While the rest of us dream of truly affordable space flight, SpaceX is continuing on its mission of making reusable space vehicles. Its next adventure: attempting to land its still-in-development Falcon 9 in the ocean.
At present the Space X crew says the likelihood of success is 50 per cent, but this is just one of many tests.
Flying landing airstrips, ahoy
The ocean platform is a big deal as it’s one way to test Falcon 9’s precision landing. Not easy seeing as the shop is 14 stories tall and will be travelling at speeds surpassing 1300 m/s. SpaceX likens trying to stabilise it for reentry to “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.”
What the test targets is to land the vehicle on its spaceport drone ship platform. Sounds like something right out of the Avengers, right? The platform is 300 by 100 feet and its wings extend the width to 170 feet.
While apparently the concept of landing a rocket on an ocean platform isn’t new, but it has never actually been attempted. At the very least, SpaceX hopes to get useful data for future landing tests.
The end goal of the testing is to have a rocket that will be reusable to lower the cost of space access. For too long, rockets were sent up, with the expectation that they would break up on reentry leaving a lot of debris but hopefully fulfilling some use while up in the sky.
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