Category Archives: Space Travel

Latest SpaceX Mission Notes

I am replaying the video for your convenience


Falcon 9 first stage by the numbers 

Speed of sound = 343 m/s

Max speed on ascent = 1685 m/s (Mach 4.9 @ 68 km)

Max altitude (apogee) = 166 km

Max speed on descent = 1407 m/s (Mach 4.1 @ 65km)

Stage separation (2:47) to touchdown (9:24) = 6m 37s

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Go back and rewatch the video while paying close attention to SPEED and ALTITUDE 

The Falcon 9 first stage trajectory is quite interesting …

A Blast (off) From My Past

The image below is a screen capture from one the videos in the previous post on today’s SpaceX CRS-10 launch

Life comes full circle. In a much earlier post I described what it was like to be standing at the water’s edge in the foreground at the last ever Saturn V launch.

    The Saturn V F1 engines were the most powerful rocket engines ever made. Each one produced over 1.5 million pounds of thrust. The five F1 engines on the Saturn V made it the most powerful launch vehicle ever at over 7.6 million pounds of thrust. Just over forty years ago on May 14, 1973 [almost 44 years as of this writing], I was lucky enough to be among the press and dignitaries sitting on the bleachers or standing in front of the turning basin at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site for the last ever Saturn V launch. I was 19 years old. My best friend’s aunt was a professional photographer. She got each of us a press pass for the launch of the Skylab space station. For a teenage space fan, who had watched every manned launch since Alan Shepard’s first suborbital Mercury launch, this was truly “dying and going to heaven”. For several days before the launch we got to go on exclusive tours of the launch site. We were able to see Walter Cronkite’s broadcast booth. NASA loaded us up with press packets and thick tomes of specifications. I can not begin to tell you how totally cool this was.

On launch day I was one of the throng of people standing to the left of the countdown clock in the picture above.

    I was just three miles away from the launch pad. When the engines fired up, the sound of the F1 engines was felt as much as heard. The low base rumbling seemed to reach directly into my chest and vibrate my heart and lungs [dare I say it was nearly orgasmic?]. As the Saturn V rose into the sky, I could smell the burned kerosene of the exhaust as I felt the waves of warm air wafting over me. 
    This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The SpaceX image inspired me to search the Internet and YouTube for Skylab launch images. I scored big time. The second image is screen shot from the video below. Back in the day I had a fetish for white jeans (probably expressing my inner John Lennon). Trust me – I am in there somewhere.

Full video from 1973

The Internet is amazing. Welcome to the future.



Second time is the charm

SpaceX successfully launches CRS-10 from LC-39A | Falcon 9 first stage lands at LZ-1 

Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Airforce Station


Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A, the southern most of the two most northerly pads) with SpaceX modifications 


Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1 formerly LC-13 midway down ICBM road )

LC-39A launch


Aerial view of LZ-1 landing


Full coverage with some SpaceX provided historical clips


Aerial snapshots from Apple Maps (TOMTOM)

Welcome to the Future – the revolution will be Tweeted 

Commercial Crew Update

Originally published on Jan 16, 2017 | NASA Commentator Kyle Herring talks with Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, about the status of efforts to develop commercial space vehicles to deliver human crew members to the International Space Station. NASA is working with Boeing and SpaceX as those companies work through milestones to get their vehicles, Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, ready for their first crewed flights to the station, while the space station program is reconfiguring the station and preparing for spacewalks to install the new International Docking Adapters to which the new commercial spacecraft will dock.

Although YouTube states that the above video was published this month, I suspect that it was actually recorded two years ago in mid-June 2015. Reason being that reference was made in the video (@6:20) of the upcoming launch of the International Docking Adapter (IDA-1). However IDA-1 was lost during the launch failure of SpX CRS-7 on June 28, 2015.  (Reference

Additionally the Crew Dragon Pad Abort occurred in May of 2015.

Boeing Blue

Elon Musk and SpaceX aren’t the only ones with their “eyes on the prize” of replacing the Shuttle for commercial U.S manned space launches. Boeing has unveiled a new streamlined light-weight space suit for it astronauts to wear aboard its CST-100 “Space Taxi”.

See also my post Bras In Space, the story of the Apollo spacesuit

Compare and contrast the Boeing CST-100 to the SpaceX Crew Dragon (aka Dragon V2)

Reusability | SpaceX

SpaceX will be returning to flight on January 8th.


SpaceX is targeting return to flight from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) with the Iridium NEXT launch on January 8. SpaceX greatly appreciates the support of our customers and partners throughout this process, and we look forward to fulfilling our manifest in 2017 and beyond.

In preparation for the next launch, we present for your enjoyment and enlightenment a series of videos summarizing the five year history of SpaceX Falcon 9 reusability.

Enjoy …

I never get tired of watching this. It 60s Sci-Fi realized at last.


(not) MARS

It’s always wise to test what you are about to do – in advance. If you want want to live on Mars, isolated, create some kind of HAB module on Earth. Test that in advance. ~ Neil Degrasse Tyson, Mars, Episode 5 / Season 1 (13:20)


HI-SEAS (Hawaii)

Apply to be a crew member

Media Kit (PDF)


Mars Desert Research Station (Utah)


Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS)

MARS | NatGeo Channel

On November 14, the National Geographic Channel will debut the the new mini-series MARS by executive producer Ron Howard. MARS is a novel alternation of fiction and documentary featuring commentary by Elon Musk, Andy Weir, Robert Zubrin, and other experts on Mars and space flight.

But why wait until November 14? You can stream the prequel BEFORE MARS and the first episode NOVO MUNDO right now (below). You can also watch THE MAKING OF MARS with Ron Howard and other short videos – behind the scenes and other related videos.

This is great stuff! Watch it. Seriously. I mean it. 


Stupidification …

YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind (A Rant)



1) making one less intelligent

2) filling people’s mind with patently false concepts, ideas, or historical information

3) reducing or eliminating common sense and rational thought in others


Verb (see stupidification)

I can’t stand it anymore. If I don’t rant my head will explode.

I am a child of the 60s. I was there when it happened I saw it with my own eyes. I am also a man of rational thought and historical perspective. I understand and follow the scientific method and I have a good grasp of recent and ancient history.

Humankind has made incredible advances in the last 5000 years. We have gone from wandering about foraging for food, living in fear of nature, disease, and the elements to almost totally mastery of our environment. We have greatly improved the life expectancy and quality of life of the majority of people living on this planet. We have identified, studied, and cured numerous diseases. We have dramatically improved the food supply. We have improved sanitation, the quality of the water we drink and the safety of our work environment.

In the past 5000 years our concept of mathematics has gone from one / few / many to calculus and higher forms of mathematics. This has enabled the advancement of the sciences and our understanding of chemistry, physics, and the world around us, below us, and above us. We have gone from walking on foot to spanning the globe by land, sea, air, and space. Our roads and automobiles allow us to travel farther in an hour than ancient people could travel in a day. Modern air transportation can take us nearly anywhere in the world in less than a day. Manned and unmanned spacecraft circle the Earth in 90 minutes.

Our accumulated knowledge of the past 5000 years has allowed us to develop the technology required to build computers, routers, switches, fiber-optic cables, the Internet, online banking, video communication, websites, blogs, YouTube, streaming music, smart phones, tablets, and much much more. Geosynchronous satellites provide weather information and satellite television. Google, Bing, and other search engines provide us instantaneous access to all of mankind’s knowledge. Men and women graduating college today have never known a time without this technology and we all take it for granted.

Eratosthenes first determined that the Earth was a sphere in the first century BC and actually calculated its circumference to within 15% of its currently accepted value. The fields of surveying and geodesy have established to the nth decimal point the shape of the earth as an oblate spheroid and have developed a vast selection of projection systems (aka Coordinate Reference Systems) used by map makers and the global GIS community to map sections of the three dimensional earth to the two dimensional maps used by governments, companies, and individuals. The map applications on our smart phones rely heavily on this body knowledge. The global network of fiber-optic subsea cables that empower the global Internet could not have been laid without this body of knowledge.

Mankind has been a spacefaring nation since the late 1950s with launch of Sputnik by the former Soviet Union. Humanity has had a more or less continuous human presence in low earth orbit since the early 1960s beginning with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. To date Russia / Soviet Union, the United States, and China have launched men and women into space. Each of these countries has had multiple long duration space stations in orbit. A total of 544 people have been in orbit. Twelve Americans walked on the surface of the moon during the Apollo program of the late 1960s – early 1970s. The total time spent by humans in space is in excess of 131.3 man-years. The following countries have some form of manned and/or unmanned space program: America, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Russia. Unmanned scientific probes have studied every planet in our solar system. India has a robust unmanned space program and it successfully placed the Mangalayaan probe into Martian orbit on its first try in 2014. World Space Flight has documented every manned and unmanned mission to date.

The knowledge mankind has acquired in the past 5000 years is vast and deep. The technologies we have developed with this knowledge are nothing short of magical.


The “straw the broke the camels back” occurred while preparing my previous post on the Falcon 9.  I ran across a YouTube video on “FakeX” whereby the vlogger reviewed footage of the last SpaceX CRS-8 launch and step-by-step pointed out how every aspect of the video was fake. His explanation and reasoning for each of his points indicated how truly clueless, ignorant, and stupid he was … and yet this video had thousands of views and the vlogger had thousands of followers. Most of the comments and commenters agreed with him. I won’t give you the link because I don’t want to give him another view. Across the Internet and YouTube you will find hundreds (thousands?) of videos “proving” how we have been lied to about:

The Earth is really flat and not a sphere – we’ve been lied to

NASA is lying to us – all spaceflight is faked

The Moon landings were all faked

9/11 – the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled demolition, not planes

The holocaust never happened

Pretty much if you can name an established fact, you will find a blog and a host of YouTube videos “proving” that it is obviously not true and that we have been lied to. A vast global conspiracy has lied to us about pretty much everything we have ever been taught in school or college.

Funny you think? Maybe, until you realize that this counter-culture numbers in the hundreds with followers numbering in the thousands or more. Globally. Millions of views. It is not so much a disbelief in reality as it is a readiness to BELIEVE that everything we have been told or taught about [insert topic] is a lie.

How do you teach science to kids when an Internet search is just as likely bring up even more sites and YouTube videos refuting the science. In a world where everyone gets equal time the “NASA lies crowd” get as many hits as the “NASA crowd”. Even worse Google and YouTube give you suggestions based on your viewing history. Months ago I watched some flat Earth videos and faked Moon landing videos. Now most of videos suggested for me by YouTube are exactly these kinds of videos. “There must be some truth to this if there are that many videos.” And … if someone tries to refute the “we’re being lied to video” the vlogger responds with “wow look at how hard they are working to prop up the big lie.”

Think I’m over reacting? Go to YouTube and search on “NASA lies” or “flat earth” or “Moon landing hoax” or “holocaust hoax” or “9/11 hoax” or … or … or … Look at the number of views. Look at the comments. If you personally did not experience it how do you know what is truth? Science? Laws of Physics? All lies.

Lies lies lies everything you have ever been taught about anything is a lie. AND YOU CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE.


Whew, OK I’m calmer now … but I’m not done yet.

The irony in all of this is that the Internet and YouTube would not even exist were it not for the very technological advances and hard earned knowledge that the conspiracy theorists tell us are all lies. Global subsea cables and communications satellites are the backbone of the Internet. Flat Earth? I don’t think so.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan

So back to the title of this rant … YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind

YouTube and the Internet give anyone regardless of intellegence, education, or cognitive function equal footing with the brightest and most learned among us. It is the great equalizer … and the great stupidifier … on a global scale … 24×7.



