Elon Musk’s one man quest to revolutionize travel continues with the Falcon 9 reusable rocket. The SpaceX CEO also founded and owns Tesla, makers of electric cars, but the rocket featured in this latest video would blow any lithium-ion battery powered vehicle out of the water.
SpaceX: An encouraging test
After becoming the first commercial space vehicle to visit the International Space Station (ISS) in 2012, the Falcon 9 has made three further supply flights using the SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule as part of an agreement with NASA. The Falcon 9 has now flown eleven successful missions in total.
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The video footage comes from its latest test in July this year, when the vehicle reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and landed in the Atlantic Ocean after successfully delivering six small commercial satellites into orbit. The Falcon 9 can be seen engaging its thrusters in order to slow its descent towards the Earth, before landing on the water.
Space X called the test a success, even though the rocket toppled over upon landing, stating that “this test confirms that the Falcon 9 booster is able [to] consistently re-enter from space at hypersonic velocity, restart main engines twice, deploy landing legs and touch down at near-zero velocity.” A SpaceX spokesman later claimed that the toppling was not an issue because the rocket was in fact designed to land on solid ground.
The opening of a new frontier?
“I’m hopeful that the first people can be taken to Mars in 10-12 years,” says Musk. “I think it’s certainly possible for that to occur.”
The PayPal entrepreneur and SpaceX CEO has a grand vision for cheaper space travel, and has recently signed an agreement with the state of Texas to build the world’s first spaceport.
One issue with the Falcon 9 is the large amount of propellant needed to reduce its velocity upon reentry into the atmosphere. Contemporary technology does not allow for the carrying of large amounts of fuel on long-duration missions. Musk hopes that the prototype Falcon Heavy can provide a solution to this problem, and open up deep space to manned missions.