Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fantastic Future Saturday: Luckily Unlucky

I wish I could figure out a way to use my powers for the good of mankind.

At 11 am yesterday I opened up the live feed of the Falcon 9 test flight and waited for the launch. And waited, and waited.

Eventually I got bored and wrote a chapter of my new book.

At 2:30 I checked the AP about the launch and they said it was postponed until Saturday, so I wrote that on my blog. 10 minutes later they launched. It is my awsome power to have reality refute me with a great sense of irony.

About the launch:

It was about as successful a test flight could be without blowing up.

What I mean by that is a perfect test flight would follow Murphy’s Law and everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

Luckily a few things did go slightly wrong on the launch, but not enough to stop it from reaching orbit.

First, the onboard computers gave weird readings leading to the launch being postponed. Not a huge problem for the test flight but they will need to fix it before they can service the ISS as they will have a much smaller launch window. It would have been bad if they got “lucky” and this problem didn’t show up until they were actually going to the Space Station.

Second, the second stage rolled more than expected but still within their safety window. When they look this data over they can find out if the rolling was a serious problem in the design or not.

I’m sure they probably had 100’s of smaller things that weren’t quite optimal that they can look at to improve on before the next test flight this summer.

So with this test flight SpaceX has found a few things to fix and proved that their design is capable of reaching orbit.

This is the beginning of a new era of Space Flight as this shows that a private company can start to take over operations in Low Earth Orbit, taking over this critical task from the government. Now NASA and other Space Programs can start looking out further and we as species can start to think about working in the inner solar system. A place with nearly infinite resources and infinite energy (at least more than we can use in the next 300 years).

This is a great step in our journey as species.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

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