SpaceX does it again

Another Falcon9 successfully landed on a moving barge this morning.

In order to make the economics work, these birds do a ballistic reentry, essentially falling out of the sky and making a corrective landing burn at the last possible minute. Since this Falcon was delivering a Japanese communications satellite to high orbit, the lifter fell a lot further than the last one did, ending up going twice as fast and requiring a 12-G final burn before touching down softly on the recovery vessel Of Course I Still Love You.

Congratulations to Elon Musk and the SpaceX team, who are among the many people who don’t read this blog.

SpaceX lands at sea

A little late with the news, but anyway the SpaceX’s Falcon-9 has successfully landed on the drone barge “Of Course I Still Love You”. The landing deck is 170 by 300 feet long, and the Falcon’s legs stand 60 feet apart. As you can see by the whitecaps, the sea was very rough with high altitude crosswinds of 50 mph and low altitude winds of 25 mph.

For true space geeks, the beautifully produced full 18 minute video:

VTOL Rocket Roundup

The Experimental Delta Clipper (DC-X) of the 1990s was canceled before it ever made it into space.

The Rotary Rocket Company’s incredibly innovative Roton was designed to land with helicopter blades instead of a parachute or a landing rocket. After the collapse of the small telecommunications satellite market in 1999 the company went out of business without ever building their unique spinning aerospike main engine; without a clear mission, investors were unwilling to fund the various exotic technologies that the company was successfully pioneering.

In 2013 SpaceX’s series of “grasshopper tests” picked up where the DC-X left off.

But SpaceX’s plan to land their Falcon 9 lifter on a seagoing barge has not yet succeeded.

And bringing us up to date, Blue Origin landed the New Shepard on the 23rd. I love the final replay of the landing sequence!

Busy weekend at ISS

Elon Musk’s Dragon spacecraft left the International Space Station Saturday after delivering 5000 lb of cargo, and in the wee hours of this morning a Russian Progress unmanned cargo lifter undocked with a full load of garbage, freeing up some parking spaces (video replay on NASA TV at noon today). The Progress will stay nearby for a while to assist with some engineering experiments, and is eventually destined to burn up on reentry on Oct 19th.

Around 2:00pm EDT there will be a course adjustment to dodge some incoming debris left over the 2003 launch of a Cosmos communications satellite.

An Orbital Sciences Cygnus, named in honor of Deke Slayton, is scheduled to launch on an Antares from Wallops tonight. This will be the first Antares launch to use a Castor 30XL upper stage; the payload will include the Planetary Resources Arkyd-3 test satellite and nearly 3 tons of supplies. Coverage starts at 4:00pm EDT on NASA TV, launch at 5:45.

Falcon 9 reusuable 1000m fin test video

This video’s got on-board cam and wide-angle shots of the entire flight. The landing gear catches on fire, which was apparently expected by SpaceX (later versions will fold up their landing tackle after liftoff) although a bit surprising for me at first viewing. This flight is to test a set of landing flaps they are calling “fins”.

Falcon Nine should be on the pad by now… yup.

SpaceX has their newest version of the Falcon9 ready to lift a Canadian telecommunications satellite for Orbital Sciences. The live webcast starts at 5pm EDT.

Update: Missed the launch window, mission scrubbed until Thanksgiving.

Update: Scrubbed again… after ignition, which is a good trick. Not clear yet if it’s the same problem, but they’re taking the bird down to look at the engines and will try again in a few days.

Musk capsule snagged by ISS

If I lived on the left coast, I think I’d work for Elon Musk.

Today Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, successfully delivered a payload to the International Space Station with their Dragon spacecraft, launched from a Falcon 9 vehicle. Last year the Dragon was the first commercially built spacecraft to return from orbit; today it was the first privately built spacecraft to dock with an orbiting platform.

In celebration, here’s a video interview with moonwalker Neil Armstrong, in four parts:
part 1part 2part 3part 4

Bonus video: Buzz Aldrin punching a heckler!