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SpaceX Releases Video of Falcon Rocket's Splashdown

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the future-actually-happening dept.

Space 49

First time accepted submitter cowdung (702933) writes In spite of Elon Musk's characterization of the landing as a KABOOM event. Judging by this video SpaceX has managed to land the first stage rocket booster nicely on the ocean after their Orbcomm launch on July 14th. It seems we're one step closer to a landing on dry land. Both this and the previous landing seem to have gone well. Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens.

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Getting good use out of commercial launch tests (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516281)

Two missions for the price of one.

Re:Getting good use out of commercial launch tests (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47516297)

Well, I'm sure it cost at least a little more than doing just what they were contracted to do. It's just that we haven't gotten to the point of taking space launches for granted yet.

When we do, some middle manager will whine endlessly about this sort of experimentation.

Re:Getting good use out of commercial launch tests (5, Informative)

queazocotal (915608) | about 3 months ago | (#47516369)

'some middle manager will whine endlessly about this sort of experimentation.'

And will be sacked by the board.
Around 60% of the total cost of the rocket is the first stage.
The aim is to have this reusable in a few hours turnaround time.
If this works, savings per launch are tens of millions of dollars, even if it only works half the time.
If the second stage can be made reusable as well, going from $60M price to launch 10 tons to LEO to half of that _and_ making more profit per launch is quite possible.

Re:Getting good use out of commercial launch tests (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 3 months ago | (#47517589)

middle manager

I imagine it's hardest on the accountants.

  • Is the cost of those experiments passed on to customers? Overhead? Do the customers get discounts for the dual purpose mission? Would they want discounts but didn't think to ask because they weren't even aware?
  • How is the risk / insurance handled? It the added experiments' components caused a failure, who's insurance pays for it? Is the cost of that insurance passed on to customers?

etc.

Re:Getting good use out of commercial launch tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518897)

SpaceX has a pricelist:

http://www.spacex.com/about/capabilities

You pays your money and they launch your payload.

I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (3, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 months ago | (#47516303)

That is flat freaking amazing. NASA does some pretty cool stuff, but I can't help but wonder how many billions it would have cost taxpayers for them to manage development of technology like that? It's hard not to see NASA as an organization with its best days well behind it.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516347)

Is that before or after Congress fights for pieces of the rocket like dogs over a bone?

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (4, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | about 3 months ago | (#47516507)

It's really hard to do this kind of landing burn (nicknamed 'suicide burn' as you run out of fuel as the landing feet touch the ground at 0 velocity, and miscalculation and splat or a nice bounce (elon called it the hover slam)) with a solid rocket booster, which we keep buying/making to prop up the ICBM industry with civilian dollars. The shuttle ended up with SRBs instead of L(iquid)RBs purely due to political reasons.
 
Actually, for the Saturn V, blueprint drawings do exist made by NASA of a cockpit on the side of the main booster tank with glider wings, to take it the 300 miles back to a safe landing site. Obviously that complication got scrapped in the mad rush to get to the moon in a decade.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517013)

Yeah, since we build and deploy new ICBMs only a few times in the years that they've existed, it would be nice to have companies with experience building those types of rockets in case we ever decide to modernize that part of the nuclear force.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#47517395)

which we keep buying/making to prop up the ICBM industry with civilian dollars.

More like to feed dollars to Utah as demanded by their powerful senior senator. (ATK's Thiokol unit is based on Utah and Hatch has been seated since 1977 and his predecessor served from 59-77)

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518395)

Based on a thrust of 16013598 N and an exhaust velocity of 2639 m/s I just calculated that a single SLS booster outputs 21.1 gigawatts. That's 17.4 times as many watts as necessary for time travel.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47519109)

Actually when engaging in time travel energies are typically measured in Jigawatts, an N-dimensional trans-vector-valued unit which only passingly resembles a Gigawatt...

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (3, Interesting)

zbychu900 (585688) | about 3 months ago | (#47518497)

Not only blueprint drawings - this has actually been tested with the Saturn I booster: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516533)

That is flat freaking amazing. NASA does some pretty cool stuff, but I can't help but wonder how many billions it would have cost taxpayers for them to manage development of technology like that? It's hard not to see NASA as an organization with its best days well behind it.

