back to article Musk claims that venting liquid oxygen caused Starship explosion

SpaceX boss Elon Musk has blamed a lack of payload coupled with the venting of liquid oxygen for last year's fiery end to the second flight of the company's Starship and Super Heavy combo. During a company update posted on X (formerly Twitter) by SpaceX, Musk spent an hour telling the faithful about the company's achievements …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    FAIL

    Shoulda, woulda, coulda...

  2. gecho

    Deluge

    Their version of deluge is somewhat novel. Instead of spraying down onto the launch pad, it fills the launch pad and sprays out.

    1. RegGuy1 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Deluge

      Exactly. These folks at SpaceX are not stupid. The first launch didn't use the water deluge system because they thought they might not need it. Unlike the author not being a space scientist, the SpaceX bods are, and they did extensive testing at McGregor, blasting reinforced concrete with their humongously powerful Raptors to see what would happen. They are constantly thinking outside of the box. Just because we've always done it that way ... The first flight gave them lots of real-life data. They only slowly ramped up the power of the 33 raptors to get their first real data, but it stood too long on the pad, which was too much for the concrete. They were then forced to put in the more expensive water system. After the second flight they reported no damage to the base of the launch mount and have subsequently already performed a static fire of B10, the next booster to fly. That is really impressive.

      Beer, obviously. :-) ---------------->

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deluge

        > Unlike the author not being a space scientist, the SpaceX bods are

        As are the space scientist who, before SpaceX, have tended to use water and flame trenches, and for a reason. Human kind has known, for literal decades, what happens to a launch surfaces if too much power is applied without mitigation.

        This kind of thing is actually something of a staple for Musk companies. Tesla wasted tons on automating parts of their assembly line that the car industry (as a whole) had previously tried automating, only to find (as the industry did before them) that meatbags give better results.

        Whilst it's not impossible that this is them "thinking outside the box", it seems just as likely that there's a bloke at the top who's unwilling to spend to avoid mistakes that he hasn't experienced himself.

        That doesn't, though, make the team any less deserving of beer, because if my interpretation is more correct than yours, it means they're achieving things **in spite** of the gigantic twazzock at the top

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: Deluge

          Whilst it's not impossible that this is them "thinking outside the box", it seems just as likely that there's a bloke at the top who's unwilling to spend to avoid mistakes that he hasn't experienced himself.

          It's a fine line with these things, if you always bow to received wisdom you're building rockets you test and test and test and then throw away. There's always going to be some stuff where things get re-tried and the answer is still the same, but then others where it isn't.

          Also, aren't we now at the point where SpaceX are actually the experts in this kind of thing? They've launched more stuff into orbit than anyone else, at what point are they no longer to be considered the upstart and actually considered the experts in the field?

          That doesn't, though, make the team any less deserving of beer, because if my interpretation is more correct than yours, it means they're achieving things **in spite** of the gigantic twazzock at the top

          I think with SpaceX it's just easier to forget about Musk. In my head Gwynne Shotwell deserves an award for being the worlds most accomplished shit umbrella; and that's before you even start to consider her not inconsiderable achievements in the space industry.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Deluge

            Musk doesn't run SpaceX. Gwynne Shotwell does, thankfully.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Deluge

          NASA's flame trenches are rather famously overengineered (and were created only after unfortunate earlier experiences) _incredibly_ expensive to build and thanks to the high water tables had to be built on top of the existing ground level (hence the mounds and infamous ramps for each launcpad, with the massive engineering challenges needed for the crawler to not tip over its payload as it ascends)

          SpaceX was trying to build mitigation without excavation and the costs of the flame plate is still far lower than NASA's trench/mounds, let alone the engineering challenges posed by getting stacks into position on them

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Deluge

          "Tesla wasted tons on automating parts of their assembly line"

          For the very simple reason that Musk is vhemently anti-union and the "easiest" way to eliminate them is to eliminate humans entirely even if it costs more up front to do so

          Meatbag do better _for the moment_ but improved machine vision and processing power is likely to change that equation. Let's not forget that assembly line workers were more than happy for robots to take over the dirty and dangerous functions on lines and only became upset when robots started encroaching on the easy work

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Deluge

        Exactly. These folks at SpaceX are not stupid. The first launch didn't use the water deluge system because they thought they might not need it. Unlike the author not being a space scientist, the SpaceX bods are, and they did extensive testing at McGregor, blasting reinforced concrete with their humongously powerful Raptors to see what would happen. They are constantly thinking outside of the box.

        And in this case they were wrong, despite all that testing and thinking.

        Note: just because somebody is a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon (thank you, Mitchell and Webb) doesn't mean they are a good rocket scientist or brain surgeon.

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: Deluge

          And in this case they were wrong, despite all that testing and thinking.

          No... the testing showed they were wrong, despite the thinking.

          Note: just because somebody is a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon (thank you, Mitchell and Webb) doesn't mean they are a good rocket scientist or brain surgeon.

          ...because only good rocket scientists get it right first time every time?

          Terrible ones only build really rubbish rockets that have launched more than double the number of times of their nearest competitor?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Deluge

            At SpaceX, they don't do it the NASA's way, they do it the Elon's way, and then the proper way...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deluge

          Then why were they already building it? They knew, they did not want to wait and acted irresponsibly. Overall, I love what SpaceX has achieved. However, with the first two launches of the Starship 2 stack they made unforced errors. You can do things fast, but you also should do them intelligently.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deluge

        They knew they needed the system, and were building it. Their lack of patience is not appealing and had serious detrimental effects.

        The explanation for the loss of Starship 2 is similarly weak. Were there technical reasons they needed to have a full load of propellant and oxidizer onboard for this flight? If not, they were brain dead stupid for setting themselves up to lose the hardware and not complete their mission profile. I generally support their mantra to move fast. Sometimes it is not wise, and they do not seem to realize that.

        I have not seen an official report on why the Starship 2 booster was lost. Lots of speculation but nothing I took to be definitive. The entire response to the loss of the Starship 2 stack seems off-kilter, much as Elon Musk seems to be these days.

  3. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    Maybe It's Just Me, but

    Maybe Elon got briefed on this, and simply did not understand what was going on, because the drug-addled "Smartest Man in the World" is not too bright?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

    Billionaire suggests a payload would have solved the problem. And we have a suggestion for who that payload could be

    Enough with the Elon Musk Snark. It's tedious and unprofessional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      So, pretty much like Elon Musk himself?

    2. aerogems Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      But how would you make your money simping for Xitler if El Reg did that? You got to think a little further ahead there, Jellied Eel.

    3. trevorde Silver badge

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      Elon, is that you?

