back to article First SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lobs comms sat into orbit

After a day's delay, Bangladesh's first satellite was today successfully launched atop the first SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. The satellite, named Bangabandhu Satellite-1, lifted off at 1614 EDT (2014 UTC) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The bird detached from the second rocket stage, and is now maneuvering …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Pint

    Always this---------->

    1. Adam Jarvis

      A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

      Considering SpaceX has launched 66 Iridium satellites to date, you'd think they'd be able to have a continuous video feed right through to landing.

      It's not proving a good advert for Iridium, all told!

      (Still absolutely incredible, especially when you look at what the Bangabandhu satellite will achieve for Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia., I still view every single launch without fail)

      'boring it ain't'

      1. My Alter Ego

        Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

        I think the problem with the feed dropping out on landing is because of the massive vibrations from the engine(s). I'm sure they could add a lot more dampening, but it's probably not worth it as they can probably pull the local camera storage to vote the footage. I agree that it's a bit annoying/disappointing for is though.

        I did notice that the camera on the Block 5 first stage was a lot less secure than on previous versions. It was vibrating badly when ever the RCS was fired.

        1. Adam Jarvis

          Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

          Elon Musk should look at commissioning a set of photographs using the 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera to capture the next launch of the Falcon Heavy, it would create a set of atmospheric timeless photographs to mark the occasion.

          http://www.bgr.in/news/photographer-used-104-year-old-camera-to-capture-formula-one-and-the-images-are-startling/

          Maybe some technical camera bod from Formula 1 could help with the continuous camera feeds ;).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

            "Elon Musk should look at commissioning a set of photographs using the 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera to capture the next launch of the Falcon Heavy"

            No need, with a 4 by 5 what matters (assuming the box is solid and light tight and the ground glass aligns to the plate) is the lens and the film. There are plenty of Super Angulons about. And plenty of people who know how to use a view camera. I suspect there are loads of them in Florida.

          2. LDS Silver badge

            "technical camera bod from Formula 1 could help with the continuous camera feeds"

            You mean those slow vehicles than can barely go past 300 km/h, and never further a few km from the receiving antennas? Guess they would have a few issues with highly supersonic vehicles hundreds of km away, going through very different atmospheric conditions, poor lads...

          3. LDS Silver badge

            "the 104-year-old Graflex 4×5 view camera"

            "view cameras" are a subset of "large format cameras". I think he's using one of the Graflex Reflex large format *reflex* cameras.

            A "view" camera is usually one where the photographer uses a ground glass at the film plane to view the image to capture - which requires composing/focusing/inserting film/shooting, not useful for subject in motion. It may use large format films or not (there are 6x9 cm view cameras - which is medium format).

            For this reason press cameras (like the later Graflex SpeedGraphic) were fitted with an external viewfinder to be used quickly, but retained the focal plane ground glass - that made them less bulky than the early reflex models.

            In reflex cameras, the ground glass is usually above the mirror which is lifted when shooting, so no need to switch between "view" and "shooting" mode manually.

            Camera like the Graflex were common in sports because they had a focal plane shutter which could achieve faster speed than leaf ones available for the lenses of the time, albeit distorting the images of fast objects (i.e. the oval shaped wheels of cars).

            Shooting a Falcon 9 launch with a view camera is feasible - it's a perfectly determined event - you know where it is, and what it does every second, so you can plan well in advance.

            Just shutter speeds may be limited, and long telephotos too especially for very large formats (the larger the format, the longer the focal). And of course, the film must be replaced manually for each shot (unless using medium format roll film).

            Then some vintage look may be given by the lens and film/paper used, regardless on what camera they are used in (basically it's just a light-sealed box able to move to focus the lens on film).

            Some old lenses had designs with specific uncorrected (or only partially corrected) aberrations, which gave them very specific "looks" (now some like the Petzval and others are being re-made just for this). Same for film. and many B/W ones specifically developed to increase speed will also deliver the grainy look.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

          With respect to losing satellite video feed from the landing barge...

          rocket engines could also be creating static discharge and related E.M. interference. Not only that, but atmospheric disturbances from the thermal energy could be affecting antenna performance, even cause frequency distortion, like a rotating fan near a WiFi might mess things up a bit. When you're dealing with microwave communications that have centimeter wavelengths, things like atmospheric impedence and/or reflectivity changes caused by moving clouds of hot rocket engine exhaust would actually matter.

