From The Editors Science

Seventh Successful Launch and Booster Retrieval of SpaceX Falcon 9

The first ever successful launch and safe return and retrieval of the booster, after mission accomplished, happened in December 2015 for SpaceX. The success of the operation of carrying and launching the payload in space was surely an occasion to rejoice; however, it had happened before on numerous occasions.

The most significant and triumphant aspect of the mission for Elon Musk and the SpaceX team was the safe return and retrieval of the booster which had never happened before for SpaceX until December 2015; although Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin had successfully achieved this feat of safe return and retrieval earlier with its “New Shepard” mission.

Ever since that momentous day in December 2015, SpaceX achieved six successful launches and booster retrievals until the tragic explosion of Falcon 9 along with its payload in September 2016 and a re-launch was scheduled for January 2017.

Of course, an enquiry into the disaster was initiated and SpaceX investigators were able to narrow down the cause of last year’s pre-launch testing catastrophe at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to a malfunction of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen tank as reported by Associated Press (AP).

“SpaceX announced this month that investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen tank,” reported AP.

However, true to their word of a re-launch in January 2017, Elon Musk and the SpaceX team achieved their seventh successful launch and booster retrieval on Saturday, January 14, 2017.

The Falcon9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on Saturday, with a payload of 10 satellites launching the “Iridium-1” mission on behalf of Iridium Communications Inc. headquartered in McLean, Virginia. It is a voice and data communications company which operates Iridium satellite constellations providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers covering the entire surface of the earth.

The successful launch and retrieval not only by Elon Musk’s SpaceX but also Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin mean retrieved boosters can be used multiple times for launching different payloads into orbit, thereby, making such missions much more economical and feasible for other space-related ventures.

As far as SpaceX is concerned there are reports that they have a minimum of seventy scheduled launches in the not too distant future involving a mind-blowing US$10 billion.

In addition to commercial space launches like the seventh launch for Iridium, SpaceX is also involved in carrying space supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

Reportedly, they are also working on space capsule technology designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

With the rapid development being witnessed in space technology in the 21st century along with NASA’s involvement, assistance, and expertise, colonization of Mars, commercial space flight services, space hotels, amusement parks and much more are appearing more and more as distant, and in some cases not too distant, realities.

For more information on related topics please refer to the following links:

The Amazing Amazon Man- Jeff Bezos- Life and Achievements

Elon Musk – Entrepreneur, Innovator and a Child at Heart

A Brief Insight into Elon Musk the Man, the Entrepreneur and the Visionary


From The Editors Science

Elon Musk – Entrepreneur, Innovator and a Child at Heart

Elon Musk, founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, co-founder and Chairman of Solar City, co-founder of Open AI – a non-profit Artificial Intelligence research company, an estimated net worth of $11.5 billion as of June 2016, ranked 21 on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in December 2016, is after all human, and the child in him was evident in a recently released video by National Geographic capturing his reaction to the successful launch and landing of Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida on December 21, 2015.

The momentous event including the launch and the ultimately safe and upright landing back on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral and the post landing jubilation of SpaceX employees were witnessed live via YouTube streaming broadcast.

However, what one did not get to see then, was the reaction of Elon Musk which was captured on video by a crew following him during the launch and return; the video, however, was recently released by National Geographic.

In the Nat Geo clip, soon after the countdown and the successful launch, Elon Musk says, “It’s good baby” and is seen running out of the command center into the open to watch Falcon 9 rocket blazing up into the night sky.

“Come on” he urges looking up with folded hands and looks even more tensed before the landing, continuing to look up with hands still folded. At one point, probably expecting the worst, he says, “Oh, where is it? This is bad. It’s actually bad.” The video clearly captures his grimacing, heavy breathing, looking up then, apparently, looking back at someone.

Then suddenly the sonic boom on re-entry of Falcon 9 into the earth’s atmosphere is heard and finally the near-perfect, if not the perfect, landing of the craft on the launch pad is witnessed by an elated Musk and cheering SpaceX employees.

The child in Elon Musk suddenly explodes as soon as Falcon 9 lands on the launch pad in an upright position. In his euphoria, he is seen running towards the command center calling out, “It’s standing up.”

On entering the command center he says to nobody in particular “when it started coming in it sounded like an explosion.” He then rushes to the monitor high-fiving his colleagues on the way.

