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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:36 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
The copy of the wiki page I used was December 31st, 2016, although re-reading what I wrote, I didn't say that (oops). I can't think of a fairer test. They're launching less than two-thirds of what they planned to at the beginning of the year. You can talk all you want about 'realigning goals as the business situation changes', but yes, I do think it's reasonable to criticize them for not doing well enough compared to what they said they were going to do.

They don't have any of the usual aerospace industry excuses here. It's not that new developments took longer than expected, because there are none (or if they're letting product improvements delay production, then that's their fault). When Boeing publishes its delivery schedule at the beginning of the year, they usually meet it. They don't declare "we're going to build 47 737s each month" and then build 30. They haven't had any rockets blow up on them, either. So why are they way behind schedule, and why should I let them slide because they're doing better than ULA in terms of raw launch numbers?


Link to Copy? Are you looking at the F9 launch schedule page? https://web.archive.org/web/20160827161950/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_launches


ByronC wrote:
I don't like anyone in the electric car industry, but I'm going to drop that now, as we seem unlikely to have a meeting of the minds. I really want to like SpaceX. From one point of view, they're doing really impressive work. But from the other, they're continually underdelivering, and I think it's fair to point that out.


My wife drives an EV every day and loves it.

Underdelivering like Michael Phelps underdelivering in Rio because he took Silver in the 100m FLY instead of Gold? I think we also have to differentiate between what Musk says and what type of commitments are actually made to launch customers. I strongly suspect that customers of SpaceX don't look for a Musk tweet as to when they are scheduled for launch.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:02 pm 
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brovane wrote:
ByronC wrote:
The copy of the wiki page I used was December 31st, 2016, although re-reading what I wrote, I didn't say that (oops). I can't think of a fairer test. They're launching less than two-thirds of what they planned to at the beginning of the year. You can talk all you want about 'realigning goals as the business situation changes', but yes, I do think it's reasonable to criticize them for not doing well enough compared to what they said they were going to do.

They don't have any of the usual aerospace industry excuses here. It's not that new developments took longer than expected, because there are none (or if they're letting product improvements delay production, then that's their fault). When Boeing publishes its delivery schedule at the beginning of the year, they usually meet it. They don't declare "we're going to build 47 737s each month" and then build 30. They haven't had any rockets blow up on them, either. So why are they way behind schedule, and why should I let them slide because they're doing better than ULA in terms of raw launch numbers?


Link to Copy? Are you looking at the F9 launch schedule page? https://web.archive.org/web/20160827161950/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_launches

This was the one I used, but yes.

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My wife drives an EV every day and loves it.

It's not necessarily a problem with EVs themselves so much as it is with the subsidies surrounding them. I'm quicker to criticize Tesla because that's all they do.

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I think we also have to differentiate between what Musk says and what type of commitments are actually made to launch customers. I strongly suspect that customers of SpaceX don't look for a Musk tweet as to when they are scheduled for launch.

No, they probably do their own math on how big the delay is going to be. Since neither of us have firm knowledge of what the expectations are or how the contracts are structured, we can't say for certain how much SpaceX is lying to their customers and how much they're just lying to the public. But I'm not sure why I should give them more slack on that. They're the one setting the launch schedules, not us. I think the Phelps analogy fails because he was in competition with someone else for that. Here, we're measuring against a yardstick that SpaceX themselves gave us. And I'm less inclined to be charitable with them because they never, ever measure up to that yardstick.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:12 pm 
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And from the outside, the September 2016 launch pad explosion did damage their launch schedule considerably.

There have been 15 launches YTD, and five more planned. There are currently 29 launches planned for 2018, although many of them are fuzzy. The pace of launches throughout 2017 has accelerated.

By comparison, ULA has had one Delta launch and five Atlas launches YTD, with two Delta and one Atlas scheduled.

So Musk has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. That's hardly new, because we can see from the Shuttle program the same thing, both in the pre-service promises and the program schedule slippages.

