If at first you don’t succeed, maybe on the third try you will. That seemed to work for SpaceX when it successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket last month but on solid ground. Now it will be tempting fate once more and will be daring to land another Falcon 9 rocket at sea using one of its drone platforms. Perhaps it feels that lady luck, not to mention science, will be on its side this time around. If successful, SpaceX would take yet another momentous step forward in making space exploration, and space travel, more economical and ultimately more affordable.
Why is SpaceX so obsessed about a sea landing when it already got a ground landing in its belt? Well, it’s about fuel efficiency apparently. With a regular rocket landing on terra firma, the rocket would have to travel back to the area where it launched from. Sounds sane except for the fact that rockets don’t really travel vertically in a perfect straight line. They instead curve at a parabolic course. This means that it would require more fuel to guide the rocket back to its point of origin.
SpaceX’s drone-driven sea landing platforms, on the other hand, are located much farther way on the Pacific Ocean. That means rockets won’t have to change its course that much and continue its parabolic route all the way to its descent. One problem, however, is that these mobile platforms are, well, mobile, In other words, they are moving targets.
That said, SpaceX never did have a problem landing on that mark. They just had a problem in making sure the rocket doesn’t tip over and then explode. With at least one successful rocket landing, SpaceX might fare better on its third attempt.
That attempt will take place next weekend, January 17, on a mission that will launch NASA’s Jason-3 monitoring satellite into orbit. This time around, an older Falcon 9 v1.1 will be used and will be launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base instead of Cape Canaveral in Florida.
VIA: The Verge