FALCON 9’S MAGICAL LANDING
OF COURSE I STILL LOVE YOU
Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket makes another spectacular landing Friday on the offshore landing platform Of Course I Still Love You which is anchored off the Port of Long Beach in California.
LANDING SITE NAMES HONOR SCI-FI AUTHOR
SpaceX has two other offshore landing sites — each the size of a football field — Just Read the Instructions and A Shortfall of Gravitas, both located in the Atlantic off the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Musk named the drone ships in honor of Scottish sci-fi author Iain M. Banks, who died of cancer in 2013 at the age of 59.
The landing site names are the same as spaceships in the ‘Culture series’ of Banks’ science fiction novels.
HOW FALCON 9 RETURNS TO EARTH
Bringing back to Earth in a vertical landing a fourteen-story rocket with fire bursting out the end ‘is incredibly hard,’ writes Neel V. Patel in Inverse.
During the ‘boostback,’ three of the nine booster engines ignite to begin guiding the rocket towards the ocean drone ship at 3,000 mph.
Grid fins are deployed to stabilize the rocket and slow it down as it makes its descent. The rocket becomes completely vertical and positions itself for a pinpoint fall back at 560 mph.
In the final maneuver, one last engine burn ignites as the rocket slows to 5 mph. Four legs made of carbon fiber and aluminum unfold to stabilize the rocket on touchdown, aided by the ejection of compressed helium.
MUSK THE ECCENTRIC ROMANTIC
Naming the offshore landing platforms after one of his favorite sci-fi authors was right in character for a guy who named his young son X Æ A-12.
An explation of that name: The X is the unknown variable, Æ is the Elven spelling of Ai (love and/or Artificial intelligence), and the A-12 was an aircraft built for the CIA in the 1960s and a precursor to SR-17, Musk’s favorite aircraft (‘no weapons, no defenses, just speed’).
Musk is an interesting fellow — you don’t know what he’s going to come up with next.