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Thread: Commercial Space Exploration

  1. #1

    Default Commercial Space Exploration

    As someone who grew up reading science fiction, its pretty hard not to be excited by the Space X landing of the rocket:

    http://www.space.com/32530-spacex-ro...-pictures.html

    This could be a massive game changer.

    "In order for us to really open up access to space, we've got to achieve full and rapid reusability,” Musk said. "The cost to refuel our rocket -- it's mostly oxygen on board -- is only $200,000 to $300,000, but the cost of the rocket is $60 million … You still have your fixed costs, but in marginal costs, it's a hundred-fold reduction."
    http://news.discovery.com/space/priv...eal-160411.htm


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    Yeah, I didn't even realize it had happened until Saturday morning because there was little media coverage prior to the launch. Watched the webcast Saturday morning and was thrilled to see the perfect landing. It's amazing that a small, privately funded company has managed to accomplish this while the big national space organizations are flying rockets pretty much the exact same way for the past 50 years.

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    The turnaround cost will include more than just refuelling. The space shuttle was supposed to be a way of providing cheaper access to space by re-using the spacecraft, but it never really worked out. Hopefully refurbishment costs won't sink Space-X as well.

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    Watched this live, very impressive.

    I would say while they are technically privately funded I'm not sure they could have gotten off the ground, as it were, without the $500m in NASA contracts it has received. NASA is very committed to promoting private companies to take over all the low earth orbit and has directed a lot of funds that way.

    It was interesting when we were at Kennedy last year how much emphasis the tour guides and displays put on their private sector partners.

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    ^true enough regarding the resupply contracts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    The turnaround cost will include more than just refuelling. The space shuttle was supposed to be a way of providing cheaper access to space by re-using the spacecraft, but it never really worked out. Hopefully refurbishment costs won't sink Space-X as well.
    The shuttle was a whole other ball of wax. From what I understand, the department of defense somewhat hijacked it's design and required it to be able to haul up and down massive recon satellites, causing the design to be much larger and more complicated than NASA had originally contemplated. NASA had intended for it to primarily haul crews, not cargo. This blog talks about that: https://launiusr.wordpress.com/2012/...nt-of-defense/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    The turnaround cost will include more than just refuelling. The space shuttle was supposed to be a way of providing cheaper access to space by re-using the spacecraft, but it never really worked out. Hopefully refurbishment costs won't sink Space-X as well.
    They say it will be test fired 10 times, then sent up again with a commercial satellite. Its a much simpler system than the shuttle, a lot more logical. Their preference is to land them back at the base they take off from (they could have done that with this launch), but some of the heavier loads they have to land at sea so they want to perfect that option.

    ^beat me to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    The turnaround cost will include more than just refuelling. The space shuttle was supposed to be a way of providing cheaper access to space by re-using the spacecraft, but it never really worked out. Hopefully refurbishment costs won't sink Space-X as well.
    There are a lot of differences. In many ways the Falcon is a lot simpler than the shuttle plus their cost objective is fairly modest. They're hoping to reduce total launch costs by 30 per cent.

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    ISS and Dragon X were visible from Edmonton on Saturday night.
    www.decl.org

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    Without NASA there would be no SpaceX and its brilliant boat landing: Just before Christmas, in 2008, the space agency saved Musk's company.

    As Musk ran out of money and was on the brink of having to choose between Tesla and SpaceX:

    two days before Christmas of 2008, NASA announced it was awarding commercial cargo contracts to Orbital Sciences for 19 flights and SpaceX for 12 flights. The contract was valued at $1.6 billion for SpaceX.
    That contract allowed SpaceX to finish the Falcon 9 rocket and build the Dragon spacecraft. The Falcon 9 has become the company's workhorse rocket, which offers launches at a steep discount to competitors. With the cargo contract, SpaceX also positioned itself to win a lucrative $2.6 billion contract from NASA to deliver crews to the ISS beginning as early as next year. During most of his tenure as NASA administrator, Charles Bolden has been a steady ally, continually advocating for more commercial cargo and crew funding for private companies.
    Last edited by Paul Turnbull; 11-04-2016 at 01:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Doh. Fixed now.

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    SpaceX has posted a number of pictures of the launch and landing:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacex

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

  13. #13

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    Here I thought this would be a thread about Calgary's commercial office space once I saw the thread title and the creator.

