Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched a South Korean military satellite, with its Falcon 9 rocket using the same first stage that launched two American astronauts to ISS less than two months ago.
This was the company’s fastest turnaround yet of a used first stage, 51 days, which also beats the fastest turnaround ever by the shuttle program, 54 days. And as you can see by the screen capture image to the right, they successfully landed it so that it can be used for a third time.
Watching the camera on that first stage after separation (on SpaceX’s live stream) to landing was most fascinating. After separation its tail end points down to the west and its launch site in Florida. As it curves upward and then down towards its landing in the Atlantic, its small thrusters and grid fins very slowly and gracefully swing that tail to instead point east and down to the drone ship. I had not noticed previously the gentleness of that re-positioning. The daylight clear weather today, plus excellent camera access, made it very obvious.
The leaders in the 2020 launch race:
The U.S. now leads China in the national rankings, 18 to 16.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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