Kremlin Eyes Competition With Elon Musk's SpaceX

Audrey Hill
April 3, 2017

USA 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. The reflown rocket first took off and landed successfully on an unmanned drone ship bobbing in the Atlantic back in April previous year.

The first stage represents the most expensive part of the rocket, according to Musk.

Perhaps more important to Musk's visionary reputation, the same techniques will likely make portions of the planned Falcon Heavy rocket recoverable, increasing the feasibility of Musk's planned colonization of Mars.

"People said we were taking a huge risk". Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or SpaceX has already launched four smaller Falcon 9 rockets this year.

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Back in 2013, it was the first company to launch a commercial satellite on a Falcon 9 rocket. Thursday, SpaceX launched a geostationary communications satellite using a refurbished first stage Falcon 9 booster. Every time you see a rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center, thunderously clawing its way above the Earth's atmosphere, this represents an expenditure of tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars. And it also goes down if the objective is to reuse the rocket. And what's more, the rocket again has been recovered, landing gracefully on a barge at sea.

The initial phase of Falcon Heavy design does not involve any reusable technology, but SpaceX is also working on a parallel development of a recycled rocket launching system which aims to install in the Falcon Heavy, helping it recovering the boosters and core stage only.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, said the launch works to establish the capacity for reflight of orbit-class boosters in efforts to reduce costs for future missions. He brought all five of his young sons to the launch — and the news conference that followed — wanting them to be witness to history-in-the-making.

Not all the savings will be passed on to SpaceX customers, some of whom were awaiting the outcome of Thursday's flight before agreeing to fly on a used booster, Musk said.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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