back to article Squabbles over NASA's lunar lander, Astrobotics takes a punt on ULA and India arrives at the Moon

While India arrived in lunar orbit this morning, bickering over who would lead NASA's next lander flared up, Rocket Lab notched another success and a Chinese satellite appeared to falter. Rocket Lab: 'Look Ma, No Hands' Rocket Lab continued its run of successful launches yesterday as it sent another four satellites into orbit …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    A rather unfortunate moniker. I seem to remember that the last person who counted on him didn't end so well.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: BRUTUS

      Not you too?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BRUTUS

        Just make sure that module isn't on any launches in the middle of March and it'll be fine.

  2. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Be interesting to see if the 3D printed rocket engine of Rocket Labs will withstand reuse. If so then they will have an excellent system. NZ has long been a place to try bleeding edge tech. It still just about has that frontier feel left over from colonisation.

    I wonder when Musk will try the tech. After all if a Mars colony is to viable being able to build their own spacecraft on the surface or in orbit for mining trips to the Belt will be key and 3D printing is lowest level of industrialisation found for the purpose so far.

    Though his current idea to nuke the polls to release the CO2 locked in ice will fail since Mars still lacks either enough gravity or enough of a magnetic field to hang onto enough of it. You can liberate as much as you want and drag it in from the Belt but if you can't hang onto it and the more pressure you put into the atmosphere the bigger the rate of loss will be. Mars will be a ringed planet before long if Musk gets hold of it.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Nuke the polls

      Wow, I gathered that the US Dems are desperate, but nuking the polls is a bit extreme innit?

    2. Long John Brass

      nuke the polls

      Mars should be able to hang onto enough newly liberate atmosphere long enough for human time-frames.

      The bigger issue is not enough Juice. Yes Nukes are big bad and scary, but the heating time on them is horribly low. You would be much better served by putting very large, very thin mirrors in Mars orbit and cooking the ice caps off that way.

    3. Brangdon

      Re: I wonder when Musk will try the tech.

      SpaceX already use 3D printing extensively. They understand the tech. It's not always appropriate, though.

      Welding stainless steel is a relatively simple process that could be done on Mars or in orbit. For the first many decades they'll probably just import the engines and avionics. Eventually they want to be self-sufficient, but that's far enough in the future that we can't say what manufacturing technology will be available.

  3. herman Silver badge


    Err... 114 km is about 1600 km BELOW the surface of the moon.

  4. gypsythief

    Wow! Well done El Reg!

    From the article:

    "It's not entirely clear why Astrobotic chose the Vulture Central in what CEO John Thornton described..."

    Congratulations El Reg on having your very own rocket program selected for a real space laun...

    Wait, what was that? Vulcan Centaur, you say? Oh drat! Mis-read. Never mind, have a beer anyway. Carry on!

  5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1),

    "Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1), took less than 18 months to develop, according to Chinese media, and is capable of sending 200kg to solar synchronous orbit. The rocket, which uses solid propellant, is notable since it can be produced within six months and fired off less than 24 hours after arriving at the launch site."

    I'm surprised they went with all solid propellent. Easier, of course, and cheaper in the short term, but I'm surprised the Chinese aren't going for re-usability yet.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1),

      That was not the design goal. It was speed - of design, build and use. A solid propellant is so much less hassle...

    2. Brangdon

      Re: Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1),

      They are exploring reusability via the LinkSpace project, but it takes time.

  6. phuzz Silver badge

    NASA in the 1970's: Let's build a really efficient engine for the Shuttle, it doesn't matter if it's expensive because we'll be bringing them back after each flight.

    NASA in 2010: We need an engine for the SLS, let's use the RS-25. Who cares if we're throwing them away into the ocean after each use?

    (They're planning to use ex-Shuttle engines for the first flights of the SLS. Taking what would otherwise have ended up in museums and dropping them in the Atlantic.)

  7. NicX

    SLS continues to backfire? You don't say...

    I don't know how many would agree with me, but I feel like it's time for NASA to give up on SLS. There are commercial options that are cheaper and use modern hardware and also cost less per launch. I don't think anyone in the space community even cares about progress of SLS. SLS = The same old house with a new paint job. I think the only benefit is that it can lift more than Falcon Heavy. And I'm not even 100% sure that's correct.

    Me thinks the best course of action for continued progress is to get rid of the joke called SLS and devote those funds and employees to building spacecraft, probes, satellites, landers, etc. Let SpaceX (Fuck ULA. It'd be nice to see companies that aren't "Boeing" or "Lockheed" get government contracts.) handle the launches. They've proven themselves capable. They can use the same rocket a few times. SLS? One and done, baby.

    1. Brangdon

      Re: SLS continues to backfire? You don't say...

      NASA probably feel the same way, but they don't have a choice. Legally they are required to use the funds for SLS. It's basically a scam to transfer money from American tax payers to certain American companies in certain American states. It won't change until Richard Shelby, Alabama senator, retires from the funding committee.

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