Yesterday, April 14th, 2015, SpaceX had another historic launch of a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with an uncrewed cargo spacecraft called Dragon. This rocket was sent on a flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station. SpaceX, Elon Musk, and the rest of us watched on as they attempted to land the rocket stage on a floating barge.
Unfortunately, the landing wasn’t successful. In a tweet sent out by SpaceX Founder Elon Musk:
I cannot even explain to you how tantalizingly close this rocket came to a landing. You’ll have to watch the footage for yourself.
Later he added that the rocket had actually landed, but tipped over:
This launch follows an attempt to land on the drone ship back in January. During that landing, the rocket hit the drone ship at an angle and exploded. This is a monumental transition to a new future in space travel, exploration, and launches. The goal is to continue trying until they master landing on the drone ship at sea and then eventually transition to landing rockets back on the ground as opposed to being burned up in the atmosphere or having them falling into the ocean.
The cost savings from being able to reuse these rockets is astronomical. We are talking about saving millions and millions of dollars. Once SpaceX begins successfully landing the rocket stage (which I fully believe that they eventually will), space travel will be revolutionized. Musk is putting a lot of time, energy, and resources into this project and the goal is to make history.
The uncrewed cargo spacecraft called the Dragon is set to dock at the International Space Station in a few days. This is actually SpaceX’s sixth mission to the International Space station; they are the first private space company that has been able to dock with the station. In this mission, they are delivering more than 4,300 pounds of supplies. It will take the International space station crew about five weeks to unpack and repack the Dragon before sending it to splash land in the Pacific Ocean (off the coast of California). They are packing the Dragon back up with a few thousand pounds of science experiments, trash, and other miscellaneous items to come back to Earth.
I am absolutely rooting for SpaceX’s success in their next launch, we’ll be keeping a close eye on them to watch it happen. And, I’m confident it’s coming soon. Why you ask? Well, Mr. Musk has given himself a little motivation: