back to article The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully landed a rocket on Earth, after first using it to launch satellites. The Falcon 9 craft left the US on Monday night, local time, packed with 11 satellites. The rocket launched at 20:28 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. At 20:32 the rocket's first stage engines shut off. Two minutes later, the …

  1. NotArghGeeCee
    Pint

    That deserves...

    ...one of these ->

    for all concerned. Top marks.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: That deserves...

      Just one? I think a few more...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: That deserves...

        Enough to power a rocket?

        You might need a few more kegs.

        Hats of to the team. I had goosebumps watching that landing :-)

  2. DrStrangeLug

    Truly good news

    This is awesome, a genuinely good news story just before Christmas. I've been waiting all year to see SpaceX pull this one of and I'm so happy they did.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    @Elon Musk

    There and back again

    But did you go under bridges and over bridges?

    1. Stanislaw
      Boffin

      Re: @Elon Musk

      But did you go under bridges and over bridges?

      Takes the biscuits, does that. And imagine the commercial possibilities should they succeed in adding a footplate to ride on.

      1. MrT

        Re: @Elon Musk

        Going under Bridges and over Bridges would explain many things...

        Or is Elon finally admitting that SpaceX use hobbits to pilot the first stage...?

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    I'm not usually one for Americanisms

    But Boo-Ya!

    Well done Space-X Rocket boffins.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: I'm not usually one for Americanisms

      Yeh ... not bad for a boy from Pretoria.

      It kinda makes up for the Springboks being robbed in the World Cup semis.

  5. Roger Greenwood
    Pint

    Impressive

    Same week he appears in "Big Bang Theory" and then lands a rocket. I wonder what else is on his bucket list that we don't know about?

  6. John Robson Silver badge

    On Earth....

    Not on a barge?

    So Lohan's launch date must be getting closer, or do you need to throw a few billion at the FAA?

  7. Wam

    At last!

    We can finally build a real life Thunderbird 3!

    1. Stephen 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: At last!

      In "Sun Probe" Thunderbird 3 appeared to fly almost to the sun and back in an afternoon so it must have been capable of a significant fraction of C.

      Come on Musk, there's a challenge for you...

      (Congratulations though, excellent, inspirational, work)

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Amazing.. simply amazing. The video was impressive but what really hit me was it sitting on the landing pad and it appears to be dead center.

    1. Holleritho Silver badge

      Poetry in motion

      I agree: blast-offs have been a thrill since the Saturn days, but to see this thin needle come down and land smack-dab on its own flame was awesome.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Poetry in motion

        ...and the analogy given on the full length video really brings home the achievement.

        "It's like launching a pencil over the Empire State Building, flipping it at the top then landing it on a shoebox".

        Gobsmacking!

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Destination - Moon!

    Prof. Calculus would be proud.

  10. imanidiot Silver badge

    *standing ovation*

    Beers to all those involved!

  11. Morrie Wyatt
    Mushroom

    Returned to Earth

    By which I presume you actually mean landed on "Of course I still love you" somewhere out at sea?

    Which makes the landing all the more impressive.

    Congratulations to Elon and his crew.

    (The icon? Not This Time at least.)

    The fire was pointing in the correct direction so it did go to space today.

    1. chris 17 Bronze badge

      Re: Return to Earth

      @ Morrie Wyatt

      "By which I presume you actually mean landed on "Of course I still love you" somewhere out at sea?"

      Nope it took off and landed at the cape, as in Cape Canaveral, USA where they generally launch rockets from.

      Truly remarkable especially as it also deployed its cargo of 11 satellites (i'm guessing tiny ones) too.

      good job Elon's team!!

      1. Tom Womack

        Re: Return to Earth

        Not especially tiny satellites (172kg, 100cm x 100cm x 50cm) - midway on an exponential scale between a Cubesat and something like Hubble.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Return to Earth

          172 kg is more than twice as heavy as Telstar or Prospero.