Well, of course, NASA developed, built, tested, and operated a launch system that recovered and re-used the boosters--and the upper stage-- 33 years ago, using exactly the same reasoning about cost. The answer, however, is that re-use alone doesn't necessarily reduce cost. The whole trick is reducing the cost of refurbishment for reflight.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517237)

The key word is 'recovered', instead of 'landing'.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517327)

The key word is 'recovered', instead of 'landing'.

Well, yes, if you land the stage but don't recover it, it's pretty much useless.

So, indeed, the key is recover. And refurbish. And re-use.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

beltsbear (2489652) | about 3 months ago | (#47519525)

The problem with the recovery of the boosters (for the Shuttle) was that it was almost as expensive to re-use them as to make new ones from scratch. By using a liquid fuel rocket and landing it on solid earth SpaceX will have a lot less work to do to refurbish the first stage of the Falcon 9.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (-1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47516907)

... NASA has been doing landings like this since Apollo, just not full size rockets like this.

You do realize that SpaceX really hasn't done anything new, ever, right? They are a commercial venture which is essentially doing nothing that NASA hasn't done already, the only difference is management is actually letting it happen (for obvious reasons) at large scales because SpaceX is for profit.

Get a clue, stop dogging NASA and fix the shitty ass congress that ham strings the ever living fuck out of them or puts ridiculous requirements on their processes because every congressman wants to make sure they get money in their state.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (5, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | about 3 months ago | (#47518097)

Actually, I would agree, except for where you claim that SpaceX has done nothing new.
For starters, NOBODY has taken anything as large as the first stage to space and landed it under power on earth. This is absolutely a first.
Secondly, they have the cheapest launches going. Why? Because they automated heavily. That has not been done.
Thirdly, no escape system has been a pusher system ever before (though boeing is attempting it as well).
Fourth, no capsule has landed under power on earth. If he succeeds at that, it will be a first.
Fifth. nobody has successfully launched a rocket with 28 engines. If Falcon heavy succeeds, it will be a first.
Sixth, nobody has built a full-flow staged combustion engine using methane. SpaceX is working on just that, with raptor.

Now, do not get me wrong. I support NASA, as does most ppl from SpaceX. BUT, to claim that SpaceX is not doing anything innovative, is just as wrong as those that knock NASA.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47519167)

I imagine it's a similar mindset to those who claim that Apple has done nothing innovative. While true in terms of component technologies it overlooks the fact that innovations are possible in integration and refinement as well.

SpaceX may occasionally push things a little further than those before them (28 engines? What is the current record holder?) but there's not much really new in terms of basic technology. They're "just" refining the use of mature technology and scaling laboratory experiments up to real-world size and reliability levels. They could be employing high-thrust ion drives and people would still say the engines were already developed by others. Anything short of Musk pulling an antigrav drive out of his hat will leave some people claiming he's done nothing innovative to bolster their own egos. Hell, even antigrav would no doubt have its belittlers.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | about 3 months ago | (#47521093)

(28 engines? What is the current record holder?)

Off the top of my head, SpaceX already holds the record with 9 engines on a single stage. There have been stages with 8 engines (Saturn 1B?). The Soviets tried 30 engines on the N-1, but that failed 4 times in 4 attempts. There's been a Delta variant with 8 boosters clustered around the first stage. If you count engines with multiple nozzles, the number goes up (5x4 nozzles on the Soyuz, but that's only 5 engines).

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 3 months ago | (#47518213)

Hey Mods, but not the idiots who already got to the OP, mod the OP back up, it's not Flamebait. As a total fanboy of SpaceX, I don't totally agree, but there are legitimate points for discussion. I'd say that SpaceX innovations so far are manufacturing and management not extension of spacecraft capabilities, yet. They've got lots of good things in the works but most are not yet demonstrated.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 3 months ago | (#47518915)

Don't disregard manufacturing and management savings. Space-X seems determined to be the least expensive way to put stuff in LEO by far, and if we can put lots more stuff in LEO we can do a whole lot of things with spacecraft. As Stalin said about the Red Army in WWII, "Quantity has a quality all its own."

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47519831)

Don't disregard manufacturing and management savings. Space-X seems determined to be the least expensive way to put stuff in LEO by far, and if we can put lots more stuff in LEO we can do a whole lot of things with spacecraft. As Stalin said about the Red Army in WWII, "Quantity has a quality all its own."

So why are we paying Musk $133 million per supply run to the ISS when the Russians charge a lot less? (The Russians used to charge (prior to the monopolistic price increase) a paltry $20 million per space tourist)

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#47520863)

Reducing cost through optimization of manufacturing can be more important than lots of original research, for instance the recent boom in photo-voltaic solar has much more to do with the plummeting $/W for panels made with decades old technology then it does with the constant stream of announcements that some group has eeked out .5% better efficiency out of cells made of unobtanium. I'm not saying that basic science research or materials science research should be halted, just that people who poo poo people making a better/cheaper widget just because it's not new and sparkly are missing the forest for the trees.

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

Strange Quark Star (1157447) | about 3 months ago | (#47518893)

I was really astonished when I read about the old NERVA project.

NERVA demonstrated that nuclear thermal rocket engines were a feasible and reliable tool for space exploration, and at the end of 1968 SNPO certified that the latest NERVA engine, the NRX/XE, met the requirements for a manned Mars mission. Although NERVA engines were built and tested as much as possible with flight-certified components and the engine was deemed ready for integration into a spacecraft, much of the U.S. space program was cancelled by the Nixon Administration before a manned visit to Mars could take place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

They had planned to use this and other technologies to have several space stations, a permanent base on the Moon even a mission to Mars before the end of last century, possibly even as early as in the '80s. The NERVA project was specifically cancelled by the Nixon administration because it worked too well, as easy access to Mars would have lead to a more committed and therefore costly space program. I can hardly wrap my mind around this...

[...]culminating with a human Mars landing by 1983 at the earliest, and by the end of the twentieth century at the latest. The system's major components consisted of:
- a permanent space station module designed for 6 to 12 occupants, in a 270-nautical-mile (500 km) Earth orbit, and as a permanent lunar orbit station. Modules could be combined in Earth orbit to create a 50 to 100 person permanent station.
- a chemically fueled low-Earth orbit (100-to-270-nautical-mile (190 to 500 km)) shuttle
- a chemically fueled space tug to move crew and equipment between Earth orbits (including geosynchronous), and which could be adapted for use as a lunar orbit-to-surface shuttle
- a nuclear-powered vehicle using the NERVA engine to ferry crew, spacecraft and supplies between low Earth orbit and lunar orbit, geosynchronous orbit, or to other planets in the solar system.

The tug and ferry vehicles would be of a modular design, allowing them to be clustered and/or staged for large payloads or interplanetary missions. The system would be supported by permanent Earth and lunar orbital propellant depots.The Saturn V might still have been used as a heavy lift launch vehicle for the nuclear ferry and space station modules. A special "Mars Excursion Module" would be the only remaining vehicle necessary for a human Mars landing.

As Apollo accomplished its objective of landing the first men on the Moon, political support for further manned space activities began to wane, which was reflected in unwillingness of the Congress to provide funding for most of these extended activities. Based on this, Nixon rejected all parts of the program except the Space Shuttle which inherited the STS name. As funded, the Shuttle was greatly scaled back from its planned degree of reusabililty, and deferred in time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

I wonder why Musk can't use the NERVA technology for SpaceX. Is it because of the nuclear angle? Too expensive compared to his chemical rockets?

Re:I wonder how long it would've taken NASA? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47519273)

I can think of two good reasons why SpaceX would want to stick with chemical rockets:
1) They're a relatively mature technology, allowing engineering resources to focus on refinement and integration with of systems.
2) Can you imagine the public uproar against the first NUCLEAR rockets operated by nearly unsupervised PRIVATE enterprise? The protests would cause no end of headaches.

And actually, let's add one more applicable not just to SpaceX but to all terrestrial rocket use:
3) damage potential of the inevitable accidents.

Accidents happen, and sooner or later one of your rockets *will* explode. Do you really want to deal with trying to clean up bits of nuclear reactor scattered across several states? Or in some ways worse, a big chunk of ocean? Frankly I'd just as soon stick to chemical rockets planetside - plenty of time to re-open the nuclear rocket lab-book for interplanetary travel, keep it out of near-Earth orbit until all the inevitable wrinkles are worked out.

Moving forward well (4, Informative)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 3 months ago | (#47516329)

First soft landing on solid surface expected in Oct-Dec 2014 [wikipedia.org] .

Why the annoying sound track ? (1)

Alain Williams (2972) | about 3 months ago | (#47516453)

Not everyone has such a short attention span that they need jangley noise to keep them from moving to another web site.

Re:Why the annoying sound track ? (1)

DogShoes (149641) | about 3 months ago | (#47516539)

That's true, but spaceX is hoping for more than 12 page views.

