Falcon 9 performs another perfect soft landing – SpaceX now confident it can land back at the launch pad (video)

January 12, 2016 – 11:35 pm

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Following the tenth launch of a Falcon 9 rocket last week, SpaceX is reporting that the rocket’s first stage carried out a perfect soft landing back here on Earth in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the second time that SpaceX has successfully soft-landed a Falcon 9 rocket in the Atlantic Ocean and now Musk’s commercial space exploration company is confident enough that it can take the next, most important step: soft landing the Falcon 9 on a solid surface, so that it can be reused in future launches, instantly cutting down the cost of a space launch by tens of millions of dollars. If all goes to plan, SpaceX will attempt a soft landing on a solid surface in October, and then again in December.

As you may recall, SpaceX managed the first ever soft landing of an orbital booster back in April, following the successful launch of CRS-3 to the International Space Station. At the time, though, the video footage was massively corrupted, which meant SpaceX was unable to confirm what happened during the all-important last few seconds of powered descent (a fantastic crowdsourced effort managed to fix some of the video, but there’s still a lot of missing data). Now, as you can see in the video below, we finally have video footage to confirm that the Falcon 9 first stage booster landed slowly, gracefully, and perfectly vertically in the Atlantic Ocean. (The poor image quality is due to ice fouling on the lens; SpaceX is working on removing that for the next launch.)

As we mentioned earlier, this is the first time that an orbital booster has been soft-landed back on Earth; in all of humanity’s previous space launches, the rockets have simply fallen into the ocean, usually causing way too much structural damage to ever be reused (they are some of the most expensive expendables ever created by humankind). Why has no one ever attempted a soft landing before? Mostly because it’s really hard.

Source: www.extremetech.com

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