Small target

Aside from resupplying the International Space Station, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is doing some pretty cool things. The company is working on landing its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform on top of a barge about 200 miles from its launch site.

A 300-foot by 170-foot platform sounds like a pretty huge target, but when you’re aiming at it from 200 miles away, it’s pretty tough to hit.

Here’s a comparison. Imagine you’re standing at the base of the Washington Monument. You throw a 4,000-pound Maglite west (toward the Lincoln Memorial, 0.8 miles away). At the top of its trajectory, the Maglite must be twice as high as the top of the Washington Monument (1,000 feet). Then it has to land in a shoebox on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Tough shot.

If you can’t picture that, try this:

Yeah, it’s that tiny red rectangle.
Yeah, it’s that tiny red rectangle.

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