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SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch 111

SpaceX's first regular launch to the International Space Station is set to go off at 8:35 (Eastern time) Sunday evening; the first SpaceX launch to successfully reach the ISS was more of a test, though it did bring some goodies to the crew. Wired has a live video feed in place. Slashdot reader Lee Sheridan is in Florida for the launch; if you're one of the billion Facebook users, his photos of the mission briefing and Falcon 9 lift vehicle being lifted to vertical are public. The SpaceX twitter feed might be fun to watch, too. Update: 10/08 00:09 GMT by T : Bonus points for intelligent parsing of the acronym-laden communications on the live feed.
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SpaceX Dragon Set To Launch

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  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:03PM (#41580047) Journal

    Slashdot... It's the website I watch like a hawk, so that I can find out about live events, 5 minutes before they happen (if I'm really, really lucky).

    • by timothy ( 36799 ) Works for Slashdot

      Hey, this time you got an extra half hour ;)

      I'm watching this projected on my wall -- not quite as good as being there, but exciting anyhow. Maybe should open my windows and crank up the volume, so the neighborhood gets to hear those engines roar ...


      • Is it kind of sad that I'm hoping the launch is scrubbed till Thursday, when I'll be down in the Cape Canaveral area? I've watched launches from there before while visiting my grandparents; I'd like to catch another one...

    • by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:15PM (#41580123) Homepage

      Yeah they got this one in with some time to spare. T-21m as I'm writing this.

      And it looks like wired's embedded ustream feed isn't working... so there's this: []

    • Did your hawk eyes miss the SpaceX story [or was stories?] yesterday?

      I'm watching the video stream now because I found the SpaceX live blog because I found out about the launch on Slashdot yesterday.

    • Do the simple math:

      SpaceX is being paid by NASA $1,600,000,000 to launch 12 vehicles to the International Space Station, each of which carries 2,000lbs of cargo. Total contract pays them $1,600,000,000 to carry 24,000lbs of cargo to the International Space Station. The Space Shuttle carried 28,000lbs to the International Space Station for about $400 million per launch.

      We could have flown the shuttle once a year for 1/4th the cost, gotten more payload to orbit, and have gotten crew to the ISS. For 1/2 t
      • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

        There are other costs in there. The quoted price for a Falcon 9 launch fully loaded is $54 million, while NASA is paying $133 million per launch. I suspect the extra costs involve extra requirements NASA has placed on the missions, as well as the inclusion and operation of Dragon. Considering the launch capacity of a v1.0 Falcon 9, which is lower than the weight of a fully loaded Dragon, they can lift (with Dragon) 10,581 lbs of cargo per launch, giving a potential cost to NASA of $12,601 per pound. The spa

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:34AM (#41581701)
        Wikipedia says [] Falcon 9's payload to LEO (low earth orbit) is 29,000 pounds (not 2000 lbs). LEO is up to 1,200 miles [], whereas the ISS orbits at 205 to 255 miles []. (The 10,700 lb capacity mentioned by the other reply is for geosynchronous orbit which is FAR higher and not where the ISS lives.)

        This turns your calculations on their head; both vehicles have more capacity than NASA wants for servicing the ISS, and the Falcon 9 is (already) only 1/4 the cost of the (very mature) shuttle per launch.

        I am wondering what Falcon 9's success rate will be though. They've only had a few launches. Surely one will blow up sooner or later.

        • There's a bit of a difference.

          Falcon 9 can carry 29,000 pounds to LEO. However, there is only so much space inside a Dragon Capsule which is what actually docks with the ISS. So he's 100% correct--the Shuttle can take 28,000 pounds and dock with ISS. The Falcon 9 cannot dock with the ISS, so it doesn't really matter how much it can carry. If it doesn't fit in a Dragon Capsule, it isn't going.

          Of course, what he fails to mention is that there is no longer a need to carry 28,000 pounds up to ISS anymore.

          • Good point. Still, Dragon's payload [] is 13,000 pounds, not a mere 2,000 lb. But as you said the main point is that the Shuttle is massive overkill for maintaining the ISS, like commuting to an office job in an 18 wheeler.
      • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @07:47AM (#41583403)

        The Space Shuttle carried 28,000lbs to the International Space Station for about $400 million per launch.