On seeing the rocket on the monitor screen standing upright on the launch pad he releases his emotions, “What! Holy smokes man!” he says.

After the ecstatic childish reaction, he was back to his sober demeanour and this is what he had to say about the event:


“It’s kind of amazing that this window of opportunity is opened for life to go beyond earth and we just don’t know how long that window is going to be open. But the thing that gets me most fired up is that creating a self-sustaining civilization on Mars which would be the greatest adventure ever – ever in human history. It would be so exciting to wake up in the morning and think that, that’s what’s happening”.

The successful landing in December 2015 was the first for SpaceX after many failed attempts and since then SpaceX has successfully landed back many such rockets after successfully delivering their payloads into space.

The company, however, experienced a major setback, when in September 2016, one such SpaceX Falcon9 rocket exploded on its launch pad destroying the Israeli satellite it was expected to launch into orbit.

After the massive setback in September, SpaceX is in the process of investigating the cause of the explosion and trying to iron out the glitches that caused the explosion with the target of a January 2017 re-launch.

Elon Musk is a man on many missions with a clear vision of his goals. Setbacks like the one in September 2016 is not the first he has experienced, and may not be the last, but the visionary that he is will certainly not deter him from pushing on and realizing his dreams.

From The Editors Technology

Tesla’s Self-Driving Demo of Cars of the Future

Tech guru Elon Musk, one of the most talked about CEOs in the world, the man behind companies like SpaceX and Tesla, made an amazing announcement last month that took the tech world by surprise. Tesla plans to equip all their future cars with the hardware and software needed for total autonomous control – no human intervention whatsoever.

Although, the concept and technology of self-driving electric cars is nothing new, and there are quite a few competitors out there, names like Google, Uber, GM, working on the same lines, the seemingly unlikely deadline he gave was the surprise factor.

In the self-driving-electric-car competition, Ford is aiming to launch in 2021, China’s Baidu is expected in 2019; Google is yet to make an announcement on a date and likewise for GM.

Tesla envisions a time in the very near future when there would be laws against human-driven cars. If he were to be believed, looking ahead, thousands of lives can be saved by putting more faith in technology and the onboard computer rather than on humans.

His claims seem to be based on the fact that most deaths happen as result of human error rather than mechanical failure, and the stats back that humans are susceptible to falling asleep, to smartphone distractions, to bad decisions to excessive alcohol consumption, and to so many other factors that cause such mishaps in the thousands, every year.

Some economists feel that the car would be somewhat expensive with the kind of investment and resources involved. However, with the amount of advance orders already secured by Tesla, the question that is being asked now is whether they would be able to deliver as promised.

Tesla’s video shows an autonomous, self-driving and self-parking car, with The Benny Hill Show theme song playing in the background. It takes the viewer on a drive, apparently, through real-world roads and situations. A rear camera shows a man sitting with his feet not touching the accelerator or the brake pedals, his hands on his lap, not touching the steering wheel.

The speeded up video goes on to show the car stopping, the man leaving the car and the car parking itself in a vacant spot. Tesla had to put a man in the car because of legal issues.

The video is designed to display the capability of the car to handle real-world road situations including sudden vehicular movements, stop signs, pedestrians, sharp bends, sudden braking and more.

The car is projected to have 8 cameras providing a 360-degree view, with a supercomputer onboard, capable of making an estimated 40 trillion decisions per second or more.

Prof. Raghunathan “Raj” Rajkumar who heads the Autonomous Driving collaborative research Lab. at Carnegie Mellon University said, “An unedited sequence of the vehicle driving itself in downtown San Francisco would be more meaningful to see what the vehicle is capable of doing,”

Despite the distracters and the naysayers, the idea of self-driving cars, promising safer roads and far lesser driving related deaths, makes one look forward to the automobile revolution that seems more and more imminent now.

Also, constructive and valuable Insight into Tesla’s present and future;

From The Editors Science

SpaceX Rocket Explosion and It’s After Effects on Space Exploration

Every major project has its safety hazards and despite man’s best efforts with hundreds of checks and balances to ensure that the end product is 100 percent safe and foolproof, there is always the element or risk that may cause problems.

This does not imply that the makers of such products do not pay attention to detail or neglect safety factors, in fact, so much scrutiny and precision are given to security that a product is checked over and over again before it goes off the assembly line.

Automakers, Aircraft manufacturers, communication equipment makers, weapons producers, and hundreds of household and consumer products have to pass stringent safety checks before being sent to the market.

However, it is a well-known fact that Aircrafts have known to crash, cars have been recalled for transmission faults or one thing or another. Computers, cell phones, household consumer items have all failed at one time or another for some reason or another.

The American Space Program by far has been one of the greatest, most expensive and ambitious project undertaken by the National Space and Aeronautics Administration NASA and billions of dollars have been invested in ensuring that rockets and spaceships are built to the highest standards and specifications of safety in mind.

As, far as mechanical things are concerned, it is virtually next to impossible to predict that things will work l with clockwork precision as even the NASA projects were not immune to disaster.

In this context, three major mishaps have to be pointed out to realize that things can go wrong despite everything.

Launched on April 11, 1970, at 13.13 Central Standard Time (CST) Apollo 13 was the 7th manned mission to space and third intended to land on the moon. However, two days later an oxygen tank exploded on board causing the spaceship’s s system to malfunction causing loss of cabin heat, power loss and a shortage of potable water. It was nothing short of a miracle as the world watched with bated breath and-and intense anxiety that the ship safely made re-entry into the earth’s orbit, and a major disaster was thus averted.

Fortune, however, did not favor the crews of Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia both of which disintegrated in mid-flight the first in 73 seconds after launch in on 28-1-1986 and the latter on re-entry into the earth’s Atmosphere on 1-02-2003 killing all crew instantly on board seven each on each Shuttle. NASA ended the shuttle program on 31Aug, 2011.

In the latest development concerning the space program, an F-9 rocket belonging not to NASA but of a private company SpaceX owned by a flamboyant and dynamic young entrepreneur Elon Musk exploded during a Cape Canaveral launch.

Fortunately, there was no loss of life or damage to property due to the result. SpaceX is in the business of launching commercial satellites in space and transporting cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Falcon X rocket was carrying an Israeli communications satellite which was also destroyed. The satellite was to be used by Facebook for better connectivity purposes in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Emergency teams immediately responded to the crisis and NASA was monitoring the release of any toxic fumes SpaceX said in a statement stated that the explosion occurred due to an anomaly ” during the static fire test resulted in the loss of the rocket and the Israeli communications satellite that it had been due to carry into space on Saturday.

The explosion occurred at Launch Complex 40 at the Air Force station, right next door to Kennedy Space Center.

NASA said that Kennedy emergency staff were on standby. At the same time, personnel was monitoring the air for any toxic fumes. The Air Force stressed there was no threat to public safety in the surrounding communities.

The explosion is a major setback to SpaceX which has far-reaching ambitions which also involves sending a man mission to the red planet Mars with the sole purpose of colonizing it in by 2025.

Local authorities explained that area residents were not at risk due to the explosion.

NASA relies on SpaceX for transporting goods to the International Space Station supplying it food, science equipment, and other supplies.

The explosion will seriously affect SpaceX’s busy schedule as a replacement rocket will take months to build. Moreover, damage if any to the Launchpad has to be taken into account.

It would not be a surprise that Elon Musk takes on lease a rocket from space companies around the world for he is known to be very enterprising and seeking the initiative.

Despite stringent safety checks, it is next to impossible to avoid a disaster of such a nature.

NASA and the US government is very well known to apply the strictest standards and specifications as regards the human safety factor so the next launch when it comes, will be under intense watch.

As for Elon Musk and his businesses this though will be a major setback for the time being but knowing the company’s overdrive to deliver it will bounce back in no time.

Musk, has experienced similar problems with his Tesla Car Model S the autopilot of which malfunctioned and a Tesla car was involved in a crash which resulted in the death of a passenger Mark Zuckerberg, the owner, and CEO of Facebook speaking on the incident expressed his disappointment over the destroyed AMOS-6 satellite, owned by Israel-based Spacecom as it would have provided connectivity to many entrepreneurs and every else on the continent.

Facebook has entered into a partnership with Eutelsat Communications to boost data connectivity to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the satellite was part of that plan to increase bandwidth.

The dedication and devotion of people like Zuckerberg and Musk speak volumes of the dynamic young entrepreneurs of the times for every setback is a major challenge, and they meet up with the expectations of the people.

In a statement, Zuckerberg said “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” he wrote

As for Musk who launched Space X in 2002 for the time being, all does not bode well.