          That's what I'm thinking, anyway, based on my experience with RF (in general) and WiFi antennas (in particular).

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

          "I think the problem with the feed dropping out on landing is because of the massive vibrations from the engine(s). "

          Pretty much this.

          About the only feasible way of handling it would be to play out about a half mile of floating fibre to another boat with the uplink on that - and then go through the hassle of gyrostabilising that platform.

          Then again his muskiness might well do that.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: A half complete network of Iridium satellites...

        What's this got to do with Iridium? They're a customer, not a systems supplier for SpaceX.

  2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Joke

    I think I've figured it out... it's entirely fake. You see, the video cuts out just before it lands. The rocket hits the water, 3 employees get out a giant cardboard pop up Falcon stage 1, then the video feed comes back on.

    As to the two landings on land, in tandem, and all the others, all us Reg readers know it's done with Marionettes and fireworks, just like in the good old days.

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Shoot... I saw the two Falcon Heavy boosters land in tandem in person... and it still looked like CGI, it was so unreal and perfectly synchronized. I was expecting the director to yell "cut!"

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        I remember the first time I saw GATTACA, I thought "those rocket launches look completely unconvincing". Likely because I was used to seeing grainy technical footage from the 60s-90s.

        It turns out that real daytime launches of kerosene-burning rockets, shot on modern high quality equipment for publicity rather than technical purposes (Falcon Heavy being a particularly good example of this,) really do look like they do in the movies.

        Publicity shot from this morning's launch

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I saw the two Falcon Heavy boosters land in tandem in person... and it still looked like CGI" ....

        Nah they were little model rockets. The trick was to make you think they were a couple of miles away. Really they were just across the road ;-)

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Trollface

          Hyperreality and the Complete Loss of Mental Coordinates.

          We know the van Allen Belt is actually a impenetrable human-zapping radiation shield wall and that the Moon doesn't even exist, which is why ISS action has to be filmed 24/7 in the starless studio. If ISS were real, it would be hidden behind nanochemical chemtrails in any case.

          Also, system engineering and its history is completely fake, particularly to "engineers" that have come out of modern educational dens and that Just Want to Code.

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Of course the moon exists

            It's a completely real hologram. And I can prove it. Just watch one of my interminable Youtube videos. The proofs in there somewhere, I swear.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Of course the moon exists

              > "It's a completely real hologram."

              I don't know about the Moon, but in that publicity still shot this morning you can clearly see what must be a hologram projector hovering over the building. I guess those big woofers hidden under the launch pad must have temporarily knocked out the cloaking device...

        2. Aqua Marina

          Really they were just across the road ;-)

          Obligatory Father Ted link https://youtu.be/MMiKyfd6hA0

        3. zebthecat

          Small...

          ...Far away

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The rocket hits the water, 3 employees get out a giant cardboard pop up Falcon stage 1, then the video feed comes back on"

      Where's the cardboard one then?,

      You can't see the unopened one beforehand - unless of course, it's a (disguised) sea blue colour. :)

      Gerry Anderson was genius, Musk has taken his work to another level, and then some.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Thunderbirds is so easy :)

        "You can't see the unopened one beforehand - unless of course, it's a (disguised) sea blue colour. :)"

        The sides of the cardboard box facing the camera are 'Green' ...... so they can use 'Green Screen' techniques to overlay a video feed of the ground *without* the cardboard box over the cardboard box. !!!??? (You know what I mean :) )

        They then flip the cardboard box around and stand it up, image of landed rocket on 'Green Background'.

        'Green Screen' it again and done !!!

        (No strings or marionettes needed) :)

      2. LDS Silver badge
        Joke

        "Where's the cardboard one then?"

        It's an inflatable Falcon 9, c'mon! They have the required gas generator technology to inflate one in a few seconds!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "... Marionettes ...."

      You would think that modern image processing could have been used to hide the strings.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Happy

        Strings?

        One of the landings on one particular camera artifact look like there was a string lowering down the booster!

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      No the landings are real, the launches are faked.

      This is how Musk's lizard people are secretly invading Earth

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "it's done with Marionettes and fireworks, just like in the good old days."

