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SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown 49

First time accepted submitter cowdung (702933) writes In spite of Elon Musk's characterization of the landing as a KABOOM event. Judging by this video SpaceX has managed to land the first stage rocket booster nicely on the ocean after their Orbcomm launch on July 14th. It seems we're one step closer to a landing on dry land. Both this and the previous landing seem to have gone well. Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens.

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SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

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  • Two missions for the price of one.

    • Well, I'm sure it cost at least a little more than doing just what they were contracted to do. It's just that we haven't gotten to the point of taking space launches for granted yet.

      When we do, some middle manager will whine endlessly about this sort of experimentation.

      • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:45PM (#47516369)

        'some middle manager will whine endlessly about this sort of experimentation.'

        And will be sacked by the board.
        Around 60% of the total cost of the rocket is the first stage.
        The aim is to have this reusable in a few hours turnaround time.
        If this works, savings per launch are tens of millions of dollars, even if it only works half the time.
        If the second stage can be made reusable as well, going from $60M price to launch 10 tons to LEO to half of that _and_ making more profit per launch is quite possible.

      • by ron_ivi ( 607351 )

        middle manager

        I imagine it's hardest on the accountants.

        • Is the cost of those experiments passed on to customers? Overhead? Do the customers get discounts for the dual purpose mission? Would they want discounts but didn't think to ask because they weren't even aware?
        • How is the risk / insurance handled? It the added experiments' components caused a failure, who's insurance pays for it? Is the cost of that insurance passed on to customers?


  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:33PM (#47516303) Homepage

    That is flat freaking amazing. NASA does some pretty cool stuff, but I can't help but wonder how many billions it would have cost taxpayers for them to manage development of technology like that? It's hard not to see NASA as an organization with its best days well behind it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:40PM (#47516347)

      Is that before or after Congress fights for pieces of the rocket like dogs over a bone?

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @01:03PM (#47516507) Homepage Journal

      It's really hard to do this kind of landing burn (nicknamed 'suicide burn' as you run out of fuel as the landing feet touch the ground at 0 velocity, and miscalculation and splat or a nice bounce (elon called it the hover slam)) with a solid rocket booster, which we keep buying/making to prop up the ICBM industry with civilian dollars. The shuttle ended up with SRBs instead of L(iquid)RBs purely due to political reasons.
      Actually, for the Saturn V, blueprint drawings do exist made by NASA of a cockpit on the side of the main booster tank with glider wings, to take it the 300 miles back to a safe landing site. Obviously that complication got scrapped in the mad rush to get to the moon in a decade.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, since we build and deploy new ICBMs only a few times in the years that they've existed, it would be nice to have companies with experience building those types of rockets in case we ever decide to modernize that part of the nuclear force.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        which we keep buying/making to prop up the ICBM industry with civilian dollars.

        More like to feed dollars to Utah as demanded by their powerful senior senator. (ATK's Thiokol unit is based on Utah and Hatch has been seated since 1977 and his predecessor served from 59-77)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zbychu900 ( 585688 )
        Not only blueprint drawings - this has actually been tested with the Saturn I booster: []
    • I was really astonished when I read about the old NERVA project.

      NERVA demonstrated that nuclear thermal rocket engines were a feasible and reliable tool for space exploration, and at the end of 1968 SNPO certified that the latest NERVA engine, the NRX/XE, met the requirements for a manned Mars mission. Although NERVA engines were built and tested as much as possible with flight-certified components and the engine was deemed ready for integration into a spacecraft, much of the U.S. space program was cancelled by the Nixon Administration before a manned visit to Mars could take place. []

      They had planned to use this and other technologies to have several space stations, a permanent base on the Moon even a mission to Mars before the end of last century, possibly even as early as in the '80s. The NERVA project was specifically cancelled by the Nixon administration because it worked too well, as easy access to Mars would have lead to a more committed and therefore costly space program. I can hardl

      • I can think of two good reasons why SpaceX would want to stick with chemical rockets:
        1) They're a relatively mature technology, allowing engineering resources to focus on refinement and integration with of systems.
        2) Can you imagine the public uproar against the first NUCLEAR rockets operated by nearly unsupervised PRIVATE enterprise? The protests would cause no end of headaches.

        And actually, let's add one more applicable not just to SpaceX but to all terrestrial rocket use:
        3) damage potential of the inev

  • Moving forward well (Score:5, Informative)

    by Katatsumuri ( 1137173 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @12:38PM (#47516329)
    First soft landing on solid surface expected in Oct-Dec 2014 [].
  • Not everyone has such a short attention span that they need jangley noise to keep them from moving to another web site.

    • Not everyone has such a short attention span that they need jangley noise to keep them from moving to another web site.

      Because I'm assuming actual audio from the video, if it were recorded, would be useless for PR purposes? Just turn off your sound if the music bothers you.

  • by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @01:43PM (#47516823)
    "At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment. However, our next couple launches are for very high velocity geostationary satellite missions, which don’t allow enough residual propellant for landing. In the longer term, missions like that will fly on Falcon Heavy, but until then Falcon 9 will need to fly in expendable mode."

    Landing on a floating platform would be so crazy-awesome I can't even stand it! NASA should really stop wasting its time with its outdated SRB shiz.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'll be impressed when it lands on a moving Tesla that Elon himself is driving.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )

      You're probably thinking of floating platform as something that moves around like a boat, more likely it's going to be a converted deep sea oil platform like Broglio Space Centre [] or Sea Launch [].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When they are done with the booster, they are a ways downrange and heading away from the launch site.

    What is the proposed trajectory after the booster separates from the payload.
    How much extra fuel must be onboard to accomplish this trajectory.

    It is a neat video though.

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:25PM (#47517103)

      At the point where the booster separates, it has burned most of its fuel, and weighs a fraction as much as it did at launch. As a result, it requires far less fuel to kill its velocity and put itself on a trajectory back towards the launch site than the initial launch did (far less mass to accelerate on the return trip).

      It does still require some extra fuel (hence why they talk about having to use expendable Falcon 9s for missions that are close to the max payload capacity until they can get Falcon Heavy flying), but for small to medium sized cargoes, they have the fuel to burn.

      • Also worth mentioning that the fuel typically only accounts for 5% or less of the cost of a launch, so increasing that by some small fraction represents a miniscule additional expenditure compared to the gains to me made from recycling the launch vehicle.

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