SpaceX Makes History After Successful Launch of Recycled Rocket

According to SpaceX, The Falcon 9 costs $62 million to launch, but the cost of a re-launch has not been announced.

But not even a full year has passed, the engineering team in SpaceX has already managed to re-calibrate and re-condition the mechanics of the rocket's first stage booster to conduct a second flight for a different mission.

Elon Musk's privately-held SpaceX has successfully led the first relaunch of a used rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Rather than discarding it during the ascent, SpaceX landed it on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean and refurbished it in order to reuse it for Thursday's mission to send a telecommunications satellite into orbit.

Musk said this day was 15 years in coming and that, all told, the reusability effort has cost the company at least $1 billion, which will take time to recoup. He went on to call it an "incredible milestone in the history of space" and predicted, that it would be "a huge revolution in spaceflight".

The company's Falcon 9 rocket, recovered at sea from its maiden flight previous year, on Thursday blasted off from the U.S. state of Florida, in the first successful launch of a recycled orbital-class booster.

SpaceX has launched its first recycled rocket, the biggest leap yet in its bid to drive down costs and speed up flights. "It means you can fly and re-fly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket".

The recent mission marked a critical milestone for SpaceX. During the space shuttle program, the twin booster rockets dropped away two minutes into flight and parachuted into the Atlantic for recovery. "It's taken us a long time", Musk said.

Up until now, rocket companies are using expendable rockets.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Bloomberg that it took the company almost four months to recover and refurbish the Falcon 9 used in Thursday's launch, adding that they ultimately hope to reduce that turnaround time to just 24 hours.

It was remarked that the Falcon 9 relaunched yesterday will be donated to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for display, however future boosters will be expected to fly up to ten times with no refurbishment and about 100 times with moderate maintenance and reconditioning. Musk notes that propellant for the rocket is only about 0.3 percent of the cost.

SES is considering more launches later this year on reused Falcon boosters.

  • Carolyn Briggs