The launch and landing happened around 7 am local time, and my house is only a few miles from the landing zone. So, I'm taking my morning shower, and I hear the boom. I'm thinking "Sounds like a SpaceX landing or a rapid unplanned disassembly". Then my houseguest from out-of-town yells into the bathroom: "David, I think something just hit the house!".
Me: "No, hun, that's what a rocket landing sounds like. Go check the internet, I'm pretty sure we're okay."
Best of luck to SpaceX, and thank you for not launching (and landing) any earlier in the morning!
I don't believe it's likely that we'll see recovery of an orbital velocity stage anytime soon.
Just look at how much larger the first stage (mass almost all propellant) is compared to the second stage (large fraction of the mass is the payload).
That fact is incredibly relevant for getting to orbit - however, it is not at all relevant for surviving re-entry, where all that matters is your kinetic energy.
I was mostly just correcting your "one-sixteenth of the energy required for orbit" statement. I agree that reentering at 7.8 km/s is much more difficult than 2.0 km/s, but the second stage is smaller and more spherical than the first stage. That might make reentering it a bit easier than if it had the shape of the first stage.
(If that made no sense, it's a variation on an old freshman physics joke.)
Oh, I wouldn't be so pessimistic.
"Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability. Odds of success low, but maybe worth a shot." - Elon Musk 
Remember, everyone said they would never land the first stage....
Also, if they don't do it now, it's obvious they are working on it / thinking about it. Wait five years.
Everyone? That's a bit hyperbolic.
I understand it's a very different beast, but why do you think this is so much harder technologically? We bring things back from orbital velocity routinely, indeed much more frequently than anyone landed a rocket vertically prior to SpaceX.
Minor nit: the Falcon Heavy demo flight (with upper stage recovery attempt) is set for late THIS year, it's just that Musk puts the odds of successful upper stage recovery fairly low: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/847882289581359104
Musk is "fairly confident" to have upper stage reuse operational by sometime next year:
Musk is notorious for doubling down on bets when the first bet seems like it most likely will succeed. I would bet you we'll see upper stage recovery within 1 or 2 years, with reuse of that stage within 2 to 4 years. (Particularly if SpaceX doesn't suffer another major failure within the next 2 years... Failures are always a significant possibility in this business given enough launches.) That counts as pretty darned soon.
So, adapting the first-stage recovery strategy is not an obvious slam dunk -- in fact, it might very well be worth considering alternatives involving parachutes if you can get the thing intact through re-entry. (Note that the Falcon 9 v1.0 first stages on which they actually tried parachute recovery are believed to have not gotten that far -- they reportedly broke up before the parachutes even deployed.)
The devil is in the details, of course.
I wonder how many people at SpaceX are cleared to know what the payload is. What are the finer points of payload integration in such a situation?
Does Elon even know what his own company just launched?
"The patches’ relative obscurity changed in 2000, with the launch of a payload known as NROL-11. The mission patch depicted what appeared to be owl eyes peering down at the Earth, where four arrow-shaped vectors, two per orbit, made their way across Africa. Three of the vectors were white, and one was dark. Based solely on studying the design, civilian satellite watcher Ted Molczan hypothesized that the patch showed a failed satellite (the dark vector), and that the newly launched satellite would take its place.
Sure enough, after the launch a new satellite appeared just where Molczan predicted. Pearlman, who reported on the story at the time, says that NRO at first told him “no comment” when he contacted them. About 30 minutes later they called him back and asked him not to publish the story. Pearlman told them no dice, and in the end, the NRO spokesman told him that the patches were just morale-builders for those who work on the launches."
Anticnidarianism is alive and well.
Of course, that would presume that a foreign entity would trust a US company for sensitive payloads in the first place, but just a thought I had as corporations become multi-national, global entities.
No explicit foreign governments in the list and I don't know if there is any kind of inspection of what gets sent to orbit.
Do they just put it through a car wash and re-fill for next time?
Is everything reusable on the first stage?
"It's a rocket - of course it's going to get dirty!"
I can't even imagine trying to steer a rocket to turn it around, with an open top, while it's in the exhaust of another rocket! It's amazing.
I am curious what threshold differences there are between teams, both are doing amazing work.
btw, this portion of the return where they did the entry level was most impressive for space x (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzQpkQ1etdA&t=1145s)
Musk clearly isn't a charlatan as he's trying his very best to make his unrealistic plans a reality, and has already succeeded tremendously.
Is Musk crazy? He might be. But he's earnestly crazy.
At what point do you say "he's made so much money for us that we'll give him at least one major fuckup before we start trying to reign him in."?
As you hear opinions from a larger and larger group, the ideas start more and more to resemble noise, distributed according to some statistical law.
I see no evidence that Musk is doing anything other than working as hard as he can to bring innovation forward. If 1 in 10 business heads had his drive this century someone on Mars be commenting on this now.
I think they do indeed a lot of good - however, launching a classified military spy satellite is not one of it, in my opinion.
Beautiful video in any case. It's fun to see the first stage engine cut off, separate, flip over, and the second stage accelerates away.
13:38 in the video "Falcon X is delivering the, National Reconnaissance office's satellite to orbit right now"
The webcast host may not (I'd guess he probably doesn't) know what the satellite does or its final orbit. He does mechanical design. I'd bet they keep that information compartmentalized within SpaceX so only the operations personnel who need to know would know.
It's worth noting that the very existence of the National Reconnaissance Office was classified until 1992, although it leaked out to the public in the 70s. They're a bit less secretive now.
Wonder if they took the octopus of the patches
Life is complex and paradoxical. We do the best we can.
For all the patches, wiki has us covered of course: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NRO_Launches
Looks like only NROL-39 had the octopus.
I think it's indirectly related. Probably, the satellite has a low orbit to have a better sight, and they don't expect to have the satellite for too long so care about some drag. So the rocket has more fuel to a return to land maneuver.
Also, it was very strange that they cut the transmission so soon. Usually they continue with the second stage and they highlight many times that the main mission is the satellite and they transmit as much of the satellite as possible in case they have an RUD. This time they closed the transmission as soon as the first stage landed.
Anyway, an amazing transmission.
That's an NRO requirement.