Conscious Choice cover

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.

 

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Starship prototype #11 crashes at landing

Capitalism in space: The fourth prototype of Starship to fly, #11, experienced another failure at landing early this morning, crashing onto its launchpad.

Below is SpaceX’s live feed, cued to begin at T-10 seconds. The video cuts out at T+5:49, just before landing. I have reviewed other live feeds and all that I can find so far were obscured by the cloudy conditions at landing.

Musk later tweeted the following:

‘At least the crater is in the right place!”

“Looks like engine 2 had issues on ascent & didn’t reach operating chamber pressure during landing burn, but, in theory, it wasn’t needed. Something significant happened shortly after landing burn start. Should know what it was once we can examine the bits later today.”

The next Starship prototype will be #15 (numbers 12-14 pulled when they decided to redesign based on the earlier flights).

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27 comments

  • mkent

    Since this one appears to have exploded in mid-air and rained debris down on Boca Chica Village and South Padre Island, expect it to be a while before SN15 flies.

    But since it’s SpaceX, who knows? The government lets them get away with things that would get other companies into serious trouble.

  • Steve Richter

    are the failing engines the same as on the falcon 9? I worry that Elon is looking a bit foolish by repeatedly launching a huge rocket ship where the result is some variation of engine failure. Either the engines can be started, shutdown, then restarted to the proper thrust level or they cannot. Why do you need to crash a rocket to get the engine working correctly?

  • Steve Richter: These are Raptor engines, an entirely different engine than the Merlin engines on Falcon 9.

    The issues I think are probably connected with the nature of the flight itself, up vertically, down horizontally, and then suddenly shifting to vertical just before landing. No big rocket has ever attempted such maneuvers.

  • Frank

    You can simulate all day but eventually you have to fly to flush out problems and this takes open space away from people and property. Musk’s vehicles are heavily instrumented to capture the data needed to understand what is happening.

  • Richard M

    The Raptor is bleeding edge engine tech, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see that it still has teething problems — especially in doing engine restarts, which of course is not something your typical rocket engine ever has to worry about.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I wonder about the following things and have tried to track down facts or good conjecture. Follow Nasa Spaceflight.com board but hard to track down stuff because the number of boards are so numerous.

    1. I had thought that I read that for Falcon 9 1st stage Merlin (yes a whole different engine) that before lift off each engine essentially “flies” twice. A full burn equivalent to flight profile for each engine at McGregor. Then installation of the 9 in first stage and then another full duration burn of the cluster back at McGregor.

    I wonder if Raptor at least does the full duration burn as a single engine? Seems like if they are on Raptor 44 or 46 that they should have achieved significant learning at McGregor on single engine performance. Every flight seems to end with “anomalies” for this engine or that. Is it as Robert states that it is not the Raptor engine per se, but the flight profile that disrupts fuel flow?

    Seems like you could test those kinds of situations at McGregor by varying fuel flow or even injecting varying amount of gas into line to see how engine responds. This would mitigate booms at Boca Chica that facilitate DemoProg harummphhing.

    Any thoughts among the readers?

  • Doubting Thomas: I have only one thought. It might be cheaper and faster to do these tests in flight than simulate the motions on a test stand at McGregor.

  • Jhon

    Crash and Burn, that’s how you learn. My big disappointment was I could not watch this because of the dam fog or whatever. But Congress will step in to protect their pork and start screwing with SpaceX. Billions and Billions will be lost by the greedy politicians if SpaceX succeeds. They will not let that happen, Democrat or Republican.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Yes – That tests could be cheaper all up, could be true – wasn’t thinking about a 3 DOF or 6 DOF test stand. Just some basic throttling and varying slugs of gasses followed by autopsy of a probably fairly intact motor. Wonder if some water landing would at least stop the spectacular explosions and again might allow some post flight forensics. Sure that Musk and team have thought through these ideas and decided all up flight testing is best approach. Having been a flight test guy, always wondering about alternatives.

    I’ll scare you more, maybe a stubby winged architecture (a la some early shuttle concepts) that lands in a glide might have been a more rapidly successful approach. That rapid pull up, I think, has never been tried before. Hard to land on Mars with that tho’

    It IS fun and exciting to watch as long as his money doesn’t run out or the USG sticks their nose too far into it.

  • Doubting Thomas: On Earth a runway landing (like the shuttle) really does I think make more sense. On Mars however no runways, so vertical landing will be the only option to begin with.

    The trouble here might be a mistake by Musk, trying to build a rocket to do too much. Getting up and down from Earth is one thing. Getting to another planet is another. And landing on an undeveloped planet like Mars is a third. It is usually better and more efficient to engineer specific things for these specific tasks. Musk is trying to combine them all in Starship.

    I hope he succeeds, but I think this might be his biggest problem.

  • Steve Richter

    “… And landing on an undeveloped planet like Mars is a third. ….”

    on the issue of landing and presumably taking off from Mars, what type of fuel will be used? These test launches have use liquid oxygen and methane. Will that same fuel be used on Mars?

  • Steve Richter

    “… The trouble here might be a mistake by Musk, trying to build a rocket to do too much. …”

    now I am worried. If Elon has not thought this thing through we are looking at years of wasted effort. With the Chinese plodding along in a more sensible manner. And then NASA jumping in and saying, see, the design of space ships has to be left to us experts.

    We need more rovers, diggers and drillers on Mars. Machines which are looking for sources of fuel, developing ways to build structures.

  • NavyNuke

    “… And landing on an undeveloped planet like Mars is a third. ….”

    Will the FAA require NOTAMs be in place for Mars landings and will highly educated journalists still be misinterpreting them and writing stories specifically to scare the local Martians of the dangers of SpaceX?

  • Doubting Thomas

    Robert – Agree – Architecture can be a cost driver. Defense systems are sometimes victims of overextended architectures which cram too many tasks into single platforms. Think the space shuttle design is another example of over extended design.

    Different “airframe” architectures could still have significant system commonality like Raptor engines and heat shield systems.

    Really just hoping Musk & SpaceX solves the landing challenge.

  • Col Beausabre

    “‘At least the crater is in the right place!”

    Musk comes off as an arrogant, overweening idiot. Shades of Vanderbilt’s. “The public be d****d !”

  • Jeff Wright

    Probably a plumbing issue–but let me throw this idea out.

    Could it be that there could also be an airflow problem?

    Now, the aft of the Starship really does need to be filled with the big-bell Vac Raptors—or at least some inert stand ins. I wonder if the jet-stream from the smaller engines is causing a “low” to be formed in the aft skirt area. Get below a certain level, and the 14 psi of the atmosphere slams down Starship no matter what thrust is used from those narrow engines. The vac raptors might cup some of that rebound–and at least keep any runway roll vortex from forming in the boot, as it were. I wonder if internal combustion engine physics might come into play here.

    I fear Richard is right in doing too much. What we have with these Starships are de facto tanker tests. Remember, the Cargo Starship will have a maw not unlike that of SPECTRE’s BIRD ONE in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. That has not survived the so-called “Adama maneuver” as of yet. That articulated nose-fairing may rip right off. And don’t get me started on the windows.

  • Edward

    Doubting Thomas wrote: “wasn’t thinking about a 3 DOF or 6 DOF test stand.

    It is more than just the degrees of freedom on the engines or getting them to merely restart. The engines are at the end of a long arm during these flips, which means large centrifugal forces. In addition, the header tanks and associated plumbing are also subject to these forces, especially the O2 tank and the oxygen in the line from that tank. There were recent reports of sloshing, condensation, and helium problems associated with the header tanks.

    SpaceX is trying to do a lot of new things with Starship, and it will be interesting to see whether they can work it all out. It is a great example of theory and reality being very different.

  • Edward: I have been wondering why SpaceX doesn’t have Starship return to a vertical orientation sooner, higher up. Seems to me this would allow time for everything to settle before they fire its engines. It would also better recreate the landing conditions of the Falcon 9 booster that they are familiar with.

  • Edward_2

    Robert Z. Why not land on a runway, as the Space Shuttle did.

    Less fuel is required to soft land instead of rocket controlled vertical descent.

    Less fuel = Less weight and Less co$t per mission.

    Those rocket controlled vertical landings look like 1950’s Sci-Fi movies and are WOW! 8-o

  • Jay

    Jeff,
    “That has not survived the so-called “Adama maneuver” as of yet” I got a good laugh out of that one. I don’t think Elon has an FTL…yet.

  • Jay

    Steve Richter,
    To answer your question about fuel on Mars, Elon is following Dr.Zubrin’s ideas of making the fuel there using the Sabatier process. You should read his book “The Case For Mars”, and his “Mars Direct” and “Mars Semi-Direct” papers.

  • Edward

    Robert Zimmerman asked: “I have been wondering why SpaceX doesn’t have Starship return to a vertical orientation sooner, higher up. Seems to me this would allow time for everything to settle before they fire its engines. It would also better recreate the landing conditions of the Falcon 9 booster that they are familiar with.

    I have pondered this one as well. It could be that they hope to use less fuel, saving weight for payload.

    Edward_2 asked: “Why not land on a runway, as the Space Shuttle did.

    This would increase the turnaround time, and rapid turnaround is an important factor to SpaceX. Wings and landing gear add weight that they also would like to reserve for payload.

    If SpaceX is unable to resolve their Starship issues in a timely manner, then they may have to rethink their method and resort to one of these other two methods for Earth landings, for the short term.

  • Edward wrote, “I have pondered this one as well. It could be that they hope to use less fuel, saving weight for payload.”

    But why would uprighting the rocket a little early use extra fuel? You upright it (as they are doing right now near the ground) and then let it fall like a Falcon 9 booster until it is time to do the landing burn. That vertical fall time would allow for the fuel and oxidizer in the tanks to settle.

    I’m no engineer, but wonder why they don’t try this.

  • Edward

    Robert asked: “But why would uprighting the rocket a little early use extra fuel? You upright it (as they are doing right now near the ground) and then let it fall like a Falcon 9 booster until it is time to do the landing burn. That vertical fall time would allow for the fuel and oxidizer in the tanks to settle.

    The first reason to remain horizontal as long as possible is the same reason to be horizontal in the first place: the terminal velocity is slower, so less fuel is needed for slowing down at landing. This can be important when planning the payload capacity. Second, sloshing can last for a long time. The tanks are large and the natural frequency of the sloshing (period of the waves) is fairly long, so settling could take a while. Preferably there is little propellant left in each of the tanks, and the chance that they will slosh away from the drainpipe is high at a critical time in the flight. To get enough time to settle the tanks, the vehicle would be falling at the terminal velocity of a vertical Starship, and we are back to the reason to go horizontal.

    Meanwhile, that flip will certainly be a wild ride for the passengers. As Bette Davis famously said in the movie All About Eve, “fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

  • Edward

    Robert,
    Tim Dodd has a 45 minute explanation for the timing of the rotation or flip from horizontal to vertical:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqJ5bKuApbs

  • wayne

    Edward-
    great video!

  • wayne

    Edward-
    excellent cultural reference!

    All About Eve (1950)
    –the relevant Scene–
    https://youtu.be/3vEEh0GF_C8
    0:14

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