SpaceX Successfully Delivers ‘High-Jump’ JCSAT-14 Payload to Orbit

A SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket pulled off a picture-perfect launch at 1:21 a.m. EDT May 6, 2016 from Cape Canaveral, Fla SLC-40, successfully delivering the JCSAT-14 satellite to GTO. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace
A SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket pulled off a picture-perfect launch at 1:21 a.m. EDT May 6, 2016, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. SLC-40, successfully delivering the JCSAT-14 satellite to GTO. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Twenty-four hours later than originally planned, SpaceX has successfully conducted its fourth launch of 2016, delivering the heavyweight JCSAT-14 communications satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on behalf of the Tokyo-based SKY Perfect JSAT Group. Liftoff of the Falcon 9—flying for the fourth time in its Upgraded variant, with an enhanced suite of nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines, producing 1.5 million pounds (680,000 kg) of thrust at T-0—took place on time at 1:21 a.m. EDT Friday, 6 May, right on the opening of a two-hour “window.” A little more than 32 minutes after leaving the storied Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., JCSAT-14 separated from the Upgraded Falcon 9’s second stage, heading for at least 15 years of operations, providing communications services across Asia, Russia, Oceania, and the Pacific Islands.

Tonight’s launch also saw the successful landing of the Upgraded Falcon 9 first stage on the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) in the Atlantic Ocean, marking SpaceX’s second back-to-back on-target oceanic touchdown. Counting last December’s triumphant “land” landing, following the OG-2 mission, SpaceX has now successfully brought three Falcon 9 first stages back from the edge of space, through the high-velocity and high-energy environment of re-entry and safely back to Earth.

Falcon-9 lifts off with the JCSAT-14 satellite from Cape Canaveral May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace
Falcon-9 lifts off with the JCSAT-14 satellite from Cape Canaveral May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

As outlined previously by AmericaSpace, JCSAT-14 is the latest in a long line of Japanese commercial communications platforms, the first of which—JCSAT-1, launched in March 1989—has helped to establish what is today the SKY Perfect JSAT Group in pole position as the leading satellite operator in the Asia-Pacific Region. And JCSAT-14 has a tangible link with the very beginning: after orbital insertion, it will enter a “slot” at 154 degrees East longitude, picking up the baton from the 2002-launched JCSAT-2A, which itself replaced the 1989-launched JCSAT-2. At present, SKY Perfect JSAT Group operates more than a dozen operational satellites in geostationary orbit, some 22,236 miles (35,786 km) above Earth.

Each JCSAT platform has been built by a U.S. aerospace firm, with Hughes, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin having constructed most of the fleet, before Palo Alto, Calif.-headquartered Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) won the contract to build JCSAT-14 in June 2013. It will also deliver two follow-on satellites, JCSAT-15 and JCSAT-16, all three of which are based upon its highly reliable SSL-1300 “bus.” The latter can provide power levels between 5-12 kilowatts—with the trio of JCSAT birds fitting into the median of this range—and support as many as 70 active transponders. JCSAT-14 carries 26 optimized C-band transponders for broadcasting and data networks, as well as 18 Ku-band transponders for high-speed connectivity for maritime, aviation, and resource-exploration usage.

Within months of the contract award, in January 2014, Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX announced that it would transport JCSAT-14 to orbit, with launch initially targeted for the second half of 2015. This schedule met with some delay, following the high-altitude breakup of a Falcon 9 v1.1 booster during first-stage flight, last 28 June, which placed all missions on hold until corrective actions had been completed. SpaceX returned to flight in December and in March 2016 JCSAT-14 was delivered to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for final processing and integration aboard the Upgraded Falcon 9.

Following the completion of a successful Static Fire Test of the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines on SLC-40 on Sunday, 1 May, SpaceX initially aimed for an opening launch attempt at 1:21 a.m. EDT Thursday, 5 May. However, despite an 80-percent-favorable weather forecast—with a late-season frontal boundary steadily retreating southwards, leaving the Thick Cloud Rule and Liftoff Winds as potential violating factors—SpaceX announced late Wednesday morning that it would move the launch to the wee hours of Friday morning. “Due to weather at the Cape, we are now targeting Friday, 6 May, at 1:21 a.m. ET for the launch of JCSAT-14,” the company tweeted. SpaceX later advised AmericaSpace that the delay was “due to inclement weather in the area” and noted that “the rocket is healthy.”

According to the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base, showers and isolated thunderstorms early in the week were expected to clear by the opening of Thursday’s launch window. “On Thursday, conditions are expected to continue to improve as the frontal boundary moves further south, away from the Spaceport,” the 45th noted in its Monday morning forecast. “The main weather concern is a Thick Cloud Layer that may develop from remnant low-level moisture.” However, SpaceX elected to wait for improved weather on Friday, when the possibility of violating the Thick Cloud Rule offered a 90-percent likelihood of acceptable weather at T-0.

Falcon-9 flies into star trails with JCSAT-14 May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace
Falcon-9 flies into star trails with JCSAT-14 May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

Topped by its bulbous Payload Fairing (PLF), which encapsulated the JCSAT-14 satellite, the Upgraded Falcon 9 stands 229 feet (70 meters). This is about 5.6 feet (1.6 meters) taller than its predecessor—the Falcon 9 v1.1, which flew 15 times between its maiden voyage in September 2013 and its swansong in January 2016—and the upgraded booster also utilizes “densified” liquid oxygen as part of its propellant load. As described by AmericaSpace last fall, the Upgraded Falcon 9 benefits from “full-thrust” engines, together with associated structural enhancements to its airframe, which produce a 33-percent performance hike over its predecessor. Whereas the v1.1 required several hours to load its liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (“RP-1”) propellants, the Upgraded Falcon 9 does not begin tanking until about 35 minutes before T-0.

Late Thursday evening, SpaceX teams came to their consoles to begin countdown operations, which progressed smoothly as darkness fell over the Space Coast. Shortly after 8 p.m. EDT, SpaceX tweeted a glorious view of the Upgraded Falcon 9 vertical at SLC-40, against the backdrop of the setting Sun. Finally, at 12:46 a.m. EDT Friday, the company announced that fueling had begun. “Rocket now being fueled after Launch Director confirmed we are go for launch,” it tweeted. “35 minutes and counting.”

At T-13 minutes, a final “Go/No-Go” poll of all 13 flight controllers was undertaken, producing a unanimous string of “Go” calls across the net. This allowed the Launch Director (LD) to authorize the commencement of the Terminal Countdown at T-10 minutes, during which the nine Merlin 1D+ engines were chilled, ahead of their ignition sequence. All external power utilities from the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) were disconnected, the JCSAT-14 payload was transitioned to internal battery power, and at T-5 minutes the roughly 90-second process of retracting the “strongback” from the Upgraded Falcon 9 got underway. By this time, weather conditions within mandated levels, with relatively calm ground-level winds.

Meanwhile, the Flight Termination System (FTS)—which would destroy the vehicle in the event of an accident during ascent—was placed onto internal power and armed. Fueling concluded and the first stage propellant tanks attained their proper flight pressures. The nine Merlins were purged with gaseous nitrogen and, at T-60 seconds, the “Niagara” deluge system of 53 nozzles were activated, flooding the launch pad and flame trench with 30,000 gallons (113,500 liters) of water per minute to suppress acoustic energy radiating from the engine exhausts. At the same time, the Upgraded Falcon 9 entered “Startup,” with on-board flight computers controlling all critical functions.

Falcon-9 lifts off with JCSAT-14 from Cape Canaveral SLC-40 May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace
Falcon-9 lifts off with JCSAT-14 from Cape Canaveral SLC-40 May 6, 2016. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

At T-3 seconds, the Merlin 1D+ engines roared to life, ramping up to their combined thrust of 1.5 million pounds (680,000 kg). Following computer-commanded health checks of the engines, the vehicle was released from SLC-40 and the booster blazed into the darkened Florida sky, precisely on time at 1:21 a.m. EDT. Coming five hours after local sunset and five hours ahead of sunrise, it was SpaceX’s 12th launch in darkness, achieving a roughly 50-50 split between daytime and nighttime launches in 24 Falcon 9 missions since June 2010.

Immediately after clearing the SLC-40 towers, the booster executed a combined pitch, roll, and yaw program maneuver, establishing itself onto the proper flight azimuth to inject JCSAT-14 into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Eighty seconds into the climb, it exceeded the speed of sound and experienced a period of maximum aerodynamic duress—colloquially known as “Max Q”—on its airframe. Concurrently, the Merlin 1D+ Vacuum engine of the second stage underwent a “chill-down” protocol, prior to its own pair of “burns,” late in the ascent, to deliver JCSAT-14 to orbit.

Just under three minutes after launch, the first stage exhausted its propellant and separated, whereupon the Merlin 1D+ Vacuum ignited for the first time. This engine produces about 210,000 pounds (95,250 kg) of propulsive yield. During its 6-minute and 4-second burn, the PLF was discarded, exposing JCSAT-14 to the space environment for the first time. With the completion of the first burn, the second stage coasted for 17.5 minutes, prior to the second burn which positioned the satellite correctly for deployment. This burn lasted for about 59 seconds and JCSAT-14 was deployed into its orbit at an altitude of 22,236 miles (35,786 km), some 32 minutes after launch.

In the meantime, following the earlier separation of the first stage, another part of the mission was underway: the attempt to land on the deck of the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), affectionately nicknamed “Of Course I Still Love You.” Drawn out of Port of Cape Canaveral by the Elsbeth III tug late last week, the drone ship was positioned about 410 miles (660 km) east of the Cape, to await what SpaceX hoped would be its second back-to-back successful landing.

The Falcon-9 first stage which helped deliver JCSAT-14 to orbit minutes earlier, comes down for a successful controlled vertical landing on SpaceX's offshore autonomous barge. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace
The Falcon-9 first stage which helped deliver JCSAT-14 to orbit minutes earlier, comes down for a successful controlled vertical landing on SpaceX’s offshore autonomous barge. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

It had already been noted that the higher-altitude and higher-energy ascent profile of the JCSAT-14 would produce a correspondingly “hotter” re-entry than its predecessor and would prove more restrictive upon propellant reserves. “Given this mission’s GTO destination,” SpaceX noted in its JCSAT-14 press kit, “the first-stage will be subject to extreme velocities and re-entry heating, making a successful landing unlikely.” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk added: “Rocket reentry is a lot faster and hotter than last time, so odds of making it are maybe even, but we should learn a lot either way.”

The first stage typically performs a Boost-Back burn to adjust its impact point, flip itself over by means of nitrogen thrusters, followed by a Supersonic Retro-Propulsion burn to reduce its velocity to about 560 mph (900 km/h). This would set up the conditions for a final Landing burn on the ASDS, at a rate of just 4.5 mph (7.2 km/h), with a network of deployable hypersonic grid fins and four extendible legs. With the first part of its job done, the first stage set about the formidable task of returning to the ASDS. Three of the first stage’s Merlin 1D+ engines ignited for about 15 seconds at 1:29 a.m., establishing the proper conditions for a smooth touchdown on the ASDS. With four times as much energy, and eight times as much heating imparted on the returning stage during this GTO-bound ascent as during missions to low-Earth orbit, this landing was considered “Experimental” in nature, but ran like clockwork.

A few seconds shy of nine minutes since departing the Cape, the blackened and tired first stage alighted with precision on the deck of the drone ship. After issuing a clipped and tentative “The Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the drone ship” at 1:30 a.m. EDT, SpaceX followed up with the first image and electrifying confirmation: “Landing confirmed” at 1:31 a.m. “Second stage continuing to carry JCSAT-14 to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.” After several attempts to land its first-stage hardware on the ASDS deck, with mixed success since the beginning of 2015, SpaceX achieved success during its CRS-8 launch campaign on 8 April and has now repeated the feat in back-to-back launches. Mr. Musk has indicated that his company intends to make another attempt at a “land” landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zone (LZ)-1 in the next few months.


Be sure to “Like” AmericaSpace on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @AmericaSpace



  1. Very interesting to hear what the fitness for reuse assessment is on this one.

    • Has there been a detailed “fitness for reuse assessment” publically released on any of them?

      If so could you provide a link?

      It would be informative to review.

      • Not detailed, but the report by Musk on the first was nothing out of tolerance, one engine ran within tolerance but rough on the refire, There was no sign of it ingesting anything on the first examination, so they were thinking they didn’t button it up on time after landing or got something in it after.

        I’ll look for something.

        • Thanks,

          I am particularly interested in whether or not they have done post flight structural analysis (X-Rays looking for micro cracks etc.) and coking in the engines (lines, pumps, etc. – as this can be a problem with kerosene fueled engines, the Russians are working on Methane fueled engines because of the need to do cleaning even after static test fires).

          • Second the request for good reuse information when it becomes available. I would like to know if getting the stage back is a good QC process that allows detailed information of performance and potential weaknesses even though flying again is out. Or if fairly minor work is required to fly again. Depending on PR and speculation is not satisfying. Not that I have any rights to this information, just very interested.

            • Hi John,

              We appear to be in “violent agreement again. 🙂

              As you know I have my doubts as to whether or not the Falcon 9 can be made economically practical as a reusable vehicle (even if it can be recovered and reused).

              Never the less they a have successfully recovered several first stages now and if they are performing a comprehensive analysis of those stages that information could form the basis for a very valuable data base for forward work.

            • Thanks for the link.

              I believe the ‘max’ damage is referring to the fact that this stage had the most severe rentry/landing environment.

              Thus, if a system/component is ok on this stage, it is decent evidence that it is more likely to ok on the others.

              I believe the tweet where the ‘max’ damage statement also referred to this stage as the ‘life leader’ (i.e. it has seen more wear & tear than the others and so will likely fail first in a given manner)

              • Since the stages terminal velocity is going to be similar regardless of its reentry speed the more severe part of the trip would have to be the reentry.

                Any idea of how the speed/trajectory for this launch/reentry differed from others?

                As to the status of components, would still like to have available the results of structural inspection/analysis, engine condition, etc. for all the recovered stages for comparison. It would be needed to estimate how much refurbishment would be required if an attempt were made to reuse the stage.

                • Correct. Terminal Velocity should be very similar, the JCSAT-14 mission likely had a bit LOWER terminal velocity since less fuel (thus less weight) was left for the landing burn.

                  However, it during the 3-engine landing burn the legs and other near-by components were exposed to 3x the heat flux and significantly greater deceleration, but for a shorter duration.

                  The JCSAT-14 mission did not have a boost-back burn that would have slowed/reversed the trajectory of the stage prior to reentry.

                  I haven’t looked into the Re-entry burns/re-entry velocity of this mission vs others. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they allowed it to reenter faster than previous missions to conserve fuel for the landing burn. If so, it may have experienced a much more severe re-entry.

                  An r/spaceX community member created a cool tool called “Flight Club” that I believe will allow you to answer many questions yourself. It has best guesses for trajectory’s & burns for previous & future missions based on available data. (Burn durations for future missions are less reliable, of course)
                  I cannot speak as to exactly what it provides as it doesn’t work on my work computer. (IE grumble grumble)

                  I read somewhere that SpaceX may have decided they won’t be able to reuse the JCSAT-14 stage, but that they intend to use lessons learned from analyizing it to make future stages returned from equally demanding flights reuseable.

                  I believe they have also stated that they intend to re-fly one of the stages they have landed already. Presumeably that would be the 2nd one they landed as the 1st is going to be put on display and this last one isn’t in as good of shape. (although that re-use flight has already been delayed 1-2 times I believe)

                  I have see some mentions that the reused stage may be used for the In-Flight abort test of the Crew Dragon module.

                  • “I cannot speak as to exactly what it provides as it doesn’t work on my work computer. (IE grumble grumble)”

                    If it makes you feel any better it does not seem like my computer either.

                    • Hey Joe,

                      I’m the dev for that site. Would you mind telling me what browser+OS you’re on? And maybe what the specific problem is? I’m new to web dev, so it tends to only work on newer versions of Chrome and Firefox :/ Sorry, but I’m working on it!

                    • Declan,

                      Browser is Google Chrome (with Norton Security protection).

                      When I click on the link it presents a page with a blue bar at the top saying: Flight Club | Mission Builder | Thaicom-8. The rest of the page is blank white.

                      Discovered the links at the side of the page, but they only display a blank white page as well.

                      Thanks for the interest.

                    • Ok, so something on your machine doesn’t like my server requests. If you open Developer Tools and refresh the page, do you get 4-5 red error messages? If so, that’s your problem. Possibly security settings are too tight? I’ll look into how to sort that from my end, if possible.

                      Thanks for the feedback!

                    • Declan,

                      That seems to be the case.

                      I use the computer for business as well as hobbies, cannot afford to “loosen” the security settings, so guess that is it.

                      Thanks again.

        • Shotwell referred to “learning something new” about the vehicle after the first landing. Was this “something new” related to the rough running engine on re-fire? She said that they were going to make several mods of the vehicle post landing to resolve this and other issues that came up (if memory serves me). She also referenced how landing the stages has wider implications for reliability beyond reuse case. Last I heard they were borescoping the engine but never any detail.

          • Is there a link to a transcript of what she said?

            Would be interested in reading it.

              • Joe and Clio,
                I watched the brief comments by Shotwell and she described modifications to be done to base systems to insure main product delivery and reuse applications based on the stage 1 inspections. It seemed routine to me. But what do you infer?..Also Shotwell talked about 2nd stage reuse ability and getting out further than Mars with F9H…And Guys what is issue of cross feed and Not cross feeding the Stage 1 boosters?

                • Tracy,

                  I think everyone here would like a lot more meat on the bones of what is involved in the inspection process along with the results. I’m not sure at this point coking is a problem, in general, that hasn’t already been put to bed. They re-fire all the time at McGregor and have lot of experience with re-starts on RP-1 engines. My suspicion is the pintle injector style is extremely robust in this area for starters. Yes, post flight the engines are going through a re-entry plasma and all sorts of accelerations in different directions so there is still a bunch to be gained from post flight inspection/testing. More interested in general fitness of structures after multiple cycles. That said the vehicle is instrumented heavily so they have a good idea what the structures are seeing and can dig in as needed. Not sure SpaceX is going to open up about that right away as this would be pretty proprietary. Well after first landing Musk is still on the 10-20 flights with very little maintenance and up to 100 total with some parts replaced on 10-20 interval. So I am not under the impression there are huge structural concerns that can’t be worked out at this point.


                    You may be correct about coking not being a problem, but it should be noted the Russians seem to disagree. In spite of their rather dire economic circumstances they are proceeding with development of a Methane/Oxygen engine for a variety of reasons including:

                    “Moreover, methane would leave no solid residue in the engine’s fuel lines, excluding the need for a laborious cleaning before a new test or the delivery of an already tested engine for installation on the rocket.”

                    • Yes it would seem everyone has a Methane/LNG engine in development these days. I am not at all knocking the merits of such a change down the road for the Russians, BO, SpaceX or ULA. I think it has lots of positives going for it which is why everyone seems to be chasing it. I just don’t think it has proven to be a stumbling block for SpaceX up until now. Every core goes through a full duration firing at McGregor then short static fire on the pad before missions. They routinely fire and re-fire individual Merlins at McGregror and have stated they’ve tested them to be good for around ~20 starts before needing work. Whatever handling/cleaning process they have seems to be effective. We know from tracking the stages they aren’t dropping engines and pulling plumbing apart after full duration firing at McGregor on its way to the Cape. It goes from vertical to crane and truck and spotted on the road in a very short period of time. Also the Russian engines being Staged Combustion and/or multi-chambered might have some special susceptibility in this area…

                      Here is a thought I had that could be completely bogus and would like someone to shoot down if they have a more solid understanding….


                      In the latest landing video we can see a green flash late in the landing, when already on the deck. Normally green flash tells me TEA/TEB starter fluid is the chamber. I wonder if you could run a TEA/TEB cycle through the engine to act as a flushing agent?

                      Below is also closeup of engines after landing for OG-2 mission. I am not the only one to notice white residue on the inside of the skirt. People have speculated this is residual TEA/TEB as well..


                      For some reason it does not seem to be a problem while tracking the insider chatter at SpaceX it seems there is never talk of them delayed while cleaning plumbing and engines although delays have been accounted for in the past for a variety of other reasons…

                    • “We know from tracking the stages they aren’t dropping engines and pulling plumbing apart after full duration firing at McGregor on its way to the Cape. It goes from vertical to crane and truck and spotted on the road in a very short period of time.”

                      Just out of curiosity, how are you tracking the process that carefully.

                      Do you have access to their detailed process flow?

                      Are there people following the vehicle from outside SpaceX control parameters?


                    • I do not have access to such material but it is amazing what can be crowd sourced these days. A 100+ foot long rocket wrapped in black plastic is hard to miss and anyone with a smartphone can crowd source this info in places like Reddit. Here is an example but there are many more from around the FL, TX, CA and in between.


                      Additionally, some people run a Facebook page around McGregor and can tell you when full duration firing occurs, its noticeably louder. Also people sit outside the fence and often video/photo the stage once vertical. A farmer in the area can literally put a camera on his deck and see the stage, on the stand, from a distance during test firing. This data is aggregated in places like r/spacex but also NSF/L2 with more details on the flow processing.

                    • I should add some people are not content with filming from the ground. This guy grabbed shots of a stage on the newer ground level test stand and the construction of the Raptor methane engine test cells. The injector and pre-burner testing was done at Stennis but they are bringing the sub-scale and full scale testing back to McGregor.


                      This guy also got a stage on the stand along with the new multi-purpose hangar being built:


                    • Clio,
                      It certainly isn’t inconceivable that SpaceX is using a TEA/TEB charge to flush something.

                      But, I would be surprised if that was the case.

                      I believe the TEA/TEB starter doesn’t use the same plumbing as the RP-1 or LOX. I wouldn’t be surprised it spontaneously reacted with RP-1.

                      One guess is that there is a separate injector(s) for the TEA/TEB that stores a certain amount of the TEA/TEB sized to start the engine. This starter charge may be pulled from a small tank, and there may be no easy way to get it back in the tank, thus the charge is disposed of (burned).

                      Another guess is that since unreacted TEA/TEB is more hazardous than its combustion byproducts, all unneeded TEA/TEB is disposed of upon landing to make ground recovery operations cheaper/easier.

                      Of course, it seems you visit the r/SpaceX reddit so these guesses (and many more I’m sure) are available there.

                    • Ben, Yes I agree after thinking about it a little. Today I recalled that it has been pretty well established only the 3 engines required for landing ops are plumbed to in-flight TEA/TEB reservoir, the rest only get supplied via GSE TEA/TEB. That would be inconsistent with using TEA/TEB to flush the chamber alone. Still a curious situation.

                    • If the TEA/TEB is used is used as an igniter for the Merlin Engines it would make sense that only the only the 3 engines required for landing ops are plumbed to in-flight TEA/TEB reservoir and the others would use GSE.

                      Only the 3 engines requiring Air (RE)Start would need an in flight igniter. To do anything else would only complicate design, add failure modes and weight.

  2. It will be interesting to see how certain people on this site will try to spin that as a failure of a “hobby rocket”

      • Go ahead and let the NewSpace mob defecate all over your site trolling me into oblivion but call me out for being critic of SpaceX. Right?

        That you let all those comments mocking and insulting me stay posted is a disgrace and exposes your bias.

      • You see, this NewSpace boondoggle didn’t land exactly in the center. And they don’t land in the exact center then eventually all of the actual landing distances will add up and mathematically its like a booster missed the barge entirely thus proving Ayn Rand in Space’s failure. Open your eyes, Sheeple!

        • Like I said Mike, you won’t moderate these disgusting creeps and so you let them turn your site into a cesspool. If you won’t do your job you should let someone else manage America Space.

          • Actually, it will Gary Church and his sockpuppets turning the place into a “cesspit” with his comments which ignore facts in favor of ad hominem as proceeding history shows him to be an especially rusty crank.

            You are mocked because you say mockable things, words contrary to reality.

            • LOL. You space clowns really know how to make stuff up. The most vile bunch of cyberbullies to ever pollute the internet.

