3 thoughts on “Building a better rocket ship

  1. SpaceX is my favorite example of how stupid the whole “privatization” idea is. The Soviet Union announced the successful lauch of Sputnik on 4 October 1957. Eisenhower announced a crash program and the USA put Explorer I in orbit (and discovered the Van Allen belts) on 31 January 1958!

    SpaceX has been at it for nine years, with the aid of *50 years* of materials research, computers, etc. *and* the full cooperation of NASA. The results of SpaceX have been, to put it politely, modest.

    As an offshoot of the Sputnik debacle, the U.S. Government launched “The Eisenhower Mathematics And Science Education Program” of which I –and I suspect Greg and many of the older readers here– are the direct beneficiaries.

    SpaceX is a joke.


  2. Commenter bks seems to be unaware of the facts that the US had repeatedly failed to get a three-lb. satellite into orbit before finally succeeding with the 30-lb. Explorer I, and that that effort began in 1955, not after Sputnik.

    bks should check out the failure rates of early launches, and even the failure rates of modern missions with larger payloads.

    If getting into space were easy, everyone would be doing it. SpaceX has done amazing work in a short time, and has gone a long way towards its goal of being the most economical way to get heavy payloads to space.

  3. Mark, I stand by what I wrote. Project Orbiter was proposed in 1954,
    killed in 1955 *and revived as a crash program* when the Sputnik was launched. The Wikipedia article is okay on this timeline:

    And that was over fifty years ago! SpaceX is quite unremarkable in its accomplishments. SpaceX gets funding, facilities and support from NASA. SpaceX is just the nosecone of a Saturn V public effort.


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