SpaceX's reusable rockets already have a few tricks up their metal sleeves, but it looks like they're getting at least a couple more. Elon Musk has revealed that his company is testing new technologies that will assist future Falcon 9 launches, including "X-wing style" control fins and a drone ship. The fins deploy on reentry and give the rocket better maneuvering than it would have through engine power alone. The robot boat, meanwhile, amounts to an "autonomous spaceport" -- it uses thrusters from oil rigs to provide a safe, stable landing pad (and eventually, refueling station) in situations where a ground facility isn't an option. Musk hasn't said when this vessel will go into use, but you can expect to see the Falcon 9's new controls in action on its next flight.
Testing operation of hypersonic grid fins (x-wing config) going on next flight pic.twitter.com/O1tMSIXxsT- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2014
Autonomous spaceport drone ship. Thrusters repurposed from deep sea oil rigs hold position within 3m even in a storm. pic.twitter.com/wJFOnGdt9w- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2014