The pride of Elon Musk's private SpaceX spacecraft stable is the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9, first launched on 4 June 2010, is a reusable heavy launch lift vehicle, so named because it is powered by nine SpaceX Merlin 1C rocket engines. It has a little free-flying spacecraft crew capsule, the Dragon, attached at the top.
Musk, who co-founded PayPal, bet everything on SpaceX's Falcon programme. He mortgaged himself to the hilt, and spent every last penny after an expensive divorce (in which he paid his first ex-wife's $4 million legal fees, plus her living expenses at $20,000 per month, plus subsequent alimony), to prove this spacecraft could fly. He married, divorced, remarried and re-divorced his second wife, in a settlement that could cost him billions.
For today, see a time lapse of the Falcon 9 first-stage landing during the THAICOM 8 mission on 27 May 2016. The Falcon 9 returned to earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean on the company's droneship, Of Course I Still Love You. The photographs from the launch and the deployment of the satellite are from SpaceX. The next challenges involve lifting heavier payloads, with the Falcon Heavy (expected in December 2016), billed as "the world's most powerful rocket." There were other ideas for heavy payload rockets, such as the Falcon X Heavy and the Falcon XX. The current plan, according to a 2 June 2016 report, is to send a SpaceX Red Dragon capsule to Mars by 2024.
First Stage Landing, Onboard Camera (27 May 2016) Falcon 9 landing on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship. Video Source: SpaceX via Youtube.
Falcon 9 historically delivered eleven satellites into space (21 December 2015). This video, celebrating SpaceX's feat, quotes Dylan Thomas's poem, Do not go gentle into that good night (1951). Video Source: Youtube.
Caption for the above video: "'Long ago, when an early galaxy began to pour light out into the surrounding darkness, no witness could have known that billions of years later some remote clumps of rock and metal, ice and organic molecules would fall together to make place called Earth; or that life would arise and thinking beings evolve who would one day capture a little of that galactic light, and try to puzzle out what had sent it on its way. And after the earth dies, some 5 billion years from now, after it's burned to a crisp, or even swallowed by the Sun, there will be other worlds and stars and galaxies coming into being -- and they will know nothing of a place once called Earth.' - Carl Sagan"
Original promo for the Falcon Heavy (5 April 2011). Video Source: SpaceX via Youtube.
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