              • The guy with the sockpuppets and no math or facts to his rejoinders has no grounds for complaint.

                • No sockpuppets- just Conway Costigan. You NewSpace cyberthugs like to use the name of the infamous excluded one to try and goad me but I have not posted using Gary Church here for a long time. Just Conway. And like I said, somebody keeps posting using Conway Costigan and that is as low as it gets. And you are one of them so I consider you beneath contempt. Shame on you.

                  • “have not posted using Gary Church here for a long time.”

                    So you admit the sockpuppetry. That’s one rung up the ladder to respectability.

                    Now you just need a factual counterargument delivered politely, and you’re all the way there.

                    But for your history.

                    • I admit that you keep trying to shut me down and that exposes exactly what you are up to. Puh-leez.

                    • I’m not trying to shut you down. I enjoy your monomania immensely.

                      The real Gary Michael Church honestly thinks we must use Orions to shove water around the solar system with which to shield us from cosmic rays.

                      Between pharmaceuticals, electrostatics, and electromagnetics, GCRs are not a solved problem, but the solution is a matter of engineering, not new physics or invention of new disciplines.

                      I’m laughing at him, but I want him to keep writing.

                      I like laughing.

                      Musk could not hire a better propagandist against OldSpace than Gary Church.

                    • Oh you are trying. You and your buddies keep trying and trying.
                      Because you just cannot tolerate someone with a different point of view. This is YOUR forum.

                      Juvenile crap. Shame on you.

                    • You’re the only one saying people should be banned from posting.

                    • Buddies? I don’t know anybody here.

                      I don’t know how many people here are you, or even if you are Gary Michael Church.

                      But I do know it’s fun reading you.

                      Go ahead and have your point of view.

                      Just don’t pretend there’s any basis for it in reality which you have presented, or that we should respect it as if you have, or as if you haven’t been quite the troll in presenting it.

                    • You are probably the one that keeps posting using my name and Gary Church. Why don’t you just stop and let me have my say?

                      Anyone reading this knows why. Because you are trying to make this site your playground but your bullying is not working on me.


                    • No, absolutely not. I never use pseudonyms or sockpuppets.

                      The moderators I suppose, as you insist they could, could verify that if they care to.

                      “Why don’t you just stop and let me have my say?”

                      How do you pretend we are stopping you? Replying?

                      And as opposed to bullying you at all, I’d love to see you make an actual defense of your position with facts and logic. I specifically invite you to…

                      …See how I want you to have your say?

                    • I don’t use sock-puppets and I never have. I only changed to this pseudonym after Coastal Ron and his NewSpace mob goons had me banned.

                      The way you are trying to shut me up and silence the truth that is so inconvenient to your NewSpace cheerleading it is obvious that you are really Coastal Ron, Clio or whatever sock-puppet name you are using this week.

                      When Hillhouse and Killian didn’t ban me you turned to trying to shout me down, drown me out and fill their site with so much crap that people would stop reading it and never be exposed to the truth behind the NewSpace lie.

                    • “I only changed to this pseudonym after Coastal Ron and his NewSpace mob goons had me banned.”

                      That means you use a sockpuppet.

                      “The way you … using this week.” <– Nope. I’m none of those people.

                      “When Hillhouse and … the NewSpace lie.” <– And here comes the crazy. Instead of shouting that you should never be replied to, try defending your position with facts and logic.

                      Do you or do you not think that the only way to move humanity into cis lunar space is with Orions pushing 14 feet thick water shields, or some such, because cosmic rays?

                      Do you or do you not think that NewSpace somehow delays that from happening?

                    • ” Clio Marsden
                      May 6, 2016 at 4:48 pm

                      Yes, he has also used Duquesne as a sock-puppet… ”

                      This is getting confusing. No I haven’t. Or do you mean Gary Church has?

                    • Nuclear propulsion is an absolute requirement to take humans Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit (BELO). That is not desirable inside the magnetosphere for obvious reasons. This makes the Moon the place to go to collect the ice needed to shield humans from radiation. Radiation is the dirty little secret that the NewSpace Mars Mob doesn’t want to talk about because it is what will kill anyone in a Toxic Dragon that is headed for Mars. That means we have to go to the moon and work in cis lunar space to assemble, test and launch any real exploration mission. LEO is a dead and and the absolute worst place to do this and that is what why the NewSpace Mob attacks me at every turn.

                    • Sorry, GC has used this sock puppet, both are E.E. Smith characters…




                    • Is this Gary Church posting as Conway Costigan? How would we tell?

                      By nuclear propulsion, do you mean Orions? VASIMR? Nuclear Thermal? Nuclear powered Ion? Polywell?

                      Actually, for a full round trip the average lifespan will be shortened by 10 to 15 years by radiation induced cancers if nothing is done to ameliorate the radiation more than the traditional thin aluminum hull. Everyone dies eventually, and as opposed to 40% of such a crew contracting a fatal cancer, 60% will, with high odds a death will be prompt. If nothing but an aluminum hull is done.

                      This is extrapolated from a tendentious study where mice with a genetic propensity for cancer were given 1 years dose of GCR equivalent iron nuclei in a few minutes. The applicability of the study is questionable.

                      What can be done as opposed just an aluminum hull which is not 14 feet of water is these several things, and they are not all exclusive of one another:
                      1) Any suitably dense metal intended to spall GCR into secondary radiation which is then blocked by a high hydrogen fraction plastic of a foot or so in thickness.
                      2) An electrostatic field can be set up which is neutral overall, but which attracts GCRs to a tungsten obdturator which is positioned well away from crewed volumes.
                      3) An electromagnetic field can be used similarly, but no obdturator is of benefit because the point is the GCRs don’t hit anything solid.
                      4) Simple aspirin in a daily dose dramatically reduces the vulnerability of cells to transition to a cancerous mode.

                      The upshot of these is to reduce the expected reduced lifespan to a few years less, with a proportional reduction if prompt cancer deaths, and with a few tens of kW of electrical load and about 1/50th the mass of enclosing the crewed area in 14 feet of water.

                      Are all the i’s doted and t’s crossed on such a design? No. But they are no more mysterious or iffy than any other aspect of spacecraft design is.

                      When Gary complains about the “toxicity” of the Dragon, he means it uses hypergolic propellants, something people have known how to handle with safety for over 50 years.

                      And for all of that, if nothing were done but an aluminum hull, SpaceX would still have pioneers lining up around the block for a chance to pass on a good sized chunk of planet to their children, and IVF is sufficiently advanced science that the gametes which were still healthy would make healthy babies in the GCR radiation free creches of a cave in either Mars’ crust, or a hollow in Ceres, or farther.

                      Where ever SpaceX goes.

                      Because the SLS’ real job is to move Congressional dollars in large quantities into Congressinal districts, and launch once or twice to try to stave of outraged Congressional hearings, and then be mothballed as the orange and white elephant it is at a $/lb cost to LEO of around $25,000/lb to go by Wikipedia…

                      …Where by a like accounting but assuming Musk was low by a factor of five, SpaceX for 1.6 times the amount lifted would be coming in at about $7,000/lb. And if he’s right $1,400/lb.

                      But then there’s still the difference that with SpaceX, you still have the hardware since reusability is the plan from the outset, and for the whole vehicle in the case of the BFR.

                      SLS is intended to be expended. One shot and gone.

    • American entrepreneurs, American aerospace workers and NASA working together to create a better launch industry for the Nation. It is paying off big time. Throwing stuff to Luna is going to get cheaper by the year.

      • According to Shotwell “we are not Moon people.” Stop making stuff up.

        • I don’t think they would turn down the offer to send a bunch of FH payloads to the moon if someone wanted to pay…

          • No reason to think they’d turn it down. Not a rational one anyway.

          • The’ll do it if NASA pays for it. Taking money from NASA to strangle out the SLS is what they do. They will never do it on their own. The Ayn Rand libertarian figurehead Elon Musk knows all about milking the tax dollars, despite what the NewSpace Mob thinks.

      • One way or another, everybody is going to the Moon.


        There are a lot more jobs potentially available to Americans and other folks in controlling robots in near real time on the Moon, and the rest of Cislunar space, than there is in doing anything on distant Mars with its very long lags in communication and transportation.

