Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Reusable Rockets

Watch out on March 16 - because we may have a first.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 is going up from Cape Canaveral with 8,000 pounds of supplies to the ISS.

No big news. The ISS is currently being supplied by commercial rockets with both SpaceX and Virginia-based Orbital Mechanics having contracts.

Except that the Falcon 9 will be attempting something never done before with a rocket. The first stage is designed to be reusable. This time, they are not going to attempt to land it back on the pad, but ditch it in the ocean - for safety reasons - but they will be testing the descent equipment and hoping to retrieve the first stage...not for reuse this time, but to be studied and examined.

Their current timeframe is 6 to 8 months before we will get to see a first stage rocket land gently on the pad to be refueled.

Space X's plan? To eventually reuse the entire rocket. Their calculations say this will drop prices from $38,000 a pound to...$10 a pound.

And that means everyone else has to get on the bandwagon or be priced out of the market. Although I'm a big fan of non-rocket solutions (and space elevators), this is at least a better way of doing rockets...