Not A Once In A Lifetime Thing Any More

As mentioned yesterday, Space X just launched out of Florida on Friday and  then was going to try to launch out of California today, an unprecedented feat for a private space company, and one which even NASA the Air Force and their subcontractors don’t try.

So yeah, they succeeded. Brilliantly. Ten new Iridium satellites were delivered perfectly into their proper orbits – and the booster was recovered safely, landing on the Pacific Ocean based barge, “Just Read The Instructions.” Go ahead, watch the video that Mr. Musk links to and tell me that it’s not impressive as hell.

Going out of Vandenberg, a two-hour drive north of us, on a Sunday afternoon, one would think it would be a perfect opportunity to go see a launch. You can’t get on the base, but there are viewing spots in the Lompoc area where you can get a pretty good view.

Here’s a video that my friend Kate Squires posted on FaceBook. I just love the “ripping” sound you get at about 1:05 as the noise hits you:

I had commitments that kept me from going, but it’s not even a bad thing – BECAUSE THEY’RE GOING TO DO IT AGAIN. Soon. And then do it again. And again.

A launch used to be something that was almost unique unless you worked for NASA or the Air Force or a subcontractor or lived in the area. For guys like me with a “normal” job and a need to travel to see a launch, it was a destination and something to be planned out. It was a big freakin’ deal. A given launch might not be a true “once in a lifetime” opportunity (well, maybe Apollo 11, or the first shuttle flight, or the last shuttle flight…) but it was definitely not an every day occurrence.

SpaceX is well on the way to changing that. We might be a few years away from them having daily launches – but that’s what they’re aiming for.

They’re already talking about landing some of the boosters not back at a big, open landing site a mile or two from the launch pad, but back on the launch pad itself. They’re serious. They’re talking about a day when they have so little refurbishment necessary that they launch, land back on the pad, load the next payload on top, refuel, and launch the same rocket again within 24-hours. At which point they presumably would do it again.

That may be a ways off, simply because the market isn’t there for that yet. But it’s a chicken-and-egg problem. The market isn’t there because no one is designing projects that require hundreds or even thousands of launches because there was no conceivable way to get a thousand launches. But if you could, and if you could get those thousand launches for what it used to cost to get ten launches, and you could use those thousand launches to…

Look at the time! It’s late – we’ll have to continue that thought tomorrow or the next day. But you get the idea.

As for true “once in a lifetime” events, there’s one of those coming up in two months, which we also should talk about in the next day or two.

(I’m such a tease!)

 

2 Comments

Filed under Astronomy, Space, Video

2 responses to “Not A Once In A Lifetime Thing Any More

  1. That’s seriously brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A year ago, recovering the boosters was a ludicrous idea. Now my first reaction to 24-hour turnaround is to scoff, but I’m not betting against SpaceX. Musk may indeed be our Harrison – it might only be a question of when, not if.

      Liked by 1 person

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