SpaceX successfully lands rocket on the west coast

On Sunday, October 7 at 7:21 p.m. PDT, SpaceX successfully launched the SAOCOM 1A satellite from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The satellite was deployed about 12 minutes after liftoff.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage returned to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This was SpaceX’s first land landing on the West Coast. LZ-4 is built on the former site of Space Launch Complex 4W, from which Titan rockets were previously launched.

30 thoughts on “SpaceX successfully lands rocket on the west coast”

  1. I watched this from Santa Monica pier with binoculars. Great site but couldn’t see the lending burn because of the mountains in the way.

    Reply
  2. I watched this from Santa Monica pier with binoculars. Great site but couldn’t see the lending burn because of the mountains in the way.

    Reply
  3. I wonder what the math says on orbiting the booster, instead of landing it? I recall that with the Space Shuttle, it wouldn’t have taken much fuel to bring the external tanks up to orbit, and there were numerous proposals to do so, stockpiling them in orbit. So, orbit the spent boosters. They wouldn’t end up in a very stable orbit, rather the kind that would decay fairly rapidly, but you could have something up there collecting them. Line them up end to end, and the drag wouldn’t increase, you could have an electrodynamic tether on the front one making up for it. Then come Mars time, you can fuel them and use them to give the Mars bound BFRs an extra kick.

    Reply
  4. I wonder what the math says on orbiting the booster instead of landing it? I recall that with the Space Shuttle it wouldn’t have taken much fuel to bring the external tanks up to orbit and there were numerous proposals to do so stockpiling them in orbit.So orbit the spent boosters. They wouldn’t end up in a very stable orbit rather the kind that would decay fairly rapidly but you could have something up there collecting them. Line them up end to end and the drag wouldn’t increase you could have an electrodynamic tether on the front one making up for it.Then come Mars time you can fuel them and use them to give the Mars bound BFRs an extra kick.

    Reply
  5. A few months ago Elon did mention perhaps using an inflatable heatshield as Jean Baptiste had mentioned. This is a low-priority project though, since SpaceX will be concentrating on 1) getting Dragon 2 and Falcon 9 Block 5 human-rated, and 2) prototyping BFR since it is designed from the outset with a recoverable 2nd stage. If SpaceX does eventually outfit an F9 upper stage with an inflatable heatshield, I think they will most likely steal a page from rival ULA’s proposed booster engine recovery scheme for their new Vulcan rocket, where the Vulcan jettisons just the booster’s engine compartment after MECO, which reenters the atmosphere using an inflatable heatshield, deploys parachutes after the heatshield slows the engine module down, and is snagged out of the air by a heavylift helicopter like a CH-53K King stallion. The F9 upper stage has a mass of 4000kg empty, add an inflatable heatshield and parachutes maybe 5000kg. That should be snaggable by a CH-53K which has an external payload capacity upwards of 14,000kg. Very low odds of SpaceX ever developing a recoverable Falcon 9 upper stage since there are other things they are working on that are of much higher priority, but I would love to see Elon punk Tory Bruno by SMARTing the F9 upper stage before ULA implements their proposed SMART engine compartment recovery system on their Vulcan. 🙂

    Reply
  6. A few months ago Elon did mention perhaps using an inflatable heatshield as Jean Baptiste had mentioned. This is a low-priority project though since SpaceX will be concentrating on 1) getting Dragon 2 and Falcon 9 Block 5 human-rated and 2) prototyping BFR since it is designed from the outset with a recoverable 2nd stage.If SpaceX does eventually outfit an F9 upper stage with an inflatable heatshield I think they will most likely steal a page from rival ULA’s proposed booster engine recovery scheme for their new Vulcan rocket where the Vulcan jettisons just the booster’s engine compartment after MECO which reenters the atmosphere using an inflatable heatshield deploys parachutes after the heatshield slows the engine module down and is snagged out of the air by a heavylift helicopter like a CH-53K King stallion.The F9 upper stage has a mass of 4000kg empty add an inflatable heatshield and parachutes maybe 5000kg. That should be snaggable by a CH-53K which has an external payload capacity upwards of 14000kg.Very low odds of SpaceX ever developing a recoverable Falcon 9 upper stage since there are other things they are working on that are of much higher priority but I would love to see Elon punk Tory Bruno by SMARTing the F9 upper stage before ULA implements their proposed SMART engine compartment recovery system on their Vulcan. 🙂

    Reply
  7. I wonder what the math says on orbiting the booster, instead of landing it? I recall that with the Space Shuttle, it wouldn’t have taken much fuel to bring the external tanks up to orbit, and there were numerous proposals to do so, stockpiling them in orbit.

