SpaceX has stated "Flights 14 and 15 will attempt to land on a solid surface with an improved probability of success." Are they going to land at the Cape, or some other solid surface?


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The SpaceX website says:

At this point, we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment

In a Tweet, Elon Musk revealed the landing barge, now known as an ASDS (Autonomous spaceport drone ship) will be towed to the landing area. Beyond that, much is still unknown.

ASDS Tweet

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Interesting that they claim they have enough evidence they can refly with no required refurbishment. That seems a claim too far from the current known evidence.

The landing on a floating launch pad with proper cameras would be awesome to see I suspect!

I suspect, having run qualification testing on MANY Merlin 1 engines now (10 F9 flights, 5 F1 flights, that is at least 105 engines), through multiple generations (Merlin 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D now), having run a Merlin 1D through many flight cycles on Grasshopper, and having run a trio of Merlin 1D's on F9R-Dev1 for two flights they have WAY more flight data than almost any other engine program that considered reuse.

One imagines a full launch/landing will still have surprises, but it is possible they know most of what they were looking for. The unknown stuff is what will bite them. Which is what the F9R-Dev2 at Mojave will be aiming at covering.

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps they are basing the claim on both the data received from the two F9 water landings, as well as the Grasshopper and F9R Dev tests in Texas. If the Grasshopper and F9R Dev vehicles could be reused with no required refurbishment, that would mean a properly landed actual F9R would also be able to be reused as the F9R Dev vehicle is essentially identical to a production F9R first stage. $\endgroup$
    – harperska
    Jul 24, 2014 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @harperska Agreed. It is clear they have a lot more data about landing a reusable stage than the average bear. Is it enough? I think it is a biy hubristic to make this statement before actually turning a stage around. They may be completely correct. (I hope so!) But setting lower expectations makes hitting them easier. :) $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Jul 24, 2014 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @geoffc, "But setting lower expectations makes hitting them easier." Yeah, but they don't aim low. They obviously don't have the culture of just naming a failure a victory, and be happy about it. They really have the ambition to go to Mars. A trip half way to Mars is a trip to nowhere and an unacceptable failure. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Jul 24, 2014 at 21:22

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