Is SpaceX’s Launch a Fraud?

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SpaceX has been making some big moves in the realm of human achievement.  Moreover, I’m a fan of the company’s CEO, Elon Musk.  The man has all of the right ideas and the leadership skills needed for anything he puts his mind to.

SpaceX was established not that long ago and has already risen to the top of the space rocket industry.  Just recently, a new demonstration (one of several previous demonstrations) was held for all to see.  Showcased was a rocket being launched into space and safely landed back on ground.

One of the capabilities of SpaceX that sets it apart from the rest is that it has the engineering technology to “re-use” rockets, which eliminates burdensome costs.

I hate to be the one to spoil early what should be a celebration of human achievement.  I believe in science and progress, but I also believe in truth.  I’m calling into question the legitimacy of the launch presented on February 19th, 2017.  Again, I know we’re all still experiencing a euphoric high from what was seen and that we need more of humanity to push science forward.

It’s safe to say that SpaceX has surpassed NASA in rocket engineering.  So many have asked:

Why was NASA unable, or failed, to achieve, in the 30-40 years after the moon landing, what SpaceX was able to do in a quarter of the time?  Let’s not forget that the NASA budget, that the government will dare not touch as if its social security, has eaten up 19.3 billion dollars last year in 2016 and 4 trillion cumulatively.  I hear lots of space exploration advocates complain about a lack of support, but surely, they can’t mean NASA needs more funding, can they?  One simple explanation is that this is the quality output received in a privatized market.  However, I would go a little further and question the competency of NASA.

Now that we’ve acknowledged NASA’s horrendous record for the past half-century, we want to avoid making the same mistake with SpaceX.  Granted, SpaceX generates its own revenue, but we should be careful about being “sold” on the same outer-space mantra that tricked us into believing in NASA.

As I watched the recording of the SpaceX launch, I noticed a lack of transparency.

Image of Launch

First, the launch itself seems real.  The deck seems real, and the rocket seems real.  Those aspects I do not call into question.  What is called into question is the continuity of the video feed.

About 20 seconds after the launch, all legitimate video feed is cut off and we’re given a diagram indicating the progress.  This goes on for 2 minutes.

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Diagram of Mid-Launch

Then, like magic, a new feed comes in of the rocket in low Earth orbit.  If this were a movie, it would be the equivalent of skipping a scene, a very crucial scene.

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Image of Low-Earth Orbit

Throughout the entirety of the low-earth orbit feed, there is no 360 degree pan of the camera, which they should have prepared for and been excited to do (but no one ever does).  I can assure you that we would all like a more immersed outer-space experience than these dead-end views we always get with a highly limited perspective.  They don’t tell a full visual story.  I also understand that SpaceX wants to market themselves using this demonstration, but why are we sold more on the rocket science rather than the experience?  And I’m no astronomer, but why is there not a single star in the images?  No land masses can be seen on the earth, just the oceans and the clouds.  Every time I look at the low-Earth orbit images, I don’t see how this couldn’t easily be reproduced with a green screen and other CGI.


The most suspicious point is during the rocket’s descension.  As it descends, a continuous feed is displayed on the left, but the feed on the right is switched at a very specific point.  In fact, the feed on the right is switched several times, but at 22:23, it’s switched to a completely different view.


For the acute investigator, this point was when the feed showed the rocket penetrate the clouds.  This switch precludes one from cross-referencing both feeds.  The timing was impeccable.

My assessment of this production quality is that the viewer experience is carefully controlled and led on rather than allowing the viewer to explore.

For some people, “seeing is believing,” but should you believe everything you see?

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