A Historic Rocket Landing By SpaceX
On April 8, 2016 SpaceX launched the rocket named Falcon 9, a Dragon spacecraft that delivered more than 3,100 kilograms of supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA. The spacecraft was launched at at 16:43 local time (20:43 UTC) on April 8, 2016. The rocket first stage separated around 2’40” after liftoff, and the second stage separated around 10’30” after liftoff.
What made the rocket a historic landing is that, ten minutes after the takeoff, The Falcon 9 vertically landed safely and gently on the autonomous droneship named “Of course I still love you” over the Atlantic Ocean.
Elon Musk, head of the private space exploration company, held a press conference with NASA regarding the launch and landing of the rocket at sea.
The landing of rocket at sea is much more economic than landing on earth. It costs around 60 million dollar to build a rocket, but only 2 or 3 hundred thousand to refuel it. So reusing the rockets for future launches helps in saving the time and money. “Reusability is important. It will take us a few years to make that efficient,” Musk said. In the future, the businessman hopes to carry out the launches frequently as every few weeks.
Unlike the rocket that landed on land last year SpaceX is planning to reuse this one. The company will test fire the engines 10 times, and if all is working well they could fly it again as soon as May or June.
If reusability pans out as well as Musk hopes, a 100-fold decrease would bring the cost of each launch from roughly $60 million to about $600,000.
That figure isn’t counting the cost of having to build new rockets—Musk estimates that each rocket could be good for 10 or 20 launches. But even if it’s somewhere in that ballpark, such a dramatic price cut would revolutionize access to space, opening it up for business, research, and tourists. It would make the Falcon 9 into the Model T of space exploration.