It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's a Private Rocket!


Look, a private company blasted a rocket into orbit today!

not photoshopped

Read all about it here.

In my 2006 piece on high hopes for the private space industry here, I wrote:

Elon Musk, the founder of PayPal, now runs SpaceX, which is developing the Falcon rocket series, designed to be a cheap, reusable means of getting satellites and eventually heavier space vehicles for human use into orbit. Falcon testing has been mostly unsuccessful to date, with several delayed launches and an unfortunate fire at the first launch, which sent the rocket crashing into the ocean.

An "almost flawless" first flight for the Falcon 9 is a huge success.

UPDATE: Video!

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  1. Happy now, ProL?

    1. He’s probably as erect as the rocket right now.

      1. Thanks for the visual.

      2. Shit, where’s my penis?

        1. Here ya go Mr. Detachable Penis. This just flew across my desk.

          1. Thank God. I thought it was in orbit.

          2. This is appropriate here.

            1. When I hear that phrase, I think of the old Sam Kinison bit.

            2. Damn I almost forgot about that song.

            3. Good boy, Epi. Now I don’t have to kill you for your insolence. Juggalo? Greasy ass wop chimera, may your favorite blow up doll’s fun hole be line with home insulation.

              1. You’re pretty sensitive for a dude who says he isn’t a juggalo. Methinks the quack doth protest too much. I think we’re going to need proof. Say that Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are retarded morons. Just say it, and we can believe you.

                “Just one question, Doc, before you take your bow. / This gravy train’s leaving, so who’s retarded now?”

                1. This is trick question, Epi. They aren’t retarded, they’re imbeciles.

                  Weren’t you the inspiration for “The Great Malenko”?

                  1. Wow, you know a lot about ICP. A lot.

                    1. I used to be friends with a guy who was a huge ICP fan (yeah, I have no excuse), so I know far more about the band than anyone should.

                      I can’t tell if they’re retarded or imbeciles, but I do know that on one album, they upbraid someone for being a “woman beater”, then ON THE VERY NEXT SONG talk about slapping bitches around, or cutting them up or something.

                      With any luck, they’ll get wasted as hell, fall asleep somewhere, and Esham will drunkenly burn down the place where they’re staying at.

            4. This is my favorite King Missile “Song”.

  2. About goddamn time. Only downside is that I was gonna drive down tomorrow and watch if they scrubbed today.

  3. It’s about time. How many times did I have to bring this up?

  4. Fuck NASA in the ass with a bloated beaurocracy.

  5. Government only beat the free market by a little more than half a century.

    1. Of course, the government never built shit.

    2. Government only beat the free market by a little more than half a century.

      And then promptly weaponized it.

      1. My dad worked on Apollo. He worked for Boeing. Most of the people who worked for the Apollo program worked for contractors, which, of course, are private sector entities.

        1. Yeah and sometimes government needs to direct certain outcomes the market won’t provide, and whether it uses its own resources or private-sector ones is beside the point. It’s still tax dollars paying for it.

          Granted a lot of the space stuff was military in spirit, and the myriad benefits unpredictable, but it’s at least proof that government doesn’t have to always be incompetent just because it’s not motivated by profit.

          1. “but it’s at least proof that government doesn’t have to always be incompetent just because it’s not motivated by profit.”

            If you think the government isn’t motivated by profit, you’re an idiot.

          2. You’re arguing that government is better at wasting money than the private sector. Well done.

          3. The whole project was pollitical even if it wasn’t military. There were few prectical aplications of space technology at that time and going to the moon is not something that made life better.

            1. Even if I agreed, government was surely competent at it. I’m sure you’d agree it’s also competent in blowing shit up in foreign countries. Can’t we give universal healthcare a try? The market sure as hell isn’t competent to deliver that, or at least not motivated.

              1. Actually, the market was doing a great job until the “crisis” of the 20’s.

                For you Tony, How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis

                Eighty years ago, Americans were also told that their nation was facing a health care crisis. Then, however, the complaint was that medical costs were too low, and that health insurance was too accessible. But in that era, too, government stepped forward to solve the problem. And boy, did it solve it!

                I was quite amused when studying for my Health & Disability Insurance Licensing Exam by the section of the study guide devoted to Fraternal Organizations. The regs were designed to strangle them in red tape & mandated business practices… It was pretty impressive; if I wanted to destroy the private provisioning of welfare while maintaining plausible deniability, it’s the sort of thing I would do. But then again, I’m not a sociopath like the Progressive leaders of the 1920’s.

