It’s easy to take SpaceX’s recent success for granted. After three successful drone ship landings, it was beginning to seem routine. But going to space is far from routine. Much less bringing the first stage rocket back down for a smooth landing.
Today’s launch of two communications satellites looked good. The return of the first stage rocket? Not so much. SpaceX CEO and all-around badass Elon Musk jumped on Twitter to provide an update.
Ascent phase & satellites look good, but booster rocket had a RUD on droneship
Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly, or RUD, is engineering speak for shit blew up. Early indications point to low thrust on 1 of the 3 landing engines. The folks at SpaceX are already busy working on a fix.
Upgrades underway to enable rocket to compensate for a thrust shortfall on one of the three landing engines. Probably get there end of year.
A video of the impact could be posted as early as today. SpaceX engineers are heading to the droneship now to see the damage. Musk says the droneship is ok, but the impact was one of the strongest to date. That should make for an epic video later.
The mission was a success
Let’s talk about the most important part of today’s launch. The actual mission. The pair of communications satellites were successfully deployed in Geostationary Transfer Orbits. Here’s a short clip of the second satellite deploying high above Earth.
The EUTELSAT 117 West B satellite will soon “strengthen the video capacities and offer key services to Latin America clients in the field of telecommunications and government services.”
ABS-2A will offer similar services to Africa, Russia, South Asia and South East Asia.
SpaceX’s next trip into the final frontier
The busy folks at SpaceX get about a month break before their next launch. On July 16, SpaceX is slated to launch the ninth cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. A Russian Soyuz rocket is expected to launch a Progress cargo ship on the same day in route to the International Space Station. Going to be a busy day for folks on the ground and aboard the ISS.
The rest of the year will be a busy one for SpaceX. Several more flights are expected to launch in the coming months. Many SpaceX fans can’t wait for December. That’s when SpaceX is planning (right now anyways) its maiden launch for the Falcon Heavy.
The Falcon Heavy can lift a payload of over 119,000 pounds into orbit (low Earth orbit). Mars is the ultimate goal for NASA. Rockets like the Falcon Heavy will turn it from a dream into reality.