SpaceX has been launching a special kind of Falcon 9 rockets that can land and be re-used for well over a year now, but they’ve been launching new Falcon 9 rockets each and every time.
Now, SpaceX wants to try reducing their stockpile of used Falcon 9 rockets by re-using one of them on a future space mission. The only trick would be finding a mission that doesn’t mind the added risk of trying something that’s never been done before.
Despite the trick, it would seem that SpaceX already has a buyer. SES would like to try using one of SpaceX’s re-usable rockets that has already flown into space from a previous mission to send a geostationary communications satellite into Earth’s orbital zone.
“Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX's first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket," said SES CTO Martin Halliwell.
"We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management."
The whole point of SpaceX’s re-usable rocket venture is to make space travel more cost efficient. By re-using rockets instead of having to build new ones for each and every mission, SpaceX can effectively save around $15,750,000 per launch.
This figure comes from the cost of manufacturing a Falcon 9 rocket, which is about $16,000,000, minus the cost to fuel a Falcon 9 rocket, which is about $250,000.
The significant savings could prove to bolster more space missions in the future if it is proven that a used first stage is just as reliable as a new first stage. After all, all space agencies have spending caps that they have to stay within, and by significantly reducing costs, we can achieve more within that cap.
SES is expected to make the attempt launch some time before the end of 2016. An exact date has not yet been specified. According to Ars Technica, however, SpaceX may provide a 30% discount on its launch services to SES when they attempt the used rocket launch.
It should be very interesting to see if the used Falcon 9 first stage makes it to space and back.
Source: Ars Technica