As long as Space-X is still solvent, still launching, and the customers aren't moving away despite the slippage, it doesn't matter as much. How long did it take for Amazon to turn a profit? Wasn't there a time, after the dot com bubble, when analysts were talking about how normal business metrics like gross and net didn't count, it was eyeballs on the site? Musk will promise the world, and the customers will use his past history to decide how reliable he is.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:16 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
brovane wrote:
Quote:
I think we also have to differentiate between what Musk says and what type of commitments are actually made to launch customers. I strongly suspect that customers of SpaceX don't look for a Musk tweet as to when they are scheduled for launch.

No, they probably do their own math on how big the delay is going to be. Since neither of us have firm knowledge of what the expectations are or how the contracts are structured, we can't say for certain how much SpaceX is lying to their customers and how much they're just lying to the public. But I'm not sure why I should give them more slack on that. They're the one setting the launch schedules, not us. I think the Phelps analogy fails because he was in competition with someone else for that. Here, we're measuring against a yardstick that SpaceX themselves gave us. And I'm less inclined to be charitable with them because they never, ever measure up to that yardstick.

That's fair. The question I would have is whether the delay between the promise and delivery is consistent. Spaceflight is still a risky business, and anyone dropping $100 million on a launch has to know that.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 5:37 pm 
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ByronC wrote:
This was the one I used, but yes.


Right from your linked page.

Quote:
As of December 2016, SpaceX has not communicated any estimate of the number of launches to take place in 2017.


It looks like they took all the 2016 launches after AMOS-6 and then just moved them into 2017 while still leaving all the 2017 launches in place.

I just don't see anyplace on this page telling me that SpaceX in December of 2016 was committing to 30+ launches in 2017.


ByronC wrote:
It's not necessarily a problem with EVs themselves so much as it is with the subsidies surrounding them. I'm quicker to criticize Tesla because that's all they do.


The government gives subsidies for a lot of different things. For me, EV subsidies are doing exactly what they intended to and they set an expiration for those subsidies. The residential real estate market is still hooked on Mortgage subsidies.


ByronC wrote:
No, they probably do their own math on how big the delay is going to be. Since neither of us have firm knowledge of what the expectations are or how the contracts are structured, we can't say for certain how much SpaceX is lying to their customers and how much they're just lying to the public. But I'm not sure why I should give them more slack on that. They're the one setting the launch schedules, not us. I think the Phelps analogy fails because he was in competition with someone else for that. Here, we're measuring against a yardstick that SpaceX themselves gave us. And I'm less inclined to be charitable with them because they never, ever measure up to that yardstick.


I don't think we can conclude that the yardstick you are measuring SpaceX by was actually set by SpaceX. I think sometimes that measurement is being clouded by somebodies interpretation of the data from SpaceX or in the case of Wikipedia some of it almost appears to be out-dated data.

FYI - This is a much better source for SpaceX's planned flight schedule - http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43418.0


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:16 pm 
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brovane wrote:
ByronC wrote:
This was the one I used, but yes.


Right from your linked page.

Quote:
As of December 2016, SpaceX has not communicated any estimate of the number of launches to take place in 2017.


It looks like they took all the 2016 launches after AMOS-6 and then just moved them into 2017 while still leaving all the 2017 launches in place.

I just don't see anyplace on this page telling me that SpaceX in December of 2016 was committing to 30+ launches in 2017.

No, they hadn't officially. I am not made of time, and it seemed the easiest way to get a count from a reasonably neutral source.

Quote:
I don't think we can conclude that the yardstick you are measuring SpaceX by was actually set by SpaceX. I think sometimes that measurement is being clouded by somebodies interpretation of the data from SpaceX or in the case of Wikipedia some of it almost appears to be out-dated data.

