Elon Musk being Elon Musk

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gtae07

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"...even though its last two rockets blew to smithereens while attempting to land at the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, test facility.... “The SN9 vehicle failed within the bounds of the FAA safety analysis,” the FAA said..." 🤔
I know it's a mindset change for people, but SpaceX considers these vehicles a lot more like lab test articles than flight vehicles. They are conducting full-scale flight tests of concepts at a point in development when most other major players would still be cranking the analysis wheel. And they don't bother with the zeroth law of "thou shalt not lose the vehicle" that the rest of aerospace operates under from the first flight.

If you're willing to learn from failure, can withstand the pssible negative PR, build your test articles cheap, and don't have people on board, it's a fantastically effective development method.
 

Bille Floyd

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...

If you're willing to learn from failure, can withstand the pssible negative PR, build your test articles cheap, and don't have people on board, it's a fantastically effective development method.
AND --- Have the money, to pull it off ... ...

How many people did NASA take out ; learning about cheap
O-ring's , and crappy ways to put heat shields on their machines ?

Bille
 

Vigilant1

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One thing that enables the SpaceX approach to testing is the amazing level of telemetry and analysis that modern technology permits--cheaply and without much weight penalty. They learn a LOT from each failure because they know exactly what failed first and how other systems responded. Before the wreckage is cool they often have a good idea what happened and how to address it. In the old days (60s), it was a lot of work to figure out why and how a test vehicle failed. Fewer things were monitored, the refresh rate was lower, etc. So, they had to do lots of testing to replicate the failure, combined with lots of just beefing up things that >might< have been the culprit. I suspect the mindset and test program design of those days remained SOP in those traditional space system companies despite improvements in the forensic data and tools available. The SpaceX engineers and managers didn''t grow up in that world and took full advantage of the better data that was now available to rapidly re-test, learn more, and develop confidence in the vehicle through this process.
 

trimtab

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I don't see anything wrong with the FAA establishing where the rails are for using the public airspace, which will eventually include actual people under the trajectory.

I think few would think the CAA was sufficiently active when Hughes "tested" the XF-11 by driving it through a few residences. It was just one incident cited in the increasing tide of reckless incidents that led to the creation of the FAA.

It's better to establish these things early before untethered ambitions start killing people, as they are oft to do. It sucks that this imposes limitations, bit the history of things like this doesn't leave many reasonable options.

Things like this will looked at as mere first steps compared to the levels of engagement for an evolving mission to administer the airspace. It could evolve into something that fosters development and exploration, or it could develop very, very differently. The distinction is really up to the leadership at the FAA and people like Musk, neither category of which I have much optimism in at all.
 

TFF

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A lot has to do with a non government entity doing only what government did before. Now it’s not an internal problem. Making fun of the FAA is never good. The regional airline, I had worked for, did after I left. They don’t like egg on their face. The FAA had four inspectors when I left, assigned; they went to about 15 after the company made the head inspector feel stupid.

I think as fast as number 9 was launched after 8, they knew it was not going to land. They might have tried to gather different information, but I think they let it go for the show. 10 probably has enough changes to try and get it right. They are learning through iterations. NASA did too but they were accountable different with a lot more behind it. Until Musk is knocked out of his own company, which is not going to happen al la Steve Jobs, he will do what he wants to test his stuff. They definitely don’t want him moving off shore.
 

Wanttaja

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How many people did NASA take out ; learning about cheap
O-ring's , and crappy ways to put heat shields on their machines ?
By Musk standards, they'd done more than enough testing. Challenger happened on the 25th Shuttle flight, not the first or second. It was the first US crewed space vehicle to NOT make an uncrewed launch during testing.

Ron Wanttaja
 

trimtab

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If Musk feels he needs the latitude for his test methods that require placing workers or the public at risk, the door is wide open to convince a different public other than the American public that his wealth and success are worth their lives.

I'm not certain the FAA really understands how to propose and enforce reasonable or effective practices for efforts like SpaceX any better than in the past histories of rapid technological growth. It's a tough problem.
 

Voidhawk9

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If Musk feels he needs the latitude for his test methods that require placing workers or the public at risk...
Neither he nor SpaceX have or wish to do such a thing. An odd thing to accuse them of indeed.

Nor would it make any difference flying in another country - the FAA would still need to license each launch as SpaceX is an American company.


I agree, however, that the FAA is relatively poorly equipped to regulate this sort of effort. It is novel and with little precedent, and as we have seen argued, can lead to (arguably) needless restriction and red-tape when rules applying to the 'old ways' are applied. A simple 'prove it where you won't hurt anyone' without excessive oversight is probably the only realistic way forward in cases like this.
 

Wanttaja

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Neither he nor SpaceX have or wish to do such a thing. An odd thing to accuse them of indeed.

Nor would it make any difference flying in another country - the FAA would still need to license each launch as SpaceX is an American company.
Oh, I think any number of countries would be happy to "flag" a starship. It's like a cruise ship...it might be sitting at the dock in Seattle, and sailing between Victoria and Anchorage, but it's registered in the Bahamas.

