Commercial Spaceflight And The Dawning Age of NewSpace

SpaceX Returns to Flight and Returns to Land With Rousing OG-2 Launch

Having suffered the catastrophic loss of a Falcon 9 v1.1 booster during first-stage flight on 28 June—which doomed NASA’s first International Docking Adapter (IDA) and vaporized a critical piece of hardware in support of the agency’s Commercial Crew ambitions—it might be supposed that 2015 has been the worst year in SpaceX’s history. A gradually burgeoning chain of 18 straight launch successes since June 2010 was abruptly broken and the Falcon 9 v1.1 which might have delivered the seventh dedicated Dragon cargo ship toward the International Space Station (ISS) was snuffed out in the rarefied high atmosphere. Never again could SpaceX claim a 100-percent record for the Falcon 9 having delivered each of its primary payloads successfully to orbit.

Yet at 8:29 p.m. EST on Monday, 21 December, after six agonizing months, and a 24-hour postponement from Sunday night, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based launch services provider returned to flight, delivering 11 Orbcomm Generation-2 (OG-2) satellites into low-Earth orbit and opening the doors to a busy 2016. And in spite of recovering from a loss of vehicle incident, SpaceX actually closes out the most troubled 12 months in its history by delivering to orbit its largest number of satellites on a single mission and equaling its own record, set in 2014, for having launched as many as six successful flights within the span of a single calendar year. Moreover, today’s mission represented the maiden voyage of the “Upgraded Falcon 9” booster and its first-stage hardware touched down for the first time on solid ground, alighting on Landing Complex (LC)-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. As Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield commented in the moments after the feat, today’s event “opens a brand new door to space travel.”

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See on Scoop.itThe NewSpace Daily


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