Things just got really serious in space travel. Jeff Bezos’ recent Blue Origin reusable rocket launch and landing that was a success has been met by its first competitor: SpaceX’s modified Falcon 9 reusable rocket.
The Falcon 9 blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral location on Monday to deliver a total of 11 satellites into Earth’s orbit for Orbcomm, Inc. Shortly after, the reusable rocket fell back to Earth and stabilized itself to make a safe and controlled landing right back in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Exactly like the Blue Origin rocket, the SpaceX Falcon 9 landed upright in a safe position.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO and billionaire, shared the following image of the Falcon 9 blasting off from his Twitter account on Monday:
There and back again pic.twitter.com/Ll7wg2hL1G— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 22, 2015
It’s the second time that a reusable rocket has successfully touched down in this way, but it’s the first time that SpaceX has achieved it after much research and a couple of failed attempts.
Despite coming in at number two, however, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is designed to penetrate much deeper into space before returning to Earth to make a soft landing than Blue Origin’s New Sheapard rocket is, so it does earn some brownie points even though it wasn’t the first to do it.
With reusable rockets becoming a possible alternative to one-time-use rockets, the costs of sending supplies and equipment into space has the potential to drop significantly and allow for more missions.
As The Verge points out about some of the costs Musk has publicized, it costs SpaceX about $16,000,000 to build and prepare a Falcon 9 rocket and then it costs $200,000 to fill it with fuel needed to break free of the Earth’s atmosphere and return safely. By making these rockets reusable, that’s $16,000,000 in savings the next time we want to send something (or someone) to space.
Those savings are more than worth exploring the future of reusable rockets, and will go a long way, especially when space agencies are restricted to tight budgets by their governing bodies.
Source: The Verge