              2. You usually respond to posts with words that prove you read the post, but never with the health care thing. Why can’t you just for once, pay attention? “The market sure as hell isn’t competent to deliver that…” What? The market hasn’t been given a chance to deliver it, at all. Tax-exempt health insurance only through employers, mandated HMOs basically giving the entire market to a few companies who can then lobby the government representing fewer voices (less market) and a ban on buying insurance out of state (preventing any interstate commerce, which is just happens to be the way the government constitutionally justifies all this) are all regulations preventing the market from actually delivering anything.

          4. Hey everybody… Note: Tony just argued that the “market” wouldn’t – on its own – provide the resources for spectacular world wars.

    3. but the other issue is that at the time when nasa was playing around with rockets, there really wasnt any economic return. Of course if ythe government spends a lot of money to dig ditches in the ground, the government with “beat” the private sector.

      1. As much as I love the fact that we’ve been to the Moon, if the private sector had led the way, we might’ve gone twenty years later, but we’d have a friggin’ colony by now.

        1. And would probably be setting up colonies on Mars.

          1. It’s highly unlikely that humans will ever set foot on Mars. Traveling there takes too long & is far too dangerous. No Astronaut would survive the trip.

            1. Bah!

            2. Sail around the earth? Do you have any idea just how vast the ocean is?Never gonna happen.

              1. It’s the world still flat for you Billy?

            3. You don’t know who you are talking to CDV. This is Pro’L Dib, the Kwittheshitz Hadenough, He Who Can Be Offended Many Ways At Once.

              IF anyone can step foot on Mars, it is he.

              Seriously, it is thinking like that precludes innovation, naysayer.

              1. I really need to do an Urkobold post on that. I think the only Dune reference I’ve made there before was a Sanford & Son/Dune mashup.

            4. With current technology the issue isn’t so much getting to Mars as getting off Mars.

              1. There’s some talk about going to Phobos and Deimos first. A LOT easier.

        2. Or it would be just another Soviet satellite.

          Get it…

          1. I don’t think the Soviets getting to the Moon before us would’ve done them any good. They lacked the economic power to develop it.

          2. Tony, the Russians had decades to even claim 2nd place in the race to the moon and fucking failed on several occaisions. The closest the Russians even got was a moon probe. Kennedy spent billions to prove the US made better ICBMs, that was the entire point of the space race. If Kennedy would have proposed a moon colony, I assure you the free market would have came up with some ideas.

            1. Kennedy was offered three options:
              Lunar Landing
              LL+Space Station
              LL+ST+Moon Base

              Since all he wanted was a propaganda
              victory over the USSR…

    4. Government also whipped the free market in pyramid-building by millenia.

      I guess I’m not sure what your point is. To be fair, you aren’t sure, either.

      1. Tony’s point is very simple, Marc: “Mine’s bigger!”

    5. Yeah, and used Nazis to do it.

    6. It’s amazing what you do when you can force people to pay for something that they don’t need.

    7. yeah, because they destroyed the market by forcing everyone to use expensive government-built technology, and effectively made it illegal for anyone other than military defense contractors to use it.

  6. In all seriousness, I think this is awesome news. Bet there are American astronauts in Dragon in a few years. I hope the government really stays in the background in all of this.

    Next stop, an orbiting Bigelow hotel. Or is that motel? I never get that right.

    1. It’s in space, therefore will be upscale, very upscale. Hotel applies.

      1. Well, the “mo” is for the mobility inherent in the automobile, right? And “ho”, well, that must be for, for, oh, I’ve got it, for whore. So when Bigelow send prostitutes to their orbital motels, they’ll become hotels.

        Is that correct?

        1. Well, the “mo” is for the mobility inherent in the automobile, right?

          I thought it was for “motor,” as in “motor vehicle.” The “ho” is for “whore” as in “your date that you take back to your room and boink.”

          1. Imagine that I read your whole comment before replying.

            1. I’m curious as to which part of my comment you did read.

              1. I’m afraid only the part I quoted. I was so eager to share my vast expanse of thoroughly useless knowledge that I hastily clicked reply. Then smacked myself on the forehead.

                1. I’m sure that we invented the idea of the whoretel right here.

                  I’ve long thought that a truly entrepreneurial individual could make billions by renting those Japanese capsule motels (er, hotels) in the U.S. by the hour.

                  1. I’m just curious, but you two do realize that “hotel” isn’t actually etymologically related to the word “whore”, right? Although I have to say it’s one of the more interesting folk etymologies I’ve come across.

                    1. My God, you’re right! Boy, am I feeling foolish now.

                    2. Jonas,

                      There are several members of our community who amuse themselves by behaving like, well, like Calvin’s Dad: mixing arcane knowledge, erudition & a wicked sense of humor with a faux know-nothingism.

                      Those of readers who lack the deranged genious of these dark comedians can do nothing but laugh.

