Shortly after the main section of SpaceX's first recycled Falcon 9 booster landed itself on a platform in the ocean, half of the rocket's nosecone, which protected a communications satellite during launch, splashed down via parachute nearby.
To outside observers, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch Thursday evening might not have looked particularly remarkable - no streaking contrail through the sky, the rumble muffled a bit by gusty winds.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk just revealed that the first demonstration flight of the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for late summer this year. "It means you can fly and re-fly an orbit-class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be ... a huge revolution in space flight".
The first successful land-based landing occurred on December 22, 2015, at LZ-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, while the first landing on a barge-like ship occurred in the Atlantic on April 8, 2016. "Just like an aircraft, really", Musk said. The South African-born Musk, Friday, took to Twitter to announce SpaceX's future planning for space exploration, which also includes the take off a Falcon Heavy Rocket by the late of this year's summer.
United States space firm SpaceX made history on Thursday as it launched an already-used Falcon 9 rocket back into space for the first time and then landed its first stage on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. Not only that they launched the rocket for the second time, but they managed to save its components upon landing. SpaceX claims that its Falcon 9 Heavy will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. Industry estimates suggest that reusing the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster might lead to a 30% reduction in the launch costs. And it also goes down if the objective is to reuse the rocket.
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"Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability".
The relaunch testing is also a step toward achieving Musk's larger goal of inhabiting Mars. For Thursday's launch, the fairing was outfitted with thrusters and a parachute, turning it into, in Musk's words, "its own little spacecraft". Combined with the nose cone, that's about 84 percent in savings of the original costs of the launch (fuel costs notwithstanding).
Longtime customer SES got a discount for agreeing to use a salvaged rocket, but wouldn't say how much.
However, he dismissed "naysayers" this week and stressed the historic nature of the launch on what he has described as a "flight-proven" rocket. SES had special access; the satellite provider, after all, has a long history with SpaceX.