SpaceX will try to land its reusable rocket on an ocean dock
Jan 09, 2016, 23:38
The launch will reportedly take off January 17, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and will be carrying a new NASA satellite that will provide high resolution data on the ocean surface and sea level rise. Before they actually begin reusing their reusable rockets, SpaceX wants to prove they can return a rocket to a drone barge in the open ocean.
Following its historic December launch and landing of a rocket at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX will attempt another feat: landing a rocket booster on a ship at sea.
Having a mobile landing platform means more flexibility in when and how launches can proceed - it's not always convenient or possible for a rocket to return to a static site like a launch facility or other suitably flat, empty space. SpaceX's first two landing attempts, which were on drone ships, were close to sticking the landing but ultimately ended in explosions.
SpaceX says the ship has been christened "Just Read the Instructions". So even if SpaceX wanted to bring its rocket back to land, they may not have been able to get it approved.
SpaceX has tried ocean landings twice without success, but officials are optimistic after the company last month safely returned a Falcon 9 booster to a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
If it succeeds, SpaceX will attempt to recover its boosters from more of its space missions to help reduce costs. Depending upon the nature of launch it will give option for either ground or drone landing.
The rocket that will blast off on the 17th isn't the same one the landed in December - that one will most likely never be used again.
Ultimately, reports indicate that Musk would like to develop reusable second-stage rockets as well, but for now his company is focusing on its first stage Falcon 9s. It's a first major step toward the company's aspirational reusable rocket system, one which would dramatically cut the cost of sending payloads into orbit.
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