The work isn’t over for the Falcon 9 rocket that landed on a droneship back in May.
On Thursday, SpaceX brought the first stage of the Falcon 9 to the Texas facility, and test fired all 1.7 million pounds of thrust of its engines.
One of the main goals of SpaceX is to produce reusable rockets, and the test seems like a good sign that they’re getting closer to putting a Falcon 9 up for a second time. Musk has announced that SpaceX is hoping to send up a reused rocket in September or October, but details of the mission or its customers have not been announced. Tickets on a reused rocket could likely be purchased by smaller communications companies, as a mission with a used rocket costs millions less. Last summer, the European satellite company SES said that it wanted to be the first to reuse a Falcon 9 rocket, although it’s unclear if it will be the first customer on board.
There’s an estimated 30 percent lower cost for missions with used rockets, dropping the cost from $61.2 million to $42 million. This brings the price down significantly for small communications companies that need to put satellites in orbit, and it could open up opportunities for more experimental satellite missions.
Exactly which Falcon 9 first stage will be the lucky rocket back into space is still unclear. The particular Falcon 9 tested this week had a hair-raising landing — it came in twice as fast as previous successful landings on the droneship. It’s likely that a first-stage with a little less wear will be selected to relaunch, (potentially the rocket that landed on a barge in April that Musk wanted to relaunch this summer) but this Falcon 9 might still have a chance for a return mission.
It stuck the tricky landing in May beautifully:
And as you can see, its engines are still looking pretty good: