Jack Bonner is obsessed with space exploration, rockets, and satellites. He has visited Cape Canaveral both as a kid and as an adult, and those visits have fueled his love for space even more. He dreams of a future when humans have successfully colonized space and can move around the solar system with ease. Jack Bonner believes that private sector groups, such as SpaceX, should take the lead in innovating space travel and its applications.
In a previous blog, Jack Bonner A2W wrote about Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its Falcon 9 rocket. The Falcon 9 is a novel concept in that it recaptures rockets after they have been launched. Unlike previous space programs, where rockets were left to burn up in the atmosphere upon re-entry, Falcon 9 rockets can withstand the intense heat. With the help of more advanced electronics and communication platforms, SpaceX’s scientists are able to land Falcon 9 rockets with a high degree of precision.
The Falcon 9 has long been a subject of speculation. In September 2016, one of SpaceX’s rockets blew up on the launchpad, halting further launches for the next few months. The explosion also destroyed a communications satellite that the rocket was supposed to deploy. However, SpaceX continued improving their rockets’ propulsion technology and kept working on a self-learning computer platform that performed periodic screening on the rocket’s individual components.
In early July, SpaceX was supposed to launch a communications satellite using a Falcon9 rocket. However, the first attempt was halted with nine seconds left on the countdown clock as the company’s computers detected an unrevealed abnormality with the rocket. A second attempt, set to take place the following day, was also aborted, forcing SpaceX to call in all hands in an effort to clear all launch pad and rocket systems.
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket on July 5th. SpaceX did not encounter any issues; thus, the rocket was able to deploy a communications satellite into orbit. Because the satellite was so heavy, the Falcon 9 was forced to go full throttle to provide enough thrust for the satellite to go into orbit. As a result, SpaceX is unable to recover the rocket.
However, this launch proves that its business and scientific models are feasible. It also proves that commercial operators might be able to launch satellites at a lower cost due to the re-use of Falcon 9 rockets.