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How To Land A Rocket Booster

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on a barge at sea for the second time. Photo: SpaceX
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on a barge at sea for the second time. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX successful launched and landed a "flight proven" rocket booster, the second time this particular booster has seen action and making space flight history.

It's an important step in the company's effort to utilize rocket re-usability to lower the cost of access to space. Long term, however, it's an imperative skill necessary to colonize Mars as outlined by SpaceX's founder Elon Musk.

On an episode earlier this month, we spoke with NASASpaceflight.com’s assistant managing editor Chris Gebhardt about what this means for Musk's Mars plans.

[caption id="attachment_72768" align="alignleft" width="400"] How SpaceX lands boosters. Click to enlarge.[/caption]

But just what goes into the engineering feat of landing a 180 foot tall booster that's rocketing through the sky? How does SpaceX guide the booster back to land or the barge? And what keeps aerodynamic and thermal forces from ripping apart the thin-skinned booster? Fellow space podcaster Anthony Collangelo, host of the "Main Engine Cut Off" podcast joins us to talk about just what goes into bringing the booster safely back to earth.

Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.<br/><br/>Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.