SpaceX was able to navigate a reusable rocket back to Earth after its takeoff on Monday.
This follows two unsuccessful attempts at rocket-landing by the company. As reported by CNN, it is also a huge success for the company after its unmanned spacecraft exploded shortly after takeoff this June. As much as two tons of NASA cargo was destroyed.
Rockets are typically disposed of after they dissociate from the spacecraft, but to recycle them is a massive leap toward creating and designing cheaper space travel techniques. While it is not the first time a rocket has successfully landed upright after its launch (Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight company, Blue Origin, had successfully landed a rocket, New Shepard, after its launch in November), SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has the capability to travel higher, and with a faster speed, into space.
“I think it’s very clear the future is reusable space, and the rest of the world is playing catch up to the innovation that’s taking place in America’s space entrepreneurs,” Charles Miller, president of NexGenSpace, a spaceflight consulting firm, said.
The principal mission of the Falcon 9 was to place 11 satellites into the low orbit for Orbcomm’s (ORBC) new satellite network, a task that was successfully achieved.
There have been two landing attempts made by SpaceX in the past, as reported by the Verge. The landing of the first stage of Falcon 9 was attempted on a floating platform on the sea in January and April. However, the attempts did not yield positive results, as the rockets fell over and exploded.
Since then, a few alterations and modifications have been made by SpaceX, including landing on solid ground instead of sea. Secondly, SpaceX developed an updated Falcon 9 – informally named as Falcon 9 v1.1 Full Thrust – which has an updated engine that offers more thrust.
“A jumbo jet costs about the same as one of our Falcon 9 rockets, but airlines don’t junk a plane after a one-way trip from LA to New York,” SpaceX said on its blog. The cost of the rockets is between $60 and $90 million.