44 Replies to “If At First You Don’t Succeed”

  1. In 1984 NBC News built a 3 story Stacking steel Building ~ (30X30) that was used in San-Fran for the DNC convention, the upper floor was the Studio with Glass overlooking the Convention Floor… After San Fran the Building went to Cape Canaveral for NBC coverage of NASA launches… I was the Systems Design Engineer in 1984 and got a hate on for Steel interconnected cables runs.. Never enough & cables running up Stairways & on the floor…..
    Wonder if they still use that sucker?

    1. Good launch so far. First stage has been successfully recovered.

        1. Didn’t they go to the Moon (250,000 miles away) over 50 years ago? Why are we supposed to be impressed by this?

          The ISS is in low earth orbit (200 to 400 miles up). Which no one has gone beyond since 1972. This latest Space Show is pretty boring.

          1. What happened today was the first launch of American astronauts from American soil. For the past 9 years, NASA bought rides from the Russians. This mission occurred at an appropriate time as there have been a few discussions with Roscosmos recently as to whether they still can get seats for future Soyuz flights.

            But the other thing that makes this particularly unique is that this is a brand-new spacecraft and it was developed with private money. NASA’s current Orion program’s been on-going for close to 15 years. Only one unmanned test flight took place so far and that was back in 2014. It’s supposedly going to be carrying a crew next year, but that deadline appears to be rather elastic.

            Another aspect that makes this flight interesting is that the crew compartment’s designed to be re-used, thereby reducing the cost per flight. Yes, I know that was promised with the space shuttle, but each orbiter and pair of solid rocket boosters had to be almost completely overhauled before their next flight.

            Two other contenders for this service is Boeing with its Starliner and Blue Origin, though Jeff Bezos has been rather miserly with details.

            Personally, I’d rather see a manned version of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, the design of which is based on an old Soviet experimental lifting body. It’s designed to be launched vertically, but land like an aircraft.

          2. ” This latest Space Show is pretty boring.”
            That’s one of the things that makes it so exciting.
            Another is that the rocket was basically built by some rich guy in his garage at a total development cost of only $300 million and it’s a slicker bit o’ kit that any government program has built so far.
            And for a third the operational heavy version of the rocket is already capable of boosting a 14,000 Kg payload to Mars. That’s enough for a manned crew.

            This boring show is the start of a new era in manned space flight. I made sure to watch it live, just like I made sure to watch Freedom 7 and Apollo 11.

          3. It’s the first US launch of astronauts for 9 years.

            I am looking forward to the enormous telescopes we can build on the moon and the First Lunar Bank, which only needs to be a data center and a telemetry link, preferably optical and encrypted quantumnly so governments cannot muscle in.

    1. Both were shuttle veterans, so they were accustomed to potentially hazardous situations.

      1. The Mercury astronauts were test pilots and were used to flying something which might have problems. But that’s what they did: they flew those planes in order to find out what might be wrong with them.

  2. That was cool…and for a damn-near 60 year old fart whose parents woke him up at about 5am (Eastern) to watch a Gemini or Apollo launch I’ve seen a few launches in my time on TV (I should google to see which flight it was) Not the same without Walter Cronkite anchoring the coverage but I’ll take it.
    I sent a reminder about T-Minus 45 minutes to my aerospace engineer graduate kid in Montreal with the added message that like the hell that was going on in ‘68 and ‘69, this is just what we need right now.
    Godspeed Bob and Doug, eh?

    1. Upon further review, it seems my folks didn’t drag my five and a half year old butt outta bed at 5am to watch a launch on TV. It might’ve been Gemini 12 in November 1966 at around 8-45pm.
      Which to a five and a half year old may as well have been 5am.

      1. Gemini XII was a daytime launch as I watched it on TV, just before noon where I was living at the time.

        The first night launch was Apollo 17 and it flew into a completely dark sky.

