First Recycled Rocket Successfully Launched

IAS Prelims 2023

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket recovered at sea from its maiden flight last year blasted off again from Florida in the first successful launch of a recycled orbital-class booster.

It took Space Exploration Technologies Corp, as the California-based company is formally known, 15 years to demonstrate that a rocket typically discarded in the ocean after a single flight could be recovered and reused.

The Falcon 9 booster, which previously flew in April 2016, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center to put a communications satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based SES SA.

The booster’s main section then separated from the rest of the rocket and flew itself back to a landing pad in the Atlantic, where it successfully touched down for its second at-sea return.

SpaceX landed an orbital rocket after launch for the first time in December 2015, a feat it has now repeated eight times.

The Falcon 9 booster launched for the company’s 33rd mission was also the first to make a successful return landing in the ocean.

By reusing rockets, SpaceX aims to eventually cut its costs by about 30%, the company has said. It lists the cost of a Falcon 9 ride at $62 million but has not yet announced a price for flying on a recycled rocket.

The boosters are expected to be able to fly ten times with no refurbishment and about 100 times with moderate reconditioning.

SpaceX also is working on a passenger spaceship, with two unidentified tourists signed up for a future trip around the moon.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk described this as a revolutionary step.