Falcon 9

Today is SpaceX’s fifth anniversary of the first Falcon 9 landing!

Today is SpaceX’s fifth anniversary of the first Falcon 9 landing!

SpaceX's goal is to create a fully reusable launch system to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight to make space accessible and enable humanity to become a multiplanet species. The company is known for developing Falcon 9, the first orbital-class rocket capable of launching payload to orbit and returning from space in order to be reused. SpaceX's rocket recovery technology could one day revolutionize space transportation, do for spaceflight what jet engines did for the airplane industry. 

Today, December 21, is SpaceX's fifth anniversary of the first successful Falcon 9 landing! The first attempt to land an orbital-class rocket booster on solid ground took place on December 21, 2015, after the Falcon 9 rocket delivered 11 Orbcomm-OG2 satellites into low Earth orbit. The mission is known as Falcon 9 Flight 20. That day, SpaceX successfully brought back Falcon 9's first stage from space, landing it flawlessly at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1, near the launch site in Florida. The Falcon 9 touched down under the power of its own Merlin engines. To celebrate the achievement that paved the way towards rocket reusability SpaceX shared a commemorative video, shown below.


That flight in 2015 was the first time an orbital class rocket returned from space to land vertically on a ground pad. The following days after the historic landing on December 21, 2015, SpaceX conducted static fire tests and determined the rocket was in optimal conditions to be reused. They decided not to reuse the Flight 20 rocket's first stage again, instead opted for displaying the historical rocket booster, identified as B1019, at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. As a reminder of their ultimate mission to develop orbital-class rockets capable of landing to be reflown (pictured below).


All Images Source: SpaceX

Now years later, SpaceX is recognized worldwide as a leader in aerospace innovation. The company’s rockets are known for flawlessly returning from space in order to be reused, it truly became the company's signature feat. Falcon 9 lands both on the ground and on autonomous droneships at sea. From December 21, 2015 to December 21, 2020, SpaceX has successfully launched and landed orbital-class rocket boosters 70 times, including synchronized recoveries of the side-boosters during three Falcon Heavy rocket missions.

Falcon 9 is only capable of being 80% reusable, engineers are using lessons learned from its development to develop a fully reusable next-generation launch vehicle, known as 'Starship'. To date, the company has reflown a total of 49 Falcon 9 rocket first-stage boosters. In 2020, SpaceX reused a pair of boosters 5 times, and two particular Falcon 9 boosters performed 7 flights --another first in the history of spaceflight! SpaceX officials state that the upgraded version of Falcon 9 boosters, known as Block 5, is designed to be reflown up to 100 times. However, their short-term objective is to reuse a particular rocket's first-stage 10 times. Next year, is guaranteed to be exciting in terms of rocket reusability, engineers plan to fly a rocket booster until reaching 10 reflights to significantly reduce the cost of spaceflight.



About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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