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Space Transportation

SpaceX Returns To Flight, And Nails Another Drone Landing (cnn.com) 129

Applehu Akbar writes: SpaceX successfully launched a 10-satellite Iridium NEXT package, and then landed on a drone ship — this time from Vandenburg AFB in California. The launch had been delayed several days by this week's record rainfall and flooding.
CNN has video of the launch, and points out its obvious significance. "Because rockets are worth tens of millions of dollars, and they have historically been discarded after launch, mastering the landing is key to making space travel more affordable... Saturday's launch marks the seventh time SpaceX has successfully landed a rocket."
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SpaceX Returns To Flight, And Nails Another Drone Landing

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  • Sweet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @08:36PM (#53669631)

    Can't wait to see three boosters land at once

    • Can't wait to see three boosters land at once

      You won't. All going well, at some point you'll see two landing at once, and a third a few minutes later.

  • Great strides (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @08:38PM (#53669653) Journal
    Landing a rocket is quite an achievement but the real test (and the ultimate goal) is to actually relaunch a used rocket successfully without extensive refurbishing
    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      without extensive refurbishing

      Exactly, since you certainly know that's what dooms the Space Shuttle.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        It depends what you mean by "refurbishing"; each element is different.

        The solid rocket boosters, for example, suffered a hard impact into salt water. They then had to be fished out of the water. And of course you don't just "refill" a SRB, they have to be taken apart and recast, then put back together.

        The ET is disposable, and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

        The orbiter was legitimately reusable, but with design flaws.

        I don't blame the shuttle program - they were sort of pigeonholed into this dead end by ci

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          Rebuilding the SSMEs is what I was thinking of.

        • And the Merlins were designed from the start under the principle of preventing the need for a full teardown. That doesn't mean that they will be cheap to reuse. But it does mean that they have the possibility of it.

          Considering they've publicly stated that one of the earlier successfully soft-landed first stages has undergone no less than 10 test firings on the test stand in Texas, with "minimal refurbishing," it seems cost-effective reuse isn't merely a possibility: it's a virtual certainty.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Eh. It doesn't matter how extensive the refurbishment is, just as long as it costs a fair bit less than building another one from scratch. ;)

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Saturday January 14, 2017 @08:58PM (#53669725)
    look at the shadows in the video. they're all wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 14, 2017 @09:22PM (#53669797)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTmbSur4fcs

  • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Sunday January 15, 2017 @02:36AM (#53670699) Journal

    What do people mean when they say "make America great again"? My understanding is that they want a USA which is making new innovative industries, employing lots of people in the USA with high paying jobs, and making profit in the process (the more the better.) Elon Musk is the poster child for doing all of those things - yet many people crying "Make America great again" are trying to tear him down. The kindest explanation is that they are so blinded by ideology that they can't think straight.

    • It isn't an oil well, or car factory... oops, he makes cars... well, it isn't a gas guzzling car factory.

    • by Andreas Mayer ( 1486091 ) on Sunday January 15, 2017 @05:36AM (#53671029) Homepage

      What do people mean when they say "make America great again"?

      I think most of those people actually mean "I want the world to revert back to how it was X years ago". With X depending on personal experiences.

      Of course, that's impossible.

      • What do people mean when they say "make America great again"?

        I think most of those people actually mean "I want the world to revert back to how it was X years ago". With X depending on personal experiences.

        Of course, that's impossible.

        Very true. And I think what Trump is thinking of when he says it is the greatness of the captains of industry, like Rockefeller, Sinclair, Carnegie, etc., with himself and his friends in the leading roles.

    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday January 15, 2017 @11:25AM (#53671717) Homepage Journal

      What do people mean when they say "make America great again"? My understanding is that they want a USA which is making new innovative industries, employing lots of people in the USA with high paying jobs, and making profit in the process

      What they actually mean is "make America great for white people again" because it was never great for anyone else. Time was, even the lowest, most useless white person had an edge over darker-colored people in the job market, which kept them employed at a time when there were enough jobs to employ all the white people. So point the first, they're racist fucks, whether they actually even know it or not. Point the second, they're idiots and dumbfucks, because you can't turn back the clock. Soon there will not be enough jobs for anyone and it won't matter what color you are. The world is already trending that way; as we diminish racial inequality (still going strong, but less so than in the past) we simply stratify still further along economic lines. Or as the saying goes, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.

      People who want to "Make America Great Again" are racists. Full fucking stop.

    • They are just being crabby https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
  • Am I the only one... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday January 15, 2017 @04:58AM (#53670973) Homepage

    .... who can't help but cheer at my screen when they nail one of those landings? Now I finally understand how sports fans feel when they watch a game and do the same thing ;)

    One thing nobody can deny about them is optimism. ;) Seriously, their IPS numbers are, pardon the pun, out of this world. $200k per booster launch. $500k per tanker launch. I mean, really? Good luck with that. No, seriously, good luck with that; I won't be expecting anything close to that, but please by all means prove me wrong ;) ITS would be a great system to have, I've been playing around with some Venus trajectories with it recently. Looks like it can do a low-energy transit with nearly 300 tonnes of payload from LEO and back again with the same, over 400 if starting at a high orbit - but from an economics perspective the high energy transfers actually make more sense.

    I noticed a lot of people were confused about why Musk wanted the trips to be so short and was willing to sacrifice so much payload to do so - many assumed it had to do with radiation or something. But the issue is, when your craft costs so much but your launch costs are cheap, you can't have it spending all of its time drifting in deep space, you need to get it back for a new mission as soon as possible. There's a balancing point, in that if you try to go too fast, you reduce useful payload below the point of making up for it with going faster - but a minimum energy trajectory is just not optimal when the ratio between launch costs and transit vehicle cost is so extreme. I come up with the same thing from Venus as they were getting for Mars, although for the Venus case you end up aerobraking to a highly elliptical orbit rather than to the surface for ISRU refill (you need ISRU, but for the ascent stages, so it's not realistic to do so for the return stage in the nearer term). So for Venus they get no refill like on Mars, but they also don't have to do a powered landing nor do an ascent on return - it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Both are quite accessible with it.

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