SpaceX does it again: they have just successfully landed yet another Falcon 9 rocket at sea. This particular Falcon 9 landed on their floating drone ship named “Of Course I Still Love You,” and is their fourth sea landing. This brings their record up to five rocket recoveries for the year—their sixth successful rocket landing out of 11 attempts.
The landing rocket had to carry a Japanese communications satellite, JCSAT-16, out into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), 20,000 miles out beyond the Earth’s surface. This required far more speed—and fuel at take-off, making this particular launch and recovery far more challenging and critical with less fuel left for the necessary maneuvers.
As for their mission to actually re-use landed rockets, CEO Elon Musk says that will finally happen in September or October. Successfully reusing landed rockets would significantly cut down on costs.
“If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred. A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before. That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space,” Elon Musk states on their website.