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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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''Welcome to the '''explain xkcd''' wiki!''
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<big>''Welcome to the '''explain xkcd''' wiki!''
We currently have [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-3}}''' comic explanations]]. Come and [[List of all comics|add yours]]!
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== Latest comic ==
 
== Latest comic ==

Revision as of 23:11, 7 August 2012


Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We already have 11 comic explanations!

(But there are still 1771 to go. Come and add yours!)

Latest comic

edit this explanation!

Barge
My life goal is to launch a barge into the air and have it land on one of Elon Musk's rockets.
Title text: My life goal is to launch a barge into the air and have it land on one of Elon Musk's rockets.

Explanation

This is another one of the "My Hobby" series, where Randall tells about a strange hobby. This is probably the most destructive one so far, as it would result in the loss of a space rocket engine.

The launch company SpaceX is currently testing a reusable rocket system, where the first rocket stage is capable of landing back on an autonomous spaceport drone ship after launch. The rockets guide themselves in to land by aiming towards a giant launch pad with the "X" from the SpaceX logo painted on it. Randall imagines creating a similar-looking barge and placing it near the intended landing site, except his barge's platform would be hollow in the middle with only a sheet of paper supporting the part where the rocket would land. Presumably the goal of this setup would be to trick a rocket into falling into the sea, similar to the old trapping pit. If a rocket attempts to land on Randall's barge, it will quickly burn through the paper (assuming the paper had not already been destroyed from being soaked by ocean spray) and, not having enough time or fuel to readjust its course, fall into the sea.

This hobby seems more appropriate for Black Hat, considering that he is a real classhole.

The title text plays on the incredible difficulty of successfully landing a rocket on a barge.  Such a feat has only recently become possible, some 60 years after the launch of Sputnik 1. Randall imagines an even more implausible idea of launching an entire barge into the air and have it land on the rocket. Launching a barge in the first place would be tremendously difficult - they are big, heavy and not very aerodynamic. Having one come down on top of a rocket would likely destroy the rocket as well - but it would be worth it for the spectacular explosion.

This comic was published on the week following SpaceX's Iridium 1 mission, where the first stage of the rocket which delivered 10 satellites into orbit successfully landed on a barge near California. It marked the seventh time SpaceX successfully landed and recovered its booster on a commercial mission.

Transcript

[There are three portions of a panel. The first shows a barge with no center and a large piece of paper with the SpaceX logo above the barge.]
[The second shows the paper stretched over the hole.]
[The third and final portion shows a cross-section of the barge with a rocket attempting to land on it.]
[Caption:] My hobby: hollowing out the center of a barge, stretching paper over the hole painted with the SpaceX logo, and leaving it floating offshore near launch sites.


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