back to article Fifth time's the charm as SpaceX pops satellite into orbit

After four aborted attempts, SpaceX's latest and greatest Falcon 9 rocket has successfully delivered the SES-9 communications satellite into orbit. The rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral right on time at 1835 ET (2335 UTC) and the first stage burn and separation occurred as planned. The rocket's second stage then made …

  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?"

    How are we going to get to Mars if we can't get a video feed feed back from a barge parked just 600 miles off shore?

    Hint: A 2nd smaller barge, stable for satellite feed since rockets aren't landing on it, with a ~1km fiber optic cable from one to the other. Easy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?"

      Ah, so SpaceX is now so good they are tacitly expected to just deliver the satellite reliably, and also provide better mid ocean movies of their booster prangs?

      Oh well, I guess that's the price of success.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?"

      And here I was just being fat, dumb, and happy that Musk is still trying to land the thing. I guess I should clammer for a full 360 degree live feed video with surround sound.. and of course, since it's Friday, a free beer.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?"

      Hint: A 2nd smaller barge,

      I thought there was a support ship already. While the barge is fully autonomous during the landing itself it is crewed on the way in an crewed on the way out (if it survives). That crew has to go somewhere in the meantime.

    4. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?"

      ...just when I thought White Knight was Branson's ship, not Musk's...

  2. Kharkov
    Trollface

    Moving the goalposts a bit...

    So, launching a rocket? Yawn.

    Sending a bird on its way to GEO? So old hat!

    Getting (almost) your 1st stage back? Yesterday's news!

    Failing to supply a video feed? Proof - PROOF! - that SpaceX are failures at this space launch stuff & we should return to the tried & trusted (and yes, expensive) ULA. After all, THEY'VE never had a video feed cut out while they were recovering one of their 1st stages...

  3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Missing the point...

    The barge video is a *recurring* failure. As soon as the rocket enters the video frame, the barge rocks, the satellite dish is knocked off alignment, the link is dropped. It's a *recurring* pattern. As far as I can remember, the only rocket landing *video* that worked was the one on land.

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change on their own. They're insane in that they're offering up a live video feed from the barges, for their adoring fans, that NEVER works.

    They should fix that. I've already explained how they might do it. Another option would be an aircraft qualified uplink system as they can handle fast changes to pitch and roll (like ~30°/s). Another option would be an Inmarsat L-band aircraft system where the -3dB beamwidth from the antenna is 40° wide. Those systems can still uplink at least 500 kbps by bonding two bearers, so combined with h.265 encoding one could get SD video back at a reasonable frame rate (good, but not full quality). It'd be perfectly reliable unless the rocket landed on it.

    The SpaceX rockets are very nice, but 'How are we going to get to Mars if we can't get a video feed feed back from a barge parked just 600 miles off shore?' They're falling down on the Comms.

    I assume you all, being space fans, immediately recognized the "How are we going to get to the Moon if we can't talk between two buildings?" quote.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: Missing the point...

      If stabilized satcom is what you are looking for the US Navy, and a bunch of other people out there including civilians, have been doing this since forever. Then it comes down to how fast you want the antenna to slew.

      Just something I used to work on ages ago.

      Icon: For the SpaceX folks. Awesome delivery.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Missing the point...

        Jack of Shadows "...US Navy... ...antenna to slew..."

        A satcom designed for aircraft applications likely has a better slew rate than one designed for a warship. And with L-band and a 40° beamwidth antenna, it would be essentially impossible to knock the antenna out of alignment. L-band can support video uplink, just not quite 'full' SD frame rate. h.265 would help.

        I wonder if they've made the elementary mistake of ordering a satellite transponder nearly directly overhead, where the common 2-axis mounts can get tangled up with themselves at the zenith? Either get a 3-axis mount, or avoid the zenith by ordering a satellite at a middling elevation.

        A pair floaty FO cables to the support ship could be a much better concept...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing the point...

        could be though, that even though onboard rocket video seems to survive just fine and it's at the epicenter of all these stresses, that the ability for landing video to fail is a "plausible deniability" sort of thing?

        It seems like every landing we heard "there's no video available" for a week until suddenly there WAS video and it shows up everywhere. Its as if SpaceX thinks videos of KABOOM on landing are a bad thing until they've been looked over first? Not sure what the point would be but getting video to work from a barge (and even surviving a 'hard landing') is nothing significantly new especially compared to the rest of the program's hardware capabilities.

    2. Jimbo in Thailand
      Facepalm

      Re: Missing the point...

      "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change on their own."

      That would be trying to land a freakin' rocket vertically on a floating barge out in the constantly-moving unpredictable ocean, which is obviously an absolutely insane task. Since SpaceX has the proven capability to accurately and dependably return a rocket directly to, but not on, a floating barge, they should instead opt for a non-drifting not-pitching non-rolling landing pad on terra firma. In fact, it's already been done successfully by rival space outfit Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos company.

      While watching SpaceX's first barge-landing attempt, I remember thinking, "HOW EFFING STUPID!". When you were a young student ever try to get your pencil to stand up vertically, flat eraser end down, on a flat surface? (I was bored in that class, OK?) FFS, it's extremely difficult because the tall thin pencil is inherently unstable in that orientation. Obviously, a tall thin rocket is similar, even if it has short landing legs to help stabilize it. It makes much more sense to pursue this ocean barge folly by transitioning the returning rocket from a vertical attitude to horizontal prior to touchdown then gently catching it in a huge kevlar or ??? high-temp super-strong, yet flexible, net, suspended above the barge. This technique should improve the odds of a successful non-damaging landing exponentially.

      The bottom line is why Elon Musk's team continues to try to defy basic physics is beyond me. Where is the quadruple facepalm icon?

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Missing the point...

        Landing on land isn't an option for most flight paths, the trajectories and above all the fuel availiable for bringing the first stage back simply won't allow that. (As we're doing quotes on this thread, how about "Aw, physics, thou art a heartless bitch!") Making more fuel availiable would mean more weight to be launched - for which you'd need more fuel. Most of the fuel burned is used to lift fuel, rocketry just works that way, and there is no way around that outside the realm of science fiction.

        Rockets are surprisingly frail things because they are made as lightweight as possible. Some designs work basically as a pressurised container, a bit like a blimp. When not pressurised, the thing is very delicate to handle and very, very easily damaged. You can see this in some of the 'well, back to the drawing board' test footage from the 1950ies and 1960ies, rocket stages folding and tearing like tinfoil. In order to make the first stage reusable, it has to be sturdier already = more weight = more fuel = even more fuel, see above. But it's still a design that relies on the idea that the main forces it has to handle occur along its vertical axis. If you want to land it horizontally you'd have to convert the flying pressure tank in something very much like a widebody airframe, sturdy enough to cope with a carrier landing. Possible, of course, but (in comparison) very big, very, very heavy and needing very, very, very much fuel. And a bigger barge.

        As a fellow commentard likes to say: Rocket science isn't actually that hard. Rocket engineering is.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Missing the point...

          "When not pressurised, the thing is very delicate to handle and very, very easily damaged."

          One way of handling this is to carry gas to maintain the pressurisation. A gas such as say, helium....(Hint, they already do this)

          Elon's gone from almost successfully landing and retaining a LEO booster to almost successfully landing and retaining a GEO booster. They weren't really expecting the latter to work but seeing as the stuff was kicking around, why not try?

          Perhaps 'chutes or drogues would be worthwhile in the latter case(*) but the fact that spacex can even put the descending booster and the barge in the same place at the same time is pretty mind boggling all in itself, given the size of the target and the size of the ocean.

          (*) Dump them a few thousand feet up?

      2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Mushroom

        @Jimbo in Thailand

        In fact, it's already been done successfully by rival space outfit Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos company.

        Small point: Jeff's rocket may have gone up and down, but it certainly didn't go high/fast enough to put anything in orbit, let alone a geostationary orbit.

        Oh, and Elon's rocket has landed on Terra Firma before too. As has been mentioned several times, this one couldn't reach land due to lack of fuel (due to putting something into a high geostationary orbit)

      3. DocJames

        Re: Missing the point...

        Is Jimbo in Thailand laughing at us all falling for his parody? Or really that incapable of reading the article?

        I wonder about Poe's law.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Missing the point...

          @ Doc James:

          I just want some Coles Law.

      4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Missing the point...

        The bottom line is why Elon Musk's team continues to try to defy basic physics is beyond me. Where is the quadruple facepalm icon?

        Go back to your high school math and start to learn about differential equations, control systems (aka cybernetics) and stuff. You know, the principles behind the machinery which magically pops out all around you. Said machinery must have been extruded from the sphincters of unicorns, otherwise there is no rational explanation how these things can exist, right?

        Where is the quadruple faceplam icon, indeed.

      5. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Missing the point...

        JiT "try to get your pencil to stand up vertically, flat eraser end down..."

        If the returning first stage booster was transparent, you'd be able see that most of the mass is very low down.

        To assist your visualization of this point, some tidbits.

        1) rockets are made as light as possible (it ain't cast iron)

        2) on return, the tanks are nearly empty

        3) there are nine big rocket engines on the bottom

        In your mind, the C-of-G mark should be quite low.

        I hope this helps to clarify your thinking on this point.

      6. cray74

        Re: Missing the point...

        When you were a young student ever try to get your pencil to stand up vertically, flat eraser end down, on a flat surface?

        My pencils didn't have 90% of their mass in the bottom quarter of their length, nor did my pencils have 4 legs with a span:height ratio of 1:2. A better analogy than a pencil would be attempting to stand a flat-topped hammer on its head.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the point...

      "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change on their own."

      Like constantly criticising and carping in the comments section about everything that Space-X, Tesla and Musk do?

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Missing the point...

        Musk has many adoring fan-boys. Some disturbingly so, not that there's anything wrong with that... You can tell by the way that they leap to his defence, even when a particular, often narrow, criticism is perfectly valid. They should give their heads a shake; it's unhealthy and counterproductive to the greater good.

        Face facts. Elon Musk's SpaceX couldn't get a video back from a barge parked off shore, even if their life depended on it. They've obviously spent a lot of money trying, repeatedly. But the video cuts out every single time. That's called a 'FAIL'.

        It's not about the video itself. It's about the repeated failures. It's a clear sign that the organization is immature and hasn't implemented all the processes they should have.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Missing the point...

          That's called a 'FAIL'. It's a clear sign that the organization is immature and hasn't implemented all the processes they should have.

          Because JeffyPoooh is an ITIL foundation specialist and has solved many operational problems from the first line helpdesk. He has the flowcharts and the reboot killmarks to prove it.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Missing the point...

            DAM "JeffyPoooh is an ITIL foundation specialist..."

            Not even in my worst nightmare.

            1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

              Re: Missing the point...

              You should try it's actually kinda fun (it obviously depends on the teacher, got lucky, and the venue was class 1 deluxe)

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                Coffee/keyboard

                Re: Missing the point...

                DAM "You should try, it's actually kinda fun..."

                ITIL fun?

                [Rarely-used icon alert.]

                1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
                  Holmes

                  Re: Missing the point...

                  Then why are you even complaining about "missing processes"?

                  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

                    Re: Missing the point...

                    DAM "Then why are you even complaining about 'missing processes'?"

                    Because ITIL is Yet Another ISO9000, CMMI, Six Sigma, CobIT, eTOM, DO-178, etc. ...have I left any out? Yes I have, there are dozens more. The endless proliferation of these flavour du jour, expect no more than "one line of code per day" (are you kidding me?) for the coding phase, Quality Method / Development Models gets a bit tiresome.

                    I hope that your view doesn't stray into viewing ITIL as a religion...

                    Perhaps SpaceX is still reviewing the ITIL manuals trying to figure out what to do next.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Missing the point...

          " It's a clear sign that the organization"

          Has higher priorities and chooses not to waste resources unncessarily on PR

          If you set up a committee to discuss some form of emergency communicator for hikers, they'll keep adding on features and end up taking half their time arguing about the colour of something whose battery lasts a day at best, when all that's actually needed is a EPIRB with a battery rated for 10 years storage.

          This is a test that at least one multimillionaire uses to test his new hires. He wants the rogue element that suggests the EPIRB

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Missing the point...

            AB "...Has higher priorities and chooses not to waste resources unnecessarily on PR."

            They installed the satellite system (expensive), booked satellite time (moderately expensive), advertised that it was on the timeline (PR), switched to the live feed (PR), and then the system FAILED... ...again.

            Your claim (quoted above) is pure 'Apologist BS', and obviously so.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Missing the point...

              "They installed the satellite system (expensive), booked satellite time (moderately expensive)"

              Expensive compared to what? Last I checked, satellite links tended to go maybe five figures tops. Meanwhile, space flights in the past routinely hit nine figures. Meaning compared to the space flight itself, the sat com unit is probably just a nick off the roll.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Missing the point...

                It's not about being a Musk fan. It's just that it is so great that a billionaire is using cash to do this kind of bleeding edge stuff instead of just hoarding it. I really enjoy the vicarious pleasure of watching these guys setting high bars and trying to reach them.

                More of this please, much more.

                Those that are not interested, there are plenty of caves to provide you with shelter and even more rocks from which to attempt to make rudimentary hammers to eke out the last piece of nutrition from bone marrow.

        3. Graham Dawson

          Re: Missing the point...

          The cameras on the rocket - the important ones that can used to visually assess performance and which, crucially, operate in a much more extreme environment than the barge camera - were working just fine for the entire flight. The fact that they can get a reliable video feed from a camera parked right next to a rocket exhaust, operating in a vacuum and in a very high orbit tells me that they have all the engineering skills, knowledge and experience necessary for this sort of thing.

          Like the man said, the barge camera isn't a high priority and is treated accordingly.

        4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: "Obvious"

          They've obviously spent a lot of money trying, repeatedly.

          ...have they?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Missing the point...

      Some people just like taking offence on behalf of other poor billionaires - Don't go spoiling their fun with your facts and relevant quotes.

    5. Steve Knox

      Re: Missing the point...

      No you're missing the point. The barge video is not an operational priority.

      It's PR/infotainment, which is less important than getting the actual functional engineering to work.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point...

        "No you're missing the point. The barge video is not an operational priority."

        Once upon a time there was a fairly well known guy in my country who once wrote something roughly along the lines "if you bother doing something, you really should make the effort to do it properly". Musk is of course under no obligation whatsoever to get a live video feed working - but I'm with that first guy: get it right, or just don't bother.

        1. ian 22

          Re: Missing the point...

          "Do it right or just don't bother..."

          "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insanity..."

          It seems to become expert at something requires 10,000 hours of doing it over and over. Based on that, it does appear that expecting a different result (I.e. Expertise) is not insane at all.

      2. yet_another_wumpus

        Re: Missing the point...

        Which leaves the question: what possible value is increasing public relations among those who watch the real-time launch/landing videos and could the benefits of such possibly cover the costs in fixing it?

        My guess is UVA fanboys can't believe anybody could miss a chance to spend money.

    6. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point...

      "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change on their own."

      Ah, but the counterpoint...

      "Doing the same thing over and over again and actually getting a different result on its own is praised...as persistence."

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point...

        "Doing the same thing over and over again and actually getting a different result on its own is praised...as persistence." -- Charles 9

        Indeed. In fact the stupid statement about insanity bugs me even when it isn't mistakenly attributed to Einstein. Ther original quote (in an NA pamphlet) is about making the same mistakes over and over again. Almost nothing that is worth achieving can be achieved without some measure of doing the same thing over and over again.

