If you've ever wondered how SpaceX manages to bring its rockets back down to Earth, the Everyday Astronaut is here to help.
In the second episode of the Facebook Watch series "Spacing Out with the Everyday Astronaut," which premieres Saturday (May 19), host Tim Dodd revels in the awesomeness of SpaceX's first-stage rocket landings and explains some of the physics involved.
Over the course of 11 entertaining minutes, Dodd visits a landed Falcon 9 first stage at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California; talks to a dedicated model-rocket builder; and provides a very hands-on demonstration of how the Falcon 9's steering "grid fins" work. You can watch the episode on Space.com's Facebook page. (Space.com is a partner on the show, which is produced by Jupiter Entertainment and MadWest Content.) [Reusable Rocket Launch Systems: How They Work (Infographic)]
To date, SpaceX has landed 25 Falcon 9 first stages during orbital missions and re-flown such boosters 11 times. These activities are part of the company's effort to develop fully and rapidly reusable spaceflight systems, technology that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said could help open the heavens to exploration.
The latest landing occurred May 11 during the debut flight of the "Block 5" Falcon 9, the latest and final version of SpaceX's workhorse rocket. Block 5 first stages should be able to fly 10 times without any refurbishment and perhaps 100 times or more with some maintenance between landing and launch, Musk has said.
Dodd, a photographer by trade, created the Everyday Astronaut persona after buying an orange Russian flight suit in an online auction in 2013. Dodd started the project on a lark, but it has blossomed into a wide-ranging art and education effort that takes him around the world — and, now, onto your computer or smartphone screen.
The first episode of "Spacing Out" featured Dodd trying to simulate a "Marswalk" here on Earth, using balloons in an attempt to make himself as light as he'd be on the Red Planet's surface. (Mars' gravitational pull is less than 40 percent as strong as Earth's.) That show premiered on May 4, a day before NASA launched its InSight lander toward Mars.
There are three more "Spacing Out" episodes yet to come. All of them will air by mid-July or so.
Visit Spacing Out with the Everyday Astronaut on Facebook for more series information.
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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.