back to article We've Falcon caught it! SpaceX finally nets a fairing half after a successful Heavy launch

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy turned night into day this morning as the monster rocket successfully hauled itself from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The 27 Merlin engines illuminated the night sky in a manner to bring a nostalgic tear to the eye of those that remember the only Saturn V night launch: Apollo 17 in 1972 from …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

    Does someone have some issues to deal with ?

    1. CliveS

      Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

      Of Course I Still Love You is a GCU (General Contact Unit) spacecraft from Iain M Banks' Culture novel, The Player of Games. Elon is a big fan, which is why both SpaceX autonomous drone ships are named after Culture vessels.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

        The other is called Just Read the Instructions, and is also a character from The Player of Games.

        There's a new drone ship being built that's supposed to be called "A Shortfall of Gravitas", which is almost, but not quite, taken from Look to Windward. The GSV in that book is actually named Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall.

        Personally I'd have gone for the GCU; Not Wanted On Voyage.

        1. Alister Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

          Personally I'd have gone for the GCU; Not Wanted On Voyage.

          Class - never thought of that one.

          1. CliveS

            Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

            Given the subject matter and recent results, perhaps the CGU: Only Slightly Bent might also be appropriate.

        2. Bruce Hoult

          Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

          Hardly “characters”. Both are mentioned once in the same throw-away sentence, just to get a laugh it seems. They play no actual part in the (pretty darn good) story.

          1. GBE

            Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

            Hardly “characters”. Both are mentioned once in the same throw-away sentence, just to get a laugh it seems.

            Ah ha! So that's why I didn't remember them...

            1. Bruce Hoult

              Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

              Since I’ve got the book in Kindle version … it’s from when the game player is trying to get back in touch with Contact, after refusing them.

              “Well, I’ve sent the message to my friends, but—” He had a sudden, paranoid idea. He turned to Chamlis urgently. “These friends of yours are ships.” “Yes,” Chamlis said. “Both of them.” “What are they called?” “The Of Course I Still Love You and the Just Read the Instructions.” “They’re not warships?” “With names like that? They’re GCUs; what else?”

              That’s it. If they’re mentioned elsewhere in Banks’ works I’m not aware of it. They’re certainly not in “Player”

        3. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

          If they increase their launch rate to the point where they need enough landing barges to start running out of names, at some point, we'll see "Meatfucker".

          1. RedRichie

            Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

            I suppose that's a bit of a Grey Area!

        4. CliveS

          Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

          The "Gravitas" ship names were a running joke within the Culture. They were the result of another Involved civilisation which complained that such powerful and intellectually advanced beings as the Culture ship-minds should give themselves names with a bit more gravitas in light of their near-godlike powers. At least one Culture shipyard decided to give all its ships names on the "gravitas" theme, such as "Stood Far Back When The Gravitas Was Handed Out" or "Gravitas... Gravitas... No, Don't Help Me, I'll Get It In A Moment" or even "Absolutely No You-No-What". As I recall, Iain had a list of 20 or 30 "Gravitas" names.

          "Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall" appears as a GSV in Look to Windward, and a GCU in Matter, and provided the inspiration for SpaceX's latest drone ship.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

      @Pascal speaking personally my issues are much the most interesting part of me...

    3. YaarPodshipnik

      Re: "the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You"

      It's a ship name from Ian M. Banks novel "The Player Of Games".

  2. Geoff May (no relation)

    27 Merlin engines

    I had visions of a WW2 aircraft fly-by when I read that.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: 27 Merlin engines

      Could be 7 Avro Lancaster bombers, one with a dicky propeller


      13 de Havilland Mosquitoes and a rogue Supermarine Spitfire

      or even

      27 P-51 Mustangs

      1. cmaurand

        Re: 27 Merlin engines

        Or 9 WWII Navy PT boats. 3 merlins in each one.

      2. EnviableOne Silver badge

        Re: 27 Merlin engines

        the combinations are too numerous to mention.

        The merlin was a beast of an engine and has a lovley destinctive sound. Good old fahioned british engineering at its best.

  3. Chris 239

    "We've Falcon caught it"

    Descending to tabloid headlines! Shocking. What is this? a red top ? - ah hang on, yes.

    Anyway, nice job. That's what I call cricket! or maybe baseball what with the size of that mitt!

    Does this mean they will be renting/building another Mr Steven?

    1. Lorin Thwaits

      Re: "We've Falcon caught it"

      SpaceX is now working with Guice Offshore to prepare a second boat with a big net. (GO now owns and operates the boat formerly known as Mr Steven, and was very lucky to have success catching the fairing during Tuesday's mission. They had recently bought the vessel and renamed it to a GO name, similar to their other boats, also used for SpaceX work such as towing drone ships around and pulling fairings out of the water.)

    2. Persona Silver badge

      Re: "We've Falcon caught it"

      "Mr Steven" is now known as "Ms. Tree" …….. read into that what you want.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: "We've Falcon caught it"

        Nah - I'll just enjoy the mystery.

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Say what you like

    About SpaceX's occasionally whacky boss, as a relative newby to space stuff he has driven some aspects of rocketry and achieved some noteable firsts.

    17 years ago after failing to buy refurbed Russian IBMs he decided to do it his way and hasn't done too badly.

    Are there any old volcanoes on the moon for Elon to hollow out?

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Say what you like

      Not on the moon, but there's always Olympus Mons on Mars - The largest mountain in the solar system. If Musk gets humans to the red planet, he mas my vote for that patch of land.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Say what you like

      I beg to differ. "He" hasn't done anything except pay experts to do stuff. The prevalent assumption that the one who puts up the money should take the whole credit for advances in science and technology is deeply contemptuous of those who actually do the inventing and work.

      1. Alan_Peery

        Re: Say what you like

        To fail to acknowledge the role that leadership plays in accomplishing things is also deeply contemptuous of the role he has played in the success multiple organisations.

  5. Craig 2

    "headed back to briefly light up Landing Zones 1 and 2 with a synchronised touchdown."

    From a headline-grabbing, amazing video to a 1-line mention. Progress is awesome!

    Space news is one of the few things these days that makes me think the Human Race is still advancing...

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I have a mental image of someone telling Musk after the missed landing: "We missed it by that much, Chief" and followed by: "I think we need a bigger boat."

    Icon: the landing of the center core.

  7. cmaurand

    2 out of 3 is not bad

    At least Musk is trying something new. NASA sure isn't. I expect NASA to come up with something truly cutting edge like a new propulsion system that get get craft up to speeds that make interplanetary travel feasible or maybe solving the problem of gravity.

    1. 96percentchimp

      Re: 2 out of 3 is not bad

      To be fair to NASA, it has an Advanced Concepts office which works on stuff like that, it does a lot of cutting-edge aerospace R&D, and the planetary exploration (unmanned) office does incredible work that constantly pushes boundaries.

      Manned spaceflight is governed by the pigs in Congress and the Senate, like Senator Shelby, shoving their noses in the trough so that NASA keeps jobs in their states. They've no interest in anything new that will threaten their votes or campaign funding, so they demand white elephants like the SLS and then underfund them so the the project never reaches its goals but the money keeps rolling into their pocket.

      And then there's Trump, who wants to bask in the glory of a new space race but doesn't care about anything else.

  8. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Why are they still paying Boeing and LM

    Space X have proven they can build and launch reproducably for considerably less cost.

    NASA need to pinch the pennies, and tell the old guard to do one, but that may cost a congressional seat or two (based on the funds they have available)

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Why are they still paying Boeing and LM

      pork-barrel politics

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