    4. eldakka

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      > Enough with the Elon Musk Snark. It's tedious and unprofessional.

      You are aware that this is the Register?

      Most of us come here because of the snark and entertaining delivery of (mostly) accurate news and analysis.

    5. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      "Elon Musk Snark"

      Am I the only one who now wants to make an internet meme of a Half-Life Snark with Elon's face? (someone with a bullshit-generator subscription can do it for me)

      It explodes about 5 seconds after launch of course, a bit like his rocket

    6. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      Agreed,

      Some of these articles could be extremely interesting but instead they read like articles written by and for 7 year olds.

      We all agree that a little snark is Ok but it is the technology that should remain at the forefront of the article.

      Some of the comments are clearly political in nature, which is ironic because Musk is known for being on the left, they are not funny nor do they invoke any level of intelligence, so what's the point ?

      1. ChoHag Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

        ... how to demonstrate you also didn't get any further than the byline.

        Try reading the article next time. The snark stays in the heading where it should be.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

          I’d like to know where the “crater” was that Musk learned from?

          1. bigphil9009

            Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

            Underneath the lauch stage. You know, this one: https://www.reddit.com/r/ThatLookedExpensive/comments/12uasls/the_damage_done_to_the_launch_pad_after_the/

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

              That's the elevated top layer of pad that has been broken through.

              1. bigphil9009

                Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

                "The elevated top layer of pad". Are you seriously saying that the big hole full of shit was already there, and that it was just covered by a thin layer of concrete? Wow.

                1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

                  Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

                  The big hole left was, by definition, not full of anything apart from hole ...

                  The concrete was up to 2' thick, reinforced, refractory grade stuff and basically you can't buy better for that application.

                  Unfortunately the rocket, being the most powerful ever built, took one look and decided "Puny concrete! Hulk smash!" and dug out the crater (although, strangely, it may have started to produce a crater *first* which caused the pad to fail ...)

                2. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

                  Are you seriously saying that the big hole full of shit was already there, and that it was just covered by a thin layer of concrete? Wow.

                  Where did I say that? You are seriously deluded.

                  1. bigphil9009

                    Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

                    Ok then, enlighten us - what did you mean by "elevated top layer of pad"?

              2. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

                No - that was the fondag, and the reinforced foundations - almost no build up at all (because of the wetlands)

                They reckoned it would survive one launch, but the ground underneath didn't take the load... which meant that the concrete cracked and at that point it was always going to fail hard.

                The "rock tornado" dug a serious crater as a result, but since Elon has described the SH as "the worlds most powerful plasma cutter" that's probably not a huge surprise (once the concrete has failed).

                They've since installed a number of deep piles, supporting a stronger platform, with a fairly hefy bit of steel "pancake" on top of that.

                And that looks like it survived just fine.

        2. FIA Silver badge

          Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

          Try reading the article next time. The snark stays in the heading where it should be.

          You and I read different articles. There's 2 or 3 little 'digs' peppered throughout it.

          I think the problem (for me) is when you're snarky about things like Fujitsu getting yet another government contract then it's justified.

          However, when it's about a company that over the last 18 years has become the default leader in the field, has been massively disruptive (American taxpayers are saving millions to get their spy satellites up there these days), achieved many firsts in the field and has shown that investment and improvements in commercial space flight are possible (therefore paving the way for some of the even more radical companies to exist.) it comes across a bit different.

          "Hur hur they're too stupid to use deluge" is funny, but the reality is SpaceX have spent billions on starship. (Musk was quoted in 2023 as estimating they would spend about a billion on it in 2023), whereas the Apollo program (not counting ground facilities, overheads and salaries) cost over $200 billion (inflation adjusted). SpaceX can afford a lot more tests and launch pads before they get anywhere near that figure.

          "The average cost for each launch using rockets from Boeing and Lockheed has soared to $420 million, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office.", a Falcon 9 launch is conservatively in the $150 mill range, there's been over 60 government launches by SpaceX, if you're saving $200m a launch that's not bad.

          Lets be honest if SpaceX wasn't owned by the worlds biggest scrotum it would probably get a lot of different coverage.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

            Lets be honest if SpaceX wasn't owned by the worlds biggest scrotum it would probably get a lot of different coverage.

            This is exactly what some engineers at SpaceX said in an internal communication before being fired for saying it.

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

            ""The average cost for each launch using rockets from Boeing and Lockheed has soared to $420 million, according to an analysis by the Government Accountability Office.", a Falcon 9 launch is conservatively in the $150 mill range, there's been over 60 government launches by SpaceX, if you're saving $200m a launch that's not bad."

            Most people don't have experience running a high tech business and don't realized that a race to the bottom on prices is highly detrimental to long term success. SpaceX has to raise fund several times each year to do the things they are doing. The HLS program is massively underwater as Elon has spent more money on Starship development than the contract pays. Needing Starship for their own in-house Starlink system is an internal expense, not revenue and there isn't a market for 100t to LEO launch services that don't need a much more specialized vehicle. The Falcon 9 Heavy would be launching far more often if there were more of a need for getting heavy payloads to orbit and beyond. The electronics industry has been reducing the size and weight of the gubbins inside satellites for decades to the point where the size and weight can be managed by much small rockets.

            ULA charges what they do since they have professional management and understand that given the enormous cost of improving existing rockets and developing new ones, they need to charge enough to pay for that R&D from profits rather than constantly going to the private investment community over and over who demand a premium return and to have investments pay back. SpaceX has had ONE Starship prototype (SN15) not explode. It also got scrapped rather than flown again which is interesting for a rocket supposedly designed to be reusable. That's it, everything else has gone off bang. The first full stack launch was one big failure and the second could be described as two for an increase in failures, not a reduction.

            Beyond the space hardware, Elon is notable for thumbing his nose at authority. The "not-a-deluge-system" was required to be designed and built in coordination with the Army Corp of Engineers. Elon let the application lapse through non-response and went ahead anyway. Elon called the current 'launch' tower nothing more than an 'integration' tower and failed to secure planning and permits for it. He's rumored to be constructing another on the other side of the too small launch area in addtion to replacing and adding more tanks that are far too close. It seems that, at least, he understands that if he encroaches into the wildlife refuges anymore than they already have without permission, that could spell the end of that facility as the agencies responsible for them want him out in a bad way already.

            The comment that a payload would have mitigated the problems is a joke. The only payload he could get right now is Starlink. Nobody else is going to risk a multi-million dollar spacecraft by letting go anywhere near Startship. New companies can get payloads for an inaugural flight where there's an expectation of succes, but Elon's approach is a little different. Virgin Orbit went TU after their last failed launch. The first one they tried had an issue, but they then did several that worked fine. The 747 they used is now repainted and at Stratolaunch at the Mojave Airport, the home of airplane lauched space vehicles.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

              I don't disagree with most of what you wrote. I will say, two successful missions and there would be people willing to put a payload on it. Except there is no such payload. :-)

      2. sabroni Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Musk is known for being on the left

        I guess that makes it pretty clear where you stand if Mr. "Jews run the world and CIS is hate speech" is on your left.

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: Musk is known for being on the left

          For what it's worth, the left/right axis for political position is woefully inadequate. In some ways, Musk is quite progressive. In other ways, he's an utter bigot.

          1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

            Re: Musk is known for being on the left

            Politics is complicated. Try the Political Compass test, if you want a more nuanced way of looking at things.

            1. ArrZarr Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Musk is known for being on the left

              Did it a while ago. Left of centre, extremely anti-authoritarian.

              Even then, the political compass has its own problems. Given the sheer complexity of politics, going from one dimension to two is not much better (but it gets to a point where a single visualisation is totally inadequate to show all the data quite quickly).

              1. Khaptain Silver badge

                Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                Yes, I too did the test too some time back and was surprised to see the results, Left of center...

                I usually consider myself as neutral or slightly conservative, I am getting older so that's usually normal to become more conservative.

                Many of the young left libertarians seem to forget that they too will grow old and as such do not yet realise how their world will eventually change once they start to gain responsibility for others and/or for themselves. The rose coloured glasses are fine when you are 20, the tint changes a lot when you are 60.

                1. ArrZarr Silver badge

                  Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                  Eh, I'm a libertarian in the sense that, with the caveat that you aren't harming others*, you should be free to live your life (but that's not the same as free from the consequences of your own bad decision making). The authoritarian tendencies of the current conservative UK government or the insanity of the GOP are horrific to me.

                  An example is that I very much dislike being in the vicinity of somebody smoking. It's a horrible, disgusting habit. That being said, I am against a general smoking ban because it's none of my business what people are doing with their lives

                  *And where the line is drawn should be the source of lively debate.

                  1. Khaptain Silver badge

                    Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                    *And where the line is drawn should be the source of lively debate.

                    You would first have to define "harm".. That alone is an entire debate.

                    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

                      Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                      Yes. That's kind of the point ;)

                  2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                    Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                    "I am against a general smoking ban because it's none of my business what people are doing with their lives"

                    It becomes my business when their activities give me migraines (which tobacco smoke does - and the fumes from a smoker even after they put it out and go indoors are sufficient to trigger it for several minutes afterwards - in things like shop queues it becomes essentially unavoidable - that's without smokers ignoring smoking bans in enclosed areas or smoking just outside building windows - some of them actually ENJOY causing problems for other people - the same mentality as wankers who break other people's things for shits and giggles)

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Musk is known for being on the left

                  "The rose coloured glasses are fine when you are 20, the tint changes a lot when you are 60."

                  At some point you start to realize there is a vast gulf between "wouldn't it be nice" and reality. Yes, most people are decent, but just like that proverbial one bad apple in the barrel, it takes very few with no morals, no responsibility and a "meeee first" attitude to make those utopian plans come tumbling down.

                  The US politicians got together and decided that durning lockdowns that sending people money (not everybody, only the ones they liked) would help ease the pain. They also decided that the money needed to be sent out immediately and there was no time to implement a wee bit of process to curb fraud. People in prison for life were getting small business payroll support checks. Companies that were no more than a shell were getting millions that their owners used to run right out and buy expensive things. In a perfect world, nobody would be gaming the system like that and would be saying a heartfelt "thank you" for the money.

      3. Casca Silver badge

        Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

        Oh yea, musk is as much left as Stalin...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:Musk being on the left?

        ROFL.

        He's in bed with the likes of Joe Rogan and is certainly on the Right as far as politics goes. He looks up to the Orange Criminal (Trump). Some of his more recent comments about the current administration in the USA puts him firmly in MAGA land.

        I'm sure he'll come out an approve the Donald for POTUS very soon.

        1. CountCadaver Silver badge

          Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

          bankroll the fetid tangerine in exchange for some cushy administration position combined head of FAA, NASA, FCC, EPA, SEC - you know, all those "awkward" groups

        2. elip

          Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

          *Clutches Pearls* Say it ain't so!! Not *THEE* Joe Rogan!!! That right wing nationalist that supported Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard presidential runs?!!! You orange-man-bad people, have completely lost your minds and are absolutely divorced from facts. Get off the internet.

          1. ArrZarr Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

            As said above, politics is complicated and somebody can have views on a single topic that are both progressive and conservative.

            Joe Rogan has complicated views, apparently being in favour of same-sex marriage and gay rights while being of the opinion that Ron DeSantis would make a good president (despite the blatantly anti-LGBTQ+ work of the DeSantis governorship of Florida).

            He said he would probably vote Sanders in 2020 but encouraged his listeners to vote republican in the 2022 midterms.

            Using a reductio ad absurdum fallacy doesn't help your case.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

              "despite the blatantly anti-LGBTQ+ work of the DeSantis governorship of Florida"

              What I see is that Gov. DeSantis is very much against the grooming of children into a gay lifestyle at 6-7 years old and further against school libraries stocking explicit sex manuals. There's a big difference in not supporting the gay agenda and actively working against that community. I'm not gay, I don't have gay friends and I am firmly against special dispensation for people that identify that way. Not restrictions, but no carve outs that put me in jail for calling somebody with male apparatus a He. It took a while, but I did learn the underlying meme of Animal Farm. If everybody is to be equal, making anybody "more equal" does not compute.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

                You do realize the grooming thing, isn't really a thing?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

            Sanders draws most of his support from the left but also from disaffected rural people not usually seen on the left. Gabbard caucused with the Democrats but later pretty much aligned herself with the Unied Russia party, which is also where Trump draws a lot of assistance from. Musk's real political home is the National Party of apartheid-era South Africa. His grandfather was a leader of the Technocrat party in Canada, an antidemocratic group that fell on the wrong side of WW II, after which he moved to South Africa to enjoy the new apartheid system they had imported from Alabama.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

              Sanders has been on the "jobs jobs jobs" train for decades - despite us all knowing that even if businesses return to an area, most of the jobs won't

              The primary reason businesses move manufacturing/etc bases isn't "cheap labour" but "automation" - it's much harder to lay of 75% of your workforce in-place than to simply up sticks and start from scratch elsewhere (Classic example: 12,000 employee car factories in Detroit became 1500 employee car factories in Sonora - whilst the rhetoric was about "cheap mexican workers", those workers are actually extremely well paid and it's merely a distraction. The British ship building industry lost to Japan for the same reason and Japan lost to Korea because the Koreans developed modularised techniques which vastly reduced the amount of time lost to labour simply getting on/off the jobsite)

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

                "The primary reason businesses move manufacturing/etc bases isn't "cheap labour" but "automation" - it's much harder to lay of 75% of your workforce in-place than to simply up sticks and start from scratch elsewhere "

                A big switch to automation also means a much different factory layout, less of a need for employee services (loos, cafeterias, etc), HVAC, lighting. It also makes sense for continuity to get a new plant up and running while the old one is still producing product so customers aren't forced to find alternatives during an interval. Getting some distance between the factory and a whole load of people getting the axe will be safer too.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

          "I'm sure he'll come out an approve the Donald for POTUS very soon."