        Influence in Cislunar space has international security implications.

        Human Lunar missions are risky and costly, but far less risky and costly than human Mars missions. And the ‘business case for the Moon’ will ‘close’ much sooner than it will for far distant Mars.

        Humans are going to the Moon to learn how to reduce the risks and costs of long space missions.

        Humans need to learn how to tap the Moon’s diverse resources that will be used for our eventual sustainable human missions to Mars, Ceres, and elsewhere across our Solar System.

        And if someone or entity has the money to Colonize or Terraform some body in space, the Moon is nearby, available, and potentially the best deal in our Solar System.

        “When it comes to remaking a celestial body in Earth’s image—“terraforming” it—the moon has clear advantages: It gets twice the sunlight of Mars. It’s a three-day trip with current technology, while getting people to Mars would take six months. Furthermore, the moon is dead and it’s small, so it needs less work and investment to build an atmosphere.”

        From: “How to Terraform the Moon It’ll be habitable, if a lot like Florida” By Gregory Benford July 14, 2014 At:

    • “-spin that as a failure of a “hobby rocket”

      The final set of SRBs that launched STS-135 included parts that flew on 59 previous missions, including STS-1.[4]

      The Shuttle SRB’s generated 5.6 million pounds of thrust. The shuttle was a Saturn V class launch system that unfortunately wasted most of its lift putting the orbiter up so it could come right back down. The hobby rocket is not doing anything interesting compared to that. It is in fact just a much smaller, cheaper, nastier version of the same mistake made with the shuttle. It is all hype that ends in the same dead end of LEO.

      Anyone who thinks that 1st stage is going to turn a profit as a reusable might consider those steel casings with no moving parts on the SRB’s did not break even. Those 9 little turbopump driven hot rods will cost far more to reuse than to just dump in the ocean.

      It’s a scam.

      • This is true about the STS that power of the stack was wasted hauling 60t of orbiter up the hill.
        However not seeing a difference between srb casing dropped into salt water and a liquid powered booster landing under it’s own power on a ship when it comes to reuse is just insane.
        By doing nothing interesting are you referring to the fact that expendable Falcon9 took market share from both Ariane and Russians and is now among the main and most affordable rockets on the commercial market.
        It is not a moon/super heavy class rocket and will never be but it necessary to maintain multiple systems that are provided by satellites.

        • It is not insane to expect the paint on the SRB’s to protect them from that evil salt water. Ships are made of steel. That thin walled stage landing back is stressed to a far greater degree than an SRB. Your hyperbole needs some polish.

          I could care less about the commercial market. This is a completely dishonest feature of SpaceX marketing- equating launching satellites to Human Space Flight. They are not the same thing. I care about the Super Heavy Lift Vehicle that SpaceX fans endlessly demonize because it is the single most direct threat to the NewSpace LEO business plan. The hobby rocket is no replacement for the SLS but that is what is almost always inferred by NewSpace groupies.

          • I did not post that! This is more of the NewSpace Mob and Coastal Ron’s sockpuppet army trying to shut me down.

          • So you think SpaceX is lying when they say the Falcon 9 is engineered from the start for a human spaceflight capability? On the basis of what do you make that charge?

            ” I care about the Super Heavy Lift Vehicle that SpaceX fans endlessly demonize because it is the single most direct threat to the NewSpace LEO business plan. ”

            Actually, the greatest thing about SpaceX is the BFR’s capability when a mature system to drop $/lb to LEO cost to about $275/lb at most, and it could conceivably go down to the $40~$55/lb range. That is based on a general ratio of 1 lb to the Martian surface being a capability to loft 5.5lb to LEO, and a cost per launch of $300million per launch.

            The SLS is no threat at all to that, since it cannot possibly compete economically.

              • We have seen at least one rocket stage landed in a refuelable and reflyable condition, the payload mass penalty for a reuse is 30%. It may be we have seen three do so, don;t know yet. If you don’t need the 30%, the you can save the money the 30% cost reduction represents. Clearly the rocket equation does not work the way you think it does.

                It is dV = g * (ln (Mt1/Mt0)) I’ve seen it written different ways, the math works the same.

                When development and first hardware costs are spread over the 20 to 50 flights a Falcon is expected to make when a mature vehicle, yes, costs trend toward a low order multiple of the fuel cost, same as for airliners.

                There is no reason to think the BFR will not be built or that SpaceX won’t use it as Musk hopes to. Certainly the odds are better for it than that the SLS will make more than one flight.

                • Ah crap, that’s what I get for trying to type and talk on the phone as the same time, I forgot to stick in the Isp.
                  dV = g * Isp * (ln (Mt1/Mt0))

                • Well not really SLS is funded for 4 flights now and this is the minimum that will most likley fly.I hope that the Europa mission flies because it is actually the only SLS flight that is worth the money for the rocket.

                  • SLS will keep flying maybe for the next 20 years or more starting in 2018. The government isn’t about to cede to China direct access to cislunar space. The two primary contractors on the SLS/Orion system is Boeing & Lockheed. Right now BFR is a theory until plans come out and metal starts being bent to build it. Then, SpaceX will have to test it. What that means is that the SLS/Orion system is the only manned BEO transportation system in active development right now.

                    • I’m still wondering, “What would be the LEO payload of a Falcon five core, or basically a Falcon H plus two cores, launcher?”

                      Such an Angara A5 type of SpaceX Falcon based launcher seems like a possible goal while waiting for the development of SpaceX’s super large methane powered BFR.

                      As for my current acceptance of 1.25 meters of lead for Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding, there are some specific reasons that I really appreciate lead’s density.

                      My dad once rolled over a large bulldozer. My older brother once rolled over a tractor truck. Both were excellent drivers and lucky to survive those accidents.

                      If your center of gravity is too high, or the slope too steep, when a problem develops things can quickly go very wrong even at a slow speed.

                      Lead Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding would help to enable a reasonably low center of gravity for surface vehicles on the Moon, Mars, and Ceres.

                      Water, aluminum, and plastic shielding materials are much less dense than lead and thus would result in a bulky vehicle with an excessively high center of gravity and difficulties moving through narrow areas between large boulders or canyon walls.

                      Active Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding systems may eventually work for spaceships.

                      However, long ago I drove a large dump truck for a living and I suspect that an active shielding system would have difficulty surviving the stresses, vibrations, and heavy jolts of a Lunar truck that is frequently used on rough off-road trips.

                      Also, passive surface vehicle shielding doesn’t require continuous electric power and in some situations that fact could be real important.

                      Mining haul trucks can carry up to 400 short tons.

                      Even deep space vessels with active Galactic Cosmic Radiation shielding will probably need to be designed with a backup passive shielding area to assure a dissimilar redundancy shielding option.

                      The failure of a deep space vessel’s active shielding system on a ship that doesn’t have an effective backup passive shielding area would most likely mean a risky and costly mission abort back to Earth.

                      As for the origins of using lead for Galactic Radiation Shielding:

                      “Shielding – Radiation Protection
                      Shielding characterization
                      Aereal density, d [gm/cm2]
                      Total amount of material matters
                      Type of material: secondary” From Page 4

                      “Lead” “1.25” (meters) Page 4

                      Requires the most shielding (~1 m Pb)
                      Depends on person category (Child-bearing age, Pregnant, etc.)” Page 5

                      From: ‘Space Colonies & Lunar Bases’ By Karen J. Meech, Astronomer
                      Institute for Astronomy

                      Since young women have now assumed roles in combat, discriminating against or eliminating young women from surface exploration and ISRU trips across the Moon, Mars, and Ceres will most likely be socially, politically, and legally unacceptable.

              • Few short years ago an idea that someone will land a booster stage on a ship was deemed insane now it is becoming boring.

                • In the event things go as SpaceX hopes, I hope to be as close as possible to the BFR lift-off…

                  …Which may require a standoff of many, many miles. It will be the equivalent of a WWII battle cruiser throwing itself into to orbit.

                  • A reasonable extrapolation of the size of the BFR from published goals and propellant mix, is 500ft tall and 50ft in diameter.

