Space

SpaceX nails high-speed ocean landing

SpaceX nails high-speed ocean ...
Falcon 9 seconds after touching down on the seabarge
Falcon 9 seconds after touching down on the seabarge
View 4 Images
JCSAT-16 lifting off
1/4
JCSAT-16 lifting off
Falcon 9 seconds after touching down on the seabarge
2/4
Falcon 9 seconds after touching down on the seabarge
JCSAT-16 trajectory at the time the Falcon 9 landed
3/4
JCSAT-16 trajectory at the time the Falcon 9 landed
JCSAT-16 on the launch pad
4/4
JCSAT-16 on the launch pad

SpaceX has made a comeback by nailing another seabarge landing of a first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket. Returning from the successful launch of a Japanese communications satellite, the Falcon 9 booster set down on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship located in the Atlantic downrange from the launch site in Florida late Saturday.

The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida at 1:26 am EDT (5:26 GMT) in a nighttime launch of the JCSAT-16 mission carrying a geosynchronous communications satellite for Japan's direct broadcast satellite service SKY Perfect.

The booster set the satellite into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) using its nine Merlin 1B engines. First stage shutdown and second stage separation went off according to schedule, as did the two second stage burns and the satellite deployment 32 minutes into the mission.

JCSAT-16 lifting off
JCSAT-16 lifting off

Meanwhile, the Falcon 9's first stage carried out a series of engine burns to slow it down from hypersonic speed and alter its trajectory to land on the droneship. SpaceX says that the barge landing was the only option because the high velocity of the GTO launch and the propellant expended ruled out a return to Canaveral.

The landing was almost in the center of the target circle and was the first successful landing following an unsuccessful barge landing attempt on June 15. However, satellite communications with the barge was cut off a second before touchdown due to vibrations to the disappointment of onlookers at mission control.

SpaceX previously launched JCSAT-14 in May, which was also followed by a successful barge landing of the Falcon 9 first stage.

The hosted webcast of the mission appears below, but don't bother watching it to check out the landing, as the video feed freezes at around the 25-minute mark just as the Falcon 9 first stage comes in for a landing

Source: SpaceX
8111

7 comments
Bill Bennett
Articles by David S are always good
GeraldMcDonagh
Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship haha
Lbrewer42
YES - Yankee Ingenuity scores again! After obama tried to kill US leadership in space by gutting our Space Shuttle program, the American spirit once again has emerged despite the commie puppets and red tape that has been holding held NASA back for so long. Keep it up! The American Spirit is being oppressed, but private tech like this shows it is far from dead. Congrats to Space X on pulling ahead where NASA's tied hands have been wanting to go for decades.
bobcat4424
I am 72, but clearly remember my first sci-fi book --- "Rocket Ship Galileo" by Heinlein. In the book the Galileo was a reusable rocket that landed on its fiery tail. To me that is how rocketry should have been done all along. The process involved is just textbook physics. Even though NASA and commercial launch providers clearly saw it as impossible, Elon Musk did the math and found that there was not a single physics reason to prevent reusable rockets. And very quickly the physics became a commercial success. But why not NASA? The reasons are manifold, but it starts with a NASA dominated by ex-fighter pilots with the "right stuff." And with Pentagon dominance over the goals of manned spaceflight. Instead of the "big dumb lifter" and space station at the Lunar LaGrange point, the Pentagon was only interested in Very Low Earth Orbit and would only help fund "dual use" technology. As a consequence we got the disastrous Space Shuttle and the essentially worthless and expensive ISS. Both these NASA projects had an original goal of military use as a command-and-control, reconnaissance, and weapons platform. (The Shuttle bay was actually designed to hold a KH spy satellite.) And under the pretext of keeping a healthy defense industry funded during peacetime, launch providers were allowed no-bid contracts even though those same providers were using Russian rocket motors and Chinese electronics. It became questionable whose defense industry was actually being helped. So ULA arose as a quasi-monopoly that made huge amounts of money on rigged no-bid contracts and intentional cost overruns, long production delays and failures to meet specs. In return launch providers hired scores of retired Pentagon and NASA procurement officers into no-show "executive" jobs. (A good parallel example is the F-35 project.) The same sort of
habakak
Of note that this landing of the Falcon 9 was attempted with just 1 rocket engine instead of the usual 3. This leads to a longer burn but a more controlled descent if needed in case of rougher seas and or higher winds.
Derek Howe
Lbrewer42 - Actually, it was Bush who got the ball rolling on the Space shuttles being retired. It was the right decision, they were dated, and never as "reusable" as they were initially advertised. I agree with you that the privatization of space is a HUGE deal, and is finally coming of age. But there is Republicans & democrats who push for giant space boondoggles like the SLS, all to keep the fat government checks rolling into their states. Those are the people that need to get the political boot. Also, it's worth noting, that SpaceX has had a lot of help from NASA over the years and still on going. Elon Musk has said many times they would not be where they are at today without the continued support of NASA.
Dan Lewis
I hope they'll do a major rethink about such videos from now on. What the heck happened? The on-camera people were jabbering, then we see a video image of the returned first stage on the barge. We should have been shown the actual landing. Why didn't that happen? Why weren't we given a near instant replay of the landing? One or more people dropped the ball here. Phooey.