SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

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All is go for today’s Falcon 9 launch with less than four minutes left in the countdown. You can watch it live here.

We have liftoff. The real moment of truth on this launch will be once the rocket is in orbit. Can its upper stage relight to lift the SES satellite to geosynchronous orbit?

The rocket is now in orbit. The final engine burn and payload separation will occur within the hour.

The second stage engine burn has been successful. We now await payload separation.

The payload has separated successfully and has been delivered to its planned orbit.

With this successful launch SpaceX is poised to dominate the launch industry. Every other launch company has got to cut its prices in half, or more, in order to compete.



  • My prediction: they won’t.

    SpaceX will be flooded with business, and the other providers will say: they won’t be able to meet the demand.

    SpaceX will increase their flight rate, and the other providers will say: they won’t be able to win the lucrative government launches.

    SpaceX will fly Falcon Heavy and get the Air Force tick of approval, and the other providers will say: they’ll never be safe enough to fly humans, NASA better fly with us.

    SpaceX will fly DragonRider and win the NASA contract to fly crew, and the other providers will say: they’ll never be able to do deep space missions!

    SpaceX will fly MCT and send payloads to Mars, and other other providers will say: oh no! How could we have possibly seen this coming?


  • Your prediction sounds like Kelly Starks criticizing SpaceX for the past three years on this webpage!


  • Pzatchok

    I do hope they are making a profit on this launch.

    We just don’t have all the numbers on it though.

    One of the telling numbers would be the cost of insuring this launch.

    If they think its risky and not profitable the rate will be high compared to the launch costs. If its less risky the rates will be lower.

  • mpthompson

    I don’t understand the point you are trying to make. Insurance cost is a function of risk and is unrelated to profit which is a function of cost to the customer minus expense to SpaceX. Also, it would have been the satellite owner who carried the insurance, not SpaceX. Therefore, how would insurance factor into whether SpaceX made a profit on this flight or not (other than perhaps this being an early flight and SpaceX lowering the customer launch cost to offset the higher insurance cost).

  • Tim

    SES was quoted last week “Let me make this very, VERY clear. if this Spacex/ Falcon 9 1.1 launch is sucessful, it will shake the foundation by its roots”!
    They ALL know it has!!

  • Pzatchok

    The insurance company would have FAR better access to all aspects of the cargo, launch facility, launch vehicle, staff, basically they have an all access pass and in some cases access into the accounting books.

    Since there is such a small amount of possible situations like this one the insurance company have almost no chance of spreading out the cost of a possible pay out over all possible customers.

    So in effect the cost of insurance is virtually a percentage of the replacement cost. A large percentage in fact.
    If they think they will get 10 successful launches before a mishap they need to make almost 10% or more of the replacement cost on each flight. Other wise they stand a very good chance of losing money.

    At times in history insurance costs have almost been over 100% of the replacement costs of the cargo carried.

    Loyds Of London has been around a long time. And I do believe they were the insurance company of NASA astronauts for many years. And I think they charged 100,000 dollars on a million dollar payout to cover each astronaut for each Apollo launch.

    During the war of 1812 they eventually charged some English Cargo ships 300% the replacement cost of the cargo because they were losing so many ships to American pirates.
    American privateers were even targeting ships in the Indian Ocean and in sight of the English cost.
    For that reason alone the British agreed to Americas demands.

    The insurance cost of replacement is a better indicator of future success and thus possible profit than any publicity statement from the companies involved.

  • Kelly Starks

    You guys are on drugs. After a steady diet of pork and gov edits forcing agencies to fly with spaceX (at significantly increased costs per flight) they finaly launched a commercial con sat — adn your saying they rae going to drive out all other players? That they are going to Mar’s?

    > SpaceX will be flooded with business, and the other providers will say:
    > they won’t be able to meet the demand.

    Actually SpaceX hasn’t been flooded, and the other providers are laughing at them. Ariane especially and openly.

    You really think the euro gov proped up Arianes going to let the US gov proped up SpaceX drive them out of markets?

    > SpaceX will increase their flight rate, and the other providers will say:
    > they won’t be able to win the lucrative government launches.

    They didn’t win them – then the DC ordered them to change their mind.
    NASA to, but NASA can show how much more expensive SpaceX flights are per ton then shuttle was ($1.2B for 16 tons to ISS, vrs $400M for 4 tons) – ergo, big NASA controlled space is better safer.

    >.. they’ll never be safe enough to fly humans, ..

    Have you noted their accident and failure rates?

    > SpaceX will fly DragonRider and win the NASA contract to fly crew, ==

    Right DC will throw away the Orion, end all remaining support with the public for US maned flight, Burn the Russians, to give money to SpaceX?

    >== and the other providers will say: they’ll never be able to do deep space missions!

    SpaceX doesn’t even have anything in work for deep space, and with their low relyability rates…


  • Heh. It appears Trent’s prediction was right.

  • A. Feit

    Was there a 1st stage recovery?

  • Tom Billings

    “Was there a 1st stage recovery?”

    The next try at propulsive re-entry after a launch is scheduled in February. SpaceX has been looking at flying their “Grasshopper 2.0” vehicle (basically, the Falcon 9 v1.1 with the landing legs attached), as a sub-orbital test vehicle for actual landing, sometime this December. We’ll have to see how they do with those time goals.

  • To add to Tom’s comment, SpaceX made it very clear that they will not attempt any recovery of the first stage for this week’s launch or their next commercial launch in a couple of weeks. The success of both is too important to the company: SpaceX has got to get those commercial payloads to their required orbits. Saving some fuel in the first stage so that it can attempt a controlled re-entry is not worth the risk, for these particular launches.

    They will resume these first stage tests with the next Dragon/ISS flight in February. In that case they have a greater fuel reserve since the payload only has to get to low Earth orbit.

  • Is it too much to ask that you actually bother to proof read your frothing at the mouth rant before posting?

  • Dick Eagleson

    According to this story, SES paid $24 million for a $200 million policy on SES-8.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Been hanging out with Mayor Rob Ford?

  • mpthompson

    If the number of $24M for $200M insured for this flight is accurate, that seems a pretty reasonable value for a first flight. Of course, I have nothing to compare it against. It will be interesting to see how that number changes after more successes. Also, it’s interesting is the launch cost plus insurance is significantly less than just the launch cost of the competition.

  • mpthompson

    If SpaceX can significantly reduce the cost of a launch, what impact might this have on satellite hardware costs? Do lower cost, more frequent flights allow volume production to lower satellite costs? Or, instead will more money be invested in the satellite hardware itself?

  • The Comments section of this blog is one of my favorites. Reasonably knowledgeable people making reasonable arguments in a reasonably civil manner. This is the flip side of Sturgeon’s Law.

  • Pzatchok

    About a 12% premium.

    I guess they expect 10 flights or so before a failure. Plus a 2% bonus.

    Not a bad expectation. They must think things are going pretty good to keep costs down that low.

    The premium percentage per flight will probably go down a bit with each successful flight.

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