The Relaunch Is On Like Donkey Kong

The Falcon9 main stage landing on its drone ship. Image: SpaceX / Public Domain Image

The age of full-blown reusable rockets is coming another step closer. SpaceX, the private company owned by PayPal founder Elon Musk, has always strove toward reusable rockets. So far, they’ve successfully landed and recovered rockets, but they haven’t actually reused one yet.

In a recent tweet, Musk said he hopes to re-launch all four of his landed rockets this Fall. Initially, he had hoped for a June re-launch, but rocketry and space travel being what it is, a delay is understandable. Still, that’s a seven month turn-around, which seems rather lengthy. SpaceX hopes that eventually it will only take a few weeks reuse a rocket.

SpaceX's four rockets in the hangar. Image: SpaceX
SpaceX’s four rockets in the hangar. Image: SpaceX

If successful, this will really change the nature of space travel/exploration/colonisation. The cost of putting payloads into orbit will be lowered dramatically. Who knows? Maybe the lower cost will trickle down to us consumers somehow.

It’s been reported that the first reuse flights will likely be Low Earth Orbit (LEO) flights. LEO’s have less complicated flight profiles, so this makes sense. There’s no official word on payloads for these flights yet, though companies like SES and Iridium are probably keenly interested.

It seems like SpaceX is always in the news lately. The pending re-launch of the Falcon 9 is almost overshadowed by other news from SpaceX: the launching of the Falcon Heavy. The Falcon Heavy will be the most powerful rocket, and its first launch is scheduled for December 2016.

An artist's drawing of the Falcon Heavy. Credit: SpaceX
An artist’s drawing of the Falcon Heavy. Credit: SpaceX