Author Topic: Falcon Heavy Test Flight  (Read 8582 times)

Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #105 on: April 16, 2019, 06:03:12 PM »
Gosh, what could there possibly be to hate about Elon Musk?

Nothing.

I appreciate what Musk has done with SpaceX and Tesla.  He is a visionary, and has some real smarts to go with it.

He's also a weapons-grade asshole.  I realize that comes with the territory - innovators like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Howard Hughes were also garbage human beings.  They accomplished great things, things that genuinely improved our standard of living, but as people they were truly awful. 

Cults of personality are bad.  Musk should not get a free pass on his behavior just because he's helping open access to space.  He should not be rewarded for being a dick. 

Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #106 on: April 16, 2019, 06:26:06 PM »
Gosh, what could there possibly be to hate about Elon Musk?

Nothing.

I appreciate what Musk has done with SpaceX and Tesla.  He is a visionary, and has some real smarts to go with it.

He's also a weapons-grade asshole.  I realize that comes with the territory - innovators like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Howard Hughes were also garbage human beings.  They accomplished great things, things that genuinely improved our standard of living, but as people they were truly awful. 

Cults of personality are bad.  Musk should not get a free pass on his behavior just because he's helping open access to space.  He should not be rewarded for being a dick. 

And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.
"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death." - Isaac Asimov

Offline smartcooky

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #107 on: April 16, 2019, 11:46:06 PM »
This was a test flight.  There was a non-zero chance that it would fail to leave the pad.  Up to that point nobody'd managed to successfully launch something with that many engines, and it was SpaceX's first flight with a multi-booster vehicle.  Nobody was 100% certain they'd got the aero modeling right, nobody was 100% certain booster separation would work properly, etc. 

Being a test flight, they weren't going to risk a paying customer's very expensive bird, so they needed a mass simulator.  It could have been a concrete block or another boilerplate Dragon carrying a wheel of cheese like the first COTS demo flight, but Elon's roadster with Starman was too good a gag to pass up. 

Cheap PR, sure, but not pointless

“There’s, like, a lot that can go wrong there … it’s guaranteed to be exciting. There’s a lot of risk associated with Falcon Heavy, a real good chance that that vehicle does not make it to orbit.”
-Elon Musk, July 2017 (at the ISS R&D Conference in Washington DC)

“Just bear in mind that there is a good chance this monster rocket blows up, so I wouldn’t put anything of irreplaceable sentimental value on it,”
-Elon Musk, December 2017 (in an interview with Phil Plait)

Accordingly, if the guy who owns the rocket company is not very confident that the rocket won't fail, then I would not be risking my multi-million dollar satellite on top of it.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 11:56:45 PM by smartcooky »
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Offline ka9q

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #108 on: April 17, 2019, 12:50:46 AM »
I keep trying to tell you guys that even though your satellite costs millions of dollars, so do rocket launches!

Let the satellite cost be $S and the usual launch cost $L. So the usual mission cost would be $(S+L). Now let's assume you can fly free to your desired orbit on a new launch vehicle with an estimated probability of success P. Then if you take in the cost of building a new satellite if the launch fails, your expected mission cost will be $(S/P), assuming you are offered a free reflight if the first launch fails. If $(S/P) < $(S+L), you still want to risk the test flight.

Of course, even operational launch vehicles can fail so you need to insert another factor into the right side of the inequality to account for that.

Obviously there are exceptions; if your mission is time sensitive, e.g., it must hit an interplanetary launch window, then you can't afford a launch failure because you can't afford to wait for a replacement spacecraft to be built.
 

Offline smartcooky

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #109 on: April 17, 2019, 07:21:58 AM »
I keep trying to tell you guys that even though your satellite costs millions of dollars, so do rocket launches!

Let the satellite cost be $S and the usual launch cost $L. So the usual mission cost would be $(S+L). Now let's assume you can fly free to your desired orbit on a new launch vehicle with an estimated probability of success P. Then if you take in the cost of building a new satellite if the launch fails, your expected mission cost will be $(S/P), assuming you are offered a free reflight if the first launch fails. If $(S/P) < $(S+L), you still want to risk the test flight.

Of course, even operational launch vehicles can fail so you need to insert another factor into the right side of the inequality to account for that.

Obviously there are exceptions; if your mission is time sensitive, e.g., it must hit an interplanetary launch window, then you can't afford a launch failure because you can't afford to wait for a replacement spacecraft to be built.
 

Unless of course, it has taken my company some years to build this satellite of mine, and it will take them more years to build another one if the launch fails. Meantime, I have lost not only the satellite, but some years of revenue from whatever the satellite was for until its replacement is built.

Its not just about the cost of the launch and the hardware. With a communications satellite, its lost customers, and under-utilised infrastructure; with a mining surviellance satellite, its about opportunities lost to competitors, with a scientific research satellite, it could be about discoveries and scientific research papers delayed. 

My point is, its not a one-size-fits-all situation. I would no more be willing to put my satellite on a new design of rocket that is being flown for the first time, than I would be willing to take a free ride on a new design of aeroplane that was being flown for the first time.
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Offline Peter B

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #110 on: April 17, 2019, 08:00:44 AM »
In amongst all the other amateur video of the recent launch/landing, I came across this one from a couple of pilots who flew just outside the "no-fly" zone in order to capture it ...



Must be fake - how can we hear these guys over the sound of the engine (*cough* LM engines *cough*)!  ::)

Seriously, that's some spectacular footage.

Offline Peter B

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #111 on: April 17, 2019, 08:50:07 AM »
SpaceX/Musk had at least years to develop a useful payload.  There are many possibilities.  Is launching a car really the best they could have come with?

Perhaps it was. All sorts of people perform stunts to generate publicity. If in SpaceX's case that leads to more customers, or more competition for available launch slots (and thus higher launch revenues) then isn't that a good thing for SpaceX? Perhaps you could do a cost-benefit analysis and get back to us...

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There have been 20 first launches in the past 30 years.  Only one (Angara) carried a mass simulator.  The rest, with the exception of the car stunt, carried useful functioning - satellites (Delta 2, Pegasus,  PLSV, Minotaur C, H-2, Ariane 5, GLSV, Delta IV,  KZ 1, F-1,  Long March 5, Electron, ZQ-1, OS-1B ), boilerplate spacecraft (F-5), or both (Antares, LM-5).  Even the previous first SpaceX launches carried useful payloads.

Of the 20 launches seven (35%) were failures.  This did not stop the launching entities maximising the launch opportunities

With the greatest of respect, perhaps it would be more illuminating to compare like with like. In the case of Falcon Heavy this means comparing it with other launchers which feature side-mounted boosters which are a significant proportion of the size of the first stage (or are common core boosters). Why so? Because of the additional problems such launches face when compared with single-stack rockets - stresses on the connections between the boosters and core stages during acceleration especially when they're operating at different thrust levels, separation mechanisms, and aerodynamic effects are just three which come to mind. So what were the payloads of the various FH equivalents:

Angara A5: mass simulator (success)
Ariane 5: live payload (failure)
Delta IV Heavy: boilerplate (failure)
Long March 5: unclear (success, although there were problems during launch)

Have I missed any? But even so, that's a far lower proportion of live payloads for this style of rocket, suggesting that first flights for these sorts of rockets are less attractive than they are for single-stack rockets. And, judging by the success rate, for good reason.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 08:52:28 AM by Peter B »

Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #112 on: April 17, 2019, 10:17:45 AM »
I keep trying to tell you guys that even though your satellite costs millions of dollars, so do rocket launches!

Let the satellite cost be $S and the usual launch cost $L. So the usual mission cost would be $(S+L). Now let's assume you can fly free to your desired orbit on a new launch vehicle with an estimated probability of success P. Then if you take in the cost of building a new satellite if the launch fails, your expected mission cost will be $(S/P), assuming you are offered a free reflight if the first launch fails. If $(S/P) < $(S+L), you still want to risk the test flight.

Of course, even operational launch vehicles can fail so you need to insert another factor into the right side of the inequality to account for that.

Obviously there are exceptions; if your mission is time sensitive, e.g., it must hit an interplanetary launch window, then you can't afford a launch failure because you can't afford to wait for a replacement spacecraft to be built.

Actually, now that I think about it, I remember reading somewhere that SpaceX did offer a ride at a discount to several customers (including NASA), but had no takers.  Nobody wanted to risk it. 

Offline gillianren

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #113 on: April 17, 2019, 10:26:55 AM »
And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.

I think ignoring the very real problems with Elon Musk the person goes a bit beyond "giving him a pass for being human," myself.  His factory is unsafe for its employees, and he wants that ignored because he's so important.
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Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #114 on: April 17, 2019, 11:18:22 AM »
And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.

