Today’s Tidbits: March 12, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: March 12, 2018

Here are our tidbits for March 12, 2018:  Musk’s plans for Mars rocket; GOES-S now GOES-17.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Musk’s Plans for Mars Rocket

Elon Musk onstage at the SXSW event, March 11, 2018. Screengrab.

A number of media sources reported today on comments Elon Musk made yesterday at the South by Southwest (SXSW) event in Austin, Texas about his plans to send people to Mars.  Many clearly misunderstood his remarks.  He did not say, for example, that he plans to send a rocket to Mars next year.

Instead, he reiterated what he said last month on the eve of the test launch of the Falcon Heavy (FH).  He had announced last year that he would use FH to send two private citizens on a trip around the Moon in 2018, but the night before the test launch he revealed that he’d changed his mind.  He no longer plans to human-rate FH at all and instead will focus on his much larger Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) for human spaceflight.

Musk describes BFR as a fully reusable two-stage rocket with a capability of placing 150 metric tons into low Earth orbit, larger than the Apollo-era Saturn V.   The second stage includes a crew compartment and is sometimes called a spaceship or BFS.   It has its own propulsion system and last month he said it would be tested on “short hops” on Earth next year, but called that schedule “aspirational.”  Yesterday he again said short hops “up and down” would happen next year while conceding that his timeframes are often “optimistic.”

Last month he said the first BFR launch to Earth orbit would be in three or four years followed by trips to the Moon.  As for Mars — that’s sometime in the future.

Musk was interviewed by his friend, Interstellar writer Jonah Nolan, and was joined onstage by his brother Kimbal at the end for a chat and a performance by the three of them of My Little Buttercup from The Three Amigos.  Interesting, to say the least.  The entire video is posted on YouTube: [].

GOES-S is Now GOES-17

NOAA announced today that its recently launched GOES-S satellite is now officially GOES-17.  NOAA uses letters to designate satellites during development, then assigns numbers once they successfully reach orbit.  GOES-17 was launched on March 1 and ultimately will become “GOES-West,” stationed in geostationary orbit to observe the western part of the United States and adjacent waters.

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