SpaceX deserves its own post here, to say “YAY!! Congratulations!” for sticking the landing on the barge today. This is my favorite video of the flight so far: http://tinyurl.com/zlcf38g Boo hiss to those who celebrated the four failures and the ones who today (on Twitter, for instance) claimed the landing was just reverse video. No, it really happened. It worked; they landed it, and what can be done once can be done again, and made routine. I didn’t realize until a good way through the first that after first stage re-ignition, the video alternates views of the first stage and second stages engines. It becomes obvious when first-stage has a background of blue sky and the second stage has the black of space.
Failure isn’t always (usually) fatal. The first time I rode a bicycle I fell down. When I got a much bigger bicycle, I fell down. Forty years later when I got on my first mountain bike, the first bike I’d ever ridden with multiple gears and handlebar brake controls, I fell down a lot. Sometimes I still fall down (sharp curves on bumpy trails…especially with thorny vines that catch in a wheel spoke just enough…) So I figured SpaceX would eventually stick a landing, just didn’t know it would be today. I expect they’ll have some more failures, too–even when something complicated becomes routine, that doesn’t mean it’s 100% reliable. Today’s their day to celebrate and I’m gleeful too.