Amazing Rocket-Eye View of a SpaceX Reusable Booster Test Flight

The entire universe in blog form
June 20 2014 11:30 AM

It’s a Falcon! Run, Cows, Run!

F9R test flight
This seems like an expensive way to herd cattle.

Photo by SpaceX, from the video

SpaceX just released video of another successful flight test of its reusable Falcon F9R rocket. The F9R reached a height of 1,000 meters (well over half a mile) and deployed steerable fins that will be used to help direct the rocket as it relands.

The first half of the video is from a camera mounted on the top of the rocket; the fins deploy at the 1:11 mark. Interestingly they aren’t solid; that saves weight.

Advertisement

The second half of the video starts at 2:20 and cracked me up. Taken from some distance away, you can see a herd of cows in the foreground get up and move in a hurry once the sound wave reaches them.

This is all very cool, and applies cutting-edge tech to some older ideas. I have to wonder though. The ultimate purpose here is to be able to reuse the first stage of a Falcon rocket. That means having to carry extra fuel when launching and save it for landing once the second stage is away and headed to space. Fuel is the heaviest part of any rocket and to lift that extra fuel you need to carry extra extra fuel, if you see what I mean (that leads to the famous rocket equation).

I would assume Elon Musk knows what he’s doing, and the cost of launching that extra fuel is more than offset by being able to reuse the booster. Given his track record I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As it happens, there is a SpaceX launch scheduled for later today, Friday, June 20, at 22:08 UTC (6:08 p.m. EDT) to lift six Orbcomm OG2 communication satellites to orbit. This launch has been delayed from a previous date and has a backup date of Saturday. SpaceX has info on the payload and will carry the launch live on their video feed.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

The Only Good Thing That Happened at Today’s Soul-Crushing U.N. Climate Talks

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:06 PM Nothing to See Here The one national holiday Republicans want you to forget.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.