Congratulations to SpaceX for the absolutely amazing landing of a Falcon 9 first stage a mere six miles away from its launch point. The pinpoint landing came after the successful launch of nine Orbcomm satellites. The booster had to make a U-turn 50+ miles and a decent distance northeast of the Cape to return to a targeted spot six miles from the launch pad. They had to keep from centrifuging the remaining fuel, regain stability, and drop from hypersonic through supersonic to subsonic speeds and then a complete stop, upright, dead center on the target.
Blue Origin accomplished a landing of a much smaller suborbital booster just this last November, an accomplishment not to be scorned. But their success was on a entirely different, and smaller, scale. Up and down was an achievement to be proud of. But the mechanics involved in the SpaceX endeavor are, shall we say a bit more complex?
I’ve heard comments that this is the way rockets are SUPPOSED to land, evidenced by the sci-fi movies of the 50’s. We have finally arrived, I’ve heard. But hold on a minutes! If I remember those movies, the INSIDE of those rockets provided very spacious, apartment-sized quarters for the crews., complete with artificial gravity. Technology still has a way to go to match that.
Elon Musk and SpaceX are probably the group that is going to make the 50’s movies true!