SpaceX enjoyed a textbook success with the launch of a 10-satellite cargo for telco Iridium on January 14th. The launch was the first since a catastrophic explosion back on September 1st 2016. Thales Alenia was the prime contractor for Iridium with ATK as the sub-contractor.
The Elon Musk-backed rocket company then successfully landed the Falcon 9’s booster stage onto its floating landing barge, named “just read the instructions” – and spot-on onto the centre of the barge.
SpaceX has also said it is looking to develop extra launch/landing sites at Cape Canaveral in Florida. SpaceX needs the extra facilities in order to simultaneously land the three core recoverable stages from its Falcon 9 ‘Heavy’ rocket.
Elon Musk’s team have their eyes on Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 13 and various studies are now underway on the potential environmental impact for the expansion. The scheme covers more than just one landing area at Complex 13, and plans show that SpaceX will build two new reinforced concrete pads, about a half-metre thick, and additional to the existing ‘main’ pad at the Complex.
The expansion would include new access roads, fire and other safety elements, and the construction of a new 45,000 litre water storage tank (which helps reduce noise of a rocket’s lift-off).