SpaceX successfully launches the first reused cargo Dragon

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Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully relaunched a previously flown Dragon cargo capsule to ISS.

They also successfully landed the first stage.



  • pzatchok

    The best part of Mr. Z’s post.

    The casual ‘by the way’. “They also successfully landed the first stage.”

    By the end of the year it will only be news worth mentioning if the first stage crashes.

  • Sayomara

    Looks like Space still plans to launch 2 more times in June. There was talk of maybe seeing 4 Spacex flights in June but the June 1 scrub looks to have pushed the launch at the end of the month into July by a day.

    However, 3 launches in a month is more than most governments are doing right now or say nothing of 4. Its hard to see from the outside but Spacex seems to have taken some of the criticism to heart about major changes to hardware and focusing on getting launches done. Then again they might have finally just found a configuration that does everything they want it to do and so they aren’t changing things for the moment.

    Next test of course is can they reuse a first stage again if Spacex can show us that then it times to move our focus to Falcon Heavy and human space flight.

    So, I guess Spacex still has a ton to do this year but its nice to see they launches start to become routine

  • diane wilson

    It’s going to be a while before watching those landings gets boring. The ground view of the entry burn yesterday was spectacular.

  • C. Cecil

    Be great to recover the second stage engine compartment, heat shield parachutes. Anybody know where what is left of the second stage impacts the ocean.

  • jhon

    Of course I was ready Thursday to watch for the launch (I live in Florida) and had my TV on the YouTube channel when it was scrubbed. But come Saturday, I forgot all about it.
    Anybody know when the Falcon Heavy is scheduled to launch? I may travel over to the east coast to feel that.

  • LocalFluff

    Dates for Falcon Heavy I see are no earlier than August, and during 3rd quarter. Based on their schedule track record I say it is 50/50 it will launch this year. An FH launch represents three first stages which is an entire month worth of F9 launches today.

    C. Cecil
    Musk said a couple of years ago that they have no plans to reuse the upper stage. They focus on the Mars project instead. Making the next generation launchers happen earlier can be very much more profitable than trying to save a fraction of the cost of F9 launches. They are already the unthreatened cost leader anyway.

    If F9 launches three times per month continuously, SpaceX alone will launch about 50% of all mass launched from Earth to orbit. Total world domination by taking advantage of the corruption and waste in the old government dominated launcher industry. Stupidity is underestimated in many many contexts. Much decision making and analysis falsely assumes that others are intelligent, although if one takes a look at what many organizations are doing, they obviously have serious problems in the thinking and action departments. A weakness that can be exploited.

  • diane wilson

    re: FH launch, 3rd quarter is a good estimate. FH must launch from pad 39A, which is currently configured for F9. F9 launches need to go back to pad 40, which is still being rebuilt after last year’s explosion during fueling. Last I heard, pad 40 was scheduled to be ready for F9 by August 1, so reconfiguration of 39A can’t start until it is no longer needed for f9 launches. All three cores for first FH have already had individual static fire tests, so all that remains is transport to Florida and final assembly. First FH probably in mid-September at the earliest. IIRC, first commercial FH is in the manifest scheduled for 4th quarter.

    re: Dragon re-use, the big goal here is to free up the Dragon production line for crewed Dragons. Crewed Dragon will probably need at least two launches before carrying crew, one for in-flight abort test, and one unmanned flight to ISS. SpaceX needs to get these into production soon if they’re going to make the first crew replacement launch in 2018.

  • ken anthony

    SpaceX is driving the whole industry (including former employees forming their own companies.) This is the power of one guy asking why and not believing all the other’s answers.

    I’m looking forward to the day when in retrospect they say, “Well of course we could have gotten the wealth engine started on mars sooner. How were we to know mars would become a luxury resort filled with multi-millionaires? Everyone said it’s no place to raise children. Now those children own most of the solar system’s wealth. Except the Musk boys, who never had their fathers vision.”

  • Frank

    I still watch as many launches as I can. The highlight for me has become the return of the booster stage which still looks like science fiction.

    Recently SpaceX has been using a ground camera with a long lens that show the powered booster coming in fast, surrounded by streaking clouds and engine exhaust. Its powerfully beautiful rocket imaging.

  • Anthony Domanico

    I would love to take my daughter down to watch a launch. I’ve been seriously considering attending the debut of Falcon Heavy or the first commercial crew/Dragon V2 launch. Both will have some historical significance and either way I think experiencing any arbitrary launch would have a profound effect on her young mind.

    So, how would one go about planning such a trip? I live in central New York, so if there is a scrub due to weather, a boat entering the keep-out zone, or pick any number of reasons that would postpone a launch, I would be SOL. Any advice?

  • wayne

    Anthony Domanico–
    I had the distinct and absolute thrill, of watching Apollo 8 launch when I was a kid, and it had a profound effect on my young mind. The tour of NASA we took the next day, was very cool as well.

    If you can pull it off, highly recommend witnessing any arbitrary launch, in person.

    I’m in Michigan & spent my youth camping every Summer in the late 60’s, which always involved driving the station-wagon & visiting historical landmarks, literally everywhere East of the Mississippi.

  • wodun

    There was talk of maybe seeing 4 Spacex flights in June but the June 1 scrub looks to have pushed the launch at the end of the month into July by a day.

