Tuesday, October 09, 2012

SpaceX: Takes A Licking And Keeps On Ticking

(Thanks to The Unwanted Blog's report.)  The first official commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station* is well underway -- despite a nasty-looking failure of one of the nine first-stage engines during initial boost, it is in the groove to match up with ISS Wednesday and be grappled in for unloading.

     Yes, it will fly fine with an engine out.  This is what proper design looks like -- SpaceX points out the Saturn V had similar redundancy, and needed to use it, too.

      Watch that company.  Watch that man.  He's Delos D. Harriman; he knows it and he is gonna sell you the moon, by and by
* It's still Space Station Alpha, named by the very first crew, but when was the last time you heard anyone call it that?


Ruth said...

I saw that, and thought "what do you mean the shuttles didn't have such a feature??" guess I'd not paid enough attention to the design before..... Something thats taking people and important goods into an incredibly hostile atmosphere NEEDS to be able to function even if things don't quite go right dammit!

Roberta X said...

You should read Richard Feynman's article about the shuttle -- he was on the committee that investigated the Challenger failure and after learning the engineers rated the SSBs as 1-in-200 chance of failure (hundreds of times worse than the odds their bosses claimed), he looked into the main engines and found...the same disparity.

The Shuttle was a huge dice roll every time it flew, a dreadful example of politicized design and managerial wishful thinking.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

RAH would be proud.

Dave H said...

The Alpha moniker was applied by the Expedition 1 commander, Bill Shepherd, who as a Navy guy thought every ship should have a name. He got permission to use Alpha as the station's radio callsign, but the station's official name wasn't changed. (Wikipedia blames the Russians.)

lelnet said...

In light of Skylab and Mir, shouldn't it be "Space Station Charlie"? :)

Or is the third letter in the NATO alphabet -- innocent in and of itself -- to be _forever_ poisoned by memetic associations from the Vietnam era?

Dave H said...

Supposedly Mir is the alpha because it was the first orbital station that was continuously inhabited for long periods of time. At least that was Russia's reason for not wanting to rename the ISS to Alpha.

Whether subsequent stations are called Bravo and Charlie or Beta and Gamma depends on who you trust more - NATO or Greece.

Bubblehead Les. said...

I wish him well in filling D.D. Harriman's Shoes, but something tells me that Chairman Mao's Corpse will be in Hong Kong Luna long before that happens.

And I pray the Central Committee hasn't read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."

Roberta X said...

Les: You may be surprised. Mr. Musk's space program as outlined is more ambitious than China's.

Dave H: the Russians also had a totally understandable irk over their what, ninth? Tenth? space station being called "Alpha." They'd been at it for a very long time, and with some justification consider themselves the senior partner in the space-station business.

(I looked it up. Their contribution to ISS is their eleventh space station. It's NASA's second -- and as big as it was, the final configuration of Mir was the same size.)

Ken said...

My money's on Elon Musk, or one of the other private-space ventures. This is a wonderful rock and I am fond of it, but we're getting off it.

To our hostess, ref your kerogen comment a couple of posts up: Can you recommend a source or two regarding the technology and prospects of building some soup bowls to catch the rain of soup?