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The competition heats up: SpaceX has replaced one of its automated first stage landing barges with an upgraded version.
With dimensions virtually identical to Marmac 300, she carries some new features, including a steel blast wall erected between the rear containers and the landing deck, in addition to the steel bow wall as previously seen on Marmac 300. Ongoing work visible on deck suggests that a second blast wall may be installed at the forward end of the landing deck as well.
The article also provides us a nice contrast between the government and the private sector. While a private company is now willing to buy a flight with a recovered first stage, even before a successful landing, the government is far more cautious:
According to Mr. Musk, officials have asked for “repeated, successful” demonstrations of a first stage landing on the drone ship before a landing attempt will be allowed at the Cape.
That the company has already demonstrated twice that the first stage can return very precisely to its target should have already satisfied these officials. Moreover, the landing site would be well secured and maintained by SpaceX, and they appear quite willing to bear any repair costs should the stage crash on that landing site.