On May 6, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket. The first stage of the rocket carried the Japanese communications satellite JCSAT-14 to geosynchronous orbit, and then headed back towards Earth and a successful landing aboard the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You”.
Elon Musk’s simple “Woohoo!” tweet said it all.
This is the second time a first stage has successfully landed on a platform in the ocean.
A major difference is that the rocket carried its payload all the way up to geosynchronous orbit, so it had a much higher orbital velocity and greater re-entry heating. Less fuel was left to use in landing. A precise landing under these conditions is a much trickier proposition.
Will the recovered rockets in fact be reusable? We’ll see when SpaceX attempts to fly the first stage that just landed. SpaceX has a busy launch schedule ahead…
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