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Falcon 9 first stage to land on floating platform

The competition heats up: During an event at MIT on Friday Elon Musk revealed that SpaceX will to try to land first stage of the next Falcon 9 launch on a floating platform.

“We actually have a huge platform that’s being constructed in a shipyard in Louisiana right now,” Musk said in the interview, which was webcast live. He described the platform as about 90 meters long by 50 meters wide. “We’re going to try and land on that on the next flight.”

If the stage successfully lands on the platform, Musk said, it could potentially fly again. He put the odds of success at no greater than 50 percent for this particular attempt, but was more optimistic about the company’s chances of landing on the platform on a future mission. “There’s at least a dozen launches that will occur over the next 12 months,” Musk said. “I think it’s quite likely — probably 80 to 90 percent likely — that one of those flights will be able to land and refly.”

Based on everything this company has promised and later actually delivered, I would be willing to bet that they will do exactly as Musk says, and that sometime in the next year they will successfully recover the first stage of their rocket, an achievement that will shake the entire launch industry to its foundations.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • bill

    they will need another platform for the cows

  • Pzatchok

    They will just get them life vests.

  • mpthompson

    I wonder how much weather at the down-range barge will start factoring into launch decisions. SpaceX may want to invest in a few barges spaced a few hundred miles apart once they dial in the landing to overcome such limitations. Regardless, this will be a momentous achievement.

  • I suspect the use of a floating platform is only for the first dozen or so landings. Once they have proven their ability to repeatedly return the first stage to a pinpoint landing on the platform, they will then lobby to bring it back to land. And I suspect they will make that effort in Brownsville, Texas, at their new spaceport.

  • mpthompson

    Having down range landing pads seems much more efficient, but I really don’t know the tradeoffs. I always thought one of benefits of launching from Texas is that your down-range landings could take place in Florida. Or is that too far away?

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