A Farewell To Hackadays Favorite Falcon 9 Booster [PATCHED]
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A Farewell to Hackadayâs Favorite Falcon 9 Booster
SpaceX has been making history with its reusable rocket boosters, which have dramatically reduced the cost of orbital launches. But not all boosters are created equal, and some have achieved more fame and glory than others. One such booster is B1049, which holds the record for the most flights and landings of any Falcon 9 first stage.
B1049 was first launched on September 10, 2018, carrying the Telstar 18V communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. It then landed on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the 30th successful booster recovery for SpaceX. Since then, B1049 has flown 14 more times, delivering a total of 180 Starlink satellites and three other payloads to low Earth orbit. It has landed on both drone ships and on land, demonstrating its versatility and reliability.
However, all good things must come to an end, and B1049's final flight was on December 13, 2021, when it lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California with another batch of Starlink satellites. After separating from the second stage, B1049 performed a boost-back burn and headed for a landing on Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, something went wrong during the landing attempt, and B1049 missed the drone ship and crashed into the water, becoming the first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster to be lost.
SpaceX has not yet revealed the cause of the failure, but it is possible that B1049 suffered from metal fatigue or wear and tear after so many flights. The booster had already exceeded SpaceX's initial goal of 10 flights per booster, and was approaching the theoretical limit of 15 flights. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had previously hinted that B1049 might be retired after its 15th flight and put on display as a historical artifact.
Despite its tragic end, B1049 will always be remembered as a pioneer and a workhorse of SpaceX's reusable rocket fleet. It has contributed to the advancement of space exploration and internet connectivity for millions of people around the world. It has also inspired countless fans and enthusiasts who followed its exploits and achievements. We salute you, B1049, and thank you for your service.
Meanwhile, the Starship spacecraft will continue its ascent to orbit, using its six engines to propel itself. It will also deploy two solar arrays to generate power for its systems and communications. The spacecraft will then coast in orbit for about 90 minutes before performing a deorbit burn to reenter the atmosphere. Unlike the booster, the spacecraft is designed to survive the extreme heat and pressure of reentry, using its heat shield tiles and aerodynamic shape to slow down and glide. It will also use four large flaps to control its attitude and orientation during descent.
The final challenge for Starship will be to perform a controlled landing on a designated site near the launch pad. The spacecraft will have to reignite its engines and flip itself vertically before touching down softly on four landing legs. This maneuver has been attempted several times before with Starship prototypes, but only one of them succeeded without exploding. SpaceX hopes that the orbital Starship will fare better and demonstrate its capability to land safely and precisely.
If Starship completes this flight test successfully, it will be a huge milestone for SpaceX and a major step towards realizing Musk's vision of making humanity a multiplanetary species. However, even if the test fails or encounters some anomalies, SpaceX will still gain valuable data and experience that will help improve the design and performance of future Starships. The company has already built several more Starships at its Texas site, and plans to conduct more orbital flights in the coming months and years.
SpaceX also has ambitious plans for Starship beyond this test flight. It intends to use Starship for various missions, such as launching satellites, transporting cargo and crew to the International Space Station, landing humans on the Moon and Mars, and even enabling point-to-point travel around Earth. Starship could also serve as a platform for scientific exploration and discovery, as well as commercial and military applications. With Starship, SpaceX hopes to transform the space industry and open up new possibilities for humanity's future in space.