      • SRB has moving parts in the TVC skirt. Just saying…Dumping something in salt water then disassembly for cleaning is not rapid and complete reusability. This is the goal. You are comparing apples to grapefruits here.

        • I should add cleaning and recasting propellant but that I’m sure is understood in this crowd.

        • No Ron, the number of parts are far fewer compared to a turbopump driven liquid fuel rocket engine,,,times nine. Rapid and complete reusability is way more difficult for that cluster of little hot rods and all the plumbing and the tankage and hundreds of sensors and miles of wiring etc. etc.

          It may drive you and your buddies nuts when someone blasphemes the whole NewSpace fantasy football game but…sorry, if you guys get to say whatever you think than so do I. And I should not have to put up with this endless harassment. After years of abuse, and now this latest crap, I have zero respect for any of you.

          • You can call me Ron all day long, but I’m not. If you make fun of Ron that’s fine too, because I could care less. You know why? I’m not Ron.

            • More that I did not post. I know who you are and everyone can see it.

              • Stop with the sockpuppets! My post from 4:41 is real but you are not Ron and that is NOT Conway Costigan or Gary Church and neither is 4:46 or 4:50!

      • All things being equal according to you there would have been absolutely no difference in price of reconditioning the SRB’s if they would have did land landings.

  3. the recovery of the 1st stage is fantastic but what is the cost and recycle costs compared to a new non reuable 1st stage for space flight but that is a fantastic feat for a private company to take on and have success so early in the program i live by the cape and see everyone of the launches and it is fantastic to watch what good man can do when he tries

  4. That is the third 1st stage booster and 27 engines that did get drowned in the atlantic. MILLIONS of dollars in hardware saved with a chance for reuse. SpaceX is also building multiple launch sites to take advantage of a huge future increase in launch cadence. SpaceX will very soon have the ability to launch 30-40 times a year.

    • “-MILLIONS of dollars in hardware saved with a chance for reuse.”

      If I was super optimistic I would say it is highly unlikely to even break even. Being a pragmatist I say no way. Something much simpler and much more powerful is required to make a reusable first stage system economical. The multi-million pound thrust pressure-fed boosters originally specified for the shuttle program are the missing piece of the puzzle.

      Musk failed the genius test when he went with the pathetic little merlin that would severely limit anything his company would be able to accomplish. If he had tried to develop a pressure-fed I would probably be a SpaceX fan. If him and Bezos would stop trying to create a LEO tourist empire and start building lunar landers I might at least stop being a critic.

      The problem is that there is no DOD basic R&D to cut costs on creating such a reusable pressure-fed monster. This is why they went with the solid fuel SRB for the shuttle.

      There is no cheap.

      • “Musk failed the genius test when he went with the pathetic little merlin that would severely limit anything his company would be able to accomplish.”

        EXCEPT he wanted to create a launch company that would bring sat launches BACK to America. He has achieved this and has a 7 billion dollar launch backlog.

        I forget .. how many seats have you sold for your atomic bomb spaceship?
        How many launches have you sold for your monster rocket?

        I am suprised NASA isn’t beating down your door to bring on board.

        • I am surprised how incredibly juvenile your arguments are. I forget….everything you say.

  5. Space Industry Readers:

    Please explain this landing…

    “Three of the first stage’s Merlin 1D+ engines ignited for about 15 seconds at 1:29 a.m., establishing the proper conditions for a smooth touchdown on the ASDS. With four times as much energy, and eight times as much heating…” was this actually what occurred? Didn’t the 15 second burn by three engines reduce the speed to about 560 mph (900 km/h)? What G forces would be involved here?

    Was this really as hard as suggested?

  6. Yes. It was moving at about 110 mph, which is about twice the normal speed. Energy is the square of the velocity and heat is the cube. Twice the speed means 4 times the energy and 8 times the heat. It has to slow from 110 to zero in about a second, so I believe that comes out to over 5gs.

    • “Larry Church?”

      You are a troll using a name devised as an insult. Shame on you and shame on Killian and Hillhouse for not banning you and deleting your comments.

      • Stop arguing with your sock-puppet you NewSpace cyberbully. I’ve had it up to here with you following me to every site I ever comment on except Dr. Spudis’. Mocking me with some posts, then saying my posts are fake in others…. Your smear campaign is obvious for everyone to see.

        • No it’s not.

          His arguments are exactly as the real Gary Church’s are.

          And of course just as bogus.

          • When you can’t tell the troll from the mockers, it should be an obvious problem. Of course nothing will stop jr’s whining.

            • Honestly, at this point I have no idea who is who. Its like mind reading a schizophrenic.

              • Honestly, I know that “Larry Church” is troll who took that name as an insult; that is who you are.

            • Of course you bunch of creeps can stop because you are the ones doing it. Pathetic. Just shut up and let me have my say just like you have yours. But you won’t. You are lower than whale poop to play these games. It proves what a bunch creeps the NewSpace mob is.

              • By, “let you have your say” do you mean never reply to you?

                Because there’s no part of replying to you which keeps you from posting what you want to.

                Including hard numbers to back you up, if you had any.

                • I am posting what I want to and that is why I am being dog-piled by you creeps. Anyone reading this can see it plain as day. If you had any integrity or honesty you would stop. But you don’t.

                    • You don’t reply. You attack like the cyberbully that you are.

                    • Uhuh.

                      If you could defend your position with facts and logic, I have to either presume you would or that you are batty.

                      The sockpuppetry and claims that replies = persecution inclines me and I suspect most readers strongly to the latter.

                • Here we go again: 4:41 is NOT Conway Costigan. The moderators need to ban this troll. They KNOW it is not me by looking at the address.

            • Just stop playing your stupid game. You know someone keeps posting using my name and also a bunch of troll comments are going up but you ask stupid questions?

              • “Just stop playing your stupid game.”


                And if it’s your name, are you claiming there is an Conway Costigan who isn’t a sockpuppet of Gary Church?

                • Just shut up and let me have my say troll. You can’t do it. Anyone reading this knows the sick stupid game you are playing.

                  • Says the guy with the sockpuppets. That sick and pathetic.

                    Have you every used the alias billgamesh as well as Conway Costigan?

                    • Have you ever had a shred of integrity or decency or have you always been a bully? Why can’t you just shut up and leave me alone?
                      You can’t.

                    • Since I don’t use sockpuppets and have facts and logic to back me up, and I don’t conflate being replied to as persecution, I think I have integrity.

                      I don’t think you are in any position to be a judge of decency, or you wouldn’t use so many sockpuppet accounts, and you would use facts and logic to defend your position.

  7. Howabout this guys. Howabout attacks on Space X and SLS stop?

    I support both.

    • “I support both.”

      Does not work that way. This comment section is for readers to express their opinion. I am trying to do that but the NewSpace mob is trying to bully me into silence- like they have for years.

      • I did not post that comment at 3:48 pm. The moderators know this, but they continue to do nothing.

  8. Conway Twitty has spent more time playing the victim then actually expressing his opinion.

    And Conway, I am trolling Gary Church, who you claim is not you. If that is not you, then why are you getting upset about it and claim I am attacking you?

  9. Guess that’s it. Can’t post as Conway Costigan anymore. You disgusting pack of jerks.

    • 1 drink every time Gary says “hobby rocket” or “Toxic Dragon”.
      2 drink every time Gary accuses someone of cyberbullying while he is cyberbullying
      1 shot every time Gary uses one of his sock-puppet accounts to say another post wasn’t from his sock-puppet account.
      Down the pint when Gary says he’s not posting anymore…. again.


  10. “Congress reasoned that the SLS could be used for any deep space mission a future administration might consider. The reinstatement of the lunar surface as a prime candidate for future missions is clear from the language of the 2010 NASA Authorization, which specified the technical details for SLS, and at the same time, listed a variety of destinations for America’s human spaceflight program.” ‘The Space Launch System “Jobs Program” by Paul Spudis May 2, 2016 At:

    Eventually, we’ll have a President that wants a real beyond LEO human space program. At that point, we’ll head off to the Moon using the SLS and Orion that are designed to meet national security concerns and needs by doing international missions to the surface of the Moon and the rest of Cislunar space.

    Current, and potentially future, international partners have shown little interest in doing Lunar human spaceflights with SpaceX.


