Space-X has recently managed to make history by launching and then successfully landing one of its Falcon 9 reusable rockets. This is an extremely important achievement as it has the potential to completely change the cost of space travel forever. Of course, these things don’t just happen overnight, and if you have been following space news during the past few years, you should know that Space-X has been trying hard to make things work on the “reusable rocket” field. Considering how hard rocket science is, and how aspiring the feat of recycling and reusing rockets is, we can safely say that we have achieved a breakthrough.
Let’s put things in a practical and financial perspective so the importance of having Falcon 9 is highlighted. Space-X has launched 32 Falcon 9 rockets during the past six years, succeeding in 30 of them who completed their mission. Every mission was another step forward and closer to the requirement of having a functional and safe reusable rocket that can land itself on a pad instead of getting destroyed on space or burnt during descent. The rocket that was used in the recent flight 32 was the same that was used in flight 23 that happened to be the first time that Space-X managed to perform its first vertical landing on a drone ship at sea. The particular mission concerned the launching of a communications satellite operated by a private company named SES, based in Luxembourg.
So, how much money is saved by reusing the Falcon 9 rocket? According to Space-X president Gwynne Shotwell, the cost of refurbishing the particular Falcon 9 that was used in flight 23 was “substantially less than half” of the cost of building a brand new Falcon 9. In addition to that, this time Space-X managed to save the payload fairing as well which happens to cost around 6 million US dollars to build. This means that future launches will be even cheaper, and with more components being saved each time this is only going to get better for Space-X. The organizations who use Space-X services however are not likely to pay less anytime soon, as Elon Musk has stated that the cost of the reusable rockets development and the relevant research work that goes into it have to be covered by the service cost. Right now, the cost of launching a Falcon 9 is about $62 million but in the long term, this can start going down to unprecedented levels.