Tomorrow is a big day for Space X.


"When SpaceX was competing to fly cargo to the International Space Station, Musk mocked his rival’s rockets. Vying to launch spy satellites, SpaceX sued the US Air Force for a chance to bid on classified launches. Plotting a satellite internet constellation, he promised a network “an order of magnitude” more sophisticated than his competitors. Tomorrow (Feb. 6), his space company will attempt to launch the largest rocket in the world, the Falcon Heavy—and if successful, the rocket entrepreneur could find himself set for collision with a gigantic rocket NASA been building for more than a decade.

SpaceX’s goal since 2002 has been to develop the technology to make humanity a multi-planetary species. The Falcon Heavy is the first vehicle built by Musk’s company with the capability of taking a usefully large scientific robot—or even, in stages, a human exploration mission—beyond earth orbit, and to another astronomical body."  Qurtz


Tomorrow, Musk will try to put his red roadster into Mars orbit.  "Up, up and away!"  "Fly me to the moon!"  Pick your tune.  I had just arrived in Frankfurt in 1969 when the first moon landing occurred.  I remember that the local newspaper had a headline the next day that read "Jetzt der mann in der mond ist ein Ami," or something like that.  pl

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41 Responses to Tomorrow is a big day for Space X.

  1. LeaNder says:

    That probably read: Jetzt ist der Mann im Mond ein Ami.
    Notice I hated this German type of music: Schlager. Thus I missed an important bit of German Popular Art. 😉

  2. Lars says:

    A lot of people here on the Space Coast, including me, will be watching with interest. I hope they are successful, even if history says something different. These are complicated missions.

  3. DianaLC says:

    Well, I am excited!
    I’ll use the Crystal Gayle song “We Must Believe in Magic.”
    “We must believe in magic. We must believe in the guiding hand. If you believe in magic, you have the universe at your command.”
    Now I know many of you will say it’s science, technology, engineering, etc. But to an English literature and linguistics major, it’s magic. Definitions are strange things: is Venus the morning star or the evening star?
    I am so saddened that at my age, I will most likely never get my ticket to ride on a ship that will take me out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

  4. ambrit says:

    In the spirit of the thing, how about a picture of Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden with the speech balloon saying, “To the Moon Elon! To the Moon!”
    More realistically though, this is a proof of concept experiment for industrial scale rocketry. The original Apollo program rockets were almost purpose built machines. The older satellite launching rockets, like the Delta, were re-purposed ICBMs. This is a civilian use mass producible, multi configurable launch platform. Something like what the Araine system was intended to be. With the major added feature of reusability of the main stage. Cost of pound per payload placed in orbit suddenly drops into a feasible range. If the package works only halfway, the experiment will have been successful. The bugs will get ironed out. Just look at how many times the VfR had their payloads fall short, onto, unfortunately, places like Rotterdam and London before, under new management, they finally got something into orbit. (I include both Western and Soviet ‘space’ programs here because VfR alums figured prominently in both. As my Dad used to say; “The Americans picked the top minds up while the Russians got the ‘Second Brain’ with all the technicians and artisans from Peenemunde.”)
    Here’s to good weather at the Cape tomorrow.

  5. Puffin says:

    The newspaper headline you refer to was probably from the Bild Zeitung, 21 of July 1969, and reads as follows:
    “The Moon is now an Ami (American),we are looking now into a crater almost the size of a football field”. The above headline was a quote from a NASA technician, that’s what it says in the article.
    This is a link to a website with photos of the original article:
    All the best of luck for the launch tomorrow!

  6. turcopolier says:

    I remember it being in the Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung. pl

  7. plantman says:

    I hope I don’t get banned for going “off topic” BUT is there any chance the Colonel will explain why it’s taking so long for the Turkish forces to seize Afrin???
    Are they bogged down?
    I believe this is Day 13

  8. turcopolier says:

    The TAF are not fighting well. They have not fought anyone since Korea and the Erdogan purges probably have not helped. I noted that several thousand Kurdish fighter rallied yesterday at Kobani before departing for Afrin. That should make life even more interesting for the Turks. pl

  9. PB says:

    Good post. And thanks for the link. I share the opinion regarding discontinuing the Saturn launch vehicle stated by James French, the aerospace engineer quoted in the linked article. Saturn, designed and built well over 50 years ago, could at that time launch two thirds of the claimed capacity of Musk’s new Falcon Heavy. Imagine what Saturn could have lifted if we had continued to improve it instead of abandoning it.
    I admire Musk, but even if the launch tomorrow is successful, it is far from proving that his ship can lift the 70 tons claimed. The Tesla roadster he is putting into space weighs what – 1.5 tons perhaps? How many years before he can prove the 70 ton to LEO capacity? If it takes a decade he will be outstripped by Russia’s Energia-5V, China’s Long March 9, or NASA’s SLS-Block2, all of which will double the lift capacity Falcon Heavy.

  10. JPB says:

    Plantman and PL:
    My understanding is that Turkish jihadi proxies are doing the bulk of the fighting on the ground. The TAF itself is only providing air, armor, artillery, and a tiny amount of special forces. I don’t think they are going to win a war by using liver-eaters and head-choppers. And I guess we now need to add ‘bosom-cleavers’ or ‘nipple-slicers’ to their street creds.

