Nov 25 2015

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I agree with this take

Bezos’ Rocket Landing a Big Step for Suborbital Spaceflight but Not Same as Falcon-9 Plans. First, some sour grapes from Elon Musk:

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also took to Twitter to congratulate Bezos and Blue Origin for their accomplishment. While many were under the impression that Blue Origin was the first reusable rocket, Musk was not. He mentioned that the “SpaceX Grasshopper rocket did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago [and] is still around” and “Jeff maybe unaware SpaceX suborbital VTOL flight began 2013. Orbital water landing 2014. Orbital land landing next” with a link to a video of the Grasshopper doing a divert test. He also noted that NASA’s X-15 was the first reusable suborbital rocket and Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne was the first commercial.

Yeah, if you call “suborbital” a 1 km launch and return. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a big fan of Elon Musk (did you happen to see him in Big Bang Theory last week? Is Howard Wolowitz going to be a SpaceX engineer in future episodes?) and SpaceX. Nevertheless, this is a pretty crappy, petty response from Musk.

I do think that SpaceX’s efforts at rocket reuse are, at this stage of the game, more challenging by a smidgen. Re-entry from a path toward LEO or GEO is more difficult (speed of re-entry, more atmosphere to wade through) than re-entry from a sub-orbital path. Plus, SpaceX is trying to recover their rockets over water, which is harder (accounting for the motion of the landing platform due to wave, wind and water currents) than landing on land. Ultimately, being able to recover a rocket over water increases the practical application of the whole rocket-reuse equation.

I think it’s safe to say that SpaceX is trying to take a bigger first step toward being able to reuse their rockets than Blue Origin did, but that takes nothing away from Blue Origin’s accomplishments. The fact is, Blue Origin now has a working space-tourism solution today, and they’ll likely be able to build on their experience yesterday with bigger rockets and higher altitudes in the future.

In a way, Elan Musk paid Blue Origin the biggest compliment a competitor could have given it. By trying to damn Blue Origin with faint praise, Elon Musk inadvertently validated Blue Origin’s very real accomplishment.

Again, CONGRATS to Blue Origin.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/11/25/i-agree-with-this-take/

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