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1
Must be something to do with the shape. The Shuttle was the same - nice and "clean" compared to a capsule design. Orion was scorched too although it's higher re-entry speed probably had a big impact there.
Define "nice and clean"
2
In 2013, at the time of the email, SpaceX has about 3000 employees.  Today they have substantially more (4500?) thus costs will have risen in rough proportion, so 12 flights to profitability will have turned into about 18.

That's a very simplistic analysis.  I'd guess SpaceX's expenses have fluctuated wildly for reasons other than payroll... e.g. R&D on the first Dragon, development of SLC40, development of VAFB are likely all expensive items that are off the books now.  In trade we have development of 39A + refurbishment of VAFB, development of Crew Dragon, development of FH + building the new test stand at McGregor, etc etc.  We have no way of knowing what proportion of SpaceX expenses are payroll.  SpaceX has also since won a Crew contract which is quite lucrative.  Hard to say what it all means now.
3
a single rocket launch (I assume they need to test their engines at altitude / hypersonic speed) would eat a lot of that.
Did no one tell you what happens when you "assume" things?

The pre cooler at the front of the engine decouples the air temperature (cryogenic) and velocity (about M0.5) from the ambient environment (up to 1000c and M5.5)

Pre coolers with this power to weight ratio and ability to do frost control have never been done before, which is why this had to be tested first as a failure would have been game over for the whole project.

What that means is (unlike the SCramjets) you don't need to put it on a rocket to test its performance, although putting it on some kind of test vehicle would be a bonus.

Most of this can be found on the technical documents on the REL website.
4
When was the information given that the backup is only completing and has paid for only cosmonaut training?

1. It is written in this article : http://rbth.com/news/2015/05/14/sarah_brightman_backup_pilot_continuing_training_for_tourist_spaceflight_45996.html

2. It's quite logical. If the Japanese guy wanted to fly, he would have paid about 50M$ for it. One can not imagine that Brightman paid 50M$ to Roscosmos to allow someone else to fly ! The word "backup" has no sense for tourism. If something prevents me to leave on holyday, someone will not take my hotel bedroom ! The Japanese did not paid for a spaceflight, so there is no reason for Roscosmos to give him a Soyuz seat.
5
saw that. great stuff isn't it.. and close to the beach.

Now SpaceX - how about some video (and audio) from inside?

The test went fine. Nasa declared it a success.
It went close to the beach but still in the ocean, so close didnt mean it went wrong.

So, how canīt this be a great stuff? they wouldnt release it if there was something wrong.

Well SpaceX has a habit of releasing the good and the not so good (which is great)

Looked like an extremely successful pad abort to me.  I'm having trouble seeing how this isn't anything but pure awesome sauce.

A successful test is one that returns adequate data from all aspects of the event to show that the flight version will work reliably.  Koenigsman said as much in the press conference before the pad abort test.

A successful (simulated) abort is one that flys to recover in a manner survivable by potential passengers.

To this outside observer, it looks like both criteria were met handily.
And that on-board video is pretty cool. 
6
Great video! 

Their somewhat misleading camera cuts/switches around the trunk release/drogue/main parachute opening made me chuckle.  The other video they put out minimized the jerkiness of that period through creative use of editing as well.

Anyone catch site of the trunks final resting/impact point?  I'm watching on something that I can't get HD on see if it's visible.

none of the video's I've seen have the trunk. Wonder if they had a camera in the trunk? Would be a good shot of the separation of the trunk from Dragon.
7
These articles are really good, and not just themselves but as the substance of NSF.. I'm starting to not miss SDC/uplink so much :)  Maybe the only negative is that there's just not enough time to take it all in.
8
Great video! 

Their somewhat misleading camera cuts/switches around the trunk release/drogue/main parachute opening made me chuckle.  The other video they put out minimized the jerkiness of that period through creative use of editing as well.

The video doesn't attempt to hide the motion, it just cuts to another camera, which shows the same spinning - but with more interesting background (instead of just the sky). No time cut out. So perhaps you have a different standard of "creative editing" than I do.
9
Not if it was a listing for a standard IT staffer to support the rest of the office.
The job is listed as "Launch Operations Systems Technician"

Yes, but the responsibilities include setting up A/V equipment.  So perhaps the title is a little bit sexier than the job actually is.

Sounds like a job I ought to put in for!
10
I am ready to bet 10/1 that such modifications will not take place the next landing attempt would be successful only by chance..

That's an un-losable bet.   I bet that if Cleveland wins, it's only by chance.  It's an un-disprovable statement.

Since the odds of landing "by chance" are low, would you bet, say, 9:1 that they will fail to land?
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