The folks at SpaceX have done it yet again, landing a Falcon 9 rocket booster without incident on a barge positioned out in the Atlantic sea.
This comes after the rocket was used to deliver the 3,100 kg THAICOM 8 communications satellite which was delivered to a super-synchronous transfer orbit of 91,000 km above Earth, where the satellite would eventually be guided back down to geostationary orbit.
It will provide broadcast and data services to the South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa regions at 78.5 degrees east longitude.
While the satellite was on its way to being released into orbit, the secondary mission of salvaging the booster rocket had begun. According to Elon Musk, even though they were able to successfully land the Falcon 9 booster on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, the landing speed was close to design maximum and with the odd chance of the unit tipping over on touch down.
Luckily for the team, all went well, as seen in the time lapse video above.
It appears that landing rockets that operate high-orbit missions is more challenging as there is less fuel to work with on landing compared to much lower orbit missions. As a result, the rockets have to re-enter at much higher speeds to maintain momentum due to them having to use fuel more sparingly for the re-entry procedure.
SpaceX is aiming to cut delivery costs by reusing its boosters, but they still haven’t gotten quite there yet as they are still using new booster rockets for each mission (including yesterday’s). However, their next mission looks to be the first to utilize one of its previously launched rockets.
To date, SpaceX has had 3 successful landings at sea and 1 on land, which another in-land attempt scheduled after its next launch.