SpaceX is launching a reusable Falcon 9 rocket booster for the seventh time ahead of the first altitude test of its Starship prototype next week
- Falcon 9 took off Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida
- It was the seventh time a particular first stage booster had been used in flight
- The booster was recovered from SpaceX and could be used on an eighth flight
- The company is also preparing for the first altitude test of its Starship rocket
SpaceX reused a Falcon 9 rocket for the seventh time during its final mission to launch another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.
The space company, operated by Elon Musk, is preparing for the first test flight of its giant Starship spacecraft prototype, the SN8.
Flight Falcon 9 took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 02:13 GMT this morning and marked the seventh time a particular first stage booster has been deployed.
This surpassed the previous record for a booster of six rides and helps Musk on his mission to reduce the cost of launching payloads from Earth by reusing equipment.
The Falcon 9 took off in the early hours of the morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with the 16th batch of Starlink satellites
SpaceX was able to retrieve the booster from the Atlantic using a drone flight – which means it may be able to fly for the eighth time in the future.
The booster wasn't the only part of the Falcon 9 that was reused during that flight – that brings the total number of Starlink small internet satellites to nearly 1,000.
The fairing cover used to protect the payload has been used before – half on another trip and another on two different trips before this one, SpaceX confirmed.
Every time SpaceX can reuse a component, the cost of putting material into orbit is reduced compared to using parts for the first time.
Research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the average cost of putting 1 kg of material into orbit on a SpaceX launch is $ 2,600.
By comparison, the average cost to orbit a 1 kg object from a Russian Soyuz was $ 17,900, and the United Launch Alliance Delta E was $ 177,900 per kg.
Musk is working to reduce that cost even further with every element of the Falcon 9 they can reuse.
Part of that pursuit of reuse is to advance the development of Starship's massive, reusable, heavy-duty, two-stage orbit vehicle.
It's been in development since 2012 and is believed to cut the cost of each launch significantly because it's fully reusable.
A single launch of Falcon 9 costs about $ 51 million if previously flown components are reused. Musk hopes to hit the spacecraft launch for $ 2 million per trip.
That reality could soon be a step closer as the company prepares to send the newest prototype of the Starship SN8 on a high altitude test flight.
Musk tweeted that it already passed a successful static fire test and that it would fly up to nine miles in the sky in the next week.
This surpassed the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to reduce the cost of launching payloads from Earth by reusing equipment
Space X conducted the third static fire on Starship SN8 on Thursday, November 12th at its Boca Chica, Texas facility. The next level is an altitude test
The edge of space is agreed by NASA and others to be 50 miles above sea level, but to go into orbit you must be at least 100 miles above sea level.
If this final flight test – which sees the triple Raptor engine firing and lifting the 400-foot spacecraft into the air – is successful, more tests are likely to follow.
November 30th has been tentatively set as the date for the altitude test, during which the spaceship will reach the highest level it has ever flown.
Musk tweeted: “ Good spaceship SN8 static fire! The goal is the first 15 km soaring flight next week. The aim is to test 3 engine steps, body flaps, transition from main to collection tanks and landing flap. & # 39;
Landing is one of the most important aspects – it must be fully reusable in order to meet the goals and prices per flight set by the SpaceX team.
WHAT IS ELON MUSK & # 39; S & # 39; BFR & # 39 ;?
The BFR (Big F *** ing Rocket), now known as the Starship, will complete all missions and is smaller than the ones Musk announced in 2016.
The SpaceX CEO said the rocket would make its first trip to the red planet in 2022, carrying only cargo, followed by a manned mission in 2024, claiming other SpaceX products would be "cannibalized" to pay for.
The rocket would be partially reusable and could fly directly from Earth to Mars.
Once built, Musk believes the rocket could be used for travel on Earth – and says passengers could get anywhere in less than an hour.
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