    Happy to be wrong for the first time ever on C2E.

  14. #14

    Default Alpha Centauria in 20 years?

    More cool stuff, this time with facebook behind it:

    The small ship, which is just the size of a computer chip, will be carried into space by a mothership and then released.

    Once it is released, ground-based satellites situated in one location would fire laser beams at it which would be picked up by the light-sail.

    This would then allow the technology to essentially ride a light beam allowing it to travel at an astonishing 46,500 miles per second – dwarfing the previous record of 40,000 miles per hour achieved by the Voyager 1 space probe.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/scienc...EVER-spaceship

  15. #15

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    Jeff Bezos is also out today, trying to lay out his vision for space tourism. My interpretation of his speech is that he is going after that holy grail of tech scene, creating a "platform" upon which others can provide value add services.

    Financial Times, 13-Apr.-2016
    Bezos lays out vision of space boom

    ...“We need much lower-cost access to space. It’s much too expensive right now,” Mr Bezos said on Tuesday at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Space tourism might provide the same critical boost to space business that selling books had done for ecommerce around the turn of the millennium, he suggested...

    Mr Bezos said that when he started Amazon, he had not had to invent critical infrastructure such as a national transport system or telephone network to carry internet traffic. But “because the big, heavy-lifting pieces aren’t in place” there had been no surge of “thousands of entrepreneurs” doing “amazing things in space” like the one that took place on the internet, he said.
    “This is Blue Origin’s mission — to put this heavy lifting in place.”

    The high cost of access to space meant that only the most important aspects such as ensuring national security could justify the cost of launch, Mr Bezos added. That meant there were only around 50 launches to space a year. United Launch Alliance’s launches of US national security satellites cost an average $164m each.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    More cool stuff, this time with facebook behind it:

    The small ship, which is just the size of a computer chip, will be carried into space by a mothership and then released.

    Once it is released, ground-based satellites situated in one location would fire laser beams at it which would be picked up by the light-sail.

    This would then allow the technology to essentially ride a light beam allowing it to travel at an astonishing 46,500 miles per second – dwarfing the previous record of 40,000 miles per hour achieved by the Voyager 1 space probe.
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/scienc...EVER-spaceship
    The fly in the ointment is he’s not only counting on Moore’s Law, he’s counting on it accelerating. In the meantime, it’s stalling out as we encounter very real physical limitations to how small we can make stuff.

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    ^yeah, I was wondering how something that small would be able to do useful analysis, and be able to send anything back.

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    The problems may be solvable and that's what the $100m is for. Doesn't hurt any of those solutions will have a lot utility for more terrestrial problems too.

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

  19. #19

    Default How to Launch a Rocket

    Last edited by moahunter; 15-04-2016 at 07:43 AM. Reason: gramma (sic)

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    Hawking and Yuri Miller want to invest $100M to launch tiny space craft by lasers

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...-Centauri.html

    The more money you have the more nuttier one becomes.
    Last edited by envaneo; 14-04-2016 at 10:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by envaneo View Post
    Hawking and Yuri Miller want to invest $100M to launch tiny space craft by lasers

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...-Centauri.html

    The more money you have the more nuttier one becomes.
    What's nutty? There are some technical issues that may be difficult to overcome in the short term but it is interesting idea and the base research to develop this plan could have lots of terrestrial uses as well.

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

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    Even if lasers could be used to push a solar sail what's going to slow it down? Hawking and Miller are smart people with some stupid ideas but this one, yeesh. It makes for fun material though for Coast to Coast. "I got Shadow people and they're living in my basement. Got a funny feeling Bigfoot's going to be here soon."
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    Solar sails have already been launched and tested with several more test projects on the go. So yes, lasers can be used to push a solar sail. They're not planning on slowing down, one of their engineering challenges is in developing optics able to take clear photos at the speed these things would be going.

    All the things they need to solve are difficult but all are at least plausible. Whether they are all solvable remains to be seen but the research into these problems provide a lot of useful science and tech.

    http://breakthroughinitiatives.org/Challenges/3

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  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by envaneo View Post
    Even if lasers could be used to push a solar sail what's going to slow it down? Hawking and Miller are smart people with some stupid ideas but this one, yeesh. It makes for fun material though for Coast to Coast. "I got Shadow people and they're living in my basement. Got a funny feeling Bigfoot's going to be here soon."
    Why would it need to slow down? It just has to reach a system, take some data, and send it back. Its the "take some data" and "send it back", bits that I think will be challenging given the size.

