For a company SpaceX last week was extremely successful - a spaceship Falcon 9 Full Thrust managed not only to successfully launch, deliver supplies and inflatable module for the ISS, but without damage to return the first stage of the ship, placing it on an offshore platform. Stage without any problems landed on the marine receiving platform, completing the maneuver on the damping rate.
Let me remind you that the stage has successfully managed to land, but the sea, and on land. Then after a few minutes after starting the first stage of the rocket Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust approached the landing site Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1). Before the approach to the Earth's surface level including the engine to brake. The stage opened four pillars on which she sat. Engines disconnected. Step exactly he stood on the tarmac LZ-1.
Why SpaceX complicates their lives, trying to put on the stage of an offshore platform, rather than on land, and use it again? It's all about fuel economy, it has repeatedly stated earlier. In addition, there is a second reason - it's licensing launches from the US Federal Aviation Administration. In the case of landing at sea organization gives "good" faster than when landing on land. Reason - less chance of falling step on someone's head, roughly speaking. More than willing to license issues in this case and the Federal Communications Commission.
But the main thing - it's all the same fuel. Falcon 9 has to carry the payload into orbit, and if the load exceeds a certain value, the return can be quite difficult task - the fuel may not be enough for planting, most will be spent on startup. The heavier the load, the more fuel it takes more to bring the cargo into orbit.
Apparently, the company is now open all the way - just managed to land on the stage of the land and the sea, so the design is successful completion of the rocket. This means that the return stage may soon become a well-oiled process.
In the meantime, preparations for the next launch, SpaceX posted chic previous photo. There is a video that has already been demonstrated on Geektimes.
Photo is really excellent.
According to Elon Musk, is now the first step can be used again and again to return the unit to the ground. It estimates the number of launches of the Falcon 9 with the same stage of 10-20. Also the head of SpaceX added that after minor repairs before restarting stage this number will increase to 100. So it starts really become cheaper.