SpaceX lands first stage rocket!!


Caine

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After the failed resupply mission in June this year (CRS-7, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAX7UFd70M8), SpaceX will launch its next Falcon 9 rocket tonight (assuming no further delays occur).


The primary goal of this mission is to deliver 11 satellites into orbit. The secondary goal is to land the first stage rocket (a test in order to achieve reusable rockets).


This launch marks the first attempt by SpaceX to land their stage 1 rocket on land (prior attempts tried to land on a platform at sea, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhMSzC1crr0). 


The difference with this launch from the recent landing by Blue Origin is that SpaceX is actually launching into orbit instead of "just" a vertical lift-off into space.


Webcast can be viewed here: http://www.spacex.com/webcast/ (archive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5bTbVbe4e4)


I'm looking forward to the launch. Hopefully history will be written today. 


If you need some reading material until then, I recommend reading Tim Urban's SpaceX post on wait but why:


http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/08/how-and-why-spacex-will-colonize-mars.html


Update: webcast now live...


Oh wow!!! They did it!!!!


Primary mission is a success as well. Space flight may just have become significantly cheaper :)  


<edit>http://www.space.com/21386-spacex-reusable-rockets-cost.html about 75% of rocket cost is the stage 1 booster rocket</edit>


<edit2>Some more background info: http://www.spacex.com/news/2015/12/21/background-tonights-launch</edit2>
 
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Alperoot

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Yeah, heard about that. Wasn't it something for firing the rockets and landing them back safely to the earth?
 

Caine

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Yeah, heard about that. Wasn't it something for firing the rockets and landing them back safely to the earth?


Indeed. After several tries they finally succeeded in safely landing the stage 1 rocket (i.e. the booster rocket). 


This image depicts the tricky moves they managed to achieve. This is a truly historical milestone in the history of space flight.





Depending on the refurbishing cost of the stage 1 booster rocket, a launch could now theoretically become as cheap as $16 million.


This is without even attempting to salvage the stage 2 rocket (which is much harder and not nearly as economically viable).
 

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The mission was done in 11 Minutes, including the launch of a couple of sattelites, fascinating. For the landing, I would have choosed cheap and simple parachutes but landing with the rocket engine looks more impressive of course. :D  
 

Caine

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The mission was done in 11 Minutes, including the launch of a couple of sattelites, fascinating. For the landing, I would have choosed cheap and simple parachutes but landing with the rocket engine looks more impressive of course. :D  


That might be an option if your goal is to deliver cargo into space. However, SpaceX was founded to colonize Mars. In order to land on planets without a runway and with no atmosphere (or a very thin one), landing with your rocket engine is not just cool, it is the only option. This is also the reason for SpaceX to develop reusable rockets instead of shuttles. In other words, if they want to achieve their ultimate goal, then they need to become very good at these kind of landings.


The cargo delivery (to/from ISS) and satellite delivery services are merely a vehicle they utilize to cover the cost of developing the required technology. Same holds for their plan to deploy a network of 4000 satellites around the earth to provide cheap, global wireless internet services. 
 

fusion_power

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I thought it was mainly designed as small price cargo alternative to the ISS and as a sattelite delivery to relieve the NASA. Do they already talk about Mars after one successful mission?  :D
 

Caine

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I thought it was mainly designed as small price cargo alternative to the ISS and as a sattelite delivery to relieve the NASA. Do they already talk about Mars after one successful mission?  :D


Mars has been the goal from the beginning (see e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPlYpbSMFU&t=1m25s).


I would hardly call it after one successful mission, out of their 20 or so missions (see http://www.spacex.com/missions) only a single one has failed (Resupply Mission 7).


If I recall correctly, they've had less than a handful of actual landing attempts (which were always secondary goals of the missions).


I love how ambitious their goal is. It really forces innovation and major breakthroughs in space technology.
 

Wrath Of Khan

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Mars has been the goal from the beginning (see e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPlYpbSMFU&t=1m25s).


I would hardly call it after one successful mission, out of their 20 or so missions (see http://www.spacex.com/missions) only a single one has failed (Resupply Mission 7).


If I recall correctly, they've had less than a handful of actual landing attempts (which were always secondary goals of the missions).


I love how ambitious their goal is. It really forces innovation and major breakthroughs in space technology.
Sounds cool. Many of our solar systems planets have been found to exhibit earth like characteristics or elements in the last few years.


Iv'e always suspected that the other planets in our solar system were, albeit, different but once capable of sustaining life of some kind.


I think all those planets were once fully alive.
 

notaz

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It's indeed nice they managed to pull the landing off. It's good to see their pipeline is working for commercial missions, but I wish there were more exploration missions, there are so many destinations to explore... I think only Orbital Sciences had an exploration mission so far.
 
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Caine

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I agree notaz. We have a few probes and rovers around, I would love to see more.


That said, I strongly agree with the ambition of a Mars landing and the vision to create a colony. In order to build a habitat on this barren planet we need to make major steps in sustainability.
The research and achievements can subsequently be applied to our own little planet here. Neil deGrasse Tyson said that if we could fix Mars (i.e. Terraform it) then we could fix our own planet as well.


But I think he ignores the fact that from a short-term perspective we have little reason to do so. Our planet is already habitable, Mars is not.


Our existence on just a single planet creates a lot of assumptions about our environment. Through the sciences we've learned many of these, but how many do we not know?


I see a large potential for accelerated discovery in both science and the universe itself by going to Mars. It is a vision that can inspire a generation.
 
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