November 28, 2020

I MENTIONED ELON MUSK’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF A HIGH ALTITUDE STARSHIP TEST, but I want to particularly break out this bit:

Elon Musk said in a follow-up tweet on Wednesday that lots could go wrong in this first high-altitude test. “Lot of things need to go right,” the billionaire said. When asked on Twitter what he thought the odds were of Starship landing in one piece, he answered “1-in-3.”

He’s willing to learn through iterative failure. NASA is not, which is why he’s progressing so much faster.

UPDATE: My friend Dale Amon comments on Facebook:

Just got around to watching the Nov 24 launch. 7th landing for that particular Falcon 9. They are building experience. I wonder what the life span is going to turn out to be?

I’m quite sure that is a question that many folk are looking forward to finding out. You can design your arse off, but it doesn’t matter a whit until you actually do the testing.

I’ve been smiling for quite some time about how Elon has solved the problem which everyone has been complaining about for decades. Flight rate. How do you get enough business? The answer is to start another business that makes a lot of money and is a regular customer. The beauty of Starlink isn’t just that it is a money maker. It is also that it is going to require a continuous high rate of satellite replacement since these things are all in LEO and not intended for 20 year runs like the billion dollar GEO sats.

More importantly, with the rate of technology progression still accelerating (hey, that singularity ain’t so far off any more!) you actually want assets that are upgradeable or replaceable, because otherwise you are stuck with last week’s tech and losing market to the guy who launched this week’s tech.

Watch for Starlink service to improve at a jaw dropping rate.

Excellent point.

ANOTHER UPDATE (Charlie): Here’s a tease from my upcoming Stack Overflow blog article:

This is the world of the SpaceX Starlink program. According to SpaceX, the Starlink program has two purposes:
* To provide fast, reliable Internet connectivity to the billions of people who don’t have it now,
* and to use the revenues to make life interplanetary.
Stop and contemplate that for a moment: world-wide Internet to provide the revenue needed to colonize the planets. Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, along with Tesla, the Boring Company, and many others, is not a man who sets easy goals.

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