Man on Helicopter Spots Mysterious Equipment on SpaceX's Drone Ship
Florida man Stephen Marr just wanted to take an enjoyable helicopter ride with his girlfriend. The couple paid $40 for a nice six-minute aerial tour. Yet the 34-year-old pizza delivery guy got so much more.
"As we were making the approach to land, I had the drone ship on my side and was able to get a clear photo of some new equipment on board that, as an avid SpaceX fan, I did not recognize," Marr said.
[Image Source: Stephen Marr via Reddit]
Fans of SpaceX have become accustomed to seeing the company's rockets land on a barge. However, Elon Musk and crew have kept the new piece of technology called the Roomba largely under wraps. Also called "Optimus Prime," the system would help secure returning rockets as they land. Roomba would also cut down on the number of crew needed for a return.
Marr told USA Today something looked different as the helicopter flew over SpaceX's drone ship named Of Course I Still Love You. So, naturally, he snapped a few pictures and asked the internet for help. Shortly after uploading the picture to Reddit's SpaceX sub, Reddit users came to the consensus that the image could be the first one of the Roomba.
"A couple hours later, I checked it, and it was just blowing up," Marr said. "Everybody seemed to really appreciate that picture."
[Image Source: Stephen Marr via Imgur]
Clearly, Roomba isn't the official name, according to Ricky Lim, senior director of launch operations for SpaceX. However, he said for now "we'll let Reddit name it for us."
There's a pretty good possibility that SpaceX fans like Marr will see the Roomba in action during a land on OCISLY. The company plans to launch a rocket they've previously landed for the first time on March 29. SpaceX recovered a total of eight rockets, three on land and five on sea-based barges. The rocket they're preparing for the flight is the second one ever used by the company (the first will remain on display at the California headquarters).
Reusing the first stage of a rocket could save SpaceX up to 30 percent in overall launch cost. The company hopes that a successful launch and recovery will bring serious weight to the reusable rocket endeavor.