    Overtly and covertly subsidized SpaceX launch services compete directly and loudly with commercial launch providers in Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan, and eventually many other countries.

    There is no real reason for the space agencies of other countries to support SpaceX led Lunar human spaceflights, and there are many economic, technology, and political reasons for those space agencies to not want anything to do with SpaceX led Lunar human spaceflights.

    The Moon, and its resources and many diverse opportunities, is the widely recognized next doable human spaceflight goal for the space programs of Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan, and the United States. Unfortunately, that obvious fact is unacceptable to our highly partisan President who has demonstrated zip interest or ability to lead a national and international beyond LEO human spaceflight program.

    Members of Congress have repeatedly voted their strong bipartisan support for returning astronauts to the Moon. Our current President and the next President will be retired in less than nine years. However, many of the members of Congress who want and expect a robust American presence on the Moon and in the rest of Cislunar space will still be in Congress even ten or twenty years from now.

    Congress is clearly willing to fund NASA to maintain, and strengthen, America’s extensive space diplomacy and security capabilities through doing international Orion and SLS spaceflights to the Moon and across the rest of Cislunar space.

    Yep, the Moon is where America and its international partners are going next.

    • When Gary Church uses sockpuppets, is he trying to give himself a built-in excuse to fail?

      Is there a way to take a poll on this site about it?

      • I think you are the one who keeps posting using my name. Is there a way to take a poll on this site about it? Whoever keeps doing it is cutting and pasting parts of my past comments and adding little disqualifications. Just your style you toxic creep.

        I was happy to stop commenting but you disgusting trolls just keep on talking about me so why not keep on calling you on B.S. and exposing what you are?

    • Call me crazy, but didn’t a Japanese company just higher SpaceX to launch a satellite? I know I’ve seen it somewhere…. Oh Right, this whole article!

      • You are just a troll insulting someone by using a play on their name. Shameless piece of garbage.

      • But in fact Japan is not giving up on the development of their H3 launcher capability to economically do Lunar missions.

        Let us know when Japan cancels its large launcher capability for Lunar surface missions because of SpaceX’s ‘cheaper’ options.

        Governments will subsidize just as SpaceX has been subsidized by NASA intellectual property transfers, the use and sometimes actual transfer of American government physical infrastructure, immense skilled labor force development, and the transfer of taxpayer money.

        Large nations build airplanes. Large nations often buy airplanes until they can develop their own aviation industry.

        Super large launchers to enable access to the Lunar surface are buildable by many nations.

        SpaceX won’t have a monopoly.

        The business case for Lunar development will ‘close’ much sooner than the business case for Mars.

        The national defense and diplomatic case for the development of CisLunar space, which has been legally defined to include the surface of the Moon, will ‘close’ much sooner than the national security and diplomatic case for the development of Mars.

        “There is no real reason for the space agencies of other countries to support SpaceX led Lunar human spaceflights.”

        The Orion is an international spacecraft. It is going to be launched by the American government’s SLS. If NASA is unwilling to implement that legal and smart goal, another government agency could be selected to accomplish that task.

        NASA and the SLS and Orion exist to implement USA government goals, not someone’s ‘I want to retire on Mars’ high risk drama.

        • “NASA and the SLS and Orion exist to implement USA government goals”

          Which are primarily to move Congressional dollars in to Congressional districts. So noble.

          • Where is the proof that Presidential pork is more “noble” or safer than Congressional pork?

            Where is the proof that ‘buying’ Congressional support is easier or cheaper than ‘buying’ a President’s support?

            Where is the proof the that a President picking a ‘commercial’ monopoly ‘winner’ is better than the marketplace picking diverse commercial winners to meet its many needs?

            Where is the proof that other large nations are going to shut down their own launcher industries and bow down to the American President’s politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            Are the Moon and the rest of Cislunar space far too valuable for any nation to be overly reliant on an American President’s politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            Does the next American President get to pick a new politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            Does the President who is elected after the next President also get to pick his or her own new politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            Does each new President get to have an enormous Launchpad like 39A built for his or her own politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            Does NASA management have to follow the guidelines in the strongly bipartisan supported and Moon centric 2010 NASA Authorization Act or are they supposed to simply take care of and support the plans of the President’s politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?

            • I’m beginning to like the idea of each new President anointing his or her own new favorite heavy lift launcher.

              We could end up with dozens of enormous heavy lift launchpads at the John F. Kennedy Space Center.

              John F. Kennedy sitting in heaven might even smile and say, “KSC is lots of fun and excitement.”

              • I’ve always liked the idea of picking a service provider from among the three lowest bidders, Gary. Except of course SpaceX has effectively has no competition, it’sa question of how fast they can expand.

                It has received no subsidies at all which in any way differentiate it from among the it’s competition–but the machinery by which it provides it’s service is far better designed and run. This is an obvious thing which you can’t stand, because you are ideologically motivated to want government to be the only organization working space and only at greater cost than is required.

                “Where is the … a President’s support?” <– Never claimed such a thing, you made it up. This is why you are thought of as being a liar.

                “Where is the … its many needs?” <– Where is there any evidence that happened? This is why you are thought of as being a fabulist.

                “Where is the … monopoly launch ‘winner’?” <– Why is that even a worthwhile criteria? If they keep on doing what they are doing for several thousand a pound to LEO, let them. This is why you are thought of as being unable to think clearly.

                “Are the Moon … monopoly launch ‘winner’?” <– No such thing. Again, you are a fabulist.

                “Does the next … monopoly launch ‘winner’?” <– I hope none ever do. But I wouldn’t mind seeing several Congressmen, and NASA and ULA executives in the dock for manslaughter and, I think the term is “failure to render honest services”. When you can show a President picked a launch provider, put that President on the list.

                “Does each new President get to have an enormous Launchpad like 39A built for his or her own politically annoited monopoly launch ‘winner’?” <– NASA persuaded the Congressman it is in cahoots with, that they needed the pad reworked in order to be relevant to the NewSpace age. They weren’t wrong. The whole KSC would have ended up a nature preserve if there wasn’t a reason to keep on launching rockets from that bit of gov property. Of course, gov would also in that case have needed to get out of the way of SpaceX developing its own launch center with expedition–not fair for licensing to stand in the way of free enterprise if the gov won’t let launch providers use the facilities it has already constructed and licensed, is it?

                “Does NASA management … monopoly launch ‘winner’?” <– You want to repeal the Civil Service Act and go back to a spoils system? I’m all for it. Until then, I hope as much money is sucked away from the duplicative and crony capitalism ridden SLS as possible.

                If SpaceX is in any way like crony capitalism, for the certainty of launch costs going to $250/lb with the prospect of $40/lb, we need more like it.

                You still need to show why this math is wrong, Gary.


                Airlines operate at about 3 times fuel cost. SpaceX won’t need an advertising budget for decades, and the whole point of their rockets is that they are designed to be reused in excess of 10 times, with the basic airframe being good for hundreds.

                Why will access to LEO not become dominated by the same low integer multiple of fuel costs pricing? Don’t know if you’ve crawled around a small jet or looked at it’s maintenance logs, but a small jet is actually far more complicated than a Falcon, way more moving and wearing parts parts, far more fluids and other consumables. From the A&P mechs I’ve talked to (who had retired to do small jet maint at Leesburg Airport) 747’s are WAAYYY worse than the little ones.

                It may well be cheaper to operate a Falcon FT, FH, or BFR per pound than an commercial airliner.

                So from what math does your opposition to the $40’lb to LEO come from?

                Why would you not welcome it if it develops?

                Where is the downside?

                • “Elon Musk hasn’t forgotten NASA, either. The first thing he did during Friday’s news conference was to thank the space agency that had made it all possible.”

                  From: ‘Without NASA there would be no SpaceX and its brilliant boat landing
                  Just before Christmas, in 2008, the space agency saved Musk’s company.’
                  By Eric Berger April 11, 2016 At:

                  I like the idea of every President playing Santa for a new wannabe launch company in deep trouble.

                  • “Elon Musk hasn’t forgotten NASA, either. The first thing he did during Friday’s news conference was to thank the space agency that had made it all possible.”

