I ‘think’ Musk is pissed…
For good reason!
The left-wing media watchdog group Media Matters for America (MMFA) has a sordid record of not only publishing absurd “fact-checks” but of bullying businesses that dare to advertise on conservative outlets, or even platforms they don’t approve it.
At 2 a.m. ET on Saturday, Musk threatened to file a ‘thermonuclear lawsuit’ against Media Matters. “The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” Musk wrote in a post on X/Twitter.
Full article, HERE.
Everybody and their brother is going after Musk, between X and SpaceX. Starship came apart on its second test flight, and there is a lot of pressure from ‘various’ organizations to shut them down/limit their ability to fly…
BUT, we’ve been having a sidebar in a chat about SpaceX’s development program compared to the ‘old days’ between four of us old farts…
Test to fail. All 33 engines fired; it cleared the pad with no reported pad
damage (though I thought I saw something flying as it cleared the tower); it
made it through Max-Q; it achieved stage separation with the first stage
appearing to maneuver for a “controlled” landing; it was on course; and the
second stage made it (or almost made it) to engine cutoff and coasting to
I think the autopsy will find hot staging damaged both vehicles.
However, under the test to fail philosophy and given Musk is pushing extreme limits, I think it was quite successful.
As I have been tracking what Musk has been doing for several years, I would suggest that your uncles approach is what he has been doing. He’s at Boca Chica because NASA did not want to risk Pad 39A, the only human certified launch pad we have. He started with Starhopper, a Starship prototype that reached an altitude of 500 feet in 2019 and then returned to its launch pad. Then he tested several prototypes of the Starship second stage until one flew successfully. Along the way he did multiple test stand engine tests, vehicle static fire tests, wet rehearsals (test launch procedures including fuel loading up to a second before ignition). He has his rocket garden full of prototypes that never flew with some now being dismantled to make more storage room. And, he has a feedback loop from his Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.
The problem is that no matter how extensive a table-top fault analysis is conducted, there will be surprises that can only be discovered by “test-to-failure.” In fact, I am very concerned that Artemis 2 scheduled for (a manned) launch in November 2024, will be flown on the SLS that has only been test flown and then only once.
My engineer uncles were probably too conservative for today’s environment. I was taught to test, test, test and then build a prototype.
To be fair, they didn’t have the capability to do rapid prototyping!
That is true: CAD, additive manufacturing, and CNC have made design, modeling, and prototyping much, much faster. The perhaps unfortunate side is that it has also made far more complex designs possible.
I think we all agree that Musk is using every bit of technology available to move forward as quickly as possible. In the old days, it was months if not a year between tests due to having to ‘manufacture’ new pieces/parts and seldom were parts reused…
Obviously, he’s succeeded with the Falcon program and manned program much faster than anyone expected or believed. I think he will succeed again, but there will be more big BOOMS before he does. Testing to failure DOES tend to provide those booms and sharpens the learning curve dramatically…