SpaceX wants to try recycling more of Falcon 9 rocket

Space X's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on March 30, 2017
Space X's Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on March 30, 2017

SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk said he wants to go further in the reuse of his rockets after successfully launching the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket that was recycled from a previous flight.

Musk tweeted on Friday that he is looking into a test to bring home the second stage of the company's new Falcon 9 Heavy for reuse when the rocket debuts late in the summer.

SpaceX blasted off the recycled first stage, or booster, of a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on Thursday, a feat that could dramatically lower the cost of space travel.

The Falcon 9 Heavy has a first stage composed of three Falcon 9 engine cores and "will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two," according to the company website.

"Considering trying to bring upper stage back on Falcon Heavy demo flight for full reusability," Musk wrote Friday on Twitter.

"Odds of success low," he said, "but maybe worth a shot."

He then added: "Falcon Heavy test flight currently scheduled for late summer."

SpaceX has for 15 years been honing the technology of powering its boosters back to careful Earth landings on solid ground and in the water.

The goal is to make rocket parts as reusable as cars, planes or bicycles, Musk has said.

Reusing a first-stage booster rocket as was done on Thursday results in an estimated 30 percent savings on the cost of more than $60 million.

If SpaceX also manages to reuse the second of the rocket, costs will drop even further.

A Twitter user asked if Musk could say what will be in the test payload.

"Silliest thing we can imagine! Secret payload of 1st Dragon was a giant wheel of cheese. Inspired by a friend & Monty Python," Musk answered.

The Dragon is the company's spacecraft that is launched on top of SpaceX rockets. Dragons have delivered cargo to the International Space Station and safely returned to earth.

Explore further

SpaceX set to launch its first recycled rocket

© 2017 AFP

Citation: SpaceX wants to try recycling more of Falcon 9 rocket (2017, April 1) retrieved 21 October 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Apr 01, 2017
Maybe he should put wings on the 2nd stage and have it glide back to earth. Save on fuel and parachutes.

Of course, already considered

Apr 01, 2017
or he could try make it land like the first stage do. The 2nd stage probably will circle the earth at least once and end up right where it started, so, he just have to make it brakes hard enough & re-enter atmosphere like his Dragon capsule. (just skip the R&D of wings and redo things he knows how)

Apr 01, 2017
First coat it in SpaceX's PICA-X 3 heat shield, which is good to 30,000 mph, twice Orbital reentry velocity. Use a linear charge to cut off the 10' nozzle, and use cold gas thrusters from the 1st stage for an RCS. Restart to begin a slow aerocapture, and once in the atmosphere deploy a deceleration drogue.

Once in thicker air deploy a GPS guided jparafoil similar to what theyr'e using to recover fairing halves. Touch down on a large inflatable raft.

Or something like it ;)

Apr 02, 2017
it has pretty big tanks. They could get filled with highly compressed air or re-entry thanks to hypersonic speeds, then release it at the end for final break and controlled landing

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more