Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Science catches up with the 50s
On Monday, December 21st, modern science finally caught up with the vision of space technology from the 1950s. SpaceX finally succeeded in making their Falcon 9 rocket return to earth -- under power -- to land upright on legs. You can see a short YouTube video here, that shows the landing as seen from a helicopter.
For fans of sci-fi films from the 50s, SpaceX's accomplishment almost seems like a non-event. We've been watching rockets descend under power, to land on their legs since Destination Moon (1950). From sci-fi dreamers to kids reading comic books, the powered landing was just intuitively the "right" way to do it.
Perhaps 50s (and even 60s) technology was not up to the dreamers' visions. NASA decided, even before the first Mercury capsules went into space, that such landings were impossible. They built their whole system around the assumption of the single-use launch system. Perhaps institutional inertia was to blame, but the vertical powered landing was never considered.
So, congratulations SpaceX. You've finally accomplished what us 50s sci-fi fans had expected all along. Keep it up. We are still waiting for our big-wheel space stations and planets full of beautiful women.
at 11:36 AM