone to build it for them.

      On the other hand, companies like SpaceX

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship..."

    Uhh, didn't all the money come from NASA???

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      "At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship..."

      Uhh, didn't all the money come from NASA???

      Shhh. You're going to soft-boil all the free market hard-ons.

    • by arose (644256)
      No, silly. The private sector is perfectly willing to put their record profits in line to further a high risk venture with uncertain returns since the tech is well understood. Why the only reason that it was not the private sector that launched Sputnik is because the Soviets didn't have a private sector!
      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Sputnik was a hollowed out ICBM warhead. I can only guess the political reasoning behind doing what they did, besides national pride/one-upsmanship.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          Sputnik was a hollowed out ICBM warhead. I can only guess the political reasoning behind doing what they did, besides national pride/one-upsmanship.

          I don't think people in 1957 (especially members of the United States Congress at the time or the Eisenhower administration) missed the political message of what Sputnik meant, including the fact that it was a nuclear warhead casing. In fact you can get congressional hearing transcripts which will tell you exactly what they thought that message implied. Those senators and representatives weren't shy about expressing their opinions on the matter.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, Elon Musk has put in about $100M of his own money, with another odd $100M from other private investors. They've gotten some money from DARPA, deposits on future launches. NASA has kicked in $400M or so, but that has been based entirely on milestones successfully achieved

    • Private, public, who cares?

      What matters is that we keep it going.

    • "At Long Last, a Private Cargo Spaceship..."

      Uhh, didn't all the money come from NASA???

      No, actually it didn't.

      NASA ponied up some money when they did the COTS idea (and will pony up more when SPaceX starts regular cargo flights to the ISS next year), but SpaceX had been developing Falcon 1 & 9 and Dragon before NASA got involved.

  • Not bad, Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:24PM (#40081861) Homepage Journal
    • Using video for action, text for info. Check.
    • Very little "talking heads". Check
    • Geek interest. Check
    • Short, and to the point. Check

    Not bad. That's the way to do video.

    • Agreed - and also not much to transcribe as a result.

      -----

      Title: "Fourth Time's a Charm" - The SpaceX Falcon Finally Gets Off the Ground
      Description: It's been a long time coming, but a private spaceship is finally heading for the International Space Station. Yay!

      00:00 TITLE
      A shot of Timothy Lord in front of the countdown clock at Cape Canaveral is shown.

      00:00) Countdown voice guy
      7 minutes

      00:01) Timothy
      As you can see from the countdown clock behind me, it's now just under 7 minutes until the historic SpaceX

    • by ErZo (852114)
      All system checks cleared! Ready for takeoff!

      Yeah, this video was a lot better than the previous ones! Only thing that I personally miss is a subtitle track/transcription, but that's a side order :-)
  • Downloadable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vanyel (28049) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:29PM (#40081895) Journal

    Tsk Tsk for slashdot of all places to embed video that's not at least compatible with downloadhelper so one can download the video and watch it on a decent screen without strbuffering: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMu_x7zcTrs [youtube.com]

  • Details (Score:5, Informative)

    by optimism (2183618) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @06:31PM (#40081907)

    For the minority of /. readers who care about the details, I highly recommend downloading the COTS 2 Press Kit from SpaceX.
    It provides tons of details and graphics describing the mission objectives, schedule, cargo manifest, vehicle specs, and much more...

    http://www.spacex.com/downloads/COTS-2-Press-Kit-5-14-12.pdf [spacex.com]

    (I am not affiliated with SpaceX, but I like what they are doing)

  • Nothing is like watching a rocket launch at night. fantastic experience.

  • SpaceX has come a long way. I believe this launch will go down in history. Great job!
  • Wow, two launches in one day. That's amaz..

    Nevermind.

  • (You'd better get the reference :)

  • It isn't docking. (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZankerH (1401751) on Wednesday May 23, 2012 @02:42AM (#40084493)

    Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.

    The Dragon isn't capable of docking, it has to be grappled by the station's robotic arm and berthed to a common berthing port. It is scheduled to receive an upgrade that enables it to use docking ports in the future, but on this flight, it's berthing, not docking.

    • by bulletman (254401)
      The dragon cargo isn't capable of docking. The crewed dragon will be capable of docking though.
  • The launch went off without a hitch.

    Not so: There have been several launch date delays since the mission was announced, most recently on 19 May 2012, due to a launch abort during the last second before liftoff. [wikipedia.org]

    Maybe *this* launch went fine but that doesn't mean the mission launched on time and without a hitch.

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