      Back in the 60's I watched every Thunderbirds episode they ever made. Supermarionation!

      And I watched every rocket launch for Gemini and Apollo (my mother would wake me up in the middle of the night as necessary).

      I wish people nowadays were into space exploration (and things of that nature) like my friends and I were back in the 60's. What happened (rhetorical question)?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Supermarionation!

        "Back in the 60's I watched every Thunderbirds episode they ever made. Supermarionation!"

        Not to be confused with Super Mario Nation?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    190,000lb of thrust?

    SpaceX specifies the thrust of the Falcon 9 first stage as:

    7,607kN, 1,710,000 lbf (at sea level)

    8,227kN, 1,849,500 lbf (in vacuum)

    See http://www.spacex.com/falcon9 -the kN figures are rendered in really big numerals, and the lbf figures rather smaller. Which makes good sense for those of us born inside the last fifty years or so, like me...

    (although I see that while the height of the Falcon 9 is given as 70m or 229.6 ft, the diameter is given as 3.7m or 12 ft. I'd love to know exactly what legacy of the olden days makes 12ft the right diameter, I really would.)

    What with this being the 21st century and even NASA pretty much insisting on SI units by now, surely kN should be everyone's preferred unit of rocket thrust? Unless, that is, El Reg's standards bureau has something else to say on the matter? Hmm - perhaps El Reg might consider specifying rocket thrust in terms of Elon Musk's weight in one standard Mars gravity? Any takers?

    1. ocratato

      Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

      That would be 190,000 for each of the 9 engines.

      I believe the 12ft came from the need to move the rockets over public roads, and that is the limit for such vehicles (without a lot of red tape)

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

        The reason for the width has something to do with horse's arses:

        http://www.astrodigital.org/space/stshorse.html

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

          @Martin Budden

          "The reason for the width has something to do with horse's arses:

          http://www.astrodigital.org/space/stshorse.html"

          It's a lovely explanation which feels like it ought to be true, but alas Snopes says it's not exactly right.

          https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/horses-pass/ has a lot to say, including these points:

          'This item is one that, although wrong in many of its details, isn’t completely false in an overall sense and is perhaps more fairly labeled as “Partly true, but for trivial and unremarkable reasons.'

          and

          'Over and above our love of odd facts, this tale about railroad gauges succeeds because of the imagery of its play on words: space shuttle technology was designed not by a horse’s ass (figuratively, some overpaid government know-it-all) but because of a horse’s ass (literally, the width of that particular portion of equine anatomy). People find this notion amusing, feeding the story’s popularity as charmed readers continue to pass it along to others in a cascade of forwards.

          “Very interesting, educational, historical, completely true, and hysterical”? One out of five, maybe.'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

        @ocratato:

        "I believe the 12ft came from the need to move the rockets over public roads, and that is the limit for such vehicles (without a lot of red tape)"

        Ah - yes, that'd make sense. Ta. But: "That would be 190,000 for each of the 9 engines."?

        According to http://www.spacex.com/falcon9, SpaceX lists the mass of the Falcon 9 as 549,054kg and also states that:

        "Falcon 9 generates more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust at sea level"

        which implies that the 7,607kN, 1,710,000 lbf sea level thrust figure applies to all 9 engines combined.

        Now for a simple-minded reality check.

        To give a rough hand-waving estimate of launch acceleration, I'll assume that the above mass specification is maximum all up launch mass, and use the figure given for sea level thrust - 7,607kN.

        Using F=ma (not strictly correct but good enough for this job), and assuming that it's 7,607kN for each of the 9 engines, that would give a launch acceleration of:

        7,607 x10^3 N x 9 / 549,054kg = 125 m/s^2 - or about 13 g

        In other words, if it's 7607 kN per engine, the Falcon 9 lifts off at up an upwards travelling acceleration rate of about 12g, since 1g is what it takes to support the rocket against the Earth's gravitational field - and that acceleration will only increase as fuel is expended. This seems a bit of a high figure.

        Assuming 7,607x10^3 N for all nine engines combined:

        7,607x10^3 N / 549,054kg = 13.9 m/s^2.

        - corresponding to an upwards travelling acceleration rate at liftoff of about 4 m/s^2, i.e., about 0.4g, increasing as fuel is burnt off and ejected. That seems a bit more like it.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

          " the mass of the Falcon 9 as 549,054kg"

          You might need to add in the mass of the payload as well. But you're probably correct about the figure being for all 9 engines, not each.

          A typical rocket should have "just enough power" to exceed 1G of acceleration at the moment it launches. In fact, Saturn V had to burn fuel for a couple of seconds before it actually left the launch platform (it was still just a 'tad' too heavy at T minus zero). Saturn V started its engines at T minus 3 [I think that's right], throttled up with the fuel lines connected, and at T minus 0, it ejected the fuel lines and the tower moved out of the way with the engines running at full capacity for a couple of seconds before actual lift-off. Something like that.

          And the Space Shuttle had to do a 'throttle back' while the SRBs were attached, to limit stress during certain parts of the launch. I'd expect that the Falcon 9 does something like this as well, so it won't be running "balls to the walls" during the entire trip.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. ridley

      Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

      I seem to remember seeing somewhere that the 12' diameter is the largest diameter that can be road transported via semi standard trucks without the need for really silly and slow road transport.

      BFR is being built on the dockside as it is too large to transport on land.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 190,000lb of thrust?

      There was a lot of technical info pre-launch regarding this, of how the Falcon 9 Block 5 maintains continuous rocket thrust by varying the internal pressure, as atmospheric pressure changes during flight, compared to the previous Falcon 9.

    4. Black Betty

      2 horse's arses is the legacy metric.

      3.7m is the largest diameter rocket body that will fit down a single railroad tunnel. The dimensions of which are built around the standard rail gauge of 4' 8.5". Early rail cars were built on the same jigs as horse drawn wagons. Wagon wheel spacing was dictated by the ruts Roman chariots wore into Roman roads. Roman chariots were built to be drawn by 2 horses.

      http://www.astrodigital.org/space/stshorse.html

  4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    It's people!

    Also worth mentioning is that this is the version of the rocket SpaceX expects to use to carry live humans into orbit.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: It's people!

      There are rockets that carry dead humans into orbit?

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: It's people!

        "There are rockets that carry dead humans into orbit?"

        Yep - same company, oddly enough...

        https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/17/elysium-space-spacex-rocket-funerla-ashes-orbit.html

  5. redpawn Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nothing cleaver to say,

    they are at SpaceX.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Nothing cleaver to say,

      Axiomatically so

    2. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Nothing cleaver to say,

      Why would Beaver's dad be involved in public relations at SpaceX, I thought he worked for the gummint?

  6. randomengineer

    >> I'd love to know exactly what legacy of the olden days makes 12ft the right diameter<<

    Transport of stages, I think. Some will claim this is all due to pork-barrel politics and creation of jobs in various parts of the country; e.g. if you want congresscritter Smith to vote to allocate 'n' billion $ to NASA this vote will cost having facility 'x' in his/her district source the making of [insert subassembly.] On the other hand if a manufacturer already has expertise in [insert subassembly technology] and has a trained workforce already in place in say Utah then this is where the [subassembly] will need to be made unless you're willing to guarantee very very long term contracts. i.e. expedience, not necessarily pork barrels.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Joke

      Legacy - Penal Labour

      Its probably the prisoners due to the "improved landing lags".

    2. Hopalong

      The diameter of the Falcon 9 was dictated by the max size which could be transported on the US roads on a daily basis.

      SpaceX setup in Hawthorn as there is a pool of labour skills there which he needed and he picked up some suitable buildings at a very good price (ex. Northrop). They have never been adverse to picking up a bargain, the transporter they use to move the cores about KSC and CCAFB was originally built by NASA to move the Shuttle about, they picked it up for a song and converted it, saved a million or so.

      For big pork space, look up SLS.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Block 5 will be the last major upgrade to the Falcon series, "

    We'll see.

    Musk reckons SX will spin up the whole BFR programme and be ready for the launch of the first 2 of them to Mars by the end of 2022, a leisurely (by SX standards) 55 months away, replacing the F9 entirely.

