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Falcon Heavy gets another contract

Capitalism in space: With the announcement on October 30th that the Space Force has added a third military Falcon Heavy launch for ’22, the rocket is now scheduled to fly five times next year.

The addition of a third national security mission for Falcon Heavy will make for quite a scheduling challenge for SpaceX’s three-core rocket that also is projected to launch in 2022 a Viasat-3 commercial broadband satellite with an Astranis communications satellite as a secondary payload, as well as NASA’s Psyche planetary science mission.

The Space Force missions USSF-44 and USSF-52 both were scheduled to fly in 2021 but have been delayed by payload readiness and range scheduling issues. No target launch dates have been announced yet although the Space Force said they would happen in 2022. Falcon Heavy rockets lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

It increasingly looks like 2022 will be a major record-setting year for rocketry.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Questioner

    Despite all these successes: There are again allegations against Elon Musk, for manipulating the share value of Tesla through not really correct news (in this case: allegedly purchase of 100,000 vehicles by Hertz). Crime fiend? Despite his wealth: I have the feeling that his luck will run out of luck at some point.

    What do you think?

  • sippin_bourbon

    I am confused by the story. Hertz says “we bought cars”, Musk says, “There is no contract yet, but it has no impact on our economics”.
    Not sure how that is manipulation. He basically says, sale or no sale, no impact.

  • Jeff Wright

    I really want to see a Centaur atop Falcon Heavy.

  • Questioner

    Jeff Wright:

    The Centaur upper stage (especially its RL-10 engines) is incredibly expensive.

  • Edward

    Questioner responded to Jeff Wright: “The Centaur upper stage (especially its RL-10 engines) is incredibly expensive.

    I appreciate Jeff’s dream. Since the RL-10 is a hydrogen/oxygen engine, its efficiency is greater than the Falcon Heavy’s upper stage, and Jeff is clearly trying to imagine how much more mass could be taken to space with the Centaur than with SpaceX’s own upper stage.

    For most of the history of modern rocketry, the engineers have tried to optimize for performance: mass to orbit. However, the cost to get to orbit remained at around $10,000/lb (around $20,000/kg).

    Elon Musk had wanted to privately explore Mars but discovered that the launch cost was too high. He founded SpaceX in order to optimize not for mass but for cost: dollar spent per payload mass to reach orbit. SpaceX did well with Falcon ($1,450/lb) and did better with Falcon Heavy ($650/lb). According to SpaceX’s announcements, SpaceX could easily reduce that lower cost by a factor of five or ten.

    As a result of the reduced costs of the Falcons, there are now hundreds of private companies eager to do business in space with relatively inexpensive small satellites. Hundreds of these satellites have already been launched.

    It may be interesting to improve the efficiency, but the cost also must be low, otherwise few people are willing to pay for the ride. Jeff’s dream is likely to remain only a dream, but if someone finds a way to reduce the cost of a hydrogen upper stage, a similar demonstration may be possible by a company that improves on SpaceX’s cost and performance. SpaceX showed it is possible, but left plenty of room for improvement. Now we need other companies to do even better than SpaceX.

  • Questioner


    Has the time now come to intervene and stop these manipulated undesirable developments?

    John Authers:

    “Now Elon Musk is worth 3 times as much as Warren Buffett, some fun with valuations. Berkshire produces the highest EBITDA of any US company, 20 times that of Tesla. But Tesla is worth 2 Berkshires. Make sense?”

  • Questioner


    About the choice of term: Like so many amateur rocket scientists, you are using the term “efficiency” incorrectly. Efficiency – when applied to the quality of a rocket engine – is the ratio of real experimental to ideal theoretical performance. For example, the combustion efficiency. But you mean the absolute level of a certain performance parameter, in this case the specific impulse.

    Elon Musk was very well advised not to use the LH2 / LOX fuel combination for his rockets because of the high costs and other disadvantages. And he was also very well advised to keep his rocket technology and launch systems so simple that he used the same fuel combination for all rocket stages and not two different ones for the upper and lower stages. The additional infrastructure for liquid hydrogen storage and refueling for the additional launch, test stand and production systems never pays off.

    The specific impulse of LH2 / LOX is higher than that of LCH4 / LOX (or RP1 / LOX), but rocket stages (this applies to the structure as well as the engines) are much heavier due to the extremely low density of liquid hydrogen than with methane or kerosene as fuel. I guess that in the end there isn’t a very big difference in the ideal delta-v (ideal velocity change) of a hydrogen or of a methane upper stage. SpaceX certainly calculated all of that.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Your question assumes the manipulation happened.

    Based on his statements, I do not see manipulation.

    Meanwhile, (unrelated) he just had success in court against Bezos.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I should also point out, that several days now after this event, the SEC has not announced any new investigations, stated they are considering an investigation, nor alleged new manipulation.

    They still can of course, but so far, your statements do not appear to be accurate.

  • Questioner


    Musk was up to now still smart enough in his choice of words and he slowly built up the whole thing and created a dependent, believing following who worship him almost godlike and thrown a sensible reflexiveness (also because of greed) overboard. The whole thing reminds me a bit of the Bhagwan phenomenon of the 1980s.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I have re-read his comments:
    What he says:
    There is currently no contract yet.
    If Hertz is buying cars, it is at market price.
    Such a contract, or lack thereof, has no impact Tesla economics.

    All of this was in direct comment to the status of the stocks.

    If anything, he was being cautious.
    If he let it run longer, letting investors believe there was a deal on paper, with signatures, when no such deal existed, that could come back to bite them later.
    He did not announce anything that drive the price up. Hertz did that. Should they be investigated?
    The last statement above, about no impact on economics, is the most important his stockholders would want to hear.

    I also checked again. The SEC, which has pounced on Musk in the past for saying really dumb things, does not appear to be concerned at this time.

  • Edward

    You wrote: “Like so many amateur rocket scientists …

    You have been here long enough that you should already know that not only am I an engineer but an aerospace engineer. I know what efficiency and specific impulse are. I also know that my audience is not fellow rocket scientists, so I often use terms that are similar enough but not industry jargon.

    It is best when one’s audience understands what is said and meant (I failed with you), so the communicator needs to understand his audience. The challenge is to avoid the jargon and unfamiliar acronyms without talking down to the audience. An amateur communicator may not understand these concepts and may insist upon jargon and PhD-level communications.

    Elon Musk was very well advised not to use the LH2 / LOX fuel combination for his rockets because of the high costs and other disadvantages.

    That was my main point. Another point was that someone may find a way to make hydrogen less expensive to use. Next time read my comment.

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