                      … except when Sugarfree posts his fanfic. Then we throw up, lose all interest in sex, and often are found curled up in a fetal position underneath our computer desks, sucking our thumbs, shaking and muttering.

                      Oh, and occasionally Sugarfree links to feministing and shows that the aformentioned geniuses cannot hold a candle to the educated know-nothings with body image issues there.

                      Come to think of it, Sugarfree is pretty malevolent isn’t he?

                    3. Calvin’s dad is an excellent role model.

    2. Will it be filled with Vermicious Knids?

      1. Okay, that was impressive, Episiarch/Gene.

        1. And the answer is you betcha.

          1. What about Triffids?

            1. Classic band…

            2. What do Triffids have to do with hotels?

              1. The doc doesn’t get the reference, ProL. It’s because he’s a juggalo, and juggalos can’t read. They know three letters: I, C, and P.

                1. I read Roald Dahl, Epi. I got the reference, I was trying to add the thread and FAILED. Sue me.

                  1. I’m sure you have enough malpractice suits to deal with already, Dr. HappyFingers.

                2. And what does intracranial pressure have to do with this, besides you lack thereof? I think you are a valet in their Juggalo pro-wrestling organization.

              2. You never saw Day of the Triffids Pro’L Dib? Oh, wait. I was thinking of The Green Slime. Movie was set in space, like your orbiting whoretel.

                They are a very good band HCB.

                1. If you had led with Triffids, I’d have said yes, and we’d have chuckled a bit at the thought of a Triffid-invested hotel.

                  Unfortunately, Episiarch led with an excellently relevant reference to Vermicious Knids, which, of course, have everything in the world to do with space hotels.

                  1. Triffids are capitalists?

                    1. Of course! I can see why you’d think “infested” would be a better word, but Triffids are past that sort of thing, now that they have the means to engage in high finance.

                    2. They’ll rob you bind if you aren’t careful.

  7. That is some awesome news.

  8. And Obama thought that private rockets would never work. Suck it, Obama, we aren’t ceding space to Russia.

    1. Wait – Obama actually deserves a lot of credit – at least rhetorically, it seems like NASA is one of the few programs he’s interested in largely privatizing

      1. And why do you think the Nationalizer in Chief would decide to privatize this single sector?

        1. It’s a way to defund it without looking “antiscience” to his constituents. Probably for him is that the private sector is up for the challenge.

          1. Naw. He’s just going to wait till the private companies build some decent tech and infrastructure. Then he’ll nationalize the shit out of it. Just you wait.

        2. The lack of an aeronautical worker’s union?

          1. What’s odd about it is that the move actually may cost him Florida in the next election, assuming anyone, anywhere would be stupid enough to vote for him again.

            1. There are a lot of people that stupid, ProL. Juggalos, for instance.

              Still, I think he’ll lose at a Jimmy Carter-ish level.

              1. He’ll win Puerto Rico.

          2. The UAW begs to differ.

  9. Private companies should not be allowed to send people into space, because they might come to a horrifyingly spectacularly end, on national television. Or burn up on re-entry, scattered across multiple states, as a dismayed nation looks on.

    Only the government can be trusted to eliminate every conceivable risk.

    1. Yes, just like they did with Apollo 1, Columbia, and Challenger. It’s not like they’d ignore flight protocols because of political pressuring to put something in space and avoid delays.

  10. edit fail

    First time ever.

  11. it seems like NASA is one of the few programs he’s interested in largely privatizing

    Because he hates it. Space is full of things he can’t pronounce.

    1. Is he trying to protect us from the terrible secret of space?

      1. He saw Lifeforce.

      2. That’s correct, he’s just trying to protect us. Now go stand by the stairs.

  12. I am purple with envy.

  13. This private rocket wouldn’t exist if the govt didn’t provide the ‘market’ for it…the only diff btw this and NASA owned vehicles is that NASA wasn’t involved in design.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that there is now a natural market for rockets, it is still govt driven, and given the cost and scope of these projects, it will always be.

    1. Actually, that’s not so. All of SpaceX’s launches to date cost less than one test flight for Ares. SpaceX has alternative launch facilities and can start providing satellite and maybe even manned launches for any purpose at a far lower cost than the government-run launch services can.

      There’s nothing wrong with having the government as a customer, but there are huge opportunities for whoever can get launch costs down to something reasonable.

      1. In fact, currently, the only US method for putting a satellite into orbit is NASA. With this vehicle, SpaceX looks to be entering the field with a cheaper alternative to NASA rockets/shuttle missions.

        Plus, innovation for private use of space is more plausible because it doesn’t have to necessarily go through Uncle Sam. Space based incinerators for hazardous waste, whoretels, space based power generation, all kinds of things are possible uses for the private sector to need a cost effective method for reaching space.

        The government will not be the only consumer. Don’t think that for a minute.

        1. This is why you’re right, and the private sector is going to kick ass in space:

          Blah, blah, blah, WHORETELS, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

          1. Pro Lib: I get the feeling somehow that you’re kind of liking the whoretel idea. I don’t know where I get that from, it’s just a gut feeling 😉

            1. It’s not so much that I like the idea as that I expect that sex will be the driving force behind space exploitation.

              1. Like it has been for all other technologies.

          2. I’ll get my own space station and add some blackjack and hookers…aw…forget the blackjack!

        2. NASA isn’t the only one launching rockets, the DOD does as well. NASA definitely won’t be SpaceX’s only customer. They’ve already launched a Malaysian satellite on the Falcon 1.

          1. Yeah, but IIRC, the DOD launches their own (government) payload only. If that’s correct, then it’s not a viable even available for private sector use and therefore my point still stands.

            DOD rockets will NOT assist is setting up whoretels, and therefore suck.

    2. There are lots of private companies launching satellites these days.

      This is the first private company to provide a launch vehicle as well.

  14. Yeeeeeee-Muthafucking-Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!

  15. The real story is that Godzilla like monster that appears next to the rocket at 2:57

    1. I, for one… ah, this trope is dead.

      1. Because it’s godzilla, yeah. But that doesn’t kill the entire “i for one welcome” trope. Creative uses of it are always welcome.

        1. Like when a wasp flies up against the camera and makes it look huge in perspective, just like the original (and space themed!) Simpsons episode.

  16. As some who has worked in the space industry and studied the problems with it keenly for about 20 years, I think this is a much bigger deal than most of you seem to realize.

    The space industry has been shackled to inefficient government technology for decades by a combination of regulations that effectively lock out private sector competition and subsidize NASA/DOD vehicles. This is a big reason technological advancement had stalled. The governemnt locked up the market for private satellite launches to help offset the cost’s of it’s own bad technology, thereby destroying any private sector efficiency that might have driven launch costs down.

    This is the first step towards putting launch technology on a path towards development of cost-efficient vehicles, driven by market demand, rather than political interests in using space as a “jobs” program. Something NASA/DOD contractors weren’t ever going to do.

    The question remains, however, whether SpaceX will actually be profitable. If it can actually provide launch services for less than the state and turn a profit, this is a crucial crucial factor which will drive the development of cheaper and cheaper vehicles in the future, driving the cost-per-pound ratio down and setting up market forces that will further drive the development of new launch technology in a cost effective, sustainable direction. It will open up new possibilities for private space exploration and development.

    This is the kind of point where development of a technology begins to cascade. This is what everyone following the space industry has been waiting for.

    1. This is a potential gamechanger of huge proportions.

      1. Yes, and Tony won’t read it.

    2. cost-efficient vehicles, driven by market demand, rather than political interests in using space as a “jobs” program.

      Which will actually create more jobs than said jobs program. Gotta love the irony. Once you finish barfing.

    3. I agree this is a bigger deal than it seems. Beating NASA at its own game here is like starting up a cement company in Italy…and succeeding.

    4. ” Except for a short time at the
      beginning of human history, the word
      ‘ship’ will be understood to mean
      ‘Space Ship’.” A. C. Clarke

  17. SpaceX fans and foes speak out

    I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise as to the “foes.”

  18. The space industry has been shackled to inefficient government technology for decades by a combination of regulations that effectively lock out private sector competition and subsidize NASA/DOD vehicles.

    *makes “surprised” face*

    1. *makes “surprised” face*

      I’m picturing Macaulay Culkin in HomeAlone.

  19. How is contracting SpaceX for military satellite launches not like hiring Blackwater for military security tasks? Is there never any corruption involved during the bidding processes for new and improved military aircraft, ships, weaponry? What makes you think that this private vendor (and the process) will be any more scrupulous than all the others that have preceded it?

    1. What makes you think that anyone thinks that? I expect business to do what it takes to stay in business — I only expect it to be scrupulous inasmuch as doing so represents a sound marketing strategy.

      You can’t remove the corruption from people, but you don’t have to give them a government teat for which to compete. You apparently (apparently, since your post contained no actual substance) prefer to treat the symptom, rather than the disease.

    2. How is contracting SpaceX for military satellite launches not like hiring Blackwater for military security tasks?

      Because it’s like hiring United Airlines to fly new recurits from Chicago to Hawaii, instead of puting them on a C-17?

      (In fact, most of the rotator flights in and out of Kuwait for the Iraq/Afghanistan deployements are dc-10/767 size jets run by private contract airlines)

  20. I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

    (02:57 on the launch video.)

  21. This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are Great and needs to be appreciated by everyone.
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