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Wed, Feb 07, 2018

SpaceX Discovers Floating Booster After Satellite Launch

Had Anticipated That The Falcon 9 Core Would Break Up On Landing In The Water

SpaceX has been given the gift of a Falcon 9 booster used to launch a European communications satellite last Wednesday when the booster was found floating in the Atlantic ocean.

The booster was considered expendable. The company expected it to fall back to Earth and explode up as it landed in the water after launching the GovSat-1. Instead, it was found afloat and intact.

Business Insider reports that the booster reportedly had plenty of fuel on board to land, but SpaceX Determined that it was an "older model" called block 3. SpaceX is currently flying block 4 boosters. The landing was an experiment in which the booster acted like it would be landing on the company's floating drone recovery platform. "This rocket was meant to test very high retrothrust landing in water so it didn't hurt the droneship, but amazingly it has survived," Musk said. "We will try to tow it back to shore."

The splashdown may mean that SpaceX is working on a new way to recover its boosters that would use less fuel than bringing them down on land or on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship.

Musk says that future models of the Falcon 9 may not have legs. "We believe the precision at this point is good enough for propulsive landing that we do not need legs for the next version," Musk said in October.

"It will land with so much precision that it will land back on its launch mounts," he said. Some have speculated that this test was in part to see how the booster performed without legs. Eliminating the landing gear would add to the payload capability of the Falcon 9, or allow it to carry more fuel.

(Image Tweeted by Elon Musk)

FMI: Original report

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