SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9: What are the real cost savings for customers? | SpaceNews.com
KOUROU, French Guiana — Now that SpaceX appears on the verge of being the first to reuse rocket hardware since NASA with the U.S. space shuttle, investors and competitors are sharpening their pencils to assess the business case.
The prima facie appeal of reusing rockets has always obscured the challenges of refurbishing, at low cost, a rocket stage and engine bloc that has suffered the stresses of hurtling through the atmosphere in advance of landing.
“It’s quite fundamental,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said April 8 after the Falcon 9 first stage made a clean touchdown on a drone ship located offshore the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, as part of a successful mission to deliver supplies to the international space station for NASA. The stage has since been returned to port and will be repeatedly test-fired to determine its fitness for reuse as early as this year.
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