Skeptics said it couldn't be done but the last half year SpaceX delivered several impressive feats, starting with the very first successful landing of its reusable rocket in December 2015. Rocket landing number two and three followed in the months thereafter and yesterday the space company delivered the THAICOM 8 satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) and managed to land its fourth first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket!
Getting the satellite into orbit was the main objective of the mission of course but the secondary goal, the recovery of the rocket, is what gets everyone excited. Due to the GTO destination, this was a very challenging landing as it was a very hot and fast re-entry, with limited leftover fuel.
It was a success but Elon Musk remarked on Twitter that it was close to design maximum and that the aluminum crumple zone inside some of the legs was used up, which causes a bit of instability on the droneship. This is easy to replace if the Falcon makes it back to port but bad weather could cause the rocket to tip.
This is SpaceX's fourth landing and the third rocket landing on a droneship. To illustrate what an impressive feat this is, here's an amazing fast replay of the Falcon 9's rocket landing:
SpaceX recovers first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket for the fourth time!
Posted on Saturday, May 28 2016 @ 14:47 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck