SpaceX to attempt first stage return on next flight?
Rocketeer — Sat, 16/03/2013 - 12:35pm
Some frankly astounding rumours are emerging about the near term development plans for SpaceX's launch systems (NSF forum links here, here and here):
On the maiden flight of the Falcon-9 v1.1 from Vandenberg, carrying the CASSIOPE scientific satellite, after stage separation the first stage will turn around on cold-gas thrusters, and attempt a re-entry and powered "landing" into the waters of the Pacific. As well as being visually spectacular, if successful this will be a considerable step forward in the development of an operational RLV.
The next VTVL demonstrator vehicle Grasshopper 2 is currently under construction from the first stage tankage test article for the F9 v1.1. This demonstrator will be much closer to a flightweight system, with deployable landing legs, and is expected to fly to a maximum altitude of 300,000ft from White Sands and return.