Elon Musk

French: Falcon Heavy Is Making America Great Again

Not long ago I, toured the National Air and Space Museum’s immense Steven F. Udvar Center, located near Dulles airport. It’s an amazing complex, but about halfway through I found myself getting strangely depressed. Most museums are fascinating not just because of the historical information they convey, but because they plainly demonstrate how far we humans have come. Imagine, for example, a museum of the telephone where the exhibits progress slowly from the crudest possible voice-communication devices to smartphones that provide us with instant access to much of humanity’s accumulated knowledge. That’s how most museums work, but the Udvar Center in some ways does the opposite: It seems designed to argue that there was a time when we dreamed bigger and flew higher, faster, and farther. A time when Americans lifted their eyes to the heavens, said, “We must go there,” and unleashed an enormous amount of raw human energy to get it done, no matter that it had never even been dreamt of before. It’s all there, right in front of you: A Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (first flight, 1964), the Concorde (first flight, 1969), the Space Shuttle Discovery (first flight, 1981). There was a time when American pilots flew higher and faster than any men before. There was a time when travelers careened across the Atlantic at supersonic speed. There was a time when America operated actual spaceships. And that time has passed. Of course, our technology has progressed. If we chose to, we could do more. Our computing power is extraordinary. Our technical knowledge is unparalleled. An F-22 is a breathtaking aircraft. A Boeing Dreamliner is a technological marvel — but it still sends you across the Atlantic in the same coach seat at roughly the same speed as passengers of past generations. And space travel? We delegate our manned launches to the Russians, now. At a time when we could have done more, in many ways we chose to do less. When we could have expanded our reach, we chose to shrink it. Our eyes weren’t cast up to the heavens but down to our phones. And, quite frankly, we lost something in that moment. It would be too much to call it a shared purpose, because national purpose is too complex to be boiled down to a space program. It’s more accurate to say that when we lost that shared purpose — and part of our patriotic pride — the manned space program became all the more difficult to sustain. What is the thing that we’re proud of today? It should probably be American technology, which is more powerful and influential than it’s ever been. But Google, Facebook, and Twitter don’t exactly inspire patriotic thoughts. They’re more likely to incite partisan rage. So I am happy to report that something surprising happened earlier this week, something to be proud of: With an inimitable mix of new-school technology and old-school spunk, we launched the world’s most powerful rocket, and Americans cheered — by the tens of millions. Elon Musks’s Falcon Heavy had a moment. And it was a crazy, classic, modern American moment. Musk launched the world’s most powerful rocket, he put a car in it with a fake astronaut behind the wheel just because he could, and then beamed pictures live back from space. Just one of the Falcon Heavy launch videos has 15 million views on YouTube. Multiple news channels recorded millions of additional views. Some space enthusiasts were moved to tears. Even days after the launch, at any given moment thousands of Americans are tuning into the live “Starman” YouTube feed to watch Musk’s car fly toward an asteroid belt. I knew the launch was happening, tuned in to watch, and found myself thrilled in a way that I didn’t expect. Minutes later, old friends were sending messages with clips and memes from the launch. Why? Part of it is simple: Big rockets are really cool, and it had been a while since we’d launched one of that size and power from American soil. But there was something else to it, too, I think. Falcon Heavy, the private (subsidized) product of a man the Washington Post called a “puckish and eccentric billionaire,” sent a powerful message to the rest of the world: We’re back. We can still look up to the heavens. We can still fly farther, higher, and faster. We’re not all the way back, of course. Our grandfathers and fathers still put us to shame. But there’s hope. More rockets are in the works, including NASA’s Space Launch System, a rocket that could double Falcon Heavy’s thrust and payload. Perhaps we’re learning our lesson: Great nations need great accomplishments. It’s not enough to spend our resources making our lives easier and more convenient. We can still explore. The pioneer spirit still exists, and even if we won’t ever sit atop a rocket of that size and power, we can cheer those who do. So thanks, Falcon Heavy. In a moment that combined power, grace, and a dash of fun, you helped to make America great again.

Yeah!!  That inspiring piece was written by attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French.  David was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket launched successfully on Tuesday, making history as the world’s most powerful rocket and putting a provierbial feather in Elon Musk’s cap. Containing 27 engines, the rocket has a thrust able to generate more than 5 million pounds, akin to the equivalent of 18 Boeing 747 aircraft. It will be able to lift a payload of more than 64 tons (141,000 pounds) into orbit, twice as much as the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost, according to SpaceX. The payload the Falcon Heavy is carrying is a Tesla Roadster and a dummy pilot, codenamed Starman, playing the David Bowie song of the same name. The flight was originally scheduled for 1:30 pm EST, but was pushed back to 3:45 pm EST due to wind shear. It fired from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX said that when the rocket achieves lift off, “it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.” The company added that “Falcon Heavy’s side cores are flight-proven—both previously supported independent Falcon 9 missions in 2016.” The second stage of Heavy fired three times and put it on an elliptical orbit around the Sun that extends out as far as Mars. There is an “extremely tiny” chance it could crash into the Red Planet, Musk said in comments obtained by The New York Times, but that is unlikely to happen. “The test launch of the Falcon Heavy is a spectacular demonstration of the comeback of Florida’s Space Coast and of the U.S. commercial launch sector, which is succeeding in a big way.,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) on the Senate floor, discussing the launch. “That’s good news for the civil space program. It’s good news for national security. It’s good news for employment in the U.S. and it’s great news for jobs and the economy.” Nelson is the top Democrat of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the nation’s space program. The successful launch marks the beginning of a very busy schedule for the space vehicle. Later this year, it is scheduled to launch a communications satellite for a Saudi Arabian satellite operator, Arabsat. It is also scheduled to launch a test payload for the U.S. Air Force as soon as June, allowing the branch of the U.S. military to determine whether the Falcon Heavy is capable of launching national security payloads. The launch spacecraft’s two side boosters successfully landed at Cape Canaveral. However, the central core did not stick the landing on a floating drone ship 300 miles off the Florida coast. Musk said late Tuesday the booster hit the water at 300 miles per hour because it could relight only one of the three engines needed to land. Shortly after launch Elon Musk tweeted remarkable video footage of the Tesla Roadster and Starman in space. “View from SpaceX Launch Control. Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he wrote. “This achievement, along with @NASA’s commercial and international partners, continues to show American ingenuity at its best!” President Trump tweeted Thursday night.

Go SpaceX!!  To see some videos, click on the text above.    🙂

Elon Musk can rebuild Puerto Rico’s power grid, if given the chance

Robert Downey Jr.’s version of Tony Stark in “Iron Man 2” may have been loosely based on Elon Musk, but it appears Musk is the real super-hero, as he tries to save one energy grid at a time. Responding to a comment from a follower, Musk said that he could rebuild Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Maria. “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk tweeted. Upon seeing this, Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello‏ tweeted back at Musk, writing “Let’s talk.” Musk responded, saying he would be happy to talk and is hopeful Tesla can help. According to several media reports, 95 percent of the U.S. territory is still without power after the category 4 hurricane battered the island weeks ago. Some estimates have said that a full restoration of power may not return to Puerto Rico for as long as six months. In addition to selling electric cars, including the recently introduced Model 3, Tesla has an energy storage business, selling battery packs to commercial utilities, as well as home residences. It also has a solar panel business, after it acquired Solar City, co-founded by Musk’s cousin Lyndon Rive, for $2.6 billion in November 2016. Tesla has powered such smaller islands as Kauai in Hawaii and Ta’u in American Samoa, according to the company’s website. The populations of those islands is far less than the 3.4 million people living in Puerto Rico. James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, parent of Fox News, is a member of Tesla’s board of directors. Tesla has already sent a number of its battery packs to Puerto Rico to help the island store energy in an effort to offset the shortage. Musk has also personally donated $250,000 in an effort to rebuild the island. The conversation between Rossello and Musk is similar to one that took place several months ago, between Musk and billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who asked if Musk was serious about ending South Australia’s rolling blackouts. Musk responded by saying the company could do it in 100 days from the time the contract was signed or it would be free. It has since won a contract to help fix the issues in South Australia.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…  As a side note, in reference to the first sentence (above)..  Elon Musk actually, ironically, made a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2 toward the beginning of the film.

SpaceX Successfully Pulls Off First Reused Rocket Mission

Elon Musk’s SpaceX flew a rocket that had previously been in orbit to space and back again, a key milestone to reducing spaceflight costs and enabling people to one day live on other planets. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rumbled aloft Thursday, deposited a customer’s satellite into orbit and stuck its landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean, drawing raucous cheers from the crowd gathered at the company’s California headquarters. The moment was 15 years in the making for Musk, who founded SpaceX with the eventual goal of colonizing Mars. “This going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” Musk, 45, said from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Much of the expense of space travel lies in building engines, capsules and other equipment that are typically used once and then discarded. Billionaires including Musk and Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos are racing to make rocket reusability — once derided as a crazy idea — into a reality that will dramatically reduce costs. Closely held Space Exploration Technologies Corp. builds its rockets and engines in-house, wagering this better enables constant improvements and tighter collaboration between design and manufacturing. The rocket launched Thursday carried a communications satellite from Luxembourg’s SES SA that will provide coverage to Latin America. The re-flown rocket first took off and landed successfully on an unmanned drone ship bobbing in the Atlantic back in April 2016. The company has now recovered nine rockets in total, three by land and six by sea. Read more: A QuickTake on turning reusable rockets into space taxis Recovering and refurbishing the used rocket booster that flew Thursday took SpaceX roughly four months, President Gwynne Shotwell said earlier this month. Eventually, that turnaround time will drop to a single day as the company seeks to reuse rockets much in the way airlines operate today. SpaceX has successfully launched four rockets this year and aims to fly 20 to 24 missions in 2017. The Hawthorne, California-based company has contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration valued at $4.2 billion to resupply the International Space Station using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft and later ferry astronauts there with a version capable of carrying crews. Musk announced last month that SpaceX plans to send two private citizens who paid “significant deposits” on a week-long flight circling the moon in late 2018. “Congrats @SpaceX on another historic launch!” NASA tweeted Thursday. SES, which has flown with SpaceX twice before, was the first commercial satellite operator to launch with the company back in 2013. Though the price of the launch was not disclosed, Chief Technology Officer Martin Halliwell said SES received a discount for being first in line. “I’m sort of at a loss for words,” Musk said on the SpaceX webcast. “It’s really a great day, not just for SpaceX but for the space industry as a whole and proving that something could be done that many people said was impossible.”

