For the third time in a row, SpaceX has successfully landed one of their Falcon 9 rockets on a drone ship at sea. It all went down Friday afternoon and is just more proof that the company headed by Elon Musk is on the verge of changing the way we get things into space.
Musk and the people behind the launch set expectations for the attempted landing low, revealing that this rocket had used up more of its fuel getting its satellite payload to a higher orbit than past launches. That also increased the chance of problems with “extreme velocities and re-entry heating” and probably a thousand other complex issues us non rocket scientists don’t ever have to deal with.
But the rocket did end up landing on the drone ship successfully, and we now have this amazing timelapse footage of the process filmed from a camera on board the rocket. What a time to be alive! And these successes just pave the road for SpaceX to revolutionize the aerospace industry.
Up until now and for the foreseeable future until SpaceX masters things, rockets are typically jettisoned into space after getting their payload there, which is about as expensive a method of blowing things into space as you’d imagine. The cost of getting things up into orbit drops drastically when you can bring the rockets back home and re-use them for more launches.
And this isn’t just some numbers game for SpaceX head Elon Musk. His stated goals for the SpaceX project is to make the colonization of Mars a reality. There’s several dozen more milestones to wait for before you start packing your bags, though. The whole point of landing these rockets on a platform in the first place is so they can be re-used. And SpaceX has yet to take one of the used rockets and send it back up for another launch.
All this success though is proof that the smart and driven folks at SpaceX know what they’re doing and aren’t here to blow a lot of smoke and investor money. And while they continue to master their reusable rocket tech, they’ve also got some more inspirational space projects on the go. Earlier this year, they announced their plan to send an unmanned lander to Mars by 2018. Another plan to bring samples from Mars back to Earth is also still on the books but currently unscheduled.