Success Or Not? SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Lands On Drone Barge But ‘No Cigar’ – Tech Times

Posted: Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Falcon 9 rocket landed on a floating barge as part of a drive by SpaceX to develop a reusable spacecraft. Although the first stage booster landed on its target platform, touchdown was too hard for the test to be deemed a success.

SpaceX launched the rocket early in the morning on January 10, headed to the International Space Station (ISS) loaded with supplies.

The Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived in orbit, heading to the outpost according to plan, delivering a wide range of materials to space travelers aboard the ISS. Aboard the vehicle, there are over 5,000 pounds of food and other supplies, along with a host of experiments.

“We are delighted to kick off 2015 with our first commercial cargo launch of the year. Thanks to our private sector partners, we’ve returned space station resupply launches to U.S. soil and are poised to do the same with the transport of our astronauts in the very near future,” Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, said.

As the first stage of the rocket re-entered the atmosphere, mission engineers were unable to slow the booster enough for a controlled landing. It slammed into the platform at such high velocity that the booster shattered, scattering pieces around the landing site.

“Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho,” Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, tweeted.

The Dragon capsule is scheduled to mate with the ISS at 6:12 a.m. EST on January 12. The vehicle will  remain connected to the space station for around a month. The crew on-board the ISS will unload the cargo, and fill the vehicle with 3,800 pounds of material destined for return to Earth. Dragon will then re-enter the atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean.

“Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA will use the station’s 57.7-foot robotic arm to reach out and capture Dragon at approximately 6 a.m. Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency will support Wilmore as they operate from the station’s cupola,” NASA officials reported.

The first flight of the Wright Brothers last only 12 seconds, covering just 120 feet. However, one of the most important advances made during this first powered flight was the ability to control their craft. This first attempt to successfully land a booster on a floating platform achieved a similar milestone to that 1903 event. Although the booster shattered, control was maintained all the way through re-entry. The Wright Brothers first flight led to the age of aviation, and development of a reusable rocket could significantly lower the cost of access to space, potentially heralding a new era of exploration.


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