Now SpaceX has a problem — it’s soon going be running out of space to store its returned Falcon 9 boosters. The company just delivered the third Falcon 9 to its Cape Canaveral hanger; a hanger that was only designed to house five rockets at a time (just look as these handsome family photos below).
If SpaceX completes two more successful landings in the coming months, the company is going to have to seriously start thinking about expansion, leasing another hangar facility, or transporting the rockets to its facility in McGregor, Texas. It also explains why SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the following statement earlier this month after the third successful landing:
May need to increase size of rocket storage hangar— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 6, 2016
With that being said, the next step on the agenda for SpaceX is to refurbish these Falcon 9 boosters to flight-ready status for additional missions. After all, that is the point of SpaceX’s reusable rocket innovative — to use each booster multiple times in an effort to save millions in launch costs. Instead of needing to build a new Dragon 9 booster for each launch, SpaceX can inspect returned rockets, replace worn or damaged components, refuel, and blast off again at significant costs savings.
The first Falcon 9 that landed successfully, however, won’t be heading back into space; that vehicle will hang around and serve as a centerpiece reminder of SpaceX’s historic achievement in spaceflight. The most recent Falcon 9 rockets, on the other hand, will eventually be sent to McGregor where they will undergo a battery of tests to see if they’re structurally sound and capable of making a return trip to space.