SpaceX is all about making rockets reusable. They’re aiming to do this so that they’re cheap enough to fly over a million humans to Mars, where they can then build a fully self sustaining colony.
The first step to that plan though is making rockets reusable and although they’ve been landing the Falcon 9 rockets for years (and recently the Falcon Heavy) they’ve never been super reusable. This is because they’d take many months to be checked and prepared for the next launch.
While this is far better than it burning up on reentry it’s not their end goal. This is why they have further upgraded the Falcon 9 rocket to its final form with the Block 5 upgrade.
Block 5 adds a little bit more power to the rocket engines themselves but more importantly makes it far easier to reuse each time. SpaceX plans to essentially land the rocket, flip it on its side so they can attached the next stage 2 and payload, flip it back upright again, refuel it and launch again.
In fact SpaceX wants to demonstrate this entire process sometime next year where they plan on launching a rocket, landing it and then reflying the same booster all within a 24 hour period!
Obviously there is still more testing and confirmation work to be done first but this would be an immense game changer for the entire industry, even beyond just being able to land an orbital rocket.
If they could re-launch their rockets essentially as fast as they could bolt on the payload and refuel it they would turn their rockets into planes. You could have a launch literally every day or even multiple launches of the same rocket every day assuming there were customers willing and ready to pay for it.
It would also hugely cut down on their expenses which SpaceX plans to put towards the development of the Big Fucking Rocket or BFR. This is the far, far bigger rocket than even the Falcon Heavy which we’ve also covered last year.
It will hopefully start being tested next year too and is meant to take the first pioneers to Mars and setup the initial parts of the colony as shown below.
The Falcon 9 Block 5 upgrade successfully launched and landed the other day and if you’d like you can see the full stream below but this is another extremely important step for humanity. A built out network of orbital rockets that can quickly, cheaply and safely carry huge amounts of cargo into space is essential for our species to go multi-planetary.
I’m constantly amazed and inspired by what SpaceX is doing, hopefully one day I can see one of the launches in person, at least until then I can continue to watch their excellent live streams.
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