After a short climate delay, a Falcon 9 rocket launched on Tuesday evening from Florida and efficiently delivered a large, 6.5-ton communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit. Though the first stage was not recovered due to mission requirements, SpaceX founder Elon Musk stated at the least one of the fairing was successfully caught by a recovery ship.
Less than two and a half years have passed since SpaceX first reused one of the first stages of its Falcon 9 rocket. However, within the 28 months, since the historic launch of the SES-10 communications satellite on a previously flown booster, SpaceX has made reuse routine. The corporate has now launched previously flown Falcon 9 first stages more than two dozen times.
As the novelty of vertically launching a rocket, vertically landing it, and then launching it again has worn off, there was a pretty remarkable sea change in attitudes towards this technology. Whereas previous to the March 30, 2017 launch of the SES-10 satellite skeptics abounded, there are rising numbers of converts to be discovered around the globe.
Russian space officials have gone from dismissing the economics of reusable launch to creating a brand new design bureau with the express purpose of studying and creating reusable launch vehicles. For a very long time, European rocket scientists, too, scoffed at the utility of reuse. Now they are additionally studying how to develop a Falcon 9-like rocket. Japan’s next rocket after its new H3 booster will possibly be reusable, and a raft of Chinese companies are additionally studying—or perhaps simply copying—the SpaceX model.