SpaceX Planning Ambitious Next Rocket Landing
Alexander Neil / 4 years ago
SpaceX is a company that is never satisfied with what they have already achieved and are always wishing to push their accomplishments one step further. Already managing to successfully land their Falcon 9 rockets on land and at sea, SpaceX now plans to push their sea landing capabilities one step further, with their next launch including what might be the most difficult landing attempt yet.
The next mission is currently set to take place on May 3rd and will see the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Japanese broadcast satellite to an orbit altitude of 22,000km above the Earth. This launch will see the Falcon 9 accelerating to a much higher velocity than usual and travelling almost parallel to the Earth before it releases the second stage module. The result is that the Falcon 9 will have far more horizontal speed than usual as well as lower fuel reserves in order to arrest this momentum and guide it to its landing spot aboard a waiting drone barge.
The rocket used for this mission won’t be the one that made the successful sea landing earlier this month, which is currently in SpaceX’s hangar at the Kennedy Space Center where it will be undergoing a number of tests including 10 test fires of the engines in order to declare it safe for reuse. CEO Elon Musk has stated that the rocket could see a relaunch on an orbital mission as soon as June if everything checks out.
While the first successful sea landing was a landmark event for rocket reuse, there is no denying that SpaceX saw a great many failures to get this far and they will have to achieve mastery of the sea landing in order for their rockets to be as reusable as they desire. Sea landings are a big deal, as it is often infeasible for a rocket to return to land due to fuel limitations and they will only truly be an option if they can be successful in a number of launch conditions.