In recent years it has become apparent that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is either a real world Tony Stark, using his futuristic technology to benefit the world, or our own Lex Luther hidden behind an excellent PR machine. As he continues to unveil new technologies that promise to disrupt existing and often outdated industries (like the Hyperloop), one thing is for certain: it seems that this Musk fellow knows what he’s doing.
SpaceX in particular has seen unprecedented successes in the young field of private orbital flight, successfully sending multiple resupply missions to the International Space Station, and even more impressively, landing and reusing the stages of his rockets that are discarded on traditional platforms – a change that promises to reduce the cost of reaching orbit by a significant sum.
Starting next year, Musk and co. are expected to begin manning their Falcon 9 rockets, giving American astronauts the opportunity to ride into orbit in something shiny, new, and on American soil; a far cry from our recent trips, hitchhiking along in Soviet era Souyuz space capsules that were put into production before Elon Musk was born. Of course, in order to achieve such an industry standard-setting level of success, you’ve got to break a few eggs… or rockets, as the case may be.
In this video, produced by SpaceX and shared by Musk himself, you can see a highlight reel of SpaceX’s most dramatic failures, rather than their successes. In order to field a reusable first stage for their rockets, for instance, they had to master the art of autonomously flying that stage back to earth, where they land vertically, often on drone barges. Each landing is a spectacle to see, reminiscent of the previously far-fetched seeming landings depicted in silver age movies about space travelers in rockets that are able to land, as if by magic, standing vertically.
But if seeing a successful landing is a spectacle, the unsuccessful ones are downright exciting.
Musk took to Twitter, to share and discuss the video, calling it the “Long road to reusabity of Falcon 9 primary boost stage.” He also took the opportunity to point out that, although SpaceX now seems to have landing and reusing the booster stage of their rockets down pat, they don’t intend to stop there. According to Musk, the company intends to make the upper stage and the fairing, the last major components of the rocket outside the booster stage and Dragon capsule, reusable as well – which, according to his calculations, will result in a reduction of cost for orbital delivery by a factor of ten.
Rockets, explosions, spaceships, and a classic band score tying them together: what more could you ask for?
Image courtesy of YouTube
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