Apr 19

Missed it by “That much”

The drone ship "Just Read the Instructions"

The drone ship “Just Read the Instructions”

SpaceX, the Space Launch company created by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, is taking giant strides to make space exploration and research affordable and practical.  They have already done more as a company (without government funding) than all but three countries have been able to do.  Getting a capsule to orbit, then successfully bringing it back and recovering a payload is not a minor achievement.  Just setting the bar isn’t enough.  Musk has plans that could reduce the cost for individuals, companies, and governments by a factor of over 100.  The plan is to have the main booster land, fill them back up with fuel, and then launch them over and over again.  This will save U.S. Taxpayers Billions of Dollars.


A basic SpaceX booster used to get to the ISS costs in the neighborhood of 58 Million Dollars US.  The fuel cost is a mere $200,000 of that cost.  When SpaceX gets this to work, they will have a fleet of rockets ready to get cargo to space (instead of building a custom rocket for each launch).  Until SpaceX can get permission to fly their boosters back to land, their current process is to land on a boat out in the Atlantic Ocean then tug the rockets back to Cape Canaveral.

So far, they have made attempts to do this twice.  The first time, they lost control of the booster seconds before landing because they ran out of hydraulic fluid to control the rocket motor steering.  Keep in mind that this is landing in on a boat in the middle of the ocean in the dead of night.  The first two have been spectacular near successes.  The latest attempt was made during daylight hours, allowing for spectacular video footage of the attempt (see below).

The most recent attempt delivered the cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) with the booster returning to the drone ship.  It made the landing, but had a bit too much lateral (sideways) speed to stick the landing.


These guys are close. Watch them change the world.