You can quibble with my count for 2017. Fine. Let's take 2016. The rocket that blew up was 9 for the year. In March of 2016, they said that they were planning to launch 18 that year. They launched 1/month for the first 8 months of the year. They would have had to more than double that through the second half to make their schedule.
Look. I think I'm done here. We're not going to convince each other. I really do want to like SpaceX, but they continue to behave in ways that make that impossible for me.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:20 pm 
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ByronC wrote:

I think I'm done here. We're not going to convince each other. I really do want to like SpaceX, but they continue to behave in ways that make that impossible for me.


Fair enough. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:24 pm 
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Iridium Communications has announced that the next two Iridium launches will be on F9 flight proven boosters.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/10/iridium-4-flight-proven-falcon-9-rtls-vandenberg-delayed/

This part is interesting apparently, flight-proven boosters cause no increase in insurance premium. It will be interesting that eventually in the future, using a flight-proven booster will actually result in an insurance premium decrease.

“Iridium confirmed with its insurers that there is no increase in premium for the launch program as a result of the use of flight-proven Falcon 9 rockets, further supporting Iridium’s conclusion that the risk profile is unchanged,” noted the release.

The Iridium-4 launch will be using the booster from the Iridium-2 launch.

Whether Iridium NEXT-4 is the fourth or fifth flight-proven mission will depend on the final NASA management decision – expected no later than early-November – on CRS-13’s potential use of a flight-proven core.

Looks like NASA is considering using the CRS-11 booster to launch CRS-13.

Earlier this week the US Space Command head General Jay Raymond.

The head of U.S. Air Force Space Command said he’s “completely committed” to launching future missions with recycled rockets like those championed by SpaceX’s Elon Musk as the military looks to drive down costs.
It would be “absolutely foolish” not to begin using pre-flown rockets, which bring such significant savings that they’ll soon be commonplace for the entire industry, General John W. “Jay” Raymond said in an interview Monday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.
“The market’s going to go that way. We’d be dumb not to,” he said. “What we have to do is make sure we do it smartly.”


It would seem SpaceX's idea for reusable rockets is being quickly proven correct by Market forces.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:38 am 
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Lots of people are looking for good sauces for crow and hats right now I'm sure.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 5:02 pm 
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Sneaky, sneaky.
Any educated guesses?
Quote:
SPACEX MUM ABOUT NOVEMBER ‘MYSTERY’ LAUNCH
JASON RHIANOCTOBER 20TH, 2017

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Much like the tile-matching video game of the same name, what the payload could be for a suggested Nov. 10, 2017, SpaceX “mystery” launch remains a puzzle. As was reported on SpaceFlight Now, regulatory findings suggest that the company could attempt a launch 11 days after the planned Oct. 30 flight of Koreasat 5A.

To say that this is highly unusual would be an understatement. Even highly classified missions flown for the U.S. Department of Defense have their launch dates announced. As of this writing, SpaceX has not responded to inquiries about the proposed mission. According to the report on SpaceFlight Now, the launch would take place from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.

The possible launch was first announced on the website NASASpaceFlight.com on Saturday, Oct. 13. In order to fly, SpaceX has to file for special authority from the Federal Communications Commission to launch (and land) as well as to use telemetry/telecommand communications to track the company’s Falcon 9 rocket during both ascent and descent (in terms of the first stage).

While the Nov. 10 date has been bandied about, that’s only a “no-earlier-than” date and not a hard date. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, SpaceX released a launch announcement for the Zuma mission. The company, however, provided no details about the launch other than it is targeting no earlier than November.

In an update to its original report, NASASpaceflight.com confirmed that Northrup Grumman is the payload provider for Zuma. The mission is labeled as “government” and will be sent to low-Earth orbit.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 6:06 pm 
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If they're launching out of KSC, then it's probably not an imaging system. I don't know exactly what NG is up to on the spaceflight side these days, but if I had to guess, I'd say communications of some sort.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:54 am 
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ByronC wrote:
If they're launching out of KSC, then it's probably not an imaging system. I don't know exactly what NG is up to on the spaceflight side these days, but if I had to guess, I'd say communications of some sort.

