First Rocket to Land at Sea

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Makayla Stein, Reporter

 The SpaceX program conducted a launch with a rocket booster. They named it the Falcon 9. The goal was to land a rocket on a ship at sea to test how well they could control the rocket at long distance. Scientists didn’t want to test the rocket in space because they couldn’t evaluate it as closely compared to if it were in Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket is reusable which provided scientists with the hope that if it were to crash they would be able to repair it, make adjustments and try the launch again.

     The Falcon 9 was launched on April 8 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was kept in the air for days to check the fuel management and other dynamics. The rocket carried SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo spacecraft. A past launch conducted resulted with the rocket exploding along with all the equipment on it.

     “There’s minor changes on the nuts-and-bolts level, but that is basically all the changes that we did,” said Hans Koenigsmann, the VP of flight reliability at SpaceX, regarding the newest model of the rocket booster.

     Scientists are testing to see if any of the boosters would be able to reach NASA’s space station. It is all part of a larger project to attempt to bring supplies to the station in a faster and more efficient way.

     A few days after the rocket was launched it successfully landed on a drone ship. Scientists were ecstatic and immediately prepared to launch the Falcon 9 into space. Falcon 9 was launched to reach the space station and be grabbed by the robotic arm on the station.

     The SpaceX company has stated in previous years that they plan to increase their amount of launches.

     “So the time between the missions will get shorter and shorter. It is something we’ve seen with the 1.1 version, too — when you phase an upgrade in, you need a little bit of time between the launches, and then after a while you pick up the pace…and, this year, we hope we’re going to be able to launch basically every other week by the end of the year,” said Koenigsmann.