SpaceX has landed yet another rocket from Falcon 9 successfully on a floating drone, after it launched a Japanese communication satellite into space.
This makes the score of its victories, rockets landed successfully on sea, four. This is also the fifth rocket successfully recovered by SpaceX this year.
Falcon 9 first stage has landed on Of Course I Still Love You— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 14, 2016
This is no mean feat. The rocket was bearing its satellite, the JCSAT-16, as it moved into geo-stationary transfer orbit (GTO), an extremely elliptical orbit that takes the vehicle out beyond a dizzying 20,000 miles of the Earth’s surface. For this orbit, the vehicle exhausts a large reserve of energy just trying to haul itself off the ground, even more than the amount of energy used to land back home.
JCSAT-16 comms sat deployed into planned Geostationary Transfer Orbit with 36,000 km apogee (high point in orbit) pic.twitter.com/zScDgaOSzY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) August 14, 2016
In its dive back onto Earth, the vehicle is subjected to “extreme velocities and re-entry heating,” but there’s little fuel left over to carry out the necessary maneuvers.
With this landing, the company’s success with these rockets have grown. This rocket is one of the three GTO-bound rockets that has been recovered, and of the six rockets that were salvaged from the 11 rockets sent into space.
But as the success of SpaceX grows, so do some concerns. The Elon Musk brainchild is yet to relaunch a rocket into space. This means that for each venture, SpaceX has to develop a rocket from scratch. If the company could reuse its old rockets, it could reduce costs by up to 30 percent, SpaceX’s President, Gwynne Shotwell, estimates. Although there are plans to relaunch the Falcon 9 in space next year, much of the plan remains under covers.