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Blue Origin’s new engine

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XolveJohn

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Looks about the same size as the Saturn V F-1 engine. BE-4 or AR-1, doubtful either is more cost effective than the Space X clustering of smaller, cheaper engines.

The day may be over for giant engines, except for special purpose monster rockets. Space X can orbit payloads for half the cost. Now if they can just get them to always

work! Get rid of the pressurization tank in the fuel tank.
 

Winston

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[video=youtube;EV6KnG9tocE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV6KnG9tocE[/video]

[video=youtube;BTEhohh6eYk]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTEhohh6eYk[/video]
 

cvanc

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Anybody seen any detail on nozzle construction? It looks like machined aluminum, which can't possibly be right.
 

rharshberger

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Anybody seen any detail on nozzle construction? It looks like machined aluminum, which can't possibly be right.
Its probably high temp steel alloy, and it may be a type of deposited metal laser sintering 3d printing. I recently saw a video of a part being 3d printed in metal AND the very same machine was doing the milling as part of the process.
Its a WAG on my part.
 

Peartree

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Looks about the same size as the Saturn V F-1 engine. BE-4 or AR-1, doubtful either is more cost effective than the Space X clustering of smaller, cheaper engines.
SaturnV F1 Engine.png

I think I'm still going to give the edge to the F1.
 

Oberon

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Looks about the same size as the Saturn V F-1 engine.
In terms of thrust, it's about 1/3 the size (~500,000 lbf vs ~1,500,000 lbf). Quite a bit physically smaller too. F1s are huge.

BE-4 or AR-1, doubtful either is more cost effective than the Space X clustering of smaller, cheaper engines.
Multiple small engines are not cheaper than a single large engine of equivalent thrust. This is simplifying a bit, but a small engine has the same number of parts and requires just as much assembly and testing labor as a big engine - 2 are going to be more expensive than 1. Now there are some practical difficulties in building really big engines (the combustion dynamics get tricky for one), and you do get some "volume production" benefits, but per-unit cost is generally not a driver in going to smaller engines.

SpaceX originally designed the Merlin to power a fleet of rockets in multiple sizes. Ultimately it's the size it is because its thrust level works well for the first stage of the now-defunct Falcon 1 and the second stage of Falcon 9 (sharing a common engine does save costs).

Additionally, designing an efficient rocket engine that can throttle way down is hard. Replacing 9 Merlins with 1 big engine would make it impossible to land propulsively (thrust too high). Vulcan (2 BE-4s) isn't planning to land propulsively, and the New Glenn is a much bigger rocket (7 BE-4s), so BE-4 works for those applications (and is probably cheaper than an equivalent number of Merlins).

The day may be over for giant engines, except for special purpose monster rockets.
Actually SpaceX is already developing an engine slightly bigger than BE-4 (Raptor, which they test fired last fall).

Space X can orbit payloads for half the cost.
Compared to Atlas V and Delta IV, rockets designed in the 90s for maximum reliability on a military budget, sure (which is why Atlas and Delta basically never fly commercial payloads). But not compared to e.g. Ariane 5 (1 liquid and 2 solids), Soyuz (5 engines with 20 combustion chambers), Proton (6 engines), who are currently having no trouble keeping their manifests filled.
 

Nytrunner

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Its probably high temp steel alloy, and it may be a type of deposited metal laser sintering 3d printing. I recently saw a video of a part being 3d printed in metal AND the very same machine was doing the milling as part of the process.
Its a WAG on my part.
I want to pushback on the sintering method. It worked for the SuperDracos, but those are tiny compared to this thing. You'd need a mAssive powder bed.
Don't rule out friction stir-welding or explosive forging.
 

Mushtang

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I'm hoping they get the New Shepard flying and in orbit as soon as possible. I wish them all the luck. I hope they're a good competition for SpaceX and ULA which will foster better products being developed and prices kept low.

It will also be really cool to have some huge rockets being launched again. The more launches the better the chance that I'll get to see one in person someday. I was too young to have the chance to see a Saturn V in person (born in '68). If the SpaceX Falcon Heavy ever gets on the launch pad on a regular basis I'm going to do everything I can to catch one of those someday. So if BO gets some big rocket engines going that will be great too. Someday I'll see one. Someday.

But I'm really tired of all the BO fans suggesting (not in this thread, but other places on the interweb) that BO was the first to successfully land a rocket after going into space. It wasn't them.
 

XolveJohn

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Oberon/Peartree:

The Merlin engine design does not compare to the F1 or other typical giant liquid engines.

