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Third Falcon 1 Launch May Be This Afternoon 76

ElonVonBraun writes "The web is abuzz with rumors that SpaceX will attempt its third rocket launch today. In the past two days, they have also done successful tests of their bigger, stronger rockets. When the launch does happen, sometime during this five-day window, there will be a webcast. Betting odds are that they will do it around 4PM PST."
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Third Falcon 1 Launch May Be This Afternoon

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  • Rocket Science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @10:45AM (#24447495) Journal

    I'm quite ignorant in this regard, so bear with me when I ask:
    How much of what these private companies are doing is new?

    Are they innovating in the field of rocket science or are they just re-implementing the best of 1950s & '60s technology? Because AFAIK, the biggest difference between now and then is our advances in material sciences.

  • Re:Rocket Science (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @11:08AM (#24447661)

    That's kind of like asking whether the Burj Dubai is doing anything new over the ancient Egyptians, or whether it's just advances in materials science.

    Rockets live and die on materials. Going to low-Earth orbit with a single stage requires that over 90% of your vehicle's mass be fuel. (Multiple stages helps this out, which is why it's done.) Getting the remaining 10% to be anything other than engine and fuel tank is really tough, and requires advanced designs and, you guessed it, highly advanced materials. Advances in electronics help as well, both due to taking up less mass for controllers on the vehicle, and for being able to run better simulations and use better design tools.

    In terms of stuff going out the back making the rocket go forward, there's nothing new here. But in terms of getting to space faster and cheaper, there's plenty new.

    Think of it like a 787 compared to a 707. All the fundamental principles are there, but all of the incremental improvements used on the 787 come together to give you a significantly better rocket.

    (And of course the Falcon is hardly unique in this respect; any modern rocket will benefit similarly. What is interesting about the Falcon is that it exists outside of what I'll call the military-industrial complex, for lack of a better term.)

  • Re:Major failure!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 03, 2008 @04:14AM (#24454313)

    Yeah. The problem as I understand it is that the second stage failed to seperate from the first stage. The first stage engine (the new engine design with the kerosine cooling the nozzle and delivering better performance as a result) worked perfectly. First stage seperation failed though. Its still one really big rocket coming down. This is a pity. My first bet is that they have an ice issue. I'm not talking about an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), but rather that frozen water stuff. They are launching from a small (8 acre) tropical island, part of the Marshall Islands, and pumped really cold fuel into the rocket, then pumped it all out, then pumped it all in again, then had a countdown launch, which then stopped at about 1.7 seconds, then 30 minutes more before recycling the count back to 10 minutes. It was supposed to launch at 5:00 pm my time, and didn't launch till 930 pm (my time). So the rocket had 4.5 hours for large amounts of ice to build up. I think even the problem with the final abort

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.