On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.

So please, speak up and share some of your adventures and travel news here, and submit your pictures using our speedy, secure form. You can submit up to 7 pictures at a time, with an overall description and one for each picture.

You can, of course, send an email with pictures if the form gives you trouble, or if you are trying to submit something special, like a zipped archive or a movie. If your pictures are already hosted online, then please email the links with your descriptions.

For each picture, it’s best to provide your commenter screenname, description, where it was taken, and date. It’s tough to keep everyone’s email address and screenname straight, so don’t assume that I remember it “from last time”. More and more, the first photo before the fold will be from a commenter, so making it easy to locate the screenname when I’ve found a compelling photo is crucial.

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

So, that SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch was something else. Can you imagine – it all worked, and this electric car, space suit, and David Bowie music, will be speeding around the Sun, intersecting Mars’s orbit, and otherwise being around for millions-to-billions of years. It beggars the mind.

This is real, folks – this really did happen, and this is a real picture from space. Just…wow – a piece of our current reality is now practically timeless, for our descendants or aliens to discover. Tears streamed down from my face as I watched the launch, separation, return, and payload, all with my wife on the phone as she watched on her work computer. We cheered and gasped and ooh’d and ah’d.

Mid-event, I remembered that when the Moon landing happened (before I was conceived), my dad was working on the North Slope in Alaska, and had planned months ahead to have the time off. He was in a hotel in Anchorage, and my mom was visiting her folks in Oklahoma and they spent many hours over the days and, mostly, nights: on the phone, each watching those amazing events on their small screens in low-res, flickering, rounded-screen B&W television. It was nice to experience my own take on that, though a bit less exciting because people weren’t involved, but it was amazing in HD and available through Wi-Fi or mobile data. I hope we get more footage from the Tesla and Starman as they travel.

Charlie Pierce was right, it is magic that we can hold something in our hand, at home or office or out and about, on top of a mountain or on the water or waiting for someone, and see live video and images from space or elsewhere on this planet. We truly live in amazing times.

I remember first feeling that way while I watched the Hong Kong turnover on a handheld portable TV my mom bought me in Japan earlier that year. It wasn’t awesome, but I sat outside for my planned lunch break in Arlington, Virginia, smoking my Dunhills and watching history unfold, live, while I was outdoors and with birds wandering around the grounds near me and with the sun shining bright. Seeing the Falcon Heavy launch was like that – on my tablet. It really was exciting, nice to see something I’ve been getting excited about for months succeed. It feels like things are different now in the “space game”, some trajectories have been changed, and that’s exciting!

No matter who succeeds, I hope we soon see a day when we again point up at the another planetary body in the sky with people on it, even if they’re just visiting.  It looks like that might be sorta soon – China’s exciting efforts to the Moon, our renewed national program looking at the Moon and Mars, Europe, Russia, India, and numerous private initiatives – there’s a bunch of neat, exciting things happening. There’s even a space mining syndicate – no joke – that’s planning on sending robotic mining ships to nearby asteroids to mine huge amounts of high-grade ores. That kind of resource creation – outside of Earth’s gravity – would mean other planets could be colonized much easier than if we had to lift all that metal and stuff off the planet!

And don’t get me started with Elon Musk with his space launch, solar power, power storage, electric tech, electric vehicles, crewed space tech, mining/tunnel boring tech, etc. companies and initiatives, it’s not like they all go together to make for making an off-world colony in a decade or two or anything.

Really, it’s been too long and we need to renew our optimistic vision of the future to get through this nastiness and inspire us to grow through our new challenges of climate change, resource depletion, and falling into terrible, comfortable tribalism.

I will post more on Space as so many exciting and interesting things are happening, and good news is in need. I’m thankful Adam was here to post Tuesday’s landmark event. If you get a chance, do watch the Falcon Heavy launch and separations and returning to launch pad of the twin rockets (their synchronized landing was amaze-balls). It sounds like the central rocket ran out of fuel and so missed the autonomous drone ship and pancaked into the water 100m away. It showered the ship with shrapnel, so we’ll find out more details about what happened and if there’s footage of the whole event, as soon as they can share that information.

SpaceX is well known for embracing failure and learning what went wrong, and then improving, so this is actually good, not bad. Their footage of explosions and other failures are amusing, and encouraging – failure is part of the plan and they measure everything so well that they almost learn more from failure than from success. They are not afraid to show failure because it improves them.

My theory is that they’ll figure out that it was a fuel issue – as in, Falcon-9/Heavy engines get their extra oomph from super-cold fuel, and the longer the fuel sits in the rocket before takeoff, the warmer it gets and the less dense it is. I think some is even vented, so there’s less in the tanks the longer they sit before takeoff. Since the launch was near the end of the launch window, the fuel was comparatively warm, and the center core had an extra minute or so of burn after the first two disengaged. Ergo, not enough fuel for the last 5-10 seconds of landing and so it missed the drone ship and hit the water HARD.

It seemed to me that, after landing, the two successful cores vented fuel/fuel vapor once they were settled and so, since they had enough fuel to power just a small puff, it’s quite possible that the central core didn’t have quite enough fuel to stick the landing. I’m thankful they use drone ships for these landings and nothing manned, let me tell you!

In light of this amazing progress, something fun and celebratory is in need. Again, apologies for running this so late, but it always errored out previously. Majorx4’s fix works well, so many thanks to him.

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Falcon Heavy Live Stream

Space X’s Falcon Heavy rocket is now scheduled to test launch at 3:45 PM EST. The Falcon Heavy is three Falcon 9 rockets bundled together in a new configuration from the regular Falcon 9s. The main rocket has a payload attached with two Falcon 9s as boosters. The Falcon heavy has 27 engines and generates more than 5 million pounds of thrust at lift off.

Musk has given it just a 50% chance of actually lifting off for its test flight without blowing up.

Here’s a live feed to watch it.

Open thread!