    So, orbit the spent boosters. They wouldn’t end up in a very stable orbit, rather the kind that would decay fairly rapidly, but you could have something up there collecting them. Line them up end to end, and the drag wouldn’t increase, you could have an electrodynamic tether on the front one making up for it.

    Then come Mars time, you can fuel them and use them to give the Mars bound BFRs an extra kick.

    Reply
  8. Beautiful a mystifying for those unaware of the launch. And it gives an idea what tens or hundreds of BFR launching every day would do to night skies across the globe.

    Reply
  9. Beautiful a mystifying for those unaware of the launch.And it gives an idea what tens or hundreds of BFR launching every day would do to night skies across the globe.

    Reply
  10. E. Musk has touched the topic on social media (mentioning “big balloons”, probably an inflatable heat shield), but so far no public announcement about any such plans within SpaceX. My impression is they have enough on their plate with BFR, but they do as they please. They have dropped more solid plans in the past (e.g. Red Dragon, propelled landing) for the sake of delivering other milestones. So I think they played with the idea but probably didn’t fund it.

    Reply
  11. E. Musk has touched the topic on social media (mentioning big balloons””” probably an inflatable heat shield) but so far no public announcement about any such plans within SpaceX.My impression is they have enough on their plate with BFR but they do as they please. They have dropped more solid plans in the past (e.g. Red Dragon”” propelled landing) for the sake of delivering other milestones. So I think they played with the idea but probably didn’t fund it.”””

    Reply
  12. No. The weight penalty of recovery systems (legs, or parachutes, other mods, etc) are just too costly without a reasonable return on investment. The next step in reusability will be SpaceX’s BFR, where both stages are fully reusable, assuming the thing works, that is.

    Reply
  13. No. The weight penalty of recovery systems (legs or parachutes other mods etc) are just too costly without a reasonable return on investment. The next step in reusability will be SpaceX’s BFR where both stages are fully reusable assuming the thing works that is.

    Reply
  14. Was driving on the 5 North when this was going up. Kids got a kick out of watching the stage separation. Really a beautiful launch.

    Reply
  15. Was driving on the 5 North when this was going up. Kids got a kick out of watching the stage separation.Really a beautiful launch.

    Reply
  16. A few months ago Elon did mention perhaps using an inflatable heatshield as Jean Baptiste had mentioned. This is a low-priority project though, since SpaceX will be concentrating on 1) getting Dragon 2 and Falcon 9 Block 5 human-rated, and 2) prototyping BFR since it is designed from the outset with a recoverable 2nd stage.

    If SpaceX does eventually outfit an F9 upper stage with an inflatable heatshield, I think they will most likely steal a page from rival ULA’s proposed booster engine recovery scheme for their new Vulcan rocket, where the Vulcan jettisons just the booster’s engine compartment after MECO, which reenters the atmosphere using an inflatable heatshield, deploys parachutes after the heatshield slows the engine module down, and is snagged out of the air by a heavylift helicopter like a CH-53K King stallion.

    The F9 upper stage has a mass of 4000kg empty, add an inflatable heatshield and parachutes maybe 5000kg. That should be snaggable by a CH-53K which has an external payload capacity upwards of 14,000kg.

    Very low odds of SpaceX ever developing a recoverable Falcon 9 upper stage since there are other things they are working on that are of much higher priority, but I would love to see Elon punk Tory Bruno by SMARTing the F9 upper stage before ULA implements their proposed SMART engine compartment recovery system on their Vulcan. 🙂

    Reply
  17. E. Musk has touched the topic on social media (mentioning “big balloons”, probably an inflatable heat shield), but so far no public announcement about any such plans within SpaceX.

    My impression is they have enough on their plate with BFR, but they do as they please.

    They have dropped more solid plans in the past (e.g. Red Dragon, propelled landing) for the sake of delivering other milestones. So I think they played with the idea but probably didn’t fund it.

    Reply
  18. No. The weight penalty of recovery systems (legs, or parachutes, other mods, etc) are just too costly without a reasonable return on investment. The next step in reusability will be SpaceX’s BFR, where both stages are fully reusable, assuming the thing works, that is.

    Reply
  19. I watched this from Santa Monica pier with binoculars. Great site but couldn’t see the lending burn because of the mountains in the way.

    Reply
  20. I watched this from Santa Monica pier with binoculars. Great site but couldn’t see the lending burn because of the mountains in the way.

    Reply
  21. I wonder what the math says on orbiting the booster, instead of landing it? I recall that with the Space Shuttle, it wouldn’t have taken much fuel to bring the external tanks up to orbit, and there were numerous proposals to do so, stockpiling them in orbit. So, orbit the spent boosters. They wouldn’t end up in a very stable orbit, rather the kind that would decay fairly rapidly, but you could have something up there collecting them. Line them up end to end, and the drag wouldn’t increase, you could have an electrodynamic tether on the front one making up for it. Then come Mars time, you can fuel them and use them to give the Mars bound BFRs an extra kick.

    Reply
  22. I wonder what the math says on orbiting the booster instead of landing it? I recall that with the Space Shuttle it wouldn’t have taken much fuel to bring the external tanks up to orbit and there were numerous proposals to do so stockpiling them in orbit.So orbit the spent boosters. They wouldn’t end up in a very stable orbit rather the kind that would decay fairly rapidly but you could have something up there collecting them. Line them up end to end and the drag wouldn’t increase you could have an electrodynamic tether on the front one making up for it.Then come Mars time you can fuel them and use them to give the Mars bound BFRs an extra kick.

    Reply
  23. A few months ago Elon did mention perhaps using an inflatable heatshield as Jean Baptiste had mentioned. This is a low-priority project though, since SpaceX will be concentrating on 1) getting Dragon 2 and Falcon 9 Block 5 human-rated, and 2) prototyping BFR since it is designed from the outset with a recoverable 2nd stage. If SpaceX does eventually outfit an F9 upper stage with an inflatable heatshield, I think they will most likely steal a page from rival ULA’s proposed booster engine recovery scheme for their new Vulcan rocket, where the Vulcan jettisons just the booster’s engine compartment after MECO, which reenters the atmosphere using an inflatable heatshield, deploys parachutes after the heatshield slows the engine module down, and is snagged out of the air by a heavylift helicopter like a CH-53K King stallion. The F9 upper stage has a mass of 4000kg empty, add an inflatable heatshield and parachutes maybe 5000kg. That should be snaggable by a CH-53K which has an external payload capacity upwards of 14,000kg. Very low odds of SpaceX ever developing a recoverable Falcon 9 upper stage since there are other things they are working on that are of much higher priority, but I would love to see Elon punk Tory Bruno by SMARTing the F9 upper stage before ULA implements their proposed SMART engine compartment recovery system on their Vulcan. 🙂

    Reply
  24. A few months ago Elon did mention perhaps using an inflatable heatshield as Jean Baptiste had mentioned. This is a low-priority project though since SpaceX will be concentrating on 1) getting Dragon 2 and Falcon 9 Block 5 human-rated and 2) prototyping BFR since it is designed from the outset with a recoverable 2nd stage.If SpaceX does eventually outfit an F9 upper stage with an inflatable heatshield I think they will most likely steal a page from rival ULA’s proposed booster engine recovery scheme for their new Vulcan rocket where the Vulcan jettisons just the booster’s engine compartment after MECO which reenters the atmosphere using an inflatable heatshield deploys parachutes after the heatshield slows the engine module down and is snagged out of the air by a heavylift helicopter like a CH-53K King stallion.The F9 upper stage has a mass of 4000kg empty add an inflatable heatshield and parachutes maybe 5000kg. That should be snaggable by a CH-53K which has an external payload capacity upwards of 14000kg.Very low odds of SpaceX ever developing a recoverable Falcon 9 upper stage since there are other things they are working on that are of much higher priority but I would love to see Elon punk Tory Bruno by SMARTing the F9 upper stage before ULA implements their proposed SMART engine compartment recovery system on their Vulcan. 🙂

    Reply

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