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SpaceX successfully launches its Endeavour capsule carrying four astronauts

Capitalism in space: SpaceX tonight used its Falcon 9 rocket to successfully launch its Endeavour capsule from Cape Canaveral, carrying four astronauts to ISS.

This was Endeavour’s fourth flight. It will dock with ISS in about 24 hours. The four-person crew included two Americans, one Russian (the second to fly on a Dragon capsule), and the first citizen of the United Arab Emirates to fly on an American spacecraft. He will stay on the station for six months.

The Falcon 9 first stage was making its first flight, and successfully landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic. This was only the fourth new first stage used by SpaceX since January 2022 (out of 75 launches), and the second launched this year.

The 2023 launch race:

14 SpaceX
7 China
3 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Japan
1 India

American private enterprise now leads China 15 to 7 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 15 to 12. SpaceX alone leads the entire world combined, including all other American companies, 14 to 13.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • BLSinSC

    Meanwhile NASA has identified yet ANOTHER amazing muslim discovery – soft, comfortable sheets!!! Oh wait, no, they rescinded that – it was muslIN!!!

  • Star Bird

    How soon can we start sending Liberal Democrats into Deep Space?

  • buddhaha

    Maybe it’s just because I’m old :-) , but it looks to me that the Falcon 9 accelerates harder than older orbit capable rockets. I watched the launch last night, and that thing books, as the old slang says. They announced successful orbit in around 18.minutes, and the booster was already on the barge (about 5 years off the target, btw), cooling.

    I remember (yes, that old) watching the Saturn 5 launches, and the Falcon seems to clear the support tower in half the time. It’s shorter, I know, but even so… I’ve been involved in tech advances myself, but I’m still amazed.

  • buddhaha

    Yards. Autocorrect strikes again.

  • Ray Van Dune

    Speaking of “5 yards off target”, keep in mind that F9 lands in a “hover slam” mode – in other words it cannot throttle down far enough to simply hover and fine-tune its landing spot while doing so.

    This is because the F9 hull is essentially empty of propellants at this point, and incredibly light compared to the loaded vehicle! Even on one engine, all it can do is come to a stop at zero altitude, and then quickly shut down, lest it begin rising up again!

    As I understand it, the Superheavy and Starship, on the other hand, will be able to throttle down to a hover while moving their position to the chopsticks for capture, and then shut down once grasped.

    The reason why for Superheavy is easy to understand – it has so many engines (33) that it can “throttle down” by just selectively shutting them off! Starship is another matter with only six engines… F9 has 9, after all. Perhaps the answer is that Raptor has superior throttle range compared to Merlin?

  • john hare

    Or perhaps they have finessed hover slam to the point that there is no intention to hover at all. Starship on the moon should be way overpowered for a hover except on auxiliary engines.

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