Space X has now brought four of its Falcon 9 first-stage booster rockets home to its facility in the launch Complex 39 at Cape Canaveral. This is four in a row now for Space X and it plans to perform its first re-launch with one of these rockets in September or October this year, according to CEO Elon Musk.
Space X has been doing remarkably well in 2016. Following a 2015 where it had a major launch failure of one of its Falcon 9 rockets and several failed landings on the drone barge, it's knocked it out of the park in recent months and has successfully landed four first-stage rockets back to Earth – three on its automated drone barge.
Fourth rocket arrives in the hangar. Aiming for first reflight in Sept/Oct. pic.twitter.com/TqW8d6Cc3U
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2016
This could actually result in Space X having to rent more hangar space from NASA, as its facility for storing these boosters can only hold five of them in total – but that's a good problem to have.
Space X's next challenge though, is to re-use the boosters. That is the whole purpose of having them land back to Earth, because if they can be re-used even once, they can save millions of dollars in launch costs, making space ventures much more viable for just about everyone.
CEO of the company Elon Musk, announced on Twitter that the company would likely have its first launch using a ‘used' rocket at some point later this year, most likely in September/October.
That will be a real test of how well Space X is able to refurbish the hardware and at what cost. Although the likes of NASA's Shuttle program was designed to be re-usable – and indeed the shuttles themselves were – the problem stemmed from how many parts needed replacement each launch. It ended up not saving any money on the system at all.
Space X hopes its Falcon 9 booster recovery will be far more viable a project.
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KitGuru Says: It will be very exciting when Space X tries a re-launch with one of these as if all goes to plan, it will instil a lot of confidence in the idea. If not, Space X may have some leg work in convincing companies to let it use old hardware when launching their expensive payloads.