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About SpaceChampion

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    Ahead By A Century

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  1. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    I learned today SpaceX's original plan many years ago was to get Red Dragon on Mars around 2024. It was only some time in the last two years that they thought moving it up 6 years to 2018 was possible. 2020 is still not bad.
  2. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    The thing is though, in terms of lift Falcon 9 today is better than the Falcon Heavy design from four years ago, and since the F9 is the basis for FH, the latter also has been more than doubled in capability. They've been constantly improving the lift capacity of it with higher thrust and efficiency of the engines in these four years. The whole reason for delaying FH isn't due to problems with the design. It's entirely due to economics, because FH development is nearly "free" by focusing on improving F9, and right out the gate it'll be reusable and cheap. Economically it made sense to wait until F9 was finalized and capabilities maximized before flying the first FH. In terms of payloads, every mission requiring FH in the past is being done on F9 now -- and on the launch manifest they have shifted those flights from one to the other. If they were aiming for neither reusability nor Mars, Falcon Heavy wouldn't be needed all that much any more. But it does make Mars possible, and it does make heavy comm satellites possible to deliver to GEO while still recovering the boosters. The alternative would have been to fly a FH version with half the payload capacity and thrust, expending the whole thing every single time. SpaceX would have still improved the F9 in the mean time, but at a much slower rate due to cash flow being poorer, and then once F9 is finalized some time in 2020 (instead of mid-2017) or later, FH would then be upgraded with the reusable version of the boosters, arriving at a capability necessary for Mars some time post 2021 perhaps? No, SpaceX did the economically smart thing, and I think with no real delay for getting a Dragon on Mars. The first version of Falcon Heavy will be the final version as well, though minor improvement will still probably be made, and a Raptor engine might be tested on the upper stage.
  3. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    Shot from a drone camera: No big deal, just landing with pin-point accuracy a 14-story building.
  4. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    Perfect launch and landing. Now to see if SpaceX can turn around the pad in 9 days to launch the Echostar sat. If so, that might be a record for fastest turn-around time.
  5. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    From Ars Technica:
  6. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    yeah, last minute scrub due to a stuck steering valve on the upper stage, which is kind of important if you want your Dragon to get to the right orbit. SpaceX should be able to fix it and launch tomorrow morning around 9:40am ET.
  7. Trailer Thread III

    Putain de merde! It's a Bon Cop Bad Cop sequel!
  8. Trailer Thread III

    Silicon Valley season 4 teaser trailer
  9. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    Yes; at this point, expected. 2018 was a No-Earlier-Than date anyway. The next launch, for CRS-10 to the ISS, is NET tomorrow. There was some concern weather would scrub it, but the forecast is looking better. 10AM Eastern time, with the first stage landing 10 minutes later at Landing Zone 1 for the first time in daylight. For commerical crew launches, both Boeing & SpaceX have slipped into 2018 for first crewed flights. SpaceX needs to focus on that before expending too much energy on Red Dragon. On the positive side, word from SpaceX is that the pressure shell of the Dragon they used for CRS-4 would be reused for CRS-11, expected April. This would mark the first reuse of a Dragon. Update: Regarding Red Dragon:
  10. Naren Shankar interview video on Afterbuzz explaining some of the choices they made.
  11. Jarring? That's called a reveal. That's how reveals are supposed to be done.
  12. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    It was in 2012, offered by the NRO. Still not used -- NASA doesn't have any spare launch slots, so it might wait until Falcon Heavy is available for a cheap boost to space.
  13. I had forgotten about that line. That would have been great. Would have been perfect to motivate Miller next episode.
  14. SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

    Planet Labs (or just Planet now) recently bought out Google's stake in Terra Bella, their biggest competitor in the nano-sat market. They also just deployed 88 satellites on an Indian rocket, giving them photographic coverage of the entire world. This gif is the sats deploying is really cool:
  15. Sneaky Pete was excellent. Amazing it's the result of a throw-away comment Bryan Cranston had during his Emmy award speech for Breaking Bad.