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SpaceX Launches NASA's Planet-Hunting Satellite, Successfully Lands Its Falcon 9 Rocket ( 37

SpaceX launched NASA's TESS spacecraft Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship following takeoff. This marks 24 successful landings for SpaceX now, notes The Verge. We will update this post once TESS is deployed into orbit. From the report: TESS is NASA's newest exoplanet hunter. The probe is tasked with staring at stars tens to hundreds of light-years from Earth, watching to see if they blink. When a planet passes in front of a distant star, it dims the star's light ever so slightly. TESS will measure these twinkles from a 13.7-day orbit that extends as far out as the distance of the Moon. The satellite won't get to its final orbit on this launch. Instead, the Falcon 9 will put TESS into a highly elliptical path around Earth first. From there, TESS will slowly adjust its orbit over the next couple of months by igniting its onboard engine multiple times. The spacecraft will even do a flyby of the Moon next month, getting a gravitational boost that will help get the vehicle to its final path around Earth. Overall, it will take about 60 days after launch for TESS to get to its intended orbit; science observations are scheduled to begin in June.
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SpaceX Launches NASA's Planet-Hunting Satellite, Successfully Lands Its Falcon 9 Rocket

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  • by ComputerInsultant ( 722520 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @07:34PM (#56461259)
    Slashdot has gotten out of sync with the real world. In the real world, the webcast of the launch is still going on and TESS has not yet been released. Heck, the final burn has not even started.
    • And TESS has been released, to Slashdot to real world synchronization can now move to the next stage. With any luck full synchronization can be achieved in just a few days.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Slashdot can't be out of sync with reality because it doesn't publish original content. It's all user submissions, usually articles from other sites.

      From TFA, which slashdot reposted 12 minutes later:

      Update April 18th, 7:08PM ET: SpaceX launched the TESS spacecraft at 6:51PM ET on Wednesday and successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship following takeoff. That marks 24 successful landings for SpaceX now, and 13 drone ship recoveries. Meanwhile, the mission is ongoing as TESS hasn’t been d

    • by Rei ( 128717 )
  • It still amazes me (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @07:46PM (#56461313)

    That those rockets fall on a drone ship, upwards and reusable.

    I guess there will be one day that the news is that they didn't land successfully one of their rockets.

    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @10:12PM (#56461931) Homepage

      From a rocket perspective, the next launch is the interesting one: the first launch of Block 5. Designed to be fully reusable without refurbishing for 10 launches. 100+ with refurbishment every 10 launches.

      Obviously, I'm sure it'll be a while before they're confident enough to actually do that; early on they'll surely tear it down between every launch and inspect to make sure it's holding up as well as they expect it to. But they've learned from where wear and tear was occurring on past rockets, and Block 5 is designed to prevent it.

    • by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @06:01AM (#56462943) Homepage

      It is still pretty amazing, but take a look at a picture of a GBU-43/B bomb. []

      Basically a Falcon 9 first stage is a large grid fin stabilized precision bomb with landing legs. In effect the military paid for development of the technology that allows the Falcon 9 to hit the land zones pretty much spot on every time. They where originally a Soviet invention.

  • by Balial ( 39889 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @07:51PM (#56461337) Homepage

    So how much has Space X saved already by not junking that may rockets?

    • by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @08:08PM (#56461427) Homepage Journal

      There is a serious savings when they re use a booster, but few of the existing recovered boosters will be saved in the future due to the advent of the Block 5 series which are slightly bigger, have retractable landing gears (rather than removable) and other improvements. Those are the more valuable boosters to save and re use. . The earlier ones are effectively out of date. They may very well use the older used boosters they do have on those missions where recovery is not an issue and they intentionally ditch them.

    • by Karhgath ( 312043 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @08:36AM (#56463407)

      Also people do not realize this often, but right now SpaceX has done 8 flights this year. The total worldwide is 38 at this time in 2018. This is 20% of worldwide flights. Last year was also around 20% worldwide. They launched more often than Soyuz, and more often than Long March LVs in 2017 (both have multiple type of vehicles, config and profiles, while the Falcon is mostly a single design). Of their 18 launches last year, 5 were reused, so until they are all at block 5 we won't really know the impact of reusability. But man, they are getting contracts after contracts and can launch at a pretty fast pace. Any normal corp would sit on this cash cow, but they are still pushing for reuse, falcon heavy, BFR and not slowing down.

      Even if on the fence about reuse, or outright think it is foolish for any reason or are vocal again Elon/SpaceX (and yes, some criticism are valid), if you remove those from the equation, they have a pretty nice launcher: fast deploy, can do a lot of mission, incredible primary mission success rate. Sure they did not invent anything new in rocket science, but they still got here quite fast.

  • SpaceX is waaay better. Better than (space) sex. And this is post X (tenth post)

  • by RhettLivingston ( 544140 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2018 @08:21PM (#56461495) Journal
    And the start of the final leg to manned flight certification - seven block 5 flights to go!
  • Id be scared, Sure signup to go live on mars, what are the chances of him actually succeeding?

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes