California-based company SpaceX managed to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket in a ship located in the Atlantic Ocean. It is the fifth attempt at the endeavor as the ship did not tip over or was damaged during the procedure.

On that same operation, SpaceX performed a delivery for the International Space Station. It included an inflatable space house which is expected to be vital for future space explorations. It is the eighth time SpaceX performs a mission towards the ISS.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a small inflatable room, will dock with the international space station in 2015 to test the concept for future deep-space missions. Credit: Bigelow Aerospace, LLC/Bigelow Aerospace, LLC)

The inflatable space habitat

The ship used for the procedure was known as the Dragon spacecraft. It carried 7-thousand pounds of cargo, which included the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module that’s to be used on the ISS as a habitat in microgravity. The BEAM habitat is worth $17.8 million and it will allow humans to slowly get further from Earth while being able to work at the planet’s orbit level of gravity.

Thanks to the fact that the habitat is inflatable, the weight and volume of the cargo are greatly reduced. It was developed by Bigelow Aerospace and similar projects were used about 10 years ago, but this is the first time it will be operated by humans.

The BEAM is to be attached to the International Space Station, to be then filled with air and expanded along a two-year test period. Astronauts will then perform tests in order to approve the use of the equipment for further investigation procedures.

It was then stated by Robert Bigelow, Bigelow Aerospace’s president, that a module known as B330 is under development. The B330 is 20 times larger than the BEAM and it is able to be joined with another B330 in orbit.

The rocket landing

A regular rocket’s booster tends to fall to Earth’s surface like any type of debris would do. In this case, the Falcon 9’s booster managed to steer into an upright position as it landed on the drone ship. Its descent was manned by its engines and supporting legs, which enabled the landing to be a clean success.

Since the landing platform has a relatively small size and it is constantly being rocked by the waves, landings of this kind prove to be a complicated task. An ideal landing in a sea platform will allow the booster to reload its fuel capacity and to undergo maintenance procedures.

SpaceX’s goal is to allow rockets to be reused as airplanes do and to make them more cost-effective. SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk argued that the same rocket booster is expected to be put to use 10 more times; he also said that SpaceX is able to save millions of dollars in each launch by recycling rocket booster systems.

Source: CBS