The immediate concern would be how this accident will affect SpaceX’s current schedule as nine more launches are planned for 2016. A rocket costs almost 200m dollars and not easy to replace. Companies will probably cook elsewhere for their space rides.

There are many who will say Space X was moving too fast and needs to be reined in. Will NASA cancel its contracts and cause immense financial losses to the company. It is too early to predict what will happen. However, one thing is sure, in commercial ventures of such magnitude delays Elon Musk, has a difficult task ahead of him. First to secure rockets, ensure 100 per cent safety, convince clients that Space X can deliver. Meanwhile, shareholders will be jittery if company stock will plummet. The shares of Spacecom, the Israeli communications company whose satellite was destroyed along with the rocket fell. The company will be compensated by Israel Aerospace Industries.

Space X has had suffered mishaps before, and its first three launches ended up in failure, however after 2008 when it completed its successful launch it was on the roads to success.

His other companies Tesla cars and Tesla Solar City are doing very well.
With the launch of the Tesla Super X, sales have skyrocketed, and orders are pouring in. Perhaps Musk will divert his Tesla’s profits to salvage SpaceX.

The man as mentioned is very creative and dynamic in his business dealings, His shareholders have confidence in him and have invested heavily in his company.

Of course as is the norm many clients will be reluctant to book orders with Space X but given the business acumen of Musk and his persuasive powers he will win over his customers.

Meanwhile, a lot of planning, restructuring, financing has to be put in place. The company plans to fly its first unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2018 and send humans to Mars as early as 2025.

The World is becoming smaller and the population bigger and the idea of seeking to colonize Mars has a lot of appeals. Elon Musk is a visionary and a risk taker and although his latest venture has backfired his supporters, investors, and his employees have unshakable faith in him.

At a relatively young age of 45, Elon Musk is going places, and one accident will not dampen his spirit at all for he will emerge more successful, richer and powerful.

There have been many men in history who have taken risks, met with failures such as Edison or Einstein but they never gave up and persevered in their efforts to realize their dreams. Elon Musk is such a man and Space the final frontier.

From The Editors Technology

The Elon Musk Mission to Colonize Mars

The inspirational and eloquent maxim:

To boldly go where no man has gone before

from the world famous and highly acclaimed Television series ‘Star Trek of the sixties, the brainchild of visionary producer Gene Roddenberry which was later turned into full-length feature films, drew massive inspiration and fan following which seems to be rising to this very day.

The success of the Star Trek movies and series created a sensation so much so that fans of the movies formed their own group called ‘Ttrekkies’ and every year a Star Trek convention is held in the USA.

Space, referred to as the “last frontier’ with its inherent mysteries has always fascinated man and right from the early sixties with the advancement of technology there has been a Race for Space so to speak.

The Americans competed with the Russians and it was the vision of President John. F. Kennedy that The USA would put a man on the moon before the end of the sixties.
True to his prophecy, Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969 and Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the surface of the moon with the famous chant ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ .

Space travel and exploration are exorbitantly expensive, so much as that in the early sixties and seventies, only The USA and the former Soviet Union were engaged in this field.

Over time other countries like India, China, The European Space agency all started sending rockets into space for weather data, communication and television satellites, Topography etc.

It is only after the turn of the millennium that the private sector has become involved in space travel and exploration for although the commercial benefits may be high the cost of launching a spaceship into deep space is absolutely staggering .

It takes vision, daring, creativity , an adventurous spirit and the boldness of rising to the challenge to venture into such celestial pursuits.Two people worthy of being singled out in the context of commercial space travel space need special mention here as both are visionaries with a dynamic and charismatic disposition, true leaders in their respective enterprises.

The first is Sir Richard Branson, CEO, and Chairman of the Virgin group of companies comprising 400 company with his latest venture Virgin Galactic. As the name suggests Virgin Galactic is a commercial enterprise opening up space travel to all those interested and able to pick the price tag. Although It has not kicked off yet, intrepid travelers have already started forming a beeline to book space for travel in the future.

However, a sad aspect of the Branson’s venture has been the fatal crash of one of its prototype the VSS Enterprise, a Virgin Galactic Scaled Composite Model 339 Spaceship Two experimental spaceflight test vehicle, which suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup and crashed in the Mojave desert in California, USA.

Investigations revealed that it was an error of the copilot who unlocked the tail of the spacecraft in mid-flight causing the crash. The co-pilot Michael Alsbury died in the crash. This was a major setback for Branson as the accident cast a shadow of doubt on space tourism. However, the British entrepreneur has not lost heart and the project has not been aborted the space ship rebuilt with a savvy new design and innovative features are attracting large bookings.

The other dynamic and visionary entrepreneur can best be described as a genius and highly successful businessman who at the relatively young age of 45 has set up billion dollar companies, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, the first mass producing electric cars, the roadster, model S and model X and the other SpaceX, a spaceship company transporting in cargo payload. The man is Elon Musk, a South African born, Canadian. American for whom it so seems that the Sky is not even the limit.

He is the man who wears many hats, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO of Tesla Motors, Co-founder and chairman of Solar city and two or three other companies. Musk has tremendous vision and is willing to rise to the challenge for his aim is to change humanity and the world. His goal comprises reducing global warming by producing and consumption of sustainable energy.

Furthermore, he believes in making life multi-planetary by establishing a human colony on the planet Mars. His Company Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as Space X, based in Hawthorne, California , is an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services already exploring and experimenting with technologies to enable them to prepare for the colonization of Mars.

It has already developed the space vehicles Falcon I and Falcon 9 which are designed to be reusable. Its Dragon spacecraft has been used to supply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). A manned version of Dragon is in development.

Musk believes that his program to colonize Mars will be possible in the next 9 years and his company will put the first man on Mars by 2025. The missions are sure to be hard, risky, dangerous, difficult according to Musk but he seems confident that in the in the pioneer spirit of the people they will get there.

Just as with the establishment of the English colonies, there are people who love that. They want to be the pioneers. Much like some of their ancestors, these brave men and women would embark on a perilous journey to a new world for the good of mankind, a journey with implied risk that suggest they may never return.

The first phases are to involve rovers and science experiments, not men and women. The equipment would be built by SpaceX (and others) and shuttled to the planet in anticipation of the pioneers’ arrival in 2025. The early flights are a proving ground, a way to better understand interplanetary navigation and allow the company to safely land its craft on Mars, before shuttling humans.

Essentially what we’re saying is we’re establishing a cargo route to Mars. It’s a regular cargo route. You can count on it. It’s going happen every 26 months. Like a train leaving the station. And if scientists around the world know that they can count on that, and it’s going to be inexpensive, relatively speaking compared to anything in the past, then they will plan accordingly and come up with a lot of great experiments.

In decades past, these missions would have fallen on NASA and congress, which makes it even more impressive that Musk and his privately-held company are leading the charge.The move is an audacious one by a company that lacks the resources of a government agency and is receiving only minimal support. NASA, for its part, has previously said it would provide technical — but not financial — support for Musk’s 2018 mission.

Whether it is an obsession or sheer inspiration Musk seems bent on proving himself. If things go according to plan, we should be able to — we should be able to — launch people in 2024, with the arrival in 2025,” Musk is believed to have said. This is indeed a grand plan for up to now we have just seen life in Mars in movies. If musk can pull it off and Mars can be really colonized in 30 to 40 years time his company will have done a great service to humanity as the Earth’s resources are drying up especially water and with burgeoning population in billions many will aspire to become Martians.

Musk has missed some self-imposed deadlines before. But he said that he intends to send SpaceX’s Dragon Version 2 spacecraft to Mars in 2018. SpaceX has entered into an agreement with NASA for a Dragon mission to Mars, set to take place as early as 2018. Known as “Red Dragon”, the variant of the Dragon 2 spacecraft will be launched by the Falcon Heavy rocket, ahead of a soft landing on the surface of Mars. The mission is also part of an agreement with NASA to gain further data on Mars landings.

Red Dragon was always seen as the first step towards that eventual goal. SpaceX’s announcement pointed to the completion of the main phase of an agreement with NASA, likely via a Space Act Agreement (SAA), to work together on a mission to Mars.

Elon Musk, has great plans for posterity and can rightly be called a great visionary and had visionaries and academics like Gene Rodenberry, Jules Verne, Einstein, Newton and many others been alive today they would have lauded Musk for his intrepid and entrepreneurial skills.

Elon Musk has the funds, the resources, and the manpower to realize his dreams and with the support of the US government, he has everything at his disposal to invade Mars and set up colonies of earthlings.

Musk has many more years to go and with his visionary thinking and foresight and with time who knows what greater achievements he will make. Godspeed to him.