It is a very simple "pintle valve" type like the engine in the LM. No turbo-pumps, it is pressure fed, by the

tanks inside the fuel and oxidizer tanks, which caused both explosions (GET THEM OUT OF THERE).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pintle_injector

Clustering of cheap motors can easily beat an old school "heavy metal" ancient design derived from the V2.

ULA with its very expensive legacy rockets will be surpassed by Hero Musk probably within 10 years. All those

guys who are ready to retire will be sitting in their rocking chairs, dreaming of the old days.
 

Nytrunner

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No turbo-pumps, it is pressure fed, by thetanks inside the fuel and oxidizer tanks, which caused both explosions (GET THEM OUT OF THERE).

This is incorrect. There is a gas generator and turbopump assembly right next the combustion chamber.
The helium system is for spinning up the pump and ullage of the propellant tanks.

As for the tank-within a tank setup, there's really nowhere else to put them without lengthening the stage (and increasing structural deadweight).
 

boatgeek

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But I'm really tired of all the BO fans suggesting (not in this thread, but other places on the interweb) that BO was the first to successfully land a rocket after going into space. It wasn't them.
I'm more of a SpaceX fanboi than Blue Origin, but I'm not sure where you get this. BO sent a capsule past the edge of space and recovered the booster. I'm not saying that SpaceX's job isn't harder, just that they didn't do that one thing first.

I'm fortunate enough to have visited that factory, and they do have milling machines that could have milled out that nozzle. I'm not an expert, but laser sintering sounds like a lot more effort than casting a beast and milling it to finish dimensions.
 

Nytrunner

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I'm fortunate enough to have visited that factory, and they do have milling machines that could have milled out that nozzle. I'm not an expert, but laser sintering sounds like a lot more effort than casting a beast and milling it to finish dimensions.
Now I'm envisioning one of those giant turret lathe/mills where the dude rides in a little cab on the perimeter.
 

XolveJohn

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NYtrunner, I stand corrected. But remember the old school guys are still dumping their precise, expensive hardware

in the ocean! SpaceX and Blue Origin are landing boosters. NASA never even worked on that. It would probably take them

20 years and a Trillion dollars to accomplish it the way they do things. Time to make Space Travel great again!
 

Oberon

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Keep in mind that you're really just seeing the "shell" of the nozzle, the interior is actually a series of passageways through which propellants are pumped prior to combustion for nozzle cooling and propellant pre-heating. I don't know what Blue Origin uses exactly, but it (especially on the outside) need not be as "high temp" as you might think.

And yeah, Merlins use turbopumps. A tank that size that could be pressurized up to Merlin operating pressure would be too heavy to get off the ground (and use a MASSIVE amount of pressurant). "Pintle Injector" is just the fuel injector type, and can be used on turbo- or pressure-fed rockets. Their main advantage is throttleability with less efficiency loss than other injector types.
 

XolveJohn

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Well SpaceX is launching payloads for half the cost of the old rockets, so they must be saving money somewhere.

Perhaps besides cheaper hardware, less red tape and administrators with their endless, sometimes worthless MEETINGS.
 

XolveJohn

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Oberon: I was under the impression that pintle valve engines were simpler and more reliable. Because, I saw a vid of an eng. from TRW who worked on the LM motor. He said they spent 10 years simplifying it down to 9 moving parts!

There is a mechanical eng. theorem that says reliability is inversely proportional to the # of moving parts.

I suspect Elon's crew has done that with the whole bird, it could actually be better engineered than the old Altas, Delta, etc. Time will tell.
 

Mushtang

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I'm more of a SpaceX fanboi than Blue Origin, but I'm not sure where you get this. BO sent a capsule past the edge of space and recovered the booster. I'm not saying that SpaceX's job isn't harder, just that they didn't do that one thing first.
Because what BO did was just a test. SpaceX had successfully launched and landed several tests of their own Grasshopper well before BO did it but they didn't go above an imaginary line, mostly because their tests didn't require them to.

SpaceX was flying actual missions when they landed the first booster that returned from "space", and it's apparently much harder to land on a tiny barge after lofting something towards orbit than it is going straight up and down. BO's success going up and down in a test doesn't mean they'll be successful when they add a LOT of sideways into the mix as well as a second stage (cargo) during a mission.

It's like the difference between hitting a ball over the fence in batting practice, and hitting a home run in an actual game. One is much less significant than the other. SpaceX hit a lot of balls into the outfield in their batting practice, BO hit a few over the fence in their practice. SpaceX hit several home runs during a game, BO is still at batting practice but claiming they hit the first home run.
 