What, not the first stage of the new Orbital Battle Station™? ;)

The thing that strikes me as odd is that the level of secrecy appear greater than that which surrounded the X-37B launch, either a ruse or it suggests a payload that's perhaps not entirely mundane.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 6:05 pm 
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I've been skimming through the AMA that Musk did on the topic of the BFR on Reddit just over a week ago.

A few things that caught my eye:

Quote:
At first, the tanker will just be a ship with no payload. Down the road, we will build a dedicated tanker that will have an extremely high full to empty mass ratio (warning: it will look kinda weird).


Quote:
Some parts of Raptor will be printed, but most of it will be machined forgings. We developed a new metal alloy for the oxygen pump that has both high strength at temperature and won't burn. Pretty much anything will burn in high pressure, hot, almost pure oxygen.


Quote:
The heat shield plates will be mounted directly to the primary tank wall. That's the most mass efficient way to go. Don't want to build a box in box.


Quote:
Will be starting with a full-scale Ship doing short hops of a few hundred kilometers altitude and lateral distance. Those are fairly easy on the vehicle, as no heat shield is needed, we can have a large amount of reserve propellant and don't need the high area ratio, deep space Raptor engines.
Next step will be doing orbital velocity Ship flights, which will need all of the above. Worth noting that BFS is capable of reaching orbit by itself with low payload, but having the BF Booster increases payload by more than an order of magnitude. Earth is the wrong planet for single stage to orbit. No problemo on Mars.


Quote:
Thrust scaling is the easy part. Very simple to scale the dev Raptor to 170 tons. The flight engine design is much lighter and tighter, and is extremely focused on reliability. The objective is to meet or exceed passenger airline levels of safety. If our engine is even close to a jet engine in reliability, has a flak shield to protect against a rapid unscheduled disassembly and we have more engines than the typical two of most airliners, then exceeding airline safety should be possible. That will be especially important for point to point journeys on Earth. The advantage of getting somewhere in 30 mins by rocket instead of 15 hours by plane will be negatively affected if "but also, you might die" is on the ticket.


On Raptor thrust reduction:
Quote:
The engine thrust dropped roughly in proportion to the vehicle mass reduction from the first IAC talk. In order to be able to land the BF Ship with an engine failure at the worst possible moment, you have to have multiple engines. The difficulty of deep throttling an engine increases in a non-linear way, so 2:1 is fairly easy, but a deep 5:1 is very hard. Granularity is also a big factor. If you just have two engines that do everything, the engine complexity is much higher and, if one fails, you've lost half your power. Btw, we modified the BFS design since IAC to add a third medium area ratio Raptor engine partly for that reason (lose only 1/3 thrust in engine out) and allow landings with higher payload mass for the Earth to Earth transport function.


Quote:
Wouldn't call what BFS has a delta wing. It is quite small (and light) relative to the rest of the vehicle and is never actually used to generate lift in the way that an aircraft wing is used.
It's true purpose is to "balance out" the ship, ensuring that it doesn't enter engines first from orbit (that would be really bad), and provide pitch and yaw control during reentry.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:56 pm 
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There's speculation that the upcoming "mystery launch" is related to PAN/Nemesis as described here:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3095/1

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:36 pm 
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Hey remember that bit out of Red Storm Rising where a space shuttle is pulled off the pad in a hurry and get its payload shifted to spy satellites?

No reason...

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:05 am 
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Micael wrote:
There's speculation that the upcoming "mystery launch" is related to PAN/Nemesis as described here:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3095/1

That seems quite plausible. Comms didn't smell quite right, as those are usually public, but it also was in a bad orbit for normal imaging.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:09 pm 
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16th successful launch of the year by SpaceX and another commercial customer got a payload delivered to SSTO. 285x50,185km x22 degrees which should be around ~1620 m/s to GEO. The customer should be happy because they can get the satellite quicker to GEO and can use less fuel in getting it there.

