SpaceX has set another milestone this December by launching for NASA its first recycled rocket (Falcon 9), which had previously been used to place three commercial satellites into orbit. And not only that, the Dragon capsule housed on it had also been used before to supply the International Space Station.
Though there is no such thing as “zero risk” in the words of NASA experts, it has been estimated after a series of successive and intensive inspections that the risks involved in using a recycled rocket are the same as if it were a new rocket.
Experience in the reuse of rockets is something new and SpaceX is surely at the forefront. Space shuttles, however, had previously reused many of their parts (including main engines), showing it was possible to do so with an acceptable safety margin. Moreover, the significant budget reduction achieved on many missions was and still is a weighty argument for companies like SpaceX to insist on this line of business. Its plans for the future, as a matter of fact, are based on the possibility of resending space ships into space time and again, carrying cargoes at first and passengers later on.
Given the date of the launch, there has been much speculation this time round on whether the recycled Dragon capsule will not only deliver a conventional cargo to the ISS but also act as Santa Claus’ sled to deliver gifts to the astronauts in the space station. Nobody at NASA or SpaceX has confirmed or denied this, but it is nonetheless good news to know that Christmas at an altitude of 500 kilometres also continues to be different.
You can get to know more about this innovative SpaceX flight by clicking here.