Oberon

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Oberon: I was under the impression that pintle valve engines were simpler and more reliable. Because, I saw a vid of an eng. from TRW who worked on the LM motor. He said they spent 10 years simplifying it down to 9 moving parts!

There is a mechanical eng. theorem that says reliability is inversely proportional to the # of moving parts.

I suspect Elon's crew has done that with the whole bird, it could actually be better engineered than the old Altas, Delta, etc. Time will tell.
First, keep in mind that the pintle is really just the fuel injector. It's not a magic bullet - you still have to wrap it with a combustion chamber, nozzle, turbomachinery, propellant feeds, ingnition systems, power for hydraulics, valves.... like let's say Hyundai has the world's best fuel injectors (I have no idea who actually does). You would not automatically conclude the at they therefore have the best engines or best cars from that fact alone.

Pintle injectors are simpler to design and manufacture than other injection systems (assuming you're starting from scratch). Not necessarily more reliable, but maybe takes less testing to get right. And as I've mentioned, they are easier to throttle. On the other hand, they are less efficient at peak designed output (which is where most engines spend all of their time). They don't mix the fuel as effectively, they can create variable hot spots in the engine, etc. So there are pros and cons.

TRW, who designed the LM engine, has been pushing pintle based engines for awhile. They did a lot of work on a big one in the 90s and actually static fired it in 2000. By all accounts it worked pretty well. But at the time there wasn't a pressing need for it and no one wanted to fund final development, so it got shelved. Until SpaceX came along and made the lead engineer on that program their VP of propulsion, and Merlin evolved from that. So to some degree, SpaceX's injector decision was driven by the expertise of the guy they could hire. It was in fact an concept "old guys" had been working on for awhile, not a brilliant idea that sprung fully-formed from the mind of "Hero Musk".

By the way, the current Atlas and Delta aren't that old - they first flew in the early 2000s. They clearly were not designed for low cost (nor were they meant to be) but they are definitely reliable (no significant failures of Delta IV or Atlas V). Falcon 9 already has 3 major failures (two total losses and a blown engine that resulted in a lost secondary payload), so they've got catching up to do.

Look, SpaceX has designed good rockets. And their first stage recovery system is a major engineering achievement. But the core technology is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Musk's main contribution (hardly a trivial one!) was the motivation and money to design a rocket for cost when no one was really asking for it. Also a knack for impressive PowerPoint pitches and self-promotion. Also vertical integration, an Amazonian disregard for turning a profit, and treating his engineers like startup employees (overworked, underpaid, promised stock that may never go public, burn them out by 35, etc). You act like rocket engineers were a bunch of dumb-dumbs until Elon came along and kicked their asses, but that's not at all true.
 

Mugs914

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Because what BO did was just a test. SpaceX had successfully launched and landed several tests of their own Grasshopper well before BO did it but they didn't go above an imaginary line, mostly because their tests didn't require them to.

SpaceX was flying actual missions when they landed the first booster that returned from "space", and it's apparently much harder to land on a tiny barge after lofting something towards orbit than it is going straight up and down. BO's success going up and down in a test doesn't mean they'll be successful when they add a LOT of sideways into the mix as well as a second stage (cargo) during a mission.

It's like the difference between hitting a ball over the fence in batting practice, and hitting a home run in an actual game. One is much less significant than the other. SpaceX hit a lot of balls into the outfield in their batting practice, BO hit a few over the fence in their practice. SpaceX hit several home runs during a game, BO is still at batting practice but claiming they hit the first home run.
I feel the same way Mushtang. The part that is amazing to me isn't so much the claims that BO may be making about their achievements (and they are fantastic achievements, no one is denying that!), but the way the "normal" media (As opposed to the aerospace/science guys) run with the BO story wile they only seem to be interested in Spacex's failures.
 

XolveJohn

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Interesting. Just wondering, do you have a background in aerospace or rocket work? Seem to know more than me. My specialty was weapon systems, electronics, and now industrial robotic gizmo's that are absurdly expensive.

I know of at least one Delta disaster, a pal in the Air Force was launching one, opened the door of the blockhouse to watch the launch, it got off the pad, and then BOOM. One of the solid strap-ons failed, I learned there is some kind of lanyard that gets pulled if the structure falls apart, and fires the destruct charge. It was in AvWeek, pics of engines and rocket parts all over the place, horrible. No one hurt. I guess the Delta is reliable, but I read of at least 100 Atlas failures during development.

