SpaceX recently launched its Falcon 9 reusable rocket to send a satellite into orbit for Orbcomm, Inc., then landed the rocket successfully in Cape Canaveral, Florida, which is where it originally launched from.
With the rocket launch and landing being a success, SpaceX's Elon Musk wants to preserve the original rocket because it has sentimental value to the company, but the company definitely plans to prove the rocket could re-launch by performing a soft launch with the rocket tethered to the ground.
That doesn’t mean another Falcon 9 reusable rocket won’t go up, however. In fact, SpaceX has already said that they want to make more of them and continue launching and landing them. And soon, the company will be landing yet another one, except this time it won’t be landing on land, it’ll be landing on a ship in the middle of the ocean.
You read that right – SpaceX now wants to send another reusable Falcon 9 rocket into space with the NASA Jason 3 satellite on board, and then the company will try to land the rocket on a ship. It will blast off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on January 17th.
This feat will obviously be much harder than landing on land because a ship is a significantly smaller target than a huge landing ground would be. In fact, SpaceX attempted a similar mission one year ago and the landing didn’t exactly go as smoothly as expected, so it marks a big day in SpaceX history and the company really wants to hit the mark this time.
One reusable Falcon 9 rocket costs SpaceX about $16,000,000 to build, but re-fueling them is significantly cheaper at just $200,000. This technology, which is still very early in testing, has the potential to make space travel significantly cheaper and easier for agencies to access.
SpaceX is the second American company to successfully land a reusable rocket behind Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Source: Extreme Tech