The Falcon has landed
A piece of the future that has been promised to me in my childhood had finally arrived when the reusable first stage of the Space X Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed upright after the mission successfully delivered a commercial payload to orbit.
There is a bit of a discussion if this indeed a historic event or if Space X merely comes second after Blue Origins successful landing a few weeks earlier. Needless to say that I side with history on that one. Falcon 9 was not a prototype tourist spacehopper on a test flight, it is a rather massive orbital vehicle that added an upright first stage landing to an already successful commercial mission.
The stackexchange space exploration site has a nice post discussing the differences. I was a bit amused to see that Blue Origins (and Amazons, evidently) Jeff Bezos congratulated Space X on the landing of its “suborbital booster stage” (as a repartee to Elon Musk congratulating to the suborbital Blue Origins test flight earlier), but really this is a bit petty. Yes, the first stage did not go to orbit (first stages never do – if they could we wouldn’t need staged rockets at all), but its flight profile was still quite more ambitious than Blue Origins hovering (albeit at great height) in the air.
Next step (well maybe not the next, but it is getting closer): Mars. Other than I imagined as child I will not be on board the future ships that go there, but at least I might live to see the day, and that’s really quite something.