Watch SpaceX Try to Land Rocket Parts on a Drone Barge, Right the Heck Now
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
UPDATED UPDATE: Here's the new feed.
UPDATE: Canceled Monday, rescheduled for Tuesday.
Yep. I said "drone barge." Isn't living in the future awesome?
The private space firm SpaceX (read Reason's cover story on the company and its founder Elon Musk here) is sending another resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), using its Falcon 9 rocket. The Dragon capsule will make its way to the ISS with cargo and supplies, as well as a small satellite by Planetary Resources. But while they're at it, SpaceX is going to try something new that could make space flight quicker, cheaper, faster, better.
Right now, when a rocket takes off it discards various bits and pieces on the way up—boosters breaking off and falling as the spacecraft ascends will be a familiar sight to anyone who ever watched a Shuttle launch—in order to be more efficient about fuel use. But those pieces can technically be reusable. Enter the "drone barge," which will use GPS to position itself under the falling booster. That booster has been designed to retain enough fuel and wherewithal to set itself down relatively gently on the barge instead of smashing into the ocean.
This is SpaceX's second attempt, after a lack of hydraulic fluid in the descending booster's fins screwed things up in January.
Go here to watch the livesteam of the SpaceX launch, starting at 4:15, weather permitting.