I came across questions like, most recently, "What is the planned date for the Falcon Heavy Demo launch from Vandenberg AFB?". Such questions are interesting to me, but they also seem very volatile, speculative, and cluttering in the long term.

How does SE want to deal with these questions?

Just accepting them seems fine, but there will not be any real answer to provide. Just speculations.

Also down the road, I am not sure about their value, except perhaps if someone crawls these pages to make statistics about the then-past mission schedules...


2 Answers 2


Yes, there is value. Finding information about it is non-trivial, it's on-topic, specific, and the two answers describe how and where to search for similar information. Granted, they both mention same source of information, and even though I could think of several other sources because I'm scheduling our chat room events and I've learned a thing or two about it by now, I concur the source they mention is good. Not everyone would know that, and there's the value. Zero down votes on any of the posts in the thread, zero close votes, no flags raised, no vague answers and fairly good number of views attests to that.

I can assure you that finding reliable information about future spaceflight activities isn't a trivial matter. Many new players add to the confusion with no clear and established place where you'd usually be finding information. For example, since I mentioned I could list some more sources, here are some more:

As you can see, it's a mess and launch and launch related event dates are often tentative, launches are scrubbed for all kinds of reasons and reliability of information matters. It's not a set and forget business. Presented information needs to constantly update as new information becomes available. If you get two answers and a comment all endorsing a single source, then that means something. That, on its own, is valuable information.

For what is worth, I'm often in two minds about asking similar questions as I get to scheduling events that aren't as clearly set in stone as some others might be. For example, I'd really like some more information on the inaugural Super Strypi (SPARK) launch from Kauai, Hawaii. But as this is an entirely new program (LEONIDAS - Low Earth Orbiting Nanosatellite Integrated Defense Autonomous System) not much is known about it. Yes, if I'd ask when it will launch and where I can get more information about it, it wouldn't age all that well once it launches. But if I got helpful answers, it would still be valuable information to me that asked the question, and hopefully to someone else too.


Relating a similar answer to another meta question...

Future-predicting questions create several issues:

  • If information about the future event is unclear, it can be difficult to clearly word the question. There is a risk for the question being closed as unclear what you are asking or too broad. Some users are more skilled at asking questions and can avoid these issues.

  • Information might not be public at the time the question is asked, making the question unanswerable at that time.

  • Whether or not information is publicly available, these questions get a lot of answers based on speculation rather than fact.

  • If the information changes, how can we ensure that the answer(s) are updated? Unlike new posts, there is no realistic mechanism to systematically get users to examine old posts and make sure the information is still up-to-date.

  • If the information changes but answers are not updated, there is no way to take back the votes from those now-incorrect answers.

  • What is to be done with the question once the event actually happens? At the very least, does a comment need to be added that the event happened? How do we ensure this?

I'm not at all saying that future-predicting questions should be off-topic. I would not down-vote or vote-to-close close them. However, they should be discouraged for the reasons above, and I would not up-vote them. They're often not good questions.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .