Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Rocket's Red Flare

Echoing faintly Francis Scott Key’s “The Star Spangled Banner” (“the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air”), Space Exploration Technology (SpaceX) managed something genuinely new yesterday. It sent a Falcon 9 rocket out into space carrying 11 satellites. After launching them up there, it fell back to Earth, in an orderly manner, righted itself in a neat vertical position, and slowed by its own flare landed standing up at Cape Canaveral, whence it had taken off.

A splendid time-exposure of the rocket’s landing is shown on today’s WSJ front page. It looks like a flame-sword from Star Wars. Right on time, you might say.

Bomb’s bursting in air is old stuff, going by the poem’s publication date, 1814. But a rocket returning for an upright landing, now that’s worth noting as an historic step in this galaxy, near at hand…

1 comment:

  1. This was something I never expected to see. It's already incredibly hard to make them go up without toppling over. Kudos to SpaceX and Elon Musk for even conceiving the notion that computer controls had come far enough to do this.

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