New Falcon 9 successfully launches used Dragon cargo ship

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has successfully launched a used Dragon cargo ship to ISS using a new Falcon 9 rocket.

They also successfully landed the first stage, the 39th time they have done so. Dragon will arrive at ISS in two days.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

6 China
5 SpaceX
4 Europe (Arianespace)
3 Russia

The U.S. has extended its lead over China 9-6 in the national rankings.


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  • m d mill

    The Sea landings are particularly impressive.

  • Shouldn’t be too very long before a child watches a launch video pre-2015 and asks their parent: “Mommy, why are they throwing the rocket away?”

  • geoffc

    How do you count the falcon heavy (flight 2) center core? It landed, but did not make it back to port?

    Saw someone call that landed but not recovered. What a wonderful time we live in, where that is a distinction with a difference!

  • Lee S

    I would count it as a successful landing…. The body of the stage broke off, but apparently the engines were ok.

  • Col Beausabre

    “The operation was successful, but the patient died”

    29 August 1829, Savannah Georgian (Savannah, GA), pg. 3, col. 1:
    A successful operation!—A late paper has the following paragraph: “Amputation at the hip joint. This operation was performed about two months ago at Odinburgh (Edinburgh) by Mr. Liston. The operation was successful, but the patient died!“

    The point of the whole exercise was recover and bring an intact booster back to dry land for processing. Anything else is a failure

  • Edward

    Col Beausabre wrote: “The point of the whole exercise was recover and bring an intact booster back to dry land for processing. Anything else is a failure

    It depends upon how you look at it.

    When I was a kid, I thought of rocket launches as being a part of the mission, like an Apollo mission. To me, a mission that failed after a successful launch was a failure, and it did not matter to me that the rocket was a success. That a rocket was called a success for a failed mission seemed like saying “the operation was a success; the patient died.”

    Once I got into the industry, the distinction became clear: a rocket that succeeded got a check in the win column, and a failed payload was not the rocket’s fault.

    So how do we want to look at this particular launch, landing, and recovery?

    The rocket worked and put a functional payload into proper orbit. The launch was a success. The mission is, so far, a success.

    The center core landed on the drone ship. A success for the landing system.

    The center core was lost during recovery operations. A failure for the recovery system as well as for the company’s long-term operations. The company now has to build another core to replace the lost core, costing money, costing some amount of reputation, and possibly costing schedule (although I think the schedule is currently stretched out enough that it is not affected). Because the expensive engines were recovered, the financial cost may have been lower than it could have been.

    We should also remember that SpaceX launched while knowing that they had a fair chance of losing the center core. This decision was made to maintain schedule, another important consideration. For SpaceX, keeping their customers happy was worth the risk of the loss of the center core. The consequences of this loss are not very high — no injuries, just an extra expense that they might have avoided had things worked out differently. I count this as a success for schedule and customer satisfaction.

    Blue Origin plans to land its New Glenn first stages on a moving ship, because this should be more stable than a stationary ship.

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