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In the wee hours of Saturday, a type of rocket that did not exist five years ago sat on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral counting down to launch.  Its mission: Sending what is arguably the most advanced spacecraft ever built, Dragon, on a multi-day unmanned shakeout mission to deliver cargo to the International Space Station at unprecedentedly low cost, and with the eventual promise of becoming America's new manned spaceship.  The countdown was aborted with half a second to spare due to a faulty part not much bigger than bicycle gears, and ironically my diary about that planned launch faced a similar fate - it became (and remains) inaccessible because I embedded a livestream that turned out to contain an automatic redirect triggered even when I try to edit that diary.  But the part has been replaced, SpaceX is planning to launch tonight about three hours from now, and this time I know better than to embed a livestream (but I will update periodically when new info comes out).

spacex1

In the first diary, I went through an extensive spiel explaining how important this launch is - important enough that even a failure would be a success because someone is actually trying and has the resources to commit.  As a commenter in a space forum I frequent had reminded me - and I think it worth spreading this information far and wide - this mission is basically trying to recreate every achievement of the entire Gemini program in a few days minus the crew: It will attempt to launch a pressurized capsule into Earth orbit, execute precision maneuvers, safely rendezvous with another spacecraft (the ISS), then return to Earth intact.

Everything about this mission is bold and experimental: The Falcon 9 rocket type on which it is being launched has only launched twice before, and is several times cheaper to build than any competitor in its class; it has the most advanced software and most efficient ground operations procedures ever devised for a launch vehicle; and if not for the severely narrow launch windows for reaching ISS, SpaceX could have tried to launch again within hours of the initial scrub - an unprecedented capability.  Even with the faulty part, SpaceX says that the rocket would have launched successfully according to its simulations.  In fact, even the way the company is being paid by NASA is radical - they're being paid for achievements and services, not mere activity, so failures and cost overruns would come entirely out of the corporate end rather than NASA.

SpaceX is causing the lazy, expensive, entitled Big Aerospace corporations and their wholly-owned Republican politician subsidiaries (and a handful of Democrats, but it's mainly a GOP phenomenon) to become worried and pissed off.  The teabagger Congress has repeatedly slashed funding for this extraordinarily successful type of program the more powerful it proves its potential to be, and meanwhile keeps insisting on pouring billions into pursuing highly expensive, unreliable status-quo systems that no one actually wants and SpaceX has already more or less rendered obsolete, and on timelines that keep receding.  They've done this because the money basically goes directly into the pockets of these large, traditional contractors who get paid no matter how little they deliver and how much it ends up costing, and the contractors in turn fund campaigns.  

Once dividends, stock prices, and Republican payola are taken care of, it's anyone's guess how much actually goes toward advancing spaceflight in this corrupt system, but there's no arguing with the fact that these companies haven't produced dick in decades, and can't be bothered to risk their own resources trying anything new.  They basically exist to be sponges, soaking up whatever money comes their way via the people they put in Congress, and it appears that the less they deliver, the more of that money they end up keeping.  It's the same across every field they're involved in - from aviation to military projects to civilian space - the costs just keep increasing, and so do their stock prices, but what they deliver keeps being ever more humble.  And then habitual boat-rocker Elon Musk started SpaceX and now things are getting interesting.  That's why Rep. Frank Wolf (R - VA) desperately called for commercial programs to be ended so he could hand his favored contractor, Boeing, the business SpaceX was busily snatching away from them with every passing day.

SpaceX has built an entirely new family of rocket vehicles, several launch facilities, and a spacecraft on the kind of money that disappears in Boeing's couch cushions, and the industry and its toys in Congress are furious.  This is not a space-flavored hedge fund the way the traditional industry is set up, but an actual space company with billions of dollars worth of commercial contracts committing its own resources to opening up the solar system to humankind.  Unlike NASA, it is explicitly committed to this goal and doesn't depend on political whims to pursue them.  The Dragon spacecraft you see here...

spacex3

...will most likely be America's next manned spacecraft, and given the economics involved, probably the basis of worldwide human spaceflight for the next decade.  Variants are being designed as not only crew and cargo transport to Earth orbit, but as orbital laboratories and landers capable of landing on Mars (albeit initially unmanned).  It's been designed from the beginning to comfortably carry 7 astronauts with more room to spare than a three-person Soyuz.  Meanwhile the Falcon 9 is being steadily evolved into a mass-production rocket with the potential capability to become not only reusable, but rapidly reusable - i.e., they'll seek to make it so stages fly back and land on their own power and are reused within a short period of time in subsequent launches.  The Falcon 9 slated to launch tonight is expendable, so not really part of that project, but it all contributes.  SpaceX projects that cost reductions by a factor of 100 are possible if reusability is achieved, putting the cost to orbit within the hundreds of dollars per kg rather than the $10,000 of the Space Shuttle.

There are many long, arduous, and perilous steps between here and there - not the least achieving the objectives of this mission, if not tonight, then on a subsequent launch.  Once it achieves those, then it has to reliably repeat the performance as part of its contract to deliver cargo to the station, and meanwhile start launching Falcon 9's extensive manifest of commercial satellites whose owners were attracted to its unprecedentedly low prices.  The production chain also has two consecutive new versions of the Merlin engine that powers the rocket awaiting implementation - first the Merlin 1D, and then the Merlin 2, which (as I understand it) vastly increases the power and efficiency of the engine.  Meanwhile, SpaceX is developing the SuperDraco thruster for the Dragon spacecraft that can be used not only as a Launch Escape System (LES) for manned missions in the event of an emergency abort, but can be used for powered landing both back on Earth...and potentially on other surfaces.

Here are the landing legs for a prototype flyback reusable stage under construction, called the Grasshopper:

spacex4

Even with the impressive stats, it may seem like a retread to be repeating the Gemini program, but in truth SpaceX is bringing us into truly uncharted territory of both low cost and capability.  A few years of effort and a few hundred million dollars - chump change in NASA or its usual contractors' terms - have brought about a factor of about three reduction in cost, before anything even resembling high-volume flight has been achieved.  I think it's safe to make this generalization: This is a lot harder than we think and will involve far more complexities than even the intrepid geniuses at SpaceX imagine, but they will also discover possibilities and ideas that had never been seriously considered before.  And once things get going, they really won't stop.  Ever.  

I can't stress this enough: There is a threshold, and on one side of this threshold is life slowly struggling to evolve and succeed on one planet, and on the other side of the threshold is an explosion of life into new domains that will make the Cambrian Era pale in comparison.  Humanity will definitely have to struggle for some time to come to realize its dreams in space, and keep running into frustrations and complications, and then...suddenly the door will open and we'll just...keep...going.  Onward and outward, near and far, forever and ever.  We don't know where that line is, but it seems like Elon Musk and his people at SpaceX have the scent and are driven by it.  They crave the future with a hunter's passion, and it shows in their work.  One day you may wake up and it will be Tomorrow.  And maybe Tomorrow will literally begin tomorrow.

9487657

Falcon 9 is on the pad right now, cleared for launch at 12:44 AM PST / 3:44 AM EST with high probability of acceptable weather.

Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:07 PM PT: It seems I underestimated how tired I was.  Sorry, folks - I'll have to sleep and then report on whatever happens well after the fact.

8:20 AM PT: Launch successful!  Dragon in orbit.  Solar arrays deployed.  Navigation bay doors opened successfully.  Quoth Elon Musk:  “Dragon spaceship opens the navigation pod bay door without hesitation. So much nicer than HAL9000.”  Video of the launch:


1:05 PM PT: CBS News is reporting the Falcon 9 second stage carried cremated ashes for Celestis Inc. - a company that sells spaceflights for families of the departed hoping to send their loved one's remains into space.  Reportedly some of the ashes belonged to James Doohan (Scotty of Star Trek fame) and Gordon Cooper, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts.

Also, here's inspiring footage of SpaceX employees cheering Elon Musk - I assume it's from this launch since the video was just uploaded, but there is no time code:

1:06 PM PT: Woops.  I guess Vimeo embeds don't work here.

1:08 PM PT: Several hours ago, it was reported that the star tracker is successfully activated.

1:11 PM PT: Spooky-inspiring image of the launch from spectator bleachers:

DragonLaunch2

1:53 PM PT: Laser-ranging system on the Dragon is reportedly operating as expected.

4:00 PM PT: Here's a pretty awesome video of the launch from way out in the swamp - at one point when the main engine cuts off and emits smoke, it actually kind of looks like a dragon in flight:

8:36 PM PT: Not quite on topic, but Tesla Motors just announced June 22nd delivery date for the first Model S reservations.  Elon Musk is kicking ass and taking names.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Mon May 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight, SciTech, and Astro Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  i'll be watching. (21+ / 0-)

    Eagerly hoping that the engineers figured out the glitch & fixed it, and everything goes exactly as planned.

    Thanks majorly for the reminder that it's "tonight" (Tuesday early AM) since these overnight hours can become confusing.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:04:54 PM PDT

  •  a couple of live feed links from last time: (11+ / 0-)

    Says that coverage begins at midnight Pacific time, 3AM East Coast time:

    http://www.spacex.com/...

    Also:

    http://new.livestream.com/...

    Try both and see what happens.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:07:48 PM PDT

  •  Whoa. What a great diary (12+ / 0-)

    And welcome back Trou.

    I turned on the NASA channel, hoping I can stay awake to see this or that they will carry this.

    I had no idea what the heck the MSM was talking about in terms of a launch failing.  I thought it was overseas somewhere.

    I definitely have to be get up to speed on this.  I'm a total geek when it comes to space.  

    Fascinating.

    "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

    by smoothnmellow on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:27:00 PM PDT

  •  Twitter Feed(s) (5+ / 0-)

    Doctor Mitt Romney Brain Sturgeon-The Operation was a success but the patient died, where's my fee?

    by JML9999 on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:43:54 PM PDT

  •  I just keep hoping this will succeed (16+ / 0-)

    and lead to the ability to rescue our space station people if it is ever needed.  To depend on other countries is not good.  Retiring the shuttles worried me, though I understand their problems and cost.

    The loss of funding for NASA makes me sick.

    The loss of caring about space is so short-sighted.  

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:46:13 PM PDT

  •  The future of manned spaceflight looks exciting (14+ / 0-)

    for the first time in decades.  Let's hope this is a big success tonight.

    But there is a lot besides manned spaceflight that is exciting.  Robotic exploration of the solar system has been amazingly successful.  One of the best places to follow it is The Planetary Society.  But proposed massive cuts in NASA's planetary exploration budget may mean no new flagship missions for decades.

    The great thing about the SpaceX Dragon capsule is its versatility.  I have read about a proposal to send it unmanned to land on Mars... maybe with a drill mounted inside.  And instead of having to roll out a rover, it could drill straight down through the heat shield and right into the Martian crust!  I sure hope that flies someday soon.

