Elon, we have touch down!
Today, SpaceX launched and landed a Falcon 9 rocket in a game-changing event that is paving the way for a new era of reusable rocket technology.
After several delays and reschedulings, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon spacecraft full of cargo destined for the International Space Station (ISS) this morning, January 10, at 4:47 a.m. EST.
What was most exciting about this was the Falcon 9 rocket's descent onto the floating platform of a drone ship floating a couple hundred miles off the northeast coast of Florida in the Atlantic Ocean.
Using GPS tracking, the rocket made it to the drone ship, a pretty amazing feat!
But sadly it landed too hard, Musk announced shortly after the landing attempt.
Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015
While other outlets are saying the test was a failure, because the hard landing means that the rocket is probably too damaged to be reused, we think it's still a win. It took a crazy amount of precision to guide the rocket from 50 miles above Earth's surface to a football field-sized platform in the ocean, and then actually land on it.
No one else has even thought to do this, let alone succeed.
Luckily, the ship was not damaged too much from the landing.
Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015
There was some hope that SpaceX would record the rocket's attempted landing, similar to the video they released for a soft landing in the ocean in July 2014. But that didn't quite work out, either.
Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and ... actual pieces.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015
At the end of the day, it's pretty incredible that SpaceX navigated a rocket onto a platform in the ocean. We call that a win!
Here's video of the launch:
Here's a peak at what the landing might have looked like, if it was a little softer, made by SpaceX fan and Redditor Jon Ross on ZL SA Design.
Musk said he guessed that there was about a 50% probability of success fo the test. Getting the rocket to the drone ship is step one. The next step is landing softly.
Today's launch was the fifth of at least 12 resupply missions that SpaceX has contracted with NASA. So, there will be more opportunities to try this groundbreaking stunt again until we get it right. And more opportunities for awesome pictures like this one:
As seen from my backyard. Pretty launch this morning! #SpaceX #Dragon #Falcon9 #Spaceflight #crs5 #iss #space pic.twitter.com/SNsR4sMJSy— Per (@hansepe) January 10, 2015
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