I have been thinking about the SpaceX launch since I watched it last night – and, of course, the subsequent landing – feeling inspired and excited in a way that I cannot ever recall feeling before.
The last launch I watched was back in June, when the Falcon 9 was due to deliver a much-needed payload with resupplies to the International Space Station. I was shocked when the rocket exploded shortly after launch. It was a heartbreaking sight – seldom do we witness a failure so spectacular, so public.
And as the video feed started, this time live from SpaceX headquarters, the energy was palpable. Much was at stake: the ostensible goal of carrying eleven ORBCOMM satellites into low-Earth orbit – a nontrivial task, to be sure. But the larger objective, for those of us who have been following the SpaceX journey, was something far grander.
SpaceX was attempting to make history by being the first to land a large portion of the rocket back on Earth after delivering a payload to space. Continue reading