In order to make the economics work, these birds do a ballistic reentry, essentially falling out of the sky and making a corrective landing burn at the last possible minute. Since this Falcon was delivering a Japanese communications satellite to high orbit, the lifter fell a lot further than the last one did, ending up going twice as fast and requiring a 12-G final burn before touching down softly on the recovery vessel Of Course I Still Love You.
Congratulations to Elon Musk and the SpaceX team, who are among the many people who don’t read this blog.
A little late with the news, but anyway the SpaceX’s Falcon-9 has successfully landed on the drone barge “Of Course I Still Love You”. The landing deck is 170 by 300 feet long, and the Falcon’s legs stand 60 feet apart. As you can see by the whitecaps, the sea was very rough with high altitude crosswinds of 50 mph and low altitude winds of 25 mph.
For true space geeks, the beautifully produced full 18 minute video:
The Experimental Delta Clipper (DC-X) of the 1990s was canceled before it ever made it into space.
The Rotary Rocket Company’s incredibly innovative Roton was designed to land with helicopter blades instead of a parachute or a landing rocket. After the collapse of the small telecommunications satellite market in 1999 the company went out of business without ever building their unique spinning aerospike main engine; without a clear mission, investors were unwilling to fund the various exotic technologies that the company was successfully pioneering.
In 2013 SpaceX’s series of “grasshopper tests” picked up where the DC-X left off.
But SpaceX’s plan to land their Falcon 9 lifter on a seagoing barge has not yet succeeded.
And bringing us up to date, Blue Origin landed the New Shepard on the 23rd. I love the final replay of the landing sequence!