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.


Superheavy prototype #4 rolls to orbital launchpad

Superheavy #20 on the way to launchpad

Superheavy on launchpad
Click for live stream.

Capitalism in space: SpaceX today rolled its 4th Superheavy prototype from its assembly building in Boca Chica, Texas, moving it to the orbital launchpad in preparation for having the 20th Starship prototype stacked on top and assembled for the rocket’s first orbital test flight.

The first image to the right is a screen capture taken from a short movie posted in an Elon Musk tweet. It shows the base of this Superheavy, with its 29 Raptor engines. The engines appear surrounded by the support structure that holds the stage to the truck mover.

The second image to the right is a screen capture from Labpadre’s live stream Saphire camera, captured shortly before this post was published. Superheavy is 230 feet tall. Starship is 165 feet tall. Combined that equals just under 400 feet, which is still about 30 feet taller than the Saturn-5.

Yet, Superheavy is easily dwarfed by the launch tower behind it, and when they stack Starship on top the combined rocket will still be only three quarters as tall as the tower. They are using that tower not only for launches, but for stacking of Starship as well as a capture devise for when later Superheavies return to Earth. Instead of having landing legs, Superheavy will eventually lower itself into position next to the tower and hover there so that the tower can grab it.

All this means the tower needs to be taller than the combined rocket. I would also expect that a second tower will be necessary eventually for that landing grab.

Before they stack Starship #20 on top they will likely do pressure and tank tests of Superheavy, and maybe a few dress rehearsal countdowns leading to short static fire tests.

It still appears to me that we are looking for an orbital test flight sometime in late September, early October.

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21 comments

  • Jay

    Click on the tweet, scroll down, and look at the photo looking up to the 29 engines. Now that is a cool picture.

  • Ken

    One way or another it’s going to be spectacular!

  • Ray Van Dune

    I like the idea that all the engines are liquid-fueled, so they can all be evaluated by computer before the rocket is released for flight., and individually shut down if they fail., even after launch. This is no guarantee of safety of course.

    The shuttle was the first (US?) manned rocket that used solid boosters, and I don’t think all astronauts were happy about that. I recall one of the crew of the first shuttle launch remarked wryly: “Well, once those solids ignite, we’re definitely going somewhere!”

  • Jeff Wright

    I think they plan on larger vehicles. I hope so.

  • John

    Seeing all those engines makes me wonder if the odds of any one engine kabooming add up to a higher risk of losing the entire rocket.

    Granted merlin and raptor have a good track record so far. I’m sure there are protocols in place to shut an engine down before a kaboom and engineering for a non-catastrophic failure mode. But there’s always the unknown, and raptor is newer.

    One way to find out- kick the tires and light the fires.

  • I had to do a double-take on image #2; it looks straight out of ‘Metropolis’ (1927 Lang Universum Film A.G.).

  • Logan Miller

    Bob,
    I sure you follow Tim Dodds, The Everyday Astronot, this is the first part of a three part interview with Elon Musk. It is very detailed but is the first of its kind close up look and Space Port Boca Chica and the Starship Factory. I am so excited about commercial space and to hear you on John Batchelor.
    Thanks,
    Logan

  • Alton Blevin

    Solid Rockets and Manned Flight.
    If memory serves all of the launch escape rockets from Mercury through Apollo were solid fuel…..thus in Case of the total failure of a launch the Astronauts lives were bet on solid Rockets. One of the later designs of the shuttle used solid emergency rockets and explosive charges combined with the crew decks hardened as an escape capsule. The abort system was dropped as a cost and weight saving option. But the base hardened structures were Left in the Space shuttles as built because it was too late to remove it.
    When Challenger blew on liftoff the flight deck stayed together but without a parachute recovery landing system, the astronaut met their end at Ocean contact.

  • Alton

    Solid Rockets and Manned Flight.
    If memory serves all of the launch escape rockets from Mercury through Apollo were solid fuel…..thus in Case of the total failure of a launch the Astronauts lives were bet on solid Rockets. One of the later designs of the shuttle used solid emergency rockets and explosive charges combined with the crew decks hardened as an escape capsule. The abort system was dropped as a cost and weight saving option. But the base hardened structures were Left in the Space shuttles as built because it was too late to remove it.
    When Challenger blew on liftoff the flight deck stayed together but without a parachute recovery landing system, the astronaut met their end at Ocean contact.

