Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX has announced something rather significant in his company’s work: They’ve managed to land a rocket booster safely in the ocean, making the goal of reusable rockets come all that closer.
If you’ve been following space stuff at all over the last few years, you’ll know that SpaceX is a big deal. They’re the first privately funded company to send (unmanned) rockets to the International Space Station full of supplies for the astronauts… and Musk reckons this rubbish video is even cooler than doing that.
What you’re looking at is the repaired video recording from on board the rocket boosters on SpaceX’s most recent launch (yes, it used to look even worse). What they managed to do was rather than have the first-stage booster crash back to Earth uncontrolled, is make it fall down but then fire boosters, hovering just above the ocean (I believe this is when the screenshot was taken), before plopping gracefully down. No one else has managed to do this yet.
Why this is significant is because it means that eventually we might reach a stage where when we send someone into space, we don’t have to build a whole new rocket every time. Theoretically this could massively cut the costs of getting up. And what we’ve witnessed above is the first step towards that.
It’s not the first time SpaceX have managed to make something land gracefully too – check out this below video of another rocket gracefully landing back where it took off… though this flight didn’t take it all the way into space, but only 325m in the air. Today’s announcement means they can do this sort of thing – and also get to space.
By James O'Malley | April 30th, 2014