  11. Apenultimate says:

    Just a few comments for clarification–
    –Technically, the Tesla Roadster is going into a solar orbit with enough range to cross the orbit of Mars. It is not being put into an orbit around the planet Mars. Musk just intends to prove that the Falcon Heavy can take payloads to Mars.
    –If successful, this will be the first time a private company (non-governmental entity) has launched something beyond geosynchronous Earth orbit.
    –It should be interested to watch (again, if successful), as the three cores of the rocket (essentially three Falcon 9 cores) all land back in the general area of the launch. Two will land near simultaneously on the Cape about 8-9 minutes after launch, and the main core will land, I’ve heard, a bit later on a platform at sea. Not sure about that last bit, but it was reported in one place.
    –Recovering the three main cores is what makes Falcon Heavy so cheap. Two of the cores on this flight are refurbished from previous flights. Falcon Heavy is about one-third the cost of a fully outfitted Delta IV Heavy.
    –The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket to fly since the Saturn V (assuming success).
    –Interestingly, the Falcon Heavy is already kind of past its prime. It has been delayed 5 years, and in the meanwhile, the Falcon 9 has trippled it’s payload weight capability as they’ve improved that single-core rocket, eating into the types of missions that Falcon Heavy was meant to fly. On the other hand, Falcon Heavy doesn’t have quite enough power to fly large payloads to the Moon or Mars–small payloads, sure. But a manned mission to the Moon would take two Falcon Heavies, and couldn’t be done with just one. SpaceX’s Big Falcon Rocket (BFR)–say that really fast to get an idea of what they really called it in development–will have lift capability far beyond the Saturn V and will be able to shuttle very heavy payloads to the Moon and Mars. The BFR rocket has been designed, and is a single core, but actual work on it has not yet begun.
    If BFR comes out in 5 years, the Falcon Heavy might have a very short lifetime. If it takes BFR 10 years to be produced, maybe then the Falcon Heavy will be a needed part of our space plans.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to this flight–it should be awesome, and will add a really important capability to our space systems. More info at the ArsTechnica article here:

  12. turcopolier says:

    They are losing tanks. Do the FSA jihadis have tanks? pl

  13. David says:

    One thing that is interesting to me is what affect this will have on the long term future of the SLS, also sometimes referred to as the Senate Launch System whose first flight is scheduled to be no earlier than 2019. The performance of the first version of the SLS and the Falcon heavy are comparable in that the payload mass that the rockets can deliver to low Earth orbit are respectively 63,000 and 70,000 kilograms. Later versions are planned to be capable of sending there satellite with twice the mass, but who knows when that will be.
    The Falcon Heavy though is much cheaper, Space X quotes a price of 90 million dollars to send a payload to Geostationary orbit, while the SLS a price tag of may be around a billion, though I get the impression that this cost is to send
    something to the Moon or beyond so the comparison is not exact. Still it appears that the Falcon Heavy will be much cheaper and a big use for the Falcon Heavy could be for sending unmanned scientific crafts to the outer planets which
    would shave years off the travel time from using current rockets.

  14. philmc says:

    -Two will land near simultaneously on the Cape about 8-9 minutes after launch, and the main core will land, I’ve heard, a bit later on a platform at sea.
    Elon has provided animation of the mission:
    –Interestingly, the Falcon Heavy is already kind of past its prime.
    I agree and think its like the Airbus A-380. For a short time it was the queen of the skies, but technology caught up to it(better and more efficient engines on other AC,etc).
    There are already two other flights on the books for FH for this year, a satellite for ARABSAT and a Nasa’s STP-2 mission.
    With any luck, my son who is an aerospace engineering major will be near the Cape to watch and hear this. (cutting classes approved).
    Been waiting and cant wait the 1 last day.

  15. paul says:

    while i love to dream about humanities future in space this seems to be getting ahead of itself.
    calling a reusable orbiter interplanetary travel is like calling walking to your mailbox international travel

  16. JPB says:

    I believe I mentioned in comment #9 above that the TAF was providing armor. I assume that means Turkish crew. It is the jihadi proxies that have been doing the infantry job, but even they have been given Turkish Army unit designations.
    I agree with your comment that the purges have had a deleteious effect on the TAF. Army officers chosen for their political loyalty have never done a good job IMO. But I note that one of your Turkish correspondents (Ishmael Z?) recently stated that a few of the purged generals and field grades are being returned to service.
    But getting back on topic – I see that the South korean space program’s KSLV-2 is using SpaceX as a role model. Boeing &should do the same for the SLS Space Launch System, but is probably too big and too risk averse.

  17. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I wish these space guy god speed

  18. DianaLC says:

    Humanity’s future comes one step at a time.
    I’m turning 70, and I’m amazed at how far we’ve come during my lifetime. The space programs provide us with, I think, the happiest news we get for this troubled planet.

  19. Tyler says:

    The crossroads of the West:
    -establish civilization across the stars
    -continue to babysit functional retards unable to establish a functional civilization
    Which way, Western Man?

