Tonight’s video is “The True Science of Parallel Universes.” Thanks Dana Sayre for the suggestion.

SpaceX rocket launching with a burst of fire and smoke, as its gantry falls away

Will SpaceX’s reusable booster reduce the cost of reaching orbit?

Private space flight took a small but important leap forward with the first test flight and landing of a reusable rocket booster. Miriam Kramer reports for Space.com:

SpaceX successfully landed a stage from its Falcon 9 rocket vertically in the ocean after launching it to space. If all continues to move forward, Musk is confident that SpaceX will re-fly a rocket stage sometime in 2015. The Falcon 9 rocket test took place during SpaceX’s third official cargo mission to the International Space Station for NASA using its Dragon capsule. After Dragon was sent on its way to the station, the private spaceflight company embarked on the bold reusable rocket test to bring a landing leg-outfitted rocket stage back to Earth and land it vertically in the ocean.

Despite rough weather in the Atlantic Ocean during the test on April 18, SpaceX still managed to land the ‘boost stage’ of its landing leg-outfitted Falcon 9 rocket upright in the water. While stormy seas later destroyed the stage, Musk counts the reusable rocket test as a milestone for the company. Originally, SpaceX representatives gave the ambitious plan a less than 50 percent chance of success.

‘No one has ever soft landed a liquid rocket boost stage before, and I think this bodes very well for achieving reusability,’ Musk said during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. ‘What SpaceX has done so far is evolutionary, but not revolutionary, and I think if we can recover the stage intact and re-launch it, the potential is there for a truly revolutionary impact in space transport costs.’

Perhaps one could optimistically say this brings us one tiny step closer to visiting Kepler-186f! Thanks to Alires for this link!

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P.S. Austin, Texas firepups should feel free to join me for my birthday celebrations Tomorrow, April 29 at 6pm at Swad Indian Vegetarian on 9515 N. Lamar.

Photo by Steve Jurvetson released under a Creative Commons license.