Boom! SpaceX’s Rocket Landing Blooper Reel Is Epic … and Explosive (Video)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk likes reusability. With 16 successful rocket landings under its belt, along with two reused rockets and one reused Dragon spacecraft, Musk’s rocket company has made giant leaps in reusable booster technology for sure.

But an amazing new video from the company, which Musk has touted as a mere “blooper reel,” shows just how hard it is to launch rockets into space and land them safely again. Musk posted the video — called “How Not to Land a Rocket” — on Twitter today (Sept. 14). SpaceX’s most recent rocket landing occurred Sept. 6 after the launch of an Air Force X-37B space plane.

“Long road to reusabity of Falcon 9 primary boost stage,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “When upper stage & fairing also reusable, costs will drop by a factor >100.” [Watch a Supercut of 5 Amazing SpaceX Rocket Landings!]

He teased the video’s arrival last week: “Putting together SpaceX rocket landing blooper reel. We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage.”

“Epic” is right.

The video is set to a soundtrack of John Philip Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell” march (which also served as the theme song for “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”). It shows a series of rocket-landing fails dating back to 2013 as SpaceX tried repeatedly to perfect the technology needed to land the first stage of its two-stage Falcon 9 rockets back on Earth.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable rocket explodes during test flight on Aug. 22, 2014.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable rocket explodes during test flight on Aug. 22, 2014.

Credit: SpaceX

The early Falcon 9 booster landing attempts were over the open ocean, with the rockets either slamming into the sea hard, or hovering over the waves before tipping over. Another clip shows the dramatic explosion of SpaceX’s prototype first stage for landings, the Falcon 9 Reusable (or F9R). That booster exploded in August 2014 over McGregor, Texas, when an engine sensor failed.

In the new video, Musk is seen touring the F9R wreckage. “Rocket is fine,” a caption reads. “It’s just a scratch.”

SpaceX’s next rocket failures occurred at sea as the company tried to land the Falcon 9 booster on a drone ship. In September 2014, a rocket ran out of liquid oxygen before touchdown, and crashed. In January 2015, another booster ran out of hydraulic fluid and made a spectacular nighttime crash into the drone ship.

“Well, technically it did land,” a video caption reads. “Just not in one piece.”

A sticky throttle valve doomed a rocket-landing try in April 2015. The booster gets so close to a successful landing, then falls over and explodes.

“Look, that’s not an explosion … it’s just a rapid unscheduled disassembly,” the video states.

SpaceX achieved its first successful rocket landing in December 2015, but the blooper video initially skips that milestone. Instead, it skips straight to January 2016, when a landing leg collapsed during touchdown, causing the Falcon 9 booster to tip over and explode.

In March 2016, a landing engine burn failed, and the booster slammed into its landing platform.

“The course of true love never did run smooth,” a video caption reads.

Then comes a strange sight. During a May 2016 rocket landing, the booster can be seen hopping about on its drone ship. SpaceX attributes the weird rocket dance to a radar glitch that damaged the landing legs. The booster had an obvious tilt when the drone ship finally reached its port in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A June 2016 rocket landing failed when the booster ran out of propellant.

Only after the June crash does the new SpaceX video return to its first successful rocket landing, in December 2015. That mission launched a Dragon cargo ship for NASA, and then returned to Earth to make a smooth landing at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX made its first successful drone ship landing in April 2016.

“You are my everything,” the SpaceX video states.

SpaceX and Musk have long pursued reusable rockets to lower the cost of spaceflight. It’s a core part of the company’s goal to colonize Mars with giant reusable spaceships.

SpaceX successfully launched two used Falcon 9 rockets earlier this year. The company has also seen two other failures. A Falcon 9 rocket failed in June 2015 during a Dragon cargo ship launch for NASA. In September 2016, a rocket exploded on SpaceX’s launchpad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ahead of a preflight test.

Earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX is studying the potential for a completely reusable Falcon 9 rocket. That would mean reusing the rocket’s upper stage, as well as its protective payload fairing (the nose cone). The fairing alone costs about $5 million, Musk has said.

SpaceX is also building a much larger rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which will consist of three Falcon 9 boosters for its first stage. All three of those rockets are designed to land after launch, Musk has said.

The first Falcon Heavy test flight is expected to launch in November.

Editor’s Note: Space.com senior producer Steve Spaleta contributed to this report.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

When SpaceX laughs at itself while teaching how not to land an orbital rocket booster

The Great Indian Festival (21st-24th September) by Amazon is back and it’s more tempting than ever. This edition will cater to everyone, with offers on a range of products from electronics, home appliances, apparel for men and women, personal care, toys, pet products, gourmet foods, gardening accessories and more. With such overwhelming choice of products and a dozen types of offers, it’s not the easiest to find the best deals in time to buy before your find gets sold out. You need a strategy to make sure you avail the best deals. Here’s your guide on how to make the most out of the Great Indian Festival:

Make use of the Amazon trio – Amazon Prime, Amazon Pay and Amazon app

Though the festival officially starts on 21st, Amazon Prime members will have early access starting at 12 noon on 20th September itself, enabling them to grab the best deals first. Sign up for an Amazon Prime account to not miss out on exclusive deals and products. Throughout the festival, Prime members will 30-minute early access to top deals before non-Prime members. At Rs 499/- a year, the Prime membership also brings unlimited Amazon Prime video streaming and quick delivery benefits.

Load your Amazon pay wallet; there’s assured 10% cashback (up to Rs 500). Amazon will also offer incremental cashbacks over and above bank cashbacks on select brands as a part of its Amazon Pay Offers. Shopping from the app would bring to you a whole world of benefits not available to non-app shoppers. App-only deals include flat Rs 1,250 off on hotels on shopping for more than Rs 500, and flat Rs 1,000 off on flights on a roundtrip booking of Rs 5,000 booking from Yatra. Ten lucky shoppers can also win one year of free travel worth Rs 1.5 lakhs.

Plan your shopping

The Great Indian Sale has a wide range of products, offers, flash sales and lightning deals. To make sure you don’t miss out on the best deals, or lose your mind, plan first. Make a list of things you really need or have been putting off buying. If you plan to buy electronics or appliances, do your research on the specs and shortlist the models or features you prefer. Even better, add them to your wishlist so you’re better able to track your preferred products.

Track the deals

There will be lightning deals and golden hour deals throughout the festival period. Keep track to avail the best of them. Golden-hour deals will be active on the Amazon app from 9.00pm-12.00am, while Prime users will have access to exclusive lightning deals. For example, Prime-only flash sales for Redmi 4 will start at 2.00pm and Redmi 4A at 6.00pm on 20th, while Nokia 6 will be available at Rs 1,000 off. There will be BOGO Offers (Buy One Get One free) and Bundle Offers (helping customers convert their TVs to Smart TVs at a fraction of the cost by using Fire TV Stick). Expect exclusive product launches from brands like Xiaomi (Mi Band 2 HRX 32 GB), HP (HP Sprocket Printer) and other launches from Samsung and Apple. The Half-Price Electronics Store (minimum 50% off) and stores offering minimum Rs 15,000 off will allow deal seekers to discover the top discounts.

Big discounts and top picks

The Great Indian Festival is especially a bonanza for those looking to buy electronics and home appliances. Consumers can enjoy a minimum of 25% off on washing machines, 20% off on refrigerators and 20% off on microwaves, besides deals on other appliances. Expect up to 40% off on TVs, along with No-Cost EMI and up to Rs 20,000 off on exchange.

Home Appliances

Our top picks for washing machines are Haier 5.8 Kg Fully Automatic Top Loading at 32% off, and Bosch Fully Automatic Front Loading 6 Kg and 7 Kg, both available at 27% discount. Morphy Richards 20 L Microwave Oven will be available at a discount of 38%.

Our favorite pick on refrigerators is the large-sized Samsung 545 L at 26% off so you can save Rs 22,710.

There are big savings to be made on UV water purifiers as well (up to 35% off), while several 5-star ACs from big brands will be available at greater than 30% discount. Our top pick is the Carrier 1.5 Ton 5-star split AC at 32% off.

Also those looking to upgrade their TV to a smart one can get Rs. 20,000 off by exchanging it for the Sony Bravia 108cm Android TV.

Personal Electronics

There’s good news for Apple fans. The Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop 2017 will be available at Rs 55,990, while the iPad will be available at 20% off. Laptops from Lenovo, Dell and HP will be available in the discount range of 20% to 26%. Top deals are Lenovo Tab3 and Yoga Tab at 41% to 38% off. Apple fans wishing to upgrade to the latest in wearable technology can enjoy Rs 8,000 off on the Apple Watch series 2 smartwatch.

If you’re looking for mobile phones, our top deal pick is the LG V20 at Rs 24,999, more than Rs 5000 off from its pre-sale price.

Power banks always come in handy. Check out the Lenovo 13000 mAh power bank at 30% off.

Home printers are a good investment for frequent flyers and those with kids at home. The discounted prices of home printers at the festival means you will never worry about boarding passes and ID documents again. The HP Deskjet basic printer will be available for Rs 1,579 at 40% off and multi-function (printer/ scanner/ Wi-Fi enabled) printers from HP Deskjet and Canon will also available at 33% off.

The sale is a great time to buy Amazon’s native products. Kindle E-readers and Fire TV Stick will be on sale with offers worth Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000 respectively.

The Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick

For those of you who have a bottomless collection of movies, music and photos, there is up to 60% off on hard drives and other storage devices. Our top picks are Rs 15,000 and Rs 12,000 off on Seagate Slim 5TB and 4TB hard drives respectively, available from 8.00am to 4.00pm on 21st September.

The sale will see great discounts of up to 60% off on headphones and speakers from the top brands. The 40% off on Bose QC 25 Headphones is our favourite. Top deals are on Logitech speakers with Logitech Z506 Surround Sound 5.1 multimedia Speakers at 60% off and the super compact JBL Go Portable Speaker at 56% off!

Other noteworthy deals

Cameras (up to 55% off) and camera accessories such as tripods, flash lights etc. are available at a good discount. Home surveillance cameras too will be cheaper. These include bullet cameras, dome cameras, simulated cameras, spy cameras and trail and game cameras.

For home medical supplies and equipment, keep an eye on the grooming and personal care section. Weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, glucometers, body fat monitors etc. will be available at a cheaper price.

The sale is also a good time to invest in home and kitchen supplies. Mixer-grinders and juicers could see lightning deals. Don’t ignore essentials like floor mops with wheels, rotating mop replacements, utensils, crockery etc. Tupperware sets, for example, will be more affordable. There are attractive discounts on bags, especially laptop bags, backpacks, diaper bags and luggage carriers.

Interesting finds

While Amazon is extremely convenient for need-based shopping and daily essentials, it is also full of hidden treasures. During the festival, you can find deals on telescopes, polaroid cameras, smoothie makers, gym equipment, gaming consoles and more. So you’ll be able to allow yourself some indulgences!

Small shopping

If you have children, the festival is good time to stock up on gifts for Diwali, Christmas, return gifts etc. On offer are gaming gadgets such as Xbox, dough sets, Touching Tom Cat, Barbies, classic board games such as Life and more. There are also some products that you don’t really need, but kind of do too, such as smartphone and tablet holders, magnetic car mounts for smartphones and mobile charging station wall stands. If you’re looking for enhanced functionality in daily life, do take a look at the Amazon Basics page. On it you’ll find USB cables, kitchen shears, HDMI cables, notebooks, travel cases and other useful things you don’t realise you need.

Check-out process and payment options

Amazon is also offering an entire ecosystem to make shopping more convenient and hassle-free. For the festival duration, Amazon is offering No-Cost EMIs (zero interest EMIs) on consumer durables, appliances and smartphones, plus exchange schemes and easy installation services in 65 cities. HDFC card holders can avail additional 10% cashback on HDFC credit and debit cards. Customers will also get to “Buy Now and Pay in 2018” with HDFC Credit Cards, as the bank offers a 3 Month EMI Holiday during the days of the sale. Use Amazon Pay balance for fast and easy checkouts, quicker refunds and a secured shopping experience.

Sales are fun and with The Great Indian Festival offering big deals on big brands, it definitely calls for at least window shopping. There’s so much more than the above categories, like minimum 50% off on American Tourister luggage! To start the treasure hunt, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Amazon.in and not by the Scroll editorial team.

SpaceX Releases Blooper Video of Rocket Failures

The private American company SpaceX has been called a pioneer in the space industry.

SpaceX was the idea of businessman Elon Musk. He wanted to reduce the cost of space travel by reusing rockets over and over again.

At the time, this was a completely new idea. For years, booster rockets that lifted spacecraft into the skies returned to Earth and were discarded at sea.

At first, many scientists and people in the aerospace industry did not take Elon Musk and SpaceX seriously. There were many rocket failures in the company’s early days of testing.

But many people became believers after SpaceX successfully recovered its rockets, turning Musk’s dream into reality.

In recent years, SpaceX has increased the number of rockets it launches. These have included flights transporting supplies to the International Space Station, as well as many satellite launches.

To date, SpaceX has successfully landed 16 first-stage booster rockets to be reused in future rocket launches. The most recent landing took place earlier this month in Florida. Some rockets touched down on land, while others landed on a floating platform in the sea.

But before all the successes, there were also some big failures.

SpaceX recently put together a collection of some of those failures in the form of a blooper video. Musk announced the video on Twitter: “How NOT to land an orbital rocket.”

In another recent post, he wrote “we messed up a lot before it finally worked.” He also promised that viewers would see “some epic explosion” video.

The two-minute video is set to John Philip Sousa’s famous march “The Liberty Bell.” It shows rockets exploding at sea and over land, with short explanations and dates. The opening explosion, from 2013, is timed to the music.

Towards the end, the video shows SpaceX’s first successful booster landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force station in 2015. The final shot is of the booster that touched down on an ocean platform in 2016.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from the Associated Press and SpaceX. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

_______________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

pioneer – n. person who is one of the first to do something

booster n. part of a rocket that provides force for the launch and the first part of the flight

discard – v. throw something away after use

platform – n. raised structure with a flat surface

blooper – n. mistake, sometimes funny, made in public

mess up – v. make a mistake or do something wrong

epic – adj. very large or impressive

SpaceX bloopers video: ‘How NOT to land an orbital rocket’ | National News

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has put together a bloopers video showing “How NOT to land an orbital rocket booster.”

Set to John Philip Sousa’s rousing march “The Liberty Bell,” the two-minute video posted Thursday shows rockets exploding at sea and over land. The opening blast, from 2013, is even synchronized to the music.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk can afford to poke fun at his early, pioneering efforts at rocket recycling, now that his private company has pulled off 16 successful booster landings. The most recent occurred last week in Florida.

“We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage,” Musk said recently on Twitter.

In one video shot, Musk looks over a rocket’s charred remains with the caption: “It’s just a scratch.” After another huge fiery explosion, this one on the company’s barge, the caption reads: “Well, technically, it did land … just not in one piece.”

Musk tweeted Thursday that when the Falcon rocket’s upper stage and the cargo enclosure can also be retrieved and reused, launch costs will drop by a factor of more than 100.

