Rocket launches

posted by Jeff | Sunday, November 20, 2016, 11:48 AM | comments: 0

I witnessed my third rocket launch from the Cape Canaveral area last night, which puts me at 3 for 5 on overall attempts. They're often delayed because of weather or technical issues, and this one just made its hour-long window because of some unspecified problem, and then a range issue (someone or something was in the ocean below the flight path). Of course, we've seen at least a dozen other launches from home, but it's always fun to get up close because of the insanely wonderful sound that comes a few seconds after you see the rocket take flight.

This one was sent up by ULA, carrying an advanced weather satellite, the GOES-R. This was an Atlas V configured with external boosters, so it sounded fantastic. It's crazy how the sound takes so long to get to you after the rocket ignites, but consider we're about 10 miles from the pad. That's something of a testament to the flatness of Florida, especially on the coast, because you can still see the 200-foot rocket from that distance when it's night and there are lights on it.

There are a couple of launches I want to be there for over the next year. When SpaceX finally test launches its Falcon Heavy, I want to see and hear it, because that's a whole lot of thrust. And if they attempt to land all three of those boosters on land, I definitely need to be there. Otherwise, if they land another Falcon 9 at the cape, I want to be there. They only land the boosters on land if they're shooting for a low-earth orbit, otherwise, by the time they can turn it around and send it home, they're too far over the ocean with too little fuel. That's when they land it on an autonomous drone ship at sea. It's crazy that they can do that.

I love living in Florida for stuff like this. The landscape if mostly flat and uninteresting, and people aren't as nice as they are in other places, but we get rockets, theme parks and no winter. Those are pretty solid trades.


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