  • Alton: I’m not sure why your first comment went to moderation, but I’ve approved it just to make sure you won’t have trouble posting in the future.

    However, in the future don’t double post if your comment doesn’t appear immediately. I’ll get to it.

  • Mark

    @Logan – on your recommendation I watched the YouTube of The Everyday Astronaut interview with Elon Musk. It was excellent. You really get a feel for how Musk is making American Space manufacturing and engineering great again. And he is generously sharing his perspectives freely.

  • I liked Felix’s 3-part interview last year, not with Musk (I’ll watch this new pointed-to interview with him with interest), but with Robert Zubrin about Musk.

    One can find those segments here: 1 2 3

    (I notice, by the way, that your comment posting code thoughtfully changes nondirectional double-quote characters into curly double-quote characters — which aren’t allowed for delimiting the href parameter in the html anchor tag. I’ll try the tags without them — but why do this?)

  • Edward

    John wrote: “Seeing all those engines makes me wonder if the odds of any one engine kabooming add up to a higher risk of losing the entire rocket.

    Engines don’t usually go kaboom but usually shut down. Rocket designers go to great lengths to make sure that engines that are getting out of nominal operations shut down before they cause an explosion, because as long as the rocket is still in one piece, it still has some sort of fighting chance to get into some sort of orbit and maybe complete the mission.

    The Soviet N1 rocket had troubles with multiple engines because their engine management electronics didn’t handle these shut-downs well.

  • George C

    There is something very important about SpaceX architecture that is common to both Falcon and Starship, and distinct from Blue Origin New Glenn and ULA Vulcan; which will always give SpaceX a competitive advantage in cost structure: SpaceX uses the same engine with the same fuel for both 1st and 2nd stages. Those major competitors need to support two manufacturing lines for the engines and two different fuel supply chains all the way up to extra handling complexity at the launch site for a single launch system.

    Are there other competitors that have made the same choice to use the same engine on both 1st and 2nd stage? (Different expansion bell of course).

  • Alton

    Sir Bob!

    The problem was big fingers on a small phone screen trying to Correct the Auto-Corrrrrrct.

    Did not know it went into the time out bit bucket….just delete the first post Please……

    Thanks 😊👍

  • Jeff Wright

    NSF conjecture has 9 engine Starship and Lunar ship to not have waist motors. This might imply use of the hot gas system in a “belly lander” config…search projectrho for more on that concept. A way to make the lunar more like production to save costs? Classic Elon.

  • gary

    Meanwhile Bezos is reduced to saying Starship is just too darned hard and not worth the risk.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/04/bezos-blue-origin-musks-spacex-starship-complex-high-risk.html

  • Edward

    gary,
    That looks far more like someone unhappy about the contract decision than a logical argument from Bezos, and the first line of the article even says so. Or is this your point?

    From your linked article:

    Blue Origin also emphasized that its approach was simpler than SpaceX’s, as Bezos’ lander “only requires three launches” and has “far fewer in-space rendezvouses.”

    Blue Origin’s team has a four-unit solution with far more parts to go wrong, and none of the units is in development. The competition looked far more like the companies expected the usual kind of aerospace contract as has been used so far: win the contract then develop the hardware.

    The reason that SpaceX’s bid was so low is that they only have to modify a rocket that is already in development and would be built whether or not NASA chose it for HLS. Even the landing and cargo systems would need to be developed for Mars, so that version of Starship was AN inevitable SpaceX development, too.

  • Jeff Wright

    Now, I wonder if this can be scaled out to where you don’t even need a launch pad. Imagine a cluster of these in a Saturn IB config’ with telescoping legs between the SH tubes rising to a top puck. All it needs now is a flat platform at sea with an electric driven LNG ship fueling it and being a command ship with multiple bullet shrouds to funnel ultra ramjets on ascent. As it stands, I’d like to see rails on the ground and two roller coaster tracks to support the cores top and bottom…maybe in an asterisk plan for my mega booster config. There are no limits. With no payload, it can go to orbit…be refueled…and be sent to Titan as a Troll C hydrocarbon platform plastic factory. Forget cooking moon rocks…I want Titan’s seas of high-test!!! Ice for LOX foundaries and Psyche steel for tankers.
    Standard Oil and Lox

  • Jay

    Some nice daytime pics of Booster#4 and a pic of the engines on Starship#20: Here .

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