SpaceX has been mastering rocket landings on the coast of Florida, so the next step would be to do the same in California. The company has submitted an application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to do the same trick with a Falcon 9 rocket. They plan to land it later this year at Vandenberg Air Force Base (southern California).
After launching the rocked from the facility, it is supposed to land on the West Coast, the first one conducted by SpaceX.
Landing On a Floating Drone Vs. Landing on Ground
When landing its rockets, SpaceX has two options: they either land on a floating drone ship in the ocean, or it returns to the launch site and lands on a concrete slab on the ground. The options will depend on how much fuel the rocket uses to land. Returning to land requires more fuel than landing on a drone ship.
A landing on the ground would be convenient for the company, as they won’t have to go to get the rocket from the ocean. Plus, ground landings are spectacular to watch.
Until now, SpaceX has done 14 drone ship landings and 11 ground-based landings. Most of the landings on the ground have occurred at Cape Canaveral, Florida, all having been successful. As for the Vandenberg Air Force Base, SpaceX launched a few rockets to place satellites on the Earth’s orbit.
In 2015, SpaceX leased a site at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, where they built a concrete landing pad for future landings. Now they’re waiting to receive clearance for landing on that site. The Federal Aviation Administration studied to see if landing Falcon 9 rockets would negatively impact the environment, and they found out that there is no big threat.
SpaceX needs a license from the FCC to use radio frequencies to communicate with the rocket. According to the FCC application filed by SpaceX, the company will launch from Vandenberg somewhere between 5 September and 5 March. The company will also need a license from the FAA to land – they will make sure that the rocket won’t damage property or hurt observers.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere