At 10:34 AM yesterday a SpaceX rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, where we watched several launches when we lived on the Central Coast of California. It was a Falcon 9 rocket that had already been used (twice!) and it was about as perfect as a rocket launch and landing could be. There were 64 satellites aboard, most of them about the size of a microwave oven. The first stage landed on the floating barge as lightly as a butterfly. (Well, if a butterfly was 180 feet tall and spouting fire out its ass, anyway.) The videos from this launch were the best ever. You can see the first stage re-entering the atmosphere and landing on the barge.
Since Sputnik and Explorer 1, our exploration of space has consisted of dropping multi-million-dollar rockets into the ocean. It has been clear to me for a long time that we will never get very far into space if we use our rockets once. It’s hideously expensive, and just plain crazy. Our goal must be 100% re-usability. Elon Musk has taken the first steps.
You can watch it here, if you like. The liftoff is at 19:45.
December 4, 2018