At the same time. SpaceX is pushing the envelope of what is possible. They struggled to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. Seven months after landing the first stage on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the landings seem routine.
When a SpaceX rocket goes up, we expect to see the first stage come back down intact. Sunday night, the private space company sent another resupply mission to the International Space Station. About eight minutes after launch, the first stage was back on the ground. Here’s a GIF of the landing.
Or, you can fast forward to about 24:50 to see the first stage reentry burn in the video below.
SpaceX wants to up the ante. They have big plans with a much bigger rocket. The company told The Orlando Sentinel they are seeking government approval to build two more landing pads at Cape Canaveral.
The trio of landing pads will be needed once SpaceX starts flying the Falcon Heavy. This beast of a rocket uses three rocket cores to lift payloads of up to 54 tons into space. To bring those three rockets back to Earth, SpaceX needs more landing pads. Bringing the three rockets back to land is the end goal. But they did mention drone ship landings will probably be the way they go at first.
We all just thought one rocket landing was badass. Imagine two of the rocket cores landing at nearly the same time. Ok, I want to see that in person.
Really tempting to redesign upper stage for return too (Falcon Heavy has enough power), but prob best to stay focused on the Mars rocket
When will the Falcon Heavy take to the skies? Sometime in November/December at the earliest. If successful, SpaceX wants to forge ahead with a mission to Mars. A preliminary date for that launch is set for April/May 2018. Don’t be surprised if that date slips.
You’re probably wondering when SpaceX will start seeing the fruits of landing the first stage rocket back on Earth? No word yet on when one of these used rockets will head back into the sky, but Musk said the rocket looked great.
Out on LZ-1. We just completed the post-landing inspection and all systems look good. Ready to fly again. pic.twitter.com/1OfA8h7Vrf