Elon Musk’s rocket programme adds X-wings and unmanned landing pads

Elon Musk has detailed a list of various upgrades for his rocket project that include real-life X-wings and a reusable rocket that lands on drone pads situated out to sea.

The billionaire entrepreneur reeled off a number of tweets that showed the new additions to the SpaceX programme that have been developed for the reusable Falcon 9R rocket.

Star of the show is the set of four independently adjustable fins, or as Musk dubbed them X-wings, that are designed to be stowed during the rocket’s ascent and then used during re-entry. Each fin can move independently for pitch/yaw/roll to allow the craft to be controlled with a level of precision that allows it to be landed on a platform in the ocean.

“Autonomous spaceport drone ship” platforms are another part of the space programme that were announced by Musk and the thrusters will be constructed from repurposed deep sea oil rigs that hold position to within 3m even during a storm.

Both additions are primarily designed to make navigating the craft back down to earth much easier and ensure that, should a spacecraft run into any problems, it is well away from populated areas.

The SpaceX programme is geared towards creating reusable rockets and has had fluctuating degrees of success so far. In August, a SpaceX rocket exploded over Texas with no injuries or “near injuries” though Musk admitted at the time that developing rockets is “tricky”. This was preceded by a successful test that included a splash down in the ocean illustrating that the Space X Falcon 9 booster is able to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, fire up its engines, deploy landing legs and land at “near zero velocity.”

Musk’s plans for space go even further than the SpaceX project and just a couple of weeks ago he pushed forward with a plan to launch satellites into space that can provide Internet access around the world, similar to Google’s Project Loon.

Image Credit: Flickr (NASA)