SpaceX on Friday landed its third consecutive rocket on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, during a mission that successfully launched a commercial communications satellite to orbit.
“Falcon 9 has landed,” a member of SpaceX’s launch team confirmed about 10 minutes after a 230-foot Falcon 9 rocket’s 5:39 p.m. blastoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
SpaceX says it hopes to re-fly a rocket for the first time later this year, using the stage landed in April during an ISS resupply mission.
Whatever their condition, each recovered booster gives engineers a chance to learn more about how systems fared during flight, potentially leading to design improvements.
SpaceX plans to launch another commercial satellite mission before its next ISS supply run, which is scheduled for no earlier than July 16. That mission will be the next attempting to return a Falcon 9’s first stage to land.
Rocket landing speed was close to design max and used up contingency crush core, hence back and forth motion. Prob ok, but some risk of tipping.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2016
Crush core is aluminum honeycomb for energy absorption in the telescoping actuator. Easy to replace (if Falcon makes it back to port).
— Tony Sheffler (@tony_sheffler) May 28, 2016