Another scrub at SpaceX - But 3rd Time's the Charm

Another scrub at SpaceX - But 3rd Time's the Charm

And my system kept freezing! It's cyber-villains, I tell you!

Next try was originally stated to be tomorrow, but latest is "within a few days". My shopping schedule is rooned! >:p

PorfirioR | 28 november 2013

Brian H,

I had a similar problem with Monday's webcast and noticed that the video did not freeze when I switched to Chrome.

It was definitely an "oh-sh*t moment" hearing the first abort called at T +00:01. Video here:

Hats off to the SpaceX team for working through these challenges. After all, this IS rocket science.

blue adept | 28 november 2013

Better safe than sorry and it's always best to get it right the first time.

Brian H | 29 november 2013

I achieved freezes on FF, Opera, Chrome, and IE.

Timo | 29 november 2013

Need to check regularly thru weekend when they have next launch window. Too few spacex updates lately. I hope they make additional reusability test during this flight like they did in last one. It would be cool to see first stage re-entering and near-stopping before hitting ground/water.

dz4 | 29 november 2013

Even though I would very like SpaceX to succeed, in what could be in a way a creation of a new industry (they even call it 'new space') that could create employment and economic growth for years to come, the cynic in me questions how successful could be a silicon-valley (culturally, at least) start up company when competing in a multi-billion strategic sector where its main competitors are state sponsored companies.
Musk himself talked about how his company is threatening the establishment. If competitors can't compete on price how far off is it that they use other tactics? I hope I'm wrong on this.

Timo | 29 november 2013

I think age of government-controlled space is pretty much over. We are transitioning to corporate-controlled space.

"the establishment" isn't really SpaceX direct competitors. The establishment is control. SpaceX, being private company, threats that control. Every non-government-controlled company is facing same problem. Currently SpaceX is so much cheaper than rest and so small and is playing nice that is has no trouble. Trouble becomes when there is threat to who controls what is put into space and where. If company is multi-national then who has legal controls what it does?

Rules change. Power shifts. That's trouble. Possibly very nasty trouble.

dz4 | 29 november 2013

just offering a launch for half the price of competitors is not playing nice at all. Even if you ignore direct competition, being able to build the rocket in many locations (vs. vertical integration for SpaceX) is now being demonstrated as being much less efficient, yet creates much more high paying jobs.
I also think the shift from government to commercial at this point is probably inevitable, and then the issue of regulation of what goes into space becomes a big question.
However it seems quite feasible that in the shorter term as the government sponsored competition gets pushed into the corner we could see technical setbacks intentionally caused. It seems like something easy to do (all it takes is a faulty valve to disrupt a launch) and the incentives for a competitor to do such a thing is getting much higher. I hope I'm wrong on this, and if not, I hope SpaceX comes up with practices to deal with such challenges. Either way, wish them best luck.

Brian H | 29 november 2013

I believe 1st stage recovery only is planned this time; they're not up to recovering at geosynch return speeds yet.

PorfirioR | 29 november 2013

No first stage recovery is planned for this mission. The rocket will be 100% dedicated to the SES-8 mission.

Elon hinted that the next resupply mission to the International Space Station at the end of this year will fly a first stage with retractable legs and attempt a landing "if everything goes perfect".

Despite all the recent excitement with "commercial space" here in the US, the commercial space sector has been around for a long time. Arianespace (a French company) has been in business since the 80s and they are the ones most threatened by this particular mission that SpaceX will be launching - the first US commercial launch to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Arianespace has pretty much owned the market for missions to GTO and they are quite expensive. SES (the customer for this mission) has 54 satellites in orbit and launches satellites about 4 times a year. Just to replenish SES' current fleet, as satellites reach the end of their 15-year life, guarantees at least 3 launches per year. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.

The only other competition is Proton (a Russian rocket). They are working through a reliability image problem after a recent spectacular failure. More the reason for SpaceX to remain paranoid. It is their market to lose.

SpaceX won't be able to build rockets fast enough if the Falcon 9 v1.1 performs well in this mission and the Thaicom-6 mission (also to GTO) coming up in a few weeks.

Somebody said play nice? Too late.
Elon, in his typical fashion, started the trash-talking over a year ago:

It is on.

Brian H | 29 november 2013

He just warned ESA that they needed a next-gen rocket to compete. Common knowledge. Hardly "trash-talk".

dz4 | 30 november 2013

This might be more than just a next-gen product. Perhaps a fundamental question is can competitors come up with a reasonably priced product without shifting to a vertically integrated model? If not, in the case of ESA, they are pushed to take a European project with contractors in many countries and turn it into a national (French, I'd guess) project. There will be jobs lost as most of those contractors wont relocate and there is a broader political aspect as well since the Euro project is itself still being questioned. So then you might ask, what will they do about it?
Not sure how much of an issue this is, it probably depends on to what extent is the Ariane5 production distributed, and how important is the vertical integration to price competitiveness.
As for the first issue (how distributed is Ariane5), this list from Arianespace could give a clue -

L8MDL | 30 november 2013

Per Musk tweet today (11/30):
"Rocket engines are healthy, but cleaning turbopump gas generators will take another day. Aiming for Mon eve launch."

Timo | 2 december 2013

SpaceX update: "Earliest possible launch attempt is Monday evening".

Which is what? Evening in which timezone?

PorfirioR | 2 december 2013

No official report yet but there are media reports that the launch window will open at 5:37pm or 5:41pm (depending on the source) and close at 7:07pm EST.

There is a 40% risk of weather violation due to clouds.

PorfirioR | 2 december 2013

Per most recent Elon Musk tweet, launch moved to "tomorrow evening" (Tuesday) with Wednesday as a backup.

Timo | 2 december 2013

Now I have time. To me that is midday Wednesday (12:41).

PorfirioR | 3 december 2013


It was very nice to see who broke the news first:

I am sure the family had a lot of fun.

Congrats everyone!

Brian H | 3 december 2013

Re-ignition worked, Geo-synch orbit achieved.

Timo | 3 december 2013

Just realized that it was midnight Wednesday. Can't trust computers to calc timezone right :-)

I was at sleep at the moment, so would have missed it anyway. Need to check videos from net.

blue adept | 4 december 2013


It isn't actually intended to be perceived as "threatening" or "competition" even, just an innovative breakthrough (alright, a number of them) in long antiquated rocket technology which has become typical of Elon's efforts.

Think of it as an elevated form of the practice of 'conservation of effort' in that Musk simply discerned a more efficient and effective means of accomplishing the same thing as had become conventional rocket science.

If anything, I feel that other potential rivals should view Musk's accomplishments as encouragement for them to strive that much harder to push the innovation envelope in the development of their own propulsion technology.

carlgo | 4 december 2013

The soft landings are great and the pogo flight videos are exciting.. Musk's hope for a successful soft landing "...if everything goes perfectly" is pretty funny if you think about it.

So, what is the plan? The first stage is the biggest and presumably most expensive portion and would make the soft landing, but what about the upper stage(s) and the capsule part? Would they make their own soft landings or simply use parachutes?

grega | 4 december 2013

Take a look at the video:

2nd stage is supposed to do a full orbit before re-entering and landing.

Falcon Heavy would have 3 of the first stages, the first 2 would jettison quite early and be easier for returning, while the middle would be used to get higher and further (and ideally still return).

PorfirioR | 5 december 2013

Although this mission did not attempt a first stage recovery, it appears that some of the updated reentry features were tested to the point of destructive reentry.

Cool video of SES-8 mission first stage separation with visible RCS firing here:

Some people claim that they saw a relight of the first stage, but that likely did not happen. See the Reddit thread here:

This poster is most likely wrong, but the video was entertaining enough that I will post the link here. It reminded of the viral double rainbow video from a few years ago:

In case you missed the reference, link to double rainbow video: