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Space Transportation

SpaceX To Test Recovered First Stage, Then Put It On Display (floridatoday.com) 108

schwit1 writes: Rather than re-fly it, Elon Musk suggested that, after some testing, SpaceX will likely put its first recovered Falcon 9 first stage on display instead. '"[We will] do a static fire at the launch pad there, to confirm that all systems are good and that we are able to do a full thrust hold-down firing of the rocket," Musk said after the stage landed. The static fire will also test the modifications SpaceX has made to Pad 39A to support its rockets.

After that though, the stage will become a display piece. "I think we will keep this one on the ground for tests that prove it could fly again and then put it somewhere — just because it is quite unique," Musk said.' Since they already have a satellite company, SES, willing to buy that first stage, this only underlines how this last Falcon 9 launch changes everything. I don't think the change has sunk in with most people, yet. The last launch was not a one-time event. SpaceX intends to recover as many of its first stages as it can in all future launches. Their Falcon 9 first stage is no longer expendable. Thus, they can afford to put this first recovered stage on display because they expect all future first stages to fly again.

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SpaceX To Test Recovered First Stage, Then Put It On Display

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  • That's Ridiculous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by localman ( 111171 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @05:00PM (#51211363) Homepage

    You can't just take an amazing piece of expensive kit like that and essentially throw it away! Oh wait - that's what we've been doing with the first stage of every launch forever until just now. Carry on then.

    More seriously, congratulations, SpaceX, for taking such a big step forward for humankind.

  • >> SpaceX will likely put its first recovered Falcon 9 first stage on display instead

    Hey wait, did SpaceX just hire someone from NASA?

    Wouldn't the smarter thing to do be to fly it over and over and over again until it broke to test whether the tolerances (included expected wear/lifespan) specified in the design are accurate or not?

    • It's worth so much they wouldn't want to blow it up lol. They'll probably do it with the next though.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Pretty much. I don't know where I'd heard this but, in the original thread discussing this, I made mention of this same thing. In that thread, I mentioned that they'd be testing it, checking for wear, tearing it down in a non-totally-destructive fashion, and rebuilding it so that they could put it on display at their HQ or, perhaps, in a museum.

        I don't know where it was that I'd heard this but I think it was someone from SpaceX - probably not Musk personally, in an online news blurb video or maybe some smal

        • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
          Yes, landing that first stage was something. I remember Apollo flights as well, I don't recall astronaut pajamas. Damned if I can remember Apollo 11 (I can't) but I clearly remembered when Apollo 8 went for TLI. In an instant the world became really small. I'm looking forward to the day when (whoever) will send humans to the Moon (I'm not waiting for Mars as it will always be 20 years away). Just think when they (NASA, Musk, Chinese?) put a spacecraft on TLI, someone should repeat what a flight controller a
          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            It was all so very exciting and, really, it has been rather dull for the last few decades. Sure, there were great things - like ISS, Hubble, and the likes. There were tragedies and much was learned. I remember the first time the Shuttle went up and hoping that was going to usher in a new age, it did not.

            Yet, seeing that "simple" thing of the first stage not only landing but landing so perfectly and so close to exactly on the X brought back some of the same feelings and levels of excitement (and dreams, and

    • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @05:11PM (#51211459)

      That would indeed be the "smarter" thing to do in terms of pure engineering. In terms of company morale though, possibly not. It may be a much smarter management decision may well be to help everyone to realise how awesome an achievement they were just part of, and to keep company morale up, because it will increase productivity enough to offset the engineering benefit.

      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @05:36PM (#51211677) Homepage

        Or, they've found a bunch of things they don't like and they are going to fix it before next flight. Like engineering.

      • Absolutely. It became a trophy the moment it touched down sucessfully.

        The debate kind of suprised me, I always thought the first one would end up a promotion piece. After all he finally accomplished a vertical powered landing of a 'spaceship' reminicent of the 1950's silver needle spaceships that always landed upright and powered. He just showed us all a reality strait out of our childhood fantasies. Hell, I would have kept it too.
      • Keep launching it until it explodes, then collect the pieces and hand them out to the engineers as souvenirs.
    • I'm sure they have a lot of former NASA employees on their payroll, not sure what that has to do with anything.

