SpaceX gets ready to
crash barge-land ANOTHER rocket
Third time lucky, hopes Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s other company is gearing up for its third attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket booster on a drone barge anchored at sea. The attempt will take place after a launch this Sunday, which will also see the booster send an uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule on a supply run to the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s first attempt at a controlled landing in January this year saw the booster descend to the barge under control, however it ran out of fuel just before touchdown. The result was the booster hit the barge hard and fast, and was destroyed. At the time Musk described the descent as a “rapid, unscheduled disassembly.”
The second attempt was in April this year. The booster managed to lower itself to the barge, but then began to tilt and fall, resulting in an explosion destroying the rocket.
Sunday’s mission is the first resupply mission to the International Space Station since a Russian mission in April went awry. The Russian Progress spacecraft, which contained food, science experiments and other supplies, ceased communication with mission control shortly after launch and began to spin out of control. It subsequently burned up in the atmosphere.
There's no panic up on the ISS: NASA reckons even if Sunday's mission doesn't go to plan, supplies won't run out.
Rocket boosters have traditionally been seen as disposable, either burning up in the atmosphere or falling into the sea after use. If SpaceX is successful in landing the booster, and continuing to do so with subsequent launches, the rockets could then be re-used, leading to considerable cost savings in terms of ongoing launches. ®