SpaceX's Falcon 9 Took "Maximum Damage" in Latest Landing

Friday, 20 May 2016 - 11:54AM
Friday, 20 May 2016 - 11:54AM
After many failed attempts, SpaceX has finally managed to land its Falcon 9 rocket safely back on Earth, and earlier this month, they achieved their fastest landing onto a drone ship yet. Now, SpaceX has announced that the rocket took maximum damage in the latest landing, and will probably never fly again.

On May 6, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a satellite into orbit 22,000 miles above Earth. Since the rocket was in geostationary orbit, it required much greater velocities to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, which meant it was exposed to five times the heat as the last rocket that achieved this feat.

The rocket managed to land on the drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You, at 5,220 miles per hour, but it was something of a Pyrrhic victory, as Elon Musk revealed today that the rocket has been all but destroyed from the rough landing. 

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"Most recent rocket took max damage, due to [very] high entry velocity," Musk announced via Twitter.
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This is bad news for SpaceX, since the entire point of learning to land rockets was to re-use them, which is moot if the rockets can't manage more than one launch. Luckily, Musk assured his followers that "a solution is likely," and is confident that future SpaceX rockets will be built to avoid this problem in the future. However, this particular Falcon 9 rocket will probably never fly again, and will instead be used as a "life leader" for ground tests of other rockets.

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