With this weeks SpaceX return to flight, a successful ORBCOMM payload mission, the much anticipated first stage return to a vertical landing at Cape Canaveral AFS Landing Zone One and, the #FalconHeavy (SpaceX) #Vulcan (ULA) and #SLS (NASA) launch vehicles, Aerospace is ready to flourish. Fasten your helmets!!
The competition between the major launch providers is intense, hopefully it will stay business and not personal. Who are they;
- United Launch Alliance – #ULA Home to AtlasV, DeltaIV and Vulcan. Leader: Tony Bruno
- Space Exploration Technologies – #SpaceX Home to Falcon9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon cargo and crew vehicle. Leader: Elon Musk
- Blue Origin – More of a Tourist Space Adventure Home to New Shepard launch vehicle. Leader: Jeff Bezos
- Orbital ATK – Home to the Antares vehicle.
Foreign competition comes from Russia, China, India and Japan.
On Monday evening, December 21, at 8:29 SpaceX launched a Falcon9. Their first since this summer. The primary mission was to deliver an Orbcomm #M2M satellite array, 11 to be exact, to lower earth orbit (LEO). A secondary mission was to return the First Stage back to Cape Canaveral AFS Landing Zone One and land vertical. This will allow SpaceX to re-use the launch vehicle thereby reducing operation costs per mission significantly. Some are calling it a ‘Game Changer’. Regardless, in a recent phone conference you could hear the elation in Elon’s voice as he answered questions from the press.
A few of the statements made by Elon;
- The first stage core “Landed Almost Dead Center” on the pad, formerly Launch Complex 13 utilized by Atlas rockets.
- These rockets cost “$60 million to build, $200,000 for propellants per launch”.
- “We expected a 60-70% chance for success”.
- “We will move the Falcon9 to Launch Complex 39A for a Static Fire Test. Elon Musk did not rule out a launching this rocket again.
- “Doesn’t make sense to just bring back an engine”.
- “We are building boosters at the rate of 1 every 3 weeks”.
This SpaceX RTF and subsequent landing is all great news to Space Florida a state agency aggressively attracting and signing aerospace design, development, manufacturing and launching companies to do business in Florida. “We are not an operator, we are a developer” Space Florida’s CEO Frank DiBello clarifying what they do.
When the Falcon first stage landed you could hear the cheering from all over Port Canaveral dining and entertainment venues. It was very emotional in the press room, many tears flowing with excitement and happiness. You could also hear the loud cheers from the entertainment and dining venues at Port Canaveral’s The Cove. We have not heard dual sonic booms since the last Space Shuttle landing. They were much louder and impactful at the landing area. The streak shot below caught the moon, if you go to Biz360Tours you can see a 360 virtual tour that includes the moons halo.
The Falcon 9 is being readied for transport to Launch Complex 39A.
The next Spacex launch is TBD sometime in January. A #Falcon 9 will launch the SES 9 communications satellite. Owned by SES of Luxembourg, the spacecraft will provide direct-to-home and other communications services over Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean. According to Musk the 2016 manifest is very busy. They should have the hardware to meet the demand with no problem.