Can you imagine a 26 story two stage unmanned rocket blasting into space on top of a column of fire and smoke?    Then, after the first stage completes it’s task it detaches from the second stage, independently returns to earth and lands on an unmanned drone ship waiting for it out on the ocean someplace.

You really don’t have to imagine very hard.  This just occurred last week on May 25th, 2016.   It REALLY caught my attention, and I hope it tickles yours.

The lines of robotics and drones are getting blurry.  Did this journey happen autonomously?  Hardly, but someday it will.  There were more of some of the smartest folks on the planet than you could shake a stick at involved.  Half of them probably figuring out how to get a 1.2 million pound machine into space, and the other half figuring out how to get it back and re-use it.

So what keeps this 140′  returning stage from becoming a 140 foot long, 60,000 pound explosive filled hyper-sonic lawn dart anyway?  Technology, and lots of it.

 

Here is an actual video (sped up) of the re-entry and landing last week.

https://www.facebook.com/SpaceX/videos/10157486010400131/

 

I had to watch it twice.

Although the machines we fly are a bit more modest, some of the technology that they use is much the same as the SpaceX rocket.  just 15 years ago, not even the military had we we now have in a $10,000 drone.  The innovation acceleration of complex mechanical systems (robots) and autonomous machines (drones) is astounding.

SpaceX is an amazing company started by a very smart Canadian guy named Elon Musk.  Elon started and sold a company called Paypal and used the proceeds to start a company that wouldn’t just change the world, but change the universe.  SpaceX is the largest rocket motor manufacturer in the world and now leases a great deal of Cape Canaveral from NASA, with 4 launch sites planned.

Should you have an urge to get your own rocket, here’s the user’s guide for the latest one: http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/falcon_9_users_guide_rev_2.0.pdf

 

 

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