SPLASHDOWN! Right in your mouth! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516873)

Is this the line for /.'s daily slobbering on Elon's knob?

Re:SPLASHDOWN! Right in your mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517533)

Be sure to run sSlobKnob, not rSlobKnob.

Or it could be 'girlintraining' on the other end.

SPLASHDOWN! Right in your mouth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520299)

ULA shill.

ULA is deeply afraid of Space X. So much so that they have likely launched a wide ranging propaganda campaign against Space X.

Re:Why the annoying sound track ? (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 3 months ago | (#47517181)

Not everyone has such a short attention span that they need jangley noise to keep them from moving to another web site.

Because I'm assuming actual audio from the video, if it were recorded, would be useless for PR purposes? Just turn off your sound if the music bothers you.

From their official page (5, Interesting)

Scottingham (2036128) | about 3 months ago | (#47516823)

"At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment. However, our next couple launches are for very high velocity geostationary satellite missions, which don’t allow enough residual propellant for landing. In the longer term, missions like that will fly on Falcon Heavy, but until then Falcon 9 will need to fly in expendable mode."

Landing on a floating platform would be so crazy-awesome I can't even stand it! NASA should really stop wasting its time with its outdated SRB shiz.

Re:From their official page (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517161)

I'll be impressed when it lands on a moving Tesla that Elon himself is driving.

Re:From their official page (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517639)

Wake me up when Elon is flying a mission payload which is a tesla roadster with a Solid core nuclear rocket like in Heavy Metal...

Re:From their official page (2)

afidel (530433) | about 3 months ago | (#47517887)

You're probably thinking of floating platform as something that moves around like a boat, more likely it's going to be a converted deep sea oil platform like Broglio Space Centre [wikipedia.org] or Sea Launch [wikipedia.org] .

What flyout and back plan? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47516843)

When they are done with the booster, they are a ways downrange and heading away from the launch site.

What is the proposed trajectory after the booster separates from the payload.
How much extra fuel must be onboard to accomplish this trajectory.

It is a neat video though.

Re:What flyout and back plan? (3, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 3 months ago | (#47517103)

At the point where the booster separates, it has burned most of its fuel, and weighs a fraction as much as it did at launch. As a result, it requires far less fuel to kill its velocity and put itself on a trajectory back towards the launch site than the initial launch did (far less mass to accelerate on the return trip).

It does still require some extra fuel (hence why they talk about having to use expendable Falcon 9s for missions that are close to the max payload capacity until they can get Falcon Heavy flying), but for small to medium sized cargoes, they have the fuel to burn.

Re:What flyout and back plan? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47519301)

Also worth mentioning that the fuel typically only accounts for 5% or less of the cost of a launch, so increasing that by some small fraction represents a miniscule additional expenditure compared to the gains to me made from recycling the launch vehicle.

Re:What flyout and back plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47518001)

I noticed in the video of the most recent launch that the initial trajectory was a lot more vertical than usual - I think they're flying almost straight up until MECO for the 1st stage, so they can get 1st stage back close to the launch site.

That's inefficient of course, but not as much as you might think - a lot of the 1st stage's job is just to lift the 2nd stage out of the atmosphere. And the whole idea of booster recovery is a tradeoff between payload capacity and cost. So, a little less payload to orbit, but get the booster back to fly again. Makes sense.

Daily Elon Musk article (-1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 3 months ago | (#47517337)

Just in case Slashdotters were missing it, here's your chance to furiously masturbate to your daily Elon Musk spam.

Re:Daily Elon Musk article (3, Interesting)

Xoltri (1052470) | about 3 months ago | (#47517571)

I wondered, why the hate for Elon Musk? So I googled it: http://www.cantechletter.com/2... [cantechletter.com]

He's head of 3 technology companies that are currently in the news, so suprise, news articles about him and his companies are showing up on a technology news site. Get over it.

Re:Daily Elon Musk article (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47521095)

Right. Because posts like yours in response to what is actually quite an interesting and newsworthy event in the commercial space sector - and not just another crazy pipe dream from old man Musk - aren't masturbatory at all.

Sh1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47517371)

FolLowed. obviously

interleaved camera? REALLY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47520605)

"Hopefully the next landing test camera has something to deice the camera lens. "

Hopefully they won't use interleaved NTSC cameras next time (or is it only in post-production?). Look at the reentry flames (ca. 0:20 and 0:55), they clearly show the interleaving stripes. FAIL in the 2010s!

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