SpaceX launched its first-ever mission for the U.S. Department of Defense today (May 1), and a set of videos and photos document the historic flight in spectacular detail.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) today with the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 satellite aboard.
Less than 3 minutes into flight, the booster's two stages separated. While the second stage continued carrying NROL-76 toward its classified destination in low-Earth orbit, the first stage performed engine burns to prep for a touchdown at SpaceX's "Landing Zone 1," a facility at the Cape. Space.com
This is great stuff. Falcon 9's first stage booster came home safely once again. Space X, IMO, goes from strength to strength. The re-usable booster is a pre-requisite to commercial space enterprise. The reduction in costs is large. Commercial business in space has to be a real business with a real balance sheet if it is to be viable. Even for the US government the reduction in cost in putting this recon satellite in orbit must be large. pl
I’m not that I care specifically what it accomplishes, being able to do that is awesome. What an adventure in creative thinking and multiple disciplines of engineering!
Very much looking forward to the launch of the Falcon Heavy with three of the Falcon 9s as the first stage. All three of these are scheduled to be recovered by landings. I know some people remember the serial failures of the Soviet N-1 rocket, which tried to use many engines and could not manage to make it work. My money is on Elon and his team.
Off topic, but there are perhaps some WBS aficionados on the committee who will be interested in this “Decoding the Civil War” crowd-sourced project.
When that first stage comes down it is doing so very fast and it looks like it will crash, but it slows down at the end and comes down very gently. It also creates a huge sonic boom. This was the 2nd time it came down on the Cape and it is still rather exciting.
the other day my MIT News feed quoted Musk. They had asked him why he does what he does, with the state of the world in such a muck-up, and he answered (I’m paraphrasing) ‘I just want to wake up in the morning and not feel sad.’
I’d really like to see some progress in reducing the amount of redundant junk whizzing around up there,
if I was a low tech nation facing conflict with the USA I’d consider it strategically levelling to smash a few satellites and then let the debris field take out all of the US space command’s assets in orbit,
even an accidental collision leading to a cascading spread of damage could make operating orbital technology impossible for decades if not a century or so,
if we lost the ability to operate technology in orbit, either by accident or malice,it would be a major setback for mankind,
The reusable booster is certainly an exciting development. Another technology with the possibility of transforming the current enormous cost of getting stuff into orbit is being developed in Britain. It is a kind of hybrid jet/rocket engine that aims to get a conventional supersonic airframe from take-off into orbit and to land again – no booster required. It is still at development stage, but would be truly transformational if it works.
I must observe that US is moving forward while Muslims are murdering one another.
How does one become an imperialist?
God, I could use the sage advice of the Great King right about now.
Agree. May not be necessary to actually shoot down satellites, as Chinese did in 2007. Not hard to imagine Russians/Chinese/(we?) have dormant ‘bomb’ satellites that could trigger runaway Kessler syndrome in case of war. Nukes give us terrestrial MAD – this would be the orbital equivalent of the weapon of last resort and as you say, devastating for mankind.
N-1 was in the pre-computer era. Stuff like this is much easier with computers.
In 1991-93 there was the McDonnell-Douglas Delta Clipper:
I wonder what might have been
if the NASA/DoD/Clinton/Dems team in the mid-1990s
had chosen to pursue this technology.
interesting response, thanks Barbara Ann. I would have maybe focussed too much on the scenario around a possible ‘low tech nation’ threat. Beyond that, no doubt space junk is an interesting issue.
Will you give us your take on these new developments in Syria?
Is Putin throwing in the towel and agreeing to a “soft partition?”
This is from the Turkish Daily Hurriyet: Four de-escalation zones are slated to be established in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said May 3, claiming that the move would solve 50 percent of the problem in the country.
“A region centered in Idlib, a part of Aleppo near Idlib, the al-Rastan region in Homs, rural Damascus, rural Daraa and rural Quneitra are included” in these zones, Erdoğan said speaking to a group of journalists aboard his plane after flying back from a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Moscow floated the idea for “de-escalation zones” in several areas in Syria during the leaders’ meeting, according to sources.
The president described the plan as a “new concept” and distinct from Turkey’s previous proposals for terror-free safe zones.
You are OT by a long way. I am seeking further information before posting on this but, “A region centered in Idlib, a part of Aleppo near Idlib, the al-Rastan region in Homs, rural Damascus, rural Daraa and rural Quneitra are included” has an ominous sound. these are all jihadi controlled areas. The Turks are, of course, particularly interested in the massive Idlib/West Aleppo pocket because that one contains the AQ controlled jihadis that it supports. That one has direct road access to the Turkish port of Iskenderun in Hatay Province. Through that port the Saudis and other supporters of AQ would be able to supply the Idlib jihadis and provide them with heavy equipment for an eventual break out. Rastan in Homs Province is a long standing jihadi redoubt. Rural Deraa and the Quneitra areas are areas in which Israel supports the jihadis against the Syrian government. At first glsance, such a scheme does indeed seem to be Russia throwing in the towel in pursuit of favor with Trump and a beginning of a process to eventually get Ukraine connected sanctions removed. At the same time it is reported that Russia is increasing its advise and supply mission in Syria. i am not going to write a front page post until I know more about this. pl