Despite its most recent failed attempt at landing a rocket on a drone, SpaceX, has been working hard at developing new kinds of rocket technology that will benefit future missions.
In one of its most recent tests that took place last November, the space company, tested out the art of hovering — trying to land a spacecraft like a helicopter.
The test was conducted to determine the company’s ability to fire engines that will be used to land spacecraft safely and with helicopter accuracy.
According to a NASA blog, “SpaceX envisions returning people to Earth from space on the power of thrust instead of beneath parachutes. Working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, SpaceX is in the early phases of analysis.”
The tests were run on a full-size Crew Dragon mock-up attached to a crane so engineers could refine the landing software and stems on the spacecraft. In its final version, the spacecraft will be equipped with eight SuperDraco thrusters aimed to slow the vehicle’s return to Earth through the atmosphere and set the spacecraft and its crew down gently.
It will be a while before SpaceX and NASA turn to this sort of propulsive landing to be used for NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station.The Crew Dragon will splash down safely in the ocean under parachutes as its passengers return from the space station.