    "Safety and security are the result of collective consensus. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." - Nelson Mandela. Donate to TREE Climbers

    by TX Freethinker on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:53:45 PM PDT

  •  Fueled by Pan Galactic Gargleblasters? (9+ / 0-)

    http://twitter.com/...

    SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is fueled up with kerosene and liquid oxygen for #DragonLaunch. LIVE video of the rocket: http://bit.ly/...

    Doctor Mitt Romney Brain Sturgeon-The Operation was a success but the patient died, where's my fee?

    by JML9999 on Mon May 21, 2012 at 10:57:05 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this. Good diary. (7+ / 0-)

    That redirect was making me crazy, but I saw you importuning the help desk so I figured I'd just wait it out.

    Fingers crossed for tonight/this morning!

  •  I love that every one of Musk's companies ... (20+ / 0-)

    ...has an alternate mission than making money.  Solar City is to bring affordable solar power to the country. Tesla is to hasten the transition to electric vehicles.  And SpaceX is to make life multi-planetary.

    He is so inspiring to me, because this type of vision and action, for me at least, is a no-brainer.  Why not put our skills to work for the public good? Not just basic good, but awesome progress that betters humanity.  And yet, who else is doing this? Certainly not our government (which, in my opinion, is what they are for).

    Someone once defined my feelings toward Musk as a "man-crush." Funny, but true.  I wish we had more like him (with not just the vision, but the capabilities and the resources).

    •  when i first saw him interviewed (5+ / 0-)

      i wanted his babies!  he's goodlooking and smart and charismatic.

      but it looks like he's kind of a well, his personal relationships are lacking.  reminds me of a famous news personality ;-)  

      but he is smart.  i can handle radio interviews a lot better (without the hormone surge).  

      so i get your man crush.  

    •  solar city is one of his too? (7+ / 0-)

      Eeeyow!, I never knew.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:42:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And PayPal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, pdx kirk

        as I understand.  Not sure if that is for the advancement of mankind, but still a handy thing, for those who like it.

        The truth always matters.

        by texasmom on Tue May 22, 2012 at 11:33:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, PayPal is where Musk made his money (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pdx kirk, eyesoars

          He owned 11.7% of PayPal when eBay bought it for $1.5B in eBay stock.  :-)

          And to his credit, he's plowed that money back into some interesting (if unprofitable) ventures. He is definitely as much science/engineering geek as businessman, and that is great to see.

          I'm not quite as much a Musk fanboy as some in this thread. For example, there is nothing about the Merlin engines that drive the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle that would even slightly surprise Werner von Braun. But it is good solid engineering, and there's nothing wrong with building a company on that.

          It is interesting to note that Musk says that SpaceX will be a failure if they can't make re-usability work. And man, that is a tall order, whether you're talking ocean recovery or powered recovery. But it'll be fun as all get out to watch (and even more fun for the folks working on it!).

          It was thrilling (yes, I'm a geek) to see that Dragon made it safely to orbit. Hearty congratulations to all the folks at SpaceX and NASA that made it happen.

          -Jay-
          
          •  Unprofitable? (0+ / 0-)

            SpaceX has billions of dollars in flights booked, and they've spent a few hundred million to date.

            For example, there is nothing about the Merlin engines that drive the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle that would even slightly surprise Werner von Braun.
            The technology was never the problem.  Leadership and economics were, and now both are available in spades at SpaceX.
            It is interesting to note that Musk says that SpaceX will be a failure if they can't make re-usability work.
            Because his goal for the company is to make human life multi-planetary in a single lifetime.  He's not saying it couldn't be a going concern selling much cheaper expendable rockets.

            Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

            by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:32:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Merlins don't blow up so much, that (0+ / 0-)

            might surprise Werner, I think. Plus they give the highest specific impulse so far achieved with RP-1/LOX, if I remember correctly. So they're probably pretty highly optimized or something.

            Moderation in most things.

            by billmosby on Fri May 25, 2012 at 04:12:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Our political system seems to attract (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, debedb

      individuals for public office whose only talent is a gift for gab.
      Many of our representatives talk a good game, but they don't know what they are talking about.
      That's a problem and it's not helped by simply dismissing them as corrupt or frauds. No talent individuals deserve to be sustained, but not as public servants.

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:10:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Politics that reflects rather than leading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        debedb

        is one of those "good problems."  True leadership is more often destructive than constructive, because it boils down to the passion and ambition of individuals who are only human and cannot possibly conceive of the full costs of their ideas.  As always, change begins with one person doing things differently, and sooner or later NASA will reflect the vision Elon Musk is demonstrating.

    •  Elon Musk is humanity's leading light right now. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb

      I hope he founds a university some day to teach other people how to think like him.

  •  tv on nasa (8+ / 0-)

    twitter window, spacex window (they're not livecasting yet).

    levar burton is staying up for this too, he tweeted so.  

    thanks for the diary Troubador.  

    •  Just Flaggin with the (4+ / 0-)

      Dragon

      Doctor Mitt Romney Brain Sturgeon-The Operation was a success but the patient died, where's my fee?

      by JML9999 on Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:57:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        Hawkins: I've got it! I've got it! The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true! Right?
        Griselda: Right. But there's been a change: they broke the chalice from the palace!
        Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?
        Griselda: And replaced it with a flagon.
        Hawkins: A flagon...?
        Griselda: With the figure of a dragon.
        Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.
        Griselda: Right.
        Hawkins: But did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?
        Griselda: No! The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon! The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!
        Hawkins: The pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.
        Griselda: Just remember that.

  •  T minus 48 minutes (4+ / 0-)

    I just tuned in, there she is on the pad.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Mon May 21, 2012 at 11:58:02 PM PDT

  •  In Central FL (7+ / 0-)

    Going to go outside  night launches are very cool

  •  Very interesting diary. (5+ / 0-)

    I hope that you will be writing about the construction of the world's first space elevator or launch loop at some point in the next decade.

    Well, that time frame may be overly optimistic, but I'd love to see it.

    Tipped and recced.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:06:51 AM PDT

    •  Speaking of upcoming events (7+ / 0-)

      Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars in August. The rover has a lot of on board instruments including a gas chromatograph, and a mass spectrometer. IIRC a gas chromatograph can tell what molecules or elements are in a sample, and a mass spectrometer can sort the atoms in a sample by type and quantity. Pretty cool stuff. Wanna know what's in your favorite restaurant's secret recipe? Between those two you could probably figure it out.

      Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

      by SoCalHobbit on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:34:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  excellent; another one to watch. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalHobbit, Lawrence, Troubadour, debedb

        I somehow doubt there'll be live video, but there should be some kind of mission feed from NASA with someone interpreting the telemetry, and with animations to visualize what's happening.

        I'm quite convinced there are bacteria on Mars, this by way of the apparent presence of liquid water there at certain times of year.  What nature doesn't forbid, nature requires.  The interesting question is going to be the degree of similarity and difference between Martian bacteria and Earth bacteria.  This mission may not be the one that gets definitive data, but perhaps gets us a little closer.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:46:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Curiosity worries me. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, SoCalHobbit

        They're putting two and a half billion dollars on the end of a little cable, attempting a landing method that's never been done before with one of the most expensive spacecraft ever.  It just seems crazy and reckless.  

        •  Oh, I don't know... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalHobbit

          Tying a bunch of glorified balloons to the outside of Spirit and Opportunity, dropping them, and just letting them bounce around seemed like a pretty crazy idea to me (still does!) and it worked out just fine. :-)

          -Jay-
          
          •  It had worked on Pathfinder years before. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SoCalHobbit

            They had started small and then up-scaled both in size and number.  Now they're trying a totally new way of landing on a single, huge, car-sized rover that cost two and a half billion.  Couldn't they maybe have just built more MER clones and tried landing them with the new system?  I'll be happy if the Sky Crane works, but it's still crazy to play at such high stakes with the teabagger Congress gutting NASA.

            Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

            by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:25:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Earth-based space elevators are probably (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, JayBat, SoCalHobbit, Lawrence

      22nd century technology.  We may see lunar or Mars versions in the second half of this century though.  Don't know about launch loops - perhaps for cargo that can withstand high g.  Not sure there's an economic reason for it though - if SpaceX succeeds are developing reusability, it may not be necessary to do anything radically different for some time.

      •  'Obayashi Corp. hopes by 2050 to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        have a space elevator operational, made of carbon nanotubes, says the daily Yomiuri', according to 'Gizmag', this dumb little e-newsletter I get.

        "Fight the real enemy." -Sinead O'connor

        by mookins on Tue May 22, 2012 at 09:43:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but it's bullshit. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mookins, SoCalHobbit

          American corporations stopped talking out of their asses about space a while ago, but occasionally the technophile Japanese still say something ridiculous like that.  They still talk about building giant arcologies and 10-mile-high pyramids and shit, but there's no real commitment - it's just ill-conceived advertising.

          We don't actually have the technology right now for an Earth-based space elevator.  Nanotubes with current manufacturing techniques aren't reliable enough, and they would have to be almost flawless down to the molecular level to achieve the strengths needed.  Even then, the margin of error would be terribly thin.

          It will take at a least a century to scale up the volume of nanotube manufacturing, the quality of the output, and the kind of complex engineering and computation that would be needed to actually implement such a thing - and that's only to achieve the capability, never mind organize the economic and political resources to make it happen.

          Lunar elevators would be another story, but even that I doubt we would see this century.

          Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

          by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 10:17:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  0354: (14+ / 0-)

    "Falcon 9 and Dragon are in orbit."

    "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

    by kestrel9000 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:54:40 AM PDT

  •  Watched here (10+ / 0-)

    From central Fl very orange a lot less light than a shuttle but had visibility for a good two plus minutes. Appeared as if two streaks with the rocket in the middle a little dimmer. Very clear sky and very cool.

    •  the wonderful thing about living in Florida.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalHobbit, Troubadour, mookins, texasmom

      .... that outshines the withering heat and the scary alligators, is being able to step outside and watch rockets rising into the night sky.

      Good going, and thanks for the live report.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:49:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dragon in orbit; solar arrays deployed! (18+ / 0-)

    I'm sitting here all alone in front of my 'puter laughing and cheering with the folks.  Life is good.

    Dance lightly upon the Earth, Sing her songs with wild abandon, Smile upon all forms of Life ...and be well.

    by LinSea on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:58:36 AM PDT

  •  I watched it on NASA channel. (10+ / 0-)

    Was pretty awsome to see.

    "I want my fair share, and that's all of it" - Charles Koch

    by nancat357 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:08:17 AM PDT

  •  I think SpaceX will be able to.... (7+ / 0-)

    ...make it fully reuseable. Hell, I remember how excited I was over the McDonnell-Douglas subscale DCX demonstrator. That's a vehicle that should have been continued. Hopefully Elon has people from that program working for him. I couldn't believe it when when the LM design was chosen (Shuttle rehash). But I was excited to finally see them use the linear aerospike engine, though, IIRC, it was still over weight (The engine).