    7. Vic

      Re: Missing the point...

      The barge video is a *recurring* failure.

      I'm sure that if you write to them, they'll give you a full refund.

      Vic.

  4. Ian Easson

    Failure IS an option

    As Musk said, if you don't fail, you are not trying to succeed!

    1. Known Hero

      Re: Failure IS an option

      Or you're just that damned good ! ;)

  5. happy but not clappy

    Its managing public perception

    I believe they do have footage, but it runs on a delay loop, because they only want to show success.

    Pictures of detonating rockets is bad for business, and SpaceX's competitors are not nice people.

    Thus we get no footage, even some time after the event.

    1. et tu, brute?

      Re: Thus we get no footage, even some time after the event.

      Uhm... what about the following links?

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/10/spacex_rocket_falcon_9_drone_ship_landing_fails/

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/14/spacex_falcon_landing_barge_iss_resupply/

      And Elon tweeted a link as well:

      https://www.instagram.com/p/BAqirNbwEc0/

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Its managing public perception

      >I believe they do have footage, but it runs on a delay loop, because they only want to show success.

      Believe what you want.

      Meanwhile, SpaceX have provided footage of their past failed landings.

      On their last attempt, that resulted in an explosion, Musk tweeted that it won't be their last RUD. (Rapid Unplanned Disassembly). On this attempt to land, Musk said they were not expecting a successful landing (because of the amount of fuel required to get the satellite to its orbit).

      >Pictures of detonating rockets is bad for business,

      The customers need to get satellites into orbit. They only have a few suppliers to choose from. They do due process, weighing up a lot of factors, and bash out contracts with insurance clauses. i.e it is not an emotional decision that would be influenced by a picture.

      SpaceX have had one rocket explode on the way up (destroying its customer's patyload), but all their landing attempts have been done after doingthe job they were paid to do.

      1. happy but not clappy

        Re: Its managing public perception

        Sure, but if I were him, I would want to check footage before releasing it. Real-time really isn't that hard as my fellow commentards have pointed out. To do otherwise would be oddly un-businesslike, which he is not.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Its managing public perception

          Frankly I want to see more failed landings.

          Then one could have end-of-year "Rocket Jackass" retrospectives, better than the "best family accidents" stuff one can find on TV.

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Pint

    Got to see it

    I saw the launch from my back yard. It was very bright until it left the cloud layer, then I saw the little white dot of the first stage separate from the little white dot of the second stage. A minute or later, it went over the horizon (actually into the ground haze)

    Wheee! Let's do that again, Unca Musk!

  7. James Loughner
    Holmes

    Easy fix

    Move the launch to an area that has land under the end point. Launch from Colorado and land in Nebraska

    Ok probably not politically feasible

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Easy fix

      Probably too expensive to tow the barge to the middle of nebraska

  8. Boaty

    Given geostationary is one of the more popular orbits, isn't it worth building facilities that enable a ground landing with the possible fuel loads? Or have the USA decreed this to be a domestic-only operation?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The problems are geography and physics.

      Geography because the primary launch point in the US is in Florida for safety reasons. Rockets practically always launch east (with rotation), meaning if a launch goes pear-shaped, it's likely to fall into the Atlantic Ocean where there's practically no one at risk.

      Physics because fitting a space-bound rocket is a delicate act of figuring out just how much fuel you can stand to load (since fuel load creates a recursive increase in the fuel requirements--loading fuel requires more fuel to lift which requires more fuel to load, and so on—IINM this gets into Calculus territory). So you end up using JUST enough to get up there and have a tiny bit left to stabilize yourself coming down (and because the load calculation is so delicate, you can't add on any other equipment like parachutes). So you end up with a pretty predictable course for a minimal GSO launch from Florida, and the calculations basically say it's going to come down somewhere in the Atlantic: in international waters. Politics therefore doesn't really come into play.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I loved Emily Lakwadella's tweet...

    @elakdawalla 16h16 hours ago

    "I refuse to be upset that the live video delivered to my phone from a robot barge expecting an autonomous upright rocket landing didn't work"

    p.s. for space fans she's well worth following.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...refuse to be upset that the live video... ...didn't work..."

      1st time - 'Darn. They'll fix that next time...'

      2nd time - 'Damn. Same failure mode. They didn't learn?'

      3rd time - 'Sigh... Same failure mode again.'

      This isn't 'upset'. It's disappointed-amazement that they'd allow such *repeated* failures.

      I expect that they'll get the Barge Comms design concept right the next time. After all, it's not 'rocket science'.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "...refuse to be upset that the live video... ...didn't work..."

        FFS!

        The barge coms are fit for purpose: telemetry data is prioritised over the video.

        Lots of lovely high-res video is then retrieved from the barge a day later, along with bits of returned rocket, to help engineers improve upon their efforts. Your enjoyment of these videos is merely a happy side effect. This is how they have always done it.

        SpaceX deliver payloads to space for money: they are not an entertainment company. If they were, and you JeffyPoooh had paid for a pay-per-view event, then yes you would have grounds to carp. But you are not, so please leave it alone.

