“Important Announcement” From SpaceX Today

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SpaceX has released the following media advisory;  “Elon Musk will make an important SpaceX announcement today, Friday, April 25th at 1:00PM ET at The National Press Club

Given the deafening silence coming from SpaceX after tweets from Elon Musk last Friday that the Falcon 9 first stage on the CRS-3 mission has achieved a soft landing on what was a very hard ocean that day, it might be natural to assume that today’s announcement will shed some light on what happened next.  Musk’s final tweet one week ago:

With no further word forthcoming (until perhaps today) it seemed likely that heavy seas broke up the rocket before search crews could arrive, sending it down to the sea floor where so many other examples of our best technology end up. (Or in the case of the Atlas V, so many examples of Russia’s best technology)

Could the stage have been recovered?

Although at least one website reported on a marine advisory regarding a floating rocket body, it seems hard to believe that if the first stage was in fact ultimately recovered,  that word would not have leaked out, particularly as the unidentified vessel pulled back into port accompanied by a long cylindrical object. Unless of course, it was instructed to take the long way home….

The last two times Elon Musk has used the National Press Club for a major SpaceX announcement, it has been not for something the company already did, but instead for something they intended to do. Those occasions were in 2011, when the world was introduced to Falcon Heavy and Falcon Reusable respectively. If tradition holds, then today’s announcement could also be the long awaited formal introduction of the MCT or Mars Colonial Transport, Musk’s (so far) notional idea of a massive, fully reusable space transportation system capable of hauling colonists to the Red Planet in large numbers.

While introducing MCT might seem just a bit pre-mature, even for SpaceX, there is a strong tie between last week’s launch and the company’s ultimate goal. Assuming reports are correct and the Falcon 9 first stage came to near stand still over a heaving Atlantic ocean, then the company has achieved the control algorithms necessary to bring back a much larger first stage just as easily. It becomes a matter of scale.

Coming one day after the close of a Humans 2 Mars summit also in D.C., one sponsored by the aerospace primes, and heavily promoting SLS, the irony would almost be too rich.

The third major alternative is that now fully confident in its development path for Commercial Crew, Musk will formally introduce Dragon 2.0, and just maybe a hard date for the first launch with a SpaceX, non-NASA, crew aboard.

Either way, look on the bright side, and really is there a dim side where Elon Musk and SpaceX is concerned? Given the scope and course of Musk’s NPC announcements, it will only take two or perhaps three more such visits until he gets around to what we’ve all been waiting for since we saw those pointy ears…warp drive!

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