They are also upgrading the launch password
312 posts • joined 10 Aug 2018
"After the Big Bang, the universe contained only the simplest atoms, like hydrogen and helium. Heavier elements, like calcium, oxygen, and various metals are only found in later generations of stars."
That's not quite correct. The first generation of stars (Population III) quickly formed elements all the way up to iron by fusion, so yes calcium and oxygen did exist in the first stars. Elements heavier than iron could only exist after the first stars went supernova.
It's true that metals are more abundant in later generations (Population I) and less abundant in older stars (Population II), but even the older ones do have some.
Launch sites are already selected for remoteness and a flight path over hundreds of kilometres of sea because hypergolic fuel is very nasty stuff and even if nicer fuels are used nobody wants a rocket landing on their house. So, launching a very small nuclear reactor isn't a problem. Many nuclear powered rovers have already been launched (yes I know the reactor type is very different but the potential contamination from a crashed and ruptured rocket is not so different).
If you follow the "musings" link you'll find they are talking about enough power for eight houses on Earth which isn't much at all. I suspect the main reason enormous cooling towers aren't required is they are not producing enormous amounts (e.g. one million houses) of power like a typical Earth-based nuclear power station does.
To be fair to our Reg hack: the linked article starts by saying the second stage will be reusable and finishes with this quote from Musk:
“I’m actually quite confident that we’ll be able to achieve full reusability of the upper stage,” he said. “In fact, I’m certain we can achieve full reusability of the upper stage."
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