        When courting paying customers, SpaceX have numbers on their side. Whilst I'm sure that the employees of SpaceX like having a generally positive public image, it is not their core business.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Of course she doesn't care at all. That's why she bothered tweeting. Yeah right, we've all been there...

  10. phil dude
    Coat

    humble thoughts, movie....

    How many others watched this live?

    To the critical comments -> This cannot be so common you cannot continue to be *amazed* at the technology?

    However, the violently shaking images and then cut to the colour card.....

    Surely this is the promo for a new movie about invading aliens :-)

    P.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: humble thoughts, movie....

      "To the critical comments..."

      That'd be me.

      Yes, of course. I do appreciate the SpaceX rocket technology. When they nailed the first landing (on land), I was watching it live and I was very impressed, etc, etc. It's all good.

      Except permitting repeated failures of what should be straightforward Comms technology. That part is a clear cut, repeated, failure. Minor, but no real excuse by this point.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: humble thoughts, movie....

        Yes there is. It's LOW PRIORITY. Better the effort be made to get the rocket to actually stick the landing first.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: humble thoughts, movie....

          "Yes there is. It's LOW PRIORITY"

          Fine. So go get a wrench and unbolt that sat comms gear from its tower because IT'S CLEARLY NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE AND YOU'RE CLEARLY NOT EVEN TRYING TO FIX IT.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dafug?

    > Go to SES-9 Technical Webcast

    > 20 downvotes

    I guess some people should just have the courtesy to remove themselves from the gene pool.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Dafug?

      Video - see 18:20 - 18:40 for the Barge Landing.

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Dafug? @jeffypoooh

        This comment from Ambient Morality might explain why the link cuts out:

        +Dan Frederiksen They might have the video now (a day or so later). But they wouldn't have it immediately. The problem is rocket exhaust is really difficult to maintain a satellite uplink through, and as soon as you lose a satellite uplink it takes a lot more work to get it back up (usually involves actually going to the site to reconnect, can't really do it automatically).

        Please stop complaining about it and discover a solution.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Dafug? @jeffypoooh

          MM "@jeffypoooh: Please stop complaining about it and discover a solution."

          You need to clean your reading glasses !!!

          The very first post at very top:

          Me: "A 2nd smaller barge, stable for satellite feed since rockets aren't landing on it, with a ~1km fiber optic cable from one to the other. Easy."

          Geesh !! Some people...

          VRH suggested the nearby Support Ship (vice another barge). That would require a longer FO cable. A floating cable would enable that (no strain), so it's a very good suggestion.

          They should use at least two FO links, each with their own floating FO cable, for redundancy.

          Such a system, that would have the advantage of *actually working*, might even be cheaper in the long run since the (inadequately) stabilized satellite antenna ($300K+) would be much safer on the Support Ship. FO links with floating cables are cheap as chips. Risk of damaging the antenna much reduced, damaged FO cables are much cheaper.

          Do I need to sketch out a block diagram?

          1. Alistair Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: Dafug? @jeffypoooh

            1 Km FO cable in open ocean. Strung between two *fairly* hefty objects. One of which is about to get it's ass kicked by a rocket coming in fast and hard.

            Jeffy, you don't get out much do you?

            Give it up. You've clearly demonstrated by your mantra of "I wantz my UTubz" and "fix it now or I'ma bitch all night long" exactly where you're knowledge and priorities lie. You've been downvoted to hell and gone.

            Have a beer for the troll attempt, take a deep breath and get on with your entertainment.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Dafug? @jeffypoooh

              A "1 Km FO cable in open ocean. Strung between two *fairly* hefty objects. One of which is about to get it's ass kicked by a rocket coming in fast and hard."

              Are you being deliberately [redacted due to site policy]?

              The FO cables can have as much slack as you wish. If you think that the barge is going to be bumped by an entire km further away, then play out 1.5 km more cable slack. FO cables can span at least 40km based on examples seen. FO cables are used with ROVs at sea. It's not rocket science. You have no excuse for not knowing all this. I shouldn't have to explain such trivial points.

              "...you're knowledge and priorities..."

              It's 'your'.

  12. Mikel

    Eventually...

    Sooner or later, they are going to be reliably landing the booster. And since the recovered rocket is a valuable windfall resource, it makes sense to share part of the value with the launch customer. Perhaps like a pop bottle deposit: if the rocket is successfully recovered, you get a launch cost refund of 5% - or some other number. This puts shifts the economics somewhat, allowing the customer to share some interest in the rocket's recovery. Altering their orbital height requirement, launch window timing or whatever.

    Before you know it SpaceX won't be losing any boosters at all.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Eventually...

      It's something SpaceX could consider, but as they say, first thing's first. They still gotta be able to demonstrate a successful on-water recovery, and they haven't been able to get it right just yet.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not impressed to be honest, it seems as though any time space is involved on the internet there are problems with the stream. Yesterday I was watching a football stream and a player hit the ball towards Mars, needless to say the stream cut out for while. This is happening more and more often, only last night I was watching evening tv via the internet and a pair of Uranus's appeared offering take away and my stream stopped.

    I do think spacex should take the British view of barges and land it in a canal.

  14. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    F. Scott Fitzgerald...

    "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

    Here's a recent example:

    1) SpaceX is - of course - wonderful, doing great work. Amazing. Very clever.

