Feeds

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

Landing legs fitted to Falcon-Dragon first stage

Application security programs and practises

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.