Latest in Science

Image credit:

SpaceX lands its rocket on a barge, but a reusable Falcon 9's still far off

13 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

"Close, but no cigar." That was how SpaceX founder Elon Musk described his company's first attempt at landing the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage on a barge in the middle of the ocean. To be clear, it wasn't a complete disaster: the first stage didn't disintegrate or crash into the water, but it did land too hard on the platform and (according to some reports) broke when it hit the ground. As to what exactly went wrong, Musk revealed on Twitter that the grid fins, which steered the structure onto the platform and stabilized it in the air, ran out of hydraulic fluid right as the stage was touching down. He said the flight next month is already loaded with 50 percent more hydraulic fluid, so the second landing attempt could achieve a result closer to what SpaceX wants.

The company is attempting these barge landings as part of its efforts to develop a reusable rocket. Musk believes that salvaging and reusing the first stage (not infinitely, but for a handful of times) could significantly reduce how much it costs to send a vessel into space. It could, MIT's Technology Review says, bring down a Falcon launch's costs from between $65 to $70 million to between $30 and $40 million. Sure, this first attempt wasn't completely successful, but it really came close, which, as Musk tweeted, bodes well for the future. Despite the first stage's less-than-perfect landing, the Dragon capsule aboard the rocket reached the ISS, bringing with it new supplies and belated Christmas gifts.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
13 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Goldman will re-check Apple Card credit scores after sexism claims

Goldman will re-check Apple Card credit scores after sexism claims

View
Master & Dynamic made a wireless version of its iconic MH40 headphones

Master & Dynamic made a wireless version of its iconic MH40 headphones

View
The Morning After: Disney+ is here, and it brought 4K 'Star Wars'

The Morning After: Disney+ is here, and it brought 4K 'Star Wars'

View
Disney+ vs. the competition: Which offers the best bang for your buck?

Disney+ vs. the competition: Which offers the best bang for your buck?

View
'Sonic the Hedgehog' movie tries again with a new trailer

'Sonic the Hedgehog' movie tries again with a new trailer

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr