On Tuesday there was a delay of the SpaceX launch of a GovSat-1 communication satellite via a Falcon 9 reusable rocket, for at least 24 hours because the company needed to replace a second stage sensor. Yesterday, the reusable SpaceX rocket successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The company previously announced that it wouldn’t attempt to recover the first stage of the reusable SpaceX rocket once it fell back to Earth. However, in the end, they didn’t even have to try.
A tweet by SpaceX reads: “Successful deployment of GovSat-1 to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit confirmed.”
Even Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, was surprised to see that the rocket survived its immersion into the water upon landing, and has even been pictured hitting the sea. The reusable SpaceX rocket launch sent the satellite into orbit for the Luxembourg government and satellite operator SES.
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“This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn’t hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived. We will try to tow it back to shore,” Musk wrote in a tweet.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket before this launch, supported the launch of a National Reconnaissance Office payload in May 2017. This SpaceX rocket launch was the last launch before the maiden trip of the current world’s most powerful operational rocket, the Falcon Heavy. If everything plays out according to plan, the Falcon Heavy is supposed to launch next Tuesday, and it will carry Elon Musk’s own Tesla Roadster sports car into space. Musk is also CEO of Tesla.
According to Musk’s tweet, SpaceX was testing a “very high retrothrust landing.” It is usual that when landing, only one of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines is used. While replying to the comments to his tweets, Musk confirmed that SpaceX fired up three engines for this journey.
When the rocket is to land over the water, the company usually prepares a drone ship which would catch the rocket with pinpoint accuracy. However, the supercharged landing, such as this, could have damaged the drone boats. According to a report from The Verge, the company will likely need the Florida-based drone ship in order to be prepared for next week’s planned launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket.
The company will try to get the rocket from the water and salvage it, according to the tweet. However, it’s still not certain whether the rocket will be used or any of its remains will be used in the future.
The reusable SpaceX rocket launch of the GovSat-1 communication satellite marks the sixth time the company has reused one of its boosters. In December of last year, the company launched 4,800 pounds of supplies, equipment and scientific research to the International Space Station. During that mission, SpaceX used a reused Falcon 9 rocket.
The company aims to make reusing rockets more common, as it greatly cuts down the costs of spaceflight.