NASA has successfully launched two American astronauts aboard an American-made rocket from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade, sending them off toward the International Space Station. It also marks SpaceX's first launch of humans into orbit. Clad in white spacesuits and visors, Robert Behnken and Douglas …
> why NASA refers to telemetry/situations as "nominal", when "normal" would seem to be a more normal word to use
Well, despite their apparent similitude, "nominal" and "normal" don't mean the same thing at all.
"Nominal" means that a value is exactly as intended or expected, while "normal" only means it isn't totally abnormal. "Nominal" conveys the precise information that everything is going according to plan, while "normal" covers the whole gray zone, from "excellent" over "strange but tolerable", right up to the rocky shores of "Huston we've got a problem".
Thanks for the explanation, which makes sense, although it does still seem a bit of an unusual usage of the word. I'm used to 'nominal' meaning "in name only", but I can see how it could also mean "as named/defined", although that is rather confusing, being almost an exactly opposite meaning.
'in which he delighted in silly names for spaceships'.
I'm afraid not. IMB wasn't that lazy a writer. Given that the ships are sentient asexual lead characters in his novels, the names they choose are generally a function of their character, status or standing within the Culture.
This leads to entities such as Sleeper Service, Shoot Them Later, Attitude Adjuster and the lead character in his last novel, Mistake Not..... Whose full name reveal is a high point within the story as you come to understand it's full capabilities.
The names are an intrinsic part of the stories and have far more thought put into them than you suggest.
He still delighted in the silliness though. For example in Excession there are lists of silly ship names. He wasn’t above a bit of pisstaking, as well as driving the plot.
I can’t think of any of Banks' books that aren’t full of humour. It’s just that in the darker and more serious ones, the humour is distinctly blacker to match...
Granted, but my issue I suppose is the use of the word 'silly', it implies a lack of thought or foolish when it was anything but.
Being a total fanboy of his writing I think it does his humour a disservice as the uninitiated may carry that view and pass up the opportunity to read a superb author. Not dissing the article but just think there are better descriptions that could have been used and probably would be if more people read his work rather than it being a subnote of Space X massive achievements.
I was happy when my teenage son wanted to watch.... 6 hours watching on Saturday and then we were up at 7.15 to catch them waking up (we misheard what time it would be at so ended up two hours early) watched all day Sunday just to see them float through that hatch.
Only turned off when Ted Cruz popped up to give his speech.
> the loss of video as Stage 1 touched down on the barge was "very suspicious"
It is actually a proof of truth. As anybody who has seen a blockbuster movie of the last decades can attest, nowadays it's extremely easy to convincingly fake about anything, especially heavy machinery interaction. So if SpaceX really had anything big to hide there, we'd be presented with a prepared in advance CG video. It's not like they don't have the time and money to commission some CG artist to create a convincing video, and have to rely on clumsy feed interruptions while Cthulhu plays with their landing barge.
If they'd launched on Weds, I was hoping to see that too. But after a beautiful sunny day, it clouded over just enough that the moon was the only visible object in the sky. Today, I was able to watch the launch live but by the time there was a likelihood of the ISS and or the Dragon being overhead, the sun was still shining in another beautiful clear sky.
There does seem to be some sort of higher power conspiring to hide anything interesting happening above our heads. Meteor shower? Cloudy. Eclipse? Cloudy. ISS? Cloudy. Our Great Lizard Overlords doing a flypast? Cloudy.
We remarked on this. I have a suspicion that it's largely due to how we expect space launches to go, since the vast majority of public perception is based on film of either Saturn V or the shuttle.
Saturn V was 50odd years ago, so rocket tech has improved, and also stonkingly heavy (so takes more oomph to get going.)
The Shuttle had to balance out different start up procedures and different axes of thrust between the main engines and the SRB's, each of which had entirely different thrust characteristics. The whole stack was also stonkingly heavy.
There's footage of the Falcon Heavy launch where it takes a little longer between light-off and lift (albeit not much), but that involves the same engine types in the same plane so it's a lot simpler to work with.
While I'm no means an expert, and you could probably find better explanations, it does just seem to be mostly down to the much lower weight and the much simpler, but more advanced engine setup and layout meaning it can go from zero to launch thrust much faster.
$50-60m is the cost of a commercial launch on F9.
Crew Dragon launching to ISS is ~$160m, because you have to pay for the payload (Crew Dragon) as well as the rocket. And man-rating carries a premium.
So for Bob & Doug, that works out at $80m/seat. But in principle Crew Dragon can carry 7 (.vs Soyuz 3) which whittles the price down to $23m/seat - though it's unlikely NASA will actually launch 7 at a time due to available space on ISS. More like 3-4 with space for pressurised cargo/experiments.
cant land a rocket after its been in flight
You cant land a rocket on a ship in mid ocean..
You cant land 2 side boosters at the same time as landing a rocket on a ship in mid ocean.... (ok... maybe they just missed the last bit)
You cant launch people into space for less than a gizzilion dollars a seat...
Wonder what SpaceX are going to do next....
Oh and the noise in the background was partly the Falcon 9 taking off , but mostly the sound of 10 000 boeing execs seething and grinding their teeth as they realise their pork barrel is being taken away from them....
I totally came here to read about the colour of the spacesuit. Sadly it is not mentioned whether it matched with their flightbags.
Off-camera there was a launch of the 'B-Dragon' containing the cleaning team. Was all-white on the night, and obviously would show up the dirt.. Which is a change from the old capsules that had a more steam-punk vibe to them. But then I guess there's less dirt in space, and being gleaming white, might make it easier to spot leaks/gunk that shouldn't be there. Suits didn't have sequins, unlike the stow-away crew Dragon..
For me, also showed why the suits looked a bit odd down here in the gravity well. Up there, looks like they were pressurised & inflated.
Very good and excellent, spectacular stuff. Congratulations to Space X are due, but did we REALLY have to have Mike Pence and The Great Impeached Orange twerp turning it into an election campaign event? I don't think I've ever heard so much b*llsh*t and toadying in all my life. Anyone would think that Trump had the launch completely sorted all by himself, from his droning, monotonous spiel, accompanied by his peculiar facial expressions, preceded by Pence sucking up with totally unfounded comments about Trump's "fine leadership that got us where we are today". Yeah, right - 100,000 + dead from Covid 19 due to Trump's dithering and incompetence! And just what has the statement: "We will have the finest weapons - I've seen the plans", got to do with the space flight? Typical Trump divergence. Never did see Musk - was he actually there? I literally had to hit the "off" button, as I really couldn't stand Trump's rhetoric, grand-standing and blatant jingoism. As soon as I heard he would be attending the event, I knew exactly what was coming. That man has NEVER been fit for the office of president and the sooner he is removed, the better.
You almost fooled me. I was taking seriously your comment, but then I noticed the covid BS. Trump killed nobody with covid because it is just a flu. Trump did absolutely nothing he just pretended to be on the side pf those who understood the scam to taint their message. Plus he let other people do the dirty work because he knew that the fascists curfews would have been unpopular.
The flight also marks a momentous milestone for NASA for another reason, too; it’s the first time that the space agency has partnered with a private company to build everything from the touchscreen-driven capsule to the astronaut’s swanky spacesuits.
What a step. The more space exploration will go on the bigger the chunk of public spending going on the pockets of the oligarchs will be.
The collaboration with Elon Musk's SpaceX promises a cheaper alternative,
Cheaper because it is compared to 30 years old technologies, but what has been developed by SpaceX is nothing more that the prosecution of NASA projects carried on by ex-NASA employees.
> Nazi projects
Well, to be fair, the Nazis never had the intention to go to space. It's von Braun who wanted to go to space, and opportunistically invented the ballistic missile to get the huge funding he needed to perfect his rocket engines from "works occasionally" to "almost reliable".
So the continuation of the actual Nazi project was the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's ICBMs, not NACA/NASA's space rockets. NACA was initially created during WWI as an agency supposed to do aeronautical research (improve planes). When space became an issue in the 50ies, it seemed logical to give that task to NACA, which was renamed NASA.
Politically motivated changes from national priority to annoying afterthought explain why its efficiency has varied a lot since its creation... Yet, many of NASA's critics don't know (or chose to forget) the amount of stuff NASA has helped inventing or perfecting (obviously in the domain of aeronautics, but not only). There is a Wikipedia page listing some of that.
There is an excellent talk by a wonderfully tweedy British history of science guy about this period before Nasa.
The 'Germans of a certain political hue' were ensconced in Huntsville Alabama - whether this was to keep the project secret, to keep them away from bumping into any famous Jewish scientists at major universities or because they would feel at home in Alabama is a discussion point.
> The 'Germans of a certain political hue'
Haven't met them obviously, but I think they mostly were opportunists rather than political fanatics (there might have been some exceptions though). Anyway, as often in those situations, you had to be in The Party (whichever it is) to be eligible for any interesting job, or able to get funding.
As for them landing in Huntsville Alabama, I think this is where the Army Ballistic Missile Agency was located (Redstone Arsenal?), and ABMA was the agency needing their know-how.
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