          Unless Kanye or Madonna throw their hat in the ring.

        4. BiffoTheBorg

          Re: Re:Musk being on the left?

          He has publicly stated that he has always voted Democrat and still considers himself left of center (sic) but does not feel inclined to support Biden 2024, however, he said that does not mean that he would vote Trump.

    7. Bebu Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      《Enough with the Elon Musk Snark. It's tedious and unprofessional.》

      "The Register [vulture*] Biting the hand that feeds IT."

      Pretty clear I would have thought (on both sides of the Pond.)

      *...large birds ... the beak and claws less powerful than in most birds of prey, and which feed largely or wholly upon carrion+. [American Heritage]

      +rotting flesh (much easier to chew.)

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Enough with the Elon M"The Register [vulture*] Biting the hand that feeds IT."usk Snark

        "The Register [vulture*] Biting the hand that feeds IT."

        There is a limit to which this is Ok. It seems that that limit has been surpassed for the last few years.. It has become far more venomous and a lot less funny..

        1. Casca Silver badge

          Re: Enough with the Elon M"The Register [vulture*] Biting the hand that feeds IT."usk Snark

          Stop reading then

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

        +rotting flesh (much easier to chew.)

        Also vultures have a self-defence mechanism - which is to vomit all over their attackers. With their highly corrosive (around PH 1) stomach acid. So annoy one, and expect a stream of acidic bile to soon be heading your way.

        On the other hand, this metaphor becomes rather less good for El Reg when we get to the fact that some vultures shit on their own legs in an effort to cool themselves down. Hopefully not an excuse that any of our fearless hacks have had to use...

    8. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      "Enough with the Elon Musk Snark. It's tedious and unprofessional."

      100% agree. It's pathetic now.

    9. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      Whatever made you think this is a professional website?

    10. gauge symmetry

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      And it's why I always read El Reg with an ad-blocker. No revenue for children!

    11. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Enough with the Elon Musk Snark

      In what sense is it "unprofessional"?

  5. aerogems Silver badge
    Holmes

    I'm also not a rocket engineer, I know just enough about physics and chemistry to be dangerous, but something about this explanation just doesn't quite make sense. Liquid oxygen going boom (ok, probably more whoosh) is all fine and well, but they knew the rocket wouldn't have a payload well in advance, so why was the liquid oxygen fuel there in the first place? This is a rocket capable of putting things into orbit we're talking about, not loading the car for a holiday road trip and you decide not to bring the cooler full of beer at the last minute. Things don't just happen on a whim with rockets that cost multi-millions to build and launch, it's all very meticulously planned out well in advance.

    Just seems to me like someone was given only part of the story, or their drug addled mind couldn't stay focused long enough to hear the rest.

    1. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Its a Test

      Because it’s a test: you want to verify the launcher at maximum load from the launchpad, which means maximum initial launcher mass including propellant. You also want to verify maximum aerodynamic loading which occurs halfway through the atmosphere, which corresponds to both a target speed and weight. But towards the end, if you don’t have a mass dummy, it would accelerate too hard (a = F/m), exceeding design, so you need to dump propellant.

      The better question is why they didn’t just load a mass dummy instead, which would be normal practice for a test launch. That I don’t know. Possibly they thought it would be quick and easy to vent, and now they’ve learned why everyone else does it the standard way.

      1. Ace2 Silver badge

        Re: Its a Test

        | now they’ve learned why everyone else does it the standard way

        Seems to be a theme with Liddle Twitler.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Its a Test

          In fairness, I've done that plenty of times myself - albeit on a smaller scale. "Ahhh, so that's why it's done like that."

          In my defence, the reasons weren't always explained to me. (Or I hadn't understood the situation properly.) And figuring out the reasons for this "common knowledge" has proved valuable; as has discovering the times "common knowledge" was completely wrong.

          1. ian 22

            Re: Its a Test

            Good judgment comes from experience.

            Experience comes from poor judgement.

      2. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Its a Test

        The better question is why they didn’t just load a mass dummy instead, which would be normal practice for a test launch.

        That's kind of what I was getting at with my comment. I'm sort of reminded of an amusing clip from the show Harley Quinn where they're making fun of a rocket that looks like a giant dildo and there's some launch engineer who is commenting on how there's a scientific reason for everything being the way it is. This isn't like ye olde medieval times where we were still building churches and things where you just keep trying to go a little bit higher until eventually the weight of the blocks on top cause everything to come crashing down. This would have been a few minutes worth of back of the napkin type math for any of the engineers, and if you want something to be as representative as possible of carrying an actual payload, why wouldn't you just load in something with a similar mass and ballast profile? Seems a bit lie trying to test the fuel economy of a tractor trailer rig by running just the cab or a cab with an empty trailer. While not the greatest analogy in the world, it's the best I can come up with when I have insomnia at 2am.

        https://youtu.be/ArDy1Cuq1gw?si=tr6ReZmYeguwagfB

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Its a Test

          Probably... and this is speculation... because it gave them additional margins to deal with potential issues earlier in the flight.

        2. RegGuy1 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Its a Test

          Well, those Mediaeval folk were very clever too. After all, one of our most amazing and influential, but not appreciated, modern technologies, the number system and the more mathematics it opened up, was significantly developed during the period. Ah yeah, we just use numbers. But someone had to develop them.

        3. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Its a Test

          "Seems a bit lie trying to test the fuel economy of a tractor trailer rig by running just the cab or a cab with an empty trailer."

          It might be good to test the rig with an empty trailer and then increasing the load up to maximum allowable to generate a curve as it's unlikely to be linear. It's also a good real world piece of information to have since truck will often deadhead and the question comes up about whether it's better to run empty or pick up a low paying load if that will cover some expenses that outweighs the time and extra distance to take on the job.

