Elon Musk-owned SpaceX is gunning for the development of reusable rockets (launch vehicles) to slash costs and increase the pace of mission in the near future. But, the biggest question we’ve all wondered about is — how much savings will SpaceX actually garner with the reuse of its Falcon rockets?
Well, we may not have known about the costs of this economically viable and private space mission alternative till date. But, now we at least know that SpaceX is definitely going to save a full load of money by reusing its rockets — meaning they’re succeeding in their mission to simplify space travel. Their technology is one of the most sustainable and viable ones, which has now also created history with a successful reused Falcon 9 flight and landing.
At the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell did not give a specific figure for the refurbishing cost of the recently reused Falcon 9. But, she has revealed that the company spent “substantially less than half” the cost of building a new Falcon 9 first stage rocket (which stands at around $62 million). The refurbished Falcon 9 launch vehicle was used last week to deliver the SES-10 communication satellite to the geostationary orbit.
Shotwell further mentioned that the cost of refurbishing the Falcon 9 was more this around, reports SpaceNews. SpaceX now expects to witness greater cost savings during future reusable Falcon 9 launches. You ask, how? The private space company is looking to reduce the amount of refurbishment (or repair) required by each recovered Falcon 9. With regards to the same, she continues to add,
We did way more on this one than we’re doing on future ones, of course.
Further, SpaceX has already detailed its plans for the reusability of the Falcon 9 before today. The company is gunning for reusability of the first stage of the launch vehicle about ten times with minimal refurbishment. And the lifespan of the Falcon 9 can be extended to about 100 launch and landing cycles with further repairs and improvements. However, reusability (i.e cost saving) is not the only objective in SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk’s alluring mind.
On completing the landing of the first reusable Falcon 9 rocket (first stage), Musk was surely pumped and called it a historic moment for his company. He reiterated his vision for reusability and added that SpaceX even landed back the $6 million nose cone (fairing) of the launch vehicle as well (they recovered one of them & the other is still merrily floating or has sunk to the bottom of the ocean). And then, he just mentioned the next two prominent goals he’d like SpaceX to achieve in the coming years.
Firstly, the company is looking to completely whitewash the stereotypes you’ve formed about space missions. Just like who would’ve thought that reusable rockets (or firstly, even landing one back to Earth) would be a reality someday, Musk now plans to relaunch the same launch vehicle for another mission within a mere 24-hour window. With regards to the same, Shotwell on stage added,
Looking forward for reusability, we don’t believe it really, really counts unless you can turn it around rapidly, or almost as rapidly, as you turn around an aircraft. Our challenge right now is to re-fly a rocket within 24 hours. That’s when we’ll really feel like we’ve got reusability right.
Secondly, Elon Musk is also gunning for complete (or full-fledged) reusability of SpaceX’s rocket boosters — something which always has been an objective. The company, as you may know, is already launching payloads and landing the first stage back on Earth, either on a drone ship in the ocean or on the ground itself. But, SpaceX will try landing back the upper-stage of the launch vehicle during the trial launch of its next-gen Falcon Heavy rocket as well. Though the chances of success are low but that isn’t stopping Elon Musk from going ahead with the same.