Watch SpaceX nail its 250th Falcon 9 drone landing | Digital trends

SpaceX has successfully landed its Falcon 9 booster on a drone ship for the 250th time.

The first stage of the company’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket made a perfect landing on it Just read the instructions The drone ship about eight minutes after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday. A video (below) captured the moment the booster – the one making the ninth stroke – arrived at the floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon 9 first stage lands in Just read the instructions, completing our 250th drone landing

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 20, 2024

SpaceX has two options for landing its Falcon 9 booster — either back at the launch site or on one of its three drone shuttles. The latter method is used when the rocket does not have enough fuel to make it back to the launch site, which depends on the type of mission it is undertaking. The company made its first successful Falcon 9 landing at Kennedy in December 2015, and its first drone ship landed four months later. Early attempts sometimes saw the booster crash and explode shortly after touchdown, but the team has now nailed down the landing procedure.

Landing the first stage boosters this way – instead of water – is essential to SpaceX’s spaceflight system as it allows the company to quickly renew them for another flight, helping it reduce the cost of orbital missions. . Some of the Falcon 9 boosters have launched on 20 missions to date, usually carrying small satellites to be placed in low Earth orbit.

The Elon Musk-led company is now aiming to transfer its know-how to its next-generation, much larger Starship rocket, although the landing method will be slightly different as SpaceX hopes to “capture” the booster using wings mechanical giants just seconds from touching down, instead of the booster touching the ground. Starship has been on four test flights to date, but the fifth test, which could take place in July, will be the first to test the “capture” method.

Thursday’s flight launched a European television satellite into orbit as part of the SES ASTRA 1P mission. It was the ninth flight of the first stage booster, which previously launched the Ax-2, Euclid, Ax-3, CRS-30 and four Starlink missions. The mission was supposed to begin on Tuesday, but was postponed due to concerns about weather conditions at the launch site.

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