Elon Musk may want to take some pointers from YouTube user and RC hobbyist ajw61185. His latest build is a Falcon 9 model rocket that resembles its full-sized SpaceX counterpart. What is the biggest difference between the two versions, besides the obvious ones like size and technology? The model ajw61185 designed was able to land successfully on the floating platform without crashing.
The secret to ajw61185’s success is not the result of some advanced rocketry, but instead can be attributed to some cleverly hidden components. If you look closely at the rocket, you will discover that it has a drone integrated into its base. Ajw61185 uses a stripped-down Blade Inductrix 200 quadcopter and cleverly disguises it as a series of rocket boosters using hobby rocket model pieces and custom parts. On top of the drone base is a 1-inch wide and 1-meter tall piece of insulation foam that is built to scale. The rocket also has legs that deploy in flight and a removable flame attachment that can be added or removed for effect. Ajw61185 tested his mini Falcon 9 in a friend’s swimming pool, landing it on a model barge.
SpaceX developed the Falcon 9 rocket to be reusable, allowing operators to launch the rocket, deploy its payload and then return the spacecraft back to earth safely for the next mission. SpaceX is using a floating barge as a landing platform, which complicates the landing process — so much so that the rocket has crashed more often than landed.
After several high-profile crashes, the private aerospace company nailed three landings in a row earlier this year. The most recent landing in June 2016, however, ended that streak when the rocket lost propulsion at the end and landed in a heap on the drone ship platform. Though it did not end in a fireball like some landings, the rocket suffered significant damage and was no longer viable.