SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has had a long two weeks. After launching 7,000 pounds worth of supplies into space at a velocity of nearly 4,000 miles an hour on April 8, it accomplished the mind-blowing feat of landing on a floating barge in the middle of the ocean.
Now, after over a week of being retrieved from the ship and prepared for its return, the Falcon 9 booster is finally home:
The 15-story booster is shown here being toted (very carefully) on the back of an epically long trailer truck as it makes its way along the 18-mile trip from Cape Canaveral to SpaceX’s launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Once it makes it to Florida, the booster will undergo a series of inspections and possible test firings to determine if it’s in good enough shape to make a second trip into space. The rocket might be ready for relaunch as early as May, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said, making it the first SpaceX booster to travel to space twice.
Rockets like the Falcon 9 play an integral role in launching satellites into space and sending supplies to the International Space Station. But the rockets we use today cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make. And as of right now, these rockets have a very short shelf-life. After their brief moment in the sun, they’re essentially sent to a great junkyard, never again to be seen.
Now, private spaceflight companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin are racing to design and build rockets that could be reused anywhere from 10 to 100 times. And this could revolutionise spaceflight as we know it.
Welcome home, Falcon 9!