Hey, did I mentioned the three books in my Jakirian Cycle are out:)
For a while now Elon Musk’s Space X has be busily working away at developing a reusable rocket system, with both a first and second stage that can be reused with hours of return.
The Grasshopper rocket is the test vehicle for the reusable first stage. Earlier in the year this reached a height of 325m and then touched down again. In its latest test flight on October 7, the Grasshopper reached a height of 744m and landed right back down on the launch pad. It’s an awesome thing to see. Check out the footage, which was captured by a remote controlled hexacopter stationed in the sky. The rocket lands on a dime. Amazing control.
Hey, Elon Musk, can I come work for you? I’m a real engineer, honest.
OK. Back to reality.
The plans are to continue to extend the height at which the Grasshopper stops and returns to the launch pad.
In the meantime, Space X has progressed the other part of the proposed testing regime by performing the first test on a returning Falcon 9 first stage booster. The Falcon 9’s engines were re-lit twice on the way down during the September 29 test flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The two burns eased the vehicle’s return to Earth, where it eventually splashed down over the Pacific Ocean.
The Falcon 9 v1.1 carried Canada’s CASSIOPE space-weather satellite and three smaller spacecraft to orbit. As its first stage fell back to Earth, the secondary test program was initiated.
The first burn ( where three engines were ignited for supersonic retro propulsion) enabled the returning first stage to survive atmospheric re-entry without burning up. The second burn (with a single engine) went well, although the splashdown was a little harder than planned due to a roll developed by the returning vehicle.
Exciting stuff, and right in line with Space X’s stated development path. The company now believe they have ‘. . . all the pieces to achieve a full recovery of the boost stage.’
One step closer to a true reusable rocket and a system with will get us ‘up there’ at last:)