back to article Break out the poutine! SpaceX flings triple serving of Canadian satellites into orbit

SpaceX nailed a second landing of a Falcon 9 first stage at its Vandenberg Landing Zone 4 today after punching through the Californian fog to send a trio of Canadian satellites into orbit. The booster used to launch RADARSAT had previously seen service in Florida, sending the Crew Dragon demonstrator to the International Space …

  1. NoneSuch

    Ahhh Boffins...

    Is there anything they can't do...? :)

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Ahhh Boffins...Is there anything they can't do...? :)

      Get enough funding?

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Ahhh Boffins...Is there anything they can't do...? :)

        The eyewatering cost of the LHC suggests some can. Also in some areas of Biology which attract Big Pharma interest and funding things can be very flush. I was for a time employed on slush funding in just such a situation. I never enquired too deeply on where the funding had been found for the sake of my conscience.

        My other employment was on penny pinching grants. So it depends what field you are in.

        1. Paul Kinsler

          Re: The eyewatering cost of the LHC suggests some can

          If ever you think something scientific costs a lot of money, it is often amusing to compare that amount to what the population spends on pet food. :-)

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: The eyewatering cost of the LHC suggests some can

            And bearing in mind that the 'science' of LHC didn't cost anything.

            Like all these projects you get back in contracts roughly what you put in as grants. So except for on-site costs it's really a way of subsidising your own high tech industry.

            It also keeps large numbers of physicists gainfully employed instead of trying to destroy the world by becoming quants.

    2. adam 40 Bronze badge

      Re: Ahhh Boffins...

      "Boffins at SpaceX"


      Aren't they just "Engineers"?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only escaping Brexit could be as easy as Spacex landing at Vandenberg.

    SpaceX made that landing looks so easy, when easy it's not.

    Cool images from a drone (assume it was drone/helicopter/plane above the fog) to film takeoff. The attention to detail is phenomenal. Not enough people get credit for the attention to detail here, there also seemed to be new nitrogen thrusters in an almost 360-degree direction alongside the titanium grid fins, i.e. downward direction too.

    Clever stuff.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: If only escaping Brexit could be as easy as Spacex landing at Vandenberg.

      It is indeed. I used to think the old Forbidden Planet style landing on the fins was as unobtainable scifi as interstellar flight but SpaceX and modern tech have made that possible. For taller and slimmer rockets than those scifi artists depicted too.

      The footage from the Starman launch was mighty impressive in the landings as well. Letting the engineers dream seems to have worked for Elon. I suppose he is also thinking that Mars colonists with scant resources might find reusing spacecraft to be very sensible as well. He thinks he is buying a ticket to Mars with SpaceX. If they can make the crew Dragon work he will be some way towards that.

      Now for some clever radiation shielding for the jump and autonomous robots to build the hab before the colonists get there, with practice on the Moon. Building with regolith in a vacuum will make building on Mars look easy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only escaping Brexit could be as easy as Spacex landing at Vandenberg.

        Assuming you can send a ship with sufficient shielding to allow for the exposure to months of hard radiation, the power to land safely on Mars (lack of atmosphere means little to slow the lander down but enough atmosphere to burn it up if it comes in just a bit too fast), and the power to provide what is needed to create and run an underground habitat (again not enough atmosphere and no magnetic planetary shield, you still have to deal with two other things.

        1. Dust getting into everything and destroying seals needed to keep the oxygen in - imagine the finest talcum powder that will coat everything that comes in contact with it.

        2. Said dust (and the rest of the surface) being saturated in perchlorates - highly toxic. A source of oxygen as well, but you can't grow food in it, breath it or be in extended contact with it.

        Mars is not a nice place for human beings to live on. The moon would be much better and closer to boot.

        1. Brangdon

          Re: The moon would be much better

          Mars is a much nicer place than the Moon for humans to live. The Moon has no atmosphere. That means the radiation environment is much harsher. You can't use it to slow down when landing. You can't mine it for CO2 to make rocket fuel. There's less erosion, so Moon dust is more spikey. In addition, you have to cope with nightime lasting a fortnight, uncertain water reserves, and lower gravity.

          Mars has enough atmosphere that you can use it to slow down on arrival (if you are big enough). While there it protects you from radiation, so exposure on Mars surface is similar to in ISS. And you can use it to make fuel to bring you home again. Day-night cycle is just over 24 hours, so you can use solar power and grow plants in natural light without needing 14-day batteries. Gravity is closer to what humans are used to. Mars has loads of water ice, and other minerals that we need. Perchlorates can be washed out easily enough.

          The only advantages of the Moon are greater solar flux, and it's closer. Distance doesn't matter so much if you are staying a long time.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: If only escaping Brexit could be as easy as Spacex landing at Vandenberg.

        I saw Forbidden Planet when I was about 7 years old. The invisible monster gave me nightmares for years.

        But it's fun to compare that Leslie Nielsen with the latter-life (police squad, airplane, etc.) Leslie Nielsen career wise in the types of movies he did.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll start soon...

    I'm going to build a pretty large Corner Reflector. Maybe 5m on each side.

    I want to see myself in their data.

    1. adam 40 Bronze badge

      Re: I'll start soon...

      Why not make a load of them and spell out a swear word on your lawn?

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Canada no longer a threat?

    Radarsat2 had to be launched from rooskiestan after the USA blocked it's launch from the USA on grounds of national security.

    Quite how forcing the Canucks to ship their not-a-spy-satelite to the USSR Putin Republican ensures the land of the free wasn't clear

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Canada no longer a threat?

      Blame Dubya (GW Bush) and the congress. Somebody had been a bit sloppy with "technical data" and the congress decided to severely restrict technical data interchanges with foreign (friendly) partners, ie ITAR strikes again.

      A spacecraft "bus" became a national security secret (it's a metal frame with batteries). And so it began. Go to Europe for the bus. Ooops the antenna vendor --- somebody forgot to mention they were a competitor and had slowed production to a standstill. Have to buy them out. Undersize the frame strength and discover far far too late that a smooth-as-butter Soviet rocket was the *only* option as the US Atlas (iirc) was too too rough and bumpy a ride.

      I heard rumour from the away team at the launch site (Kaz.) the place was guarded with machine-gun wielding women in Soviet-era miniskirts: scary as heck. No photos allowed; therefore probably fake news.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big thing about having a RadarSAT with an AIS sniffer is that any seaborne radar target over a certain size (300 tonnes, i.e. quite small) that doesn't say "Here I am, look at me" on AIS is instantly suspicious, and worth having a look at by plane, drone, or ship.

  6. phuzz Silver badge

    I've watched a few SpaceX launches, and I have to say that this was some of their worst video yet.

    Totally not their fault of course, it was all down to the weather, and if anything, it was quite amusing watching the presenter try and fill when the only image from the launchpad was just a grey blur of fog.

    There's no fog icon so I'll use the 'polar bear in a blizzard' icon >>>>>>>>>>>

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