    ...At the same time...

    2) When it comes to designing communication links from barges, they're idiots.

    There are many comments above where it's clear that the posters seem to be incapable of holding these two ideas, both of which are clearly true, in their minds at once. They obviously hold idea #1 (a given), so idea #2 is rejected outright (in spite of it being obviously true).

    Their very reply exudes a precise fitment to the basic point of Fitzgerald's quote.

    And these two ideas are only 'opposed' on their surface, so it's not even a difficult test.

    It's a bit disappointing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

      I know what you mean it's not exactly rocket science.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

      Some of us aren't disputing #2. We're instead saying, in the greater scheme of things, #2 isn't the greatest of failures. As they say, they have priorities, and "Get the live feed fixed" tends to fall some distance below "Get the rocket to stick the landing".

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

        @C9 "...priorities..." as an excuse for repeated failures.

        Different skill set (Rockets v. Comms), thus very likely different people. If it is the very same Rocket Engineers trying to do Comms, then perhaps that's the problem. (<- Funny, but not likely.)

        As mentioned above, a likely solution is to use a couple of buoyant fiber optic cables from the barge to the support ship. They'd have to consider movement from waves, but that's trivially easy to account for in the design. Should be dead-reliable. Likely cheaper in the long run, since no need for a delicate and expensive satcom antenna to be left out near a rampaging rocket.

        If they're reading this, they'll be issuing a PO for buoyant fiber optic cables by Monday.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

          Are you sure you really want to tether yourself to a barge that, in the worst case, could sink if the rocket crashes into it at speed? And before you say the tethers can be cut, Murphy could also strike and prevent the tethers from being cuttable at a key moment.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

          "If they're reading this, they'll be issuing a PO for buoyant fiber optic cables by Monday."

          Unlikely. My heuristic relevant to this topic is that if the problems of other clever people seem trivially easy to solve, you've failed to understand those problems properly.

          At best your solution is impractical, at worst it will decapitate someone. Two surface vessels on a moving sea need to communicate and your solution is a cable? Wow.

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

            Chas 9 "...tethers..."

            Where did 'tethers' come from? Fiber optic cable .NE. 'tethers'. Nobody mentioned 'tethers' except you. A fiber optic cable can be the size of a headphone cable; there's one stung through the trees and attached to my house. Have you ever met one? Breaking strength would be a few hundred pounds. They can choose one that would be tough enough to be reliable, but not strong enough to drag a support ship down into the depths to its doom.

            And, if you're still worried about the barge sinking in (for example) 2km deep water, then use a 10 km cable. They can use take-up reels if worried about tangling. Geesh. This is really elementary...

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

            AC "...decapitate someone..."

            You also appear to be conflating or confusing massive towing cables, as used by ocean-going tugs, with the sort of fiber optic cable (this example is to help you think - not exactly aligned) that is used with underwater ROVs every day of the week. Have you ever seen an ROV on Discovery Channel?

            It's also perfectly possible to include explicit breakaway connectors. SpaceX Safety Engineering dept could add a few such design features, if thought necessary. Or just loop it around a sharp blade; self cutting if pulled too tight. If they leave a couple km slack, then somebody could just wander over and unplug it before it got too tight. Trivial, absolutely trivial.

            Keep in mind - Satcom as they've implemented it ain't working. Either give up the Live From The Barge hype, or do something.

            I'm really disappointed by the responses here. I'd expect better of El Reg commentards.

            Is this a sign of too much SpaceX fanboyism impacting clarity of thought? Such uncritical fanboyism is a form of religion, with all the negatives that can bring. Science and Technology As A Religion is a Very Bad Thing. It all depends on critical thinking, not fanboyism as if Musk is some sort of Technology Pope that requires your worship. Puh.

            But yes, 'He' is doing some Good Things.

            Just not barge video links.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

              "You also appear to be conflating or confusing massive towing cables, as used by ocean-going tugs, with the sort of fiber optic cable (this example is to help you think - not exactly aligned) that is used with underwater ROVs every day of the week. Have you ever seen an ROV on Discovery Channel?"

              Anything thinner snaps too easily when sea forces are applied, rendering it useless. Anything strong enough can pull the ship enough to seriously list if not capsize it. And breakaway connectors can fail to break and failsafes can fail. Again, think Murphy, who can strike in ways UNimaginable.

              "Keep in mind - Satcom as they've implemented it ain't working. Either give up the Live From The Barge hype, or do something."

              If it doesn't have to be fixed yesterday, there's no rush to fix it. If they got more DIRECT COMPLAINTS, maybe they'll do something.

              Tell you what. Since you claim to know so much, why not take up your gripe with SpaceX IN PERSON?

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

                Chas 9 "Anything thinner snaps too easily when sea forces are applied, rendering it useless. Anything strong enough can pull the ship enough to seriously list if not capsize it."

                You've just proven that any use of signal cables at sea is dangerous and impossible. In fact, it's a very well developed technology (ROVs, towed sonar, VLF antennas on subs, hydrophones, do I need to go on?). So something has gone badly wrong in your knowledge, or in your "logic".

                This application is even easier because they can play out extra slack.

                It's trivially simple, with few complications.

                Your objections are best ignored as irrelevant.

