And SpaceX sticks the landing!
Taking a page out of Simone Biles's book, Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a droneship off the shore of Florida after launching a satellite into space. This marks an eighth Falcon 9 launch of 2016, and the 6th time ever that a Falcon 9 rocket has managed to land after a launch. So what does this all mean?
In IT Blogwatch, we reach for the stars.
William Harwood gives us the background:
Making SpaceX's eighth flight in...six months, the 229-foot-tall Falcon 9's nine first-stage engine ignited...at 1:26 a.m. Eastern...Arcing to the east atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the...rocket rapidly shed weight and smoothly accelerated...breaking through the "sound barrier" a little more than a minute after liftoff.
The first stage engines shut down as expected...two and a half minutes after liftoff and the stage fell away to begin its landing try. The second stage's single engine ignited...to continue the payload's boost to orbit.
And what was that payload? And how did that landing work? David Szondy has the details:
The Falcon 9 lifted off from...Cape Canaveral Air Force Station...in a nighttime launch of the JCSAT-16 mission carrying a geosynchronous communications satellite for Japan's direct broadcast satellite service SKY Perfect...The booster set the satellite into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) using its nine Merlin 1B engines.
Falcon 9's first stage carried out a series of engine burns to slow it down...and alter its trajectory to land on the droneship...the barge landing was the only option...the high velocity of the GTO launch and the propellant expended ruled out a return to Canaveral.
So what else do we know about the Falcon 9 rockets? Harrison Kaminsky lets us know how they works:
The Falcon 9 is family of two-stage-to-orbit rockets...which involves two separate stages. Propulsion is provided one after the other to allow the rocket to achieve orbital velocity. The rockets have nine engines, hence the name, and can lift payloads up to...50,300 pounds...to low Earth orbit, and up to...18,300 pounds...to GTO.
The key to the...system is that SpaceX designed the first stage to be reusable...the company could ultimately cut costs, opening more possibilities for space transportation, which translates to easier, more affordable, and more efficient travel.
And what is SpaceX doing with all these landed rockets? James Dean has the inside track:
The experimental landings are advancing...Elon Musk's vision to develop reusable rockets that could upend the launch industry...The next step is to re-fly a used rocket, something Musk...expects to happen by this fall. SpaceX has been in discussions with at least one undisclosed potential customer.
SpaceX has been storing recovered rockets in its hangar at Kennedy Space Center, but...is actively looking for more space to house and refurbish the boosters.
This is pretty exciting stuff, right? Well, not for everyone. Varun Deshpande isn't so impressed:
Testament @SpaceX's monumental exploits: I didn't even bat an eyelid at this. The truly remarkable is now mundane.