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For now, SpaceX’s first-stage boosters— 15 stories tall — separate shortly after liftoff and fly back to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or an ocean platform for a vertical touchdown. Until the company’s recovery efforts — unique among rocket makers launching spacecraft into orbit — these segments were discarded at sea. A couple of these recycled rockets already have launched a second time.

The video ends with scenes of the first successful booster touchdown at Cape Canaveral in 2015 and the first one on an ocean platform in 2016.

“The Liberty Bell” march was the theme music for the old “Monty Python” comedy TV series.

In the footsteps of SpaceX: Chinese company eyes development of reusable rocket

New Line 1 rocket being presented to the public.

New Line 1 rocket being presented to the public. Photo Credit: Link Space

A Chinese startup company appears to be following in the footsteps of SpaceX as it has recently laid out its own project of a reusable space launch system. Link Space, the country’s first private rocket company, has recently presented the design of its New Line 1 (also known as Xin Gan Xian 1) launch vehicle, which could compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in the future.

Link Space uncovered the design and some basic technical parameters at a recent presentation. The images revealed to the public show that the first stage of the newly developed launcher could feature a similar landing system that is used in SpaceX’s flagship reusable Falcon 9 booster.

“SpaceX is very cool and Falcon 9 is extremely great, we take SpaceX as our goal and guider because there are too many advantages for us to learn,” Hu Zhenyu, founder and CEO of Link Space Aerospace Technology Inc., told Astrowatch.net.

New Line 1 is a Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) designed for microsatellite and nanosatellite launches. It will be capable of sending up to 440 pounds (200 kilograms) into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) of 155 to 342 miles (250 to 550 kilometers).

New Line 1 will be a 66-feet (20.1-meter) tall two-stage liquid rocket with a diameter of 5.9 feet (1.8 meters). With a mass of about 33 metric tons at liftoff, the launcher will have a takeoff thrust of about 400 kN (∼90,000 lbf). The first stage of the vehicle will consist of four liquid-oxygen/kerosene engines with gas generator cycle. Each single booster will have a thrust of 100 kN (22,480 lbf).

Design and parameters of the New Line 1 rocket.

Design and parameters of the New Line 1 rocket. Photo Credit: Link Space

The most important feature of the New Line 1 rocket will be obviously the reusability of its first stage, like in Falcon 9 boosters. This could greatly lower the cost of one single orbital launch.

“The launch price is about 30 million yuan ($4.5 million) for each launch (with a totally new rocket), and this rocket will have an enhanced version with increased takeoff weight. By reusing the first stage of the rocket, the launch price will be reduced to about 15 million yuan ($2.25 million),” Hu revealed.

While the New Line 1 rocket will have only one reusable stage, the company thinks big and aims to develop also a second stage that could be reused after landing. Although it is a long-term goal, Hu hopes that it could be implemented in the successors of the company’s first launch vehicle.

“Perhaps the later version, such as New Line 2 or 3, will have such a capacity,” Hu said.

Founded in 2014, Link Space is a Beijing-based startup with no government or military background. In July 2016, the company achieved rocket hover flight with a single vector-thrust-engine for the first time in China.

The firm is currently developing key technologies for the space industry, including a variable-thrust liquid-propellant rocket engine, a vertical takeoff / vertical landing (VTVL) rocket flight platform, a flight control algorithm and control system, a hover flight test process, a servo actuator, and many others.

Up until September 2017, Link Space has developed three hover rockets, repeated flight tests more than 200 times, as well as accumulated a lot of experimental data and engineering experience. The company utilizes a rocket flight test field that is located in Shandong Province covering 53,800 square feet (5,000 square meters) – the biggest commercial rocket test field in China for large thrust liquid engines and rocket flight tests.

According to Hu, the development of the New Line 1 launch vehicle will consume about 300 million yuan ($45 million) and the maiden flight of the rocket could be conducted as soon as 2020.

“The first orbital flight of New Line 1 is planned in 2020, which is an optimistic estimation because we know it’s hard, and we plan to develop most of the core technology all by ourselves, such as deep-variable-thrust liquid rocket engine, flight control system, landing systems and so on,” Hu noted.

Link Space hopes that the New Line 1 rocket will attract the interest of commercial companies worldwide. The company also believes that the launch vehicle will also carry out some missions for the Chinese government.

So far, SpaceX is the only company to recover a rocket following an orbital launch. A few months ago, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, encouraged other companies to develop their own reusable orbital rockets. Now, Link Space’s bold plans show that it could be only a matter of a few years when SpaceX’s monopoly in this field could be broken up.

“We also believe that a good technical trend should not belong to a single company, and Elon has said that the reusable rocket is certain to be more and more common. In fact, a lot of similar programs are very different in detail. Although it looks similar in appearance, if you want to make it really work, you must do everything from zero to design and manufacture the whole rocket,” Hu concluded.

 

Tagged: China Elon Musk Falcon 9 Link Space New Line 1 SpaceX The Range

Tomasz Nowakowski

Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski’s generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

SpaceX’s Landing Blooper Reel Shows That Even Rocket Scientists Make Mistakes

Original image

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches.

AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

Original image

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches.

AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

On March 30, 2017, SpaceX did something no space program had done before: They relaunched an orbital class rocket from Earth that had successfully achieved lift-off just a year earlier. It wasn’t the first time Elon Musk’s company broke new ground: In December 2015, it nailed the landing on a reusable rocket—the first time that had been done—and five months later landed a rocket on a droneship in the middle of the ocean, which was also unprecedented. These feats marked significant moments in the history of space travel, but they were just a few of the steps in the long, messy journey to achieve them. In SpaceX’s new blooper reel, spotted by Ars Technica, you can see just some of the many failures the company has had along the way.

The video demonstrates that failure is an important part of the scientific process. Of course when the science you’re working in deals with launching and landing rockets, failure can be a lot more dramatic than it is in a lab. SpaceX has filmed their rockets blowing up in the air, disintegrating in the ocean, and smashing against landing pads, often because of something small like a radar glitch or lack of propellant.

While explosions—or “rapid unscheduled disassemblies,” as the video calls them—are never ideal, some are preferable to others. The Falcon 9 explosion that shook buildings for miles last year, for instance, ended up destroying the $200 million Facebook satellite onboard. But even costly hiccups such as that one are important to future successes. As Musk once said, “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

You can watch the fiery compilation below.

[h/t Ars Technica]

Original image

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches.

NASA/Getty Images

Here’s Where You Can Watch a Livestream of Cassini’s Final Moments

Original image

NASA/Getty Images

It’s been a road trip like no other. After seven years and 2.2 billion miles, the NASA orbiter Cassini finally arrived at the Saturn system on June 30, 2004. Ever since, it’s been capturing and transmitting valuable data about the distant environment. From sending the Huygens probe to land on the moon Titan to witnessing hurricanes on both of the planet’s poles, Cassini has informed more than 3000 scientific papers.

It’s been as impressive a mission as any spacecraft has ever undertaken. And tomorrow, Cassini will perform one last feat: sacrificing itself to Saturn’s intense atmosphere. Project scientists are deliberately plunging it into the planet in order to secure just a little more data—and to keep the spacecraft, which is running low on fuel, from one day colliding with a Saturnian moon that might harbor life.

Because it won’t have time to store anything on its hard drive, Cassini will livestream its blaze of glory via NASA. The information will be composed mostly of measurements, since pictures would take too long to send. Instead, we’ll get data about Saturn’s magnetic field and the composition of its dust and gas.

“As we fly through the atmosphere, we are able to literally scoop up some molecules, and from those we can figure out the ground truth in Saturn’s atmosphere,” Scott Edgington, a Cassini project scientist, told New Scientist. “Just like almost everything else in this mission, I expect to be completely surprised.”

The action will kick off at 7 a.m. EDT on Friday, September 15. Scientists expect to say goodbye to Cassini less than an hour later. 

While you wait for Cassini’s grand finale, you can check out some essential facts we’ve rounded up from Saturn experts. And keep your eyes peeled for a full recap of Cassini’s historic journey: Mental Floss will be in the control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to offer a firsthand account of the craft’s final moments in space. 

Original image

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches.

iStock

What Are the Northern Lights?

Original image

iStock

Over the centuries, many have gazed up at one of the Earth’s most fascinatingly beautiful natural wonders: the Northern Lights. In the past couple of weeks, some lucky American stargazers have gotten the chance to see them from their very own backyards—and could again this week, according to Thrillist. But what are they?

Before science was able to get a read on what exactly was happening in the night sky, ancient tribes had their own theories for what caused the jaw-dropping light show. Many early beliefs had roots in religion, such as that the light was a pathway souls traveled to reach heaven (Eskimo tribes) or that the light was an eternal battle of dead warriors (Middle-Age Europe). Early researchers were a bit more reasonable in their approximations, and most surrounded the idea of the reflection of sunlight off the ice caps. In 1619, Galileo Galilei named the lights the aurora borealis after Aurora, the Roman goddess of morning, after concluding they were a product of sunlight reflecting from the atmosphere.

Today, scientists have come to the general agreement that the lights are caused by the collision of electrically charged solar particles and atoms from our atmosphere. The energy from the collisions is released as light, and the reason it happens around the poles is because that’s where the Earth’s magnetic field is the strongest. In 2008, a team at UCLA concluded that “when two magnetic field lines come close together due to the storage of energy from the sun, a critical limit is reached and the magnetic field lines reconnect, causing magnetic energy to be transformed into kinetic energy and heat. Energy is released, and the plasma is accelerated, producing accelerated electrons.”

“Our data show clearly and for the first time that magnetic reconnection is the trigger,” said Vassilis Angelopoulos, a UCLA professor of Earth and Space Sciences. “Reconnection results in a slingshot acceleration of waves and plasma along magnetic field lines, lighting up the aurora underneath even before the near-Earth space has had a chance to respond. We are providing the evidence that this is happening.”

The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter, due to the Earth’s position in relation to the sun (shorter days means darker night skies). And by the way, it’s not just the North Pole that puts on a show—there are Southern Lights, too. There are also aurora borealis on other planets—including Mars—so rest assured that future generations born “abroad” will not miss out on this spectacular feat of nature.