  20. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That is what I am saying.
    Could we please have the Great Lakes once you decamp from this planet?

  21. Apenultimate says:

    For those who want to watch it live tomorrow, usually has a link from their front page. Or you can go directly to SpaceX’s live YouTube channel:
    I believe launch is intended at 1:30 PM Eastern Time, 10:30 AM Pacific Time tomorrow/Tuesday, so tune in a half hour or so ahead of that.

  22. different clue says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    ( reply to comment 20)
    We, the Earthside Remainers of Great Lakestan, would probably object to your request for the Great Lakes.

  23. Barbara Ann says:

    I’d advise you to be wary if assigned to ‘B’ Ark, especially if it is scheduled to be sent off first.

  24. BillWade says:

    It’s off, wow!

  25. JPB says:

    Beautiful launch!

  26. WOW!!
    “Blasting, billowing, bursting forth
    With the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes”
    That was exhilarating to watch. First that magnificent launch and then the simultaneous landing of the two boosters. The Moody Blues ode to Apollo 11, Higher and Higher, filled my head and drowned out my tinnitus. Then the views of that ruby red roadster with star-man at the wheel was just icing on the cake.
    I just feel like sharing my thoughts from a few years ago here on SST when I reminisced about the night of the first moon landing.
    “Forty-five years ago this night, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the moon. It was an exhilarating event in the U.S. and in much of the world. I did not see it on TV. Instead, I was camping with two of my friends. On this night, forty-five years ago, we were lying in our sleeping bags on a thick bed of pine needles on the crest of a pine covered hill overlooking a local reservoir. The land was posted, but we were adept at stealth camping. We had a perfect view of the full moon on that clear, warm night. Normally, we never had a radio or even a watch when we camped. But this time we made an exception. I carried a small transistor radio to listen to Walter Cronkite narrate the landing. Looking back on it, we made the right decision. It was glorious to be surrounded by nature looking at the moon with our own eyes while listening to history being made.”

  27. Croesus says:

    They did it! SpaceX got Musk’s Roadster off the ground!
    Thanks, Col. Lang; but for this website, I would not have known about this great adventure.

  28. Imagine says:

    Successful lift-off at 3:45PM EST. The twin boosters landed about 5 minutes later.
    There is a hilarious live shot of StarMan driving his red sportscar with the Earth in the background at
    they are taking it live from outboard cameras. Musk is quoting one of the opening scenes from the first Heavy Metal movie. “Takin’ A Ride” FTW.

  29. Lars says:

    I had some doubts that it would launch after 2 postponements, but they got it off with 15 minutes to spare. Now we have the fastest car ever built. It was a spectacular launch with a lot of eyewitnesses on hand. They even got 2 of the rockets back to the Cape.
    Lots of very happy people wandering around here today.

  30. Congratulations to SpaceX.
    Launch looked flawless.

  31. turcopolier says:

    What happened to the center booster? pl

  32. mikee says:

    Received a few minutes ago, Coast Guard NAVWARNING:
    ZCZC AA64
    CCGDSEVEN BNM 046-18
    A. LKP 28-04.32N/073-57.72W CURRENTLY 350NM OFF-SHORE DRIFTING
    2. CANCEL AT TIME //080400Z FEB 18//
    Saw a report of the middle booster failing to land.

  33. Cortes says:

    Isn’t it possible that the Madison Avenue advertising duo of Pohl and Kornbluth actually were right in their classic sci-fi novel?
    The political landscape of a society in thrall to corporations described in the early 1950s novel looks remarkably similar to that of today’s scene. IMHO, of course.
    And still a very enjoyable read.

  34. Lars says:

    It appears that as it was landing on the drone barge, they lost the cameras. There has not been any further reports as of now. The stand by ship is at some distance at landings. I am sure we will eventually find out.

  35. FB Ali says:

    Col Lang,
    Congratulations! For me this was ‘your’ spaceship in splendid flight.
    I would not have known, or been interested in, this endeavour but for your drawing attention to the subject in your posts.
    Watching the videos was an exciting and moving experience. A remarkable achievement!

  36. Lars says:

    It is now reported, as indicated above, that the 3rd rocket missed the drone barge and hit the ocean. I have not heard anything else about it.

  37. doug says:

    The rocket failed to land on the barge. According to ars-technica it splashed into the ocean. However, the dual, simultaneous landing of the side rockets was pretty damned impressive. Also, the main mission went as planned so one out of three return rocket failures is pretty minor in the scheme of things.
    I love the whimsical idea of blasting his roadster into space. So Heinlein-esque. Shoot for the stars!

  38. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel, the roadster in space was truly surreal as was the return landing. I too might have missed this due to the pressure of the daily grind, except for your post.
    Its been a long time coming since there have been any new significant developments in launch systems.

  39. Tyler says:

    Nah, we’ll be back. Keep Constantinople in good order for us.

  40. Tyler says:

    You’re going to be on the one with all the minorities you claim to love. Ill be on the one with people who can make a civilization in the modern age.
    Good luck!

  41. kxd82 says:

    I reckon Barbara would’ be a ‘belter’.
    I’d be more partial to being a Martian myself.

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