But Isn’t Stove Gas Methane?

Space News reports:

The fully stacked Starship vehicle, consisting of a Super Heavy booster designated Booster 7 and a Starship upper stage named Ship 24, was filled with liquid oxygen and methane propellants during the test at SpaceX’s Starbase test site in Boca Chica, Texas.

Emphasis added. How did this ever pass environmental review?

<science>It passed because methane is a cleaner burning fuel than the RP-1 kerosene used in most other rockets, including the SpaceX Falcon series.</science>

<engineering>While liquid methane is very cold, its temperature is much warmer than the liquid hydrogen used in NASA’s SLS. It’s in the same range as liquid oxygen, so the thermal stress in the rocket’s plumbing is less severe.</engineering>

Saving the Public Some Money

NASA has announced that the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter and its moon Europa will be launched by SpaceX using a Falcon Heavy vehicle. The total contract award is for $178 million. The competing vehicle was NASA’s SLS. The estimated cost of the SLS launch would have been $2 billion.

The SLS has not flown yet, but the Falcon Heavy has several successful launches to its credit.


A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

—Everett Dirksen

A Profile in Cluelessness

I found this exchange on the Twitterz. Karoli has lived in Ventura County, California, for several years. It’s just down the coast from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the DoD’s main west coast launch facility. The sight of rockets rising from Vandenberg has been quite common in that part of Southern California for decades. She must not look up at the sky very much.

When I lived in Ventura County back in the early ’80s, I occasionally saw the trails from the test launches for the MX missile program during my evening commute from the San Fernando Valley to Thousand Oaks.

Yesterday’s launch was a SpaceX vehicle carrying multiple satellites to Low Earth Orbit.

Almost all launches out of Vandenberg go due South into polar orbit. Polar orbit launches go from California because the next major landfall is Antarctica, whereas a polar launch from Florida would go over populated areas immediately. Only the Kodiak, Alaska, facility has a longer path over water.