Friday, March 31, 2017

SpaceX marks a key first

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – In a significant first, SpaceX successfully launched and then retrieved its first recycled rocket Thursday. It was the first time SpaceX tried to fly a booster that had been used in a previous mission. The Falcon 9 core landed on the bull's-eye of the ocean platform following liftoff with a broadcasting satellite for the SES company of Luxembourg. Founder Elon Musk foresees dozens if not hundreds of repeat flights for a booster and rocket turnarounds of as little as 24 hours, perhaps by next year. This first stage landed on an ocean platform almost exactly a year ago after a space station launch for NASA. SpaceX refurbished and tested the 15-story booster, still sporting its nine original engines. It nailed another vertical landing at sea Thursday once it was finished boosting the satellite. (Sources: multiple, including AP via ABCNews, 03/31/17, NPR, 03/30/17) Gulf Coast note: SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop Raptor, its next-generation engine.