Enlarge / A happy Elon Musk on the night after the Falcon Heavy launched.
Trevor Mahlmann for Ars Technica
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Flush with the success of the Falcon Heavy rocket launch last week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk began discussing the performance of the booster Monday on Twitter. He was evidently miffed about comparisons between the Delta IV Heavy rocket—manufactured by SpaceX competitor United Launch Alliance—and the Falcon Heavy rocket.

Last week on Twitter, Doug Ellison, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory visualization producer, shared some calculations that demonstrated in some cases that the Delta IV Heavy rocket could match the performance of the Falcon Heavy for certain missions to the outer Solar System.

Musk responded that Ellison's numbers were based on flawed underlying data and that even if they weren't, the Falcon Heavy cost substantially less than the competition. Then Tory Bruno, the chief executive of United Launch Alliance, joined the discussion.

Musk was not buying those numbers, and he didn't buy the slightly higher estimate of the Delta IV Heavy's cost ($400 million) either.

Perhaps Musk was hungry because he moved from "nutty" to the eating of hats. For context, below, he's talking about United Launch Alliance's plan to replace its Delta and Atlas rockets with a new, powerful booster called the Vulcan rocket. Originally planned for a launch in 2019, the Vulcan rocket's maiden launch now will probably slip into mid-2020 at least. But Musk clearly believes the test flight and Air Force certification process will delay that quite a bit longer, and he's willing to put his millinery where his mouth is.

After all of this, Bruno had just a single-word reply: "Wow."


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Elon Musk: I will “eat my hat” if a competitor’s rocket flies before 2023