Feeds

SpaceX set to try HOVER LANDING for re-usable rockets on March ISS mission

Landing legs fitted to Falcon-Dragon first stage

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

In a potentially game-changing development for space travel, it has emerged that the booster rocket which will launch the next supply capsule to the International Space Station will attempt to make a soft hovering landing after it falls back to Earth.

The rocket, an upgraded Falcon 9 from upstart launch firm SpaceX, has been fitted with landing legs but in this initial trial will come down out at sea in case the descent doesn't go as planned.

"F9 [rockets] will continue to land in the ocean until we prove precision control," tweeted SpaceX chief and famed tech biz visionary Elon Musk at the weekend, having posted a picture of the landing-leg-equipped rocket stage.

Musk and SpaceX have long planned to make the company's first-stage rockets come down to a soft landing ashore after hurling the rest of the stack on its way. The expensive first stage could then be checked out, refuelled and used again rather than being tossed away into the ocean as has been the norm ever since humanity began reaching out into space*.

To this end, SpaceX has been carrying out increasingly ambitious hovering flights with its "Grasshopper" test vehicle, basically a Falcon 9 fuel tank with a rocket motor and landing gear attached. This has shown that a Falcon first stage is capable of setting down accurately on a pad starting from a slow-moving condition in the lower atmosphere.

What's less clear is that a Falcon first stage, having soared out of most of the atmosphere and achieved huge hypersonic speeds to send its burden on its way, can then brake and re-enter under control and get itself down to low subsonic speed and enter the hover reasonably close to a designated landing point.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
NASA rover Curiosity drills HOLE in MARS 'GOLF COURSE'
Joins 'traffic light' and perfect stony sphere on the Red Planet
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.