Another barrier has been broken through in the aerospace engineering field. SpaceX announced that they have successful implemented a way to reignite the first-stage booster stage and bring it back down to Earth after having launched it. Sounds confusing? That’s because it is. Not only is it complicated, it’s also incredibly difficult to accomplish as well.
A SpaceX member likened it akin to “Launching a pencil over the Empire State Building, putting it in reverse, and having it come back down and land on a shoebox on the ground in a wind storm.”
This amazing achievement comes on the heels of the disastrous June 28 launch that created a long shadow of doubt as well as scrutiny over SpaceX after the company’s launch destroyed a company’s supply ship christened Dragon which was intended for the International Space Station. The success of the Falcon 9 booster has been credited mostly due to a substantial increase in the upper stage engine bell, a more powerful thrust boost and deep cryo oxidizers which are designed to increase performance as well as redundancy in effectiveness.
With plans to dramatically reduce the cost of space launches, SpaceX has plans to reuse it Falcon 9 rocket with the intention of rebooting live tests and experiments on its Grasshopper test rig. This has marked the ending of a wildly successful year for SpaceX culminating in the first flight of the Falcon 9 upgrade and landing the rocket back on land at Cape Canaveral. Onlookers as well as SpaceX employees were captured celebrating and chanting “U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A!” Earlier this year Blue Origin made history by recovering it’s suborbital launch vehicle New Shepard which came one month prior to SpaceX’s landing of the booster stage. SpaceX has been approved by the US Air Force to carry national security space modules and has plans to return to routine operations following the improvements to the Falcon 9.
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