CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A SpaceX cargo mission lifted off exactly on schedule on Monday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida; however, the recovery of the rocket pieces was a mixed bag of success and two misses.
A cloud deck materialized just before liftoff, but spectators got to see the rocket through some holes in the clouds, and Space SpaceX has done it again, proving that rocket hardware can be recycled.
This was the thirteenth SpaceX mission of the year. The Falcon 9 was delivering a communications satellite into space. The JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite is jointly owned by SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. of Japan and Kacific Broadband Satellites of Singapore. Built by Boeing, the JCSAT 18/Kacific 1 communications satellite will provide mobile and broadband services across the Asia-Pacific region.
When Elon Musk started SpaceX, he said rockets smashing into the ocean or burning up in the atmosphere after launch was a waste. Musk said SpaceX would attempt to catch those parts, and so he bought a fleet of boats outfitted to retrieve rocket fairings and boosters.
The booster hit the bullseye, but the fairings went in the ocean. SpaceX tweeted after the launch that they would pull them out of the water and see if they can be re-used. Dr. Ken Kremer, of SpaceUpClose.com, talked with FOX 35 News about the SpaceX model.
“Blue Origin [the aerospace company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos] has a similar concept -- they want to recover the first stage," Kremer said, "but SpaceX has been doing this for about three years now, Blue Origin is trying to catch up.”
United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security, wants to do it too, but they are still in development.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets carrying cargo -- and the Falcon Heavy for bulky cargo -- are typical sights on Space Coast. Next year could bring something that has been long anticipated and a moment for the history books: the first private company capsule carrying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. A test run of that mission happened this year, unmanned.
“And eventually, ‘used rockets’ will be used for people too,” Kremer added.
The sights, the sounds, and the "cool factor" make these launches big events, and space enthusiasts have a saying that their favorite launch, the best one, is the next one.
That next launch is one scheduled for Friday, December 20, by Boeing.