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    Send data back at 20% speed of light? We're not in the Star Trek type era here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by envaneo View Post
    Send data back at 20% speed of light? We're not in the Star Trek type era here.
    Not sure what your talking about here. The data will come back at the speed of light, as do all data transmissions from spacecraft.

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

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    Quote Originally Posted by envaneo View Post
    Send data back at 20% speed of light? We're not in the Star Trek type era here.
    Yeah... you might want to take a primer on relativity.

  28. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by envaneo View Post
    Send data back at 20% speed of light? We're not in the Star Trek type era here.
    Yeah... you might want to take a primer on relativity.
    Probably too many kids in his science class...
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    That's why we still get some audio latency even here on earth.

    Hey noodle, you added 2 more to your ignore count, hello noodle? Noodle are you there? Noodle, uh-oh.
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  30. #30

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    Nah, you're inoffensive & inadvertently hilarious far more than you're incensing.

    I don't read the forums outside of working hours, so I apologize if you thought you'd been ignored.
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    Interesting piece by Phil Plait on why SpaceX's Mars plans are plausible.

    SpaceX Wants to Go to Mars—and It Actually Can

    The question I had was how they would have knowledge about how to land on Mars. The conditions are very different with a much thinner atmosphere and lot of speed to deal with. Turns out the data from their landing attempts is perfect for this. High speed, thin atmosphere braking. And they've been trading that info with NASA for information on deep space flights:

    Every booster return is like a real-life simulation of a Mars landing. So SpaceX has been amassing quite a bit of information on how to do this.

    In fact, they’ve been sharing that data with NASA in exchange for technical advice on deep space planning and support. No money has changed hands, just the trade of information. NASA has also pledged communications and telemetry support using their Deep Space Network in exchange for the data from an uncrewed mission to Mars using the Dragon V2.
    Last edited by Paul Turnbull; 03-05-2016 at 11:31 AM.

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    ^thanks, but your link shows bank notes (you live an even duller life than me I think - Turner is cute)

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^thanks, but your link shows bank notes (you live an even duller life than me I think - Turner is cute)
    Thanks. Fixed now. The hazards of posting while one is home sick.

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  35. #35

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    This thread has been going how long and I thought all along it was "Commercial space" exploration, like either a lease rate browser for offices or spelunking in abandoned shopping malls in Detroit.
    Let's make Edmonton better.

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    SpaceX will be attempting another barge landing tonight. They have a two hour launch window starting at 0121 ET. While the mission a month ago delivered a payload to an orbit 400km high this mission will be lifting a satellite to 22,000 km. This means they'll have a lot less fuel to work with to try and turn around a booster moving much faster.

    As a result, early on Friday morning, the first stage will accelerate to a greater velocity, moving almost parallel to the surface and away from the launch site; it will then release the second stage and the primary payload. This trajectory will leave the vehicle with far less fuel to arrest its horizontal motion and control its descent to the barge waiting below. "JCSat is pushing the envelope as a very hot and fast mission," Elon Musk tweeted a week ago.
    Odds are against them succeeding but they'll get a lot of data out of the attempt.

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/...d-fast-rocket/

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    And they nailed it:

    Because failure is an option SpaceX can do stuff like land rockets on a boat: In the middle of the night, amid fire and smoke, a second rocket appeared on a boat.

    On Friday morning, because of the greater energy needed to deliver the heavy satellite to an orbit 90 times higher than the International Space Station, the first stage hit the atmosphere at 2km/s. That means the rocket would have to shed four times as much energy as the April landing and face eight times as much heating during the turbulent reentry to Earth’s atmosphere. So when three of the rocket’s nine engines fired for about 15 seconds during reentry, success was far from assured. But then, about a minute later, an automated camera aboard the drone ship showed a flash, and when the smoke and fire had cleared there stood a rocket that had just crashed through the sonic barrier seconds before.

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    So impressive what they are accomplishing. Bravo!