    Regulated capital serves the people, unregulated capital serves itself.

    by Alumbrados on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:23:55 AM PDT

  •  And this is why it matters: (13+ / 0-)

    Four or five billion years from now, the Sun will begin to expand on its way to becoming a red giant and wiping out the inner planets.  Between now and then, large objects may be on track for collision with Earth.  

    Also between now and then, humanity will have the same choice as it did at the dawn of its existence: to venture forth from its original ecological niche into the unknown, or to stay put.  

    The answer, a darwinian age ago, was made unselfconsciously and without the knowledge of what it meant: the spread of humans from Africa to the furthest reaches of the globe brought the diversification of humanity into various new races adapted to new climates, and the certainty that if disaster hit any one niche, it would not wipe us from the face of the Earth.  Famines that struck Africa, plagues that struck Europe, world wars and attempts at genocide: none of these derailed our existence as a species.  

    The answer today comes with greater knowledge than it did at the dawn of human migration.  

    When we establish a sustainable and self-sufficient society on Mars, we will have achieved humanity's second planetary niche in the cosmic ecosystem.  At that point, a catastrophe that takes out one planet or the other will not mean the end of us.

    And when we make our first voyage to another star system, over a time span ranging from thousands of years with present technology, to perhaps several hundred years with future technologies consistent with today's science, we will have truly passed the test of natural selection on the cosmic scale.  At that point we, or our distant descendants, will be able to persist and expand throughout our galaxy, assured of a lineage that lasts as long as there are stars in the sky.  

    This is why sustainability in our times is vital: to keep on track a scientifically and technologically capable civilization that can make those leaps into an unimaginable future.  This is why continuing a robust and ambitious space program worldwide is critical.  From the perspective of cosmic consciousness: the awareness of the universe as potential home to the spread of intelligent life across vast scales of space and time: our distant descendants five billion years hence are no less tangible than our grandchildren.  

    We owe them the right to choose to spread across the galaxy.  At minimum we owe them a planet with sufficient resources and an unbroken lineage of science and technology.  The first commandment of the ethics of the dawning era of our early steps beyond Earth is, Thou shalt not foreclose the future.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:11:30 AM PDT

    •  If I remember correctly, we "only" have 500 (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TofG, Odysseus, G2geek, Troubadour, SoCalHobbit

      million to 1 billion years until the sun expands so far that it will make earth uninhabitable.

      I think we're definitely at a critical point/bottleneck as a species right now(much like the bottle neck that once occurred in Africa, when there were only a few thousand humans left).  Either we manage to become good stewards of the earth and thus allow ourselves the critical time needed to expand into space, or we destroy ourselves because our social evolution can't keep up with our technical evolution.

      We live in interesting times, that much is sure.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:27:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  let's find a link for that and look it up. (8+ / 0-)

        I'd like to get it right, and the difference between 500 million years and 5 billion years is significant in terms of the overall timeline.  

        This is a project I'm engaged in right now: composing a philosophical outlook that embodies an understanding of our existence in relation to the larger whole, given the best available knowledge, and also produces something like a universal ethic.

        Consider the steps that need to be achieved to reach across the galaxy:

        = Renew the human presence on the Moon.  

        = Achieve a human landing on Mars.

        = Develop permanent colonies on both the Moon and Mars.

        = Build those colonies to the point of self-sufficiency.

        = Further develop them to the point where they could become wholly independent of Earth.  This will take a few thousand years.  So far this setup is a "scale model" of what is to come.  

        = During this time there will be advances in physics and engineering that enable us to develop propulsion systems that achieve a respectable single-digit percentage of light speed (c).  This is the gateway to the stars, but the steps will be slow.  

        = We will need to establish further bases in deep space, between Earth and Mars, and then somewhere in the vicinity of Jupiter and Saturn.  These will serve as test platforms for the technologies that will enable the interstellar effort, which of necessity must have an energy supply independent of the Sun and capable of running for thousands of years.  Figure another 5,000 years to build an artificial object that can meet these criteria on a scale sufficient to support a self-reproducing population without risk of genetic inbreeding: not only of humans but of the other species that make up the portable ecosystem.  

        = While this is going on, we can launch a "mesh network mission" to a nearby star system, leaving a trail of signal relay stations along the way, to ensure communication.  At a single-digit percentage of c, that mission will take about 5,000 years to build, launch, travel, and arrive, and then another 10 - 50 years for the signals to propagate back to our own solar system.  

        So far we've only accounted for anywhere from 10,000 years to a few tens of thousands of years.  

        But somewhere in the next 150,000 years, it's highly probable that a large object will be headed for an impact on Earth: and these outposts in space will be critical to the mission of detecting and gently diverting any such objects.

        By this point we should expect to have access to a wide range of resources from our star system, to build more and more diverse habitats in space: perhaps even on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.  

        By this point we should expect to have a fully functioning network for continuous "off site backups" of the entirety of human knowledge, and to achieve some means of transplanting as much of the Earth biome as needed to restart an Earth-like ecosystem anywhere that conditions are right.

        Also by this point we should expect to have achieved some kind of objective evidence of other intelligent civilizations, and some estimate of the quantity of these civilizations in our galaxy.  Realistically I think that's coming much sooner than we expect, and it's probably only a few discoveries in basic physics away.  

        If nothing else, the "mesh network mission" relay platforms could also function as a wide-area astronomical array, producing imaging of a type and quality that will enable close-ups of planets in nearby star systems and detection of life in star systems at great distances.

        Somewhere in the range of 30,000 - 50,000 years from now, we can expect to start building an interstellar colony ship.  This will be a living colony of a few thousand humans, an independent society in which generations live and die in interstellar space on the way to a new star system.  That voyage could take from many hundreds of years to a few thousand years.

        Then comes the project of finding and making use of a habitable planet without having to wipe out an indigenous ecosystem.  

        Then comes the project of building another colony on that planet, introducing Earth-originated life, terraforming the surface, and developing a complete and viable civilization there.

        To be quite clear, I am not suggesting that we will be able to transplant billions of humans from Earth and Mars to new homes before the Sun begins its expansion phase.  That is unlikely to ever be possible, short of building a roughly 1/3 Earth sized object as a vehicle in which humans and other Earth life can live on its interior surface.  

        However, the populations of both Earth and Mars can reduce naturally through negative population growth, until the numbers that remain are small enough to transport successfully, along with examples of whatever other organisms are selected.

        Yes, this is Noah on a cosmic scale: the ancient myth, along with others, had the seeds of wisdom that will probably remain relevant as long as humans exist.  

        But yes also, humans will evolve: the scale of hundreds of millions of years will see the potential for further development of our species, and a subsequent species more adapted to its task of reaching beyond its present niches and across the galaxy.  For want of a better name, I call that homo noeticus, which originally meant "God-knowing man" or "reasoning man," but in this context means "human or post-human that is at home in the cosmos."

        There is admittedly a "religious" element to this (and here I am choosing words very carefully), in that it speaks to the question of "the ground of being" or foundation of our existence, the question of "ultimate meaning" in the sense of our goals on the largest scales of space and time that we can conceive, the question of death in the sense of the passing of individuals and even entire planets, and the question of ethics in the sense of how we must conduct ourselves along the way.  

        But if anything, this is an agnostic religion, since empirical science by definition cannot address the issues of deity, soul, or what may or may not exist, if anything at all, beyond the natural world that we can observe.  Those issues are a matter of freedom of individual conscience, subject to the necessity for reciprocal respect of pluralism of belief, just as we respect pluralism in other essential characteristics of humans such as sexual orientation.

        I'm potentially looking for collaborators in this project, and I'm also looking to be sure that whatever statements are made about the present state of our knowledge, are accurate as foundations for values and choices that have to be made.  Ideally each participant will be approaching it from their own perspective and doing their own writing, much as is the case with any other evolving philosophical system.  That is, there are many people writing from within each of the world's major and minor philosophies and religions today, and the entirety of those fields consists of all of the individuals' independent ideas contributing to the whole.  

        OK, so who's interested in what may in the end turn out to be a waste of time in pure foolishness, or may turn out to have some influence on or relevance to the future course of our species?  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 03:28:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heh, you've put a lot of thought into this. :) (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          linkage, Troubadour, mookins

          I'm sure that Troubadeur would be a quality collaborator in your project.  Me, I'm just a film-maker who likes to mentally explore possibilities.

          You have a really good grasp of what is necessary and possible in space expansion, imo, but I think your timelines are too conservative.  I think that singularity theorists are right to a large extent and that we are currently moving into a phase of very, very rapid technological advances... probably far more rapid than the vast majority of people currently realize.

          In regards to the expansion of the sun:

          “Life on Earth will have disappeared long before 7.6 billion years,” says Smith, “Scientists have shown that the Sun’s slow expansion will cause the temperature at the surface of the Earth to rise. Oceans will evaporate, and the atmosphere will become laden with water vapor, which (like carbon dioxide) is a very effective greenhouse gas. Eventually, the oceans will boil dry and the water vapor will escape into space. In a billion years from now the Earth will be a very hot, dry and uninhabitable ball.”
          http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/...

          It's going to be a long time before the sun engulfs the earth, but the rise in heat due to an expanding sun is very likely going to make the planet uninhabitable far before that point.    

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:00:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  thanks; and... (8+ / 0-)

            Troubadour would be eagerly welcome in this.

            Conservative timelines:  I tend to be highly skeptical about "the singularity" and also about "artificial intelligence" and nanotechnology as replacement for biological bodies.  To my mind all of those things are articles of faith rather than empirically demonstrable.  

            First of all, we know that nature abhors exponentials even more than vacuums.  The exponential function pointing to "the singularity" will not go vertical as Kurzweil et. al. expect.  It will run into physical limiting factors.  Yes we can expect major advances in technologies, but no, not like that.  

            As for AI, it makes zero falsifiable predictions, so it's not a scientific theory.  Contrast to the Penrose/Hameroff theory of neural computation, which makes about 30 falsifiable predictions that are presently being tested and so far are being supported.  Oh, but the strong AI crowd downright detest Penrose & Hameroff and have all kinds of nasty things to say about them, to which I respond, "empirical results count."  

            Nanotech replacements for brains are just another form of thanatology: a philosophy of death, in this case "immortalism," the attempt to achieve immortality.  The last time humans tried that, it was called alchemy.  So I suppose we can call nanotech brains a form of alchemy also, and once again, there are zero falsifiable hypotheses so it's all faith.  One of two things is true: a)  When you die, your brain shuts down and your mind ceases to exist.  In that case there's "nothing," so there's nothing to be afraid of.  Or b) when you die, the information that constitutes your conscious mind reverts back to some primordial form that exists independently in a (dare I say it?:-) quasi-dualistic sense: in other words, a hereafter.  

            But what isn't true is that you can replace biological neurons with artificial ones and expect to have anything like a continuity of existence.  I've explored this topic in depth, and the best you could hope for is "backward continuity" which is not the same thing as "forward continuity," so the black box on the table thinks it's you and remembers your life, but the black box isn't identical to you, and as far as you're concerned you're still dead as a doornail.

            History has already demonstrated that technological progress outpaces "spiritual progress" or "social progress."  We would be foolish to think that some "miracle" is going to occur and suddenly give every human cosmic consciousness, and the recognition of our potential in the universe at-large, and our responsibility to our distant descendants.  

            We have barely even assimilated the core social implication of clean drinking water, sanitation, and vaccinations: that in exchange for living to 70-something instead of 40-something, we must voluntarily reduce our birth rate or we will overpopulate and overshoot Earth's resources.  So here we go along our merry way toward overshoot and collapse.

            We use quantum physics in our DVD drives and laser pointers, but most people can't explain the most basic things about QM, or about its core philosophical implication that the universe is in a very fundamental way nondeterministic, and that quantum-level indeterminacy interacts with Newtonian determinism to produce extraordinary complexity.  

            So, the ETs could land tomorrow and give us an interstellar propulsion system, and the first thing we'd think to use it for was warfare and consumer baubles.  Thus part of my core message here is that the humans must evolve.  And the pace of that evolution, rather than the pace of technology, is what is going to determine the schedule of our departure for ecological niches on warm islands in "the icy dark abyss."  

            --

            Thanks for taking the time to look up a link, but it would seem that you just ran across that quote in the context of another outpost of religious fundamentalism or something close to it.  So I think I'll go looking for Hawking in his own forum, and other astrophysicists in theirs.  

            --

            If you're an independent filmmaker, you may find some of this stuff is a useful jumping-off point for fiction or even something like documentary.  

            For a while I've had an idea for a story that would depict what appears to be an agrarian society with at most an early 20th century level of technology, but in fact is a sustainable civilization that puts most of its technology efforts into its most important projects, such as the pursuit of knowledge, education, large-scale engineering projects of various kinds, and of course a very ambitious space program.  Might make an interesting film, who knows?  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:48:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Uh yah, not the best link. :/ (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour, G2geek, mookins, SoCalHobbit

              I could have found a better one, but as you can probably tell, I'm currently short on time.  The content of the quote is pretty much accepted scientific theory, though.

              I agree that many singularity theorists probably are overshooting... the truth is probably somewhere in the middle between their theories and the more traditional ones, imo.  I wasn't thinking so much in terms of immortality but in terms of accelerating technological advancements when I mentioned singularity, though, ie. I'd be surprised if we haven't sent off our first interstellar "generation ship" in the next 1000 years or so.(if we don't destroy or seriously damage ourselves before that, that is).

              I wish I could go into this in more depth, but time is kind of running away from me right now.

              "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

              by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:00:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's OK... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mookins, SoCalHobbit

                .... about the link and about time constraints.  So I'll keep this one brief, which means six pages or less:-)

                Technological progress is constrained by political and economic factors, which in turn are constrained by the limits of cultural intelligence, which in turn appears to be bifurcating.  That is, the smart are getting smarter and the stupid are getting stupider, and there are far more of the latter than the former.

                Beyond that, we run into the limits of c, at least as far as present theory understands.   If we build a colony ship within the next thousand years, it will still take anywhere from hundreds to thousands of years to reach its destination.

                And after that, once we have a network of colonies, they will still have lightspeed lag in their communication: anywhere from a few years to a few hundred years (or some day, far more, on the scale of the entire galaxy) for the information they create to propagate to each other.    That's the ultimate speed limit on our ability to interact.

                Or so we think.  And here I'm going to stick my neck all the way out and make a wild-ass speculative prediction that according to present science is unsupported bullshit but none the less may turn out to be true:

                C is only the limit for transportation of matter, but not for communication of information.  Instantaneous communication will eventually become possible, and it may happen sooner than we expect.

                Per present quantum theory, information can't pass between entangled photons.  You flip a photon here, and measure an entangled flipped photon there, and any bit of data you have attempted to convey will only be known when you compare the original state of both photons with the flip you performed on the first photon.  That is, the effect is instantaneous, but gaining the information (knowledge of the state of the first bit) requires verification at normal (c or below) speeds.

                What I think is going to turn out to be true, is this:

                The preceding paragraph holds true for individual photons, but there is no violation of the rules when information is conveyed in relationships or patterns among sufficiently large quantities of photons (or equivalent entangled particles).  

                That is, each bit in the pattern or relationship behaves per the existing established rules, but what the rules do not govern are the perceived patterns between them.  

                I'm trying to describe something here, for which I can't quite find the right words at the moment.  But it's as if a birdwatcher can make valid inferences about the mating habits of a species of birds by observing their feeding habits.  

                There is presently research going on in pattern recognition, that addresses these questions of ascertaining patterns indirectly and from adjacent data.  That's just one area that might ultimately bear on the question of how to operate within "the rules" while in effect circumventing the rules by conveying information in a way that the rules don't cover.

                What one needs in order for quantum entanglement to carry information, is a sufficiently complex system that is capable of handling a vast quantity of entangled bits at any instant.  The only analogies we presently have for this level of complexity come from biology, such as the optical systems of birds, that use quantum mechanical processes to perceive magnetic lines of force as visual phenomena.  The birds are not using a nonlocal method to detect entangled photons, but at least they're using a QM process that interfaces with their neurons, and that's a start.  

                What we observe in biology, could at some point be developed further and then applied as technology.  When that occurs, the "ansible" (science fiction device for instantaneous communication across interstellar distances) will become a reality.  Our network of inhabited worlds will have instantaneous communication.  Yes, you'll be able to make a phone call to a friend halfway across the galaxy.  But the long distance rates will be expensive!:-)

                OK, I said I was going to keep this short, and now that I've stuck my neck out and said something potentially highly foolish, I should probably stop for the moment:-)

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:55:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  My view of that future (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, SoCalHobbit

          occurs in a few steps:

          1.  Filling the Earth-Moon-Mars-NEO system.  (next couple of centuries)
          2.  Asteroid belt and, to a much lesser extent, perhaps Venus.  (a few centuries after that)
          3.  Cutoff point between what can be achieved with passive solar energy and chemical rockets - limited to inner solar system and some expeditions, but not settlements, for Jupiter system.
          4.  Once fusion power and rocketry is obtained, expansion into outer solar system.  (remainder of this millennium)
          5.  Human interstellar travel only occurs when self-contained ecosystems are sufficiently advanced to allow centuries-long travel times, and the human population of the solar system is in the quadrillions.  (few thousand years)

          •  that seems reasonable. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
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            Though I think that any truly extensive settlement on Mars will take a couple thousand years assuming most of the population increase is via breeding rather than immigration from Earth.  There is of course the risk of the place being turned into a slave colony if there aren't sufficient structural measures in place far ahead of time to prevent it.  

            Re. quadrillions of humans in this solar system:  You're probably right about that, though there's an inherent problem, given the finite usable life of a star, of having too many humans in any given star system to successfully migrate out of harm's way when the star begins to go.  

            This is why I don't think Dyson spheres or rings are going to happen: the effort to build something like that only results in a truly enormous population depending on a single star.  Much better to spread out to multiple niches.

            In the same way, emmigration will never be a solution to overpopulation of any given niche: the outflow can't keep up with the breeding rate, but if it does, it ends up exporting biomass, so in effect the biomass of the niche is converted to humans and then exported.  

            Each niche will probably have an exponential growth phase and then a steady-state phase for the remainder of its usable lifespan.  

            Though, you may be right that with any step downward in transportation costs, comes a means by which more humans can switch niches at least once in their lifetimes.

            In the end our most valuable export isn't our biomass, but our information.  

            And per another post in this batch, I tend to think that the "ansible" (instantaneous communications device) will become possible, maybe in the next century or at most two.  This based on the idea that you can't use nonlocality to convey a linear bit stream, but you can use it in a massively parallel configuration to convey information in the form of patterns, where each of the individual "parts" doesn't violate the rules but the existence of "patterns" circumvents the rules.  

            Right now the above, about ansibles, is half-baked, half-assed speculation.  None the less I think there's something there that might be worth pursuing.  And if it works, we might discover why SETI hasn't worked thus far!:-)

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 09:35:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Life spreads along energy pathways. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
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              What that means is that at a certain point we bifurcate into highly mobile, outward-bound, fusion-based civilization and inward-bound, Dyson-spere type civilization that just grows with passive harvesting of solar energy.  It doesn't matter what makes sense in the long-term, just what makes sense as the very next step from wherever people happen to be.  That's why cities get built in floodplains and in the path of persistent natural disasters.  I think you saw my future history diary series that dealt with this Root/Spore divergence.

              Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

              by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 09:56:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Good on ya, I really liked that series! (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
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                Just forgot who wrote it.

                "Fight the real enemy." -Sinead O'connor

                by mookins on Tue May 22, 2012 at 10:15:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  dissipative structures seeking entropy gradients. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour

                Organisms are dissipative structures.  They tend to congregate and flourish where there are entropy gradients, or as you say, energy-flows.

                But I've never connected this with humans settling in flood plains and so on before: that's a damn good insight and it's just made it into the project.

                Speaking of which, how'd you like to get involved with that?  Working on the new paradigm.  It might turn out to be complete foolishness, or it might change the culture in one way or another.  

                I probably saw your root/spore diary, it rings a vague bell, I should probably go back and look it up.  

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:11:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have my own project going on right now (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  G2geek

                  but feel free to steal concepts from any of my comments or diaries.  The Root/Spore stuff was a series of 7 diaries that examined humanity from the distant past into a million-year future.  The series was called "Humanity in One Million Years."

                  Basically Root is staid, tradition-bound, ideological, authoritarian, and inward-looking, but generally prosperous, artistically advanced, and socially sophisticated.  Spore is mobile, dynamic, and prefers de facto freedom over order (though not necessarily explicit, democratic freedom), but may still cling to barbaric cultural values by default simply because it hasn't had time to formulate anything more sophisticated.

                  On Earth today, the US is transitioning to Root from its frontier origins as Spore, and that's causing all kinds of sociopolitical and economic problems.  Meanwhile the technologies we've lately developed - the internet, mobile communications, etc. - are Sporefying old Roots, and causing both positive change and chaos in a number of places around the world.  We need to expand in space to keep the cycle going, otherwise everything becomes Root, stagnates, and dies in some pathetic future ruled by petty hereditary kings and degenerate oligarchs.

                  Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

                  by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:17:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  very interesting, definitely on my to-read list. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Troubadour

                    Seems to me that what you're describing as root/spore dynamics, aren't a fixed historic sequence or cycle of alternating phases, but more along the lines of competing cultural forces that are constantly in play in various forms (e.g. plutocracy vs. the internet).  Neither ever gains enough of an upper hand to destroy the other.   They dynamics are constantly occurring, and when it looks as if either is becoming dominant, the other finds a way to assert itself again.

                    It's entirely possible that what you're doing, and what I'm doing, are parts of an emergent philosophical movement of some kind, that neither of us nor many other participants elsewhere can quite discern the big-picture outline of at this point.  

                    OK, so I'll look forward to seeing you at the "new paradigm conference" or whatever we'all are going to call it five years from now!:-)

                    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                    by G2geek on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:43:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  About rings and Dyson spheres. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour, G2geek

              I think:

              There's the problem of material quantity for either. Planets worth.  

              Rings aren't actually in orbit, so maintaining position is tricky. There's no gravity, so you have to spin them, REALLY fast, adding huge structural loads.

              Dyson spheres... again, no gravity, not in orbit.  

              They make for good sci-fi though.

              Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

              by SoCalHobbit on Tue May 22, 2012 at 03:19:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't mean literal Dyson spheres. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SoCalHobbit, G2geek

                I just mean the vague technological concept of artificial systems passively absorbing a star's energy.  The existence of photovoltaic solar panels is the earliest evolutionary step in this direction.  Once we have systems in Earth orbit, it makes sense to grow them into larger systems over time, and eventually that grows into networks of mirrors and collectors in various solar orbits directing energy to wherever people happen to be in the solar system.  

                That, in turn, becomes even denser and more abstruse, and eventually you end up with something conceptually similar to a Dyson sphere but very likely not a continuous structure so much as simply a means - however devised - of maximally absorbing a star's energy.

                Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

                by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:13:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  how'bout this: (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Troubadour, SoCalHobbit

                  Large solar arrays within usable distances of stars, converting solar radiation into lasers that relay the energy across space, to converters at at the other end and then into usable form.

                  With this, you could have "planets" that are positioned safely in interstellar space, receiving energy from a number of stars.  Planet-sized objects are inherently nice because the mass captures and keeps an atmosphere with no further need for maintenance.  And if the solar capture & relay system broke for one of the stars that were feeding energy to a "planet", the "planet" would continue receiving more than sufficient energy from systems installed at other stars, until the nonworking one could be replaced.  

                  Further, if any star in that setup went red giant, the "planet" would be far enough away to be safe.  The only sources of risk at that point are novas, supernovas, and gamma ray bursters, the first two categories of which could be avoided by careful choices of locations.  

                  So envision a network of artificial planets, or captured planets, all running on energy from a network of stars.  That kind of configuration could remain stable indefinitely.  

                  And since gamma ray bursters are the most significant threat at that point, engineering development could be directed toward means of preventing them or shielding from their effects.   Once you're in the business of towing Earth-sized objects around the galaxy, it shouldn't be out of the question to find a way to deal with gamma ray bursters.

                  "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                  by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:29:30 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Maybe, but I prefer to avoid specific speculation (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SoCalHobbit, G2geek

                    about how technology will do things, because it almost always turns out to be wrong.  Real technology is subtle, and you only ever know how to do something in the process of trying to do it.

                    What you're saying does make sense though.  Civilizations closer to a star would wield the flow of such energy to outward locations in the same way as a hydraulic empire, and thereby extend Root further out.  Spore, I think, would just eventually build its own artificial stars, whatever that means or entails.

                    Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

                    by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:23:12 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  interesting how that ties in with your ideas there (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Troubadour

                      ... and yeah I'll have to go back and read those diaries.

                      Silly goose that I am, I was just assuming that the civilization that went around building planets or towing them into safe locations, would control its own stars.  Kinda' like workers owning the factory.  D'oh!

                      Yes the hydraulic empire meme would make for some interesting science fiction.  Though you'd probably need FTL travel in the picture somewhere, because otherwise there's nothing anyone could gain from the population of a planet to make it worthwhile trying to manipulate them with threats of that sort.  

                      Except for one thing:

                      Emotions.

                      Since a story like that has to make wild assumptions anyway (e.g. FTL travel), how'bout the rulers of the hydraulic empire feeding on the emotions of their slaveys on the planets they control?  That kind of plot could partake of traditional vampire mythos about feeding on souls and so on.  Using the vampire archetype would give it a kind of historic resonance to make the wild plot devices more plausible to the reader.

                      And one of the ways to extract more juicy emotions from a slave planet population is by constantly keeping them in a state of logical double-bind and internal conflict, using control of their energy sources as a means of manipulating them.

                      That could be done either overtly, as in, the Evil Empire keeps making self-contradictory demands in order to stir up shit, or it could be done covertly through other means such as just varying the energy supply in a manner that reinforces whatever conflicts were already festering.

                      And the focal point of the story might be a resistance group on a planet, that has to capture two stars in order to have redundant energy supply: either taking them back from the Evil Empire or finding two new stars and building energy relay systems.    

                      For that matter the whole theme of "star mining" could become the basis for two warring societies, but that's an entirely different story plot from the above.

                      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                      by G2geek on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:36:15 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I don't think FTL is necessary. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        G2geek

                        By the time things like this are taking place, the civilization isn't really human as we know it - it's just human-derived.  This isn't Singularity stuff, just the natural outgrowth of technological economics.  So the time limits that human beings have to deal with aren't that much of an issue - people would either live much longer, or they would adapt culturally to very long durations in the "Long Now" sense.

                        Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

                        by Troubadour on Wed May 23, 2012 at 09:56:02 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  most interesting; say more (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Troubadour

                          What you said: Not-singularity and "So the time limits that human beings have to deal with aren't that much of an issue - people would either live much longer, or they would adapt culturally to very long durations in the "Long Now" sense."

                          That sounds like two points that triangulate on some very interesting original thinking on your part.

                          The estimates I've seen for maximum human lifespan are in the range of 120 - 150 years within the limits of present science and plausible technology.  

                          One might speculate that once humans expect to live beyond a century, the significance of "century" brings about a major shift in cultural perspective.  That could be the leaping-off point for much philosophical inquiry and/or much interesting fiction.

                          But even without humans routinely passing the century mark, cultural adaptation to "the long now" is a topic I've been exploring as well, and I'd be seriously interested in your thoughts on this.

                          The language I've been using for that adaptation is "cosmic consciousness," taken from the writings of R.M. Bucke, who believed that humans were evolving toward a much broader and more enlightened perspective.  Writing in the years before WW1, he forecast that the widespread adoption of "aerial navigation" (air travel) would break down the boundaries of nationality.  (He also forecast universal socialism, oh well...)  But his core thesis was the idea that individuals would come to view the cosmos at-large as humanity's home, and feel a sense of universal kinship across vast distances and time spans.  In religious terms what he's talking about is the principle of oneness.  

                          This expanded perspective already seems to be emerging in the culture, and "the long now" would be one expression of it, along with the familiarity of space travel, and the sense of responsibility for the entirety of Earth's ecosystems, and the acceptance of empathy as an essential characteristic of psychologically healthy humans.  

                          It could be said that the predominant struggle of our times is between those who can conceive of this broader horizon, and those whose primary motivations are toward unlimited self-aggrandizement.  If those of us who have the "new view" also had the sheer guts to throw down the gauntlet in such blunt terms, it's entirely possible that the result would be a culture war like nothing seen to date.  

                          We've already gotten a glimpse of this in the form of the extreme right's reactions to Obama on health care, birth control, and a few other issues, where a thoughtful expression of a well-reasoned policy brings forth a chorus of teeth and claws itching to draw blood.  

                          This may be the defining conflict of our times: the evolutionary struggle for the nature of the human species.

                          But what did you have in mind by "cultural adaptation to the Long Now"?

                          (I'll be away from desk until mid to late afternoon, be back then...)  

                          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                          by G2geek on Wed May 23, 2012 at 10:24:22 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  BTW, i've been reccing your comments but it seems (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Troubadour

                          ... that the Rec button has been broken again, so they aren't showing up or getting recorded.  Just in case you're wondering:-)

                          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                          by G2geek on Wed May 23, 2012 at 10:25:24 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  oh, good point. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Troubadour, SoCalHobbit

                Like the Air Force's attempt to build disc aircraft based on UFO observations.  They discovered that the disc is highly aerodynamically unstable.  It doesn't make a good aircraft at least using engineering principles that were known in the mid 20th century.  (However that line of research did lead to the "ground-effect machine" which evolved into the hovercraft that is today common in military and civilian work.)

                So if rings and spheres are gravitationally unstable and need to be spun fast to maintain stable position, which increases the structural requirements to the point of untenable costs, then we can safely dismiss rings & spheres at least as far as present science is concerned (theories of mass, inertia, momentum, etc.).  Though, this stuff is Newtonian physics, so it's going to be unlikely to find a workaround.  

                Know what's cool?  ET has Newtonian physics too.  That is, the rules are the same throughout the known universe, and one thing we can count on is that every other technlogically-capable intelligent species has discovered Newtonian physics.  So one of the first things we would seek to achieve for communication with other civilizations, is to use Newtonian physics as a basis for obtaining workable translations of each others' mathematical symbol systems.  

                Once we have that, we can "talk in math" with the proverbial Grays.    

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:19:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  I heard a couple of factors (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lawrence, Troubadour

        that are relevant, though I don't know if they're true, or will matter much. Anyway, firstly, I've heard that as the Sun expands it will cool a bit. I'm not sure if that is in regards to overall, or the core, or the surface, or what. Secondly that the diameter of Earth's orbit is increasing over time. Not sure by how much.

        If those two are true, we may have a bit more time...  

        Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

        by SoCalHobbit on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:26:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep, we might have more time. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour, SoCalHobbit

          And tbh, if we haven't figured out interstellar travel on a large scale within the next 100 million years or so, then we're probably screwed/not a viable interstellar species.

          "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

          by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 03:46:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The surface of the star cools (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SoCalHobbit

          because there's a lot more of it, but it emits more total energy, and its expansion would put the photosphere closer to us, so there's no counterbalance - Earth would be cooked.

          Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

          by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:15:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  ? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, JayBat, atana
      At that point we, or our distant descendants, will be able to persist and expand throughout our galaxy, assured of a lineage that lasts as long as there are stars in the sky.  

      This is why sustainability in our times is vital: to keep on track a scientifically and technologically capable civilization that can make those leaps into an unimaginable future.

      So, if for some reason all funding for space exploration were to end permanently, there would be no point in working out sustainable existence on Earth?
      •  sure there would, but it would be... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        .... something more like building a nice hospice in which the entire lineage of Earth stayed only to die off.

        Here's the key piece:

        Having a good and sustainable life for a few hundred thousand years until a large object smashes into the Earth and wipes out everything more complex than bacteria, is good enough for the countless billions of people who are not alive when that impact occurs.

        But the failure to spread out to other planetary niches condemns us to extinction.   And it also means that when an object impact occurs, or much later when the Sun goes, whoever is around at that point will face agonizing death that could have been prevented.  That would be a few billion of our distant descendants.  Not only that, but they would also know that when they were gone, that was The End for Earth-based life: something analogous to an entire family dying as an ocean liner sinks:  After us, nobody, and nothing.

        Sustainability necessarily comes before large-scale space migration.  Sustainability is a precondition for large-scale space migration.  We have to achieve a sustainable existence here on Earth or we will not have the capacity to muster the needed efforts in space.  In the same way, we will have to outgrow war and racism and various forms of petty tyranny or we will not be able to complete the tasks that can take us to the stars.  

        So either way we have to achieve sustainability: reduce our population and consumption impacts, live within our solar energy budget, and shift our culture away from its obsession with consumer baubles and domination of others, toward a commitment to cooperation that will enable us to some day make the leap if we choose.  

        The key ethical value is to not steal the choice away from those who have no say in the present.  This also puts sustainability in the context of the bigger picture of the ultimate goals and destiny of humans.  

        Right now it's all too common to look only a few decades ahead.  But taking the long view puts all of this into a new perspective.  Once a person makes that leap in consciousness to the big-picture view of humanity at home in the cosmos for what amounts to eternity, everything else falls into place and the pattern makes immediate sense.  

        And another effect of this, is to contextualize our present political struggles into the long sweep of history.  

        And last but perhaps best of all, it's an antidote to the epidemic of pessimism that otherwise holds sway.  When you can look at those NASA photos from the Hubble and think "home!", and when you can look forward billions of years and think "my grandchildren!", and when you can feel it as well as think about it, you're there.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue May 22, 2012 at 09:54:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Pretty much. (0+ / 0-)

        Life either grows or dies.  Stagnation breeds madness and disease.

        Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

        by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 09:59:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hooray for the launch! (4+ / 0-)

    Hopefully, this is the first nail in the bloated budgets of Boeing, etc.

    Radio Free Moscow -- A Blue Beacon in the Red State of Idaho -8.5219, -2.0592

    by brentbent on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:19:13 AM PDT

    •  More likely the Empire will Strike Back. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars

      Frank Wolf et al will try to send as much money to the Biggies as possible while they still have the chance - a smash-and-grab operation.  That's why the Air Force tried to hand ULA an exclusive 20-year launch contract even as their launch costs went through the roof and SpaceX was offering prices at a third as much.

  •  Post-launch news conference can be seen (4+ / 0-)

    on NASA TV right now:

    http://www.nasa.gov/...

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:37:46 AM PDT

  •  You mentioned a threshold. (4+ / 0-)

    I've heard it explained with a story about a frog and a staircase.

    The steps are each nine inches high, but the frog can only jump six inches. So he practices and gets higher. Still stuck at the first step, he gets to seven inches, then eight inches. Finally the day comes when he can jump nine inches, at which point, he can not only get to the second step, he can zoom all the way to the top of the stairs.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:41:34 AM PDT

    •  Good analogy. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SoCalHobbit

      It's also been said that Earth orbit is halfway to anywhere.  We live at the bottom of a gravity well that is right on the cusp of being impractical to escape, so once we do escape it practically, we're pretty much free to do whatever we want.  And subsequent gravity wells won't be nearly as problematic - the Moon and Mars are much easier to work with.  By the time we get around to colonizing gas giant moons, we'll have propulsion that can deal efficiently and/or quickly with the delta-v requirements.

      •  ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        "Get to low-Earth orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system." -- Robert A. Heinlein

        Here's a more complete picture, but it doesn't account for planetary momentum-stealing maneuvers that are possible once free of a planetary well:

        Gravity Wells (xkcd)

        Nor does it account for the fact that getting out of a planetary well is necessarily done quickly, while interplanetary can use much more efficient rockets and methods.

        •  Oh yeah, I remember that! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eyesoars

          It actually illustrates an interesting and portentous point for the future shape of human colonization: Although not expressly shown, Callisto - further out from Jupiter than Ganymede - is at one of the most ideal locations in the entire solar system for going anywhere else: Not terribly deep in either the Sun's or Jupiter's gravity well, not a very deep well itself either but still deep enough to function on its surface, far enough away from Jupiter to have a relatively safe radiation environment (with reasonable shielding), and an inexhaustible supply of volatiles.  Titan's in a pretty good position too, although having a thick atmosphere makes everything a lot harder, and Saturn is too far away for solar power.

          Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

          by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:17:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  My dog did that as a puppy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, SoCalHobbit

      We had her confined to the basement when we were at work, no gate because she couldn't climb stairs.  She kept trying, but couldn't make it.

      We came home from work one day and found her stuck on the second floor.  Once she could climb one step, she climbed them all.  Of course, it took a little longer to figure out how to get back down...

      •  Strangely, that's a good analogy for space too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalHobbit, Norm in Chicago

        Once we have a massive economy outside of Earth's gravity well, it will eventually prove a lot cheaper to just stay out there than to keep coming back down.  The Main Belt asteroids will eventually become humanity's main habitat in the solar system - island archipelago civilizations like in the Aegean - because of the low delta-v requirements of moving around between a lot of them.  And it's still close enough to the Sun that passive solar power is still feasible, yet far enough away that there's a lot of ice available.

        Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

        by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 10:02:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank god the corporations will own outer space (4+ / 0-)

    because they've made life on earth a paradise.

    NOW SHOWING
    Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
    Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

    by The Dead Man on Tue May 22, 2012 at 03:57:32 AM PDT

    •  They have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, debedb

      Let's go back in time and ask any 15th century commoner (and most nobles) if they would rather keep their current existence or trade with yours. Television, fresh fruit from all over the planet, antibiotics, clean water and good food on demand, automobiles, cell phones, in-home heating and cooling, cheap travel to almost anywhere in a short time, yeah, life just sucks so badly these days, huh?

      Corporations and the desire to make money are a big part of why your life is so comparatively awesome right now.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:00:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the corporations desire to make money... (0+ / 0-)

        Is what is visciously raked over the coals every day here. I understand that what is really criticized is the fact that many of the businesses never take the next step and look for ways to use profits for the betterment of humanity as a whole. It could be stated that this is an example that like people, most corporations never reach the top of Maslow's  pyramid, while a few select might. But I gaurdedly use that analogy for fear of supporting the argument that corporations are people, so they have right's extended to them in the Constitution.

      •  It's not a desire, it's a singular overriding (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        purpose.  Anything other than that is marketing bullshit.  Corporations have their uses, but are only a good when shackled by regulations.  We're in a time where corporations are unchained, and the result is a move back to the 15th century.

        NOW SHOWING
        Progressive Candidate Obama (now - Nov 6, 2012)
        Bipartisan Obama returns (Nov 7, 2012)

        by The Dead Man on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:29:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You don't know what you're talking about. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Norm in Chicago, debedb

      SpaceX is an entrepreneurial company owned and controlled by a single, visionary individual who also happens to be spearheading the EV revolution and solar panel installation industries.

    •  No, thank god senators won't own outer space (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, debedb

      I don't know about you, but I think I have a much better chance getting to space relying on SpaceX and Elon Musk over the US Congress and Oren Hatch.

  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    fantastic post !!
    I googled Space X

    top story is:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/...

  •  Why do we never hear about the rival (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    To SpaceX, Being developed by orbital science???

    "Y'know what intelligent people call someone who runs around saying NO to everything all the time? A three-year-old who needs a nap." BiPM

    by stevenwag on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:41:47 AM PDT

    •  Same reason you can't see a lightbulb (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars

      next to the Sun.  Orbital does decent work and was begun as an entrepreneurial space company, but they've become mostly traditional in how they do things.  Their system isn't even close to being as advanced, cost-effective, and new as the Falcon 9 / Dragon, they're not nearly as far along in development, and as a majority publicly-traded corporation they literally can't make the same kinds of commitments that SpaceX does.  They would be exciting if SpaceX wasn't in this, but it is.  

      SpaceX doesn't really have competitors - just some bloated and paralytic old companies sponging off Congressional largesse, and some much less ambitious and/or much less funded other innovators doing some nice but hardly breathtaking work.  They're at the very pinnacle of a very steep pyramid of both talent and ambition.

      Again, it's not a slam at Orbital or any other enterprising company - it's just a fact that SpaceX is basically the Apollo Program of Newspace.

    •  They'll get press when they fly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, DesertCat, eyesoars

      SpaceX didn't get press until their Falcon 1 rocket launch.

  •  You should mention this (6+ / 0-)

    The founder of the company Elon Musk is also the founder of Tesla Motors.

    Elon Musk is single handedly revolutionizing the way we drive AND AT THE SAME TIME the way we fly into space.

    In both cases he's taken the traditional models taken them apart and created better and more efficient models.  In the case of the Tesla cars everything in the car is being redesigned from the tires up.  

    Suffice it to say that he's making MANY enemies in both industries and in political circles.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:51:22 AM PDT

    •  and Solar City, too (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, eyesoars, debedb

      Elon Musk is kind of like Tony Stark without the heart problem.

      "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

      by Explorer8939 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:42:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I actually wrote a diary about him last year: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      US Blues
    •  Ummm, well, slight exaggeration... (0+ / 0-)

      The Roadster is built on a Lotus chassis/body (not even slightly ground-up), and the battery technology is absolutely plain vanilla.

      That said, it is a seriously cool US$110K car, once they figured out how to keep the transmission in one piece.

      But there is no way that a car that has sold a grand total of 2500 units has "revolutionized the way we drive". I would think that more electric miles are driven on the Leaf and Volt platforms this month than all Tesla Roadster miles combined over the life of the product so far...

      -Jay-
      
      •  At least as far as the Volt is concerned (0+ / 0-)

        that car wouldn't have existed without the Roadster shattering the status quo.  Let's not forget before Tesla came around, the major auto manufacturers were just beginning to come around to the idea of a tiny little electric motor attached to the engine - the Prius.  Pure EVs were derided as a lame, pathetic, underpowered joke for hippies to drive.  After Roadster, GM initiated a crash program to push the Volt into production, and other car manufacturers have poured resources into efficiency to keep competing even if they aren't pursuing EV yet.  

        Without Elon Musk, I don't even want to think about what the auto industry would be like right now.  

        Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

        by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:40:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're about 2 years and 2 models out of date (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, eyesoars

        Tesla will be delivering the Model S next month and that was built from the ground up.  The Model X will be shipping out in 2014 and even the way the rear doors open is different, ala the DeLorean but better.  

        The Roadster was only meant to be a limited edition to raise some cash and perk up interest.  The Model S is Teslas first mass produced vEhicle.  I believe that as soon as they start hitting the road you'll be reconsidering your comment

        This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

        by DisNoir36 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 03:06:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not out of date at all. How can cars you can't (0+ / 0-)

          buy "revolutionize the way we drive"? I was targeting your hyperbolic comment. I'm fully aware of the non-shipping cars you mention.

          So far, Tesla has succeeded, after initial difficulties, in building boutique quantities of a seriously cool toy, based on an off-the-shelf chassis.

          I agree that if Tesla can deliver on the Model S then they will be incrementally profitable and have a good chance to survive. Can Tesla build a drive train that will run a 4900lb (as opposed to 2900lb) car 0-60 in sub-6 and survive 150kmiles? Can they make a car that survives every-day take the kids to school driving (the Roadster doesn't see much of that!)? Can their battery supplier chain keep up?

          They have a chance, but they haven't done those things yet, that's all I'm saying. Your comment had Tesla crossing the finish line in triumph before the real race has started.

          And DisNoir36? You might want to forgo the DeLorean comparisons. That thing was a serious POS. :-)

          All the best, -Jay-
          
          •  The Model S is scheduled to deliver (0+ / 0-)

            to first costumers within weeks from now.

            Obviously Tesla's success is not a foregone conclusion, nor is SpaceX's, nor is Solar City's, but to deny that all three have changed things and are continuing to change things in their respective industries is just denial, not skepticism.

            Both Tesla and SpaceX have succeeded at breaching a psychological barrier in their industries - Tesla by showing a sexy, high-performance pure EV sports car that beat Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the race track, forever obliterating the stereotype of the EV as a weak, underpowered hippie-mobile.  SpaceX, meanwhile, has conclusively proven that the costs being charged to taxpayers and global consumers of launch vehicles by the existing rocket companies are unnecessary and are a result of corporate culture that resists innovation rather than any real technological limitations.  

            They will be the first operational launch company ever to make a serious go of trying to attain reusability in their launch vehicle, and will give us credible findings about whether and to what extent that is actually feasible.  If they tell us it can't be done, we can actually believe them.  And if they do achieve it, we'll know the other companies just never felt like trying because they were making too much money sponging off cost-plus contracts.  Either way, we'll get some real answers for the first time ever - answers not based on Congressional politics and bloated corporate bureaucracy.

            Solar City, meanwhile, has done something more subtle but still profoundly productive - they've shown the solar industry that the biggest obstacle to massive growth is the complexity of the process standing between consumers and fully-functioning systems, so they've turned solar energy into a service rather than a product and they just keep growing hand-over-fist because the way they do things can't be outsourced to China.  Let me repeat that: They're growing an industry that can't be outsourced to China.  

            To pooh-pooh these accomplishments already achieved, let alone what they may potentially become, doesn't seem like it adds anything.  It just sounds like shit-talking against miraculous over-achievers to sound like you know something we don't, and it's not convincing.

            Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

            by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:53:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Amen. Let me just add (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Troubadour

              First I was only referring to the fucking doors on the DeLorean not the car itself.  

              Second, the mere fact that we have the Leaf and Vilt shows the industry is being revolutionized.  But those cars still rely on old technology, ie. the internal cumbustion engine.  When, not if, Tesla shows that the new all electric technology can work, it will revolutionize the industry even more.  

              Third, maybe I'm being overly optimistic but the fact that those boutique quantities of a cool toy have blown away their competition, using a borrowed chassis no less, makes me confident that the new models will as well.  Fact us the Midel S and Model X were designed from scratch.  No borrowed chassis.  I'm confident that their rides will be better than comparable luxury sedans.  I also suspect in a few years you'll be eating serious crow.

              Fourth, the comment about Lugging a 4,900 lb car and doing 0-60 in under 6 sec or lugging kids around just proves how ignorant you are about what the Tesla is about.  The reality is the Model X which stands for crossover has seating for 7.  It's a family vehicle.  It achieves this by putting the trunk in the front and the cool falcon doors allow easy access to the third row.  Also the Teslas don't have the traditional engines so the notion that the car will have to weigh more to carry more is an outdated idea.  The Teslas get higher torque from their watermelon sized 'engines' located between the wheels than your traditional engine.  Smaller engines, more torque, less weight.  Oh and they foo this and can STILL bet over 250 miles on a charge.

              So please next time please be more informed when bashing a car or company you have no clue about.  I suggest you inform yourself at teslamotors.com

              This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

              by DisNoir36 on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:39:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for some good news! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, JayBat, eyesoars

    So much of the news is depressing anymore.  What a joy to read about something like this.

    Someone (Buckminster Fuller?) once said that the real wealth things like this create is the engineering knowledge base that gets developed as the thing gets built and launched.

    What a good way to start the day.

    It is the highest impertinence ... in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, ... They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. - Adam Smith

    by treesrock on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:09:27 AM PDT

    •  Investment in space benefits literally everything. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars

      Every area of science, every area of engineering, every area of business.  Because it combines all these areas into a handful of high-stakes bottleneck moments, and ongoing operations have to involve a high degree of integrated systems management.

    •  Heinlein testified to congress about this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      ... pointing out that, absent the space program, he would not have been alive to testify. His life literally depended on several medical technologies that were developed as spin-offs of the space program.

      ('course, he's dead now.)

  •  The silence is deafening! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Norm in Chicago, Troubadour

    There is nothing at all on CNN International, even in the tech section and one story on CNN US Edition. It was on local tv here in Florida. The big aerospace corporations are probably pissing their collective pants about now.

  •  so happy this worked! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, Troubadour, JayBat, eyesoars

    I'm glad to know we can still get to the ISS.

    tweet from a space fan:

    Wil Wheaton ‏@wilw
    I have something in both of my eyes. @spacex #DragonLaunch
  •  O joy! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    Now please, somebody, invent something to get us off this rock!

    "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

    by escapee on Tue May 22, 2012 at 05:53:11 AM PDT

    •  Wherever you go, that's where you are. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat, SoCalHobbit

      But I find that fact to be encouraging, not discouraging.

    •  Hmmm, well.... (0+ / 0-)

      Unlike you, I'm rather fond of "this rock", and think I'll keep working to make things better here. Space exploration is important, but if you think that humans will magically become less violent and selfish once they leave the surface of earth, I'm afraid you'll be badly disappointed.

      All the best, -Jay-
      
      •  That doesn't really matter, does it? (0+ / 0-)

        Violence and selfishness are ultimately self-limiting, so the challenge is to ensure that civilizations which become suicidal don't trap the entire species - and that means opening up the rest of the solar system and eventually beyond.  

        When you have a frontier - especially one as vast compared to the settled territory as the solar system compared to Earth - people can just up and leave when things go bad, and they can start entirely new societies that experiment with better ways of doing things.  Some of them turn out to be horrors.  Some of them turn out to be miracles.  Once the initial challenges of survival are worked out, most muddle along well enough.  

        But no one is in a position to bring down the rest of the species if they screw up.  At least, not for a very long time.  It's difficult for most people to imagine the vastness of this one, tiny solar system compared to our world.  There could be a quadrillion people and not make a dent in the colonizable potential habitat volume.  Let me put it this way: More human history and more change will unfold in the rest of this solar system than has ever unfolded on this planet, and it will happen far more quickly - a thousand years will bring more change than the million before it.

        You're right, we'll still be animals with a little patina of consciousness on top of it.  But that's not really relevant, because ultimately life and intelligence are expressions of the universe itself.

        Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

        by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:48:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You both (0+ / 0-)

        make a lot of assumptions based on one short statement.

        "Republicans are poor losers and worse winners." - My grandmother, sometime in the early 1960s

        by escapee on Tue May 22, 2012 at 04:11:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  NASA: SpaceX Transports Student Experiments to ISS (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, Troubadour, texasmom, JayBat

    News Release

    RELEASE : 12-160

    SpaceX Dragon Transports Student Experiments to Space Station

    WASHINGTON -- The SpaceX Dragon capsule, which on Tuesday became the first commercially developed and built spacecraft to launch to the International Space Station, is carrying among its cargo a suite of 15 science experiments designed by students.

    Known collectively as Aquarius, the experiments will assess the effects of microgravity on physical, chemical and biological systems. The students have been immersed in every facet of research, from definition of the investigation to experiment design, proposal writing and a formal NASA proposal review for selection of flight experiments.

    "This unique student activity adds a new dimension to the International Space Station and its role as America's only orbiting national laboratory," said Leland Melvin, NASA's associate administrator for Education. "It also clearly demonstrates that students still can actively participate in NASA microgravity opportunities in the post-shuttle era."

    Aquarius is sponsored by the Student Space Flight Experiments Program (SSEP), which is a cooperative venture by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and NanoRacks LLC, a national science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education initiative. The organizations work together to give 300 to 1,000 students across a community the opportunity to design and propose microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit.

    "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

    by Explorer8939 on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:40:24 AM PDT

  •  Elon Musk... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is no Zefram Cochrane.

  •  I see it when i believe it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayBat

    This was actually government launch ,they used american taxpayer dollars and was launched at a government space facility ,when they can soar on thier own without taxpayer dollars , i will truly believe

  •  One of my friends is an engineer on the team! (4+ / 0-)

    Haven't had time to watch live or keep up with it today (lab work calls, just a small break now for me), but I'm going to catch up with the proceedings when I get some more free time today.

    "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

    by mconvente on Tue May 22, 2012 at 07:59:58 AM PDT

  •  Thank You - N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:41:50 AM PDT

  •  " We are back. " - The Romulans (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ntonlion, US Blues, Troubadour

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:56:43 AM PDT

  •  The Lindbergh effect (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    texasmom, Troubadour, Mannie

    Lots of good comments in this diary, but the importance of the (generalized) emotional response of society is key.  There seems to be something about the nature of the human animal that kicks into overdrive once we see that something is possible by example.  Now we know that it doesn't take a massive government expenditure to launch a working space vehicle.  I'm guessing that I may live to see space exploration (asteroid mining, perhaps) by several companies that have yet to be formed.

  •  Space Sex... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, TofG

    not as easy as it sounds.

    -------------------------------------------------------
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Tue May 22, 2012 at 11:45:40 AM PDT

  •  I am always moved by the beauty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    of these magnificent human creations...

    And Smashing Pumpkins!

    If only donkeys could have elephant balls... Occupy!

    by chuckvw on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:07:52 PM PDT

  •  Just curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    How does an unmanned rocket deliver supplies to the International Space Station?  Seems a bit risky.  Is it done by remote control?

    Let's just say, I wouldn't want to be sitting in the Space Station waiting for that unmanned behemoth to dock with my spacecraft home.

    "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Edward R. Murrow

    by Betty Pinson on Tue May 22, 2012 at 12:40:49 PM PDT

    •  What's planned to happen (0+ / 0-)

      is that for the next few days Dragon won't be anywhere near the station - it'll be miles below it testing its navigation software, thrusters, and every other system to make sure it can move around predictably and execute emergency precision maneuvers.  Then NASA will make a Go/No Go decision on letting it approach the station.

      It'll keep doing precision maneuvers as it approaches to make sure that it can stop and change course if it needs to.  Resupply vehicles move very very slowly as they approach the station, and in Dragon's case it will come to a stop like a dozen meters away and an astronaut on the station will use a remotely operated grappling arm to grab it and pull it into dock.

      Part of its movements are autonomous via programming, but they're always monitored on the ground.  The reason it has to have autonomous capability is that the ground wouldn't necessarily have time to issue commands in an emergency situation during approach, so it has all kinds of complicated algorithms computing probabilities of collision or speed or vector that are out of safety bounds on a continuing split-second basis.  If it senses that its motions exceed these parameters, it aborts and sends itself to a safe distance.  Even if that happens, the mission can continue because the ground can figure out what happen and possibly fix it remotely, then have it try again.

      NASA's been working with SpaceX the whole time developing their docking software and have given their okay to proceed with the mission, so I wouldn't be worried.  Plus they can also give a No Go at any point if they lose confidence in the system.

      Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

      by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 01:20:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, that's very helpful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        It's good to know NASA will have the opportunity to review how its working in space and decide whether or not to proceed before it gets close to the station.

        I'm in a family of jet fighter pilots and so am very skeptical of unmanned craft on risky missions.

        This will be an interesting mission to follow, so thanks for your great diary.

        "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Edward R. Murrow

        by Betty Pinson on Tue May 22, 2012 at 02:08:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Scotty's ashes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    I just read that James Doohan's ashes were on board, as per his request.

    http://mashable.com/...

  •  uh, you're wrong. (0+ / 0-)
    SpaceX is causing the lazy, expensive, entitled Big Aerospace corporations and their wholly-owned Republican politician subsidiaries (and a handful of Democrats, but it's mainly a GOP phenomenon) to become worried and pissed off.
    This has been a conservative/libertarian wet dream for many decades now.  I can trace it back to Robert Heinlein's novels and short stories on the subject that postulated that government funding of space exploration was a dead end and that commercialization by free enterprise was the only way that space would ever "really" be explored.  

    I see there's even a Heinlein Prize program now that grants awards on this basis.  And, oh... SpaceX founder Elon Musk was awarded $250,000 by the Heinlein Prize program, press release here.  I didn't know any of that before typing the previous paragraph.  

    So they love it.  This is just one step closer to getting NASA defunded for them.  They see NASA as an IMPEDIMENT to further exploration of space.  

    I have a non-fic book, the Case for Mars, by Robert Zubrin, which in one of the later chapters, Zubrin recounts his discussions with Newt Gingrich on how to explore Mars through private enterprise and by cutting out NASA.  

    I can forgive Zubrin for this because he's apparently a bit of a neophyte and he has been frustrated by NASA.  And maybe Gingrich is sincere about wanting to send a man to Mars -- I can't see why he would oppose it.  But the whole ARGUMENT behind all this is a conservative one, at heart, that the government can't do anything right and it doesn't really count until private enterprise does it, too.  The ground breaking aspects of the government in getting us to a place where that is possible is totally discounted as an aberration, like the Russians putting the first man in space.

    •  You misunderstand what's happening here. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, debedb
      This has been a conservative/libertarian wet dream for many decades now.
      Sure, if you take what conservatives and libertarians say at face value, but we both know they're not in it to enable "free enterprise" - actual free enterprise ironically requires active government involvement to maintain competition and promote ongoing innovation, because otherwise what results is exactly what has resulted: Monopolies and oligopolies with no incentive to advance the state of the art, and who corrupt political authority into maintaining the status quo.

      What True Believer conservatives and libertarians wanted is to end NASA, pure and simple, and from that they would justify whatever followed - even if nothing followed - as the Will of the Almighty Market that Must Not Be Questioned.  What more cynical right-wingers (i.e., most Republicans) want is simply to put maximum power and money in as few hands as possible and make sure nothing ever threatens it, and that's what had developed with the NASA contractors - companies who deliver ever-less in return for ever-more money.  They see technological innovation as a threat, and were only content to allow commercial public/private partnerships like the one involved in this launch to the extent they didn't actually believe they would lead anywhere.  

      Now that they have proof they work, these Republicans want to kill these programs ASAP, because that's what conservatism generally means - simply being against progress because they find it inconvenient for their personal interests.  

      As for libertarians, they may be happy that commercial contracts allow for lower taxpayer spending than the status quo, but they'll never be satisfied with any kind of public/private partnership.  Those among them with an interest in space fantasize about private interests going to space without any kind of help or input from government, and that's never going to happen.  Even NewSpace companies that do have a decidedly libertarian political bent nonetheless queue up for NASA money to help them along.  Fortuntately SpaceX doesn't give a shit about ideology - it's just trying to get humanity into space, and brings both public and private sectors into collaboration to make it happen.

      So they love it.  This is just one step closer to getting NASA defunded for them.  They see NASA as an IMPEDIMENT to further exploration of space.
      They won't love it for very long when they realize SpaceX is saving NASA and helping it rediscover its true purpose as a public agency.  
      But the whole ARGUMENT behind all this is a conservative one, at heart, that the government can't do anything right and it doesn't really count until private enterprise does it, too.
      I honestly don't care what perverse nonsense Newt Gingrich believes - he's not a credible voice of anything.  The real argument is simply that government is not structurally suited to pursue lower costs, and that reason is why it has to be the one pushing the envelope - because private enterprise usually won't risk its resources like that.  But once you build up core competence, then the challenge becomes to realize economic efficiencies and make things high-volume and low-cost - at that point governments aren't structurally suited to it.  Hence commercial contracting in LEO, which will enable NASA to focus on Deep Space where costs remain prohibitive for private enterprise.

      The whole purpose - the true purpose, anyway - of NASA is to get humanity Out There, and at some point that requires radically reducing costs and increasing volume, and the only way to do that is by commercializing areas of endeavor that have become more or less routine.   If you have an ideological aversion to involving the private sector, then your views would be no more valid or rational than those of teahadists who think space dreams would just miraculously materialize if NASA didn't exist.  Business is a particular tool for a particular job, and in this case the right tool is being used for the right job.

      Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

      by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 06:55:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think I have a pretty good idea (0+ / 0-)

        what True Believer libertarians are like and how they really would look at this, because I used to pitch for the other team, a long time ago.  I realize things change over the years, and I might not recognize modern libertarians, but I don't think they've changed that much.  To hardcore boot-wearin' pot-smokin' scifi-convention-goin', CIA-is-spyin'-on-my-dog libertarians, NASA was the enemy of the future of mankind.  If it weren't for the government holding us back, we'd all be flying hovercars back and forth to Pluto by now.  

        There's a reason that Heinlein was one of the godfathers of libertarianism.  He wasn't an intellectual.  He appealed to a certain lower-level mindset that wasn't able to cope with Ayn Rand's 20 pages without a paragraph break political diatribes.  To those people, this is like the second coming.  Prophecy come true, as written in The Man Who Sold the Moon.  Shit, dude...  Heinlein's estate awarded 250,000 smackers to the guy who founded SpaceX.  That tells it all.  If Ayn Rand had awarded it, it couldn't be any clearer.

        •  I've spent years arguing with space-libertarians (0+ / 0-)

          so I know exactly what they are, how they think, and what they want.  They're happy that commercial contracting is lowering the costs of existing activities, but they'll stop being happy when that fact allows NASA to pursue amazing missions that once again energize the public about the public sector.

          Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

          by Troubadour on Wed May 23, 2012 at 10:05:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I agree to a certain extent with comment just abov (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    But Musk himself doesn't agree with those who would dump NASA:

    At a press conference held after the launch, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk began, “I would like to start off by saying what a tremendous honor it has been to work with NASA. And to acknowledge the fact that we could not have started SpaceX, nor could we have reached this point without the help of NASA… It’s really been an honor to work with such great people.”
    Let's be careful with lumping all contractors for all time together, however. Contractors got us to the moon, contractors got use to Mars first (remember Viking?), and contractors pretty much built everything on the Shuttle program.

    And the fact is that SpaceX is a government contractor too, and will be in the future. They got over $160 million (I know, chickenfeed for this first step) to get to this point, but will possibly be in line for 1.6 billion from NASA to continue.

    I don't think the blistering of all "contractors" is the point of SpaceX -- rather, we should celebrate the can do spirit of the SpaceX founder and his workers as part of the new NASA way forward.  

    •  I refer to cost-plus contractors. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zapus, eyesoars

      And you are correct that such contracts got us to the Moon and built the ISS, but they did so at enormous costs that were never reduced, and they've since so corrupted the politics involved that it's become almost impossible to credibly commit to an exploration program because they'll suck it dry of all funding long before they produce anything.  They've figured out how to game the system, and their partners in crime in Congress are happy to enable them.  The only people who lose are...well..the whole of humanity, because these contractors and their enablers find it useful to keep expectations low.  

      What they learned from the Apollo program was not how to manage a space program, but how not to manage it - they learned that success was just another kind of failure, because the money would be cut off as soon as they did anything: Political leaders would declare victory and then just take away their money.  So they figured out how to draw things out, take eency little steps and tout trivial accomplishments as if they were massive, and meanwhile the costs just kept rising.  

      The Space Shuttle was sold as a reusable, cheap, efficient, safe system to Earth orbit, and it became barely even usable once, the most expensive system ever, taking months to years between flights because of disasters and the massive effort involved in refurbishing between flights, and highly dangerous (the risk of total catastrophe over its entire history was 1.5% - US soldiers in the Vietnam War had better odds).  And the shit of it is that it might have actually been what it was sold as if the technology people had been given the time and resources to do their thing, but the program was turned into a political perversion - arbitrary timelines and politically-driven contracting decisions were forced on the program, and thus it turned into the monstrosity it became.  And the same people are pulling the same shit with the SLS.

      Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

      by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 07:07:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  SpaceX (0+ / 0-)

    So this is another example of a venture Capitalist who took a risk of handing off to the private sector a fed government program, like taking a risk with investing government funds in a risky venture like Auto industry oh the Venture Capitalist Obama

    •  Not sure what you mean. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      debedb

      The Obama administration has indeed been highly supportive of commercial contracting low Earth orbit operations, further showing how psychotic Republicans are who attack them as being against free enterprise.  Meanwhile their own party keeps trying to sabotage the program to serve ULA's anti-competitive practices.

      Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

      by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 07:27:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    love this stuff

    might send my own ashes north someday....

    -8.25, -7.13 "Well, on second thought, let's not go to Camelot -- it is a silly place." "Right"

    by leathersmith on Tue May 22, 2012 at 07:50:03 PM PDT

    •  Hopefully far enough in the future (0+ / 0-)

      that you have a number of options for destination.  The Moon, Mars, and some nearby asteroids would be plausible.  Perhaps Venus, but then I don't know why anyone would want their remains sent to Hell.

      Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

      by Troubadour on Tue May 22, 2012 at 08:07:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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