          There is no such thing as "no payload". All of the structure and gubbins are payload, just parasitic weight that a customer isn't paying for by the kilo. It's not just mass that's being taken to orbit, it's volume as well. Just like with the truck, it's not going to be a linear relationship and having the data might point to doing things like removing engines which will save mass and lead to removing another or a couple more if the paying payload is a light but bulky structure.

      3. sebacoustic

        Re: Its a Test

        >why they didn’t just load a mass dummy instead

        they ran out of Elon's old Tesla S's?

      4. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Its a Test

        "The better question is why they didn’t just load a mass dummy instead"

        Possibly to give themselves better performance margins throughout the early parts of the flight; the extra propellant would have be used if they had had a number of engine failures.

        But you don't want an untested vehicle in space with substantial propellant load, so you dump it.

        They don't dump it to reduce acceleration (it has the opposite effect), and they have pretty deep throttling on those raptors - just dump some O2, then some CH4 (rather than have an extra, accidental, rocket engine).

        Unfortunately the dumped oxidiser did some oxidation... and it oxidised something important.

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Its a Test

          Yeah, but they saved 2mm (and 100g) on the exhaust pipe...

      5. Zibob Bronze badge

        Re: Its a Test

        Okay but the reason for the venting was because it was NOT at maximum take off mass. So that doesn't pan out either.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Its a Test

        If that had been the case (verify the launcher at maximum load from the launchpad), there would have been a dummy payload, perhaps something as simple as bags of water.

      7. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Its a Test

        "But towards the end, if you don’t have a mass dummy, it would accelerate too hard (a = F/m), exceeding design, so you need to dump propellant."

        This would be where you'd throttle back the engines. Throwing loads of propellents overboard begs the question why you'd load them in the first place or fire up and keep running as many engines. NASA throttled the Shuttle main engines way back through MaxQ and once clear, ramped them back up again. They didn't unload propellents if they had a light payload.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LOX is not fuel, that is the methane.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        And what good would the methane do without the O2.

        Yes, we consider Methane to be the Fuel, and the LOx to be the Oxidiser... but they are both equally important parts of the propellant.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        LOX is fuel for George Soros and the Rothschilds. You see, it all hangs together.

        Yours, Grassy Knollington

    3. Vulch

      Essentially it's practice for a tanker launch, except there's nothing to transfer the surplus propellants to yet and it's easier to dump the excess overboard while the ship is still under thrust. Not having something to weigh down the upper stage also means the first stage flight profile isn't representative, a big lump of concrete would have done but the ships don't yet have functioning payload doors.

    4. annodomini2

      Fuel and Oxidiser tend to slosh around when subject to loads (i.e. re-entry), there will be design loads on the tank structure for how much propellant can remain in the tanks without damaging the ship on atmospheric re-entry.

      They would need to dump to prevent the ship becoming damaged and potentially breaking apart at this point.

      You would dump with the engines running as the propellent would separate and move away from the vent port and also hover around the ship until re-entry.

      Given on the first launch they had a number of engine failures, it's logical that they would add more propellant to give a greater chance of reaching the target trajectory in these cases.

      Also given there was no payload the extra propellant mass will help to simulate one, otherwise the forces experienced during launch will be higher and not a representative test.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Liquid oxygen going boom (ok, probably more whoosh) is all fine and well, but they knew the rocket wouldn't have a payload well in advance, so why was the liquid oxygen fuel there in the first place?"

      The LOX is properly not a fuel, it's the oxidizer. The LOX is used to burn the Methane fuel, so they need it. I am a rocket engineer so I know a few things about it. Keeping tanks at an optimal pressure is important and cryogenic liquids not in a very well insulated container will turn to gas and increase the pressure so it can be important to vent the tank periodically with a back up mechanical vent that will actuate regardless of any control electronics to the tank doesn't burst. As a rocket rises out of the atmosphere, there become nothing to replace the propellents in the tanks as they are used so there are two ways to keep the tanks from imploding. The first is to expand a bit of the cryogenic liquid and the other is to use a gas stored onboard in high pressure tanks, usually Helium since it's light and doesn't react with anything. The former is the easiest thing to do, but you want to convert the liquid to a gas a bit faster than the space you need to fill and just vent any excess since doing the opposite won't work. Getting the balance can be tricky. In humid areas along coastlines, the vent exhaust ports will often ice up if they aren't designed properly and can shed ice build up. This is a rookie mistake, but happens a lot.

      The trick is to not vent fuel and oxidizer where they will mix and go boom. If SpaceX was venting LOX into a space where Methane was leaking, that's a really good way to make a boom just like what happened at Fukushima. The booster on the second flight looks a lot like the common bulkhead between the LOX and Methane tanks was damaged from an engine explosion, the two components mixed, and there was a spark that initiated the explosion (not FTS). The weather was so bad that what happened to the upper stage is going to be a guess, but there was good evidence that it went boom minutes before anybody in the control room started to worry which speaks to the inadequacy of their telemetry. If a guy in Florida was able to get video with his telescope, there was no reason why SpaceX couldn't have been able to receive data if they were set up to get it.

  6. elDog

    Oh, I thought he called it huffing, not venting. But LOX? Really Elon?

    You're the man!

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Oh, I thought he called it huffing, not venting. But LOX? Really Elon?

      There's a good chance a certain nameless billionaire was huffing something, but it probably didn't have anything to do with the rocket exploding.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Oh, I thought he called it huffing, not venting. But LOX? Really Elon?

        As any Huffer knows, there is only one true Huff, and that is the Kitten!

  7. nautica Silver badge
    Happy

    Has always seemed just exactly like tRUMP...

    ...Makes up excuses on the spur of the moment, and expects them to be accepted because they came out of his mouth. And, no; additional time to think things through before babbling would not help. The operative word here is think.

  8. trevorde Silver badge

    Eyes on the prize

    Shouldn't he be running Xitter?

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Eyes on the prize

      Tesla and SpaceX have become the way he funds Xitter.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Eyes on the prize

        Tesla shareholders funded most of the Twitter purchase. The share price crashed as Musk sold to make up the difference between the loans and $44B. The price recovered because investors took advantage of the low price and their share purchases drove the price back into the silly range again. Musk is actually very good at hyping the value of Tesla. There is supposed to be a limit to how much you exaggerate the value of your publicly traded company. Eventually the SEC will get around to slapping his wrist again - hopefully a bit harder this time.

        Musk got some fools to invest in Twitter giving it cash in hand when he took over. That cash has paid the interest on X's loans used to buy Twitter. There cannot be much left. Soon we will see if Musk is really committed funding Twitter like Bezos funds Blue Origin. Musk learned some lessons from being kicked out of Paypal (he missed the important one: Paypal gained an enormous amount of value after he was gone). Taking away his control of Tesla and SpaceX will not be as easy even though I am sure it would benefit both companies. The cost would be his continued control of Twitter. Perhaps not that high if he succeeds in completing the transformation into a place for Nazis to scream at bots while everyone else ignores them.

