Mar 12, 2014 11:32 AM EDT
SpaceX's Falcon 9 Self-Landing Rocket to Take Off Sunday, How It Could Save the Space Industry Millions
March 16 will not be the first time SpaceX restocks the International Space Station (ISS), but it will be the first time a rocket comes back down to Earth to land on its own legs.
According to Fox News, SpaceX will fly 8,000 pounds of goods to the ISS Sunday on a Falcon 9 rocket capable of deploying metal legs to land back on solid ground. However, for this mission, they will put the rocket in the ocean.
"We build rockets that cost over $100 million each," the Space Development Steering Committee (SDSC) said in a statement. "We use them once, then we throw them away. It's like buying a Rolls-Royce, driving it until its first tank of gas runs out, ditching it, then buying another Rolls."
SpaceX currently flies material up to the ISS at a rate of $38,000 per pound. SDSC founder and National Space Society (NSS) board member Howard Bloom said a reusable rocket would lower that rate to $10 a pound.
A reusable rocket would slash prices in all sorts of facets for an extremely expensive industry. Russia currently charges the U.S. $75 million per astronaut to go to the ISS, a price that jumps to $250 million when including equipment, food, water and oxygen. That price would fall to $40,000 with a reusable rocket.
"All by himself Elon Musk is going to force a drastic change in the space launch business," NSS board member John Strickland told Fox News.
Musk is the president and CEO of SpaceX, a company that is part of a growing market for privatized space travel. SpaceX is ready to perform the third of 12 ISS resupply missions it has with NASA. The Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to leave Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Sunday.
Musk was also behind PayPal, owns Tesla, the luxury electric carmaker, and is also behind the ultra fast and clean hyperloop public transit concept.
"Right now, nobody - the Russians, the Chinese, no one - can match SpaceX's prices," R.D. Boozer, an SDSC member and an astrophysics researcher, told Fox News. "So if they get this reusability thing, it's just going to make the bottom fall out. I hope other American companies follow their lead, or else they're going to go out of business. I don't think it's good for any company to have a monopoly, but it won't be the fault of SpaceX if their competitors won't stop being so risk averse."
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