        LOL you wish it was that cheap. You took total contract cost divided by number of missions for spaceX, why not for space shuttle? Because the numbers don't match your axe to grind. Here I'll do the data gathering and division for you:

        From wikipedia "The actual total cost of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, is $196 billion." (this is pure BS, to "do it all over again" would easily cost over 300B, but I'll use the artificially low PR/marketing BS number for the sake of this argument) divided by 135 missions (unsure how to account for disasters) yields 1.452 billion dollars per 28K lb mission absolute minimum, real world is going to be much more.

        So you're looking at 1.6B vs 1.5B, not much of a difference given "nasa accounting" thats a rounding error.

        There are serious issues why the shuttle program had to end which began in the 80s, so its pointless to debate what if we continued it. For example we lost about 1 shuttle per 50 flights, and the production lines shut down permanently in the 80s. So if we launch until they're all destroyed, we soon would have no launch capability at all, and merely have to farm out to spaceX later, and the only thing waiting does is make stuff more expensive. I suppose we could R+D and reopen the production lines to build more 1970 era space shuttle orbiters, but that will absolutely explode program cost above the "cheap" 1.5B per launch. Or we could R+D even more and build new 2010 era space shuttle orbiters, that would probably be overall a bit cheaper but still boost program cost above 1.5B.

        If you wanted to continue the shuttle program, that decision had to be made in the 80s when the last orbiter rolled off the assembly line and the clock started ticking on the program shutdown. Sunday Oct 07 2012 is a bit late to the party to decide the orbiter production line should have been kept open back in April of 1985. First, build a time machine and go back more than a quarter century...

        • "The actual total cost of the shuttle program [...] is $196 billion." [...] divided by 135 missions [...] yields 1.452 billion dollars per 28K lb mission

          Worse than that. If you compare the shuttle program's annual budget with the number of missions flown in a particular year, there's almost no correlation. The cost of having a shuttle program was pretty much the same whether you launched 4 flights per year, or one, or none. Hence, ModernGeek's claim that

          "We could have flown the shuttle once a year for 1/4th the cost,"

          is crap. It would have cost $3 billion per year, the minimum cost of maintaining the facilities and staff necessary for the shuttle program.


          • by vlm ( 69642 )

            There's also some accounting based on historical record that 12 shuttle flights is "about" 20% chance of losing an orbiter, and at historical death rates is equivalent to about one dead astronaut.

  • by Anonymous Coward []

    so no adverts and crap

  • There's a pretty decent feed on [] with Andrew Mayne and Molly Wood on-site for the launch, right now.

    I'm not particular excited about this, but whatever. Wake me up when something epic like the moon missions of 69-72 happen. I won't hold my breath in my life-time.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      For someone who doesn't find this interesting you've already posted 3 times of the current 24 posts on this article. That's pretty sad.
  • One minute to go, nerds onscreen. W. T. F.

  • Simplicity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:39PM (#41580269) Journal

    One thing that strikes me is how modern technology has simplified so many things. Mission control is so much simpler and streamlined - just flat screen monitors on tables. Much cleaner. Even the launch system, using a static support tower angled away from the rocket, appears (at least to my untrained eye) much simpler these days than the mechanized support systems that had to release or pull away from the rockets.

    Launch looks perfect so far. Second stage just ignited.

    • Re:Simplicity (Score:4, Informative)

      by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:56PM (#41580707) Homepage Journal

      The internal rocket systems have also improved considerably, since the Falcon rockets use TCP/IP for internal commands along with the dozens of cameras mounted inside of the vehicle. I loved the live dual views of the 1st stage separation event from both the 1st and 2nd stages at the same time... together with 2nd stage ignition. That simply wasn't even possible in the Apollo days.

      I love this photo though in terms of putting things into perspective: []

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Really? I'm surprised. I'd figure they'd use 1553 or CANbus.

        • by slew ( 2918 )

          Really? I'm surprised. I'd figure they'd use 1553 or CANbus.

          I hereby revoke your /. licence for suggesting military standards and a license encumbered protocol ;^)

          But seriously, that's probably a big consideration for a commercial project. Tie your commercial project to some MIL standard and the cost of all your components go up since components that implement MIL standards often are sold to the less than cost concious miltary programs. Similarly, Bosch has a lock on the CANbus with their patents and have used this to essentially create a tax on the automotive ele

        • CANbus would be a really bad choice for a control system like this one, since the capacity of the bus [bits/s] is linearly proportional to the inverse of the length of the bus. Because of this CANbus is great for cars, satellites, and other "small" systems, but horrible for large systems that require fast sampling.

        • Re:Simplicity (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Monday October 08, 2012 @05:49AM (#41582703) Homepage Journal

          SpaceX is one of the first to use TCP/IP for internal component control on rockets, but the protocol is pretty solid and "off the shelf" components can be easily had. Since they are starting with literally a clean sheet, they could have used almost anything.... and Elon Musk was very comfortable with TCP/IP as a protocol.

          There are other bus protocols that are made available to payloads... as required by the customer and the mission. External interfaces for those buses can be made available to ground support teams just prior to launch as well and is a part of the Falcon design. The Dragon capsule in particular meets not just the physical docking standards for the ISS, but also has the necessary power and data bus connectors as well for compatibility with the ISS module standards.

          A nice side effect of the TCP/IP protocol is that they can use fiber optic connectors to isolate controllers electrically... which also cuts down on the weight of the vehicle as well. There certainly is no thick bus cable full of copper going the full length of the rocket, which is the case for legacy rockets.

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            A nice side effect of the TCP/IP protocol is that they can use fiber optic connectors to isolate controllers electrically... which also cuts down on the weight of the vehicle as well. There certainly is no thick bus cable full of copper going the full length of the rocket, which is the case for legacy rockets.

            If they are using wired ethernet for which there is already an avionics version, then galvanic isolation is already provided at both ends of each cable.


      • That simply wasn't even possible in the Apollo days.

        What piffle! The fourth launch of the ( unsuccessful ) Soviet N-1 launcher in 1972 relayed telemetry at 9.6 GB / second on 320,000 channels.

        Yes, GIGA BYTES per second and that was FORTY years ago.

        "Dozens of cameras" are pretty but also pretty much irrelevant for telemetric purposes.

        Tell me, what was the telemetry data rate for this launch?

    • Re:Simplicity (Score:5, Informative)

      by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:56PM (#41580709)

      Don't know if this contradicts your statement much, but the first US space launches (uncrewed and crewed) were pretty simple affairs. Both (Explorer 1 and Mercury -Redstone 3) used the Redstone IRBM as the basis of the launch vehicle. Since the Redstone was a field deployable ballistic missile its launch support was minimal, not much more than a launch ring to sit on according to a bio of Von Braun I just read. The first Saturns (Saturn I) didn't have much either. Check out the picture of the first one launched ( The two stage Saturn I's had nearly the same payload capability as the Falcon 9. The later Saturns and the Shuttle had a lot of ground support, I'll admit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The early Saturns, which contrary to popular belief were developed before Kennedy was elected in 1960, had a 1st stage that consisted of a cluster of stretched Redstone and Jupiter missile tanks and a cluster of eight H-1 engines derived from those programs

        There are many reasons why the later Saturns and the Shuttle had so many people and so much ground support equipment, but here's a brief explanation:

        1. The systems are more complex than most keyboard-jockeys understand. There are fuel systems and oxidizer

    • Yeah, miniaturization of components helps. That 'static support tower' is the erector, fairly common to field-launched theater, IR- and ICBMs for around fifty years now. With the later Saturns there were a lot of connections; tower made them easier to do, and to service during a hold. For the Shuttle, apart from the slew of connections, tower afforded last-minute crew egress.

      Congrats to SpaceX et al on nominal launch and insertion.

  • In Orbit (Score:4, Informative)

    by runeghost ( 2509522 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:50PM (#41580339)

    It's in orbit. No apparent problems so far.