        1. Andy 73 Silver badge

          Re: Eyes on the prize

          You might suggest that the guy who has made most of his money from hyping his companies without restraint to private investors who don't know any better deliberately bought Twitter to have control over the largest public forum for hyping his companies. He can make whatever announcements and promises he likes on X, and there's pretty much no-one who can stop him. Convenient, no?

          It also appears that he hasn't learned his lesson from PayPal - in the last 24 hours he's announced on X that he needs to double his holding in Tesla before he'd be willing to continue AI development at the company as he apparently doesn't have enough influence. I'm torn between thinking this is a naked cash grab as he's spent all his money on X and drugs, or thinking this is a false ultimatum to excuse abandoning FSD and robot development within Tesla (where he might actually have to deliver a product this decade). It's easier to launch yet another company that can pull in a load of ignorant investors with promises that are at least a decade away than actually make his cars work reliably.

          1. aerogems Silver badge

            Re: Eyes on the prize

            If you look only at the number of shares in Tesla he owns, and do the math of multiplying that by the share price, he's the richest man in the world. However, he's leveraged up to his eyeballs with something like 80% of his Tesla stock being held as collateral for various loans. At least some of those loans were to buy more Tesla stock, which is supremely risky and stupid. That figure, IIRC, was from before he went out and bought Xitter. If you take all of that into account, he is still probably wealthier than any of us, but hardly the richest person in the world.

            But, he's been running pump and dump scams on Xitter for about as long as he's been on the platform and involved with a publicly traded company. I'm gobsmacked that the SEC hasn't taken some kind of enforcement action over it until the "funding secured" Xcretion. Especially since he's made literal admissions to that being what he's doing. He made some comment once about how Tesla was about to go bankrupt so he started trying to inflate the stock price on Xitter.

            And on a somewhat related note, since you brought up the robotics thing. It seems Tesla is about to the level of robotics achieved in the 1960s.

            https://www.businessinsider.com/reactions-tesla-robot-folding-shirt-question-video-real-2024-1

          2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: whatever announcements on X, no-one to stop him

            I am amazed he has got this far with only an 'adult supervision on the internet' order from the SEC. Judging by the way he is wetting his pants at the prospect of another deposition with the SEC I have some slim hope that eventually his actions will have significant negative consequences.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Eyes on the prize

          "Musk learned some lessons from being kicked out of Paypal "

          Elon got tossed from Cofinity before the company rebranded to what they called their principal product. IIRC, it wasn't all that long after Cofinity bought one of Elon's companies that Elon got the sack, while on the way Down Under for a honeymoon which he was told about when he arrived. Delete one honeymoon. I'm being pedantic as too many people think Elon was the founder or at least the guiding force of Paypal. The reality is that through acquisitions, he held a bunch of stock that made him very wealthy when PayPal was purchased by eBay. That success wasn't due to anything Elon did. After the big payday he went out and bought a fancy new Mclaren sports car. Shortly after that, delete one sports car.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Eyes on the prize

      "Shouldn't he be running Xitter?"

      Given what's gone on thus far, the company might do better in his absence. With nobody going on TV and telling the customers to .......... Linda might have more luck bringing in some revenue.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Give us a payload

    It won't explode next time. Honest.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Give us a payload

      The first payload will be a batch of Starlink V2s. I am sure there is a stack of them waiting. If they do go boom the loss of a mass production factory's first batch will be small compared to a big artisan built satellite.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Give us a payload

        " If they do go boom the loss of a mass production factory's first batch will be small compared to a big artisan built satellite."

        With somebody else's satellite, the customer would be the one on the hook for buying insurance. A Starship going boom with a load of Starlink satellites is SpaceX losing several more hundreds of millions in a greasy cloud of boom.

  10. eldakka

    Using a deluge of water to dampen the effects of launch has long been a staple of launches going back decades, but it took the creation of a crater for Musk and co to learn that particular lesson.

    To be fair - and I hate being fair to Musk - they were already planning to put a deluge system in place. But the construction of such a system wasn't due till several weeks after the rocket was ready to launch, and since making the deluge system would require basically rebuilding the launch platform anyway, and as they do follow a "move fast and break things" philosophy, a little damage due to a pre-deluge launch wouldn't be a problem, ...would it?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Parts of the deluge were spotted last January. IFT1 was the following April. The biggest delay for IFT2 was regulatory approval for the deluge. The biggest delays to Starship come from regulatory authorities not being staffed and resourced sufficiently to keep up. This is not just a SpaceX problem. The rest of new space has similar issues but they are not good cover for delays to SLS/Orion.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Facepalm

        SLS/Orion is not supposed to send people to the Moon or anywhere else, it is there for providing jobs to some States where the Senator is on the proper pork-barrel committee.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "The biggest delay for IFT2 was regulatory approval for the deluge."

        Elon never got any approval for the "not-a-deluge-system". SpaceX abandoned the application they filed with the Army Corp of Engineers when a list of questions were sent to SpaceX to address some concerns. The ACoE subsequently closed the application when the time expired for a response.

  11. Lt.Kije

    That explains one failure

    That explains one stage failure.

    What about the other?

    Anyway, Elon still rocks, even if he is a nutter, so props to Shotwell.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: This explains the other failure

      There is a popular explanation for the booster. One benefit of hot staging is the propellant stays settled at the bottom of the tanks. For IFT2 the second stage pushed the first stage backwards lifting the propellant which then sloshed during the flip. The tanks are pressurised with hot gaseous propellant. The slosh cools the gas and reduces the pressure. The engines need a minimum intake pressure to operate so the engines went out. The engines supply the hot gases that pressurise the tanks. If the oxygen pressure exceeds the methane pressure then the big methane pipe that runs through the oxygen tank gets crushed. It is also possible for excess oxygen pressure to invert the common dome between the tanks. This would explain the engines going out and propellant leaking from the middle of the booster before the explosion.

      As no reasonable person would rely on Xitter for factual information I will wait for the mishap report instead of trusting words from Musk. There will be a public version of the report but it will be drastically edited. (Not quite as badly as HHGTTG's entry for Earth.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That explains one failure

      Yup, would really like to know the cause of failure for the 1st stage.