      2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Return to Earth

        Chris: "...cargo of 11 satellites (i'm guessing tiny ones)..."

        Their *smallest* dimension ('height') is reportedly about 0.5m. 380 lbs each.

        So smallish, but certainly not "tiny".

    2. Peter Lee

      Re: Returned to Earth

      Nope - it landed on the land. SpaceX have built a landing facility at Cape Canaveral now, so the barge is no longer required.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Returned to Earth

      It was on land. See the pic in the graunidad - towards bottom of the article:

      http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/dec/22/welcome-back-baby-elon-musk-celebrates-spacex-rocket-launch-and-landing

      From this pic it is also very clear that they could pull this one off because they had a HUGE quantity of excess fuel on this launch. You can see both curves quite clearly there (it is a 5 min "open shutter" pic). The rocket had to compensate for the delta v acquired curving on a ballistic towards the horizon to fly back. You cannot do that if you are short on fuel, so those barges will still see action from time to time for heavy payload and/or high orbit launches.

      1. ZSn

        Re: Returned to Earth

        That makes it even more impressive that landing on a barge. The first stage had to change it's delta-v completely, so it's a prolonged burn with the rocket pointing the wrong way to whatever atmospheric drag it's experiencing. With a heavy load of fuel in the tanks - I think that this is a lot more difficult than the barge landing.

        1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

          Re: Returned to Earth

          The boostback was definitely making things difficult, as they had to carry more fuel to revert delta-V . However, one thing that made barge landing so difficult, which you do not experience on terra firma, is the movement of the landing surface caused by waves. I think SpaceX is aiming to eventually start its rockets in Texas and land in Florida, so they have "best of two worlds" i.e. non-floating landing surface and no need to revert all of delta-V = less fuel for landing, which translates to more capacity.

          1. ZSn

            Re: Returned to Earth

            You can launch from Texas as long as you don't mind taking out New Orleans if the launch goes wrong! There's a reason that they launch out across the ocean. If not the best place to launch from is from a rocket sled up the side of the rockies (you can make a single stage to orbit rocket easily doing that!)

            1. GBE

              No danger to New Orleans

              "You can launch from Texas as long as you don't mind taking out New Orleans if the launch goes wrong!"

              Hardly. You don't launch from Houston. You launch over the gulf from somewhere between Corpus and Brownsville -- that way the landing pad is straight East _over_the_ocean_. New Orleans wouldn't be in any danger.

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Returned to Earth

          ZSn offered "With a heavy load of fuel in the tanks..."

          At launch, yes.

          But at retroburn, much much less.

          At landing, hardly any.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Returned to Earth

            What's more the upper stages were nolonger attached when the retro-burn and landing were happening, so a much lighter craft altogether.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but how much re-use can you get?

    they must take bit of a battering from launch forces and re-entry...

    I would also assume that any residual fuel/oxidiser makes them quite hazardous to work on once landed too.

    I havent seen much published on the practicalities.

    All that said, great job and well done.

    1. jzl

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      The fuel is kerosene (jet fuel) and the oxidiser is, well, pure oxygen. So there's a certain risk with it but nothing that a pump, a good wash and a bit of care can't handle.

      1. The elephant in the room

        Re: but how much re-use can you get?

        "nothing that a pump, a good wash and a bit of care can't handle."

        That's what she said!

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      Looking at the state of it on the ground (video clip here), it looks like it really will need a good wash. Check out the difference in colour between the bottom, and the parts that were covered up by the landing legs.

      And how exactly do you scrub a rocket anyway? Stick it on a low loader and go through a car wash? Or perhaps one of the ones they use for cleaning trains.

      1. lidgaca
        Joke

        Re: but how much re-use can you get?

        Take it to the hand car wash on the corner - they do a rocket valet job for 15 quid ...

      2. eldakka Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: but how much re-use can you get?

        "And how exactly do you scrub a rocket anyway?"

        Isn't that what interns are for? Supply them with some overalls, long/extensible handled brooms, buckets, couple firehoses, and bob's your uncle.

    3. Tom_

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      Sadly, I can't remember where I read this, but in an interview with Musk from earlier this year he said that the engines should be reusable between 20 and 40 times. Apparently the engine is the really valuable bit that they care about. Presumably replacing struts and fuel tanks that may be showing signs of wear is a lot cheaper than replacing the actual engines, which I suppose makes sense.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      I guess you don't know until you try.

    5. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      they must take bit of a battering from launch forces and re-entry...

      The first stage is basically to get the thing off the ground to what are better thought of as very high aircraft heights and speeds, which is why there are projects to use rockets released by aircraft as the first stage. At this point the first stage is jettisoned as dead weight, and the second stage takes the rocket to low/mid space sort of heights, at which point it's jettisoned so save weight so the now lighter third stage can make it to orbit sort of heights.

      At very high aircraft speeds and heights, you are looking at more aircraft levels of friction heat (ie < Mach 5) than "spacecraft free falling from orbit" levels (Mach ~25), which is presumably why they are only recovering the first stage.

      Basically, this marks the start of the traditional "throw away the first stage" rocketry model having it's days numbered. With Space X actually able to reland their first stages and various approaches (SABRE etc) in development competition is about to bring down the cost to orbit quite a lot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but how much re-use can you get?

        Peter: "...having it's days numbered..."

        its

    6. logic

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      Oxegen and Kerosene - hardly toxic !!

    7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: but how much re-use can you get?

      I suspect this first successfully landed 1st stage will be stripped down to the last nut and bolt for testing and analysis to see what stress and wear have occurred. The engines, being the most expensive bits may well get re-used eventually, possibly only as spare poarts, but I expect they will be subject to highly invasive testing, not least to satisfy the FAA that used engines are safe to re-use.

  13. jzl

    Watched it live last night

    From the UK too. I'm knackered.

    Wow, what a nailbiter. Crazy. Just crazy. If I had a religious bone in my body, I'd be watching for holes in Musk's hands right now.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Watched it live last night

      I watched it live too, truly inspiring.

      There is no "need more coffee" icon, so this will have to do ->

      1. et tu, brute?
        Thumb Up

        Re: Watched it live last night

        Me too, here from the Netherlands... was well worth the short night that followed after watching right until the end at 3 o'clock local time!

  14. WonkoTheSane
    Joke

    EPIC achievement!

    Just wait till he adds this mode to Teslas!

  15. Alister Silver badge

    Superb bit of video, sent real shivers up my spine.

    Isn't it curious how we've seen spaceships land like this for decades in Sci-Fi films and TV shows, but to see it actually happen for real somehow is just so much more awesome.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...spaceships land like this... ...Sci-i..."

      Alister: "Isn't it curious how we've seen spaceships land like this for decades in Sci-Fi films and TV shows, but to see it actually happen for real somehow is just so much more awesome."

      Space vehicles landing vertically has been done before.

      At least six times.

      On the Moon.

      Starting in the 1960s.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: "...spaceships land like this... ...Sci-i..."

        Vertical landing on the earth has been done also. The DC-X project was a technology demonstrator for single stage earth to orbit craft and was making vertical landings in the 90's. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_DC-X

    2. Dr. Ellen
      Thumb Up

      Movie Landings

      In the early films -- the Sixties, mostly -- they'd just run a film of a rocket takeoff backwards. Great fun watching that rocket suck up the smoke and fumes as it landed.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      "to see it actually happen for real"

      You know how CGI on TV never looks quite real in full daylight, but dark, atmospheric shots, especially night shots can be really convincing....

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Iron Man vs Bezos

    Aren't we comparing apples with oranges in this article? Bezos' vehicle is for taking people up to have a look and bring them back down again, Musk's is rather more complicated.

    Congratulations to both of them by the way.