    That is build (from scratch) a 2 stage 108m long and 9m wide fully reusable orbital vehicle with all cryogenic propellants loaded in the worlds largest CFRP tanks with a new engine design and cycle (in fact FFSC has never been done anywhwere in the USA) whose upper stage will "tail sit" onto the booster stage after decelerating from orbital velocity (loosing around 20x more energy than the per Kg of stage mass than the F9 booster stage) without any major surprises in the design, build or testing phases.

    And the factory to make it in.

    I wish SX every success but something tells me that like the wings-that-are-not-wings on the BFS there will be what most people would call a "Block 6" (which will be called something else) before BFS is ready to deliver anything to orbit.

    It might even be enough to demonstrate actual second stage recovery, although I doubt it.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: "Block 5 will be the last major upgrade to the Falcon series, "

      I pretty sceptical about the BFR in general but why pick on the engines. The Raptor has been in development for the better part of a decade - It's not as though it's something Musk has just pulled out of his hat. (Also what has the US got to do with it - there are no borders in space.)

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "The Raptor has been in development for the better part of a decade"

        The fact it has been in development for a decade?

        It took rocketdyne 13 powerheads before they could figure out how to start the SSME safely.

        One of those was traced to a sensor being 1 deg out of alignment.

        So quite tricky.

        And Raptor's cycle is more complex.

  8. Walter Bishop Silver badge
  9. 89724105418769278590284I9405670349743096734346773478647852349863592355648544996313855148583659264921

    It didn't go BANG!

    ...Bangladesh is too far away for NASA saboteurs...

  10. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Betting against Elon Musk?

    I'll take that bet.

    The BFR will never launch. There, I said it.

    Yeah, I know, I didn't think flying the first stage back to the launch site would be possible either, but BFR is another couple of orders of magnitude of nuts. Hint: calculate the mass of propellant it will carry at launch, vs that of other boosters. Consider the size of the bang if it cooks up on the pad or shortly after takeoff.

    Consider too the total lack of any commercial demand for such a vehicle, outside the (and this is where I really start to puck up the downvotes! :) ) outside the community of, er, enthusiasts who've watched a bit too much Star Trek and think it's humanity's religious duty to colonise uninhabitable planets in the name of Techtopia or some such. Yeah, I know, eventually an asteroid will wipe us out. Boo fucking hoo. If we move to Mars the sun will wipe us out (if we somehow conquer evolutionary biology and last longer than the typical 2my lifetime of a species.

    1. Anonymal coward

      Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

      There's always a "total lack of any commercial demand" for anything truly new, until it exists. How can there be? Then clever/greedy/unscrupulous (delete where applicable) people come up with a reason for it.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

      "enthusiasts who've watched a bit too much Star Trek and think it's humanity's religious duty to colonise uninhabitable planets in the name of Techtopia or some such"

      you couldn't be more wrong about things.

      Space exploration and the tech that enables it drives a lot of positive things back here on earth. Consider these for example:

      a) rapid transit across the pond via suborbital flight [to replace Concorde, finally]

      b) technologies that make orbital/lunar tourism affordable

      c) one or more permanent '2001-ish' space stations, with multiple gravity levels

      d) satellite repair [actually do what the Space Shuttle never could, bring it back for repair, re-launch later]

      e) satellite refueling - fill 'er up with hydrazine!

      and so on (not to mention 'collateral tech' like engines, fuel, electronics, miniaturization, power generation, yotta yotta)

      100 years ago airlines were a dream, for the most part. The negativity of Tom Paine's post is probably similar to negativity "back then". I think we need to invest MORE in space. Apparently so do Musk, the board of directors at Lockheed, and others.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

        "satellite repair [actually do what the Space Shuttle never could, bring it back for repair, re-launch later]"

        The primary reason the shuttle only ever did that once wasn't the cost. It was the fact that doing so made the Soviets _extremely_ jumpy that something like that would happen to one of their birds.

    3. Spamfast Bronze badge

      Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

      Maximum two million years for a species? What are you rambling on about?

      There are plenty of animal species that have been around for hundreds of millions of years. Ever heard of sturgeon, jellyfish, sharks?

      I grant you, most are aquatic. So we just need to engineer ourselves gills. Sounds like fun. :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

        "There are plenty of animal species that have been around for hundreds of millions of years. Ever heard of sturgeon, jellyfish, sharks?"

