SpaceX Set to Send the Same Rocket to Space Twice in Five Months

Craig Bailey

Scheduled for mid-June at the Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX will re-launch a used Falcon 9 rocket booster for the second time, nudging an event recently viewed as historic toward one of routine.

SpaceX has cut the turnaround time for re-assembly in half after the first re-launch earlier this year. The Falcon 9 rocket is the same one from a launch five months ago, on January 14, that carried ten Iridium communications satellites. On its re-flight next month, the rocket will carry the BulgariaSat-1 satellite, which will provide television programming to the Balkans and Southeastern Europe, once in geostationary orbit.

The first time SpaceX re-launched a rocket was on March 30, when that booster — first used 12 months prior — was sent into orbit carrying a geostationary communications satellite for a Luxembourg telecommunications company. The booster landed safely on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship in the Atlantic, marking the first time a rocket was reused and recovered safely.

The Bulgaria Sat will be launched on the Falcon 9 to give the good people of Bulgaria access to cable TV.

“A flight-proven first stage has all its systems already used in flight, and it is very thoroughly checked after that, too,” Maxim Zayakov, CEO of Bulsatcom and BulgariaSat, told Florida Today. “So, we think that this is a good choice and, yes, of course it saved us some money.”

As Zayakov says, reusing the rocket is cheaper. This is the main goal of SpaceX: to make space travel easier, cheaper, and faster so that one day (soon), it can transport humans to Mars. Reusing the rockets saves the company $46.5 million of the $62 million an entire Falcon 9 costs, that’s 75 percent savings.

SpaceX won’t stop at just five months’ turnaround either. Elon Musk said the next goal is 24-hour re-flight, meaning he wants to get a rocket in the air, back on the ground, and in the air again in just one day.

“I hope people will start to think about it as a real goal to establish a civilization on Mars,” Musk said after the first successful re-launch in March.

There is no set time for the re-launch, but stay tuned with our SpaceX launch calendar.

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