back to article Elon Musk delays SpaceX launch until 2009

Visionary PayPal multi-millionaire Elon Musk has revealed setbacks in his plans to develop cheaper access to space. It now appears that the inaugural flight of Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher and Dragon capsule will be put back from early Q4 this year to late Q1 2009. Speaking to Flight International, Musk blamed the delay on …


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  1. Webster Phreaky

    Really, WHO the hell cares? Global Warming .....

    Global Cooling (although The Reg doens't seem to be aware of this trend, duh), Bird Flu, HIV, Malaria, etc. etc.; and we shouild give a damn about some overly rich bugger and his fruitless StarWars fantasy syndrome? Frankly, who gives a shit.

  2. Pat Reynolds


    Actually, I am one of those people who believes that if we don't get into space and start mining the asteroid belt for resources then we are going to run the planet into the ground, if you'll pardon the expression. So I give a shit. Maybe y'all should relax a little bit...

  3. Timbo
    IT Angle

    WHAT ??

    >>The Dragon capsule is designed to carry 2.5 tonnes of cargo or six astronauts into low orbit.

    Err.....those astronauts are pretty heavy then.....each weighing 0.416 Tonnes each.....

    So, OK I'm not taking in to account all the very lightweight oxygen required so they can breathe and all the nice water they can drink...even so, how long are they gonna be up there ???

  4. Kurt Guntheroth

    it matters

    The climate is going to warm, and sealevel is going to rise, whether we reach out into space or withdraw into caves. Blame your parents. It's 'em wot done it. Can we move on now?

    It is in our nature to degrade our environment. If that was all we did, the earth would be a sterile wasteland covered with our bones. Fortunately, it is also in our nature to try new things, and to do old things better. That is to say, Webster, it's good that somebody gives a shit. Now it's time to withdraw to your cave. You shouldn't be breeding.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That weight includes the re-entry systems you need to bring astronauts back without being char-broiled.

  6. Webster Phreaky

    Pat Reynolds

    Oh please, get a grip of REALITY .... or perhaps you and your like would rather just go visit your reality on your 300th viewing or StarWars I.

    Some people are just pathetic with their slipping grip on reality.

  7. MD Rackham


    I believe the limiting factor is space, not weight.

    Now if you only want to carry midget astronauts, and you stack 'em like cordwood, then you should be able to get more than six in into the Dragon capsule.

  8. Morely Dotes

    @ Webster Phreaky

    If you care about the survival of the human race in the long term, you ought to care about efforts to make space travel a commercial venture. It's the only way we can ever expect to establish viable, self-sufficient human colonies off-Earth.

    Right now, we have all our eggs in one basket, and they can all go smash with a single asteroid strike on Earth, just like the dinosaurs.

  9. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Cheap Rockets - reliable?

    I can never understand how people can turn around and say "We're going to make these really cheap rockets and there going to be extremely reliable. More reliable then those tried and tested ones which are way more expensive."

    Do people really think that the current rocket manufacturers make the rockets more expensively then they have to? And considering that NASA, ESA & The Russians have been building rockets for a long long time you think that if they could be made cheaper THEY would be the ones coming up with the cost saving...

    Good luck to him but i guarantee he's not going to end up being cheaper then the current field of rockets...

  10. Troy Shanahan
    Thumb Down

    Whoa there sparky

    Webster, chill the heck out! Space exploration has been on the cards for a looong time now.

    And what makes you draw the conclusion of dreams of space exploration = star wars? Some of the brightest inventors, scientists and other boffins have been sci-fi nerds/geeks. Some don't like sci-fi. They're human, and they have varying interests. I think you need to pull your head out of your arse and start looking at the world around you.

    Trust me, climate change is forefront in my mind, considering I'm australian and we're in the grip of one of the worst droughts in a very long time. Followed closely by the recent floods in QLD/NSW. But I can still reserve some space in my head for thinking about brighter things in our future.

  11. cphi

    good luck to him

    as Pat implied - most people would be surprised by just how limited known economical reserves of most metals and energy sources are. At current consumption, typically only a few centuries and sometimes significantly less. Recycling can only take you so far. We've got a very limited window to get to the stuff up there or there's a good chance we're stuck here for good.

  12. Claire Rand

    top gear

    ho long before top gear get one and oh i dunno race it against some kids through a town or some other silly prank.

    of strap a robin to it...

  13. Jon Tocker


    @ Timbo:

    and also the environmental control systems inside the capsule as humans tend to have a lower tolerance of temperature and pressure extremes than most inert lifeless cargo.

    @ Phreaky:

    what is your reality? That we have unlimited resources here on Earth? That some "magic bullet" will be developed next week that provides us with clean unlimited power and enables us to shake of our dependance on the rapidly dwindling fossil fuels (without deforesting our planet or replacing food crops with biofuel crops)? That God will take pity on us and intervene, returning the world to its pristine original state (hopefully not the state with the methane atmosphere and all the volcanoes) but still leaving us all our cars, consumer electronics and disposable junk? That somehow half the world's population will quietly disappear and leave more resources for the rest of us? That overnight we, as a species, will quit being a pack of greedy pricks that absolutely have to drive alone in our SUVs to and from work every day?

    The reality - as agreed upon by scientists (who wildly disagree on global warming/climate change and what needs to be done), and by the observations of anyone with common sense - is that we are on one small rock in space that has finite resources and that a large number of them are running out. This reality has prompted a lot of debate and argument ofver what has caused it, what is going to happen and what is the best way to progress from here.

    The reality is also: limitations on solar panels markedly decrease when in orbit above the Earth's atmosphere, the solar system is filled with other rocks that also have resources and space exploration has historically had useful spin-off in the Earthbound world.

    There are those of us who do not stick our heads in the sand and say "She'll be right mate, it's just scaremongering, we'll just keep on the way we are going." There are those of us with no desire to return to living in caves in the dark or see half the World starve to death due to hare-brained biofuel schemes. I'm one of those who sees serious exploitation of our local solar system as our best option for power and resources - and "Star Wars" has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    We have big business moguls - traditionally maligned as doing nothing but living playboy lifestyles while the rest of the World lives in relative poverty - doing what they can to come up with serious low-impact renewable means of getting us into space and making it a viable concern and you dismiss it as "Star Wars fantasies". I'm interested in hearing what you have done for the betterment of humankind and the future of our existence on this planet that puts you in a position to demean their efforts.

    Frankly, I'm not rich or famous, I can't personally do a lot more for the future of humankind than what I already do - ensuring my drain on fossil fuels is minimised (I ride a 250cc motorcycle rather than drive a 3-litre SUV), working in an industry that is involved in the betterment of individuals (education sector) and raising my kids to make considered decisions.

    However, I am not going to get all "sour grapes" over someone who has the resources to go for grander schemes than I can manage.

    So Webster: throw away your Teflon-coated pots and pans, your ball-point pens, your computer and all the other "Star Wars"-derived crap that is obviously of no practical use. The rest of us will embrace the possibility that improved technology and using other resources off-planet will enable us to, as Dr Jerry Pournelle puts it, "Survive With Style".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ lglethal

    There's never really been any competition for cheap rockets in the past. The US expendable rockets could be expensive because the bulk of their launches went to the military who'd pay almost anything. The only serious attempt to cut costs was the original plan to turn the Shuttle into a space truck, but the Shuttle proved to be about the most expensive way imaginable of putting stuff into orbit and the commercial launches were all suspended anyway after the Challenger explosion.

    The Russians did produce cheap rockets because they needed to launch several hundred rockets EVERY year in the most appalling conditions. So their Soyuz family of rockets was built on an assembly line out of cheap components with fairly loose tolerances. However, Soyuz has had trouble getting into the commercial business because of concerns over technology transfer to the Russians and the lack of an equatorial launch site which limits the amount of payload that can be fired into the most valuable geostationary orbits.

    Soyuz is by far the best cheap launcher at the moment, but it's worth remembering it is based on half century old technology - all those small thrust chambers and strap-on boosters make it inherently less effective than a rocket designed today with more advanced materials and engines. So there is a market for a competitor, but the Soyuz IS going to be a tough act to follow.

  15. David Parry

    Human Beings have NO future in space!

    Mining the Asteroid Belt?

    No problem... here's your single steel ingot. That'll be 10m AstroEuroRupees, Sir.

    Make sure you have your 30 tonne hollow lead block on today, Sir!

    Looks nippy outside. That gal on the Weather Channel says solar flares again today!

    Yah... me too. Must be the radiation. I'd rub some 'Cancer-Be-Gone' TM on that if I were you.

    Tonight? Oh nothing much. Me and the missus are gonna stay in by the fire tonight... we're thinking we might build another 'iSprog' TM to add to our collection. I was hoping for a lad but B&Q had sold out of the... erm... uknowwhats! Some scrawny old geezer called Gates came in and bought the last one... for his head apparently!

    Oh be careful on the way home, Sir. Last chap ran through a single dust particle at 1/3 light and they're still hoovering up the remains on the A400,235,005... yes, the Mars Circular where it meets the Earth Gap... right outside 'The Sproket and Cat Flap'... no, I don't go in for retro pubs... give me an old zero-g boozer anyday!

    Anyhow, careful how you go, Sir!

    C'ya next year!

  16. David Parry

    Teflon? NOT from the Space Programme, m8!

    @Jon Tocker

    Teflon came out of the Uranium/Plutonium separation technology race of the 1950s!

    Widely held myth it had ANYTHING to do with the space race...

