Tomorrow SpaceX will attempt to launch the first Falcon Heavy, which will be the biggest currently flying launch vehicle. The Saturn V was bigger, as was the Space Shuttle – but they’re not flying any more. (Don’t get me started…)
You can watch it online – I might have to have some “executive time” about then to go sit in the car and scream a lot. (It freaks out the office mates.)
What’s SpaceX been up to recently, besides this?
Last week they launched a satellite. Normally these days the recover the first stage booster, but this time they weren’t going to try because the barge they use to land on out in the mid-Atlantic Ocean needed to be used to land one of the three boosters on the Falcon Heavy launch.
Oh, did I forget to mention that they’re going to try to land ALL THREE BOOSTERS from the Falcon Heavy launch tomorrow?
Anyway, because of that they decided to not land the booster last week from the satellite launch. But not ones to waste an opportunity, they experimented with the “landing” anyway. Normally the landing is done by re-lighting one of the nine engines. But what happens if that engine doesn’t re-light correctly? You’re falling like an arrow at a couple thousand miles an hour and you have only seconds before you make a smoking hole.
Maybe you could make up for the delay and the extra speed and the fewer extra seconds by, say, lighting three of the other engines and really freakin’ stomping on the brakes? It’s a high-G maneuver and timing is critical, but on paper it works.
So why not try it when there’s nothing to lose? This booster’s going to be tossed away one way or the other, right? Let’s get the data and fly that profile and have it “land” on the ocean’s surface (no barge) and if we can make it non-violent enough to work if you’re forced to use that method as a backup when there IS a landing spot under you, be it a chunk of Florida coastline or a robot barge.
It landed so gently that it simply tipped over and floated on the surface of the ocean. (Makes sense. If it didn’t crack open it’s 99% empty fuel tanks that that point.)
Even when these folks are deliberately trying to “fail” to get the test data, they still do shit that the rest of us can’t even dream of trying.
Good luck tomorrow, SpaceX! I’ve got an alarm set to try to sneak out of the office.
Give ’em hell.
I’ll be the guy screaming in his car down on the bottom level of the garage.