Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Space X Flight Success

SpaceX is 'bouncing back' in its quest for the development of private space flight. On January 9th the SpaceX company successfully launched another rocket, its first since a major set-back when one of its spaceship exploded last September. The unmanned Falcon 9 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and deployed ten Iridium satellites.

There is a great resource on the SpaceX site showing a graphic depiction of the Falcon 9 rocket and a break down of its ultimate aims, including manned flight.

Iridium satellites, the name of a commercial group of satellites, are well known to amateur astronomers for the 'Iridium flare' effect, perhaps better known as .satellite flare, and also called satellite glint.  This phenomenon is caused by the reflective surfaces on satellites (such as antennas, SAR or solar panels) reflecting sunlight directly onto the Earth below and appearing as a brief, bright "flare".  These flashes in the sky are entirely predictable for a given location and can be found in tables on several web sites and apps; I use  Heavens-Above.

satellite flare
SpaceX  of course is also know for its recoverable first stage which if all goes well lands back to earth on a floating platform.  Here is a link to a video of  a 2016 landing.
Those of us who were around in 1960s Britain, and perhaps some others who have seen it since, may be reminded uncannily of its predecessor, Fireball XL5.  I have sadly to admit I have the box set already. (ed.).