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Autonomous Landing


Shadoof

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Anybody even slightly interested in science and technology will have heard of a relatively new space company called Space-X. They are very close to launching yet another craft into space set currently for Jan 14th. But, one of their most memorable accomplishments, for me at least, is when they had a Falcon 9 rocket land on an autonomous barge that was floating in the Atlantic Ocean. The physics and calculations that had to be done before hand, and during, had to be crazy. The team at Space-X would have had to write programs for the rocket and the ship to be able to talk to each other, they had to have very precise GPS to put the rocket in the same place as the ship. Other things they had to account for is that the ocean is wavy and the barge would be moving all over the place, they had to make the barge be very stable and still, making it move to directly under the rocket. To make sure that the rocket didn't have too much speed as it touched down on the barge they had to program for a very precise 'suicide burn' that would stop any lateral movement and greatly reduce the vertical movement. All of these physics calculations came into a very amazing and groundbreaking landing. Hopefully Space-X will continue to do new and exciting things to make space travel cheaper and safer.

 

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