  12. Gary Stewart

    Much more than the deluge system

    There was much more to the launch pad update than the deluge system. There was extensive upgrading of the base support structure that included many new reinforced concrete pillars scattered around the base pad. After watching this pair of a YouTube videos of these updates I was amazed that they got it all done in such a short time. They are long but very interesting.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09DDpHdIYgU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqVLP3DKOk4

    As to the oxygen leak "theory", oxygen itself does not explode (as I thought but I still looked it up), it requires some kind of fuel mixed with the oxygen to go BOOM.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: required fuel

      (Giving far too much weight to an unreliable source instead of waiting for the mishap report): In the absence of fuel, oxygen reacts with engines which then explode.

      1. Gary Stewart

        Re: required fuel

        "(Giving far too much weight to an unreliable source instead of waiting for the mishap report)"

        Giving far too much assuming because I haven't read any unreliable source other than what Musk said.

    2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

      Re: Much more than the deluge system

      Pure oxygen will turn almost anything into fuel, including human beings.

  13. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    Payload you say?

    There’s a guy in Florida who’s qualified to be roll on cargo, and he’s always up for some self promotion.

  14. James O'Shea

    Bah, humbug

    Elon needs to move to Real Rockets(tm). Something like Freeman Dyson's Project Orion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion) That's _supposed_ to go Boom! and take out the launch facility. One of my favorite scenes in SF is the launch of Michael from Bellingham, Washington, in Niven & Pournelle's Footfall. Quote: God wanted in, and He wanted in bad.

    It's not as if anyone would miss a few square miles of Texas...

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Bah, humbug

      Surprisingly, Orion would cause minimal issues at the launchsite if a steel plate is in place (ablation calculated at less than 0.01mm)

      The bigger issue is short-lived radionucleides from the bombs (fallout), which was calculated as causing 1-2 extra fatalities/year

  15. Death Boffin
    Flame

    Venting

    One possible reason that the oxygen venting is that the engines run methane rich to prevent them from running engine rich. Additional oxygen will ignite with the extra methane. Not sure what this does at altitude, but it is probably not good.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Venting

      The atmosphere is full of oxygen, I don't see what effect some additional oxygen could do. So no, LOX venting isn't a reasonable technical explanation for an explosion. If it had been liquid methan, then may-be, but liquid oxygen certainly not

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Venting

        The atmosphere is predominantly Nitrogen. O2 is around 16%. At altitude, that % drops off. Altitude sickness is mostly due to a lack of O2.

        1. Killing Time

          Re: Venting

          Atmospheric O2 is between 20 and 21 percent at sea level. At 16 percent I believe free combustion is suppressed if I recall correctly.

          Take a look at the cylinder gas ratios on those synthetic air server room fire suppression systems which are personnel friendly.

          They might scare the bejesus out of you when they discharge but you will survive the gas escape at least!

          Been on the market for years.

  16. JD1991
    Childcatcher

    Elon.... bad!

    1. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

      Wow, read the room. We don't need that kind of hostility here.

      1. Gary Stewart

        Tell that to the guy Musk called a pedo.

  17. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Not rocket science...

    In the absence of cargo (payload), even in the days of sailing ships, the idea of ballast was well understood.

    I would be more than happy to supply his rocketeers sandbag ballast in 100g quanta at only a slightly exhorbitant unit cost.

    As for snarkiness, if I were to have an idle Boojum on the payroll, Musk could pride himself on being amongst the top 20 on its assigned visiting list.

    I suspect Musk intact wouldn't fit into the unused cargo space but I suppose his Saudi creditor could arrange to rectify that objection much to everyone's satisfaction.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Potemkine! Silver badge
    1. Kapsalon

      Hyperbole

      Why do you bring this up, what is the relation between SpaceX and Hyperloop One?

      None of the hyperloop companies are directly related to Musk or SpaceX.

      BTW: There are plenty still working on the idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperloop

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Hyperbole

        The Hyperloop (Elons version) company was shutdown just before Christmas 2023

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-67801235

        Where did all the billions raised go?

        IMHO, he is not much more than a modern day snake oil salesman (much like his idol, Trump). Promises the earth and delivers little and very late. Where's that Roadster 2 Elon?

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Hyperbole

          "IMHO, he is not much more than a modern day snake oil salesman (much like his idol, Trump). Promises the earth and delivers little and very late. Where's that Roadster 2 Elon?"

          Basically kick started the EV industry, has revolutionised space access...

          The boring company hasn't worked out, and twitter was always going to carry on being a dumpster fire of offense.

          Paypal didn't do badly either.

          The two things he's done that he actually has an ulterior motive for (making us interplanetary and decarbonising transport) have actually been pretty successful. His time estimates are always optimistic - partly because if you don't at least aim for a tight deadline you'll just miss the later one instead.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Hyperbole

            "Basically kick started the EV industry, has revolutionised space access..."

            A good book to read (between the lines) is Steam by Terry Pratchett. You can't railroad until it's time to railroad. More variations that James Burke was showing with the "Connections" series and another reboot presented by Richard Hammond. EV's have been around for ages. There's been a big DIY community and it was Martin and Marc that were poised to take EV's to the masses (at least those with a spare $100k). Elon contribution of funding came with a giant bag of delays and petty demands. Despite his ineptitude, there were enough good engineers brought onboard to produce a product and get it to market, eventually. The only contribution by Elon is mystique, nothing technical or ground breaking.

            I could revolutionize the dairy industry by selling supermarkets milk for $.25/gallon. I'd be a huge "disruptor' until the point I ran out of my initial funding and couldn't get any more OPM. There's no revolution. It's the same as the Chinese companies with government subsidies dumping products on the market below cost until they drive the competition into bankruptcy whereupon they raise their prices to something sustainable with them as the world's sole supplier. SpaceX has to raise money several times a year in the private markets to keep the doors open. They aren't selling their services at a sustainable price and are getting more and more distracted with projects that may never be cash positive. The day may come, and likely quite abruptly, that investors are no longer interested in supplying Elon with billions per year to out Buck Rogers everybody else with his explody rockets. There's nothing on the Falcon 9 that isn't straight out of Gary Sutton's "Rocket Propulsion Elements" and a stack of free NASA publications.

        2. renniks

          Re: Hyperbole

          also the solar roof tiles scam

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Hyperbole

            "also the solar roof tiles scam"

            They are selling solar roof tiles. Not the really pretty ones that didn't work he used to get the Tesla board to bail out Solar City, but ones made mostly of plastic from a supplier in China.

