Event I Payed Attention To – SpaceX’s Second Astronaut to ISS Launch. On Sunday, November 15th, SpaceX took astronauts up into space. While paying attention to this, I discovered some interesting facts about the company.
I remember a time before rockets could land. Musk would talk about the goal but no one really paid much attention, until he made it happen! SpaceX is the first company ever to recover a rocket booster through a vertical landing. The first-time humans ever sent a rocket to space and had it land gracefully on earth was on December 22, 2015, with Falcon 9 flight 20. Since then, sixty-four rocket boosters that launched have been recovered, and forty-five have been reused. I didn’t know this, but of these, a few have been reused up three and four times by now, (see Falcon 9 B1046, the first to be used four times).
Before this innovation, it was understood that rockets were disposable. You sent one up, and it would never be reused. I guess I always assumed this was inconsequential because the cost of a rocket must largely be in the fuel it carries… no?
Not quite. In fact, I’ve heard Musk state that a Falcon 9 rocket costs sixty million dollars to build, and only two hundred thousand dollars to fuel. Reusing a rocket only once bring the cost of a rocket to thirty million. Three times to twenty, four times to fifteen. These are rough numbers, and they do not include the cost of refurbishing a rocket for its second launch, but they go a long way to showing how increasing the reusability is essential to allowing humanity to establish itself in space. So far, the quickest turnaround of a rocket, from landing to next launch, has been fifty-one days. It is an internal goal at the company to get that down to one day.
Some might laugh at that goal, but seeing this company achieve these goals while earning enough credibility to launch astronauts to the space station, twice now, really assuages my doubts.