SpaceX launches Dragon and lands 1st stage

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Capitalism in space: SpaceX this morning successfully launched a previously used Dragon cargo freighter to ISS as well as once again successfully landing the previously used first stage.

This was the first time NASA agreed to the use of a previously launched first stage. With the first stage and capsule both reused, only the second stage and one out of 10 Merlin engines was new and will not be available for further reuse.

I have embedded the launch video below the fold.

The standings for the most launches in 2017, as of today:

28 United States
18 Russia
17 SpaceX
15 China

Note that I am counting Soyuz launches for Arianespace out of French Guiana under Arianespace, not Russia. Also, the U.S. total includes SpaceX. I have separated SpaceX out to show how a single American company is competing aggressively with whole nations.



  • ken anthony

    SpaceX momentum means the gap is quite a bit larger than it appears.

  • Des

    If everything goes according to plan or close to it then Spacex should be able to get the count up to 30 or so next year which wouldl be great to see.

  • jburn

    It’s always amazing to watch the SpaceX show as the commentators are youthful, lively, and provide great information.

    Take note of the separation footage at around 18:30. I don’t recall ever seeing such a sharp image of stage separation and the reorientation of the stage back towards the launch pad. The overall quality of the images has also improved.

    Great work SpaceX!

  • Localfluff

    Great that one can see the separation, at 90 km altitude, from the ground. And follow the first stage down with a view of the landing site. It certainly makes suborbital flights look very doable. But the problem for suborbital is the delayed launches. 40 minutes to Tokyo doesn’t matter when there’s a 75% probability of waiting another day for takeoff. And why not build the interior of conventional airplanes like offices where the passengers can work as normal during the travel time. Using the time instead of cutting it. Flying cubicles! Darn, I just ruined the business concept of both SpaceX and Blue Origin by revealing this idea…

    Suborbital would be great on the Moon. The next Lunar astronauts should not land once, but multiple times on the Moon to increase science return per risk taken. It’s Earth’s atmosphere that kills astronauts. Just 1.7 km/s delta-v required from pole to pole, and only station keeping fuel for another site in the same region. Would allow for a longer than 14 day stay without nuclear power by hopping to the daylight.

    Here the kinetics for Moon hopping is explained by a blogger:

  • Interesting that the location information includes the planet of origin. I’ll give SpaceX an over/under of 7 years before it says something other than ‘Earth’.

  • Lee S

    Absolutely stunning video…
    It still gives me goosebumps to watch the first stage gently land on the bullseye.
    NASA, and the old school space community said it couldn’t be done. Space X are now doing it as the norm, it would be the exception if landing the first stage back on earth goes wrong.
    Big respect to Elon and his team, both for the jaw dropping technology, and for having the savvy to release quality media like this video to keep us space junkies grinning! ( another area NASA could take a few pointers!)
    And of course, thank you Bob, for sharing…. our politics are worlds apart, but we share a love and sense of wonder about Space exploration that is bigger than any political disagreement. We are truly blessed to be living in these times.

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