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1
ITS only has about 4.1 km/s after launch, even with no payload.

I wasn't imagining they'd use the spaceship to deliver satellites... a different fully reusable second stage would be required.
2
Hawke's Bay article. They say you can see the rocket on the pad with binoculars. The location is Blucks Pit, Nuhaka. That is about 27 km from the launch site.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11862446

OK  These people out watching are as hard core rocket enthusiasts as any of us.
Good for them!  Best of luck!
Somebody went to a good deal of trouble to set this up with the flags and the porta-potty and the shade tent.
3
I am not seeing SpaceX investing in anything less powerful than the current F9. Rather, I expect the current F9 to handle this market. It may be that this market is where we first see reusable S2s
The news that Orbital ATK's CRS-2 contract is for less money than that of SpaceX offers a counter point.  It turned out that the smaller expendable rocket beat the bigger, partially recoverable rocket in that case.

That certainly does not mean that Cygnus beat Falcon 9!

Unless SpaceX hates money, they bid what they thought the government would pay.  They were offering additional functionality (cargo return) that Orbital ATK was not.  Further, they knew that NASA would likely split the award.  So they had no reason to try to underbid OATK.  Even if SpaceX's costs were zero, they would have been foolish to bid a penny less than they did.

Antares vs F9

Cygnus is larger capacity and cost factor was for an upmass that just matched Cygnus payload -- didn't match Dragon as well (7500kg IIRC).  One Cygnus could lift it while it took 2 Dragons.

But agree with your statement on bid price.  NASA gave then 12 extra CRS-1 flights while Cygnus got 2(?), plus each an even share of CRS-2 initial award which will also have additional flights tacked on. 
5
The mention of no Earth flybys and one of Mars definitely reminds me of Dawn's path.  It'll be interesting to see how the solar arrays and ion drives compare between Dawn and Psyche.  Hopefully the reaction wheels aboard Psyche will be more robust then either Dawn's or Kepler's.

...as you can guess I hope to see improvements on Psyche.  :)
6
It is interesting you mention the A field being outside where the magnetic field is very small.  Actually the B field outside a long solenoid does have a presence though very small with  respect to what is inside so it does exist outside the long solenoid also or toroid.  This is because the magnetic field is actually the electric field + relativity.  It appears to be physics way of simplifying taking into account the non-relativistic electric field and the relativistic electric field. 

The relativistic electric field of a magnet is a velocity dependent dipole potential.  Basically a moving charge observes negative charge bunching up on one side of the current loop when it is moving with respect to the current loop as a whole (depends on direction and speed). 

Such a dipole electric field as a result does have a presence outside a long solenoid as I stated but earlier I was saying magnetic field (they are interchangeable).  This presence is very small compared to what is inside. 

I have heard about those experiments with the A field and it is interesting.  I would like to know more about it.  I was contemplating if the EM drive could have an A field outside and if possibly 2 EM drives or 2 cylindrical cavities could interact as a phased array in one of my much earlier posts.  I have been here a while.  Here is the link: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36911.0 

I am not entirely convinced a reversed magnetic phased array would not have some interesting effects but I have yet the fortune to test this idea.  One of these days hopefully. 

I have also harped on the e-p pair vacuum and I think there is some thing there.  It has to be related to the quantum vacuum. 

But to emphasize the Energy being of the factor energy=E^2+B^2 with some constants suggests the energy in the electric field (E) must include the relativistic (B) as well as the non-relativistic electric field (E) which physics uses the B field to describe this relativistic behavior of the electric field.  Its a matter of simplification. 

I was inspired a lot by Richard Feynman's work and Edward Purcell's book "Electricity and Magnetism" if your interested. 
7
Well, go figure, a saturation on a gyro during parachute deployment meant that they integrated everything else assuming that the capsule was upside down, and thus everything was negative. But that happened many seconds later. Quite interesting. It is exactly the sort of error that normally could be expected, but for this level of requirement shouldn't. Always check saturation conditions!
And we learned from the '98 Polar Lander to always fully test debounce routines.

My take on the ESA lander report: they weren't anal enough about the simulations and testing.

Agreed, and apparently that was a similar problem with Beagle 2.  All 3 missions suffered from not having enough of a budget for testing; virtually all of their problems could have been avoided.  At least ESA seems to have nailed down getting into orbit around Mars which poor JAXA still has yet to achieve.  Let's hope the ExoMars orbiter aerobrakes without incident while we're on the subject of testing hardware.
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Weather is currently 12.6 C with winds gusting to 31.1 km/h. There's a 47% chance of rain now, decreasing to about 30% at the end of the day. Chance of rain for tomorrow afternoon is only about 5%.

9
Regarding crew launches from LC39A : If they mostly fly FH from there, could they opt to Crew launches on a FH center core without side boosters? You'd probably need to still install the plugs in the reaction frame (since you need the launch clamps), but you'd save changing the top of the TEL.

Why would the top of the TEL need to be changed? The FH upper stage is the same as the F9 upper stage. And even if you are discussing a potential FH upper stage stretch (please stop), the 1st stage would be the same size... So why an FH center core?

It would presumably cost more in terms of wear and tear on the FH core booster, but it's not like payload mass is an issue and they can probably RTLS so the costs shouldn't be much higher than a Falcon 9 launch?

The attachment of a FH core vs single F9 core to the TE/reaction frame is the same. What would you gain?
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I'd like to have some optimism for this venture - and maybe I will in one regard; at least it's not Lockheed Martin doing this project.
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