        Although this is OT my pedant mode causes me to want to correct this. Sharks and jellyfish are major animal groups, not species. Sturgeons are a family. Before long it will be a very small family because most species are critically endangered.

        Within groups species arise and depart. Looking at us, we're really very recent - Neanderthals are a bit older and they've already gone. Most of the stone tools you see in museums were not made by our species, but by previous human species none of whom would have been capable of building rockets.

        This is part of the famous misunderstanding of Darwin - that we are descended from apes. No. At some point we had a common ancestor species. Then we diverged. The ancestor species was not any species of modern ape.

        One of the biggest shocks to the Victorian world, and it preceded Darwin's publication, was realising from the fossil record that species go extinct, and thus the idea that they were created ab initio by God, a few were drowned in the Flood, and then all the rest survive - was wrong. It was extinction not natural selection that really put the kybosh on Creationism (except in the more backward parts of the world). Tennyson knew about it and suddenly realised that Nature far from being a kindly product of a beneficient creator was quite ruthless with her children. "From scarped cliff or quarried stone/she cries "A thousand types are gone,/ I care for nothing, all shall go."

        If something gets off this damp rock and visits other planets, it is quite possible it will be a species that isn't us, which is why human exceptionalism is quite pointless.

        1. Alistair Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

          @ V-Y-M

          I don't know *how* many times I've dropped that Tennyson line in project meetings, and no one has clued to it......

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

            "I don't know *how* many times I've dropped that Tennyson line in project meetings, and no one has clued to it"

            He has also got a rather sarcastic one about the world "spinning forever down the ringing grooves of change" - suggesting that we don't really have much control over it, and it keeps coming back to repeat the same stuff. That surely describes the evolution of software.

    4. catprog

      Re: Betting against Elon Musk?

      No market for a 6 million dollar launch?

    5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: total lack of any commercial demand for such a vehicle

      $62 for a Falcon 9 launch compared to about $10M for a BFR. BFR will not be short of customers. BFR changes the market in other ways. Today satellites use expensive solar panels to keep the mass down. If mass is no problem you can use less efficient ones twice the size and much lower cost. Add a really big fuel tank and the satellite can stay in position for ages. With a BFR you can use big focusing antennas to aim at cities rather than countries.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        $62 for a Falcon 9 launch compared to about $10M for a BFR.

        We'll see.

        People thought they'd cut the cost of launch further once they'd demonstrated reuse.

        Didn't happen.

        What really lowers prices is effective competition.

        No competition --> No reason to lower prices.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: $62 for a Falcon 9 launch compared to about $10M for a BFR.

          "People thought they'd cut the cost of launch further once they'd demonstrated reuse.

          Didn't happen."

          There's this thing called amortising R&D costs.

  11. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    inches and pounds

    Seeing all that tech documentation in inches and pounds just makes me want to cry.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: inches and pounds

      Seeing all that tech documentation in inches and pounds just makes me want to cry.

      ...with joy.

      (Likely Downvote Alert!)

  12. eldakka Silver badge
    Angel

    > The main thrust of development will now be focused on the BFR – or Big, er, Falcon Rocket – which the Musketeers hope will take mankind to the Moon and Mars.

    Come on, this is a safe place. You can say it. I know you want to say it. We can say it together...

    Big. Fucking. Rocket.

    There, that feels better, doesn't it?

    1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

      I thought it was “friendly”, like the giant.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the UK, we'd more likely call it "The Big, fuck-off Rocket".

      (which confusingly, is very complimentary - not as it sounds).

      English is a strange language.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Where I grew up, it would be the "Fuck-Off Gert Rocket". Assuming the locals could comprehend what a rocket is.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Holy S**T

    All this way down and no comments about feeding the poor or UK Aid.

    The frothing at them mouth Commentards are slacking today.

  14. Brangdon

    BFR to fly next

    You are confusing the BFR with the BFS. It's the BFS which Musk hopes will fly next year. The BFS is the second stage, and by "fly" he means make small, sub-orbital test hops. It's not as ambitious as you make it out to be.

    He's also talked of making 30-50 block 5 first stages, each capable of 10+ launches. Even if SpaceX manage 50 launches a year, that will still take 10 years to get through. So he's not actually counting on BFR flying that soon.

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