    • by Hexydes ( 705837 )
      Yup, everything looked good! Set to dock with ISS on Wednesday. For anyone that missed the launch, here is a video from T-minus 60 seconds through main engine cutoff. []
    • Re:In Orbit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Altanar ( 56809 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:33AM (#41581931)
      Except... *ahem*.. The catestrophic failure of engine one at T+1:20 []. Shielding and control systems easily compensated, though.
      • by Altanar ( 56809 )
        *catastrophic ... Gah! At least, that's what it looks like from the video.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Catastrophic, that word doesn't mean what you think it means. If the control systems can compensate then it isn't catastrophic.

        Although the Falcon 9 needs all 9 engines for takeoff, it is designed to handle losing 1 or 2 (depending on how far into the launch it is) after takeoff without a problem.

        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          That redundancy was put to the test.

          Catastrophic failure really does mean the complete disintegration of the engine though. If this was the 2nd stage or the only engine on the rocket like the Falcon 1, it would have been a loss of mission. On the other hand, this is a situation that was anticipated and in fact tested at the McGregor test facility, where the engines were isolated from each other so a failure wouldn't impact the other engines.... including having shrapnel isolated and kept from the other en

  • by tp1024 ( 2409684 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:54PM (#41580355)

    Well, title says it all. Any news about the orbcomm satellite being properly deployed?

    • According to the tweets the satellite is still attached to the second stage at this time. They will need to light up the second stage again to get it into its intended orbit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    News for nerds uses 12 hr time.

    Film at 23

  • by Leebert ( 1694 ) * on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:15PM (#41580465)

    Thanks for the link Timothy, but I'm pretty sure my crappy iPhone pictures are far superseded by those done by the official photographers. :)

    But yeah, this was a BEAUTIFUL launch.

  • SpaceX stream (Score:5, Informative)

    by Altanar ( 56809 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:20PM (#41580507)
    If you missed it, you can watch the recording at [], which in my opinion, was the best way of viewing it live.
    • Oh, WTF. I was just watching the replay and they seem to have pulled it. It was better than the NASA TV coverage I watched live, and I was just about to watch the second stage light off, but the feed dropped and now it's GONE.

      Sometimes I hate the modern unarchivable internet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The reason for the takedown appears to be due to a rapid unplanned disassembly of engine 1 during Max-Q:

        • Yep, I saw a few frames of that during the launch. Wondered what it was but clearly it didn't ruin the mission. I'm interested what the official word will be.

  • pop (Score:5, Interesting)

    by strack ( 1051390 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @11:00PM (#41581013)
    i watched the launch, and on the closeup view of the engines from spacex, one of those engines definitely went pop at 1:20 into the flight. you can see the debris coming off. its unmistakable. i guess its a testament to the value of having the ability to sustain a engine failure and still get into orbit.
    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      The NASA feed mentioned that they shut down one engine to reduce the dynamic pressure on the rocket during that phase of flight.

      • no, that comes later, just before MECO, and it's not to reduce dynamic pressure, it's to keep the G-forces on the payload from getting too high as the rocket loses weight (by burning fuel/oxidizer) and accelerates faster. the new F9 1.1 (yet to fly) has engine throttling capability and is supposed to throttle down around Max-Q (F9 v1 can't do that, no throttle capability) and before MECO, instead of shutting down engines.

        this was definitely an unexpected problem with either the engine or the fairing around

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Of course, the better thing is to have such a good design and such good workmanship that you do not blow an engine to begin with...

      It's good to have an airbag in your car, but it's a sign of something gone terribly wrong if you ever deploy it... and the police and your insurance company do not celebrate with you over the wonderful airbag feature having proved the value of redundant safety systems.

      The simple fact is that rockets must be very light structures in order to fly and have reasonable payload capabi

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        I bet the engineers would love to recover this particular 1st stage... if only to check out what is left of the failed engine to see what went wrong. I know that there were plans to recover the 1st stage at some point in the past, but beyond a very long term plan I don't think any parachute recovery system on the first stage was even considered for this flight.

        I do agree though that SpaceX likes to hide their failures and tends to wait some time to come clean on those kind of problems. SpaceX definitely d

      • Things that can go wrong will go wrong sooner or later. Obviously you try build to not go wrong, but it is healthy to have ways to "survive" (in the case of the rocket, able to continue the flight) when things go wrong.
  • by dgharmon ( 2564621 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:41AM (#41581503) Homepage
    "Tomorrow's planned flight is to be the first under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA that calls for a dozen resupply flights by SpaceX, essential in the post-shuttle era". link []

    I find it hard to believe that NASA isn't capable of designing and lauching its own launch vehicle.
    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      I find it hard to believe that NASA isn't capable of designing and lauching its own launch vehicle.

      They've failed on the last three tries, and are trying to get Congress to fund #4.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The current NASA plan the Senate Launch System is a congressional mandate not to cut their inefficient pork barrel projects.

        Follow the logic. We decided to shutdown the shuttle program because the shuttle was to costly to operate. Congress mandated that the shuttles successor use as many shuttle derived parts as possible. The Congress again mandated that as much as possible of their shuttle replacement be saved.

        NASA may be capable of designing a launch vehicle, but not an affordable one, especially not w

        • Does it burn Senators as fuel, or just throw the whole lot of them into orbit? I'm fine with either approach, but inquiring minds want to know!

          • by Teancum ( 67324 )

            No, the Senate Launch System was designed by the fine engineers found in the upper chamber of the national legislature of America, hence its name. It is amazing how voting for appropriations to colleges can give you a PhD level knowledge of aerospace engineering, at least after you have been able to take lessons from an army of lobbyists. They also figured that the folks in Huntsville were too inexperienced in the matter so those same legislators decided to take the design into their own hands. That rock

      • Not really. The past attempts, including the shuttle, were all designed and created (and even operated) through a cascade of external cost-plus contractors. I'm not sure if NASA has ever tried to actually build its own launcher in-house.

        Frankly it would be an interesting exercise, just to see what happens. I suspect the order of expense, from cheapest to most expensive would turn out to be: 1) Fixed price-on-delivery purchase of services under SAA, 2) in-house development, 3) traditional cost-plus contracti

    • I do, too. But why should they? NASA's designed plenty of rockets to get into LEO.

      Personally, I'd rather they design rockets to go more interesting places.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      NASA is good at doing things which are hard. They are not so good at doing things which are cheap.

      Let NASA trailblaze with space telescopes, mars landings, and deep space missions. Hauling cargo to and from LEO is something that has been done for half a century, and it's long overdue to throw it over to the lowest bidder. Which a government agency isn't, and will never be.

  • we've taken (Score:1, Troll)

    by nimbius ( 983462 )
    a pursuit that rested solely at the hands of the government, space exploration that is, and privatized it. Excuse me for sounding a touch cynical and angry but spacex has but one client, the US government. we have intentionally interjected a middle man into the US space program for no apparent reason. SpaceX does not launch commercial satellites, or mine ore on martian moons, or harvest the gasses of venus. Ironically, an ex soviet project in baikonur handles most commercial clients.

    the sad truth is
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      when did the US government buy Iridium, SES, and Intelsat? And then, of course, when did the US government annex Thailand since Thaicom has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Thaicom 6 next year. I won't even mention the contracts with Asia Broadcast Systems and Satmex since those are obviously US government affiliated.

      SpaceX does not mine ore or harvest gasses. And it never will. They are a rocket company not a mining company. If you have a problem with mining companies that don't want to move into sp

      • by Strider- ( 39683 )

        when did the US government buy Iridium, SES, and Intelsat? And then, of course, when did the US government annex Thailand since Thaicom has signed a contract with SpaceX to launch Thaicom 6 next year. I won't even mention the contracts with Asia Broadcast Systems and Satmex since those are obviously US government affiliated.

        Well, in the case of Iridium, when the constellation was in danger of being de-orbited, the DoD gave the trustee a sweetheart contract in order to keep the constellation in orbit.

    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      Space-X has launched one commercial satellite so far, and has at least 5 more launches scheduled for 2013.

