Unvealing the Future: The SpaceX Falcon 9 Descent Video

The future is being revealed one Youtube video at a time. Late yesterday, SpaceX released this chase plane video of the Falcon 9 first stage under controlled descent as it approaches the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the July 14 Orbcomm 2 launch. Regrettably, the camera operator attempts to refocus just as it nears the ocean surface, losing the image entirely.

Nevertheless, it adds another important piece to an increasingly clear picture. Operational first stage recovery is nearly a fait accompli. Furthermore, based on recent comments by Elon Musk, SpaceX appears to have no serious concerns a bout the difficulty of re-flying a first stage. (Signing customers for it is something else, but one suspects this too, will pass, perhaps with the help of a healthy discount.)

In the meantime, the timing of the release is interesting.  Long time space observer Charles Lurio has tweeted that a decision in the next phase of the Commercial Crew program could come on either of the next two Fridays, August 22 or August 29. While the video release was inevitable in any case, could it also be a subtle reminder that SpaceX is driving the evolution of the launch industry and cannot be dismissed?  After all, post-flight analysis of launch vehicle’s main engines, a staple of every Shuttle mission and far from a trivial matter, is clearly  within reach of the Falcon 9, even as it is not an option with Atlas V.

About the Author:

Post a Comment