Yesterday after successfully deploying a telecommunications satellite to geostationary orbit, SpaceX landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket booster on a barge in the Atlantic. It marks the company’s third successful barge landing and fourth successful rocket landing overall. The next scheduled reusable rocket landing is for land in July.
The latest landing is remarkable for both the water landing (which can save fuel due to less maneuvering required but is a moving target) and the lower fuel reserves for a rocket that just boosted a satellite into geostationary orbit (over 22 thousand miles above the Earth.
While I’m starting to sound like a broken record on this point, it’s important not to get too cocky. SpaceX still has more unsuccessful rocket landings than successful ones. While the company will continue testing after the next failure (after all, most of these tests are conducted after SpaceX has launched something for a client), it’s possible that the public support for its efforts will take a hit. I don’t think that’s fair, but I would understand it if that happens. As a noted space explorer once said, ‘risk is our business.’ But it scares most of us.
As for SpaceX, it’s already looking ahead.