Mar 31, 2017 09:41 AM EDT
SpaceX Proves That Used Rockets Are Better Than New Ones
SpaceX, a private spaceflight company, has launched a Falcon 9 booster for the second time. While others see it as a "used" rocket, the company labels Falcon 9 as a "flight proven" mechanism. Thus, CEO Elon Musk hopes to convince satellite operators that "old" boosters are still better than new ones.
For one thing, since they have done the job already, future flights would be so much safer. The assurance of a high success rate, based on historical data, makes second-hand rockets more reliable. Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Thursday evening.
Per The Verge, the space rocket placed a new communications satellite worth $200 million into orbit and then successfully landed on one of SpaceX's drone ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Falcon 9's last mission happen in April 2016. Back then, it has flown about 7,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.
As of now, the majority of rockets are disposable. This means that an entirely new one has to be built for hundreds of millions of dollars. Thus, Musk has been working on reusable boosters for quite a long time now. Florida Today noted that Falcon 9 is a proof that companies could actually cut the manufacturing costs for each mission.
While the company has not disclosed the exact amount of its savings, experts believe that the price dropped to $40 million from $60 million. That is roughly about 30 percent markdown. On the other hand, the company did not save the whole Falcon 9 rocket.
Reportedly, it only preserved the first stage, the 14-story core of the booster that contains the main engines and most of the fuel needed for launching. Now, the success of Falcon 9 to return to Earth in one piece presents an opportunity to launch it again for the third time. Indeed, reusable rockets have the potential to be game changers in future space expeditions.
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