Hopefully this time they've 'read the instructions' for the landing.
Anticipatory beer for this evening (GMT)!
The International Space Station will soon be abristle with docked space trucks, as a SpaceX Dragon resupply vehicle prepares to join its Russian Progress and Orbital ATK Cygnus counterparts mated with the orbiting outpost. The Falcon 9 and Dragon on the pad at Cape Canaveral. Pic: SpaceX The Falcon 9 and Dragon on the pad at …
More like Stanislaw Lem's "Cadet Pirx", really.
He glanced at the clock. He had been spaceborne for exactly seventeen minutes.
It was time to pick up PAL’s radio signal, to start monitoring the radar screens as he passed through the satellite’s contact zone. Now, what were their names again? RO? No—JO. And let’s see, their numbers were… He glanced down at the flight plan, stuck it back into his pocket along with the navigation book, and turned up the intercom on his chest. At first there was just a lot of screeching and crackling - cosmic interference. What system was PAL using? Oh, yeah - Morse. He listened closely, his eyes glued to the video screens, and watched as Earth slowly revolved beneath him and stars scudded by - but no PAL. Then he heard a buzzing noise.
Could that be it? he wondered, but immediately rejected the idea. You’re crazy. Satellites don’t buzz. But what else could it be? Nothing, that’s what. Or was it something else? A critical malfunction?
Oddly enough, he was not the least bit alarmed. How could there be a critical malfunction when he was cruising with his engine off? Maybe the old crate was falling apart, breaking up. Or could it be a short circuit? Good Lord, a short circuit! Fire Prevention Code, section 3(a): “In Case of Fire in Orbit,” paragraph… Oh, to hell with it! The buzzing was now so loud that it was drowning out the bleeping sounds of distant signals.
It sounds like… a fly trapped in a jar, he thought, somewhat perplexed, and began shifting his gaze from dial to dial.
Then he spotted it.
It was a giant of a fly, one of those ugly, greenish-black brutes specially designed to make life miserable - a pestering, pesky, idiotic, and by the same token shrewd and cunning fly, which had miraculously - and how else? - stowed away in the ship’s control cabin and was now zooming about in the space outside the blister, occasionally ricocheting off the illuminated instrument gauges like a buzzing pellet.
SpaceX launches have featured those shots before. It seems they invested in some good tracking optics when refurbishing the KSC launch facilities. For those shots to show anything interesting the weather has to be exceptionally clear however, which is not always the case.
"...how this is possible now?"
The radio link? No excuse for that not to work.
The video? HD camera these days. Digital video, so crystal clear.
Tracking? Newtonian physics. Likely ITAR-grade GPS (since it *is* a missile), probably Inertial and Kalman filtering to merge the solutions. Off the shelf boxes.
If such a system didn't work the first time, then it certainly should work the 2nd time. Three failures and one should hire new 'Comms' staff.
"When did we get the capability to track the launch until first stage separation from the ground so clearly?"
I know! I know the landing is an incredible feat, but the fact we get HD video of the rocket from the ground up to such a high altitude is bloody amazing. Not to mention full HD video feeds from both outside and inside various parts of the rocket is pretty amazing achievement too. We've all been marvelling at the various launches over the years but no one ever seems to mention the vast leaps in comms tech that has come with it.
We can probably thank the paparazzi for the big leaps in telephoto lense tech :-)
I have recollections of several novels and a film that used the Space Trucker meme, and Han Solo isn't so far from that. Before that it was the tramp freighter, a small ship going from port to port (Han Solo again).
There's a huge distance between fiction and reality. It's mostly down to finding ways to tell a story that people can understand. It's arguable that Space isn't really a place that humans and other organic life can cope with. and Charles Stross has managed to tell stories that go in a different direction, starting with "Saturn's Children".
There are few who go to such lengths, and get such entertaining results. Jo Walton coined the term "in-clueing" for what an SF writer has to do to get something that is more than a western with the names changed.
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