Last Friday saw Space X once again successfully touch down its Falcon 9 first-stage rocket on its automated-drone barge, after delivering its payload into orbit. The newly released video of the event shows off the entire descent, from re-entry burn, to suicide burn just above the landing pad.
The video plays at several times the speed it really took place, but the whole process is captured as the booster rocket re-orients itself while outside of Earth’s atmosphere, as it re-enters it and travels through cloud cover and as it spots the barge down below.
The final touch down is still nerve racking, even at speed and considering that Space X has already completed this sort of touch down several times before. The memories of the boosters exploding on impact are still too fresh for this to be a guaranteed win every time.[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jEz03Z8azc’]
So far so good though, as this is the third launch and landing that Space X has managed to pull off in a row. It has yet to re-use any of the booster rockets – that will be the big test of the cost-cutting system – but the fact that it is nailing the landing on a consistent basis is a very good sign.
When it does begin using old rocket parts for future launches, Space X believes it can save up to a third of the launch cost of Low-Earth-Orbit payloads. This makes launches far more affordable and paves the way for many more space-bound launches than we have been used to in the past.
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KitGuru Says: Congratulations to Space X for really being the driving force of space exploration over the past few years. With NASA’s budget issues, it feels like Space X is our best shot for getting people to Mars in the not-too-distant future.