A brief post but something that really excites me.
SpaceX was planning on launching a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Staton today. This launch is not the first time the rocket has been launched nor the first mission to the ISS. What makes it exciting (in addition to the fact that all rocket launches are exciting) is that it would be their first attempt to recover the first stage in a near-perfect reusable condition. Aside from the SRB’s on the Space Shuttle, which splashed down in sea water, there has not been any launch system which allowed a major stage component to be reused.
Since this is the first attempt, there’s a good chance it won’t work, but if it does, it will be a huge step toward lower cost space flight. Of course, it’s only one stage of the rocket, but it’s still a big achievement. The rocket itself costs tens of millions of dollars, while the fuel is only hundreds of thousands, so reusing a major portion of the rocket can save enormous costs.
The unique method of recovery is to have the rocket use remaining fuel and its own engine to decelerate and make a soft landing. Landing legs will deploy and the touchdown will be attempted on a floating barge, which is unmanned and some distance offshore, thus reducing any risks should the landing not be successful.
NOTE: The launch has been aborted. Apparently there were some readings with the thrust vector control system which indicated a problem. It’s not entirely unusual for launches to be aborted at the last minute, as a result of such technical data. In a high risk activity like launching rockets, it is not worth attempting a launch if there appear to be any potential problems.
The systems will be checked and diagnosed and the launch will likely proceed shortly, but probably not today. It may require a couple of days before the proper launch window opens up again. It may also take a number of days for the problem to be solved with the thrust vector control. In all likelihood, the launch will still happen in the next few days.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 at 11:19 am and is filed under Good Science, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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