SpaceX had another successful launch today, delivering a commercial payload into orbit. At this point, it's starting to feel like a forgone conclusion — of course the launch was successful, what are you fussing about?! — marking yet another way that living in the future is awesome.
Following on the heels of a picture-perfect commercial launch by Orbital over the weekend, SpaceX had a beautiful display of fire and ice in a well-timed reminder that we've got several private purveyors of rides into orbit. It's also chasing the news of the Air Force certifying that the Falcon 9 launch system has completed three successful flights, a total non-sequitur of an accomplishment as this was the tenth flight for the Falcon 9 rocket.
SpaceX launched out of Cape Canaveral to chuck a new constellation of satellites into low Earth orbit at 11:15 am on Monday morning. This particular launch had been delayed for nearly two months due to weather, technical problems, and other bits of chaos. But once it finally went, it went perfectly.
This was a commercial flight with a commercial payload: ORBCOMM's customer base can gloat about faster message delivery and larger message sizes, and can do that gloating from higher latitudes than previously. The six OG2 satellites all deployed on target, giving everyone in both companies a chance for a victory dance during this first of a series of launches to deploy a full constellation of 17 second-generation satellites.
The Falcon 9 rocket attempted a soft touchdown, but met the same fate as the last attempt: rocket booster during re-entry was good, landing burn and leg deployment were perfect, but it failed to walk on water and the hull lost integrity immediately after splashdown. At the moment, it isn't clear if the hull failed on splashdown, or when the rocket tipped over and body-slammed the ocean. Sooner or later, SpaceX has got to get a ship properly placed to catch one of these rockets. And when that happens? We'll be living in the future, again.
I don't have anything else to say, but I've got more pretty pictures for you. Why? Because rockets are excellent and I don't need an excuse to share photographs of them! ...especially after I mocked that one SpaceX launch for being less than aesthetically thrilling.
I'm loving this string of successful launches: it's starting to feel like it's is an ordinary, common occurrence to overcome our massive gravity well and dance above the clouds.
All images credit SpaceX.