Saturday, October 1, 2011

A SpaceX video screenshot showing the Falcon 9's first stage motor touching down on the ground using retro-rockets.

VIDEO OF THE DAY... SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently revealed plans to make the Falcon 9 launch vehicle completely reusable...using retro-rockets to help guide spent motor stages back to Earth following liftoff and allowing them to touch down at designated landing zones near the launch site. Very interesting idea—but pretty darn ambitious. Is there a reason why parachutes wouldn’t be used to assist the Falcon segments in their descent to terra firma? Is there a reason why the Dragon capsule itself would totally rely on thrusters after re-entry? If I was an astronaut returning to Earth from the International Space Station onboard this thing, I’d ask Mr. Musk to leave the Dragon with its three chutes as-is; leaving the retro-rockets and every other risky attempt at innovation to the parts of the vehicle that don’t have human lives on them. That is all.

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