News reports today (Friday 4-18-2014) show (1) successful launch of Falcon-9R, (2) successful injection of Dragon onto orbit, targeted for rendezvous with ISS Sunday, and (3) data received from 1st stage of Falcon-9R for 8 seconds after (after !!!!) landing in the Atlantic.
Congrats to Spacex!!! Very, very, very well done!!!
Update 4-27-2014: news in the last few days indicates two things: (1) Spacex is suing the US government to break the government-mandated monopoly held by ULA in the military payload launch business, and (2) it appears more and more likely that Spacex will build its private launch facility in far south Texas. Both are very good news indeed.
Update 5-15-14: In recent days we have seen a court-ordered stay forbidding the purchase of RD-180 engines from Russia for ULA's Atlas-5, followed by a vacating of that very stay, based on government agency testimony.
Testimony that buying those engines from a company run by an individual under sanction, does not violate said sanction! "Curioser and curioser," said Alice.
And, we have seen that same Russian company, via its sanctioned executive, say that it will not sell any more RD-180 engines to the US for purposes of military launch, nor will it provide product support for those already sold.
Now, ULA has engines in inventory to support the next block of military launches using Atlas-5, but will get no product support from Russia anymore. This is the block of launches that Spacex was denied access to competing for (provoking the lawsuit).
Does it not seem stupid in the extreme to depend on rocket engines from what is now a hostile power, for our military space launches? Does anybody else get that impression?
Update 8-7-14: News releases indicate that Spacex has decided to build their all-commercial launch facility in South Texas. That is wonderful news. From there, there's plenty of dry-land options available to recover and re-use first stages from Falcon-9 and Falcon-Heavy (same article, just 3 at a time). Prospects for dry-land recovery are not so good for any of the Atlantic coast launch locations. Re-usability issues must have figured into that location decision.
A few weeks earlier, Musk revealed Dragon version 2, the manned capsule. It's quite spacious inside. The all-propulsive pinpoint landing without using parachutes is very, very intriguing. No one has offered hard numbers, but the heat shield is good enough for a free-return from Mars, which is far beyond what is required to return from the moon. Thus, that capsule could be re-flown dozens, perhaps a hundred, times from Earth orbit before needing heat shield replacement. Musk really is quite serious about re-usability.