SpaceX has landed a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the middle of the ocean on April 8. This feat marks the company’s first successful ocean landing after four failed earlier attempts.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 4:43 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket carried SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft that contains supplies for crew members in the International Space Station, including food items, station hardware as well as several science experiments such as the prototype for an inflatable habitat.
In the video feed of the historic rocket landing, two and a half minutes after launching, the reusable primary part of the rocket separated, turned around and directed toward a landing platform located in the Atlantic about 185 miles or 297 kilometres from Cape Canaveral.
This historic moment is a major step forward for the company’s reusable rocket plans. Apparently, reusable rockets reduce launch costs by up to 30 percent.
SpaceX’s first successful landing was back in December 2015 when a Falcon 9 rocket landed on a ground-based landing pad on the Florida station. Its mission was to put a satellite into space.
Hans Koenigsmann, the VP for flight reliability at SpaceX, says, “It is true we have to pick up the pace, and we will pick up the pace,” he said, adding that the next scheduled launch for the company will come near the end of April, with another set for the beginning of May.
“So the time between the missions will get shorter and shorter. It is something we’ve seen with the 1.1 version, too — when you phase an upgrade in, you need a little bit of time between the launches, and then after a while you pick up the pace,” Koenigsmann adds. “And we hope we’re going to be able to launch basically every other week by the end of the year.”