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Archive: October 7, 2008

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SpaceX into orbit

Tuesday,  10/07/08  10:23 PM

Last Sunday I noted that SpaceX had successfully launched their Falcon1 rocket into orbit.  This is an incredible accomplishment, amazing really that they were able to do this as a privately funded company, on their own.  It was "only" their fourth launch, which given that everything must work in order for success to occur, is pretty great.  My admiration for my ex-Paypal-boss Elon Musk knows no bounds, he is an amazing person who is able to assemble teams of amazing people and get them to do amazing things.  I'm not embarrassed to admit that a part of me wants to pick up the 'phone and ask Elon for a job :)

Space X Falcon 2 launch videoSpaceX Falcon1 launch videoSpaceX have just released a detailed launch update, with lots of great pictures and including a really cool five minute video of the launch highlights (here it is, for your viewing pleasure, set to a nice driving rock beat, too).

It is worth emphasizing again that this is a different sort of accomplishment to that done by the Ansari X-prize contestants, including winner Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne.  As remarkable as that was, it consisted of building a launch vehicle and going "into space", formally defined as a 100km height.  SpaceShipOne reached a height of 112km and a top speed of 2,300mph (that speed was reached lower in the flight; by the time the craft reached 112km it was traveling zero, and then descended back to Earth).  In contrast, SpaceX's Falcon1 rocket had to reach an altitude of 640km in order to attain Earth orbit, at which point it was traveling 16,901mph.  It had to expend nearly 30 times as much energy as SpaceShipOne in order to do this.  In addition to putting itself into orbit, it also brought a payload of 340kg along with it, to demonstrate the future capacity to launch satellites and otherwise do useful work.  It is anticipated that the upcoming Falcon9 will be able to haul a payload of 10,000-25,000kg into orbit.  That means it could bring people into orbit, and puts it squarely into competition with NASA :) 

Of course the key capability with people is to be able to bring them back, and this remains to be demonstrated.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday,  10/07/08  11:17 PM

Whew, long day...  First in a while where I woke up to an alarm instead of sleeping in...  (yeah, I know, cue the violins...)  So up at 0400, drove down to Vista, had a day of meetings, including one over dinner (!), and drove home.  I am a bit tired...  still good to get back in the swing of things.

McCain vs ObamaSo tonight was the great debate!  Nearly everyone agrees it was BORING...  I fear this was McCain's last chance to win, and he didn't...  All Obama had to do was not lose, and he is really good at not losing.  It is amazing how the Republicans are being blamed for the current financial "crisis", despite Democratic policies being at the back of it; I guess the party in power always gets blamed for anything bad that happens, especially when George Bush is President, and McCain gets tarred with the Republican brush.  It kind of makes for a can't-lose situation.  Still, the Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory before, they can do it again...

Angels - Red SoxSo sad about the Angels, oh well...  Weird isn't it that they had the best record in baseball, and never looked like they were really competitive against the Red Sox, and the Cubs had the best record in the NL and yet they never looked like they could beat the Dodgers.  The postseason is definitely different, especially those five-game series where two hot pitchers can get you through.  So now I am rooting for Tampa Bay, and of course the Dodgers.  No baseball today and none tomorrow!  What will I do...

Another one of these great studies suggests red wine may protect against lung cancer.  Who wants lung cancer?  Man, pass the Merlot...

Windows 7 PDC videoWatch this Microsoft video, and then tell me, is there anyone on Earth who could possibly think this is a good thing?  (I must confess, I could not watch it all the way through; it was too cringe-inducing.)  This barely works as parody, it is so bad...  The tin ear of Microsoft marketing is honestly amazing.




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Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
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world population map
no joy in Baker
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exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained