SpaceX Make it Two in a Row!
Alexander Neil / 2 years ago
It’s nothing new that SpaceX can land rockets, they’ve done it before both on land and at sea. Today they took those ambitions one step further, with part of the JCSAT-14 launch mission involving an experimental sea landing with the Falcon 9 rocket travelling at far higher velocities than previous landings. Even SpaceX themselves believed that this risky landing attempt would fail, but they were proven wrong, with the rocket successfully touching down on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You after separating from the rocket’s second stage.
The Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the droneship
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 6, 2016
The reason that the landing was so risky is that in order to successfully launch JCSAT-14, it was required that the Falcon 9 achieve a geostationary transfer orbit, which means the Falcon 9 had to reach higher velocities and as a result, burn more fuel on launch. This, in turn, means that it would be coming in for landing faster and hotter than usual and with less fuel to arrest its momentum when landing. Even Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, believed that the chances of a successful landing were “maybe even”, despite much of the SpaceX logistics team deeming a successful landing unlikely.
This success marks the fifth attempt at a sea landing by SpaceX as well as the second successful sea landing and there is no doubt that today’s success will pave the way for numerous more sea landings by SpaceX who will see how far they can push the Falcon 9’s landing capabilities to discover just how often they can be reused. Perfecting the sea landing is important as it is both less fuel reliant in order to reach the landing location and allows for a larger variety of launch locations for recovery, facilitating reuse for larger and more varied payloads which may make a ground landing impossible. Of course, with all of these successes, Elon Musk has one worry, the SpaceX hangar is running out of space.
May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 6, 2016