SpaceX is still running tests on its Falcon 9 rockets, but the company said that its most recent experiment, which saw one of the vehicles hit the ocean, makes it confident of its ability in safely reusing a rocket. A video of the landing was made public on Youtube earlier on today.
The test that the company carried out today was deemed successful, and though there are surely problems to be worked out, the data from the launch is invaluable as is the proof of concept that Elon Musk and SpaceX are now able to show the world.
SpaceX rocket lands (relatively) safely
According to a statement the company released to day “At this point we are highly confident of being able to land successfully on a floating launch pad or back at the launch site and refly the rocket with no required refurbishment.”
The company’s most famous manager, Elon Musk, gave away a little more information in a Tweet. According to the executive, “Rocket booster reentry, landing burn & leg deploy were good, but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom).” Landing a rocket in the water, with a full unpredictable impact may be more difficult than getting it onto a waterborne landing platform, which is apparently the company’s next plan.
Reusable rockets are gold at SpaceX
Can you imagine the cost of a trip to the supermarket if your car was ruined by the journey? Elon Musk and SpaceX are facing a similar problem. For years most of the parts in a Space mission have been reduced to rubbish after thousand of hours of labor and millions in materials are spent on them. The company is doing its best to makes its rockets reusable. If it can do that, it will cheapen spaceflight and set itself as the leader in the area.
Reusable rockets would take a huge part of the expense of putting a man on the moon, or indeed anywhere outside of the atmosphere, inexpensive enough to do regularly. With Nasa not expecting to be back up and running in space exploration for a couple of years yet and ambition seemingly in hands of Iran and North Korea, two of the countries with little ability to explore space, private enterprise may be the only way upward.
Right now SpaceX is handling resupply of the International Space Station for Nasa, and the company has managed a solid job of that task so far. In order to turn space into a money making opportunity, however, the company is going to have to decrease the cost of getting above the sky. That’s why the reusable rocket program is so important to SpaceX and Elon Musk.
The wider space industry is sure to be helped by the creation of a reusable rocket by SpaceX. Elon Musk’s other famous company, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), opened up all of its patents to free licensing. SpaceX might not concentrate on the free part: there’s a lot of money to be made in licensing reusable rockets.
Investors shouldn’t hope to own share in SpaceX any time soon however. Musk says the company’s IPO will happen just after it lands its first colonizers on Mars.