SpaceX has posted photos of the most successful launch of the Falcon 9 spacecraft in its history
For SpaceX, the past week was extremely successful - the Falcon 9 Full Thrust spacecraft was not only successfully launched, delivering supplies and an inflatable module for the ISS, but also without damage to return the first stage of the ship, landing it on the sea platform. The stage landed without any problems on the marine receiving platform, completing the speed quenching maneuver.
Let me remind you that it was already possible to successfully land a step, but not on the sea, but on land. Then a few minutes after launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust rocket approached the Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) landing pad. Before approaching the surface of the earth, the stage switched on the engines to brake. A step opened up four pillars on which she sat down. Engines shut down. Step steadily stood on the concrete platform LZ-1.
Why does SpaceX complicate its life by trying to land a step on a sea platform, and not on land, and use it again? It is all about fuel economy, it was repeatedly mentioned earlier . In addition, there is a second reason - the licensing of launches from the US Federal Aviation Administration. In the case of landing at sea, the organization gives the go-ahead faster than when landing on land. The reason - less chance of falling steps on someone's head, roughly speaking. In this case, the Federal Communications Commission is also more willing to issue licenses.
But the main thing is all the same fuel. Falcon 9 should carry a payload into orbit, and if the load exceeds a certain value, the return can be quite a difficult task - the fuel may simply not be enough for landing, most of it will be consumed at launch. And the heavier the load, the more fuel is required to bring the cargo into orbit.
Apparently, now the company has all the paths open - once it was possible to land a step on land and at sea, it means that the completion of the rocket design is successful. This means that returning a step can soon become a well-established process.
In the meantime, preparations are underway for the next launch, SpaceX has posted awesome photos of the previous one. There is a video that has already been shown on Geektimes .
The photos are really great.
According to Ilona Mask, now the first step can be used again and again, on the return of this module to Earth. He estimates the number of launches of Falcon 9 with the same level 10-20 times. Also, the head of SpaceX added that after minor repairs to the steps before restarting, this number will increase to 100. So the launches will indeed become cheaper.