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    Looks like even with almost twice the money Boeing won't be able to beat SpaceX at manned spaceflight.

    Boeing’s first crewed Starliner launch slips to 2018: The delay means only SpaceX can wean NASA off Russian transportation by next year.

    Chief Executive Officer of Boeing’s Defense, Space, and Security Division Leanne Caret told investors: “We’re working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018." The company has been struggling to limit the mass of the spacecraft and acoustic issues related to its launch vehicle, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

    After an intense competition with other providers, Boeing received $4.2 billion (~£2.9 billion) in 2014 to finalize development of the Starliner capsule, and SpaceX received $2.6 billion to finish development of its Dragon capsule. A spokesman for SpaceX told Ars Wednesday night that the company remains on track for crewed missions in 2017.

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    Sigh found this video a tad depressing, why we are stuck in our local group
    http://sploid.gizmodo.com/what-is-th...ace-1776278222

    PS: Look for the Xenomorph and the Tardis.

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    Not sure why it's depressing. In the time frames for any of that to happen we'll be long extinct.

    My personal feeling is that in our current form we'll never leave the solar system or, for that matter, even the planet in any significant way. Human biology and space don't mix well.

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    I found it depressing because of galactic expansion, it is impossible to leave our local group as the neighboring local groups are traveling away from us faster than we can travel. In addition because of galactic expansion the future people will only be able to view their local group. But like the video said we do have a trillion stars to explore in our local group and quite a few billion years.

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    Reaction Engines unlocks funds for single-stage-to-orbit SABRE engine

    Real tech in actual development that if successful would allow for planes that could take off normally and make it into orbit.

    The engine, in theory, will be able to provide enough thrust to get a spaceplane from sea-level tarmac all the way to low-Earth orbit (i.e. single-stage-to-orbit, SSTO). "Air-breathing" is the key element here; usually, above a certain altitude, the air is too thin (i.e. there's not enough oxygen) for a jet engine to operate. SABRE, however, can apparently reach Mach 5.5 at 28.5km (17.7mi) before it has to switch over to stored liquid oxygen, which then takes the air/spacecraft to orbital velocity (Mach 25-ish).

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    The Falcon Heavy is essentially three Falcons strapped together and SpaceX wants to land all three after the first Heavy launch this year. Two will come in simultaneously. That will make for some spectacular video.

    SpaceX, preparing for Falcon Heavy, asks for more landing pads

    Each part of the three-piece rocket may get recovered and reused.

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  45. #45

    Default Falcon 9 engine test causes explosion

    ^hmmm, I don't think I'd happily go up in a Falcon 9, after this (mind you, they aren't going to ask me), it seems are re-used engine has exploded:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-a7220136.html

    Although I guess the idea is the re-used rockets are more for cargo. Still...

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    The Soyuz rockets used to send astronauts and cosmonauts to the ISS has had three major launch failures (on unmanned flights) since 2002. Getting into orbit is a risky business. To date SpaceX has had a pretty good record however they are using a new design and trying new things. There will be failures.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^hmmm, I don't think I'd happily go up in a Falcon 9, after this (mind you, they aren't going to ask me), it seems are re-used engine has exploded:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/wo...-a7220136.html

    Although I guess the idea is the re-used rockets are more for cargo. Still...
    Contrary to the Independent's report the rocket was not one that had been previously launched. The first attempt for that is scheduled for October with the SES-10 mission.

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    ^oh, that's not good for Space X.

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    It's expensive for them but they likely have insurance to cover failures like this. In the long run it would only be a big issue for SpaceX if they made a habit if it.

    Interestingly this was not a failure of the rocket itself but an issue during fuelling:


    https://twitter.com/SpaceX/status/771395212304277504


    Great footage, the anomaly is at 1:12 and starting around 1:19 you can see the faring enclosing the payload fall. There seems to be a small explosion first followed by a much larger one.


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  50. #50

    Default Space X Blast Threatens to leave NASA in a bind

    It seems blasts like that aren't supposed to happen on a launch pad, real concern is being expressed about timelines now, Space X was already well behind on their commercial program:

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/spacex-b...ind-1473117555

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    SpaceX targeting a November launch for its Falcon 9 rocket

    Looks like they're planning to use Pad 39A, where they've been prepping for the Falcon Heavy. Pad 39A is probably the most historic site at Cape Canaveral with all the manned moon missions launched from there as well many Shuttle missions.

