Starship SN10

If you haven’t watched the Starship hop from yesterday, take a look at the official SpaceX feed. It doesn’t show the later explosion (yes, it blew up about ten minutes after landing), but there is some really great footage here. The transition to glide at 10:04 and the relighting of the Raptors at 11:41 stand out, but the whole thing is worth a watch.

image: screen grab from SpaceX video

Yes, the landing legs failed. Yes, it stands at an angle after landing. Yes, it blew up ten minutes later. That stuff doesn’t matter yet. The legs were a temporary solution, not the final design. The goal of this mission was to improve the glide and the flip-and-burn maneuver for landing. By those measures, this flight was a success.

Looking forward to SN11.

Perseverance landing video

The video released today of Perseverance landing on Mars is astounding.
 
If you haven’t yet watched it, or even if you have, I urge you to watch the NASA presentation from 9:15 to 26:37 for full context of what you are seeing.

Perseverance landing

Here are a couple of “Wow!” shots of Perseverance.
The first is the rover under parachute, captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Think of the timing (and luck) that went into this shot. Wow!

The second is Perseverance hanging beneath the sky crane, a literal jetpack that brought the rover within meters of the surface then gently lowered it to touchdown. Seriously: Wow!

Rust as radiation shielding

About that radiation… what about rust as a shield?
 
The research focused on shielding for electronics, but could this scale? Imagine our Mars transit ships being the same color as the planet itself, coated in a layer of rust for protection.

Crew Dragon abort test tomorrow

SpaceX will conduct an inflight abort test of Crew Dragon tomorrow morning. As the Falcon 9 reaches max-Q, it will shut off its engines to simulate a worst case failure. This should trigger the Crew Dragon to separate from the rocket and fire its own Super Draco engines to get away from the failing rocket. Once clear, Crew Dragon will pop its parachutes and land gently in the Atlantic. This should be quite a show and is the last major milestone before an actual crewed launch.

Interview with Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson, commenting on a bunch of stuff.

His comments regarding personal freedom in a Martian colony don’t gel with mine. The social system that I imagine in Generation Mars has a great respect for personal freedom.

However, that is tempered by a level of social responsibility that we would likely find unrecognizable here on Earth.