The booster came in hot and it appears a small RP1 fire ignited below the booster upon landing on the drone ship, but it was quickly extinguished.
This makes me wonder if SpaceX is pushing the envelope to gather empirical data to see how far they can push things before they cannot be recovered.
It would make sense that they are doing this with the Pre-Block-5 boosters since they have a fairly large stockpile of them.


https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/10/falcon-9-koreasat-5a-nasa-approves-flown-boosters/

According to this article, NASA has internally approved to use the recovered booster from CRS-11 to launch CRS-13.

CRS-13 is currently scheduled to be the first launch from LC40 since the AMOS-6 fire last year.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:55 am 
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So yesterday, Elon revealed on Twitter what the payload for the first Falcon Heavy will be:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/936782477502246912
Quote:
Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.


Very much in line with the previous statements of the silliest thing he could think of, but then 12 hours later comes Verge with this:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/1/16726822/spacex-falcon-heavy-tesla-roadster-launch-elon-musk

Quote:
Always willing to up the stakes of an already difficult situation, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said the first flight of his company’s Falcon Heavy rocket will be used to send a Tesla Roadster into space. Musk first tweeted out the idea on Friday evening, and the payload was confirmed on Saturday.

But confirmation followed a bizarre exchange between The Verge and Musk. After Musk tweeted the plan, we asked him to confirm that it was real. Musk replied to us first by email, confirming that it was real. Then, after The Verge published a story about the plan, Musk sent us a response in a direct message on Twitter saying he “totally made it up.” We now know that response was false; a person familiar with the matter told The Verge Saturday evening that the payload is in fact real.

The first Falcon Heavy’s “payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity,” Musk wrote on Twitter, referencing the famous David Bowie song. “Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.”

Musk has spoken openly about the non-zero chance that the Falcon Heavy will explode during its first flight, and because of that he once said he wanted stick the “silliest thing we can imagine” on top of the rocket. Now we know what he meant. It’s unclear at the time of publish whether SpaceX has received any necessary approvals for this plan.

"The “silliest [payload] we can imagine,” indeed"

Falcon Heavy is the followup to SpaceX’s Falcon 9. It’s a more powerful rocket that the company hopes to use for missions to the Moon and Mars. It was originally supposed to take flight back in 2013 or 2014, but its maiden flight is now pegged for January 2018, according to Musk. (The company has been testing parts of the Falcon Heavy architecture over the last year, and has been busy readying the same launchpad that the Apollo 11 mission blasted off from for this flight.)

Falcon Heavy is, in overly simple terms, three of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. It therefore will be capable of creating around three times the thrust of a single Falcon 9 rocket, allowing SpaceX to perform missions beyond low Earth orbit.

SpaceX also ultimately plans to be able to recover all three rocket cores that power the Falcon Heavy, just like it’s done over the last year with main rocket booster stage of its Falcon 9s. It’s unclear if the company will attempt to recover the boosters of this maiden rocket.

Of course, Musk also said earlier this fall at the International Astronautical Congress that he plans to pour all of SpaceX’s resources into an even bigger rocket architecture, known as the Interplanetary Transport System (or Big blissful delight Rocket, for short).

That new mega-rocket, when built, would essentially obsolesce the Falcon Heavy and the Falcon 9. It will be capable of taking on the same duties that those rockets perform, while adding new capabilities that range from planting a colony on Mars to making 30-minute transcontinental travel possible on Earth.

In that light, maybe shooting a Tesla into orbit around the Red Planet doesn’t seem so outlandish.

Additional reporting by Loren Grush.

Update December 2nd, 8:0PM ET: This story has been updated to include back and forth between The Verge and Musk.


So we go from "Yes, my car." to "Nah, made it up." then back to "Yes, my car."...

Silliness to an extreme indeed.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:45 pm 
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Hearing Musk wanting to send his car into space makes me think of this:



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:19 pm 
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Mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I hope they're using as much payload as they can for things which might actually be useful. If they're going to Mars, I'm sure there are loads of people who'd be happy to throw something together. On the other hand, there's probably a limit to how much useful stuff you can do on a rocket that has a good chance of blowing up. And in that case, why not do something silly?

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