SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket in historic leap

04 April 2017, 04:38 | Andres Norman

SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket in historic leap

SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket in historic leap

After deploying a telecommunications satellite into orbit, it then returned to Earth and made a successful landing on a drone platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean - a convincing demonstration that the end-to-end reusable rocket cycle is actually possible. Composed of a single Merlin engine-a vacuum-rated version of the nine engines used on the Falcon 9 first stage-the second stage of the rocket delivers the payload to orbit after the main engines cut off. Pulling off such a recovery would be hard, but would close the company's much desired loop of reusability by bringing back the first stage, the payload fairing, and the second stage of a launch vehicle. A company named SpaceX successfully reused a rocket to launch a satellite into space.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who also heads Tesla (TSLA), revealed in a press conference after the launch that along with landing the first stage of the rocket safely, the company also recovered the $6 million fairing. This is the first time a company uses a recycled booster, which is the most expensive piece of a rocket. "So it's its own little spacecraft", Musk said.

Of course, the first step in making rockets reusable is getting them to land after they've flown - something which SpaceX appears to have gotten the hang of both on land and on floating sea platforms - although it took some highly publicised failures to ideal the technique.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which jetted into space previous year, launched successfully on March 30 for the second time. Historically, rockets have been a single-use object - imagine the cost of commuting to work if you had to buy a new auto each day.

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Falcon Heavy will be the biggest rocket since the Saturn V, which launched the Apollo moon missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

NASA also has shared the quest for rocket reusability.

The next level - bringing back more of the Falcon 9 Heavy. Musk's ultimate goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars.

"This is huge day". The price of the fuel is only about 1% of the total cost of a rocket launch. While this doesn't account for more than 30% of the overall cost of the rocket, getting it back as well would be a tremendous step forward for the company. It nailed another vertical landing at sea Thursday once it was finished boosting the satellite for the SES company of Luxembourg. One of the key requirements to make that happen is to develop a robust and reliable technology that reuses the rocket components. "We'll just take two first stages and use them as strap-on boosters".



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