Yammer's David Sacks may not be ready to give up on Silicon Valley just yet. This week, Silicon Valley startup Twist, which makes an app to help people communicate their expected arrival times, announced Sacks as an advisor.
Last summer, Sacks made headlines with a Facebook wall post that said Silicon Valley as we've known it was ending because there weren't enough new ideas and the landscape was dominated by big players who would bully would-be challengers out of the way. Sacks had sold his enterprise social software company to Microsoft in June for $1.2 billion, which Forbes reported was an amazing 50 times Yammer's 2011 revenue. They must have wanted Yammer in a bad way or wanted to pluck them off the market before a rival got them. Whatever the reason, it moved Sacks from a small company environment to a very large one.
Sacks says joining Twist is in no way back-pedaling from that August statement. "I never said that innovation was dead," he explained to CITEworld in an email interview. "I said that the internet landscape is dominated by large incumbents and entrepreneurs need to find new categories. To my knowledge, Twist is the first application to solve the problem of time."
This morning we’re hearing official word from SpaceX that their Dragon capsule launch to the International Space Station didn’t go as perfect as it seemed in the live feed. What you’re about to see is a bit of an explosion, some debris flying from the craft, and a burst of fire. Of course as the fire is surrounded by lots of fire from the rockets surrounding it, it’ll be just a bit difficult to detect – good thing the video is in slow motion and you’ll see it all in all of its glorious detail.
The situation we’re seeing here is what SpaceX calls an “anomaly”, assuring us that the ship is indeed in orbit around the Earth now and that the explosion wasn’t something they were alarmed about as it happened nor now. What you can see looks a lot more serious than SpaceX is making it out to be, that being a burst of flame and a collection of debris falling from the rocket as it continues on its course.
UPDATE: SpaceX has released the following statement on the situation, assuring the public that the mission will continue as planned, and that there wasn’t actually an explosion at all – all is well!
The Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station this morning and is performing nominally following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:35PM ET Sunday, October 7, 2012.
Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night’s launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately. We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9’s other eight engines were impacted by this event.
As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon’s entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS. This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.
Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission.
We will continue to review all flight data in order to understand the cause of the anomaly, and will devote the resources necessary to identify the problem and apply those lessons to future flights. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the station on October 10, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the following weeks, the crew will unload Dragon’s payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for October 28
This craft also works with the Falcon 9, projecting the Dragon capsule into space with nine engines. It’s designed so that if any one of its nine engines should fail, the on-board computers will instantly detect it and act. When a failure occurs, the fuel supply will be cut and the unused propellant will be distributed to the remaining engines, this allowing them to burn longer.
Because these engines were also designed to minimize damage to one another should one of them fail, it appears that one one of the nine was knocked out in the anomaly. SpaceX has assured that they’d be providing more information on the exact situation as it unfolds throughout the day [SEE ABOVE]. We must assume at this point that the mission will continue without delay as SpaceX doesn’t appear to have their feathers ruffled too much – stay tuned!
The first launch of a new space era is scheduled to take place on Sunday night as SpaceX prepares to deliver its first NASA-contracted cargo load to the International Space Station.
Sunday’s launch — known as Commercial Resupply Services-1 — will mark the first of 12 contracted flights for SpaceX, totaling $1.6 billion. Like the space startup’s previous launch and ISS test-docking from earlier this year, the company will use a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to deliver about 1,000 pounds to the ISS and bring back more than 1,200 pounds of research equipment and supplies.
Sunday’s scheduled launch is for 8:35 pm EDT. The company performed a static firing of the nine Merlin engines last Saturday, and on Tuesday went through final rehearsal with the entire vehicle being transported to the launch pad and lifted to its vertical positioning.
So far SpaceX has had two successful orbital flights with the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft. Though the company reminds everybody that space travel is “incredibly complicated, from launch to recovery.” There was a technical setback before the launch for the demonstration flight in May, where a small mechanical failure within the turbo-pump feeding fuel to the engine caused the launch to be aborted less than one second before liftoff. The scrubbed first attempt was a reminder that there’s more than a few wires and a simple four-cylinder under the hood.
Now the 157-foot-tall Falcon 9 and Dragon are mated together (pictured above) in the adjacent hangar at Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral in Florida awaiting final preparations ahead of the launch. With the nighttime launch, the day will be filled with final cargo being loaded into the Dragon on Sunday morning.
Seven and a half hours before launch, the switch is turned on for Falcon 9 and Dragon. With systems and computers powered up, the launch pad is evacuated and the rocket is autonomously fueled a little less than four hours before launch. The liquid oxygen tank is filled first and the RP-1 (kerosene) is topped off afterwards. Because the liquid oxygen is constantly venting from the tanks, it is continuously topped off before the launch occurs.
With 10 minutes and 30 seconds left to launch, the terminal countdown begins. At this point the systems are autonomous. There are three separate teams that must give the go-ahead during the countdown, with NASA mission control in Houston and SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California both polled to make sure everything looks good on their screens. With everybody’s approval and 2 minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock, the launch director gives the final go-ahead for liftoff.
At Cape Canaveral, the Air Force range safety officer will make sure the physical area at the launch pad and surroundings are clear, and at 8:34 pm EDT, one minute before launch, the flight computer is activated. Five seconds later the water deluge system will inundate the launch pad with a flow rate of 30,000 gallons per minute. The water acts as a liquid blanket to suppress the acoustic waves that are produced by the engines during ignition.
With three seconds left on the clock, the nine Merlin engines will ignite, producing 850,000 pounds of thrust to lift the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft off of the pad and up towards orbit.
Nine minutes and 46 seconds after launch, both the first and second stages of the rocket will have completed their job and the Dragon capsule will separate from the rocket. It will then begin a multi-day approach to the ISS, similar to what happened during the COTS demonstration flight in May. Though instead of having to make multiple approaches to demonstrate capabilities, this time Dragon is scheduled to make a single approach before being captured by the robotic arm and berthed to the ISS.
On board, the crew will unpack supplies, including clothing, food and batteries. There is also 390 pounds of scientific experiments heading to the station, including 23 student experiments that were chosen from more than 2,000 proposals.
Dragon is expected to spend 18 days docked on the station while it’s unpacked and then repacked with equipment heading back to Earth on Oct. 28. Unlike other cargo vehicles, such as the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, which burned up last month after departing the ISS with waste on board, the Dragon is the only spacecraft currently available to return to Earth with a significant amount of cargo.
The weather forecast for Sunday’s launch is not perfect, but there is currently a 60 percent chance for an on-time liftoff. There are backup launch times available on both Monday and Tuesday, but for now, all teams are keeping their fingers crossed for a successful launch and flight on Sunday.
All Photos Courtesy of NASA