The Chinese have one of their launch sites in a populated area. They've dropped rockets on people a couple of times.

The way I understand it, SpaceX's test site is about five miles from the nearest town. Seems a tad close.

Ron Wanttaja
 

trimtab

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Neither he nor SpaceX have or wish to do such a thing. An odd thing to accuse them of indeed.
except....

"SpaceX had sought a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that would have allowed it “to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday.But after that waiver was denied, SpaceX proceeded with the flight, violating its launch license in what aerospace and industry officials said was a potentially reckless move that could have posed serious risk to the public’s safety. As a result of the violation, the FAA directed Elon Musk’s company to investigate the incident and suspend operations that could affect public safety at its launch site in South Texas."

And, more concerningly,

"In its statement, the FAA did not say what precisely the violations were, or whether it had fined the company, and a spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those issues. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment."


I said it because it appears that SpaceX decided to take matters into its own hands beyond the law, and somehow avoided accountability for doing so.

The second part would indicate there is a backstory involving parties with conflicting interests in SapceX's corner, and it appears they won.

We've seen this before. Sometimes, these things are covered more exhaustively than others. But usually they are forgotten. The tragedy of low probability, high severity risk assessments.


 

Voidhawk9

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Oh, I think any number of countries would be happy to "flag" a starship. It's like a cruise ship...it might be sitting at the dock in Seattle, and sailing between Victoria and Anchorage, but it's registered in the Bahamas.
It isn't at all like cruise ships. FAA licensing is required for all launches undertaken by US companies. Including Electron launches in NZ.

the FAA did not say what precisely the violations were
Quite so, making your comment look rather like the WAPo hit piece. Also, WaPo is owned by a SpaceX competitor, so take it with a grain of salt (as you should with all mainsteam media trash these days).
 

Vigilant1

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SpaceX wants to be a high volume operation. If the FAA is an impediment to that (justifiably or not), It wouldn't be much trouble for SpaceX to set up a launch services company as a Mexican corporation. Do the launches, recovery, and refit south of the border, under contract to SpaceX. DoD and other USG launches could be done from Texas (just price in the FAA issues), and the commercial stuff launches from its Mexican site. Not ideal, but not impossible.
 

gtae07

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except....

"SpaceX had sought a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that would have allowed it “to exceed the maximum public risk allowed by federal safety regulations,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday.But after that waiver was denied, SpaceX proceeded with the flight, violating its launch license in what aerospace and industry officials said was a potentially reckless move that could have posed serious risk to the public’s safety. As a result of the violation, the FAA directed Elon Musk’s company to investigate the incident and suspend operations that could affect public safety at its launch site in South Texas."

And, more concerningly,

"In its statement, the FAA did not say what precisely the violations were, or whether it had fined the company, and a spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those issues. SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment."


I said it because it appears that SpaceX decided to take matters into its own hands beyond the law, and somehow avoided accountability for doing so.
The area of disagreement (because it wasn't "SpaceX didn't give a rat's derriere", but their calculations didn't agree with the FAA's) was over a theoretical calculation of "public risk to 'far field blast overpressure'" under certain specific weather conditions, with the primary concern being damage to structures--probably the handful of residences still in private hands but unoccupied at time of launch. It looks like what happened, rather than SpaceX just saying "eff this, we're just doing what we want", was that SpaceX filed their paperwork and was expecting the approval (the FAA seems to generally give you hints of what to expect), and either it just never got approved or the denial got lost in a shuffle somewhere.


Essentially, it was a quibble over paperwork with no substantive actual effect, seeing as they did approve the next launch which was essentially a carbon-copy of the previous flight. This tells me that the problem was not with a real, actual, substantive threat to public safety, but rather that they did the right things from a technical aspect but dropped the ball a bit on getting the right paperwork done.

Still not good, but a lot better than them just being a bunch of cowboys trying to drop rockets on nuns and orphans.
 

ToddK

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The average person commits 3 felonies a day. They want to get you on something they will, and the people running things have a history of targeting, digging, and even entrapping till they get you.
 

ToddK

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BJC

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It does not say what you wrote: it says, “The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day.” Even with a very liberal interpretation of what a professional is, the number of “professionals” is less that half the workforce

Then there is the weasel word, “likely”.


BJC
 

ToddK

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It does not say what you wrote: it says, “The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day.” Even with a very liberal interpretation of what a professional is, the number of “professionals” is less that half the workforce

Then there is the weasel word, “likely”.


BJC
Ok. Whatever. Those who are not children, not retired, not mentally disabled, not asleep in bed, and who fit into whatever narrowly defined criteria amounts to “a professional” in your mind, *likely* commits several felonies a day. Though if you read the book, it’s not just certain professionals who can get snatched up and charged.

Feel better about it now?
Probably still not good enough for the HBA fact checkers.
 
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