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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

360° View of the SpaceX Booster Ocean Landing

By Phil Plait

This is just too cool. Click in the video and drag it around. Hint: At the beginning, tilt up.

The Falcon 9 booster landing on April 8 was pretty amazing. It was windy out, as you can see from the video; once the booster made contact, it slid a few meters. A while later, some SpaceX crew went out to the barge to weld it to the surface so it wouldn’t tip over if the seas got rougher. Bear in mind, that booster is more than 40 meters tall. That’s taller than a 12-story building.

The video is neat. Being able to move it around like that is a relatively new thing for YouTube videos; we exploited it for an interactive Crash Course video tour of the solar system. Go play with that if you’d like. The narrator is a close friend of mine.

The next Falcon 9 launch (carrying a Japanese communication satellite) is scheduled for Thursday, with a launch window opening at 05:22 UTC (to be clear, that's 01:22 Eastern U.S. time, or 22:22 Pacific time on Wednesday). A booster landing at sea will again be attempted, but it’ll be much tougher: The launch is to put the satellite in a geosynchronous orbit, which means the booster will be moving horizontally much faster than it did for the previous landing, and will have less fuel to slow and maneuver to the barge. It’s likely not to be successful, but we’ll see.

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