We’re so used to hearing “we have blast off” as one of our aerospace colloquialisms. Now we’re going to have to get used to adding “and touchdown.”
SpaceX, the—let’s be honest here—most badass rocket company flying into space right now, has stuck its second Falcon 9 landing on its ocean-based drone ship, and this time they did it with a rocket that required triple the deceleration of the one from the first Falcon 9 landing on April 8. The glorious moment is captured in SpaceX’s webcast posted above, with the drone-ship landing starting around 38:00—if you listen closely, you can hear everybody at SpaceX mission control let out sounds of disappointment when a flash of light envelopes the monitor (they thought the rocket had exploded), but then a huge and hearty cheer when they realize that the rocket did not blow up, but actually landed perfectly.
Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, celebrated the successful landing with several tweets, including one that just said, “Woohoo!!!” and then, of course, something a bit more Iron Man-y:
May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 6, 2016
It should be noted again that the first stage rocket landing was a secondary goal of this mission. The primary goal was deliver a Japanese commercial satellite, JCSat – 14, into orbit, and SpaceX accomplished that goal as well.
In the interview Musk gave to the press after the first successful drone ship landing, he said that real revolutionary success for SpaceX will come when these types of landings become commonplace. This is the case because Musk and SpaceX want to bring down the cost of space flight dramatically, and the only way to do that is to make rockets reusable.
Musk had given this rocket landing attempt “even odds,” noting that this one was going to be “a lot faster and hotter than last time.” But SpaceX pulled it off, and with each one of these extraordinary successes, Musk’s ideas about sending people to Mars to build a city on the Red Planet seem less and less insane. Speaking of which, in order to get to Mars, SpaceX is going to need to build much bigger rockets for that. Although they’re already working on those, and launches for its Falcon Heavy rocket are scheduled for later this year. SpaceX also plans to land Falcon Heavy’s first stages intact, back on Earth. “Stages” is plural because a single Falcon Heavy will have three first stage landings.
Mars, here we come.
Are you still reeling from watching this second Falcon 9 landing, or are you just ready to take off on a maiden voyage across the black seas of space already? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!