        1. Jeezuz, does that mean Mom and Dad woke me up to watch special closed circuit feeds from Star City, USSR? Those commie rat bastards. And thanks to Herr Deplorable Rupertslander for crapping all over a seemingly cherished childhood memory.
          I do remember the night-time launch of Apollo 17 and how night turned into day during that one. Obviously I misread the Gemini 12 Google Fu in regards to calibrating UTC / GMT.
          Anyway, an amazing feat and welcome diversion from all the horsehockey in the world today…and we now resume coverage of the end of the world, already in progress…

          1. It would have been extraordinary if you had seen anything from Star City. The Soviets were pretty tight-lipped about their early missions and announced only their successes.

            Often, though, they were scooped by this group of schoolboys:


            As for getting up early, many of the first space missions were launched in the local mornings. I remember, though, that the TV coverage for the Apollo 8 launch began in the middle of the night and I wanted to get up in the wee hours in order to watch it. Why the middle of the night? I lived in northern B. C. while Cape Kennedy (as it was known at the time) was in a different time zone.

            It did make things a bit awkward for me. In addition, most of those launches took place on school days, so I wouldn’t have been able to see them.

      2. Sure you don’t mean this one? The United States’ Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969.
        We were on holidays in the Maritimes with our 12-yr-old son and an older niece and although I woke them up I’m not sure if they were fully awake throughout.
        Mark @5.13 and 5.34 mustn’t have been watching the disastrous launch of the Challenger and know what happened to the crew or he wouldn’t think any launch was “boring”.

    2. On the other hand, I found the countdown commentators to be both irritating and boring. None of them came even close to Jack King or Hugh Harris.

      When King handled the Apollo 11 launch, one couldn’t help but feel that one was witnessing history in the making. Harris wasn’t as dramatic, but he made the first launch of Columbia exciting and interesting, providing technical details so that one understood what was going on.

  3. Very nice. Maybe we will start private mining enterprises in space in my lifetime. I think we’re about 50 years behind where most 1960s and 1970s sci-fi thought we’d be by now.

  4. Yes, B A Deplorable Rupertslander, I know the story.

    Nevertheless, nothing’s being done that wasn’t done over 50 years ago. Giant yawn.

    Virgin Galactic said we’d have space tourism in a few years – over 10 years ago.

    1. And who’s in charge of Virgin Galactic, eh? Branson is a combination of P. T. Barnum and Elon Musk.

      As for why we haven’t gone past LEO in nearly 50 years was that there was no reason to. Apollo was just another theatre in the Cold War and was meant to show the superiority of American technology.

      In fact, Wernher von Braun wasn’t keen on the idea. He wanted a gradual expansion outwards, starting with an LEO space station. That idea didn’t go very far as it would have meant that the Americans and Soviets would have been in a competition as to who could build the better or bigger station, as well as who had the bigger rockets.

      Going to the moon, on the other hand, had a lot of propaganda value. As it turned out, it was really LBJ’s program. Shortly before he died, JFK considered a collaboration with the Soviets. Johnson, however, wanted to make Kennedy’s end-of-decade commitment happen.

  5. Your suggestion for a myriad of satellites has been studied. Many of the smaller birds that are launched nowadays are what is referred to as cubesats. They’re based on a standard module size and are relatively cheap to build. Cubesat kits are available for a few thousand dollars.

    The next step down in size is the nanosat. A few of those have been launched as well.

  6. The ISS is the most expensive structure ever built by humanity. It does some science but does not push the boundaries as much as we would like. It does not stage us to the moon and beyond. ISS is the best that the bureaucratic committee who delivered the low earth orbit space truck (the shuttle) could conceive of to keep the money train running. (ISS does make a great backdrop for Hatfield Bowie covers).

    I remember that after 9/11 Jerry Pournelle advocated for America to not spend trillions on another series of wars but to instead focus on the delivery of space based microwave power and push the ongoing expansion of mankind beyond LEO. I miss Jerry.

    I also watched every Apollo launch with my dad, imagining, through my youthful eyes, the future for us all. I certainly didn’t imagine that 2020 would look so little different from 1969. Let’s hope our grandkids can see a solar system being explored and someday beyond.

    The governmental space agencies are so grossly inefficient and risk adverse they seem unable to deliver grand vision.

    Go Space Ex!

    (The reason you want to back Space Ex and not Orion is that Space Ex isn’t afraid to test to the point of failure, and to do so rapidly and learn from the failure. It makes the ride safer.)

    1. I agree that the ISS is a white elephant. The only reason it was built in the first place was as the American response to the old Soviet Salyut space stations and was first proposed in 1984.

      It was originally supposed to be called Freedom and was to be a solely U. S. effort, along with contributions from allies. But there were a few hitches. One was that its cost, being a government program, escalated, partly because it took so long to design it. A number of configurations were considered and it took several years to settle on something.

      By then, the Soviets put Mir into orbit, having retired the last of its Salyuts. Also, the Soviet Union had collapsed.

      However, Congress tried to scuttle the program numerous times, but somebody managed to find money for it. But it got to a point that the space station became too expensive. I think it was under Clinton that it became an international project. The Russians had a space program that needed money and an objective. The Americans had spent a lot of cash and didn’t have much to show for it, plus the space shuttle needed a place to go to.

      The result was that it became a joint venture and was, for a while, renamed Alpha. Actual construction began in 1998.

      But the International Space Station, as it’s now called, is an expensive whatzit. It really serves no purpose others than a political symbol, though it’s claimed to be a research facility. The only things that it showed us was how to build things in orbit and how to live there, at least for a few months at a time. Aside from that, it, like the space shuttle, was a make-work project.

      I understand your cynicism. The reason I started grad studies in the first place was to work in that field. I did for a while and, no, it wasn’t anywhere near as glorious and exciting as it’s been portrayed on TV or in movies. Nowadays, the closest I come to that is by contacting my fellow radio amateurs over any number of ham satellites.

      1. I really think I’m a little cynical for similar reasons. The promise and disappointment.

        Like the internet. Promise, disappointment, riots.

        SpaceX provides some hope..

  7. That launch Brought back memories of Gemini flights and a few of the early Apollo ones as well. Unfortunately, I was on a Bush Survival course in Hinton in 67 when Apollo 11 went…missed that whole thing.

    But the survival course was well worth it…

    Good on SpaceEx, Dragon and NASA for getting this one done…Time to get back on track.

  8. Mercury-Gemini-Apollo-Saturn: Watched all of it. Growing up my friend and I were going to be fighter pilots and then on to the Cape as astronauts. Kids dreaming. Well my friend lives in Titusville now and the office for his business is about
    3 miles from the launch pad. When there is a launch he shuts the office down and everyone sits on the lawn and watches. I went down for the last shuttle launch and it was delayed so long I missed it. My buddy does work for Nasa and knows several of the astronauts and a retired director got passes for my wife and I to tour the Nasa facility. How they crammed those poor bastards into those Gemini capsules is beyond belief. My buddy is living the dream and I am a tad jealous.

    What is the importance of this launch? It will make Nasa a customer rather than a funder of space exploration. What SpaceX has accomplished in 12 years is unbelievable. Musk has lots of money making ideas for space. The world needs something bigger than itself right now. To many navel gazers in today’s world. If I was 30 years younger I would be planning trip to Mars.

  9. Space,the frontier we turned our back on.
    It amazes me how pathetic we are.
    Huddling at the bottom of this gravity well,we worry about the asteroid that will come.
    Now the first problem is hard radiation,moon bases need something to replace our atmosphere.
    So using bright young men is “too dangerous”.
    But cranky old men,with developed skills,well past any best before fate biologically and in need of 1/6 earths gravity..would line up.
    We will build a moon base as long as we can stay.
    Retirement bubbles on the Moon.
    I actually believed back in the 80s that we would be there now,boy was I wrong.
    “Investing in welfare” was what we did instead.

    1. Going to space is hard. Going to space is expensive. Going to space is pointless if there’s no reason to go there or if there’s no return on the investment.

  10. Space travel is extraordinary. Going to moon, hell yeah!
    Inspirational for humankind , yes. Nationalism, um no. ISS, kinda like UN. What’s the middle ground.? Acknowledge all involved from around world? Problem for melting pot USA, that’s why people go there, land of opportunity. Musk knows that, does Trump?