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Moon Technology

Reusable SpaceX Rocket Has Implications For a Return To the Moon ( 51

MarkWhittington writes: While it is unclear what, if any, implications the recent successful landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 first stage means for the future of space travel, planetary scientist and space commentator Paul Spudis suggested that the feat and the similar one performed earlier by Blue Origin could have some benefit for a return to the moon. In the meantime, a test of the engines in the recovered first stage had mixed results. The engines fired alright, but SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reported, "thrust fluctuations" that might have been caused by "debris ingestion."
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Reusable SpaceX Rocket Has Implications For a Return To the Moon

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  • Duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by taiwanjohn ( 103839 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @06:28AM (#51321133)

    Would dropping the cost of getting payloads to orbit have implications for a return to the moon? Hmm.... let's see... I can't quite tell...

    • I originally had this knee jerk response as well, but after I RTFA (I know, bad form) I understand he's actually talking about how these technologies translate into vehicles that never operate in earth atmosphere. Specifically that all extraterrestrial rockets before now have been single use, and more advanced multi use rockets aid long term manned missions outside of earth orbit (If one can consider the moon such).

      • I also RTFA (admittedly, after I posted) but I still think it's pretty obvious to anyone who pays much attention to space development issues (like, you know, readers of Air & Space). For that matter, this isn't really that much of a step change in terms of lunar landers. The author talks about "Developing a reusable cryogenic space vehicle," but the F9 is only half cryogenic, it's kerosene fuel is chilled to very low temps, but it's not the same as LH2 or liquid methane.

        We could build a reusable lunar l

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @07:51AM (#51321297) Journal
    The goal of landing the rocket on three legs seems to be a very great challenge. Especially on a floating platform that is bobbing in the sea. They are able to get the speed and targeting precise enough to pull it off once, and got very close three times now. May be they should be thinking of a recovery system that is less demanding than this.

    These rockets are putting some 50000 lb in LEO. It hurts to add weight that reduces pay load. But SpaceX claims the first stage is worth 60 million dollars. May be if they would come up with some kind of system that would fire a cable with grappling hooks at the last moment to snag a cable hung between towers like a clothesline and end up hanging without hitting the ground. It could be heavier than three struts and take some away from payload capacity. By that might be less demanding than precisely landing on three legs, and save enough money make up for it in the next launch.

    But anyway it is an amazing achievement. I really hated to see Wired mag calling it "botched" in its head line. May be it is not an inaccurate description, may be they were using standard headline language to find smaller words. But still, if most projects achieve this much in their botched operations ...

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday January 18, 2016 @08:10AM (#51321343) Homepage

      The rocket launches upright. It's designed to bear loads vertically being imparted through its base. It's not designed to dangle from a cable from its nose. Plus, in terms of "things that can go wrong", grappling onto elevated cables sounds far worse than landing on legs.

      From the look of it, the real culprit this time was ice, from all of the fog. That's the leading theory as to why the leg didn't latch. Unfortunately, icing on aerial vehicles in general has killed an awful lot of them over the course of modern history.

    • by waTeim ( 2818975 )
      In this case it is now suggested that the cause was simply leg #3 -- there are 4 legs by the way -- failed to lock out due to the failure of a locking collet possibly because of ice buildup, but like you said still impressive. Using legs seem to be easier than arresting the fall with cables; the cables would weigh a lot as they would need to withstand decelerating 25 tons; they would have to uncoil explosively with an aiming system, a launcher and enough energy to throw out the cables; and even though this
    • "Especially on a floating platform that is bobbing in the sea. "

      If barge landings are ever going to become routine, there needs to be a capture system. This would not only have turned several of those near-misses into good landings, but would save the weight of the landing legs.

  • They should rename one of the barges to "Death and gravity" (GSV culture ship).
  • is to know how to do a thing and to watch someone else doing it wrong, without commenting. -- T.H. Whit

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