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SpaceX Launched a Reused Falcon 9 Rocket Into Space -- What's Next for Elon Musk?

Apr 03, 2017 11:42 AM EDT
SpaceX Rocket To Become The First Non-Governmental Vehicle To Reach Int'l Space Station
SpaceX just launched a satellite into space. What's striking with the mission is that the company reused a Falcon 9 rocket for the latest launch.
(Photo : Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)

SpaceX got another first under its belt after it successfully launched a reused Falcon 9 rocket into space. Launching reused rockets is part of Elon Musk's plan to cut the cost of space flights.

Before using a recycled rocket, SpaceX mastered the recovery and landing of Falcon 9. The commercial space flight company has been landing rockets on solid ground and in drone ships with a high success rate. The Falcon 9 rocket was sent to space last March 30 carrying a communications satellite.

After launching its cargo to space, the rocket landed on a drone ship positioned at the Atlantic Ocean. The reused Falcon 9 rocket was first launched in April last year. Meanwhile, the successful mission is the first for any company to use and launch a rocket for the second time, giving SpaceX another world record.

"It means you can fly and re-fly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a statement delivered shortly after the launch, as per The Verge

Musk wanted to make the price of space flight cheaper, and one way is to reuse expendable boosters, which experts say are the most expensive part of a rocket. He even promised to look for ways to make the ride to Mars more affordable in his speech about SpaceX's mission to Mars called "Making Humans Multiplanetary Species," where he detailed his plan on how to colonize Mars.

Rockets could cost up to hundreds of millions and it follows that reusing rockets will make space flight cheaper. Some say others already attempted reusing the space shuttle but the project was not pursued. However, the deciding factor on whether or not reusing rockets will indeed cut the cost of spaceflight is for SpaceX to discover how many times a rocket can be reused.

"The question is how many times they can reuse each individual rocket, and how often they can do it," Michele Franci, the chief technology officer from Inmarsat said in an interview with NPR.

Now its up to SpaceX to exhaust a Falcon 9 rocket's capabilities.

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