Proving it was no fluke, SpaceX lands Falcon 9 rocket again

6 May 2016

The launch of the JCSAT-14 mission. Image via SpaceX

Proving it was no fluke, SpaceX has announced that it has successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket for the second time following its return from space, with it having been launched early this morning (6 May).

Towards the end of last year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX achieved what it had been gearing towards for years, that being, the ability to make its Falcon 9 rocket reusable, saving considerable amounts of money for each rocket launch.

Now, following a launch early this morning, SpaceX has revealed that it has done it all over again, showing that the process is very much repeatable in its missions to come.

This marks the third successful landing for SpaceX of the rocket, although this is the second time that it has done it on its floating barge, which is seen as its preferred landing site, as its path of trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean makes it much cheaper and fuel efficient to land there rather than on land.

The launch today, designated JCSAT-14, was to launch a Japanese commercial satellite communications rocket into the planet’s geostationary transfer orbit at a considerable distance away from Earth.

Three-times the deceleration as previous landing

This further distance, SpaceX said prior to the launch during its webcast, made the successful return for the Falcon 9 much less likely, but this was upgraded to “maybe even” by Musk as the clock ticked down towards launch.

As it turned out, the mission went completely smoothly and, to add further achievement to this particular landing, Musk confirmed that this mission had three-times the deceleration of the last flight, being a three-engine burn to help it minimise gravity loss.

While SpaceX worried over the fate of its own Falcon 9 rocket and its return, the actual mission involving the deployment of the satellite was confirmed as having reached its operating orbit.

With two successful barge landings at sea, it appears the company can begin ramping up production of the rockets, which, at least according to Musk, will lead to a problem worthy of a humblebrag.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic