You must have stumbled upon the news of SpaceX landing their Falcon 9 rocket booster on a barge in the middle of the ocean. Well guess what, landing rockets is the next big thing, and SpaceX is the pioneer.
What SpaceX did yesterday was launch the payload into space with the Dragon rocket, and then brought back the Falcon 9 rocket booster on earth so that it can be reused in a future mission. Unsurprisingly, it took SpaceX five tries to nail this landing. The previous landings ended up in explosions and toppling. This one though was spot on, and almost revolutionary for the company and for the world.
So what's the big deal with landing rocket boosters? Until now, boosters were essentially "use and throw" carriers of payload. They were huge monetary investments that were being hauled and destroyed in space. Bringing them back would greatly reduce the cost of sending stuff into space and also save gallons of fuel. It would also reduce the time and money spent in building new rocket booster for every space mission. Landing boosters could actually catalyse space exploration.
But of course, landing a tube filled with explosive fuel upright and in a controlled manner is a big technological challenge. These rocket boosters can be extremely dangerous if they ‘fall’ on earth. In fact, landing on earth doesn’t make sense at all, since rockets have a curved trajectory: once the payload is released into space, the rocket is usually above the ocean. Using fuel again to thrust the booster back towards land isn’t technically viable. Rather, using the remaining fuel to perform a controlled landing on the ocean makes a lot of sense. That’s the idea behind SpaceX’s landing on a barge.
SpaceX had previously performed a successful landing on land directly, but for the first time, it has successfully completed landing in the ocean. Of course, the internet reacted in awe and excitement, with thousands of retweets and likes. The topic was trending throughout the world for a few hours.
This landing will be the first step in making space travel and exploration more accessible, economical and environmentally friendly. Elon Musk is proving to be a revolutionary figure with his success with Tesla and now SpaceX, and I wish him best of luck for his future advancements. Of course, congratulations to SpaceX for making history!