Watching SpaceX’s historic relaunch and landing of a used rocket

Mar 31, 2017

By Amy Thompson

Even Elon Musk was speechless – well, for a moment. Last night SpaceX launched and successfully landed an orbital rocket that had already flown once before: a first in space history.

I was one of the few hundred people who had travelled by bus to the Saturn V Center, part of Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to watch SpaceX attempt to deliver on the promise of reusable rockets. Benches were set up facing the strip of water that separated viewers from the fury of the nine engines powering SpaceX’s flagship rocket — the Falcon 9.

It wasn’t long before those benches were packed full of people; families who had travelled from near and far, some even planning their whole trip around this one mission.

The excitement grew as the minutes ticked away, inching us closer to launch time. A bald eagle perched nearby as we waited. Finally, at 6.27 pm Eastern Standard Time on 30 March, the Falcon 9 roared to life, filling the evening sky with the thunderous rumble of rocket engines. There was a loud cheer as the Falcon lifted off the launch pad, carrying a communications satellite into orbit.

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5 comments on “Watching SpaceX’s historic relaunch and landing of a used rocket

  • @ house-panel-to-challenge-climate-science/ Discussion –
    President Trump is planning to use his power to undo major regulations like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, while Congress works to undo some rules such as limits on methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling.

    Meanwhile as Trump, Smith, Faux and Dimbart head back into the polluting obsolete carbon-based energy of the past, and Trump also cuts NASA’s budget for climate monitoring, some business enterprises have visions of the future!
    Electric car maker Tesla is vying with General Motors to become the most valuable auto company in the US.

    On Monday, Tesla’s market value passed Ford’s after the firm’s shares rose on news it had delivered a record number of cars in the first quarter of 2017.

    Tesla’s shares continued to rise on Tuesday, putting its value within a whisker of GM’s $51bn market size.

    Reuters reported earlier that Tesla had surpassed GM’s value, but in fact at midday Tesla’s value was $2bn lower.

    Tesla’s stock rose 7% Monday or was up another 1% on Tuesday – breaking through $300-a-share for the first time.

    The share price rise was sparked by news that it delivered 25,000 electric vehicles in the first three months of 2017.

    However, those sales were dwarfed by the 550,000 that GM sold during the same quarter.

    Tesla has been at the forefront of battery-powered car technology and investors are banking on strong growth in the future.

    In the summer, the California-based company, run by Elon Musk, who is also the chief executive of the rocket business SpaceX, begins production of its mass-market Model 3 sedan.

    Tesla is also expanding its production of batteries for household and commercial buildings at a giant new $5bn factory currently under construction in Nevada.

    In what was seen as a vote on confidence in the firm, last month China’s Tencent spent $1.78bn on buying a 5% stake in Tesla.

    After overtaking Ford’s market value, Mr Musk dismissed criticism that the 14-year-old company was overvalued, tweeting: “Tesla is absurdly overvalued if based on the past, but that’s irrelevant. A stock price represents risk-adjusted future cash flows.”

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  • @OP – Last night SpaceX launched and successfully landed an orbital rocket that had already flown once before: a first in space history.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese seem to be planning a Moon base, and have set up some long duration habitation experiments, similar to others which have been tried elsewhere in the past!

    China is taking another step in its space exploration programme, starting a trial scenario for a permanent moon station.

    Science students have moved into a cabin to simulate life in a lunar-like environment for up to 200 days.

    The goal is to prepare for a long-term space mission with no input from the outside world.

    China has poured huge funding into its space programme to rival that of the US and Russia.

    Four postgraduate students from the astronautics university of Beihang on Wednesday moved into the cabin, ambitiously called the Yuegong-1, or Lunar Palace in English.

    They will stay in the cabin for 60 days, followed by another group who will stay for 200 days. The first four will then return for yet another 105 days.

    According to state news agency Xinhua, one of the main elements of the experiment is to explore is how a space mission could be entirely self-contained over a long period of time.

    Human waste will undergo a bio-fermentation process, and crops and vegetables are to be grown with the help of food and waste by-products.

    The model moon station has two plant cultivation modules and a living cabin housing four bed cubicles, one common room, a bathroom, a waste treatment room and a room for raising animals.

    While the experiments aboard the Lunar Palace are aimed at preparing lunar explorers for long stays on the moon, China does not plan to land its first astronauts there for at least another 10 years.

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  • Space X meanwhile continues as a commercial operation – but within limits!

    Inmarsat, the UK’s biggest space company, has boosted its global broadband network with the launch of a fourth high-frequency satellite.

    The I-5 F4, which will service the voice, video and data needs of remote and on-the-move customers, was taken into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket.

    It is the first time the London company has used the American launch provider.

    The rocket and its payload lifted away from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 19:21 local time (00:21 BST, Tuesday).

    The I-5 F4 was ejected from the upper-stage of the Falcon some 32 minutes later.

    At six tonnes, the satellite was on the limit of the rocket’s performance, meaning SpaceX had no spare propellant to follow its usual practice of landing the vehicle’s first-stage back on Earth after the mission.

    The booster was allowed instead to fall down uncontrolled over the Atlantic.

    The firm already has three Ka-band spacecraft delivering its Global Xpress broadband service to customers worldwide.

    These clients include ships, oil and gas platforms, armed forces and the media – users who need telecommunications away from a fixed line.

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