Tuesday, March 4, 2008

No Man is An Island

SpaceX has delayed by nine months the first launch of a Falcon 9 rocket under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Service program. "SpaceX has notified NASA of a nine-month delay," NASA spokesperson Beth Dickey said.

Let us recall that the Emperor has created a growing gap in accessing Low Earth Orbit by prescribing steroids instead of exercising existing assets, is determined to use his shovel to throw dirt on the grave of our last indigenous means of getting to the space station, has not been been allowed yet to send several billion dollars overseas to the Russians to provide a taxi service for our astronauts, and has paid lip service, but little in the way of real resources, to developing a truly commercial crew and cargo service.

And, now, behind all the PR, SpaceX's plans are also starting to unravel.

The bell tolls for thee, Emperor.


Jon Goff said...

A delay isn't the end of the world. SpaceX has made a lot of progress (at least from what I saw when I dropped in a few months ago). Even if it ends up taking longer than their original optimistic schedules, Elon's in this for the long haul. While failure is still a possibility, I wouldn't write Elon's team off yet. They've got a very talented group, and at least this propulsion engineer thinks they've still got a pretty good chance of eventually working the bugs out of their system.

Better a little late than never though.


RayGun said...

I'd give SpaceX a better chance of reaching the ISS than the Ares I has.

Rocket Man said...

Most of the Space 2.0 companies do one or more of the following: They try to violate physics, they do not pay their employees market rates, substituting options instead, they skimp on engineering margins, etc. Witness Musk's other company, Tesla Cars. They can't even get a working transmission in the car because of poor design margins. I wouldn't place my bets just yet.

Anonymous said...

There is something to be said about throwing all your resources up front into propulsion, he has his very own engine. It produced delays in the infrastructure and the manifest, but I think that move will work out for him in the end. If he can increase the thrust of it with more turbopump development, that's even better.

Jon Goff said...

Rocket Man,
Most of the Space 2.0 companies do one or more of the following: They try to violate physics,

Do you have any particular examples? I mean of real, well-known "Space 2.0" companies that violate the laws of physics?

they do not pay their employees market rates, substituting options instead,

Oh noes! You mean space startups act like other tech startups when it comes to compensation!?! Heaven forbid.

they skimp on engineering margins, etc.

Actually, most of the alt.space companies that I work with on a regular basis try to do the opposite--they know they can't throw as much analysis at the problem, so they intentionally work with *higher* margins than is typical for aerospace work. Now, you may have specific counterexamples--I don't claim to know everything about all alt.space companies. But your criticisms ring false at least from what I've seen from most of the better known alt.space companies.


Rocket Man said...

In response to the questions:

Of course a delay is not the end of the world, but for a program that ostensibly is designed to FILL THE GAP, delays are not helping. 9 months will certainly become 12-15 or more...then what's the point?

Previous entries have pointed to the fact that its takes $X to move Y lbs into orbit, primarily because of physical constraints (i.e., allowing large amounts of energy to be produced in a controlled fashion). When we say some companies are attempting to violate physics, we mean that they are proposing a price well below a line that has not been broached because of these constraints. So either someone is losing a lot of money (including employees' pay checks), or if that proposed price actually sticks, a violation of physics will take place. Just look at the pricing history of the Pegasus rocket. Q.E.D.

Fuel slosh is a well-known phenomenon. To have tried to escape baffling the second stage tank on Falcon 1 is skimping on margins. Q.E.D.