SpaceX has finally achieved what Elon Musk and his team claimed could change the way we carry out space missions. With reusable rockets, the cost of space missions will reduce dramatically and this can help in carrying out future research with lower budget. SpaceX announced that Falcon 9 rocket landed successfully at a landing pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Musk has been congratulated by NASA and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos among others.
SpaceX has been trying hard for quite some time to achieve. In June this year, the mission to land Falcon 9 failed. It was a major setback for SpaceX but Musk said that his team will continue working and improving on its earlier mistakes. In a live webcast, SpaceX commentator from Southern California headquarters of SpaceX announced that the Falcon 9 rocket has successfully landed after placed few satellites in orbit.
Musk had earlier said that with reusable rocket technology, we will be one step closer to Mars mission and colonization of the red planet.
Instead of burning up on re-entry into Earth’s orbit like other rockets used for various missions, Falcon 9 manages to land back. Falcon 9 can be used 8-10 times with minor repairs. And after 8-10 missions, the rocket can be reused with major repairs, according to SpaceX.
Falcon 9 is a two stage rocket which SpaceX has developed for putting satellites into the orbit. The company used Falcon 9 in 2012 to deliver Dragon mission into its orbit. SpaceX is also offering services to International Space Station.
Dragon carries cargo in the spacecraft’s pressurized capsule and unpressurized trunk, which can also accommodate secondary payloads. In the future, Dragon will carry astronauts in the pressurized capsule as well.
Falcon 9’s first stage incorporates nine Merlin engines and aluminum-lithium alloy tanks containing liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene (RP-1) propellant. After ignition, a hold-before-release system ensures that all engines are verified for full-thrust performance before the rocket is released for flight. Then, with thrust greater than five 747s at full power, the Merlin engines launch the rocket to space. Unlike airplanes, a rocket's thrust actually increases with altitude; Falcon 9 generates more than 1.5 million pounds of thrust at sea level but gets up to nearly 1.7 million pounds of thrust in the vacuum of space.. The first stage engines are gradually throttled near the end of first-stage flight to limit launch vehicle acceleration as the rocket’s mass decreases with the burning of fuel.
The second stage, powered by a single Merlin vacuum engine, delivers Falcon 9’s payload to the desired orbit. The second stage engine ignites a few seconds after stage separation, and can be restarted multiple times to place multiple payloads into different orbits. For maximum reliability, the second stage has redundant igniter systems. Like the first stage, the second stage is made from a high-strength aluminum-lithium alloy.