Whooping & Hollering

SpaceX just not only successfully launched a large Asian telecommunications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) PERFECTLY, but it also did for a second time what the naysayers though was impossible, and this time they did it in the middle of the night in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. As impressive as it seems to do this at night, from a robot standpoint it doesn’t make that much difference. What really does make a difference is that from that GTO trajectory the first stage booster is trying to land while starting much higher, much faster, and with much less fuel on board. There is absolutely no room for any error. Yet tonight…

I may have made a lot of noise and startled people.

All images are courtesy of SpaceX.

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Ignition

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Launch

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The Falcon 9 has cleared the tower

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Approaching Max-Q

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The first stage is almost done – look at how much the exhaust spreads out compared to that from two pictures above. A lot less air at 33.4 kilometers up.

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MECO – Main Engine Cut Off

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The second stage is working like a charm, glowing bright red, heading toward orbit

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A view from inside the fairing that protected the satellite from the pressure of the atmosphere at supersonic speeds – a second or so after this the fairing separated, dead weight no longer needed once you get above all the air.

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Out in the middle of the Atlantic, a flash of light as the first stage approaches, fast, hot, and about 99.99% out of fuel…

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…to absolutely STICK the landing!

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This would be where it got really loud here.

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Meanwhile, leaving low Earth orbit, the second stage was now over Africa in daylight, the second stage having fired a second time to put the satellite into a perfect orbit.

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So it was time to send it on its way to deliver television, pay-per-view, movies on demand, and emergency communications to Asia and the southwestern Pacific.

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Damn, these folks are really good!

Thanks, SpaceX! It’s a great way to end the day!

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