            2. JayB

              Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

              I'm pretty sure there are more than 1 or 2 Forum members disappointed with your refusal to stop banging on about the Sat Comms, that may or may not have been designed & implemented by SpaceX, and how you'd prefer they were much improved, rather than appreciating the majesty of advanced tech and the ambitions of rich madmen to, well, you know, contribute to the Human Race.

              This does not mean that anyone who doesn't share your views on video feeds is some starry eyed fan boy/disciple of some Religion of Musk. This is not Apple. A lot of the people who read the Reg can critically assess/ogle shiny tech while not foaming at the mouth.

              The important stuff is being worked on, the unimportant shit has been rescheduled. These are not High School students running this.

              As someone else has pointed out, the forces on a couple of Km of fibre in even fairly mild seas are quire staggering, even RoVs are reeled in once the sea state gets a bit wobbly.

              1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

                There's actually quite of bit of angry "foaming at the mouth" from some of the less informed critics (not you) of my very straightforward suggestion of an alternate link technology.

                The objections to date are mostly fluff, as I've shown.

                "Reeling in" (sometimes literally with the one cable) an ROV is a tougher case than a thin floaty FO cable with sufficient slack. If they can do one (what you wrote, "reeling in"), then the other is clearly much less stress and strain. Thus your concern is unfounded, based on your own words of comparison: "reeling in" an ROV. Obviously.

                Next. Wobbly seas don't act over km scale. The alternating drag and slack due to wave action on the cable sheath operates on the scale of the wavelength. Dragging a long km-scale cable is different, as the drag force would potentially scale with length. So don't do that. Play out the cables from the *moving* support ship, of course. I shouldn't have to explain all this. It's too obvious.

                Towed sonar provides another example that deflates some of the sillier objections.

                Clearly the SpaceX barge Satcom approach isn't working. My Floaty FO Cables suggestion might have some hidden flaw, but none identified so far. It's survived this conceptual 'design review' by this angry crowd. There remain unfounded concerns about 'something', but nothing is sticking.

                "more than 1 or 2 Forum members disappointed" I'd be worried if it was a popularity contest. It's not. Flail away with the downvote button, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

                1. BlackDuke07
                  FAIL

                  Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

                  "Towed sonar"? You said it was the thickness of headphone cable and now you give an example of a Towed Array. I'm guessing you don't know how thick Towed Array cable is, think about it, it is dragging a Sonar Array through water. "deflates some of the sillier objections", more like it shows your lack of knowledge in this field.

                  1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
                    Pint

                    Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

                    @BD7

                    FO cables, like some of the commentards skulls, come in various thicknesses.

                    The FO cables can be selected from the catalog and can be as thick as they needs to be.

                    Maybe they could buy and install three or four cables in increasing thickness and strength. Then if one is too thin and another is too thick, then those remaining will be 'just right', like Snow White's porridge.

                    These so-called objections to the concept don't even make sense.

                    Any more?

            3. BlackDuke07
              FAIL

              Re: F. Scott Fitzgerald...

              I am struggling to work out whether you are trolling or you just over-simplify problems in order to give your solutions (at crayon drawing level).

              I’m not a SpaceX fanboy, hadn’t heard much about it until reading this article, but your continued criticism could be an example of what fanboyism becomes when someone’s live stream goes down.

  15. cortland

    If-only department

    If only I'd gone into a different field of electronics! I was 11 or 12 when a very perceptive young teacher, noting I had turned in an essay on using something like a cathode Ray tube for propulsion in space, had me talk to the Seventh Grade science class about ion propulsion. If-only department: if only I'd been steered to something other than radio when my home-made "rail-gun" stuck steel ball bearings into my bedroom wall! But no, Dad and the landlord had to buy me a radio kit. Heh!

  16. Tempest8008
    Angel

    Time, money, staff...money.

    SpaceX has prided itself on being a lean company, with very little of the bloat that affects NASA as a government agency.

    You want floating FO lines between the barge and either the support ship or a second barge.

    Who is setting that up? Who is testing it? Who is reeling it all in when done?

    The resources you would devote to that SpaceX is instead devoting to other areas that have been deemed more important.

    That's it. Why bother providing the feed in the first place then? Because the system they DO have is cheap, easy to set up, and doesn't require a dedicated team of people to maintain and fart around with. Why offer it at all then? Because it's cheap, easy to set up, and doesn't require a dedicated team of people to maintain and fart around with.

    This is all cost vs. reward. The cost for them in the current system in time, material and labour is minimal. The reward would be a live video of their 1st stage returning successfully in a world first...where they would probably provide an on-site HQ recording at a later time anyway.

    In your system the cost is WAY higher across the board. The reward is letting people watch repeated failures as they iron out the bugs and try to figure out an immensely difficult engineering problem, or, on the off chance it works fantastically and people get to see that world first live....they provide a recording in HD the next day taken from the onboard camera system.

    You've said yourself they are very good at what they do. Don't you think that they COULD figure out the live feed issue on the barge if they wanted to?

    This is a "good enough" system as far as SpaceX is concerned. Otherwise you can be damned sure they WOULD have fixed it long ago.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Time, money, staff...money.

      They may not be able to launch something without blowing up astronauts, or recover craft without blowing up astronauts - but you can't argue with Nasa TV production values or the artistic quality of their mission patches and T-shirts.

