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  1. How would the heliosphere and stellar bow shock affect our observations of objects outside the solar system, if at all?
  2. I'm a bit late to the party, but I don't think a the factors are quite black-and-white with respect to the certainty of the SLS program. For example, take the patronage of Richard Shelby (R-AL) to the SLS. I doubt the program would be cancelled if his support were to be removed, but I think that there would be some shake-ups. This is evidenced by the fact that support for the SLS isn't universal. A few months ago, the chairman of the Senate budget committee sent a letter to Bridenstine which contained (among other things) criticism of the SLS program. We're all used to treating Shelby as some omnipresent, omnipotent god as far as U.S. spaceflight is concerned (I'm exaggerating just a tad ), but his backing of the SLS program is not guaranteed. It is contingent several factors, including that— Shelby is alive and well. Shelby is 85 years old. According to actuarial tables provided by the U.S. Social Security Administration, an 85 year old male has (on average) 6 years of life remaining. I do not know the details of Shelby's personal health, but the chance that he dies or is rendered unfit to serve as a senator due to his health is likely non-trivial. Shelby is elected. If Shelby is alive and fit, then he must be reelected in 2022. Given Alabama's partisan lean and Shelby's own sterling electoral history, I think he is nearly guaranteed reelection. Shelby is the head of the appropriations committee. If Shelby's party were to lose the Senate, then he would cease to be the chairman of the Senate appropriations committee. This isn't likely given the geographic advantages the Republicans have in Senate elections, but I would still deem it to be a non-trivial possibility. Supporting the SLS program is to Shelby's benefit. Unless MSFC sprouts wings and flies to another state, this seems almost guaranteed. (Hopefully I didn't run afoul of Rule 2.2b in discussing all this. I used an example which is political in nature because it is linked so closely to the SLS program, and because it illustrates the similarities in doubt between government backed and commercial ventures. I think I should be in the clear since 2.2b only prohibits content which is political and unrelated to spaceflight.) Anyway, this is only a single political example. The point I'm trying to make is that there are very real scenarios which cast doubt upon the success of the SLS program: I would not call it a guarantee. (For the record, I do think that SLS has more inertia due to it's government backing, I just also think that it's not guaranteed.)
  3. Perhaps I just missed it in all of the excitement, but what time on Saturday is the Starship presentation occurring?
  4. It's long fulfilled its purpose, but I'm certain this song will always be insufferably catchy.
  5. I'm surprised that no one has posted any of Levi Cowan's videos yet. His analyses are excellent.
  6. That's very true, but Musk simply has to convince enough investors that profit is just over the next hill. I'd imagine that his image, popularity, and borderline cult-of-personality help with that. In the spirit of the old Keynes quote, "The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
  7. I think that it's also instructive here to consider that in terms of motivation, Musk isn't a normal CEO. Musk's goal with SpaceX is to make humanity interplanetary; large-scale reuse (even if it hypothetically isn't the most economical option right now) and orbital assembly/refueling are almost certainly going to be part of that. If SpaceX is making a huge profit, that's great, but I don't think that Musk really cares about profit in the grand scheme of things. As long as he can control the company and keep the investors from retreating, that's good enough for him. To risk going off topic, I'd wager that line of thinking is part of the reason why Tesla is eating up so much money as well. Whether Tesla is profitable doesn't greatly concern Musk. He just wants to grow the EV industry in general as quickly as possible by maximizing production and minimizing price. (Disclaimer: I'm not the most well-read on Tesla, so I apologize if this comparison is totally off-base.) I'd even go so far as to say Musk is an activist first, and a CEO second, but perhaps that's going too far. (Also, just to put my own stake in this, I do think that reuse helps SpaceX's bottom-line, but I can't say for certain.)
  8. Interview with Beck by Ars Technica I will say that I found this statement interesting⁠— This statement seems to suggest that there could be enough demand for a similarly sized LV for another company to be successful—even after the inevitable industry shakedown. And on the subject of a shakedown... I couldn't have imagined having 130 small-launch vehicle companies existing a decade ago. It's amazing how times change.
  9. If Starship alone is short of dV to orbit, it may still be able to fly a mission similar to the Shuttle's abort once around profile.
  10. Regarding Bridenstine's 2021 comment, I'd like to add Jeff Foust's interpretation as well. Here's Eric Berger again for reference (just the article's headline). Jeff and Eric have a similar read on this, so I'm inclined to believe that Bridenstine is ruling out a 2020 launch.
  11. As long as they aren't gyroscopes hammered in upside down.
  12. In these days where simulation is supplementing physical testing in aerospace, there is something gratifying about watching SpaceX's experiments.
  13. Encouraging that this is Gwynne time and not Elon time.
  14. This is welcome news.