SpaceX To Test Falcon 9 Reusability This Week With First Relaunch Of A Recovered Booster

SpaceX is taking the concept of “reduce-reuse-recycle” to another level. The aerospace manufacturer plans to reuse one of its previously-flown Falcon 9 stage one boosters for an upcoming launch. SpaceX has so far returned seven boosters to Earth, but has yet to reuse any of them in a subsequent mission.

Elon Musk stated last April that, “In order for us to really open up access to space, we’ve got to achieve full and rapid reusability. And being able to do that for the primary rocket booster is going to be a huge impact on cost.”

spacex falcon9 rocket launch

SpaceX’s latest customer is Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. The plan is to launch its geostationary satellite, the SES-10. It has taken SpaceX eleven months to get the booster ready for launch again. The recycled booster was used to send cargo to the International Space Station last April, where it flew faster than 4,000 mph and performed a controlled landing back to Earth from more than 87 miles up.

The company reportedly successfully fired this first stage booster at its facilities in McGregor, Texas this past January. Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer headed by Jeff Bezos, has launched and landed recycled suborbital rockets five times, however, the booster also required time-consuming reconstruction. Musk has acknowledged that refurbishment will need to be a quicker process and noted that the next Falcon 9 iteration Block 5 will be “the final upgrade of the Falcon architecture. Significantly improves performance & ease of reusability. Flies end of year.”

spacex falcon9 landing

SpaceX most recently launched and landed a Falcon 9 at NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A this past February. The Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A is the same launchpad where the United States launched its lunar missions nearly half a century ago. This was the first time SpaceX used Launch Complex 39A since leasing it from NASA in 2014. SpaceX’s mission was a success and brought some much-needed supplies to the ISS.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch the Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center on March 29th at 4:59pm EST.