SpaceX once again lit the Falcon 9 rocket tonight and launched a constellation of 11 Orbcomm satellites (probably making up for that time they didn’t quite launch an Orbcomm payload), but the real story is that they finally landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 on dry land, intact. [VIDEO]
Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos’ company) did the same earlier this year, but only went to suborbital altitude at suborbital speeds; this was a mission that required the first stage to deliver the second stage and its payload to orbit, at orbital altitude and speed, before coming in for a landing.
And now they want to land ALL THE ROCKETS!…at the same time. [LINK]
SpaceX is planning on the first Falcon Heavy test launch later this year. A video posted earlier this year made it clear that those plans include treating each of the three boosters as a regular Falcon once they’ve separated from the payload. That includes a return flight to Florida or a barge offshore.
Right, now, the company is using either the barge or an on-land site at Cape Canaveral to recover the boosters, with the choice depending on how high and far downrange they travel. And the company wants the option of returning all three to land if the opportunity arises (though two by land and one by sea might be an option). And so the company told The Orlando Sentinel that it was asking the government for permission to build two more landing pads near its original facility.
Grab some popcorn – if SpaceX’s live launch coverage gets any more epic than it already is, I’m gonna treat their launches like whatever the big college football game is on a given weekend. 😀