Interesting but wrong

Over the course of his 54 years of letters Cooke was such an effortless storyteller that you can dip into any week from the Kennedy assassination to the invasion of Iraq and time travel to a perfectly nuanced first draft of history’s ironies.

Listening to the news on Wednesday, it struck me that no observer would have been better equipped to convey the image of a gutter-politics president emerging from his bunker last weekend, with his nation’s cities on fire, to witness the first commercial launch of a space rocket. Cooke was, I later discovered, much closer to those events than I realised. As well as being flight director of the Nasa/Space X mission, the fabulously named Zebulon Scoville is Cooke’s grandson.

It is the first manned commercial space rocket, not the first commercial, not by a long shot.

Although even that’s subject to dispute. That bloke from the Flat Earth Society launched a few months back. And again there’s no qualifier of successful in that description, is there?

14 thoughts on “Interesting but wrong”

  1. ‘Imagine what Alistair Cooke would have to say about Donald Trump’

    He’s not available. And you are not Alistair Cooke. So what is the point of
    your article? Blah, blah, Orange Man Bad.

    You going to accept a paycheck for that?

  2. The Meissen Bison

    The author of this piece, Tim Adams, says quite rightly that Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America offered

    a perfectly nuanced first draft of history’s ironies

    and continues

    no observer would have been better equipped to convey the image of a gutter-politics president emerging from his bunker

    from which one can conclude that Tim Adams lacks Alistair Cooke’s gift of nuanced analysis.

  3. I suppose,strictly speaking, Elon Musk is African-American. So there’s one success story.

  4. “That bloke from the Flat Earth Society launched a few months back.”

    That was in blatant copyright infringement of chinese mythological intellectual property… 😛

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    From what I remember I think he would have been a lot more sympathetic towards flyover country than any Dems or pearl clutching Guardianistas

  6. I used to like listening to Cooke a lot, he made America sound as if it was like some ideal smalltown in the midwest rather than the planet’s superpower. He was an establishment man and would have been utterly bemused by the Drumpf Insurgency m

    Despite the constant attempts at hagiography, it us clear that he wasn’t actually a very nice chap and a self confessed coward to boot. He went to the US to avoid the war and managed to swerve being called up once an US citizen by leveraging his BBC role.

  7. Although even that’s subject to dispute. That bloke from the Flat Earth Society launched a few months back. And again there’s no qualifier of successful in that description, is there?

    No, but there is a distinction that the rocket should be capable of reaching space, specifically reaching an altitude of 100KM / 62 Miles. The rocket launched by ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes had nowhere near that capability. The capability he expected out of the rocket was 1.5 KM or 5,000 feet, which would have been impressive for a privately built and funded rocket, but still essentially an atmospheric vehicle, not a space one.

  8. Or if we’re going to be pendatic, what about Virgin? Not a rocket, but it was a commercial space flight.

  9. Or if we’re going to be pendatic, what about Virgin? Not a rocket, but it was a commercial space flight.

    Virgin Galactic isn’t a rocket, but it is a rocket-powered space plane. The same could arguably be said about the Space Shuttle.

  10. @ Mr Galt. There’s nothing to choose between any of them. The ascent to space is by rocket propulsion alone. Re-entry by aerodynamic braking. The only differences are the Virgin concept uses a carrier aircraft as a recoverable first stage & the aerodynamic lifting bodies achieve a glide descent to landing. SpaceX stuck to the capsule concept because it puts more useful mass in orbit. Which is the point of the exercise. The shuttle concept may have looked good but it was essentially expending a great deal of energy putting a final descent & landing system into orbit. It didn’t contribute anything to the in-orbit capability. The amount of work the Shuttle needed between ascents meant it wasn’t an immediately re-useable spacecraft. The Space-X system is closer to that. They plan on being able to re-fly a capsule & first stage within weeks.

  11. You’d have thought a journo writing about a novel commercial launch would include figs on space X versus Nasa versus Russia Costs.

  12. You’d have thought a journo writing about a novel commercial launch would include figs on space X versus Nasa versus Russia Costs.

    But that would make the deep state look bad! Even a grauniad “journalist” would be able to spot that one a mile off.

  13. Wait until you see the comparable operating costs for SpaceX versus the United Launch Alliance (basically Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defence, Space & Security)

    The ULA idiots haven’t even managed to get their ISS Crew module anywhere near the ISS, never mind docked with it or had a crew onboard.

    NASA is right to put their ISS launches out to public tender. They are also right to have multiple providers (SpaceX, ULA and Proton/Angara from the Russians), the difficulty is going to come when SpaceX is cheaper by an order of magnitude than the ULA (with the Russians somewhere in between).

  14. We haven’t got to 3rd generation spacecraft, yet. SpaceX etc have spent a lot of money getting commercial spaceflight up & running. Now the technology’s off the peg. And you’ll see competition really start reducing costs & making other stuff possible.

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