Haven’t seen them yet? Traditionally, the best places to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights are in Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, northern Canada, and Alaska. Maybe you’ll get lucky this week and sneak a peek from your very own window. Check out Aurorasaurus for regular updates on where they are showing.

Have you got a Big Question you’d like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

More from mental floss studios

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SpaceX bloopers video: ‘How NOT to land an orbital rocket’ – News – Journal Star

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX has put together a bloopers video showing “How NOT to land an orbital rocket booster.”

Set to John Philip Sousa’s rousing march “The Liberty Bell,” the two-minute video posted Thursday shows rockets exploding at sea and over land. The opening blast, from 2013, is even synchronized to the music.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk can afford to poke fun at his early, pioneering efforts at rocket recycling, now that his private company has pulled off 16 successful booster landings. The most recent occurred last week in Florida.

“We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage,” Musk said recently on Twitter.

In one video shot, Musk looks over a rocket’s charred remains with the caption: “It’s just a scratch.” After another huge fiery explosion, this one on the company’s barge, the caption reads: “Well, technically, it did land … just not in one piece.”

Musk tweeted Thursday that when the Falcon rocket’s upper stage and the cargo enclosure can also be retrieved and reused, launch costs will drop by a factor of more than 100.

For now, SpaceX’s first-stage boosters— 15 stories tall — separate shortly after liftoff and fly back to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station or an ocean platform for a vertical touchdown. Until the company’s recovery efforts — unique among rocket makers launching spacecraft into orbit — these segments were discarded at sea. A couple of these recycled rockets already have launched a second time.

The video ends with scenes of the first successful booster touchdown at Cape Canaveral in 2015 and the first one on an ocean platform in 2016.

“The Liberty Bell” march was the theme music for the old “Monty Python” comedy TV series.

 

SpaceX releases ‘blooper reel’ of failed rocket landings

While you might think that SpaceX would want to hide its failed landings, Elon Musk’s firm has done the opposite.

SpaceX has published a hilarious ‘blooper reel’ video that collates all of the firm’s failed rocket booster landings.

The video shows a range of issues, including exploding rockets, engine sensor failures and a sticky throttle valve. 

SPACEX LAUNCHES 

SpaceX has launched 12 rockets this year, and is on track to launch as many as 20 in 2017, which would be a record for the company and very impressive per industry standards.

Russia have launched 11 successful orbital missions this year.

They are followed by China with eight and European firms at six. 

SpaceX’s US-based rival, United Launch Alliance, has flown five rockets.

SpaceX posted the video on YouTube today, with the title ‘How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster.’

It is set to the song ‘Liberty Bell’, which is also the Monty Python theme song, helping to infer the light-hearted spirit of the video.

Along with each clip is a caption explaining why the landing failed.

In September 2013, a rocket booster exploded after making a hard landing on water, while in July 2014, a rocket booster broke apart after tipping.

And in one hilarious clip, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, can be seen examining one of the boosters after it explodes.

In September 2013, a SpaceX rocket booster exploded after making a hard landing on water (pictured)

In September 2013, a SpaceX rocket booster exploded after making a hard landing on water (pictured)

In September 2013, a SpaceX rocket booster exploded after making a hard landing on water (pictured)

He comments: ‘Rocket is fine? It’s just a scratch,’ regardless of the fact that it is in pieces.

In January 2015, a rocket booster exploded on its landing pad after it ran out of hydraulic fluid.

But the caption jokes: ‘Well, technically, it did land…just not in one piece.’

In July 2014, a rocket booster broke apart after tipping, and pieces were strewn across the ocean 

In July 2014, a rocket booster broke apart after tipping, and pieces were strewn across the ocean 

In July 2014, a rocket booster broke apart after tipping, and pieces were strewn across the ocean 

And a sticky throttle valve thwarted a rocket-landing attempt in April 2015.

The booster gets tantalising close to an upright landing, but then tips over and explodes.

‘Look, that’s not an explosion…it’s just a rapid unscheduled disassembly,’ the video states.

In August 2014, an engine sensor on the rocket booster failed, causing it to dramatically explode and fall to Earth

In August 2014, an engine sensor on the rocket booster failed, causing it to dramatically explode and fall to Earth

In August 2014, an engine sensor on the rocket booster failed, causing it to dramatically explode and fall to Earth

In one hilarious clip, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, can be seen examining one of the boosters after it explodes. He comments: 'Rocket is fine? It's just a scratch,' regardless of the fact that it is in pieces

In one hilarious clip, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, can be seen examining one of the boosters after it explodes. He comments: 'Rocket is fine? It's just a scratch,' regardless of the fact that it is in pieces

In one hilarious clip, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, can be seen examining one of the boosters after it explodes. He comments: ‘Rocket is fine? It’s just a scratch,’ regardless of the fact that it is in pieces

The video skips over SpaceX’ first successful rocket landing in December 2015 and goes straight to January 2016.

In this failed attempt a landing leg collapsed during touchdown, causing the Falcon 9 booster to tip over and explode.

In March 2016, a landing engine burn failed, and the booster hit the platform too quickly, exploding. 

In January 2015, one of the rockets ran out of hydraulic fuel, causing it to dramatically crash and explode onto the landing pad

In January 2015, one of the rockets ran out of hydraulic fuel, causing it to dramatically crash and explode onto the landing pad

In January 2015, one of the rockets ran out of hydraulic fuel, causing it to dramatically crash and explode onto the landing pad

‘The course of true love never did run smooth,’ a video caption reads.

In May 2016, the booster can be seen jumping about on its drone ship due to a radar glitch that damaged the landing legs.

In a June 2016, he booster ran out of propellant resulting in another failed attempt.  

A sticky throttle valve in April 2015 made this rocket tip over and explod into flame after it landed

A sticky throttle valve in April 2015 made this rocket tip over and explod into flame after it landed

A sticky throttle valve in April 2015 made this rocket tip over and explod into flame after it landed

SpaceX made its first successful drone ship landing in April 2016.

‘You are my everything,’ the SpaceX video states.

Musk teased the video’s arrival last week: ‘Putting together SpaceX rocket landing blooper reel. 

In June 2016, this rocket ran out of propellant, causing it to burst into flames and explode on the landing pad

In June 2016, this rocket ran out of propellant, causing it to burst into flames and explode on the landing pad

In June 2016, this rocket ran out of propellant, causing it to burst into flames and explode on the landing pad

While the video highlights the unsuccessful attempts, that's not to say that SpaceX hasn't made any successful landings

While the video highlights the unsuccessful attempts, that's not to say that SpaceX hasn't made any successful landings

While the video highlights the unsuccessful attempts, that’s not to say that SpaceX hasn’t made any successful landings

‘We messed up a lot before it finally worked, but there’s some epic explosion footage.’

While the video highlights the unsuccessful attempts, that’s not to say that SpaceX hasn’t made any successful landings. 

Since its first successful landing in December 2015, SpaceX has only crashed three of the rockets that it intended to land.

And the firm hasn’t lost a first stage in an attempted landing since June 2016. 

In that same time, SpaceX has completed 16 successful Falcon 9 first stage landings.

 

Rocket League update: Autumn Xbox One and PS4 patch release date and changes confirmed | Gaming | Entertainment

Developers Psyonix have announced today that the Rocket League Autumn update will launch on September 28.

It will comes a range of new changes, as well as being the point on PS4, Xbox One and PC when Season 5 ends and Season 6 will start.

It’s been awhile since the game saw a major patch released on PS4 and Xbox One, with Psyonix planning a few change before the start of October.

The new Rocket League update will debut a new ‘Events’ system, which introduces limited-time events that provide players with the opportunity to earn additional Battle-Car customisations. 

A new item will be essential to this process, with the Decryptor allowing players to unlock any unopened crate in their inventory without having to purchase a Key. 

Following the Autumn Update, players will also have the opportunity to help test two major upcoming features. First, is a brand new ‘Party’ System that PC players can help test during beta periods after the update goes live.

Second, is a new ‘Tournaments’ system that allows players to create and compete in their own tournaments inside the game client.

The Party system will launch shortly after the Autumn update goes live, while the Tournaments Beta will follow it later this fall.

Here’s a breakdown on a few other Rocket League changes coming with the Autumn update:

The Autumn Update features a ton of new content including:

  • Farmstead, a new Seasonal Arena available in Competitive, Casual, and Private matches for a limited time.
  • More than 90 free new Customisation Items available as Uncommon, Rare, and Very Rare drops after online matches or from Trade-Ins
  • The introduction of Player Banners, a new player customisation feature
  • The End of Competitive Season 5 and the start of Competitive Season 6
  • Standardization of Arenas for Competitive and Casual Online play
  • Transparent Goalposts
  • LAN Support for PC players

As mentioned above, this new patch will also usher in the start of Season 6, which will be a little different to Season 5.

“To kick off the new season, we are running a soft reset on all accounts that have previously placed in any Competitive Playlist,” a message from Psyonix explains. 

“This means every player will need to complete a set of ten placement matches per Playlist, similar to when you play in a Competitive Playlist for the first time. 

“This soft reset will help calibrate the entire player population for the new season, which will end in early 2018.”

Here are the new Season 5 rewards, as confirmed by Psyonix:

  • Bronze I or higher – Season 5 Bronze Player Banner
  • Silver I or higher – Season 5 Silver Player Banner + lower Banners
  • Gold I or higher – Season 5 Gold Player Banner + lower Banners
  • Platinum I or higher – Season 5 Platinum Player Banner + lower Banners
  • Diamond I or higher – Season 5 Diamond Player Banner + lower Banners
  • Champion – Season 5 Champion Player Banner + lower Banners
  • Grand Champion – ‘Season 5 Grand Champion’ in-game Title + Grand Champion Player Banner + lower Banners.

SpaceX close to landing rocket boosters next to its Southern California launch site





SpaceX, which has launched three rockets this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base and landed all three boosters on an off-shore barge, has built a permanent landing pad at the base to replace ocean recoveries.

The Hawthorne company’s 1.6-acre circular concrete landing pad was recently constructed directly west of its launchpad at Space Launch Complex 4 in the hills outside Lompoc. It could be in operation as early as this year.

While SpaceX hopes to rely on it for most West Coast landings, it also proposed to operate a second Pacific Ocean landing barge 31 miles off the Santa Barbara County coastline to recover boosters diverted from the ground by sensitive base operations.

State environmental reviews approved the proposal, with the caveat that SpaceX do some mitigating preparations to protect ocean life from sonic booms and potential explosions.

Federal regulators, still poring over the company’s Vandenberg landing-license application, declined to release any time line for the process, though most steps in the Federal Aviation Administration’s review are completed. SpaceX officials also have to finish radar-communication system tests to direct the robotic booster to the ground.

On Thursday morning, SpaceX returned its 16th launched booster to its only ground-based landing pad — Landing Zone 1 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida — minutes after delivering the Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane into orbit.

It was the company’s 13th launch of the year, and its 13th consecutive successful launch since an explosion destroyed a rocket on Sept. 1, 2016. Of those, three were from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The boosters were returned to an at-sea barge far off the coast of Baja California.

Its next Southern California launch is set for Oct. 4. But that booster will likely return to the barge off Mexico, and then be towed to the Port of Los Angeles for recovery.

Jason Major, a graphic designer and space blogger, watched Thursday’s booster return in Florida from a nearby viewing station.

“While it’s magnificent to watch a rocket soar up into the sky, it’s even more remarkable to see one come down to Earth,” Major said in an email. “It looks like something out of science fiction.”

SpaceX first managed to bring back a booster intact nearly two years ago, following several failures that resulted in exploded 16-story-tall boosters catching fire and falling into the ocean.

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More launches, landing pads coming

Recovering booster rockets is part of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. CEO Elon Musk’s plan to create a fleet of immediately reusable rockets that would make space travel much more affordable.

The decreasing costs of launches are opening up space to new commercial business opportunities for small satellite operators and others.

SpaceX’s long-term goal is to create a path to Mars colonization. But, first, it plans to launch what it calls “the most powerful rocket ever” later this year. That rocket, the Falcon Heavy, will be able to lift payloads two or three times as heavy as what a Falcon 9 can carry.

But there are several competitors working to best the Falcon Heavy, not the least of which is Amazon.com owner Jeff Bezos’ commercial rocket company, Blue Origin.

Next year, SpaceX intends to launch crewed missions to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Musk recently released photos of SpaceX’s futuristic gumdrop-shaped Dragon crew capsule and matching sleek white-and-black astronaut suit.

A second East Coast landing pad next to Landing Zone 1 is under construction to help land Falcon Heavy’s three boosters. SpaceX also operates an at-sea barge off the Florida coast for landings.

Growing pains

Despite devastating explosions that destroyed the company’s signature Falcon 9 rockets in June 2015 and September 2016, SpaceX launched more payloads to orbit this year that ever before.

The company also managed to achieve a series of firsts, including landing its first booster on a barge in the Pacific Ocean in January and delivering the first reused spacecraft to the International Space Station full of scientific research.

Its customers, however, have faced repeated and lengthy delays securing space on Falcon 9 launches.

The company is moving quickly to fix that problem.

In addition to its launchpads at Vandenberg and Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX is retooling the Cape Canaveral launchpad that was badly damaged in the Sept. 1, 2016, explosion. It’s also building a fourth launchpad in southern Texas for use late next year.

SpaceX would have several options to safely land its reusable rocket equipment on the West Coast if the Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators approve its bid for a landing site at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Environmental concerns

In addition to the new landing pad at Vandenberg, SpaceX has proposed a backup at-sea barge platform off Santa Barbara to land boosters in case of conflicts on land.

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service said the company’s proposed ocean-going landing pad 31 miles off Vandenberg near the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary would not cause major environmental damage.

The ground landing pad at the base “is the preferred landing location, (but) SpaceX has identified the need for a contingency landing action that would be exercised if there were critical assets on (the Air Force base) that would not permit an over-flight of the first stage,” the NOAA Fisheries’ review concluded.

The California Coastal Commission and FAA also determined the environmental impacts are minor.

Air pollution from the rocket’s engine burns to navigate back to Earth would be released about 3,000 feet above the ground “and would not have the potential to affect ambient air quality,” the FAA’s determination states. “The U.S. Air Force determined an explosion on the drone ship would not … have a significant impact on marine mammals.”

Any fuel released in an explosion would be quickly evaporated, according to the reviews. Debris that doesn’t immediately sink to the ocean floor would be recovered by SpaceX.

The most significant impact would result from scaring away migrating fish schools and marine mammals.

The booster produces a sonic boom as it zooms back to Earth faster than the speed of sound.

Major, who watched Thursday’s landing, said it was “like rapid cannon fire.”

The explosive sounds would likely send marine animals fleeing, the reviews state.

“SpaceX would implement several monitoring and mitigation measures for marine mammals,” NOAA Fisheries states. “We expect the responses from marine mammals … would be limited to temporary displacement from the area and/or short-term behavioral changes.”