SpaceX going back to sea landings for a while

SpaceX going back to sea landings for a while

A company spokesperson has recently confirmed that SpaceX is making a comeback to sea landings for some time, despite its Falcon 9 rocket’s successfully landing on solid ground in December. This has indicated that after the coming few Falcon 9 rocket launches, the vehicles will be trying to land upright on one of its autonomous drone ships in the ocean.

Initially, the decision doesn't seem to make much sense. Ground landing is apparently quite a much easier task as compared to hitting a small ship bobbing on the surface of the ocean. Moreover, SpaceX hasn’t been that lucky in landing its rockets at sea, as the previous two attempts have ended in explosions.

However, the decision is more complicated than that. For example, firstly SpaceX has to obtain clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct ground landings. The company has to make sure that the rocket won't damage any outside property or harm anyone. SpaceX has failed in receiving a clearance for its January 17 mission, which will launch Jason-3 satellite of NASA into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base of California.

While speaking to America Space, a spokesperson said, “For Jason-3 we didn’t receive environmental approval for a land landing in time for the launch, so we are doing it on the drone ship (ASDS)”.

In the case of the other upcoming launches, the decision generally comes down to fuel. Rockets launch up and go away from their pad for going into space, but they don’t go straight up, instead follow a parabolic arc.

On reaching the space, Falcon 9 separates from the top of the vehicle. It gets decelerated and flips around to return. For making a comeback to a ground landing port, the rocket requires additional fuel to reverse the vertical and horizontal distance covered by it.