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Plane & Pilot Photo Of The Week for Friday, March 5, 2021

The real success of the latest launch and recovery happened a couple of minutes before the big boom.

SpaceX SN10 A Huge Success (Until The Very End)

The latest and third test by SpaceX of its rocket ship this week has been widely discussed, including here, because it ended in a spectacular explosion. But the bigger takeaway, and Elon Musk and crew got this, is that the test showed that the huge rocket can be controlled to an accurate and safe touchdown back on the pad it just launched from. The image we have pulled from SpaceX’s official video of the landing shows the massive rocket firing its retrorocket to slow its descent and to reposition itself for a safe landing, pulled off through an ingenious flap system.

Back during the heyday of Gemini and Apollo, this whole recovery concept would have laughed off the stage of rocket science. That this notion is today anything but mind blowing shows how far we’re come watching SpaceX pull its magic these past several years. And in our view, SpaceX is right to downplay the explosion of the (remotely piloted!) SN10. The real success had already been accomplished.


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