      They're scheduled to make roughly one launch a month, so if all goes to plan they should soon have plenty of rockets to run tests with, they just want to keep the first one as a souvenir.

      • They're scheduled to make roughly one launch a month, so if all goes to plan they should soon have plenty of rockets to run tests with, they just want to keep the first one as a souvenir.

        I think the more interesting souvenir would be the first rocket to be reused.

        Maybe they'll fly the next one twice and then put it on display.

  • by Steve1952 ( 651150 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @05:05PM (#51211415)
    Watto, the Mos Espa junk dealer, has already submitted the first bid. He has an employee working for him that is pretty good at refurbishing used equipment.
  • I am now genuinely curious to see if Jeff Bezos will hurry and put his New Shepard rocket on display; since he totally started this club. :S
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bezos didn't start the club, it started with the DC-X, SpaceX continued it with the Grasshopper (followed by the F9R Dev1 rocket), then Bezos arrived with the New Shephard rocket for the first suborbital flight, and then SpaceX has the first 'stage1 of an orbital mission' to land safely.

      Each of these are milestones, but it's hardly fair to say that Bezos started the club.

      • My sarcasm tag failed horribly to register even with my ':S' tag at the end. Oh well it was worth a shot.
        • I swear to god Slashdot you would make my day if you had an option to edit a post for grammatical mistakes for a few minutes after posting.
  • ... until we see what kind of percentage of successful landings they get. Doing it once doesn't automatically 'change everything'. Let's see how robust this really turns out to be...

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @05:51PM (#51211785) Journal

    2015: Space X recovers the first reusable rocket stage and doesn't reuse it.

    • It is reused as an historical memorabilia.
  • They should follow the procedure for some experimental aircraft (well, somewhat). Go ahead and keep the first recovered stage as a souvenir. The next one that comes down though should be torn apart down to its last bolt for testing on each and every component, including destructive tests like testing the shear force of bolts, the pressure limits of tanks, break points of struts, etc. If everything looks good and there is no unexpected wear and tear on the stage reuse the next one after intensive non-des

  • by Steve1952 ( 651150 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2015 @10:34PM (#51213335)
    After Lindbergh flew the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of Saint Louis in 1927, he didn't then turn around and fly back. Instead he sent the Spirit of Saint Louis back to the US by sea. It now resides in the Smithsonian. This particular SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is historically important, and quite possibly may also end up in the Smithsonian some day.
    • by tsotha ( 720379 )

      After Lindbergh flew the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of Saint Louis in 1927, he didn't then turn around and fly back. Instead he sent the Spirit of Saint Louis back to the US by sea.

      His ass probably hurt too much to fly back.

      On a more serious note, flying non-stop across the Atlantic was a stunt. Doing it once had very little value; doing it twice none at all. But the modern launch market is very different - if SpaceX can re-launch the first stage without rebuilding it that's tens of millions right to

    • After landing in Paris, Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis through various European countries. Then, after it was returned to the US (via steamship), it was flown on a goodwill tour of North and Central America.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      My grandfather saw the Spirit of St. Louis after it crossed the Atlantic and always talked about how it was a "real airplane", not something that just did a stunt once.

  • I can't help thinking that since space is already full of crap that this will simply hasten the occurance of a Kessler Syndrome [wikipedia.org] type scenario. Although I suppose if it's cheaper to get up there we might actually start doing something about all the junk instead of just monitoring it and holding thumbs. There has been talk for years about refueling satellites instead of shoving them into a higher orbit and discarding them, cheaper launches will mean it's cheaper to just plonk another, more advanced one, in
    • True, but if launches get cheap enough that this risk becomes significant, somebody (probably NASA) will probably start looking at ways to clean up space. Send up a small spacecraft (unmanned, of course) with a couple of big catcher nets and the rest of it engine and propellant. Match velocities with particularly risky junk (or at least, get close to matching) and overtake it slowly, so the stress on the catcher isn't too great and you aren't creating more debris. Collect as much as you safely can on each f

      • I like the idea of the laser broom [wikipedia.org] my self, although instead of it being ground based it can be in orbit with some nice fat solar panels for power. I would imagine most of a ground based system would lose it's energy getting out of the atmosphere, but if it was visible to the naked eye it would be cool to watch.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker