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SpaceX Successfully Launches Satellite Into Orbit On a Used Falcon 9 Rocket ( 38

Darrell Etherington reports via TechCrunch: SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket loaded with a geocommunications satellite commissioned by the Government of Luxembourg. The satellite, created by Orbital STK and to be operated by SES, will support humanitarian and military operations for Luxembourg, among other communications functions. The rocket took off from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday, a day after its initial planned launch. The original window wasn't viable due to weather, but the rocket launched as planned at the opening of its backup date with favorable weather conditions today. This launch today didn't include a recovery attempt of the Falcon 9 first stage booster used during the launch. The booster used was a reflown rocket, however, having been used May last year during a mission for a different client.
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SpaceX Successfully Launches Satellite Into Orbit On a Used Falcon 9 Rocket

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  • by Woldscum ( 1267136 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @07:21PM (#56043901)

    Falcon heavy is launching on Feb 6. That will be a show. [] Test fire []

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @07:57PM (#56044159)
    I guess they do this to obtain data, but they go through the landing procedure even if they don't plan on recovering. The first stage did its reentry burn, landing burn, deployed the landing legs and soft landed into the water. You can hear the call outs in the video.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @08:00PM (#56044185)

      Looks like it was a really soft landing:

      • Outstanding
      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Yeah, this was a pretty mundane launch until that happened. A rocket not designed for water landings, assigned for disposal at sea while testing a new landing approach, apparently survived a water landing intact and afloat. How? Beats me. I'd think that, with its propellant and pressurant spent, it'd be crushed when it fell over. Or that those engines would drag it deep enough into the water to crush the tanks at the base. And once its ruptured, the whole thing (up to the bulkheads) can flood

        But, there

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The stainless steel tanks that can hold highly pressurized and chilled LOX are very strong, and in order to be buoyant, they just need to be mostly empty

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            Falcon 9 is thin alumium, not heavy stainless steel. And it's not a question of being buoyant, it's a question of not ripping the fragile skin/tank in the situation where the propellant has been used up. You have a structure the height of a 25 story building, built of thin alumium, falling over (after being dragged a couple stories into the water by the heavy engines at the bottom).

            The only reason that the rocket doesn't collapse just from launching forces alone is the internal pressure. That's why they

            • You have a structure the height of a 25 story building, built of thin alumium, falling over (after being dragged a couple stories into the water by the heavy engines at the bottom).

              There's no need to exaggerate here. The 1st stage of Falcon 9 is not as tall as a 25 story building. That's the whole rocket and payload that reaches that height and they certainly aren't trying to land an entirely intact rocket. The first stage is 38m putting it closer to 12 stories.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday January 31, 2018 @08:57PM (#56044553) Homepage

          How? Beats me.

          Well we've seen them do smooth landings so I assume the simulation ended with them hovering right over the water. A 2009 quote said:

          Weighing in at over 7,700 kg (17,000 lbs), the thrust assembly and nine Merlin engines represents over half the dry mass of the Falcon 9 first stage.

          Basically you got a very heavy end which means it'd splash pretty much straight down in the direction it's built to withstand max-q, it wouldn't really tip over trying to keep its balance as some of the failed landings did. And the empty tanks obviously provide a lot of buoyancy as long as they stay intact, in fact either the LOX or RP-1 tank should suffice alone. The impressive part is the quasi-landing. That it can survive the drop into the ocean, eh... the heavy part probably took less of a beating than a diver jumping from the 10m board.

    • I'm actually convinced (not seriously) that Musk is recovering these "soft water landing" disposable boosters so he can have a private, secret stash of rockets somewhere, almost certainly called "Moonraker 1" and "Moonraker 2"...

      • Actually, Musk has reported that this one came down intact enough that they are going to actually try and tow it back to shore []. They don't normally leave the landing legs on for the rockets they don't want to reuse, but this one was apparently being used for an experimental hard burn, and it looks like they wanted to keep the aerodynamics the same to get better information about that. Given that this one managed to survive, it tentatively suggests that
        • It's possible the "hard burn" landing was to test if they could reduce damage to the drone ship by coming to a hover above the ocean, then "sideslipping" onto the barge.
    • Sure they went through the motions. Why not? The issue is this: The drone ship could have been out there to get this first stage, but it could not get back to port, unload the stage, and get back out on station before the Feb 6 launch of Falcon Heavy, where they attempt to recover all three cores at once. In fact, the drone ship is probably already out there on station. They had to make a choice. Which core did they want back? I think the outlying stages will both be second use, but IIRC the center stage is

      • It's also a block 3 booster, which takes a lot more effort to refurbish than newly developed block 5 variant. They already have enough old boosters, so they don't really care about saving another block 3 booster even if they could.

  • Really, lazy editors? Is it too much to ask to even get the company names correct? It's "Orbital ATK," and has been for quite a while, now.

Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. -- Josh Billings