Falcon 9 was successfully launched Sunday, December 13th out of Cape Canaveral in Florida with a reusable booster that has now been recovered seven times. The Falcon 9 completed its mission of delivering a Sirius XM satellite into orbit shortly after 1 p.m., according to SpaceX’s twitter. The new satellite, built by the contractor Maxar, is said to “deliver the highest power density of any commercial satellite on-orbit” according to their statement. With the success of this mission, it would be the 6th time the company has landed, recovered, and reused the same Flacon 9 first-stage booster which is a groundbreaking feat.
SpaceX first started testing out reusable boosters back in 2015 in hopes to change the way space travel is currently done and help reduce negative effects on the environment. Not only do most of the spacecrafts created only fly once, leaving waste behind, but the cost it takes to rebuild these rockets is astronomical. With Musk’s reusable technology in these rockets, however, that cost can be put towards other efforts.
Four days before the success of Falcon 9’s launch, SpaceX’s prototype of a steel rocket crashed while attempting to land. It had successfully taken off from south Texas and flown around the Gulf of Mexico before attempting to land back at the launch site where it smashed into the ground causing an explosion. The rocket they were testing is the model that the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, hopes to eventually use for human transport to Mars, which seems to be Musk’s current goal. Once again, in a tweet, SpaceX said that despite what seems like a failure to us, “they got all the data they needed” from the flight. They also used the term ‘RUD’, which stands for Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly, a more professional way of saying crashed.
SpaceX has maintained the idea that while crashes are not ideal for the company, they are the quickest and most efficient way of gaining data. This approach is the polar opposite of their competition, NASA, who takes their rocket building process much slower and methodical to avoid potential crashing. While everything else about the flight seems to have gone as planned, SpaceX has yet to release a flight plan or data to confirm. With the launch of Flacon 9, Sunday December 13th, SpaceX completed its 25th launch this year, whereas NASA logged only 3. SpaceX is one of the most active space programs in the world, ranking 6th on a list put out by rankred.com in January of this year.