NASA confirms that SpaceX will fly the next batch of supplies on a used Falcon 9 rocket. It already flew once back in June.
NASA announced the news in a meeting on Wednesday.
This is the first time for SpaceX reuse a rocket for NASA. The launch will happen in early December from Kennedy Space Center.
It is also the first mission for SpaceX to reuse both the rocket and the spacecraft on top of it.
However, we are not sure how many times the private space agency will reuse its rocket.
This year SpaceX launched three previously flown boosters all of which sent satellites to orbit and then landed back on one of SpaceX’s drone ships post-launch.
“Booster reuse for future NASA missions will be considered on a case-by-case basis,” NASA said in a statement.
Luxembourg-based communications company SES was the first one to fly their hardware on a used rocket. The company flew its SES-10 satellite on a used Falcon 9 in March. Subsequent similar missions took place in June, from the satellite operator Bulgaria Sat and then followed by EchoStar and SES again in October.
Elon Musk’s company have landed 19 first-stage boosters.
With NASA accepting to fly on a previously flown Falcon 9, people expect that other companies will also be interested, specifically the US military.
The US government agreed that flying on used Falcon 9 rockets is a definite option. General John W. “Jay” Raymond, head of US Air Force Space Command, told Bloomberg it would be “absolutely foolish” for the military not to fly on previously flown rockets in order to save on launch costs.
However, Elon Musk is confident that reusability is the key to lowering the cost of spaceflight. Thus, ultimately making it possible for humans to colonize Mars.
Thumbnail Image: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landing in June of this year. They will launch supplies to the space station in December with the same rocket. Credit: SpaceX