        3. zuckzuckgo

          Re: Hyperbole

          >The Hyperloop (Elons version) company was shutdown just before Christmas 2023

          I always assumed Hyperloop was actually building his secret underground head quarters. They must have finished so they are not needed anymore. I am just surprised he has not acquired a dormant volcano somewhere for his backup launch site.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Hyperbole

        "BTW: There are plenty still working on the idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperloop"

        Hyperloop One, formerly Virgin Hyperloop is gone. They were supposed to have liquidated the assets by the end of 2023. Hyperloop TT has built a full-scale vacuum door, but everything else is still nothing more than CGI. Everybody else seems to be offices full of highly compensated management types filling out grant applications to get free government money.

        It's dead... again.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Enough with the Xitler snark

    “Billionaire suggests a payload would have solved the problem. And we have a suggestion for who that payload could be”

    But then there's no snark in the article at all. Bit unprofessional don't you think El Reg? If I want to read Musk puff pieces I can go to pretty much any news site on the web.

    Try harder.

  20. Fursty Ferret

    I don't think anyone disagrees that he's a right-wing bigoted opinionated self-obsessed childish prick, but do you think that as a tech publication you could focus on the tech news side of things? Ultimately SpaceX has driven the industry further and faster than at any point since the race for the moon, and that particular aspect I find interesting.

    Musk is like Trump, he revels in controversy and publicity. Not mentioning his name at all is the most effectively way forward to silence the man-child, while we still get to enjoy the news of SpaceX etc.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Engagement. Adverts don't sell themselves.

  21. mpi Silver badge

    Alright Elon, then how about you riddle me this:

    If all you needed was payload, any payload, you know, for your rocket-testing...how about you get a bit of sand or some other disposable material, stuff it into suitable containers and, oh, I don't know, load that into your rocket?

    The idea of "ballast" has been understood for several centuries. This is, quite literally, not rocket science.

  22. Binraider Silver badge

    Is this any better or worse than the awful integration on the Boeing Starliner that saw it's clocks run to different tunes? Or do they have similar root causes? What checks and balances are being done here? Have the FAA been too busy worrying about the wrong things to notice that the assumptions for fuel consumption and delta-V because of payload were off?

    To say nothing of SpaceX own people. Though Elon being a dickhead and firing people because reasons could well also be a part of it.

    That said, I absolutely am a fan of all-up testing. Flushing out mistakes before anything that actually matters happens is a good thing. This approach got results in the Apollo era, and it will get results now too. As opposed to endless paper designs that always overlook something until tested in anger.

  23. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Prudent

    If Musk had been a little bit more prudent and had allowed time to have the water deluge system installed before launch we could've had an orbital flight of Starship already. But his ketamine laden bod insisted on flying early and often.

    If the next flight succeeds NASA will start to push him hard to keep him to his promise of landing Astronauts on the moon before 2026 arrives.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Prudent

      If the next flight succeeds NASA will start to push him hard to keep him to his promise of landing Astronauts on the moon before 2026 arrives.

      Well, if "t'pineapple" is elected King <vomit />, NASA will be populated with a bunch of folks named "Bubba" and "Jim Bob", who couldn't spell "moon" if you gave them a crayon and a large sheet of wide-lined paper. So I don't think there will be much of a push.

      The money that would go to such an endeavor wouldn't be there, either; having been diverted to building a mined, electrified Wall along the southern border vaguely resembling the Iron Curtain of the '70s and '80s.

    2. Oneman2Many

      Re: Prudent

      Where do you draw the line. SpaceX are talking about V2 and V3, does that mean they should wait even though V1 can still produce valid results ?

      As for NASA, they have given up on 2025 or even 2026 for Artimes 3. I honestly won't be shocked if the delay landing to 2028 and Artimes 4.

      1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Prudent

        No. That ship has sailed. All I'm saying is that a little more prudence could've saved a lot of time, money and effort.

        They installed the deluge system within a month so they could've saved the huge time the EPA / FWS took to do the environmental impact damage assessment.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Prudent

        "As for NASA, they have given up on 2025 or even 2026 for Artimes 3. I honestly won't be shocked if the delay landing to 2028 and Artimes 4.

        It won't be pushed out that much further. SpaceX was awarded the only contract for HLS to land people on the moon beating out everybody else on paper. With all of the progress they haven't made, NASA had a chat with the second place finisher to get them to work really hard on addressing all of the concerns there were with V1 and now a contract has been awarded to another company to build a human rated lunar lander more to NASA's liking. It's a race to see which one can deliver a craft first that meets spec. Unless SpaceX wins that race or is so close with a far superior machine, they'll be sacked. Astrobotic is expected to have another go at putting a lander on the moon this year (2024). While it's smaller than what would be needed for people and not capable enough, even the mission that just burned up due to a Oxygen leak raised the TRL (Technical Readiness Level) of a lot of stuff. IIRC, Dreamchaser will have a test flight this year of a ship that can bring people back from Earth orbit to a runway getting rid of the need for a cramped one-use capsule that comes in as a meteor. Grab your popcorn and move the cooler next to the couch, the game is getting interesting.

        1. Oneman2Many

          Re: Prudent

          Who says it won't be pushed out, HLS is only one of many issues that is holding the program up. SLS, Spacesuits, Orion capsule and I'm sure many others.

          I assume you were joking about 'NASA had a chat with second place finisher' ? The major partner of that bid has left the consortium, I assume having lost the original competition there has been zero further development unlike SpaceX which would have carried on regardless of winning the contract on not. The contract awarded for 2nd lander is for 2028, it very unlikely they can pull ahead to any time sooner and I'm not even holding my breath about them making the 2028 schedule being a multi company partnership which historically has been a recipe for delays especially taking into account the members involved. So not sure where you get the idea that its some sort of race ?

          I am not sure where you think Astrobotic recent lunar attempt comes into it. Its great the work they are doing but human flight is on a different scale to their plans. Assuming they leave the launch services to an established player (SLS, Starship, mayby New Glen) the lander part is billions of dollars to develop and with 2 human rated systems under development is there space for a 3rd player ?

          As for Dreamchaser, I am guessing you are confused by its scope and where it would fit into Artimes program. Right now its being developed for cargo. They do have a contract (manybe ?) and potentially funding to provide crew transport services to LEO for Blue Reef so no trips to the moon. According to this site the first flight doesn't even had a date but won't be before 2029,

          https://spaceref.com/newspace-and-tech/sierra-space-working-with-nasa-on-crewed-dream-chaser/

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still, at least the doors aren't popping off during launch because the bolts weren't screwed on tight. I'd be slightly concerned about catching a lift to orbit on Starliner.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      You'll be even more conerned if you watch Al Jazeera's "On a Wing and a Prayer" from 2010, focussing on 737NG issues

      Things that the FAA is "just discovering now" were reportely part and parcel of the business back in the 2003-2004 timeframe when safety inspectors who whistleblew were shopped back to McBoing by the FAA and sacked within a week

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like