SUSIE, space launch, and the many journeys to full reuse

Over a week ago, Europe’s ArianeGroup unveiled a new reusable launch vehicle they call “SUSIE,” a “Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration.” Given the acronym, NASA must be rubbing off on them. Though the name is sure to be memorable, like Wall-E, reusable launcher announcements usually make a splash only to be quickly forgotten. But … Continue reading SUSIE, space launch, and the many journeys to full reuse

About Starships, and the (not what you think) reusability we need

Recently, a SpaceX Starship ran into a setback that’s been ongoing for a couple of years now –  tile popping off. We get to see all this, as SpaceX runs a very open program, much of Starship taking place in the sights of a paparazzi of cameras and drones. We see that sticking protective tile on … Continue reading About Starships, and the (not what you think) reusability we need

Please phrase your answer in the form of a question

The best answers led us to better questions. It is easy to embrace this notion as just part of the process, learning and all that, and all good. Admittedly, this sentiment may just be comforting fiction. I wasn’t lost. I was exploring. Why admit that we didn’t look far enough ahead, that what was evident … Continue reading Please phrase your answer in the form of a question

What’s old is new again – more on refueling in space

On my shelves sits a childhood book “Planets and Spaceflight” published in 1957 by General Mills. The front cover is “Planets” and the rear “Spaceflight”, full of vivid descriptions and beautiful artwork of so many places to go and how we will get there. The publisher being best known for Cheerios leaves me sure the … Continue reading What’s old is new again – more on refueling in space

The rise, fall and rise again of refueling – in space

Range anxiety was invented by NASA. Well, perhaps not (or Velcro), but space exploration gives new meaning to an obsessive awareness of how much further you can go when there is not a charger on every corner. Now imagine that feeling in outer space, or back on the ground watching your spacecraft, not just for … Continue reading The rise, fall and rise again of refueling – in space

Reusability – legs and fins or wings and things?

The choice was made, so the outcome was determined, if not known. In engineering as in life. Not everyone accepts this notion quite the same way, or as gospel. Making a choice and then having to live with a determined if unknown future sounds fine in theory. In practice though determined leads to deterministic. As … Continue reading Reusability – legs and fins or wings and things?

The case of the $5,000 socket – it’s about the benefit when the mass is there, versus not

The socket cost $5,000. But we got a good deal for three at $15,000. Now this might sound like just another story about a $300 toilet seat, but it turns out there may be some rhyme or reason behind $300 toilet seats. Or even $10,000 toilet seat covers. If you make a plane and then … Continue reading The case of the $5,000 socket – it’s about the benefit when the mass is there, versus not