SpaceX’s quest to make space travel more affordable took a massive leap forward this week when the firm launched and landed a Falcon 9 rocket.
Oh, we forgot to mention that the rocket in question was launched and landed once already back in April 2016.
“It means you can fly and refly an orbit class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight,” SpaceX chief executive officer and real-life Tony Stark Elon Musk said after the rocket landed.
To date SpaceX has launched 13 Falcon 9 rockets with only eight landing successfully back on terra firma or SpaceX’s oceanic landing platforms/barges.
“I’m just incredible proud of the SpaceX team for being able to achieve this incredible milestone in the history of space. I’m sort of at a loss for words. It’s really a great day not only for SpaceX but the space industry as a whole in proving that something could be done that many people said was impossible,” said Musk.
As you may or may not know, when a rocket is launched the first stage which contains the engines, and fuel is treated like trash and discarded. When the times comes to launch something into orbit again that first stage needs to be rebuilt.
The cost of rebuilding the first stage of a rocket can hit the millions of dollars mark. By reusing the first stage SpaceX can offset a portion of the cost of building a rocket and jetting satellites into orbit.
Mind you, reusing a rocket isn’t a case of just dusting it off and sending it back into the heavens. SpaceX needs to spend time refurbishing and inspecting the machine before testing it thoroughly.
This rather monumentous news not only for SpaceX but space travel in general.
You can watch the launch and landing of Falcon 9 in the video below. The landing takes place at around 27 minutes.