    • by strack ( 1051390 )
      spacex interjected itself into the US space program, by being damn good at what they do, for a fraction of the cost of a NASA developed launch vehicle. theres a lot to be said for having a launch vehicle being developed with the design decisions being free of political influence, and having most of the parts of your spacecraft developed under one roof, and not in many different senators districts around the country, in a myriad of porkbarrel projects. a specific example would be solid rocket boosters that
      • by Strider- ( 39683 )

        this is what happened in the 86 challenger shuttle disaster.

        Well, no, not quite. In the challenger disaster, the O-Rings that seal the booster sections suffered a blow through, which cut into the main tanks for the liquid rockets, causing those to explode. After the main tank exploded, the solids continued to fly on for a few seconds until the range safety officer issued a destruct command, causing the two SRBs to explode as designed.

        The flip side to using solids for space flight is they very much follow the KISS principle. They are relatively simple devices. As

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You are advertizing your ignorance

        1. Solid rockets were not selected for the shuttle based on political influence; They were the cheapest way to put a huge amount of thrust into the system while it was at low altitudes where the SSME's which burned LOX and LH2 are sub-optimal performers. The Nixon admin was simply unwilling to pay for the up-front costs to develop a fully-reusable system of a shuttle orbiter and a re-usable flyback liquid-fueled 1st stage... and a liquid-fueled 1st stage with the same sea-l

        • by strack ( 1051390 )
          yes we might quibble on the precise definition of 'explode', but the fundamental problem with solid rockets is the reactants that burn are right beside each other in a solid motor, and if it fails, theres no way to shut it down, and its failure mode is highly likely to take the rest of the rocket with it, either by rapid unscheduled disassembly, or a pillar of flame torching parts of the rocket.

          and as for the safety record of the saturn V vs the shuttle, just because the saturn V didnt have the opportuni
    • by SEE ( 7681 )

      we have intentionally interjected a middle man into the US space program for no apparent reason.

      Well, you know, except for Shuttle failures accounting for 78% of all people who have ever died on space flights, and 100% of such fatalities in the last 40 years. And the repeatedly proven inability of NASA to design and build a replacement for the Shuttle.

      SpaceX does not launch commercial satellites

      They don't? So, in what category, exactly, do you put the Orbcomm, Inc.satellite that was part of the payload of this very rocket?

  • []

    The first commercially contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has lifted off. A Falcon rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifted clear of Cape Canaveral in Florida at 20:35 (00:35 GMT). The robotic Dragon ship will deliver 400kg of food, clothing, experiments and spares to the orbiting platform's six astronauts. It is the maiden flight in a sequence of 12 missions that California's SpaceX company is performing for N

  • What no pizza in thirty minutes or less? That is a real winner. Don't waste your time with Tesla just focus on good deliveries Elon.

  • Just out of curiosity why exactly does it take till Wednesday to reach the ISS. Isn't that thing nearby?
    • Just out of curiosity why exactly does it take till Wednesday to reach the ISS. Isn't that thing nearby?

      Orbital mechanics are hard and time consuming. It will take time and corrections to get into the proper orbit and velocity to match up with the ISS. Car analogy: This isn't like driving to the local store and pulling into the parking lot. This is more like hitting the highway only to have to then cross lots of draw bridges and ferries close to your desitination that are on a particular time table. Miss one and you'll have to wait for the next opportunity.

      • That is BS. IANARS, but the orbit that supply- or crew-vehicles sent to the ISS are launched on is probably the equivalent of a Geostationary Transfer Orbit, except that you want to end up in the low-earth-orbit of the ISS instead of the geostationary one. This means that they are launched more or less on an elliptic orbit, with the high point of the ellipse intersecting with ISS's circular orbit. At this high point, you do a 'circularization burn', after which you are at the same height and same speed as t
  • I kind wondered why SpaceX started building their own turbo pumps for the Merlin 1D engine - it doesn't just seem to be a matter of performance, but also of quality assurance. It seems like SpaceX has found itself a nice opportunity to review their QA process, while proving that their engine out capability isn't just theoretical.

    That said, I wouldn't expect the next launch to happen on time.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.