    1. jzl

      Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

      Bezos's accomplishment was impressive, for sure, although it's important to remember that the man is a bona fide independent billionaire. It's reasonably easy to do things when you don't have commercial constraints.

      Aside from the massive technical differences, which you alluded to, what strikes me is that Musk has achieved this on a commercial launch with a company that actually has customers and makes money.

      I also happen to think that Bezos is a total dick, but that's just personal.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

        Elon Musk started out as an Internet billionaire as well (he helped found PayPal).

        I guess with all these internet-billionaire rocket-owners about the place, it would be a good time to be in the volcano base selling business.

      2. Bob Merkin
        FAIL

        Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

        SpaceX delivers cargo to a space station. When Amazon can ship a book 200 miles without damaging it, Bezos can gloat. They had that capability at one point but it was forgotten somewhere in the early 21st century.

    2. Stuart 22

      Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

      "Aren't we comparing apples with oranges in this article? Bezos' vehicle is for taking people up to have a look and bring them back down again"

      Nah - this is just cover for developing a vehicle to deliver heavier Amazon Prime payloads. Only to people who have decent sized lawns of course. Lawns you won't have to cut again at no extra charge.

      1. jzl

        Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

        15 minute shipments, anywhere in the world.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

          jzl: "15 minute shipments, anywhere in the world."

          More like 45 minutes. One orbit is about 90 minutes.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

          and the first package? a squad of angry Marines shipped by Uncle Sam. Xenomorphs need not apply.

  17. John G Imrie Silver badge
    Coat

    One question

    How long until we see this capability added to Kerbal Space Program.

    Mine's the lab coat in the corner.

    1. Dan Wilkie

      Re: One question

      This capability is already in KSP... I'm pretty sure that's how SpaceX do all their testing ;)

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        To misquote Randall Munroe

        I'm pretty sure SpaceX is an Orbiter shop.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: One question

      Have you played KSP?

  18. 0laf Silver badge

    Doesn't come in slow does it?!?

    Reverse parks like Russ Swift.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's by design. Even a single motor is very over-powered for the remaining booster mass, and those big motors are not easily throttled down. So they have to bring it to a halt just above the pad and kill the motor all in one motion. Otherwise the thing would only go back up with no way to bring it down while the motor is running.

  19. PhilipN Silver badge

    A landmark in the history of the human race

    As significant as landing a man on the Moon. In some ways more so.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A landmark in the history of the human race

      Although I thoroughly agree with you and I thought exactly that as I watched it, on reflection I think the next big step is really going to be something like Reaction Engines Sabre in a runway to runway space plane.

      I suppose it depends on if that system can ever cope with larger payloads to a decent orbital height. Returning 1st and maybe even 2nd stages back to Earth for re-use for all it's fantastic achievement, might well be just a minor blip in the history of re-usable rocketry. And before anyone hits that downvote button, I am TOTALLY GOBSMACKED and in AWE at this latest success by SpaceX.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perpendicular

    I'm amazed how they can get this thing back to the perpendiular to land, bearing in mind that the target is moving underneeth it all the time.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Perpendicular

      This last landing was on terra firma, they got FAA approval finally.

  21. Highroads

    Impressive

    Watched the video on Youtube this morning.

    It's great. Big fireball comes down. Fire goes out. Smoke clears and then there is the rocket standing in the middle of the pad. Audience goes wild!

    Congratulations to SpaceX!

  22. Peter Ford

    That's stage 1 sorted

    But what happens to stage 2?

    That's the bit that does the tricky satellite-positioning part - where does it end up?

    Or have I missed something?

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: That's stage 1 sorted

      Peter Ford asked about Stage 2.

      It flames through the atmosphere at 17,000 mph and what's left splashes into the ocean in a traditional manner.

      They mention that they intentionally deorbit it (retro-burn), which is nice since it was some 630 km up. Otherwise it'd be space junk for nearly forever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That's stage 1 sorted

        "They mention that they intentionally deorbit it (retro-burn), which is nice since it was some 630 km up. Otherwise it'd be space junk for nearly forever."

        Na, maybe 2 years, tops, before it fell back down without any sort of station-keeping. But yes, it's in their own interest to de-orbit their junk!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: That's stage 1 sorted

        "They mention that they intentionally deorbit it (retro-burn), which is nice since it was some 630 km up."

        IIRC that's a condition of the licence to fly these days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's stage 1 sorted

      Stage 2 burns up on re-entry. From what I remember, S1 cuts out between 60-80km depending on where it's released (for a ground-based landing, it's 60km - for water based, it's around 80km, due to it being probably closer to Europe than the US at this height and not able to make it all the way back).

      The S2 component might be doing "tricky" bits, but is far smaller/cheaper than the S1.

  23. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    El Reg. "The rocket launched at 12:28, Cape Canaveral time."

    That sentence is not true.

    I watched it 'live' via the 'net, and I wasn't up that late.

  24. Annihilator
    Coat

    Excellent, looking forward to this extending the range of their planned drone delivery service. Falcon 9 landing in my back garden to drop off a book would be quite exciting..

  25. Teddy the Bear
    Mushroom

    Just basically awesome

    The more I think about this, the more difficult I realise it is...

    First, there's all the rocket science which is, well, rocket science. So very difficult.

    Then there's the turning it round in space.

    Then there's the aiming it at the right spot.

    Then there's adjusting for Earth's rotation.

    Then there's the bringing it back through the atmosphere.

    Then there's the actually slowing enough to land without smashing.

    Then there's the landing.

    Then there's the refurbishing.

    And all of this had to be thought up and designed and amended and refined even before a single piece of metal was bent in a complicated way.

    This has got to be the achievement of the century, if not the millennium.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just basically awesome

      So pretty much what the space shuttle did last century?.. ;-)

      I'm not saying it's not impressive, but it's on the same level as how difficult it is just to get into the correct orbit in the first place. The analogy during the moon landings was along the line of hitting a moving bullet, with another bullet, at a range of 10 miles.

      The S1 doesn't turn around "in space" though - it's well below the Karman line (which many would argue is nowhere near space to begin with).

      Yes it's impressive, but it's rooted firmly in 20th technology. It's all been doable for a while, but only recently become justifiable in terms of cost. I'd argue the Mars Curiosity landings were more advanced than these.

      1. uncle sjohie

        Re: Just basically awesome

        The space shuttle had wings..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just basically awesome

        > "... it's on the same level as how difficult it is just to get into the correct orbit in the first place."

        If that were true, then landing boosters intact would have been SOP a long time ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just basically awesome

          "If that were true, then landing boosters intact would have been SOP a long time ago."

          Nope, only if it were worth it financially. Consider the shuttle - the SRBs merely parachuted into the ocean and were recovered by boat.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just basically awesome

            SRB = Solid Rocket Booster. No moving parts, unlike the nine liquid engines in the Falcon.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Just basically awesome

      "This has got to be the achievement of the century, if not the millennium."

      Purely in terms of the maths, I think maybe the Voyager missions slingshotting around multiple planets over a period of decades may just trump that. Or the Rosetta mission. Or landing a nuclear powered laser armed tank on Mars by lowering it from a rocket powered skyhook :-)

      Admittedly, Voyager is last century even if still on going, but I think we may be a bit early in the current century to call anything "achievement of the century," just yet :-)

      It's good to be alive now. We've seen moon landings and the birth of the WWW amongst other amazing things.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just basically awesome

        I would nominate soft-landing a probe on smoggy far-away Titan and getting lots of yummy data back, exactly as planned, without even a proper orbiter as a relay. It was a stunning achievement.

  26. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Good show

    but I am a bit disappointed that it didn't land in a vulcano crater (conceiled by a fake lake, of course). Musk really should add Sir Ken to his team.

    1. Maldax

      Re: Good show

      Elon Musk is not going to let everyone see his secret base yet!!

