Since the last rocket launch that the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) conducted on January 14, the plan for the company is to launch another Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as late as January 30.

The space company has set a rehearsal launch at the station the day before the second month of 2017. The mission is intended to enable a communications satellite from EchoStar 23 at the same pad in which the Saturn V mission took off.

SpaceX has set a rehearsal launch at the KSC the day before the second month of 2017. Photo credit:
SpaceX has set a rehearsal launch at the KSC the day before the second month of 2017. Photo credit:

This mission at the KSC comes after the successful return of the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on January 14. The rocket took off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and managed to deliver 10 Iridium Communications satellites.

The innovation from SpaceX to program their missions at the KSC is because their first launching station, the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, is still damaged from the accident during a test flight in November last year. In that opportunity, a Falcon 9 rocket and a communications satellite were destroyed.

SpaceX to conduct the unseen reuse of a space rocket

The space company will be a pioneer when it comes to the re-utilization of used space rockets, in this case, a Falcon 9 that already performed a mission. Many experts don’t doubt the possibility of SpaceX succeeding on their objective. However, they would observe carefully about the sustainability of this kind of projects.

The effective re-utilization of rockets could translate into a considerable benefit to both space agencies and the space exploration field itself. The financial cost of every mission could be dramatically diminished.

However, there is a group of skeptical scientists that doubt about the real advantages that the reuse of space machinery would mean. They are looking forward to SpaceX using seven boosters that were present in a previous Falcon 9 mission, for them to analyze the results of the launch.

“Reuse isn’t inherently riskier or less risky. There are additional risks associated with the unknown elements of doing something for the first time, and the learning always associated with that. This is true, to some extent, for any new system,” said Ben Goldberg, director of technology for aerospace firm Orbital ATK

The company that Goldberg owns, Orbital ATK, is a direct rival of SpaceX, as they are also developing space vehicles, even when the company has previously conducted payload launch missions using SpaceX machinery.

There is no precedent regarding the re-utilization of space rockets, as the previous attempts of doing it have been considerably limited. The only registered experimentation was the reuse of a space shuttle, and in that case, the only things reused were the space shuttle itself and some boosters, not even the main fuel tank.

In a conference that took place last year, the Space X President, Gwynne Shotwell, said that the re-utilization of space machinery could mean an immense diminishment of upcoming missions, which would translate into space agencies being able to distribute their budgets more efficiently.

Even after those declarations from Shotwell, SpaceX is considering the viability of reusing the Falcon 9 rocket. They are facing a scenario where the respective re-utilization can’t reflect any substantial saving for the company. The experts would have to wait for January 30, the date for the next SpaceX’s launch.

Source: Orlando Sentinel