NASA Considering Using Pre-flown SpaceX Rockets for Cargo Flights

SpaceX competence not be distant divided from a large miracle — a initial idea that involves both a reused rocket and a reused spacecraft.

The California-based association launched a pre-flown Dragon capsule for a initial time ever Saturday (June 3), regulating a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket to blast a robotic qualification toward a International Space Station (ISS) on a load run for NASA.

So a group is apparently gentle with used SpaceX spacecraft, during slightest on uncrewed flights. And it’s now interesting a probability of going with used Falcon 9 boosters on destiny resupply missions as well, NASA officials said. [Launch Photos: SpaceX’s 1st Reused Dragon Spacecraft]

“That doubt has been posed,” Ven Feng, manager of a ISS Transportation Integration Office during NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, pronounced during a post-launch press discussion Saturday.

“We are looking during it,” he added. “We’re evaluating each aspect of it really carefully, and there is no report nonetheless when we competence go down that path.”

SpaceX is operative to rise entirely and fast reusable spaceflight systems, an allege that owner and CEO Elon Musk has pronounced could coax space scrutiny by slicing costs. Indeed, reusability is vicious to Musk’s idea of establishing a million-person city on Mars.

The association has already landed Falcon 9 initial stages on 11 apart occasions — including Saturday, when a upholder came behind to Earth for a pinpoint touchdown during Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. 

SpaceX has re-flown one of these initial stages to date. That miracle came on Mar 30, during a successful launch of a SES-10 communications satellite. A used Falcon 9 initial theatre will also assistance loft a BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite on Jun 15, association member have said.

SpaceX has also had success recently in recuperating Falcon 9 second stages and cargo fairings, a nose cones that strengthen satellites and other upholder during launch. After a work was finished on Saturday, for example, a Falcon 9 second theatre apparently splashed down gently in a sea southwest of Australia, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s clamp boss of build and moody reliability, pronounced during Saturday’s press conference.

And a association intends to start re-flying such pieces soon.

“Fairing is ~$5M, though that should be reusable this year. Am sincerely assured we can reuse top theatre too by late subsequent year to get to 100%,” Musk tweeted on Apr 7.

The Dragon that bloody off currently went to a ISS once before, in Sep 2014. The initial theatre that helped launch SES-10 initial flew in Apr 2016, during a opposite Dragon launch. But there won’t always be such extensive durations between flights; SpaceX aims to streamline a checkout and refurbishment routine for used gear, eventually re-launching Falcon 9 initial stages within 24 hours of touchdown.

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