Elon Musk-led SpaceX is just hours away from creating history by re-firing a Falcon 9 rocket that has been used before. No space agency — private or government owned — has been able to pull off this feat before.
Traditionally, rockets have been one-use only ever since the dawn of the space age. This is generally regarded as an inefficient use of resources as all the elements of the vehicle are discarded once it successfully carries a satellite payload into the orbit.
However, California-based SpaceX is keen on changing that inefficient use of rockets for good. Under the leadership of entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk, the company has been trying hard to become adept at landing its booster safely back on Earth once a mission is successfully completed.
Now, the company is prepared to put one of its vehicles with a proven track record on the launch pad once again. The lift-off window for the mission, to be held at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, will open at 18:27 EDT (22:27 GMT), BBC reports.
The payload satellite is the property of the Luxembourg operator SES.
As of today, SpaceX has successfully test fired eight of such missions. Five of them were landed on so-called drone ships in the ocean while three were landed on land.
According to Elon Musk, the ultimate objective of these missions is to make rocket parts just as much reusable as bicycles, cars, or planes are. With the earlier approach, he notes, millions of dollars worth rocket parts are jettisoned following each launch.
As per estimates, reducing hardware from used rockets could slash launch expenditure by as much as 30%, reports Phys.org.
While the move has serious potentials, it still raises concerns for both SpaceX and its customers. The most significant worry is that of a failure and the subsequence damages caused on the payload and the rocket itself. Especially concerned authorities should look into the “”worries about it failing, insurance implications, retrofitting turnaround, building up a critical mass of reused first stages in the warehouse,” said the global investment banking firm Jefferies International in an April report.