      Looks like SpaceX has a way to go.

      1. Tempest8008

        Re: Time, money, staff...money.

        Don't remind me of Mission Patches.

        I have never seen hide nor hair of the LOHAN mission patch I was supposed to receive as part of the competition for the slogan to go on it.

        <grumbles>

        But I'd prefer them to be spending their energy on actually getting that mission in the air. Sod my bloody patch.

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Time, money, staff...money.

      T asked:

      Who is setting that up? Bob.

      Who is testing it? Fred.

      Who is reeling it all in when done? Bob again.

      What a silly bunch of questions.

      Any more?

  17. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    All objections have been reviewed...

    Most are pure silliness, a poor reflection on those raising them. Nightmare scenarios based more on lack of comprehension and/or lack of real world experience than any real issues. They wouldn't get invited to the next Design Review meeting.

    Best suggestion was from 'Voland's Right Hand' to skip the 2nd smaller barge and link to the Support Ship. Requires longer cables, which should therefore be floating, but still worth doing. Thank you.

    Instinct still says several parallel redundant much cheaper thinner FO cables is better than fewer more expensive thicker FO cables. Cost could be quite low. ONTs are cheap. FO cables are cheap.

    There's no way that several FO cables are going to all break, unless somebody violates procedure and drives a boat through the range in between the Support Ship and the barge with the approaching rocket. Worse case, the link drops just like has happened with the satellite-on-rocking-smoking-barge system has done EVERY SINGLE TIME. Can't do much worse than that.

    This Floaty FO Cables concept for such a unique application seems to be new, but it's also perfectly obvious to me. Yes, it will work. Reliability could be as high as required, at higher costs.

    Cheers. Thanks for playing.

    1. Graham Dawson

      Re: All objections have been reviewed...

      So, to clarify: you ignore everything that proves your assertions wrong, repeatedly declare your initial claim as if it were truth, and then wait for everyone to get bored and go home whereupon you declare yourself the winner.

      Have you ever considered a career in politics?

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: All objections have been reviewed...

        I've reviewed every objection. Except as already noted, they represent muddled thinking.

        When the offered objection 'proves' that the concept cannot possibly work, but simultaneously proves that existent technologies (e.g. ROVs, or TOW Missiles, or etc. etc. etc. ...) also cannot possibly work, then something's gone seriously wrong in their thinking, and their argument is thus clearly flawed.

        That they fail to even consider the existent technology counterexamples to their argument is an indictment of their lack of background knowledge. Arguing becomes difficult, because they're clearly unfamiliar with the breadth of existing technologies. They should widen their knowledge base, as it's just as important to know what's possible (based on existing examples) as what's impossible.

        Just for one example, someone was concerned that an FO would cause the Support Ship to be capsized, and then dragged down into the depths. Seriously? That's the sort of objection that I'm forced to rebut?

        Sigh...

  18. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Here's an example

    Here's an example, off the shelf, of a deployable FO cable being used to carry data, including video. The mentally-shocking (for some) footage of the underwater demo starts at 2m00s into the video.

    http://www.ofsoptics.com/video-sedi-ati-spools.html

    This off-the-shelf technology needs to be scaled up to the 5 miles (plus slack) length as required by SpaceX. A more ruggedized cable would likely be better. That doesn't seem to be 'rocket science'.

    The point is that here's an existing, off the shelf, example that so many above have 'proven' to be impossible. Review their objections as compares to this example. Their objections are obviously meaningless. Them 'not getting it' .NE. proof of impossibility. Clearly their objections are based on ignorance of extent technologies, or ridiculously-overblown disaster scenarios.

    Yes. SpaceX should switch to FO cables to carry high bandwidth video back to the Support Ship. Presently, they're doing it wrong. Clearly, it is possible.

    Flail away in the downvote button. Doesn't change facts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an example

      What about if the barge SINKS (due to say a crash landing) and the failsafes to cut away the cable FAIL (due to Murphy striking)? The barge could take the support ship with it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's an example

      "The point is that here's an existing, off the shelf, example that so many above have 'proven' to be impossible. Review their objections as compares to this example. Their objections are obviously meaningless. Them 'not getting it' .NE. proof of impossibility. Clearly their objections are based on ignorance of extent technologies, or ridiculously-overblown disaster scenarios"

      No it's not. It's a different usage scenario and you know it. Connecting a submersible under the water to a surface ship is not the same as connecting two surface ships several miles apart. It's a significantly different problem and if you can't recognise that, you're not even vaguely qualified to comment on potential solutions that might actually work.

      Dismissing Space-X's staff as fools because they haven't adopted your flawed approach is pretty insulting to all of the posters here who work hard to find proper engineering solutions to difficult problems that are safe, functional, on budget and on time.. Maybe we should all turn up at your place of work and dismiss your challenges as trivial and give you solutions that are the first things that popped into our heads?

      You've accused other tech experts of being idiots and proposed a solution that won't work. When that's pointed out to you you post links of different things, that also wouldn't work in the problem scenario.

      Ever heard of the dunning kruger effect?

  19. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Total 167 Down Votes, yay!!

    Barely makes any change to my lifetime total of el Reg Down Votes, 2857.

    Cheers.

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