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This article was published on November 22, 2014


Elon Musk teases new fins for reusable rockets, autonomous spaceport ships

Elon Musk teases new fins for reusable rockets, autonomous spaceport ships
Owen Williams
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Owen Williams

Former TNW employee

Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their word Owen was a reporter for TNW based in Amsterdam, now a full-time freelance writer and consultant helping technology companies make their words friendlier. In his spare time he codes, writes newsletters and cycles around the city.

Elon Musk is probably the most interesting person in private space technology right now. Today, he teased a number of new features for his SpaceX rockets and the technology that launches them.

First up is the new x-wing design (no, not the ones from Star Wars) for hypersonic control, which help with re-entry to improve stability and offer greater maneuverability. For take-off, the fins are stowed and automatically deploy for re-entry.

Musk also teased a new “autonomous spaceport drone ship” which will be used for takeoffs from the ocean. Apparently, the ship reuses thrusters from deep sea oil rigs to maintain its position even during huge storms.

These new drone ships give SpaceX a place to launch and land its reusable spacecraft away from population. SpaceX previously said that it was “highly confident” it can land its reusable rockets on a floating launch pad.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/536262624653365248

Musk’s reusable rocket program has been in development since at least 2012 and has been largely a success. Back in August, a Falcon 9 test rocket exploded during launch but didn’t cause any injuries.

The next SpaceX Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for 16 December 2014 on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.