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  52. #52

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    ^a bit strange when the reason for the last rocket exploding hasn't been clarified. I hope they don't blow up that pad as well. I want them to do well, the landings were cool, but confidence is dropping. This is a big risk for them launching so soon after that event, it won't be pretty if something goes wrong again. Currently at 2 failures in 28 launches so I guess the odds are on their side for the next one.
    Last edited by moahunter; 15-09-2016 at 08:03 AM.

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    Based on the reporting it sounds like the November timeframe is what they'd like, but not fixed, and dependent on the investigation into the explosion. It's prudent for them to be prepared to get up and running again as soon as they can particularly as the explosion may have had nothing to do with the vehicle itself.

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    Meanwhile over at the competition:

    Liveblog: Blue Origin is likely to blow up its rocket Tuesday

    It will be on purpose, though, as part of testing launch abort system.

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

  55. #55

    Default The engines that came in from the cold

    ^I guess it will help like an ejection seat in a jet plane. I sometimes wonder though if such engineering just adds more complexity / risk, than just a booster without the escape pod (e.g. what if the escape pod malfunctions, or inadvertently goes off?). Not sure. Hope the test goes well, very cool.

    Watched an interesting documentary on Netflix about how some of these American rockets are using Russian technology that they were never able to fully implement (due to funding issues), various engines built to be used together to launch a moon system that never proceeded. The Russians invented a more efficient engine (although there is some risk associated with it). NKK33 engine:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NK-33
    Last edited by moahunter; 03-10-2016 at 01:41 PM.

  56. #56
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    This is not unique, launch abort are standard. The only launch system not to have one was the Space Shuttle. SpaceX's Dragon capsule has such a system as well.


    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

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    Edit: Gemini didn't have a capsule system but did have a seat ejection system.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Turnbull View Post
    Meanwhile over at the competition:

    Liveblog: Blue Origin is likely to blow up its rocket Tuesday

    It will be on purpose, though, as part of testing launch abort system.

    And they didn't blow it up. Looks like a they had a pretty perfect test. Capsule fired off at T+45 and the booster didn't waver. Capsule parachuted back safely while the booster went up over 240k feet, came back down, and landed. The fifth launch and landing for this booster.

    Blue Origin Tests Its Rocket Escape System in a VERY Dramatic Way

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    Cape Canaveral could be ground zero for Hurricane Matthew:

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/hurrican...rida-1.3103965

    Forecasters said the storm's fiercest winds appeared unlikely to strike Miami or Fort Lauderdale, the most densely populated areas in Florida, with about 4.4 million residents. Those cities were expected to get tropical storm-force winds of between 63 km/h and 117 km/h.

    Instead, forecasters said the West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral areas farther north could get the brunt of the storm.

  60. #60
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    Fortunately no launches scheduled for a month. Hopefully there won't be too much damage. They've been through this before so they're pretty good at battening down the hatches.

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    Canaveral is going to take direct hit.



    For animation, (set to Friday forecast).

    https://www.ventusky.com/?p=26.32;-7...09&w=0xIAb9A9A
    Last edited by Paul Turnbull; 06-10-2016 at 03:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Turnbull View Post
    Canaveral is going to take direct hit.
    For animation, (set to Friday forecast).

    https://www.ventusky.com/?p=26.32;-7...09&w=0xIAb9A9A
    Now this is one of the reasons that C2E is a great place. Fantastic animation, thanks for the link. Here's the view on a world-view animation I use:

    http://www.meteoearth.com/#/,-81.36,...ime=1475790000

    Turn on Precipitation and Wind and Tropical Storm. There's a Social button that reads social media feeds for local conditions.
    I feel in no way entitled to your opinion...

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    Orbital ATK to launch Antares rocket this weekend — two years after 2014 explosion


    The explosion was traced to a turbopump in the Russian AJ26 engines. They're a modified NK-33. They've switched to the RD-181, also a Russian engine but current rather than from the 1960s.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/st...inkId=29991525

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    Launch was delayed 24 hours. Now scheduled for 7:40pm EDT.

    http://www.space.com/34400-antares-r...tch-delay.html

    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong"

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