I see Musk as a genius, the Tesla cars received a 99 rating on Consumer Reports, beating Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Infinity, etc. Sorry to hear he drives people hard, but I doubt that key people are underpaid. He advertised looking for space eng. in the top 5%. That ain't cheap.
 

jmattingly13

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Sorry to hear he drives people hard, but I doubt that key people are underpaid. He advertised looking for space eng. in the top 5%. That ain't cheap.
I'll add an opinion on this, having been a former employee and having several friends who are current employees. It seemed to me that salaries, while definitely pretty good, are on par with (or even less than) an equivalent role at one of your more traditional contractors or agencies (Boeing, Lockheed, NASA). The outlook becomes a bit more grim when you consider that said wages are, for the most part, not adjusted for cost of living in Los Angeles and the long hours employees tend to work. (Or maybe things have changed.)

On the other hand, SpaceX is one of the small handful of companies that is actually doing something cool, which is itself a form of payment. I enjoyed working there, but ultimately, there were other places that were better fits where I still get to do cool(er) stuff.

Now. It bugs me to no end how SpaceX fanboys will default to trashing what Blue Origin has done. While SpaceX does have to bleed off more energy to land Falcon than Blue does to land New Shepard does not make what Blue does any less impressive. The difficult part here is achieving a controlled landing. (Well, technically launch is difficult, too, but who's keeping score?) SpaceX definitely got close several times, but Blue was the first to achieve vertical landing of a booster on a mission to space. Oh, and Blue has reflown the same booster and landed it four more times, which SpaceX has not done yet. I for one hope they succeed, but it's a milestone they still have to prove.
 

Oberon

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I work in the rocket industry, with several coworkers who are former SpaceX employees, mostly former because of the work environment. I also recruit at colleges and am surprised by how much SpaceX's stock has fallen among grads in recent years (they were definitely THE cool place to work a few years ago). Word gets around apparently. When I interview a former SpaceX intern and the first question they ask is "what's the work/life balance like at your company?" that tells me something.

Like jmattingly says (from first hand experience apparently, so I'll defer to him if I'm wrong), it's not really that they underpay, as much as LA is a really expensive place to live and they don't adjust salaries to match. But also that you are forced to work a lot of unpaid overtime compared to traditional aerospace companies. I have a truly brilliant friend from college who almost didn't get a job there because he wasn't "passionate" enough about rockets (HR speak for "didn't want to work 80 hour weeks for pay that forces you to split a house a couple other dudes"). He's at Waymo (formerly Google) now and much happier.

I also agree that I'm bothered less by being impressed with SpaceX's accomplishments, which are legitimately awesome, as I am by the need to trash everyone who isn't SpaceX. Sure, they hire from "the top 5%" but a) that doesn't make everyone else scrubs b) having a top 5% GPA doesn't mean you know crap about designing a rocket and c) I think that's all PR spin anyway, they hired plenty of people from outside the top 5% of my class. And even a couple people that got laid off from my company. I guess they just call everyone they hire "the top 5%" by definition.

The Atlas failures were mostly decades ago. Atlas V shares very little with those rockets but the name and the extremely successful Centaur second stage. Atlas V is 70 for 70, with two anomalies that did not impact success of the payloads. Likewise the spectacular Delta failures were Delta II and a couple Delta IIIs. Delta IV is basically a brand new rocket (shares some stage 2 components and the solids) that's been 100% apart from a partial failure (low orbit) on the test launch of Delta IV Heavy. If you count the early Delta failures you'd need to count Falcon 1, which was 1 for 4, plus Inthink a major ground failure. If you asked me which rocket I'd rather climb on top of, it's Atlas V, no hesitation. Again, not a knock on SpaceX's skill, but they are pushing low cost and constantly tinkering with their design. Basically almost every rocket they fly is experimental. That's just not a recipe for ultra high reliability. NASA has supposedly demanded that they fly several (I think 7?) Falcon 9s in a fixed configuration before they fly ISS cargo under CRS 2 (the follow on to the current contract). NASA went from 2 to 3 providers in CRS 2, and I don't think it's because they are super satisfied with SpaceX.
 

XolveJohn

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Wow, thanks for comments, Jmatt too. I could tell that you were probably involved in the industry. Yes, calif is expensive, I have heard of programmers living in their cars!

Engineers at many co. are exploited, if salary you are wide open to the overtime scam, but it gives you ammo during yearly review, if get one, to "suggest" increase. Many co make it up with bonuses and/or stock.

So, would you fly on a Soyuz? And, isn't it time to retire that Model-T Korolev concoction?

I like SpaceX and Blue Origin the same amount, as are a refreshing change from the big buck gov controlled launching biz.

I think the future is bright, not just in space, but with drones, self driving cars, and electric propulsion of everything.

If they can just stop those lithium batts from blowing up!
 

Steve Shannon

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Wow, thanks for comments, Jmatt too. I could tell that you were probably involved in the industry. Yes, calif is expensive, I have heard of programmers living in their cars!

Engineers at many co. are exploited, if salary you are wide open to the overtime scam, but it gives you ammo during yearly review, if get one, to "suggest" increase. Many co make it up with bonuses and/or stock.

So, would you fly on a Soyuz? And, isn't it time to retire that Model-T Korolev concoction?

I like SpaceX and Blue Origin the same amount, as are a refreshing change from the big buck gov controlled launching biz.

I think the future is bright, not just in space, but with drones, self driving cars, and electric propulsion of everything.

If they can just stop those lithium batts from blowing up!
This might be the solution to the lithium battery problem:
https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywis...s-new-glass-battery-accelerate-the-end-of-oil



Steve Shannon
 

Mushtang

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Now. It bugs me to no end how SpaceX fanboys will default to trashing what Blue Origin has done. While SpaceX does have to bleed off more energy to land Falcon than Blue does to land New Shepard does not make what Blue does any less impressive. The difficult part here is achieving a controlled landing. (Well, technically launch is difficult, too, but who's keeping score?)
I agree with all of this. I give full marks to BO for being able to land their rockets and reuse them. That's an amazingly difficult thing to do and they are doing it well. Couldn't be happier about their existence or their inevitable competition to SpaceX. Free Enterprise works so much better when there's plenty of competition. I didn't mean to sound like I was trashing their accomplishments, only their claims that they were first.

SpaceX definitely got close several times, but Blue was the first to achieve vertical landing of a booster on a mission to space. Oh, and Blue has reflown the same booster and landed it four more times, which SpaceX has not done yet. I for one hope they succeed, but it's a milestone they still have to prove.
This is where I disagree with you. What you call a mission I call a test. What was their mission? Did they deliver any satellites, cargo, carry passengers, perform any scientific tests in the low gravity (other than their booster), or do anything other than simply test to see if their booster could go up and come back down for a safe landing?

Comparing the booster that BO is testing to the Falcon 9 isn't really an honest comparison either. Shouldn't it be compared to SpaceX's Grasshopper that actually was reused several times?

BO shows every indication that they're on the right track and they'll eventually have a mission to space where they land a booster safely. They'll almost certainly be taking people on joyrides or astronauts/cargo to the space station. They're doing things that are insanely difficult and doing them well. Kudos to them. I'm a BO fan for sure. But they haven't done anything significant that SpaceX hadn't done already (that I know of).
 

jmattingly13

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Did they deliver any satellites, cargo, carry passengers, perform any scientific tests in the low gravity (other than their booster), or do anything other than simply test to see if their booster could go up and come back down for a safe landing?
[video=youtube;dugpPEp2y78]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dugpPEp2y78[/video]
[video=youtube;dVKBj4LmOm4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVKBj4LmOm4[/video]
[video=youtube;4BN8QoDJxkE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BN8QoDJxkE[/video]
[video=youtube;qXOyrIo20bM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXOyrIo20bM[/video]
[video=youtube;KcejdM9PLCw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcejdM9PLCw[/video]
 

Mushtang

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Hey, that's cool! I hadn't heard of these before, all I'd ever heard about the BO launches were that they were only the booster tests of the rockets themselves. No idea that they contained any experiments or other tests. I'm ready to admit that I was wrong, and someone on the internet changed my viewpoint on something.

Edit:
Whoops, may have changed my mind too soon there. Apparently these experiments didn't take place on BO's first landing, or even before SpaceX landed successfully on the barge in Dec 2015. These went on the BO New Shepard flight in April 2016, four months after the Falcon 9 first successfully landed on the barge. So I'm still impressed with BO, still giving them a lot of respect, but am now back to thinking they only ever performed booster tests similar to the SpaceX Grasshopper until after SpaceX had landed a mission booster first.

If the first landing of the BO booster was anything other than a test for the booster I will still admit I'm wrong. If the reason they went into "space" with a booster back in Nov 2015 (their first landing) was to carry science experiments into micro gravity and they did it with a landable booster that's different. I just can't find anything online to say the booster carried anything. It won't be the first time I've been wrong about something today. Or even since lunch.
 
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