Falcon Heavy reactions post launch


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I could provide links to probably a hundred articles, but most simply say the same things, while generally being awed and excited. The handful below sum things up well, plus provide some additional details:

The first two stories provide a good overview of the excitement caused by the launch. The third story, about California’s tax on rocket launches, is really an op-ed opposing the tax. (I don’t expect that state’s leftist legislature to cancel it.) The third story also outlines what happened, but provides this significant quote from Musk, illustrating starkly how revolutionary this rocket is:

Musk said he personally inspected the landed boosters, adding that SpaceX could even reuse them if it wanted. Even after seeing the results of the launch, Musk said he was having difficulty comprehending the magnitude of the flight, saying it was surreal for him to see such success.

“It can launch things direct to Pluto and beyond. Don’t even need gravity assist or anything,” Musk said. “You can go back to the moon.”

He estimated the total SpaceX investment was over $500 million dollars to develop Falcon Heavy. Musk noted those funds were “all internal,” and not from taxpayers or fundraising.

In other words, the taxpayer now has available, at no development cost, the heavy-lift rocket that NASA has been trying and failing to build for tens of billions since 2004.

Finally, the last story isn’t really about Falcon Heavy, but about how SpaceX is in the driver’s seat in the prices it charges. The company is saving quite a lot by reusing its first stage boosters. For the first initial launches reusing these boosters they offered discounts to get customers to use them. Now they no longer have to, because their normal prices beat everyone else anyway. They can pocket the extra profits.

And all this has happened because of freedom, competition, and the vision of one man. Musk deserves all the accolades he is receiving today.

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13 comments

  • Kyle

    Now we need Blue Origin and others to get into the game with their reusable rockets to increase competition with Space X and drive down their cost down even further, these lower launch costs will open space up to more business and industry. Truly Capitalism in Space.

  • Ted

    Mr. Z: Like you I have been a space ‘nut’ for many years. I remember even watching ECHO fly overhead from my backyard as a kid and helping my dad shoot 8mm movies film of the touchdown on the moon from our old Sear B&W tv.

    Anyway I watched the Falcon Heavy lift off via YouTube yesterday and I must say that it was the smoothest, fastest space shot EVER. The obvious increase in technology in following the flight and even Starman in the Tesla roadster was amazing.

    I don’t know if FH will ever fly again unless we need to send a roadster to Pluto – and I am sure that the early rocket pioneers like Prof. Goddard were watching (from somewhere) and cheering it on. I remember Alan Shepard saying something about “just light this candle…” well baby – Falcon Heavy was some candle!

  • R.C. Gallagher

    If only CEO Musk would insist this same capitalist philosophy apply to his two other endeavors: Tesla Motors and Solar City.

    Neither operate in anything like pure free market free enterprise mode, but are rather controlled through essentially co-op ownership underwriting by the Federal government.

    (-Ellon can’t have it both ways, “denationalize” Tesla M. and S.City, too !! There he’s the government’s ‘proxy’ figure, while acting like a cross between Wernher Von Braun and Walt Disney at SpaceX..)

  • Joe

    So Long Suckers (SLS)!

  • National Air& Space Museum is gonna need a new wing.

  • Edward

    Ted wrote: “I don’t know if FH will ever fly again unless we need to send a roadster to Pluto

    Falcon Heavy already has four customers: Arabsat (Arabsat 6A), Inmarsat, U.S. Air Force (STP-2), and Viasat.
    reference: http://www.spacex.com/missions

    R.C. Gallagher wrote: “If only CEO Musk would insist this same capitalist philosophy apply to his two other endeavors: Tesla Motors and Solar City. … -Ellon can’t have it both ways, ‘denationalize’ Tesla M. and S.City, too !!

    If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, he can’t have it that way, either. If he insists that the subsidies end, then he would still be condemned. How do I know? Because that is exactly what happened:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/elon-musk-wants-to-end-government-subsidies/article/2009014
    But now that Musk has risen to the top, he has started to condemn government subsidies.

    Musk cannot win, no matter what he does. Even if he goes to Mars he will be condemned. From the Weekly Standard article/op-ed: “There is also the implication of who would run Mars if Musk got there—it wouldn’t be U.S. soil, so who would be in charge? Whatever the answer, you can be sure we’ll be footing the bill for his intergalactic vacation.

    When you put someone into such a no-win scenario, R.C. Gallagher, do not expect him to do as you want.

  • Is there a reasonable humans-to-Mars architecture which is based upon the FH only. The only one that I know of is Zubrin’s but if you have to consider jockeys as crew, I’m not so sure how reasonable that is. And if there isn’t such an architecture then how is it that the FH makes SLS redundant as so many suggest? For the Moon, I have an architecture based upon the FH (SpaceDevelopment.org) — but not for Mars. Anyone?

  • R.C. Gallagher

    re: Edward
    February 7, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Now that Musk has benefited from all our underwriting he ostensibly wants it to end so thereafter imprimaturs business success as his own, perchance? (Any mention of paying back money as a loan from US taxpayers?) I believe there are quite a few of US who could similarly perform with such underwriting in our sails. Musk was hand picked central planners’ surrogate, to some extent. -He’s is neither Von Braun nor Disney in my opinion, although probably comes closest to latter..

    The “entire” Solar industry including CSP, MUSK be opened up to TOTALLY free-market enterprise motive and forces, so that classic US capitalism can again light our American way.

    I wonder what ‘Nikola’ would say?

  • wayne

    Well, Trump just raised the import tariff on solar-panels, the end of January. (along with washing machines)

  • Localfluff

    @DougSpace
    Why not use the FH to launch 2½ times the mass to LEO for half or so the cost, to build a spacecraft of any size? The ISS is a great, and very patient, demonstration of how big spacecrafts can be built and operated in space for decades by 100+ astronauts working in shifts.

    If you look at launch cost per ton rather than tons launched per booster. Reusable boosters kind of make that latter measure worthless.

  • Edward

    DougSpace asked: “And if there isn’t such an architecture then how is it that the FH makes SLS redundant as so many suggest?

    As Localfluff pointed out, even the SLS will have to use multiple launches to build any of NASA’s proposed Mars transit vehicles. In addition to the great cost of each SLS launch, there is the low launch cadence vs Falcon Heavy’s much higher cadence. Building a NASA Mars vehicle with SLS will take multiple years, making SLS less useful than Falcon Heavy.

    SpaceX’s solution to the Mars Direct paradigm (Zubrin) is to create the Big Falcon Rocket. They do not propose using Falcon Heavy to send humans to Mars.

    R.C. Gallagher,
    Your latest comment demonstrates my point. Musk cannot win no matter what he does. You, for one, will always criticize him.

    You have assumed that his success came from being a “hand picked central planners’ surrogate,” but his wealth came first from his own success at starting an internet company. He already knew how to succeed before any central planner may have hand picked him to be a surrogate.

    What you want to be treated as loans were actually agreements that his companies would share their prosperity with various local governments. You may also be trying to consider the subsidies to his customers as governmental loans, but you should actually be asking those customers to pay back their subsidies, not asking Musk to do so for them. For a publicly traded company to do as you wish would risk the ire of the SEC, as such a move is not in the best interests of the shareholders of Tesla and Sun City. It is a nice emotional dream to have, but the rational legal reality is different. Your gripe is with the federal government.

    You wrote: “The “entire” Solar industry including CSP, MUSK be opened up to TOTALLY free-market enterprise motive and forces, so that classic US capitalism can again light our American way.

    You are singing to the choir. Your gripe is with the central planners in government who desire for us to switch, before the economics are ready, to solar power and electrical cars.

    As for Musk being Von Braun or Disney, he is neither a rocket scientist nor an animatronics expert. He is, however, a knowledgeable and talented leader. In rocketry, he leads a team that has managed to create a reusable first stage for an orbital launch rocket. This idea is not unique to him, as this has been the goal of several in the commercial space business ever since they rallied around the aviation paradigm, where the flight hardware is not expended after each flight but is
    reused many times.

    Localfluff,
    Launch cost per pound (or kilogram) has been an important measure of rockets for several decades. The capacity of the rocket is a factor mostly when the payload may exceed that capacity. Both are important when choosing a launch vehicle or designing a payload.

  • ken anthony

    DougSpace asks…

    Is there a reasonable humans-to-Mars architecture which is based upon the FH only.

    No. There is no mars lander planned that uses FH and FH will be cargo only to space. Dragon was going to be but that’s been canceled. Crew Dragon (to ISS) is now going to be top priority then all development will switch to BFR.

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