SpaceX has managed its fourth successful rocket landing at sea, with one of its Falcon 9 rockets again coming down to rest on a drone ship.
This time, the rocket was taking a commercial communications satellite up to geostationary transfer orbit, the outer point of which is around 36,000km (22,370 miles) from Earth.
That made the Sunday landing quite tricky, due to the velocities and re-entry heat that were involved. Nonetheless, Elon Musk’s team pulled it off.
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The satellite in question was for Japan’s Sky Perfect JSAT Corporation—it will serve as a backup for the company’s existing communications services in the Ku-band and Ka-band.
It took about half an hour after lift-off at Cape Canaveral for the Falcon 9 rocket to deliver its payload. The rocket’s first stage then landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic.
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The first such relaunch could take place as early as next month.
Once reusability is shown to be viable and reliable, it could result in lower costs for launching objects—and ultimately people—into space.