Feb 122018

We’ve trashed the oceans; now we are turning space into a junkyard for billionaires

Experts say rocket emissions affect our climate and cause ozone loss, yet too few people seem to care

Unless you think that that opening line doesn’t really hammer home the point, there’s this:

You might be tempted to dismiss this as an expensive publicity stunt by a billionaire playboy with too much time on his hands. But in reality it’s an important step towards a time when space travel for your average indolent millionaire will become commonplace. It will probably become another way of managing your finances when Mars inevitably becomes the ultimate off-shore tax haven.

Quite what our fetish for space exploration and spending billions on the technology required to feed this does to the environment is a serious matter. There’s a dissonance emerging here. On Earth, we’re organising summits and setting up carbon footprint-reduction targets all over the shop. Yet, up in yonder outer space we’ve established a giant garbage dump replete with huge hulks of rusting metal and, as of last week, a $200k American sports car.

Indeed, the whole issue of rocket emissions needs to be considered if we’re serious about the environment.

This is symptomatic of the modern luddite, repeating the latest version of the tired old “why spend money on space when we still have problems here on Earth” refrain. These monstrous reprobates were wrong fifty years ago when they managed to kill off Apollo and the first good chance for the conquest of space; they’re even more wrong now as they try to kill off what may well be not only the best, but perhaps the *last* opportunity for western civilization to save itself. Kill it off now with environmental laws and regulations and treaties, as the nattering chicken livered assassin of joy who wrote that opinion piece for the execrable “The Guardian” would have, and we’ll never get the chance again in any of our lifetimes. The Chinese might conquer the universe, planting their red flag of communist genocide on every chunk of rock within a hundred AU, but we’ll be stuck here in ever-increasing malaise, besieged by hopelessness and diminishing horizons, dark age Surt worshippers and astrologers and flat Earthers. Gormless chickenshittery in the face of THE ENTIRE DAMNED UNIVERSE should not be tolerated, much less celebrated, even less paid for. The yammering pinhead even finished off his ill-informed and ill-intentioned piece by suggesting that space aliens are mad at us for ” disfiguring their neighbourhood with obsolete metal junk.”

Sadly, the English language is simply far too limiting to get across the level of disdain and dislike I have for people who get paid to try to convince the western world to cut itself off at the knees.

 Posted by at 12:19 am
Feb 102018

If’n ya want details of the Tesla Roadsters orbit…


The resulting wall-o-data is below the break. Useful for astronomers, but not very enlightening for the layman. Anybody know of a site that cranks out orbital trajectory plots, showing the arrangement of selected elements for whatever date in the future? The JPL Impact Risks site used to be really good for that sort of thing, but it requires a Java applet that makes my computer security system just go “nope.”

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:48 pm
Feb 102018

Fake news! Fake news! The Russians are involved, somehow!

SpaceX Hired Company to Destroy Floating GovSat Booster, Not USAF

The latest journalization has it that SpaceX initially contacted the USAF to take care of their errant floater, but in the end hired commercial “demolition experts” to do the job.

Once again, no details are provided. Obviously, an A-10 opening up a can of BRRRRRRRRRT or a B-1 laying down a bunch of laser guided bombs are no longer options. But one can now imagine a whole range of other options. Perhaps the demolition expert was an 80’s aficionado with a great big speedboat and Nothing Left To Lose, and he actually rammed the Falcon 9 at high speed leading to a gigantic orange fireball…

Probably not, I suppose.

 Posted by at 5:17 pm
Feb 082018

Not the Heavy launched a few days ago, but the previous Falcon 9, launched a week ago and soft-landed in the water.

Air Force Strike Takes Out SpaceX’s Floating GovSat Booster

The booster tested high retrothrust landing. Like a lot of SpaceX’s successful tests, they didn’t expect the booster to survive virtually intact, so they didn’t have a plan in place to recover the thing. Officially that made it a hazard to navigation; boosters like this have carbon over-wrapped high pressure helium tanks and other splodey bits. Unofficially, I wonder if the real reason was a desire to keep the booster from falling into nefarious hands… not so much the likes of United Launch Alliance, but more like Bond villains or the Chinese government (but I repeat myself).

Exactly how the Chinese or SPECTRE would go about snagging a floatign rocket booster is anyone guess. The rational approach would be to pre-position a modified cargo vessel equipped with cranes and such… hardly likely to go un-noticed. Less likely would be to modify a submarine to rise up underneath it, latch on, poke some holes in it, sink and be on its way. Less likely still would be a giant dirigible or seaplane.

These are of course all silly. But then, the CIA paying Howard Hughes to scoop a Soviet ballistic missile sub off the ocean floor was a silly notion as well.

But to the specific topic at hand, I wonder if the strike operation was carried out with laser guided bombs or with gunfire. I suspect the former… a B-1 or B-52 laying waste seems like the sort of excessive drama the situation calls for.

 Posted by at 6:39 pm
Feb 072018

Let me know when those who are fighting against the cis white supremacist patriarchal system of engineering can come up with something like this:

Watching those two boosters plummet from the sky and dual land like that? That’s some sci-fi sh!t, right there.

EDIT: And then there’s this one, shot from the ULA Delta IV launch pad at SLC-37. I believe you can see the Apollo 1 launch table in the foreground, which I’ve been to and highly recommend in much the same way I recommend the Viet Nam Memorial Wall in D.C. This video has some subtle sounds that are interesting and important, so crank up the volume to 11.



 Posted by at 9:45 am
Feb 062018

Here’s a shorter video, cropped for your booster-landing pleasure:

And because why not, here’s some recent test flight footage of the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor, complete with some curious blurring of the nacelles for some mysterious reason:

And lest y’all think I’m unfairly focusing too much attention on American achievements today… here’s a map of Europe.

 Posted by at 5:07 pm
Feb 062018

SpaceX is currently livestreaming a series of videos being beamed back from the roadster, heading off into space. It’s already a good distance from Earth, with the result being some damn fine images. I do wonder how long this will last. It’s already far further away than I would have thought possible with a  meager GoPro transmitter that they usually use on space launches. Is it battery powered? Does it have solar panels? it would be really interesting to check back in on the roadster every few months to see what the rigors of spaceflight do the the paint and bodywork. Eventually you’d probably see the windshield get pitted, maybe even blown out in meteoroid impacts; the paint trashed by UV and thermal cycling, plastic, fiberglass, rubber, carbon fiber bits turning to mush and fluff.



 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Feb 062018

The Falcon 9 Heavy flight went off seemingly without a hitch (as I write this it’s not yet clear if the core booster landed right on the barge EDIT: Whoopsie, the core smacked into the water near the barge at a stately 300 miles per hour due to a failure to ignite two of the three braking rockets). But the two boosters landing simultaneously, side by side… that is hands down no BS the coolest, awesomest, most hopeful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m beyond jealous of the people who work at SpaceX.

How awesome is this? It’s all the awesome. Give it up, Star Wars. There’s no awesome left for you.

Now would be the time for trump to get on live TV and say, in effect, “USA! USA! USA! This is what free men in a free market can do. It’s hyuuuge. It’s beyootiful. And I’m’a gonna take all the moneys the US current sends overseas and instead will pay SpaceX to launch a Trump Casino And Resort to Velles Marinaris.”

 Posted by at 2:07 pm
Feb 062018

Just a few hours from the launch window for the first test launch of the Falcon 9 Heavy, the highest payload capacity launcher since Energia. All goes well, at 1:30 3:15 3:45 PM eastern (11:30 AM 1:15 1:45 PM Mountain), the F9H will lift off from the same pad that launched Apollo 11. Giggity! The live stream of the launch will be carried in the YouTube window below.


 Posted by at 9:23 am