Yes!!  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

Elon Musk: A Revolution in Space Flight

Fractured and divided as we are, on one thing we can agree: Twenty-fifteen was a miserable year. The only cheer was provided by Lincoln Chafee and the Pluto flyby (two separate phenomena), as well as one seminal aeronautical breakthrough. On December 21, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, after launching eleven satellites into orbit, returned its 15-story booster rocket, upright and intact, to a landing pad at Cape Canaveral. That’s a $60 million mountain of machinery — recovered. (The traditional booster rocket either burns up or disappears into some ocean.) The reusable rocket has arrived. Arguably, it arrived a month earlier when Blue Origin, a privately owned outfit created by Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO and owner of the Washington Post) launched and landed its own booster rocket, albeit for a suborbital flight. But whether you attribute priority to Musk or Bezos, the two events together mark the inauguration of a new era in space flight. Musk predicts that the reusable rocket will reduce the cost of accessing space a hundredfold. This depends, of course, on whether the wear and tear and stresses of the launch make the refurbishing prohibitively expensive. Assuming it’s not, and assuming Musk is even 10 percent right, reusability revolutionizes the economics of space flight. Which both democratizes and commercializes it. Which means space travel has now slipped the surly bonds of government — presidents, Congress, NASA bureaucracies. Its future will now be driven far more by a competitive marketplace with its multiplicity of independent actors, including deeply motivated, financially savvy, and visionary entrepreneurs. To be sure, the enterprise is not entirely free of government. After all, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landed on a Cape Canaveral pad formerly used to launch Air Force Atlas rockets. Moreover, initial financing for these ventures already depends in part on NASA contracts, such as resupplying the space station. That, however, is not much different from the growth of aviation a century ago. It hardly lived off air-show tickets or Channel-crossing prize money. What really propelled the infant industry was government contracts, for useful things such as mail — and bomb — delivery. The first and most visible consequence of the new entrepreneurial era will be restoring America as a space-faring nation. Yes, I know we do spectacular robotic explorations. But our ability to toss humans into space disappeared when NASA retired the space shuttle — without a replacement. To get an astronaut into just low Earth orbit, therefore, we have to hitch a ride on Russia’s Soyuz with its 1960s technology. At $82 million a pop. Yet, today, two private companies already have contracts with NASA to send astronauts to the space station as soon as 2017. The real prize, however, lies beyond Earth orbit. By now, everyone realizes that the space station was a colossal mistake, a white elephant in search of a mission. Its main contribution is to study the biological effects of long-term weightlessness. But we could have done that in Skylab, a modest space station that our political betters decided four decades ago to abandon. With increasing privatization, such decisions will no longer be exclusively Washington’s. When President Obama came into office, the plan was to return to the moon by 2020. A year later, he decided we should go to an asteroid instead. Why? Who knows. Today, future directions are being set by private companies with growing technical experience and competing visions. Musk is fixated on colonizing Mars, Bezos on seeing “millions of people living and working in space,” and Richard Branson on space tourism by way of Virgin Galactic (he has already sold 700 tickets to ride at $250,000 each). And Moon Express, another private enterprise, is not even interested in hurling about clumsy, air-breathing humans. It is bent on robotic mining expeditions to the Moon. My personal preference is a permanent manned moon base, which would probably already exist had our politicians not decided to abandon the Moon in the early 1970s. We have no idea which plan is more likely to succeed and flourish. But the beauty of privatization is that we don’t get just one shot at it. Our trajectory in space will now be the work of a functioning market of both ideas and commerce. It no longer will hinge on the whims of only tangentially interested politicians. Space has now entered the era of the Teslas, the Edisons, and the Wright Brothers. From now on, they will be doing more and more of the driving. Which means we are actually — finally — going somewhere again.

Let’s hope so!  Charles Krauthammer is the author of that inspiring op/ed, and he is exactly right.  As many of you know, I’m a huge SpaceX fan, and had the privilege of touring, at the classified level, it’s facilities in California back in 2011.  The whole organization from Elon on down is really first rate.  We’ll, of course, be eager to hear what new contributions to the space industry SpaceX has in store for us in 2016!   🙂

Elon Musk: NASA Contract Next Step for SpaceX

NASA’s contract with SpaceX will take the space-transportation company to a new frontier, according to CEO Elon Musk.

As many of you know, I’m a HUGE fan of SpaceX, and had the privilege of touring their main facility in California about 3 years ago. They’re on the cutting edge of the American space industry. So, I was thrilled to see Elon’s company win this contract from NASA! Go SpaceX!! 🙂