Even SpaceX hardware felt the love from Elon Musk on Valentine’s Day.
In a tweet posted late Thursday, Musk shared an image of a Falcon 9 rocket booster landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The company uses that ship, and a second named Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific, to recover boosters after they lift off from Florida and California.
A year ago, Of Course I Still Love You was involved in the Falcon Heavy mission, which drew plenty of fanfare for launching a red Tesla Roadster to deep space with the “Starman” mannequin. During that launch, the three-core rocket’s center core missed the drone ship, but its two side boosters successfully landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
SpaceX is pursuing rocket reusability to drive down costs and increase access to space. A common comparison Musk makes is between rockets and airplanes, saying that throwing away a Boeing 747 after each flight would make tickets incredibly expensive. Reusing aircraft, however, lowers per-ticket costs.
“A fully reusable vehicle has never been done before,” SpaceX says on its website. “That really is the fundamental breakthrough needed to revolutionize access to space.”
To date, SpaceX has recovered nearly half of all Falcon boosters launched into space and re-flown several on 19 additional missions. The company makes up 60 percent of U.S. launches.
The company’s next Falcon Heavy launch, slated for no earlier than March 7, will take Saudi Arabia’s Arabsat 6A satellite to orbit.
Contributing: Emre Kelly, Florida Today