SpaceX releases chase plane footage of Falcon 9 barge landing
SpaceX has releasedfootage shot from a circling chase plane of the first successful barge landing of the Falcon 9 mainstage booster. The milestone touchdown followed the successful launch and orbital insertionof a Dragon spacecraft destined for the ISS bearing 6,900 lb (3,130kg) of cargo, and a brand new test module for the ageingstation.
SpaceX's reusablerocket ambitions have come a long way from the highest 2,440 ft (744m) hop made by the Grasshopper concept, to the fullyfledged main stage landing of an orbital insertion launch vehicle.The journey has not always been easy, and at times have at times involved large explosions, but the successful landingof the Falcon represents a vital step in reducing the cost andlowering launch turnaround times for the Falcon 9 program.
Reusable rockettechnology represents a valuable feather in the hat for SpaceX as itfaces increasing market competition. The European built Ariane 6, which Airbus Safran Launchers (ASL) hope to debut in2020, will not feature a reusable first stage. Instead themanufacturer is relying on cost-cutting measures centered aroundemploying the same Vulcain engines for the Ariane 6 main stage liquidfuel thruster as that used by the current Ariane 5 launcher.
The Ariane 6 will beavailable in two distinct configurations. A two strap-on boostervariant, known as the Ariane 62 will utilize 8,000 KN of thrust atlaunch to place smaller payloads such as navigation and Earthobservation satellites in orbit.
The more powerful four-booster Ariane 64 variant will leverage 15,000 KN of thrust atlift-off to carry heavier payloads into high geostationary orbits.
ASL hope that theversatility of the new launcher family will make Ariane 6 a seriouscompetitor to the Falcon 9, which boasts roughly 6,806 KN of thrustat liftoff, and also counter SpaceX's Falcon 9 Heavy, which isexpected to make its maiden flight later this year. The big brotherof the Falcon 9 will leverage three nine-engine cores to produce20,418 KN of thrust at sea level.
Scroll down to view thechase plane footage for the Apr. 9 Falcon 9 barge landing.