SpaceX Reused Rocket Landing Successful
Elon Musk's SpaceX on Thursday salvaged half of the $6 million nosecone of its rocket, in what the space entrepreneur deemed an important feat in the drive to recover more of its launch hardware and cut the cost of space flights.
This particular first stage landed on an ocean platform nearly exactly a year ago after a space station launch for NASA. The rocket could apparently be used a third time following a successful landing aboard a barge off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The rest is the rocket itself, with 70% of the price tied up in the first stage of the booster. SpaceX inspected and refurbished the first stage for reuse, breaking the normal paradigm of rocket launches in which spent boosters are jettisoned and disposed in the ocean.
The company has plans to re-use many more recovered boosters for its planned future space missions.
If SpaceX also manages to reuse the second stage of the rocket, costs will drop even further. "It's the difference between if you had airplanes where you threw away an airplane after every flight versus you could reuse them multiple times". The price of the fuel is only about 1% of the total cost of a rocket launch. SES had special access; the satellite provider, after all, has a long history with SpaceX.
Reusability has always been a central component of SpaceX's vision, with the company describing the principle as "the key to making human life multi-planetary", by virtue of its ability to cut the costs associated with rocket launches.
"I think that 50 years from now we'll look back on this day and that's say where commercial space travel began", aerospace engineer and former NASA chief technologist Bobby Braun told Eric Berger at Ars Technica. In September 2016, he gave a talk to the International Astronautical Congress called "Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species", in which he laid out his vision.
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Musk said discounts will certainly apply from now on but SpaceX has yet to reach some figures yet because they still have a lot of things to consider first, including development costs.
The recent booster upcycle saved SpaceX an estimated 30 percent on the cost of more than $60 million, according to the Guardian.
"People said we were taking a huge risk".
Kennedy was speaking to Americans, but it was all of humanity that watched raptly on July 20, 1969, as Neil Armstrong took humanity's first halting steps on a heavenly body other than Earth.
Thursday's achievement is a huge step for SpaceX.
Rockets, once sent into space, are usually substantially damaged; the only alternative in these circumstances is to invest millions of dollars to make a new rocket - a serious challenge to a private company, when the return of investment hinges on a series of factors beyond the control of the technical team that include being at the mercy of gravity.
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