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This blog is all about science and technology (with occasional math thrown in for fun). The goal of this blog is to try and pass on the sense of excitement and wonder I feel when I read about these topics. I hope you enjoy the posts.

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SpaceX Makes History

Posted December 22, 2015 8:41 AM by Bayes

History

Yesterday SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket into space, deployed a payload of 11 OG2 low Earth orbit communication satellites for Orbcomm, and then landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral.

This successful retrieval of a first stage booster will forever change the economics of traveling to space. Not right away since the technique must be improved to minimize damage to the booster during recovery, and simultaneous recoveries of second stages must also be accomplished eventually, however SpaceX has shown it can be done, and that is a very important first step.

Here is an article detailing the feat:

Elon Musk's SpaceX returns to flight and pulls off dramatic, historic landing

Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket at its landing pad here Monday evening in its first flight since its rocket exploded six months ago. The historic landing, the first time a rocket launched a payload into orbit and then returned safely to Earth, was cheered as a sign that SpaceX, the darling of the commercial space industry, has its momentum back.

"The Falcon has landed," a SpaceX commentator said on the live webcast, as workers at its headquarters went wild, chanting "USA! USA!" Monday's flight, initially delayed because of technical concerns, was the second time in a month that a billionaire-backed venture launched a rocket to space and recovered it. And it represents yet another significant step forward in the quest to open up the cosmos to the masses.

In a call with reporters, Musk said that it appeared the stage landed "dead center on the landing pad. ... We could not have asked for a better mission." He called it a "revolutionary moment."

Article Continues Here

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Re: SpaceX Makes History

12/23/2015 10:47 AM

I must say, this is truly a technological milestone. Try doing that with a V-2, or a Saturn V booster - no way. Heck not even the Space Shuttle ever came back to the actual launch pad on touchdown.

I still think I would prefer the idea of short runway take-off, secondary vehicle or orbital insertion, and full recovery of all vehicles without any damage, but that is indeed a tall order as well.

Another 2 questions: (1)How long would it take to reach orbit if the vehicle only produced 1.2 G? 1.5 G? 2.0 G? (2) What would it take to produce a re-entry to earth atmosphere at much lower Mach, so that most of the heating is dissipated at a much lower temperature? This is a tricky subject, since too steep of an entry is too hot, and too slow helps produce that situation (higher decay constant for the orbit), and clearly too shallow may result in periodic heating and cooling during the "stone-skipping" aspect of such an approach.

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