“We believe in the next six to eight weeks we’ll be able to return to flight,” Lee Rosen, who is the vice president of mission and luanch operations at SpaceX, said on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress, Reuters reported.
That means we can expect to see the next SpaceX launch by early December, which is ridiculously soon, considering the company suffered a devastating loss less than five months ago on June 28.
To return to space so soon is a notable achievement.
For comparison, Orbital Sciences Corporation, now called Orbital ATK Inc., has not flown since their Antares rocket exploded about one year ago on Oct. 28, 2014. And NASA waited more than two years to launch one of their Space Shuttles after the Columbia disaster in 2003.
Exciting upgrades and more historic landing attempts
Since the explosion, SpaceX has not only identified the problem but they have also begun to repair and make some exciting upgrades to their Falcon 9 rockets.
Most impressive is that the company, who is a world leader in reusable rocket technology, will now begin to attempt their historic rocket landings for most launch missions.
SpaceX attempted two of these landings earlier this year, and while neither were successful, these landings are like watching the future of spaceflight become reality. As shown below, the first stage of a Falcon 9 attemts to land on a platform in the ocean:
Before the upgrades, SpaceX could only attempt these rocket landings for resupply missions to the International Space Station, which cost less rocket fuel therefore leave some left over for the rocket’s landing attempts.
But resupply missions account for less than half of all SpaceX Falcon 9 flights.
Now, the upgrades have created a more powerful version of the Falcon 9 that can store fuel to attempt landings for most missions, and this December’s will be no exception.
SpaceX’s next mission will use a Falcon 9 to carry a communications satellite into orbit for the Luxembourg-based global satellite service provider SES SA.
Watching the future become reality
Generations from now, people will look back and compare 20th with 21st century spaceflight, and one of the main differences will be reusable rocket technology.
Space rockets cost tens of millions of dollars to make and most are discarded after a single flight. SpaceX wants to change that by recovering the first stage of their Falcon 9 rockets — and they will be attempting the next landing this December.
While other companies, like France-based Arianespace and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, have proposed designs for future reusable rockets, SpaceX is the first company to actually fly and attempt to retrieve one. Stay tuned for the next landing attempt coming soon.
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