SpaceX engineers have been working to reduce the cost of spaceflight by recovering and reusing the first-stage booster of its Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The aerospace company recovers Falcon 9 boosters soon after it deploys payload to orbit. The booster returns from space to conduct a propulsive landing on an autonomous drone ship platform at sea. The rocket recovery system has worked very well, to date, SpaceX has recovered 82 orbital-class rockets and reused 62. Engineers aim to reuse each particular booster in the Falcon 9 [Block 5] fleet at least 10 times. The most a particular booster has been reused is 9 times. SpaceX is about to reach a new rocket reusability record this weekend, a Falcon 9 will be reused a 10th time! "First time a Falcon rocket booster will reach double digits in flights," SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared via Twitter. SpaceX is currently the only aerospace company capable of routinely reusing orbital-class rockets. "I think the boosters could probably do 100+ reflights," Musk said in 2020. Most recently, during a NASA press conference he said –“We do intend to fly the Falcon 9 booster until we see some kind of a failure with the Starlink missions.”
First time a Falcon rocket booster will reach double digits in flights https://t.co/wrojsaGExZ— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 8, 2021
A nine-times-flown Falcon 9 booster, production number B1051-10, will conduct its tenth flight during the upcoming 27th Starlink Mission. “Targeting Sunday, May 9 at 2:42 a.m. EDT for launch of 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida,” SpaceX announced. A backup launch opportunity is also scheduled for Monday, May 10 at 2:21 a.m. EDT. The booster supporting this mission previously launched SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft first demonstration mission to the International Space Station, then it launched the RADARSAT Mission, as well as the SXM-7 satellite for SiriusXM Radio, and six previous Starlink missions. SpaceX has also been reusing the rocket’s fairing section that protects the payload. “Both of Falcon 9’s fairing halves previously flew on the GPS III Space Vehicle 04 mission,” the company shared. The total cost of launch is $50 million when reusing a booster and $62 million with a new booster. Reusing both rocket component saves SpaceX around $37 million in booster manufacturing costs which is 60% of total cost of the rocket, and $6 million when it reuses a fairing, 10% of total cost.
SpaceX will attempt to recover B1051-10 a tenth time soon after deploying the 60 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit. The booster will land on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ droneship, which will be located approximately 613-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. About an hour later, the 60 satellites will be released to orbit by Falcon 9’s upper-stage – increasing the broadband constellation size to around 1,625 satellites in space. Overall, the constellation will be made up of over 4,400 internet-beaming satellites. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that ‘near-global’ internet coverage will be achieved after 28 Starlink missions. The company is one launch away to achieving this milestone and is already providing beta service to over ten thousand customers. The internet service is available to pre-order via Starlink.com. You can watch the 27th Starlink Mission in the video below, courtesy of SpaceX.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: SpaceX
About the Author
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.