After a few unsuccessful attempts, Elon Musk's SpaceX just achieved a massive success: actually landing a rocket.
They finally did it: SpaceX has successfully landed a massive rocket booster after sending a payload into space — now what?
The stunning achievement with a Falcon 9 rocket booster could be a huge boost for the space industry: rather than ditch these hugely expensive rocket boosters after launch, the company can save that money and reuse them. It could save the space industry untold amounts of money, and could dramatically reduce the cost of space travel.
But SpaceX’s work with the Falcon 9 has only just begun: now, it has to repeat the feat, and that’s not an easy trick, according to a Bloomberg report.
As with any good test, it must be repeatable, and that’s what SpaceX is focused on. They will need to launch, land, refuel, and then launch the same rocket to make sure this isn’t just a false positive. CEO Elon Musk has compared it to flying an airplane, and he wants to one day have a fleet of these boosters that can be used for multiple launches.
The benefits would be tremendous: launches would happen more quickly and costs would plummet — probably by a factor of 100, Musk said according to the report.
It will be a busy 2016 for the company. It has 12 Falcon 9 launches scheduled to continue to test this concept. The rocket that was successfully landed on Monday will be used for a static ground test and won’t be launched again — it’s done its job for SpaceX.
The goal is a lofty one: Musk said he wants a 99 percent success rate in recovering Falcon boosters on launches. SpaceX is depending on this to drive down production costs, as it cranks out another Falcon 9 rocket every three weeks.
Of course, it’s easy to forget that the Falcon 9’s primary job was to deliver a payload into space. It did so successfully with the launch, sending 11 commercial satellites into orbit on behalf of Orbcomm.