WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- Being able to re-use rockets cuts the cost of launches down by a hundred fold, paving the way for cheaper, more affordable space travel
Earlier today SpaceX successfully demonstrated their ability to re-use a refurbished Falcon 9 rocket – the same rocket that it sent to the International Space Station (ISS) last April and which famously landed on a drone barge in the Atlantic.
Being able to refurbish and re-use Falcon 9 rockets has been a long time goal for SpaceX, and after four months of refurbishment and testing they just achieved that goal. The mission was an important proof of concept for SpaceX, which is trying to demonstrate that it can reliably reuse its orbital rockets again and again.
“This represents the culmination of 15 years of work at SpaceX to refly a rocket booster,” CEO Elon Musk said at a press conference following the mission.
The entire endeavour to re-fly rockets is meant to be a cost saving tactic. The most expensive part of the mission, according to Musk, is the Falcon 9 first stage – the 14 story “core” of the rocket that SpaceX tries to land after each launch.
This stage, which contains the main engine and most of the fuel needed for launch, represents up to 70 percent of the cost of the mission. Musk notes that propellant for the rocket is only about 0.3 percent of the cost. That means saving these vehicles and flying them again could lead to a cost decrease by a factor of 100, which will help bring space to the masses.
In order for SpaceX to maximize the economic benefit of its reusable rockets though it’s going to have launch these used vehicles as frequently as possible, and it’s not as if the Falcon 9 rockets are ready to fly again as soon as they land. Like the Space Shuttle program before them it takes months to get rockets flight ready again, and Musk is challenging SpaceX to trim down that turnaround time even further. Eventually, he wants the inspection and refurbishment process to take just 24 hours to complete rather than the four months it takes currently.
SpaceX want to fly six refurbished records this year and now they’re on their way so hats off to them and good luck.
Matthew Griffin Global Futurist 未来学家, Tech Evangelist, XPrize Mentor ● Int'l Keynote Speaker ● Disruption, Futures and Innovation expert
Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail. Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change. Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.