Last month, on May 2, SpaceX conducted a test flight of their new Falcon 9 Reusable (F9R) spacecraft. Check out the video below to see it in action.
The “rocketcams” in the video feature a shot from the nose of the rocket followed by video footage from the ground. The test flight took place in McGregor, Texas under a FAA Experimental Permit.
*The coolest part is the landing in my opinion*
This was a successful 1000m test flight of the F9R, a developing spacecraft that will have the ability to carry astronauts to and from space.
The “steerable fins” included on this spacecraft are unique and allow the rocket to carefully maneuver in mid-air to facilitate a smoother landing. These types of steerable fins have been used on smaller spacecraft by SpaceX earlier this year, but they are now incorporating them on their more important and larger crafts, like the F9R.
The successful testing of the F9R means that SpaceX may soon be sending U.S. astronauts to the ISS (right now we’re contracting Russian shuttles to launch them into orbit). Rocket development and the growth of the space industry are truly in full steam.
Elon Musk is no stranger to innovation. The South African entrepreneur made his first fortune by helping to found PayPal. He also founded and is the Chief Executive and Chief Technology Officer of SpaceX, the world’s largest private space transportation company.
Musk is also the founder and Chief Product Architect for Tesla Motors, the increasingly popular all-electric car company.
Many critics accused Tesla of just trying to gain leverage in the electric car industry, saying that the move would essentially force other manufacturers to use Tesla charging stations, as well as having to make sure that their vehicles are compatible with the Tesla chargers.
However, Musk argued to the contrary when speaking with a journalist who asked about the issue recently:
“The intent of the Supercharger network is not to create a walled garden. Any other manufacturer that’s interested in using them, we’d be happy to accommodate. It’s just that they need to be able to accept the power level of the Superchargers, which is currently 135kW and rising, so any car needs to meet the Supercharger standard. And they’d also need to agree with the business model, which is we don’t charge people on a per-charge basis. They’d need to contribute to the capital costs proportional to their fleet’s usage of the network. So we think that’s pretty fair.”
Despite these reassurances, most critics were skeptical that Tesla would actually release any real intellectual property. But earlier today, Tesla surprised everyone by releasing all of their patents to the public.
Elon Musk wrote an open letter earlier today announcing the decision. It started like this:
“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”
In the letter, Musk explains that when he started Tesla, he felt that patents were necessary to defend against the established car companies, who could copy the technology and use their, “massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power” to overwhelm smaller companies.
However, Musk goes on to explain that,
“The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.”
Musk continues by saying that Tesla’s true competition isn’t the few other small companies producing fully electric vehicles, but the massive volume of gas-burning vehicles being manufactured by the big car companies. He finishes the letter like this:
“We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”
You can read the full press release on Tesla’s website here.
Today (May 18, 2014) starting at 9am EDT NASA TV will air the departure of SpaceX’s famous Dragon capsule from the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon delivered precious cargo to the ISS, and it will be returning to Earth with about 3,500 pounds of valuable cargo as well.
“Dragon is a free-flying spacecraft designed to deliver both cargo and people to orbiting destinations. Dragon made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft in history to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and safely return cargo to Earth, a feat previously achieved only by governments. It is the only spacecraft currently flying that is capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth. Currently Dragon carries cargo to space, but it was designed from the beginning to carry humans. Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew. Dragon’s first manned test flight is expected to take place in 2-3 years.”
Dragon is a sophisticated craft that has provided NASA with valuable cargo transportation up to this point. Dragon is not only a method of transportation but is also a laboratory that can do research on its own, independent from the ISS.
Below are some pictures of the Dragon capsule and Dragon launch:
Dragon’s current mission is strictly cargo transportation. But SpaceX is hopeful that in the future Dragon will be successful in developing capabilities to transport humans to and from space as well.
Dragon has been docked onto the ISS for about 30 days now. According to Space.com the…
“Undocking is scheduled to occur at about 9:25 a.m. EDT (1325 GMT), with spalshdown in the Pacific Ocean expected at about 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT). The NASA TV webcast begins at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). “
Translation: “After reviewing the sanctions against our space industry, suggest United States delivering their astronauts on the ISS using trampoline.” (I could have fixed the sentence structure on the translation but I found it was much funnier to leave it as is and read it with a Russian accent)
If you were unaware, we have been paying the Russian space agency to launch our astronauts up to the International Space Station ever since NASA ended the American Space Shuttle program in the summer of 2011.
“Essentially, the Americans want to clear us out of the space services market … I am sick and tired of these sanctions, to be honest, they don’t understand that the sanctions will hit them like a boomerang.”
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, a private space company who NASA has been working with increasingly in recent years had this response:
Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that @SpaceX has been working on w @NASA. No trampoline needed
Would you like to get to know the man who co-created SpaceX, co-created Tesla Motors, and may be leading us to Mars? Not only that, he is also a man Time Magazine included in it’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. Check-Out the interview from SoulPancake with Elon Musk.