The first commercial spaceflight from NASA’s famous ‘moon shot’ Launch Pad Complex 39A since the shuttle program ended, took place today at Cape Canaveral. It had been nearly six years since any vehicle had launched from this complex. It was the first liftoff for SpaceX in Florida since one of their rockets exploded in 2016. SpaceX signed a long term lease with NASA for the rights to use Complex 39A and reports are they have spent $100 million renovating the launch facility.
The crowds at Kennedy Space Center watched eagerly as the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket took flight with a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station. They got barely 10 seconds of viewing before clouds swallowed up the Falcon as it thundered skyward.
As an extra special treat, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral eight minutes after liftoff, a feat accomplished only twice before. Most of SpaceX’s eight successful booster landings – rocket recycling at its finest – have used ocean platforms. As they did during the shuttle era, sonic booms heralded Sunday’s return. – Read More at the AP
Another amazing accomplishment was that the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket booster landed safely back at Cape Canaveral just eight minutes after pushing the Dragon unmanned space vehicle into earth orbit. SpaceX’s Elon Musk posted a video on his Instagram feed of the rocket landing. Watch below this truly amazing feat! It does not even look real.
It is being reported that President Trump wants to renew NASA’s quest for manned spaceflight including possibly a quick return to the moon and even speeding up efforts to put people on Mars. This would be a giant step in repositioning the United States as a leader in space exploration. At the present time the US does not even have a means to launch astronauts into space solely relying on paying the Russians to take us into earth orbit since the retirement of the Space Shuttle.
NASA does have a new rocket called the the ‘Space Launch System‘ being developed that will be capable of taking astronauts to space but its development has been slowed due to budget constraints. The new Space Launch System will be the world’s most powerful rocket composed of two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines that will push the new Orion spacecraft into orbit.
Featured image of the SpaceX rocket being launched from NASA’s legendary Launch Complex 39A by the AP