    Or did you think they TelfonTM coated the astronaut's undergarments so that he could have a quick leak and get 'em off & back on REAL FAST on the Moon?

    I'll get my lead lined anti-rad coat... Boy, is that heavy!

  17. Tim Strutt Silver badge

    Teflon? NOT from the Uranium/Plutonium...


    Another myth I'm afraid. PTFE was a serendipitous discovery by Roy Plunkett in 1938. One of the first practical uses of the material was during WW2 as a dielectric for capacitors. This was (at the time) highly classified, as it was used in RADAR and similar devices.

    Mine is the stained lab coat.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What the space race really gave us

    Was project managment and systems engineering techniques for hyper complex systems. No more. No less. All the other developments were implementations of what was happening in other areas anyway.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    these guys already build

    more rocket engines than all other companies in the US combined, and are only behind Russian sources in total output.

    They just finished certification tests on their newest motor. Burned it for roughly ten times longer than it's actual flight envelope will require.

    Things take time to do *right*. Hurry up and go stuff is great to beat a deadline once, or to win a prize, or to get headlines. Then nothing comes of it for a very long time. SS1 looked cool, but has it flown recently? What about the new version? still suborbital, whenever it gets done. Only this time it carries some overpaid music/movie wannabe's or some guy who managed to filch a lot of dot-com VC into his personal accounts.

    Once the SpaceX team launches a man-rated system, they'll be able to do it again...and again...and again, whenever someone wants to pay for a launch. It's a repeatable system they're going after, not a showpiece suitable for ADHD sufferers and dweebs who buy into "Web 3.0" buzzwords. They just might make space travel as exciting and commonplace as a cross country road trip-and that's a good thing (opinions of advertising execs notwithstanding)

  20. lglethal Silver badge

    @ Mike Richards

    You've completely missed the one company that is the world's leader in commercial launches - EADS (Or more specifically Astrium who build the rockets, EADS just launch them, and get the customers).

    EADS have been the world leaders in commercial rocket technology for the better part of the last decade for the very reason you mentioned. They're good reliable tech rockets and they are designed for launching commercial satellites and so are not hugely expensive like the US military ones.

    I would disagree that NASA's are hugely expensive because they do purely military stuff. NASA are one of the prime commerical launches as well and so for regular non-military launches they use a less expensive launcher.

    I still stand by what i said - good luck to him but i doubt very much that he's going to be cheaper then the EADS or NASA launchers of the same size/capacity.

  21. Wonderkid

    Elon's persistence is awesome

    Am a keen fan of this man. He should inspire more people to get off the hedonistic self serving social networking sites and actually go out into the real world, and make stuff happen, no matter any hiccups on the way. And to that chap talking about HIV and other such issues, they are (in the West anyway), the result of said selfish behavior. Sad that here in the collapsing UK, Universities and employers are complaining about a lack of engineers. We can be thankful for Elon Musk and other such industrious people that: a) There is something genuinely exciting to read about in the news other than abuse, murder and rape in the form of Science and discovery! b) If we do manage to trash the Earth before big oil collapses in a pool of greed and pollution, at least SpaceX and others will be ready and waiting to ferry us off to Terra Beta, wherever that may be... ?

  22. Roger G Gilbertson

    Corrections to reporting errors

    Note that NASA’s COTS acronym stand for “Commercial Orbital Transportation Services,” not “commercial off the shelf”. Although SpaceX takes advantage of commercially available products when appropriate and cost effective, there is almost nothing “off the shelf” about our rockets.

    Since 2002, we’ve developed and flown an entirely new launch vehicle, including two new liquid fueled rocket engines, avionics, software, two complete launch sites (and a third on its way at SLC-40), state of the art test facilities – all from scratch. In addition we have the far larger Falcon 9 rocket and our Dragon cargo and crew carrying spacecraft in rapid development. We produce nearly everything for our rockets in-house, all under one giant seven acre roof in southern Los Angeles.

    The recent amendment to our NASA agreement is not a “setback” but an agreed upon set of schedule changes and milestones (a few sooner, some later, and four new ones) developed with NASA over the past six months. The amendment accommodates many interests; our own development and testing programs, as well as the many needs of NASA’s Space Shuttle and ISS programs, government regulatory agencies, the launch range, and others.

    Also, contrary to the article, the first flight of Falcon 9 has not been delayed. We remain on schedule to deliver our first Falcon 9 to Cape Canaveral by the end of this year for flight as soon as all systems are go.

    However, the first COTS flight has changed. It is now scheduled to be the fourth Falcon 9 flight, not the third. Overall, the end date for our COTS program slips by only six months – which, as you all know, is a very small change in a field where delays of years are quite common.

    Our full flight manifest is posted on the site.

    Ad Astra!

    Roger G -

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