                    Well there’s no reason to doubt that with his new sockpuppet name of “James”, that the concept of politeness will continue to escape Gary Church.

                    “From: ‘Without NASA … -brilliant-boat-landing/”

                    And if NASA had been able to do it’s job,m there would have been no need for SpaceX to be begun, so what’s your point?

                    “I like the idea of every President playing Santa for a new wannabe launch company in deep trouble.”

                    No President played Santa for SpaceX, ever. The AirForce saw an opportunity to get out from under the thumb of ULA, and they went for it.

                    Good for them.

                    And good for Elon Muxk and SpaceX. Getting humanity out from under the gravity could well have been delayed by further decades if not for their technically superior implementation of long unexploited technology, and their pioneering developments of new technology…

                    …All done in the service of getting into space cheaper, at which they alone have succeeded brilliantly. Not NASA or ULA not any other access provider comes close.

                    • The Air Force doesn’t give away money to save a wannabe launch company. The Air Force decides zip. The President proposes and Congress disposes.

                      You are slipping and sliding backwards because your ‘logic’ is illogical.

                      Maybe we all should just accept that ‘friendly’ government contracts and subsidies are the new norm for wannabe launcher companies that are in deep financial trouble.

                      And the diverse types of government help that has worked well for SpaceX can also work well in many other countries.

                      “In order to achieve substantial increase in the launch frequency, ISRO is in the process of exploring the possibility of involving Indian industry towards stepping up the launch capacity within the country. ISRO is not seeking collaboration with other institutes in foreign countries, as part of Make in India campaign.”

                      And, “ISRO has an action plan in place for developing indigenous satellites, with the participation of Indian industries, for earth observation, communication, navigation and space science and planetary exploration.”

                      From: ‘Doubling of satellite launches’ THE HANS INDIA
                      May 7, 2016 At:

                      Governments have very deep pockets.

                    • No, the Air Force had discretion to invest in a an opportunity to get out from under ULA. It worked great.

                      In fact the Presidents can propose whatever they like, the Congress has no obligation too comply, the President can sign or not, and if not, can be overridden or not. That’s all there is. Where Congress writes in discretion, once enrolled, the PResident cannot legally prevent it’s exercise.

                      “You are slipping … ‘logic’ is illogical.” <– Says the guy who doesn’t know hoe the appropriations process works.

                      “Maybe we all … deep financial trouble.” <– Nothing of the sort. SpaceX developed a capacity OldSpace could have developed and chose not to, thereby committing suicide. That’s all there is from the standpoint of SpaceX having a service to offer the Air Force wanted to buy.

                      “And the diverse … many other countries.” <– No, unless they also adopt SpaceX’s superior engineering approach, it will be money pissed away like ULA did their confiscatory fees.

                      ” Governments have very deep pockets.” <– And if they waste money like the USGov did on ULA and past cost-plus space access, they’ll need them. And not get much out of them.

  11. “Overtly and covertly subsidized SpaceX launch services compete directly and loudly with commercial launch providers in Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan, and eventually many other countries.”

    Overtly and covertly. To translate from GaryChurchSpeak –> ~Because I don’t like what the numbers mean, they must be faked.~

    “Yep, the Moon is where America and its international partners are going next.”

    Actually NASA is considering partnering with SpaceX to return samples from Mars. Red Dragon.

    They may also go to the Moon, but to pay for it they’ll cancel the SLS and buy a ride from Musk…and SpaceX will go on to Mars regardless.

    There is genuinely no constituency for is building nuclear bomb powered space dreadnoughts with 14 foot thick ice hulls, and there never will be–it is completely unneeded.

    • Tom, I think you need to back off. He only has the one idea and it may die of loneliness if he doesn’t keep it constantly stimulated. You are also failing to take into account a world view so limited that anything other that unquestioning agreement is an attack. Third he is just following the old dictum that the best defense is to be offensive. I hope I have helped you see the error of your ways.

      I also fully understand and agree with his point that no foreign governments are expressing an interest in lunar missions with SpaceX. Just as you don’t express an interest in partnering with Fedex, UPS, or Cargo Services deliver your package, you just have them ship it when you need it sent. You don’t give a shipping company a chunk of your business. You should be able to see his point now.

      It’s bad when I have to stand up for jr like this.

      • And does the SLS compete with other national launch services, why yes it does.

        Other than it’s ludicrous cost and salted slug scheduling, of course.

        I was so blind, of course I see now.

      • john hare –

        “Just as you don’t express an interest in partnering with Fedex, UPS, or Cargo Services deliver your package, you just have them ship it when you need it sent.”

        Wake up and smell the coffee. Each large country, and even some not so large countries, wants to own and have the high technology and science jobs and diverse opportunities to make money that come with a space launcher “Fedex, UPS, or Cargo Services” that can reliably deliver large ‘packages’ to wherever needed on the Moon and the rest of Cislunar space.

        The capability to build and launch high tech payloads is also an issue of essential national security and pride. Lots of countries will eventually have a large launcher company or even several such companies.

        Cislunar space development and use is already a really big business.

        To believe SpaceX will dominate the world’s launch industry is to falsely assert that everyone in America and the rest of the world is quite incompetent and cannot carefully observe and copy the useful aspects of SpaceX’s ‘partnership’ with NASA and the deep money pockets of the government of America.

        ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.’

        And in the long haul of time, there is nothing SpaceX can do that many others will not eventually be able to copy or improve upon. That’s just the way the world works.

        Landing large rockets on Earth is a useful skill for humans who will eventually be landing large rockets on the Moon, Mars, Ceres, and anywhere else we are inclined to explore or colonize.

        Congratulations to the folks at SpaceX! Remember that your competition also has the ‘pedal to the metal’.

        Good luck SpaceX!

        Thank you Ben Evans for another great article!

        • I think our disagreement is not so deep. Another reason you don’t express an interest in one company is because another may offer a better deal. OSC, Blue, or El Al may be the go to company in years to come.

    • Well… is not 14 feet of ice that true spaceships require. It is water. That is actually how much shielding it takes stop GCR’s. Really. You want to ridicule the truth go ahead but at least quote me correctly and don’t morph it into something else with lies. Not ice: the ice is on the Moon. Water. Got it? As for “dreadnought”…it would carry a couple thousand bombs so not bad.

      Carry on troll. As for you Hare, keep selling your B.S. by the pound. It is getting cheaper and cheaper the more I read you and the crew’s ludicrous plan for fedex in space.

        • “The Moon has water for the minimum 14 foot thick radiation shield and is a safe place to light off a bomb propulsion system; it is the starting gate.”

          Ice is nicer structurally? You goofball. You don’t know the first thing about this subject- you just want to mock and humiliate.

          • No, I do.

            You don’t, clearly, or you wouldn’t be arguing the water has more structural strength than ice.

  12. Guys,
    Should we be concerned about the fact that this mission was successful even though Musk felt that it would end in failure? If the engineers at SpaceX are building things “better” than their expectations does translate into building smarter AI systems than we realize? I have a gut feeling that this is how AI comes to “take over”, but in a rather subdued in “yes I reviewed your course of actions and implemented my own ( by AI) design” or something to that effect.

    I am still amazed at how the Mars Rovers Opportunity and Spirit worked for so long after being designed for 90 days.

    • Tracy –

      “I have a gut feeling that this is how AI comes to “take over”, but in a rather subdued in “yes I reviewed your course of actions and implemented my own ( by AI) design” or something to that effect.”

      Yep, I think your “gut feeling” is correct.

      Smart AI robots will have the same legal rights you have. They’ll make lots of money and get extremely rich.

      I’m expecting an AI robot with an IQ over 200 to someday run for and win the Presidency.

      What does that imply?

      And each AI robot will continue to evolve and improve.

      We don’t spend much time talking to chimps and tend to avoid their homes… Perhaps the AI robots will get tired of us and just head off in the starships they will design and build.

      Oh well.

      After they leave us, we’ll have to start working with our brains again. Maybe many of us will be cyborgs by that time.

      Time will tell.

2 Pings & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

Second SLS Qualification Booster Test Fire Scheduled for June 28

Willing to Compromise: 30 Years Since the ‘Death Star’ Missions (Part 1)