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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
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.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.