Elon Musk sends a tweet and the world listens


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The competition heats up: Yesterday Elon Musk sent out a tweet that simply repeated something his company has been saying now for several months — but with one slight additional detail — and the press went gaga.

What Musk said was that SpaceX hopes to reuse one of its used Falcon 9 first stages by September or October. Previously they had merely said they were aiming to do it before the end of the year. Since SES has offered one of its satellites for the job, and since it has had for months two such satellites scheduled for launch by SpaceX in September and October, this announcement by Musk is not really much of a surprise. Yet, the tweet was enough for all of the following mainstream news sources to gin up news-breaking headlines:

I am not really complaining. What I am really noting is how serious the world now takes what Musk and SpaceX are doing. They say they plan to do something new and revolutionary, and people sit up and take notice. And the reasons are twofold. First, everything they have said they were going to do, they have done. Musk’s announcement has to be taken seriously. Second, Musk owns SpaceX, and does not really need anyone’s permission to do this. He isn’t in a negotiation with numerous other players, as has been the case with NASA and its projects for the past half century. We know that if he wants to try something, the only things that could stop him are lack of capital and lack of good engineering, neither of which are an obstacle in this case.

So, be prepared for the first relaunch of a rocket’s first stage sometime this fall. And don’t be surprised if that isn’t the only new thing SpaceX accomplishes at the time.

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4 comments

  • Dick Eagleson

    And don’t be surprised if that isn’t the only new thing SpaceX accomplishes at the time.

    Indeed. SpaceX has one GEO comsat mission scheduled for June in about six days. There are three missions set for July, two of which are to depart from Vandenberg AFB including the launch of 10 Iridium Next LEO comsats. The third one in July is CRS-9 which will be taking a docking adapter up to ISS. Then one more GEO comsat in August and three more in Sept., including Amos-6, which has recently been pushed back from July for some reason, and SES-10 which, as you note, will probably be the 1st relaunch of a Falcon 9 1st stage. Then, in the last week of Sept., Elon will reveal his Mars Colonization Architecture in Mexico. The next 16 weeks are going to be unprecedentedly busy ones for SpaceX – and the source of much fun for the rest of us, no doubt.

  • > First, everything they have said they were going to do, they have done.

    Minor quibbles but there’s Falcon 1e, Falcon 5, reusability of the second stage, crossfeed, and their stated timelines. But since they’re mastering reusability and making a serious effort at going to Mars, all is forgiven.

  • Edward

    Mr. Zimmerman wrote: “And don’t be surprised if that isn’t the only new thing SpaceX accomplishes at the time.”

    It has been an exciting several months, so far, with Blue Origin and SpaceX pushing limits and boundaries. If only NASA could have been set up to be this active.

    In the past couple of weeks, Blue Origin completed an engine test stand that was built in only seven months
    http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/blue-origin-builds-engine-test-facility-in-only-seven-months/

    — with the decision to spend the resources to build it having been made in a ten-minute discussion.
    http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/blue-origin-engine-testing-update/

    NASA is so micromanaged by Congress that they don’t even have the authority to design their own rocket. Congress set up the requirements for SLS, even though they did not have a mission or purpose for it — or rocket experience. However, our private companies have a great deal of flexibility and independence to do as they find necessary to make their customers happy and their businesses prosper.

    Dick,
    That schedule of 8 launches through September, plus the five so far this year suggests that SpaceX has a chance of achieving its goal of 18 launches this year.
    http://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/points-of-information/spacex-estimates-30-price-cut-from-reusable-1st-stage/

    Although the link in Mr. Zimmerman’s post shows only four planned launches, not five, in the fourth quarter, the following link shows a fifth, a December launch of Crew Dragon Demo 1 (and a couple of other differences in the Falcon manifest):
    http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/launch-schedule/

  • wodun

    Dick Eagleson, “The third one in July is CRS-9 which will be taking a docking adapter up to ISS.”

    I was wondering when that was going up. Shows NASA trusts them after blowing up the last one.

    Edward, “If only NASA could have been set up to be this active.”

    NASA can’t because they are not self funding.

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