We covered a post about how SpaceX is working on reusable rockets to cut down the cost of space missions and how that is affecting the number of contracts it is being awarded (it is sky-rocketing). The company has released a recent video of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket executing a soft ocean touchdown as planned after it was launched earlier this month. The video was released on 22nd July.
The video depicts the rocket stage returning home in a controlled fashion after lending a hand in launching 6 commercial satellites from Florida on 14th July. A number of things are quite visible in the video and they include the stage’s landing legs being deployed followed by its submersion in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster didn’t, however, survive the landing completely but SpaceX still believes it to be a success claiming that they have gained enough data to make the next test completely successful.
According to SpaceX representative; ‘This test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able consistently to reenter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near zero velocity. After landing, the vehicle tipped sideways as planned to its final water safing state in a nearly horizontal position. The water impact caused loss of hull integrity, but we received all the necessary data to achieve a successful landing on a future flight.’
SpaceX has been investing a lot in the direction of reusable rockets and has conducted quite a number of test flights in order to make it right. There have been a total of three first stage returns during Falcon 9 launches where the first attempt was considered as partial success, followed by a second attempt that was substantially successful and finally, the last and recent attempt that has been groundbreaking.
The next attempt at this will be made on Flight 13 of the Falcon 9 due on 12th September. According to SpaceX; ‘At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and re-fly the rocket with no required refurbishment.’