  27. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    I find it interesting that they find this a better economic trade off than either (a) parachutes and fishing it out of the sea, like the shuttle boosters, or (b) gliding, perhaps using some sort of air-breathing engine. It would be interesting to hear how they decided on this method, despite its obvious challenges.

    1. Esme

      @Phil Edecott - salt water corrosion is the problem with sea landings. That and structural stress - bear in mind that even if the rocket came to a stop just bove teh waves, it is then going to fall sideways, and building it to withstand those forces and salt water corrosion adds weight which decreases performance... - frankly, it's easier to just land it back on land (or a barge!).

    2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      "...how they decided on this method, despite its obvious challenges."

      The Why and How is obvious in the final design.

      Obvious requirements:

      1) a little bit extra fuel (not as much as you think since it's nearly empty and thus low mass)

      2) those steering vane thingies

      3) deployable legs

      4) software

      Non-intuitive requirements:

      5) ITAR grade GPS (due to altitude and speed)

      6) Engines that don't mind operating close to a surface

      7) Multiple redundant C&C, self-destruct and abort systems (due to aiming back at the Homeland)

      All you have to do is think about it, and you'll soon see that any other solution is less optimal.

      The only tricky bit is the software, and that's not THAT difficult if you give the coder drones and physics/math geeks sufficient time to think it through.

  28. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Who knew??

    All those 50's scifi movies where the whole rocket lands on an alien planet?--maybe they had it right!

    (Icon represents something that I am glad didn't happen.)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't get too excited

    Until SpaceX can deliver proper results every time, they are still one hit wonders.

    1. Jim E

      Re: I wouldn't get too excited

      The way it works in rocketry seems to be that once you fix the problems and do it once, you are good for a string of successes. There seemed to be an air of confidence in the live webcast. The SpaceX employees knew it would work.

    2. cray74

      Re: I wouldn't get too excited

      Until SpaceX can deliver proper results every time, they are still one hit wonders.

      They've succeeded in 19 of 20 Falcon 9 launches, even with an in-flight engine explosion. In terms of profit-generating flights, they're no longer one-hit wonders but a going concern. Further, the Falcon 9s ($62M/flight) are also comparable in cost with the competing Soyuz launcher, cheaper than the Long March 3B ($72M), and much cheaper than the Ariane V, Delta IV, and Atlas V (all $160M and up).

      Cost is relevant to the "one hit wonder" point because these reusability demonstration flights - which, yes, have succeeded once - are designed to lower costs further. SpaceX has already succeeded in being competitively priced, and even a modest cost reduction after several more landing wrecks would purely be a bonus.

  30. cray74

    Great Launch

    I love night launches. The clouds were annoying, but during the ascent the Falcon 9 peeked through gaps and was visible from 100km away. And the clouds were thin enough that sometimes the rocket lit them up like the sun behind lace.

    The local TV crews had their cameras at just the right distance for a dramatic flair (or is flare the correct term for a rocket?): as the first stage was settling on the ground, the sonic boom reached the cameras and visibly rocked them. The reporter was having a space geek moment gushing about how long it'd been since the Space Coast had heard a sonic boom from a returning spacecraft. Much agreed, sir, I got a little teary eyed to see this stuff happening again.

    Something I noted: even when local stations were using SpaceX camera feeds from the rocket, they were 1.5-2 minutes ahead of the webcasts. How much buffering do webcasts need?

  31. Rick Brasche

    the ball is in your court, El Reg SPD

    we await your contribution to the "what goes up must come down exactly where we planned and with lots of controlled fire" club!

  32. Martin Budden

    "And now we have two companies capable of pulling off this awesome trick! ®"

    SpaceX and... who else? Bezos' rocket can go straight up and down but can't get the sideways speed needed for orbit, so it can't pull off the trick, not even close.

    It is a real shame when the science section of a tech news site has such poor understanding of the basic concepts of a frequently reported subject.

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