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UD engineering professor has doubts SpaceX booster rockets will succeed

Space Exploration Technology Corporation

Last week, private space company SpaceX conducted another test of its Falcoln 9 booster rockets on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Their second attempt wasn’t successful -- the rockets worked just fine up until its bumpy landing back down on Earth.

The Falcon 9 is SpaceX's innovative reusable rocket. Currently,  rockets used on resupply missions and satellite launches are disposed of quickly. Making reuseable booster rockets could potentially save money spent on more disposable ones.

Leonard Schwartz, a mechanical engineering professor at University of Delaware, isn’t convinced that SpaceX will fully succeed with its reusable booster rockets. It takes significant effort to design current rockets to be light and sturdy enough to launch satellites and supplies to the ISS. He believes trying to make them more elaborate isn’t practical.


“I think what SpaceX is trying to do now is rather difficult and I don’t think it makes a lot of sense," said Schwartz.

This is the second test SpaceX has conducted with the Falcon 9 rocket. The first test in January resulted in the Falcon hitting the landing barge at an angle and exploding. As SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted, “Looks like the falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over.”

Schwartz isn’t confident Musk will succeed - considering the Falcon 9 is essentially a shape of a pencil, compared to the moon lander, which had multiple legs to help it balance upon landing.


“To fall back correctly upright on its rear end is an extremely difficult to do and it makes it even more difficult to do on a floating barge," said Schwartz.


SpaceX has scheduled another launch on April 27th.


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