Published: Tue, April 04, 2017
Business | By Jorge Reeves

SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket in historic leap

SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket in historic leap

The SpaceX used rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, sending a communications satellite into orbit, and then landed on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean.

To outside observers, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch Thursday evening might not have looked particularly remarkable - no streaking contrail through the sky, the rumble muffled a bit by gusty winds.

The achievement - which SpaceX chief Elon Musk hailed as a "revolution" - could come to be seen as the beginning of a new chapter in human exploration, in which rocket launches become dramatically cheaper and space becomes more accessible.

"Imagine you had $6 million in cash on a pallet flying through the air that's just going to smash into the ocean", Musk said. "Just like an aircraft, really", Musk said. Musk said that SpaceX's next goal is to be able to fly the same rocket like commercial aircrafts. During the demo, the company might also include an attempt to reland and retrieve the upper stage of the rocket.

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Unlike conventional rockets that crash back to Earth after launching their payloads into space, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was designed with a booster system to enable it to land upright and, in theory, be used over and over again. SpaceX claims that its Falcon 9 Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.

There have been several other successful vertical landings, but none of these rockets had been reused until now.

The next level - bringing back more of the Falcon 9 Heavy.

The company has plans to re-use many more recovered boosters for its planned future space missions.

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The relaunch testing is also a step toward achieving Musk's larger goal of inhabiting Mars. While Musk refused to tell the press what the mystery item was right after the 2010 launch, the Los Angeles Times reported it to be the cheese upon confirmation of SpaceX the next day. The price of the fuel is only about 1% of the total cost of a rocket launch. Musk promised that they will make this happen until the end of this year.

SES confirmed that the launch had successfully deployed its satellite, and congratulated SpaceX on sticking the landing of the rocket. That is an awesome technical feat, but what has everyone's attention is the fact hundreds of millions of dollars can be saved by reusing rockets.

On September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave an inspiring speech at Rice University, my alma mater, where he said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade. not because (it is) easy, but because (it is) hard".

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