    It will be great when they have Boca Chica up and running so that if one launch is delayed, it doesn’t mean launches from their other site will be.

  • LocalFluff

    CRS-11 had NICER in its payload, a neutron star observatory to be installed in ISS. And “no earlier than” June China will launch the space telescope HXMT which also studies neutron stars. I think it is a very good sign that the Chinese now focuses on pure astronomical science so hard. That gives no immediate military or commercial benefits. The Chinese government obviously spends on basic research in blindo because they too are curious and think it is worth it.

    Neutron stars represent the frontier of extreme physics, right on the horizon where relativity meets quantum. Neutron matter, and maybe in their cores quark matter, would be extremely hard to study in a lab on Earth. Black holes are harder to find and only their disks and jets, not their actual “surfaces” (if they have/ever had/ever will have any surface), can be observed. Neutron stars can be a stepping stone to understanding black holes and how relativity and quantum goes together.

    A neutron star isn’t more relativistic than you can see both its poles in their entirety all of the time when watching it from its equator plane, because of how its deep gravity well distorts spacetime. Better than a black hole the surface of which cannot be directly observed at all.

  • wayne

    2 interesting shorts I’ll throw in here…

    James Burke
    Inside the blast escape room, Pad 39A
    [circa late 60’s/early 70’s]

    Blast Escape Room Pad 39A
    -circa 2013

  • Richard M

    I just can’t see Falcon Heavy flying before 4th quarter. They need 60 days to get LC-39A ready as it is. Figure November as the NET timeframe.

    As is, SpaceX put out an ambiguous comment a few days back that seemed to allude to using both pads initially to work off the backlog more quickly, which would push Falcon Heavy back into 2018.

    If they did, I am not sure I could blame them. The backlog is big, and they need to keep their bread and butter clients happy.

  • Edward

    Anthony Domanico asked: “So, how would one go about planning such a trip? I live in central New York, so if there is a scrub due to weather, a boat entering the keep-out zone, or pick any number of reasons that would postpone a launch, I would be SOL. Any advice?

    I went there to watch the first Space Shuttle launch. The trick is to arrange for multiple day stay. If there is a two-day scrub, as happened with the recent CRS-11 launch, this gives you an opportunity to tour Kennedy Space Center, go to Disney World, or go to any of the other amusement parks in the area. Come to think of it, if it launches on time, you still get to do one or more of those activities.

    All these years, I had thought that the protected Blast Escape Room was at the end of the zip lines: (5 minutes, Slide Wire Baskets released)

    Plan ahead. Bring binoculars for everyone and sun screen (I got a painful sunburn — worth it, though).

    It is awesome to watch a launch, a couple of minutes of show. To see the Falcon return must be even better.

  • wayne

    Excellent advice, referencing a launch viewing adventure. The Space Center is in & surrounded by, a swamp/everglades; insects everywhere and watch out for crawling reptiles while driving.

    Definitely make it part of a multi day trip. (I forgot about Disney World, did that exist in 1968?) Highly suggest including a drive down to Key West.

    Space Shuttle Launch, must have been cool!
    Interestingly– I somehow missed the escape-basket slide wire system for the Shuttle, but vaguely recalled the blast-shelter from watching Jules Bergman on ABC as a kid. Thanks for the clip.
    Incidentally– YouTube has some excellent, although short, James Burke and the BBC clips, covering the Apollo Program. Very well presented. The splashdown for Apollo 13, is particularly well done, which I might as well reference–

    Apollo13 –
    all BBC’s TV original reentry & splashdown footage – part 1 of 5
    James Burke & other excellent Presenter’s. (Makes American TV coverage look crummy in comparison and contrast.)
    Live, April 17th, 1970.

  • wayne

    Excuse my Nostalgia

    Apollo 8 – BBC Coverage –
    Moon arrival & orbit
    (Part 1 of 3.)
    James Burke, Patrick Moore, and Sir Bernard Lovell (live from the Jodrell Banks Radio Telescope) comment on first live tv pictures from Moon

  • Anthony Domanico

    Thanks for the advice guys, I appreciate it. Us space enthusiasts have to stick together! Now the main concern is when do I schedule the vacation and get the airline tickets? Kinda tricky based on how schedules slip…

  • Anthony: You might also want to read my posts from 2011, when I went and saw my only space shuttle launch:

      We drove there, from Maryland, which in the end made things much simpler.

  • wayne

    oh yeah– reality constraints, intrude into all of this. (Ya just don’t want it to turn into a Clark Griswold Adventure.)
    It is worth it—I was extraordinarily fortunate to be exposed to an Apollo launch. Definitely had an effect on my young brain. Use that to your advantage!

    Out of my bailiwick, but some of these launches have longer windows than others, and the weather in Florida undoubtedly has seasonal variations, you might be able to increase your overall odds of success with some shrewd planning. (Keep asking questions of those who know more than me.)
    -Florida can be expensive, avoid obvious tourist-stuff. Great place to visit– tons of history connected to Florida.
    In general, my only real functional suggestion would be to make it a Florida-Adventure that includes a rocket-launch. As Edward noted, if it goes off on time, (or its a scrub,) you still have the rest of the trip.
    Personally, as a kid, highly enjoyed the Tour of the Space Center, and we saw Flipper, remember Flipper?

    Good luck on all this!

  • wayne

    Good stuff Mr. Z.

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