We’re doomed.



See also The War on Science

Falcon 9

OMG I am just a little kid in old man’s body. Tears are running down my cheeks as I watch this. It is like being back in the 60s watching the moon launches or 2001 A Space Odyssey. I have always been very emotional about spaceflight (and music).

Less than four years. I have been blogging on SpaceX since the inception of this blog in 2013.

People of SpaceX and Elon Musk … thank you for a great ride!


… sticks the landing

And it …

As part of Friday’s CRS-8 successful resupply launch to the International Space Station, SpaceX accomplished its first ever ocean landing of the Falcon 9 on the ASDS (Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship) Of Course I Still Love You. Prior to this SpaceX successfully returned to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. See The Falcon Has Landed.

Another take on Friday’s landing 

Elon Explains

… some of the background for last nights successful Falcon 9 landing

 A lot about how things work in space is counter-intuitive, as all of our intuition is gained from daily experiences where the air is thick, gravity doesn’t seem to change and movement is relatively slow. We do see lots of movies about space, but, unless you’re watching an IMAX documentary, they vary from slightly wrong, like The Martian (good movie!), to mostly absurdly wrong, like Red Planet (don’t watch this, it will hurt your brain), which also doesn’t help intuition.

• • •

In the case of the Falcon 9 rocket, the boost stage is able to accelerate a payload mass of 125 metric tons to 8000 km/h and land on an ocean platform or to 5000 km/h and land back at the launch site. The second one is lower because the rocket is moving super fast away from the launch site, so it has to do a screetching U-turn with nitrogen attitude thrusters, then fire the engines to create a reversed ballistic arc, then reorient again for atmospheric entry and have the engines pointed in the right direction for the landing burn. Since the propellant is liquid, it wants to centrifuge out during these maneuvers, so there has to be a system of baffles and internal holding tanks to keep it in place. It also needs three axis control surfaces that don’t melt easily and work well from hypersonic through subsonic speeds.

For a sea platform landing, the Falcon 9 figure of merit is therefore roughly 300 gigajoules (GJ) of kinetic energy and for a return to launch site landing, the number is about 120 GJ. These are fairly sizable by terrestrial standards. To put it into perspective, the city of San Francisco uses about 1 GJ per second of electricity, so the Falcon 9 booster transfers enough energy to power a city of almost a million people for five minutes. 

• • •

Read more about the physics and technology involved in first stage Return To Launch site, plus a short history of SpaceX’s efforts in this regard at:

NASA | 100 word story

“Lies, lies, lies. It was all faked.”

“Come on, you know you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.”

“I don’t care what you say. I know what I read. NASA faked the moon landings. That many bloggers can’t be wrong.”

“It’s bullshit and you know it.”

“Whatever …” she replied angrily and slammed the lid of her laptop closed. She was homesick and decided to walk over to the observation lounge. She needed some time alone. “I really miss home,” she thought as she gazed out the portal at the blue green marble hanging low above the lunar horizon. 

Enceladus Flyby


The North Pole of Enceladus during the October 30th, 2015 Cassini Flyby (NASA/ESA/ASI) The North Pole of Enceladus during the October 30th, 2015 Cassini Flyby (NASA/ESA/ASI)

Since 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has been in orbit around Saturn. The robot probe (a joint effort of NASA, ESA, and the Italian space agency) received the most press when it launched a flying saucer lander onto Saturn’s planet-like moon Titan, but it is still out there doing amazing work. Last week, while I was busy writing about Halloween themes, the probe made its closest pass yet to Saturn’s ice moon, Enceladus. Enceladus is only 500 kilometers in diameter and it is coated in ice, but it is of great interest to scientists because ice plumes venting from the moon’s south pole seem to indicate a large polar subsurface ocean of liquid water. Warmed above freezing by tidal flux, this ocean beneath the ice probably has a thickness of around 10 km.

View of Enceladus’ south pole geyser, backlit by Saturn View of Enceladus’ south pole…

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