SpaceX Managed to Land Its Rocket For The Third Time In The Middle Of The Sea

SpaceX has shown us that reusable rockets are a real possibility, they managed to land the first stage of their Falcon 9 Rocket on a drone ship placed in the middle of the ocean two times already and this week they did it for the third time.

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This week Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered satellite THAICOM 8 to the orbit and again the first stage of the rocket landed softly on company’s drone ship. THAICOM 8 is a commercial communication meant to be used in parts of India, Africa, and Southeast Asia; and its launch was a real challenge. Falcon 9 managed to put the satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), an orbit that serves as a starting position for satellites which have Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) as their final goal. Basically, Falcon 9 delivered the satellite to GTO; after that phase, another small rocket engine is used to deliver the satellite to GEO. GEO is a circular orbit, and it is placed 22,000 miles above the equator;  it is used by weather and communications satellites because when placed onto it, the satellite will be fixed above a certain point of the world, and will not move from that point.

After it delivered THAICOM 8 to GTO, Falcon 9 returned its first stage back to Earth. This was a tough landing because when traveling from GTO, a rocket needs to take into account much more factors than when it returns from Low Earth Orbit, placed at a much lower altitude. The flight arc is much higher as well as landing velocity. The rocket nevertheless successfully landed on the drone ship, becoming the third Falcon 9 first stage that had a successful landing. Although SpaceX did manage to return three first stages of a rocket back to Earth, it is left to be seen will they be reused for future launches.

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SpaceX claims that all three first stages can be used again; they are now in company’s hangar at Cape Canaveral, the first one was successfully refired but it is decided not to use it again. Instead, it will be placed in front of the company’s headquarters.  But there are the other two for which SpaceX promises it will be reused, again and again. If they actually manage to reuse them, they will start a new age in space flight, where reusability is possible and where launch expenses are much, much lower than with today’s launches.

All in all, SpaceX has a bright future ahead of them. Aside from the third successful landing, they’ve won a contract with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) meaning that they will launch advanced spy satellites (or, to be official, reconnaissance satellites) for this government organization during 2017.

The only thing left to do is the actual relaunch of a salvaged first stage. It has to be successful; SpaceX  (and Elon Musk) are all about reusability of rockets, that’s the main reason for the company’s formation and will be deciding factor for its future success.

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