back to article Elon Musk scrubs lucrative MONEY RING debut again on Thanksgiving

Upstart rocket firm SpaceX, founded and helmed by techbiz visionary Elon Musk, has aborted its inaugural mission to geostationary orbit for a second time. SpaceX Falcon 9 on its launch pad No joy this time either. The launch, intended to put a large communications satellite into orbit above southern Asia, was supposed to …


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  1. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Measure twice...

    cut once, best to make sure it works rather than dropping a satellite on someones head or adding more space junk.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Measure twice...

      More like measure 100 times, cut once in that industry!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Measure twice...

        Actually more like measure 1000 times and make 100 test cuts on prototypes.

        And yet people still manage to swap cameras between mars rovers or install gravity sensors upside down.

  2. Tim Parker

    "Unfortunately for Mr Musk and his SpaceX team, they missed their day off to no avail."

    Yeah but what a cracking thing to miss a silly bit of holiday for.....

    Playing with enormous rockets or turkey ?

    Turkey or playing with enormous rockets ?


    ...and good luck to 'em for the next launch attempt.

    1. cray74

      They actually got in two launch attempts last night. The first time, the rocket's engines fired up but the flight computer didn't like their slow build-up of thrust and shut it down at T-0 seconds. That's one of the reliability features mentioned in the article: hold-down engine start to make sure the engines are running correctly before releasing the rocket. (It's not unique to Falcon-9, but it's a nice feature to have.)

      Then SpaceX kicked the Falcon 9's tires, reset the launch, topped off the gas tanks, and tried again in just 44 minutes. However, if I heard the news correctly (and the anchors looked a bit confused), the flight computer was out on a coffee break when the second attempt was made so it was scrubbed at T-48 seconds.

      1. Anonymous John

        As I understand it, they started the second countdown in the hope they would be comfortable with another launch attempt. At T-1 minute they decided they weren't and went for a manual abort before engine start.

    2. Mike Richards

      'Sorry, can't come to the argument-ridden Thanksgiving meal with relatives I don't like - I have to launch a rocket,' is possibly the best excuse anyone could have.

  3. Professor Clifton Shallot

    At that moment Skizz realised he was never going home . . .

    It is quite exciting that this is being done and I wish him all the best but when you see that the best efforts of someone of Bond-villain wealth (but not, one assumes the villainy) are still only just enough to hope to get an inanimate object to geostationary orbit another little bit of the dream of owning a real ray gun dies.

    1. Fogcat

      Re: At that moment Skizz realised he was never going home . . .

      +1 for the Skizz reference

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: At that moment Skizz realised he was never going home . . .

      It's puts into perspective what the Apollo landings achieved. Safely landing men on the moon and returning them 45 years ago. Albeit with an insane budget but without SAP!

  4. kmac499

    Cheaper Insurance too

    So assuming that all their care and attention pays off, then when the next customer talks to their payload insurer, "The one very careful driver" clause kicks and the price should fall compared to others maybe..

    Good Luck guys

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheaper Insurance too

      They tend not to insure as it like a 17 year old driving a Porsche.

      Value of car £40,000, insurance £60,000.

      1. cray74

        Re: Cheaper Insurance too

        The payload for this Falcon-9, the SES-8 commsat, is insured for $200 million. The premium was $24 million.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Us Kerbal Space Program

    fans were yelling "just press the damned spacebar will ya"

    But then we're used to rockets not doing exactly what we expect them to.......

    1. Graham Dawson

      Re: Us Kerbal Space Program

      I always expect mine to blow up - and I'm never disappointed!

      The one with Jeb Kerman sewn into the collar please...

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: Us Kerbal Space Program

        So they reverted to design?

  6. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Mr. Musk's attitude

    will see him on Mars long before any nation state. When your own reputation (and money) is on the line, you pay particular attention to reliability.

    1. cray74

      Re: Mr. Musk's attitude

      By "his own money," you mean, "The US government's money," correct?

      SpaceX's amazing successes - and amazing frugality, compared to other aerospace companies - impress the heck out of me. I wish SpaceX the best of luck and hope it rattles the cage of the aerospace establishment. To date, I think SpaceX has spent less money on developing the Falcon 1, the Falcon 9, the Dragon capsules, and several liquid rocket motors than Boeing did developing the Delta IV from a long line of Delta rockets. So, I think SpaceX is really showing a path to greatness.

