Quirks & Quarks

SpaceX sticks the landing and sticks it to the competition

SpaceX has now twice landed booster rockets - once at sea and once on land - suggesting that the era of cheap, re-useable rockets may be at hand

Successful landings of its booster rocket puts SpaceX at the head of the space-launch pack

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster stage rests on the barge on which it has just landed (SpaceX)
Last week, a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster dropped from the sky and landed, rocket engines blasting, on a tiny barge, 300km distant from its launch site at Cape Canaveral in Florida. This was the second successful landing of a SpaceX booster, and the first at sea, and is the first critical step to SpaceX's ultimate goal of rocket reusability, which has long been seen as an enabling technology for increased exploitation of space.

Ashlee Vance, a technology journalist, feature writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. and author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, has been tracking how SpaceX and other new aerospace start-ups are disrupting the space-launch industry.

He thinks they may be threatening the monopoly of the old-guard of government and defence contractors, who have controlled access to space, and failed to reduce costs and increase access. This might mark a new era in space exploration and exploitation, with implications for space science and for human missions to Mars.

Related Links

- CBC News story on the SpaceX launch and sea landing
United Launch Alliance
- Arianespace
- Orbital ATK
Blue Origin
Rocketlab USA
- Ashley Vance discusses Elon Musk on CBC's The Current