I think ignoring the very real problems with Elon Musk the person goes a bit beyond "giving him a pass for being human," myself.  His factory is unsafe for its employees, and he wants that ignored because he's so important.

I assume that you have evidence of this.
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Offline Glom

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #115 on: April 17, 2019, 11:18:51 AM »
Is it? I hadn't heard this. Have their been safety incidents?

Offline Peter B

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #116 on: April 17, 2019, 11:53:47 AM »
And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.

I think ignoring the very real problems with Elon Musk the person goes a bit beyond "giving him a pass for being human," myself.  His factory is unsafe for its employees, and he wants that ignored because he's so important.

I assume that you have evidence of this.

Googling tesla factory safety produces a bunch of articles published in the last six months or so from mainstream media sites: Fortune, Forbes, The Guardian, NY Times, CNBC. It's not the best reading.

Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #117 on: April 17, 2019, 12:25:03 PM »
And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.

I think ignoring the very real problems with Elon Musk the person goes a bit beyond "giving him a pass for being human," myself.  His factory is unsafe for its employees, and he wants that ignored because he's so important.

I assume that you have evidence of this.

Googling tesla factory safety produces a bunch of articles published in the last six months or so from mainstream media sites: Fortune, Forbes, The Guardian, NY Times, CNBC. It's not the best reading.

I can Google, too. I have found articles claiming that these articles are anti-Tesla hit pieces, backed by big oil, union organizers, rival car manufacturers, and investors trying to bring down Tesla stock because they have a short interest. Who should I believe?
"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death." - Isaac Asimov

Offline jfb

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #118 on: April 17, 2019, 01:06:03 PM »
Per Forbes

Quote
Data Tesla is filing with the Department of Labor shows the Fremont, California, factory that makes all its Model 3 and S sedans and X crossovers averaged 6.2 injuries per 100 workers last year, unchanged from 2017, safety chief Laurie Shelby told Forbes. That’s also identical to a 6.2-per-100 worker rate for overall automobile manufacturing in 2017, the latest year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has data. The rate across all industries, not just manufacturing, was 2.8 injuries per 100 workers, the BLS said in November.

Tesla isn't an unsafe working environment by auto manufacturing standards.  It may be an unpleasant work environment, or at least was during the Model 3 push, which by all accounts was a nightmare for everyone involved. 

Offline Peter B

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Re: Falcon Heavy Test Flight
« Reply #119 on: April 21, 2019, 10:47:26 AM »
And no one is. I am rewarding him for his accomplishments. I am giving him a pass for being human.

I think ignoring the very real problems with Elon Musk the person goes a bit beyond "giving him a pass for being human," myself.  His factory is unsafe for its employees, and he wants that ignored because he's so important.

I assume that you have evidence of this.

Googling tesla factory safety produces a bunch of articles published in the last six months or so from mainstream media sites: Fortune, Forbes, The Guardian, NY Times, CNBC. It's not the best reading.

I can Google, too. I have found articles claiming that these articles are anti-Tesla hit pieces, backed by big oil, union organizers, rival car manufacturers, and investors trying to bring down Tesla stock because they have a short interest.

I could say that's a very Elon Musk sort of thing to say, or I could settle for calling it poisoning the well.

Quote
Who should I believe?

I think most of the regulars here would have the answer for you - look at the evidence.

The Forbes article, for example, has a chart showing that the rate of reported safety violations and the level of fines for those violations per employee is considerably higher for the Tesla factory than for a bunch of other car manufacturers.

The Revealnews article provides evidence that Tesla has been under-reporting its workplace injury rate by not recording workplace accidents and injuries.

The other articles make similar sorts of statements, or comment on the way Musk has made a number of demonstrably wrong statements about Tesla, whether in terms of production rates or safety.

For the time being I'm happy to go with the evidence provided. Unless someone can show that evidence is wrong.

And this is actually a serious point: I worry when demonstrably skeptical people lay their skepticism to one side when it comes to a topic they particularly like. It was what caused me to leave the Australian Skeptics: there was a noisy group of otherwise impeccable skeptics who were utterly convinced global warming wasn't real, and their level of criticism of articles about global warming was so vociferous that the editor of the group's magazine was forced to publicly announce he wouldn't publish articles about global warming in the magazine.

I'd hate to think that admiration of Elon Musk might blind people to what appear to be genuine and serious safety problems at the Tesla factory in California.