      But let's have some honesty here: most of SpaceX's successes were funded by US government contracts, not Musk's money. SpaceX developed the Falcon 1 on private funds, but those investors were secured because the first 3 (of 5) flights had guaranteed US government customers willing to sacrifice satellites on an untried launcher. The Falcon 9 was almost entirely developed with US government funds for US government contracts (space station resupply, space station personnel delivery). The Dragon cargo capsule depended on some cheap development flights on the US shuttle (which hosted the Dragon's docking sensors for a flight or two).

      If Musk takes SpaceX to Mars, then he's probably going to do it the same way trailblazed by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other companies that have sent payloads to Mars: on a government contract. And if that Mars mission fails, Musk will probably walk away with his billionaire status undamaged because it was taxpayer, not his, money on the line.

      Again, I'm very impressed with SpaceX's accomplishments, and of Musk's vision of making mankind a multiplanetary species. I hope he accomplishes his goal of making spaceflight much less expensive.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mr. Musk's attitude

        "By "his own money," you mean, "The US government's money," correct?"


        If these fail, he goes out of business. He gets paid on results - not on failure.

        1. Marvin the Martian

          Re: Mr. Musk's attitude

          "If these fail, he goes out of business"

          Yes, his pride and self-confidence may be scorched a bit, but the point made was that he set up business with other people's money -- if he fails, it's mostly govt money that's burned, not his own.

          1. James Hughes 1

            Re: Mr. Musk's attitude

            Actually, that's not strictly true. He spent a LOT of his own money up front to get the Falcons to a stage where they would be eligible for COTS. At that point, the government now has a contract which pays for SpaceX to supply the ISS. Which so far, it's been doing fine. It#'s a win win for all involved.

            Of course, Musk admits he did get a lot of tech help from NASA without whom he wouldn't have got to this stage. On the shoulders of giants etc etc

  7. Bertie D'astard

    Exactly rocket science then ..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that, if they're checking over the engines, it's more akin to Rocket Surgery.

  8. Parax

    return trips

    I'm surprised no one has tripped over that yet; out of 4 capable of delivering to the ISS only 2 are capable of getting stuff back, and only 1 is man rated.

    1. Alan_Peery

      Re: return trips

      SpaceX is working aggressively towards getting a human certified capsule:

      Once they do, then we have both Sputnick capsules and the SpaceX variant.

      1. Sureo

        Re: return trips

        Re. Sputnick capsules

        Will they send a dog up first?

    2. mathew42

      Re: return trips

      The Chinese also have a man rated capsule. I suspect it could dock at ISS with a few changes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    United Space Alliance had the capacity to launch the resupply runs to the Space Station. The Aries rocket was tested and ready to go. The USA team was preparing to bid on the contract and with the track record from the shuttle program, they felt they were going to be in good position to get the contract. SpaceX had only had one successful launch before the bidding opened and one semi-successful launch after the bidding process was to begin. The problem is that when Obama took office, his staff found USA was in violation of a law enacted in 1860s that requires companies keep on hand enough money to pay back the government in case of failure to perform the contract. This requirement had not been enforced for the length of time the USA had the shuttle contract nor for any other contract held for the space program prior to USA's formation. SpaceX got the contract without having to produce a bid.

    1. noominy.noom

      Was this sarcasm? Satire? Just inane rambling with no facts (or unfacts as I would call them) and no clear point?

    2. Joe Cooper

      "The Aries rocket was tested and ready to go"

      I heard Michio Kaku say that on Fox News.

      Rage rage rage.

      The _Ares_I_X_ was flown; if you don't think the difference is significant than listen up.

      It was an aerodynamic test article made by taking a Space Shuttle rocket booster, replacing the avionics with prototypes and stacking EMPTY METAL on top to make it SHAPED LIKE an Ares-I, in the same way that a toy Ferrari is SHAPED LIKE a Ferrari.

      Now I'm not criticising the having of an Ares-IX or on Griffin's project planning; he's the one with seven degrees in engineering, aerospace and business. He's the one who got Congress to pay for this stuff. He's the one who ran NASA.

      However certain things are without dispute which you can read about here:

      "due to technical and financial problems Ares I was not likely to have had its first crewed launch until 2017–2019 under the current budget, or late 2016 with an unconstrained budget ... Ares I and Orion would have an estimated recurring cost of almost $1 billion per flight ... Charlie Bolden testified to congress that the Ares I would cost $4–4.5 billion a year, and $1.6 billion per flight"

      Look around. The year is 2013. Falcon 9 has flown repeatedly. And the cost gap is wide enough to safely fly a rocket through.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Yes, but that was Fox news which is basically Sesame Street minus the facts and with worse maths.

        1. GBE

          > Yes, but that was Fox news which is basically Sesame Street minus the facts and with worse maths.

          And minus the writing, wit, humor, entertainment and production value. For all that Fox News substitues ranting deluded old white guys. Fox News: it's sort of entertaining until you realize they're _serious_. Then it's just frightening.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Why is Michio Kaku talking about rocketry? He can't even get his String/Multiverse religion lined up correctly, and that is his speciality. FFS.

            What's next on Fox News? Random "Amurrica Fuck Year" think tankers bloviating about the political situation of the Middle East? Oh wait...

    3. Malmesbury

      A very mangled version of what happened

      NASA started by sole sourcing their cargo transport to the ISS to Kistler, who were developing a two stage reusable launcher.

      Kistler by this stage consisted of a lot of ex-NASA people who outsourced all the actual rocket stuff to various giant aerospace companies. Costs escalated and delivery dates rolled to the right in traditional aerospace style.

      SpaceX filed a protest about sole sourcing the contract - federal law mandates competitive bidding except in certain circumstances. After winning, their bid won - along with Kistler. So, a two horse race.

      Then Kistler ran into a slight problem. They ran out of money before actually finishing anything. They couldn't find the half billion dollars they needed to actually build something. So they went bankrupt. Note that the extra money they needed to finish was far more SpaceX (or Orbital) spent in total on their systems.

      So down to one bid. So NASA made some noises and Orbital came up with their bid to be the second supplier. And got a better deal (more money for less stuff) than SpaceX, by the way.

      Both Orbital and SpaceX have only received money form NASA in competitive contracts based on actual work done.

      To many (like me) the bankruptcy of Kistler was a sign of why the COTS program was a better way to go - I you fail, you fail. What a shame. Not.

      The Ares I project collapsed due to the fact that the stupid design wasn't fixable - the vibration from the solid first stage ranged from I-cant-see-the-instruments (really!) to Ive-been-shaken-to-death (literally). By the end of the program, it couldn't lift an Orion capsule all the way to orbit because of the weight of the shock absorbing systems required to reduce the vibration. Not to mention an 18G escape tower system that used a rocket the size of an IRBM to... fail to escape the debris cloud if the first stage went boom...

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    2 interesting things

    1. I discussed the launch with a friend that's ex-NASA. His first comment was "great! I hope they start hiring lots of people again!" - and he was shocked to hear that one of the advantages of Falcon is they don't need a standing army to launch so SpaceX won't be hiring anyone.

    A lot of NASA folks don't understand the Apollo & Shuttle days of blank checks are over, and needing an army of thousands to fly one rocket is why launch costs are four digits a pound.

    2. NASA TV had no mention of the launch, much less any coverage. The NASA KSC Visitor's Center had no launch viewing set up despite the fact I was willing to drive over and pay $50 a ticket. As far as they were concerned, it wasn't happening and SpaceX didn't exist.

  11. MachDiamond Silver badge


    " (Though it is worthy of note that nobody else in the world except Roscosmos - no, not NASA itself, at the moment - posseses a ship capable of doing what Dragon has done.)"

    Orbital Sciences has also delivered to ISS with their Antares/Cygnus vehicle.

    SpaceX will have a man-rated capsule when the US gov. lends them a few quid and hands over some pro-forma contracts. I think there is also the matter of writing down what constitutes a "man rating" so a proper engineering requirements document and test plan can be formulated. I wish the US Congresscritters would realize that science more than welfare makes sense to support and get back to work... lazy bastards.

    1. Robert Sneddon

      Re: Whoops

      The various spacecraft that fly to the ISS have different roles; Soyuz is the only man-carrying system, the ATV carries large amounts of liquids and propellants as well as solid supplies and is used to boost the station in orbit, the SpaceX Dragon capsule can return material to Earth and so on. Supply runs are almost an incidental part of any mission. There's also the Progress cargo ships and of course the Japanese Kounotori unmanned supply ships which are often not mentioned when talking about ISS logistics; they have a vacuum-pallet component to carry experiments that are going to be deployed on the outside of the ISS.

    2. Malmesbury

      Re: Whoops

      If you want to bring stuff back from ISS, you use either Dragon or Soyuz. Those are the only options.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Especially with his track record...

    Burning EVs does not make one overly confident in Elon's space craft. Hopefully he and his engineers exercised better design judgment in their space endeavors?

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Especially with his track record...

      Troll Twat.

      Actually getting your facts straight before posting seems somewhat lacking in the trolls nowadays.

  13. dlapine

    Time for a new article perhaps

    As the SES-8 satellite sits in it's desired delivery orbit this evening. SpaceX's delay seems to have been well used.

    At less than $100M for this launch, SpaceX appears to providing some real competition to those other US space companies...

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